Revisiting Mallorca: Kicking off Year 24 With a Bang
While many Americans celebrate their 21st birthday by getting drunk at a bar for the first time, I was studying abroad in Madrid when I rang in year 21, so what better way to mark the occasion than hopping on a flight to the Spanish island of Mallorca? Three years later and living in Madrid once again, I treated myself to an early birthday present by hitting up the Mediterranean island once again.
We headed straight from a day of work to the airport, landing by night and making our way to the same hotel I had turned 21 in. Located in an area called S’Arenal, Hotel Leblon provided a private room for only €15 per person per night, just a block away from the beach and with balcony views of the Mediterranean. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit when it comes to good deals.
S’Arenal by day offers beautiful beaches and easy access to Mallorca’s major city, Palma, but by night it’s German tourist mayhem, heaving with drunken Deutschlanders. With German spoken everywhere you turn and the majority of restaurants serving German food, you’re left confused about where you really are. Spain? Germany? Some tropical island?
The neighborhood may not have been exactly what we were looking for (it was a bit crazier than I remembered from three years before), but who can complain about celebrating their birthday in cheap beachside accommodation? We spent the first night dodging tipsy tourists and bacchanalian bachelorettes while strolling along the beach, ready to explore beyond the area the following day.
If I have one piece of advice for anyone heading to Mallorca, it would hands down be this: rent a scooter! On my first trip to Mallorca, we explored S’Arenal and Palma by foot, bicycle, and bus, but we missed many of the island’s most beautiful beaches by sticking near the hostel. This time around, we rented a scooter and headed southeast, passing fields, farms, and tiny villages before hitting the coast. Sitting on the back of a scooter and zooming through a Mediterranean island was the stuff Mary-Kate and Ashley movie dreams are made of.
We stumbled upon a few beaches, including Cala Santanyi, which, away from the island’s larger towns, offered the most stunningly blue water I’ve seen in Spain. We wandered away from the beach and over the rocky cliffs lining it to explore some even quieter views.
We spent the rest of the afternoon zipping around the southeastern part of the island and then headed back to S’Arenal for dinner at a beachfront restaurant. We found a tiny peninsula away from the area’s debaucherous tourists and stopped, listened to the crashing waves, and watched the lights back across the water, ending one of the most idyllic days during my time in Europe.
We stuck closer to home on the final day in Mallorca, lounging around S’Arenal’s beaches and boardwalks. All in all, it was the perfect trip to kick of my 24th birthday week before returning to Madrid to celebrate with friends there. Madrid’s patron saint festivities, las Fiestas de San Isidro, fall the day before my birthday (Madrid and I were destined to be together!), and I spent the day in true guiri fashion by dining at TGI Fridays.
I still have plenty of Mallorca to explore if I return one day, but I’m glad I had a second chance to travel beyond Palma and S’Arenal and see the natural beauty the island has to offer. I’ll admit that I’ve been to more spectacular island destinations around the world, and the part of Mallorca I’ve experienced is far from authentically Spanish. But, as a quick hop, skip, and a jump away from Spain’s mainland, Mallorca and its neighbor Menorca are fantastic for a lovely and relaxing weekend away.