Biggsy Travels

unique travel experiences

Category: Europe (page 1 of 5)

Mallorca – discovering its hidden gems

I’ve been to three of the four major Balearics islands now, Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca and love them all equally. The ‘white isle’ of Ibiza for its club and music scene, Menorca for its peaceful coves and UNESCO declared Biosphere Reserve, and Mallorca for its historic towns PLUS its beautiful beaches and nightclubs. The best of both worlds you might say. Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic islands but is still only the 7th largest in the Mediterranean after Greece’s Euboea! No – I hadn’t heard of it either.

Mallorca - Magaluf bay

Mallorca – Magaluf bay. Source

Whenever I’ve been to Mallorca I’ve had Magaluf as my base. Magaluf has been Mallorca’s most popular resorts for years, known back in the 80s and 90s for its bustling resorts and infamous party scene. I’ve been part of that ‘scene’ too, and no doubt referred to the island back then as ‘Majorca’. For those concerned whether it’s suitable nowadays for couples and families, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”.  The resort has cleaned up its act since 2015 so is now an even nicer destination … but still with the localised nightspots for those who want them.

Being ever on the lookout for unique experiences I explored some friends’ recommendations in an attempt to tempt you away from the Magaluf sun loungers, swimming pools and sangria – well at last for some of your summer sunshine holiday.

1. The Caves of Drach.

These caves near the town of Porto Cristo were first mentioned as far back as 1338 and I remember visiting them back in the 1980s. I imagine they haven’t changed too much since, apart from the stalactites probably being ever so slightly longer! The caves certainly are a sight to behold. You navigate  around the 1.2km long caves with  a guide with the tour lasting about one hour. The trip even includes a quartet playing a classical music concert plus and a boat ride one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world, Lake Martel – cuevasdeldrach.com.

Mallorca Cuevas del Drach

Mallorca – Cuevas del Drach. Source

2. Catedral de Mallorca.

Second on the list of Tripadvisor’s 198 things to do in Palma de Mallorca is visting the Catedral de Mallorca. Palma can be rightly proud of it’s magnificent Gothic cathedral with its imposing sandstone walls and flying buttresses. The rose window is one of the largest in the world at 12m across and is apparently studded with 1,236 pieces of stained glass. Something you just have to take their word for! Travel and lifestyle blogger http://www.nicoladunkinson.com/ visited recently and got up this close and personal with this lovely photo.

Mallorca - Catedral de Mallorca

Mallorca – Catedral de Mallorca. Source

3.  Es Pontàs

Now that Malta’s Azure Window is sadly no more, it might encourage you to visit Mallorca’s version while you still can. Es Pontas is a big natural arch in the water right by Cala Figuera. It’s popular with climbers so if you’re lucky you might get to see someone sweating away as you lie back taking in the view. Or you might see that as unlucky if you’re wanting the perfect shot like this one without someone dangling off it!

Mallorca Es Pontàs

Mallorca Es Pontàs. Source

4. Sa Calobra

Sa Calobra is one of the most beautiful drives in the whole of Mallorca. It’s  popular with budding riders for cycling down … and then back up it! A beach being the reward on the “easy” cycle/drive down to the sea. It’s not as challenging as something you might find in the Alps (like Alpe d’Huez) but it’s still 10km long. The average gradient is 7% and there are 26 hairpin bends (now that is 5 more than what you get on Alpe d’Huez). Mallorca has become popular with cyclists in recent years due to its good roads and plentiful sunshine.

Mallorca Sa Colobra

Mallorca Sa Colobra. Source

5. Magaluf’s beaches, sunsets and nightlife

And that just leaves a nice hotel, some sandy beaches, good food and the nightlife. Magaluf is the most popular resort on the island. It’s the one that most people think of when Mallorca is mentioned. It certainly is the perfect base for your adventures and just a great place to be in itself. You may find you don’t actually end up leaving the resort at all! Or you might at least be tempted enough to make that small journey out to Palma in the east. Whatever you do, make sure you explore the local eateries too and enjoy the superb sunsets like THIS! Thanks again to Nicola for the great sunset photo!

Mallorca - a typical sunset

Mallorca – a typical sunset. Source

Finally, staying somewhere? Check out what’s currently on offer like some of these ‘Magaluf deals from HolidayGems‘. You’ll find flights to Majorca from most UK airports, including all of the London airports, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds Bradford, Doncaster Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff among others. It takes just 2 hours to fly to Majorca from the UK, plenty of time to have a re-read of this article. 🙂

Also for more ideas check out Heart my Backpack’s comprehensive list of top Mallorca tips too!

Has anybody been recently and have any other great hidden gems?

The East Side Gallery in Berlin

Berlin is a city I’ve visited twice now. Once on a school A-level trip back in 1992 and once just last month as we watched the Berlin Marathon. It was on day 1 of our sightseeing that we introduced ourselves to the city with a 35 minutes walk from the Brandenburg Gate down to “Checkpoint Charlie” but I really wanted to see more of the infamous Berlin wall.

Berlin Wall - East Side Gallery

Berlin Wall – East Side Gallery

Stumbling across many billboards dotted across the city describing ‘Der Berliner Mauer’ made we want to see an original stretch of it even more, and where better to see it than the ‘East Side Gallery’, SE of the city centre on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg (Google link here). It’s the longest art gallery in the world with a length of 1,316 meters.

There are many other isolated pockets of the wall with the ‘Berlin Wall Memorial‘ on Bernauer Str and the Topography of Terror on Niederkirchnerstraße 8 being two great locations. However on this occasion the 4 of us wanted to visit this graffitted section with its famous artworks of Honecker, a Trabi car and various other thought-provoking pieces of artwork. Continue reading

35 minutes in Berlin

Of course I’m not advocating rushing around a city in 35 minutes and certainly not somewhere as deep and meaningful as Berlin. However while plotting a route on our 2nd full day in Berlin this blue-spotted route appeared in front of us on Google Maps, one which you could easily turn into a full half day with various add-ons.

So what is this 35 minute walk? Well simply put it goes from The Reichstag > Brandenburg Gate > Hotel Aldlon > The Jewish Memorial > Potsdamer Platz > Checkpoint Charlie.

Berlin in 35 minutes. A nice starter route

We were in Berlin for the marathon the next day on the Sunday so we wanted to see some sights but without having to walk too far. We had the day after the marathon on the Monday for that. So my little route encompasses 2 historical structures, a “comedy” moment spot, a newer memorial installation for some contemplation, a famous square and finally a fairly ordinary location which suddenly became suddenly became infamous in 1961. Continue reading

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