Friday, 19 May 2017

What it's like to travel alone/5 days in Palma de Mallorca

Cala Major Beach
So I did it. I went on a mini break, abroad, on my own, for three days. In one of my previous posts I spoke about how I had been toying with the idea of going on holiday on my own for quite a while now. But I was a bit scared. So when one of my sisters invited me to join her on a weekend in Palma, Majorca I seized the moment and decided to not only go but to fly out a few days early so that I could experience being on my own (but knowing that a rescue mission would be on its way!).

I didn't really know what to expect. I knew I would be having a lot of internal conversations with myself and would feel a bit self conscious and I already knew I would not be brave enough to dine out, solo, in the evening.

The reality was two things that I hadn't banked on. The first was that at times I felt lonely. And I haven't felt proper lonely in a very, very long time. I like my own company and I am happy on my own. The loneliness struck me quite hard in the afternoon of day two. I'm not really sure why. I had got up early and been on a train and tram trip (more details below) and I was struck at how everyone was in a couple or with a group of people. I felt like I had a flashing "Loner=Loser" neon sign above my head. I felt sad.  Even when I bought myself some sticky apple pastry concoction, I felt I couldn't eat it whilst sat on my own. I did hit a bit of a wall that day. But then after I had got back off the train, I made myself go for a mooch around Palma and I bought some clothes. Sod it. And I let myself feel lonely, because sometimes fighting to deny an overwhelming feeling is harder than just giving it time to wash over you and move on. And it did. Because the next day, I got up, went and hired a bike and rode for miles. It was fun. Well after I had adjusted the height of the seat it was fun.

The second thing I hadn't banked on was my motivation. I wouldn't say I'm a real go getter and I love a day on the sofa as much as the next person. But I didn't allow myself to hide in my hotel room feeling sorry for myself, I got out and did things. I did nearly everything I wanted to do (bar the open top bus tour). 

And yes every single day I got lost. The other thing I've learnt about myself is that I have zero sense of direction. And that Maps on my phone refuses to work when I most need it. It really helped that Palma is not only beautiful but feels so safe.

Day 1
I got an early flight and arrived in Palma at about 10.00am. Walked straight out of the airport and jumped in to one of the many waiting taxis at the taxi rank. Got to the hotel - NH Ciudad de Mallorca and checked in. As my room wasn't ready, I dropped my case off and jumped straight in to a taxi (rank right outside the hotel) and joined the 2 hour free walking tour, which starts from outside the Tourist Information (at the bottom of the Cathedral). The walk went all around the magnificent Cathedral (not inside), around the Old Town and ends at a square by the Bus/Train Station. You do tip the guide (you don't have to) and it was a great tour. The only thing I was a bit miffed about was that the tour doesn't end where you start, so obviously I got lost.

Whilst I was getting lost, I had a good wander around Palma and stopped at a cafe for a drink and a stare at the crap map I had. I then went back to the Hotel, had a snooze due to the 2am start I'd had and ordered room service.
Big fountain outside the Cathedral
Palace de l'Almudaina
Palma Cathedral
Day 2
As recommended by the lovely Stephanie from Priceless Life of Mine I was up and out fairly early to get my ticket for the old fashioned train to Soller. Stephanie has written a really helpful and detailed post so click the link above to get her tips on getting the train and then tram to the Port de Soller. 
I really enjoyed the train, which takes about an hour to travel through Palma, the countryside and mountains. I found it a little stressful once you get to the quaint town of Soller, as you come out of the train station and queue for the tram which then takes you to the port and beach. It was a bit of a free for all queuing and it was by sheer luck and cunning that I managed to get on the tram. As Stephanie advises, keep an eye on the return times.
Soller Train
Train to Soller
Train to Soller
Port of Soller
I got back to Palma and had another wander and discovered Stradivarius - a shop which is a mix of H&M prices and Topshop style clothing. I wish I had bought more there. Obviously I couldn't find it again, due to sense of direction/lack of.

Day 3
I hired a bike for 9 euro (for the day) from a bike hire shop inside the bus station. I would say if you want to hire a bike in Palma, get one from one of the shops which are located opposite the beach promenade. I say this because I got lost (!) when I came out of the bus station when I was trying to find the promenade. The promenade cycle track takes you on a flat route all along the coastline and is really great. I wish I had tracked how many miles I did because it felt like I'd gone a long way. The bike was quite comfortable and easy to ride, and came with a handy basket and lock.
My ride
After my mammoth bike expedition, and it turning really cloudy and windy on the way back, I took the bike back and headed back to the hotel with a Cesar Salad and a pack of 6 pastry things. And then later that night my sister and friend arrived, to rescue me from my one way conversations and lack of eating. We celebrated by going straight out for tapas and sangria.

Day 4 and 5
Luckily we woke to blue sky, no clouds and a full sun, so we took ourselves out to the hotel pool, which is really lovely, quiet and a good size for the size of the hotel.

We went for drinks and stunning views at the roof top bar in Hotel San Francesc
Hotel San Francesc
And then Aromata for dinner and enjoyed a 4 course delight of food cooked by a Michelin star chef, all for only 35 euros.

The next day we got a taxi to Cala Major beach, which is nice although there are much nicer beaches in Majorca. And the public toilets were locked. But it was nice to have a day on the beach.

And then I got my plane home.

So Palma is a big yes recommendation from me. It's beautiful, interesting, clean and safe. Great for solos and any type of group/couple.

Would I solo travel again? Yes I will. I'm not sure if a city break with lots to see and do or a beach holiday with a week on a sun lounger with a good book, Spotify and some pod casts is the best thing for me. Or a mixture of both. But yes I will do it again and am already doing some research.

And you know what, although I had short bursts of self doubt, loneliness and hunger - I did it. I did exactly what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it and I learnt to accept that it's ok to feel a bit scared and lonely sometimes. Because let me tell you it'll pass and when it does - you will feel bloody proud and amazing!

xx
The lone wolf traveller



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6 comments

  1. Well done Julie. I know you had moments of loneliness but you did it, and it's great that it's given you the confidence to think about travelling solo again. I'm so pleased you did the train journey, to be honest we lingered in Soller before catching the tram to let the crowds die down, and get you hiring a bike, very impressed!!! Thanks for the shout out too.
    Steph
    x
    www.pricelesslifeofmine.com

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    1. Thanks Steph. And if it wasn't for your post I would never have done the train trip, so thank you.
      Julie xx

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  2. Ah I really enjoyed this post. I have read Steph's post and it made me want to go to Palma, yours has re-affirmed that! I one million percent understand how you felt that second day.I would have been exactly the same but massive well done to you for doing it. Im glad you enjoyed your trip x

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    1. Thank you so much Kerry. People saying to me "I've felt like that" or would have makes me feel confident to try solo travel again. And Palma is beautiful. So clean, safe and stunning buildings and scenery. And the ice creams... thanks for your comment.
      Julie. Xx

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  3. Have had this bookmarked to read for ages as I'm desperate to travel solo at some point (it won't be this year now, as I've used up all my annual leave, but it's on excellent adventures so I have no right to complain). Loved this post, particularly how you acknowledged the loneliness aspect: I too love my own company, so I wonder if I would feel the same?

    Anyway, have really enjoyed your blog so count me in as a new reader!

    Lis / last year's girl x

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    1. Hi Lis. Thanks so much for your lovely comment and for reading. Glad you enjoyed it. I will definitely be trying solo travel again and am not sure whether I'll just go on my own or join a group of solo travellers. But yes for me that'll be next year now. And hopefully I'll be more prepared for the loneliness/getting lost and that people won't talk to me just because I'm on my own! Good luck with your travels.
      Julie xx

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