In a spring sunny morning, our Windstar Yacht docked at the Port of Palma de Mallorca. We were pleasantly surprised when we found out the previous night during the port of call briefing, that transfers were arranged to the City center, courtesy of Windstar.
While quite few of our fellow travelers decided to go for a pearls shopping (that's what Palma is known for), a small group of us wanted to visit the 14th Century Gothic Style Bellver Castle, which set on a hilltop less than two miles of the Palma City Center, and is known for it's unique circular shape offering breath-taking views of the island & the harbor.
Travel Tip: You can easily take a taxi to the Castle from the Taxi Stand, located right on the city main shopping street, in front of " Le Seu" (Palma's Cathedral). The total cost one way was less than 9 Euro, but I would recommend to arrange it round trip.
After touring the Castle, which totally worth the trip, we had a slight challenge finding a taxi to get back to the City Center. We asked around and we were told that typically taxis do not wait to take you back, unless you make a specific arrangements.
Right outside of the main entry, there was a viewing point, a perfect spot to take a picture with the harbor in the background. Right there we've noticed a wooden sign saying "To the City" with descending stairs down the hill. For few seconds, we wondered if this was the right way to go, but after seeing another couple coming from the same path to the Castle, we were ready for a little adventure. After less than 10 minutes descending we found ourselves on a main street, and from then we took another taxi back to the Center, for only about 8 Euro.
If you happened to be in Palma, a visit to the Le Seu is a must! Built on the site of pre-existing Arab Mosque, the Cathedral was designed in Gothic Roman Style beginning in the 13th Century, and restored by the famed Gaudi in the 20th Century. Le Seu is surrounded by cobble-stone streets dotted with local boutiques & souvenir shops.
The culmination of our day in Palma was a Private Event organized by Windstar Cruises, which took place in the March Palace Museum, located steps away from the Cathedral.
We had a chance to view a private art collection by prominent Spanish Painters such as Dali & Rodin followed by live music and Bolero Dance with flowing wine and tapas at the Palace Terrace overlooking the city.
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Our last port of call with Star Clipper was Monemvasia, also known as the “Greek Gibraltar”. In a bright morning my husband and I were standing on the bow when the “Big Rock “ started to appear on the horizon. With its strategic geographical position, no wonder why the island was ruled by Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, & Turkish conquerors over the centuries.
There is a single paved road connecting the mainland with the Fortress Town used by all cars and tour busses. That’s how the name “Monemvasia” came out, meaning “single” (mon-), passage. After a brief stop at the map point, conveniently located right after the bridge where the road splits, we decided instead to start climbing the Rock from the North Side. At the beginning, we didn’t realize that, unlike the South side road, there was only a somewhat rough path, just boulders marked with red paint, and steep cliffs below us, ending into the azure waters of the Aegean Sea.
Travel Tip: Do not attempt this hike unless you are physically fit. It's just over a 1 km (2/3 mile) route, with uneven ground.
After nearly an hour of occasionally intense climbing and battling with the strong winds, we finally reached the Castle Town extensively carved on the slopes of the rock. We started ascending by walking on the cobblestone narrow streets, which didn’t seem to have an end, and passing Byzantine churches, boutique hotels housed in restored Venetian Mansions, wine bars, and local craft stores. From the top of the castle, the views of the gleaming waters of the Aegean Sea were breathtaking! Perched on the very top of the Rock was the Fortress, which unfortunately was closed due to renovation.
Travel Tip: After done exploring reward yourself with Mediterranean meal or cocktail at Chrisovoulo Restaurant & Wine Bar outdoor terrace offering stunning vistas of the sea.
We’ve heard that Monemvasia is one of the most romantic places in Greece which take you back in time and I completely agree!
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