Sunday, 18 August 2013

My Holiday Hidden Gem

We visited Mallorca in March this year. It is a lovely little island, where you can easily avoid the masses of British partygoers to have a peaceful holiday. On one of the days, we hired bikes and rode into the capital, Palma. It was here that we discovered our hidden gem. 

 

We had locked up the bikes and visited the beautiful gothic cathedral, La Seu. After this we decided just to have a wander around the streets away from the main drag to get a feel for the place. We came across the Plaza Porta Santa Catalina completely by accident - a quiet park area which contained a number of quite fun sculpture pieces, due to the proximity to the contemporary art museum. There was a giant stone pigeon and an upside down church, stuck in the floor at a kooky angle, through the steeple. 


We decided to stop there for a drink and a nibble as it was already passed lunchtime and we hadn't replenished our energy after the long cycle, so a tiny little bar on the corner of the square caught our eye. I can't even remember what it was called, but it was the only little local place on the square. We went in and were greeted by a table full of local housewives gossiping over a coffee and a neon orange canary called Bruno who whistled out the most beautiful song.


We put in an order at the bar - una cana y un vino tinto - and took a seat ready for our drinks to be served. It was exactly what you would expect for an everyday Spanish bar - plastic furniture, a mix of dark wood and cream decoration and the now ubiquitous gambling machine and wide screen TV. Behind the bar, the elder stateswoman of the family knitted and observed while her son served the drinks. Mainly, while not serving, he stood outside chatting and smoking with his friends, one of whom had the smallest dog I have ever seen!
La Seu in the background
Our drinks arrived, along with a dish of complimentary tapas - some deep fried white fish that was seasoned to perfection and tasted absolutely heavenly. In our ravenous state, this was just what the doctor ordered. We sat chatting for about 45 minutes while we drank our drinks, and about 20 minutes in, to our surprise, they brought us some more of the fish to eat. After that we were at our ease and decided to have another drink. The guy running the bar caught our attention and asked if we wanted to watch the Grand Prix. It took me a while to understand what he was saying as I had never heard the Spanish word for race before, la raza!

We all settled down to watch the race and we chatted a little with the family and the locals. They brought us yet more tapas - some tiny fish fillets in an oil and vinegar dressing. They were served with some fresh bread and again tasted completely heavenly. It's not the sort of food I would normally eat, so I was so glad to try it and have my world opened to new things!

The race was already halfway through when we turned it on so soon it was over and we left, smiling and wishing goodbye to everyone in the bar. Our tab came to around 6 Euros - about £5. It was a great experience, completely random and unexpected. I got to meet new people, try new food, feel welcomed by the locals and generally have a really good time - all the things that for me make up a true holiday hidden gem.

I would recommend this bar to everyone, but more than that I would recommend everyone takes a mapless walk next time they take a trip. You never know what you'll find - including upside church sculptures.

This is my entry to the Tuscany Now holiday hidden gem competition, I hope you liked it!

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