I’ve just returned from a package holiday. Me and package holidays, I have to say, do not usually occur in the same sentence. And, yes, before you ask, I am a bit of a snob when it comes to cheap hotels swarming with Brits abroad, beer, bellies, fake leopardskin bikinis and chips lathered in mayonnaise (or is that sun cream?).
But the package holiday I have just been on wasn’t like that at all, though it was cheap (which was the initial temptation when the budget was minimal). The scene of the crime was Porto Petro, Mallorca – a small and (at this time of year) quiet resort, dangerously close to the less attractive Cala Egos and Cala d’Or.
And, I have to say, Porto Petro was a delight. A small self catering apartment overlooking the sea did the job, within strolling distance of the harbour and a range of cafés and restaurants enough to keep any gourmand occupied.
The coffee experience was mixed (why do some restaurants still use UHT milk?) but we had some wonderful americanos with hot milk in Piscis Café and elsewhere, too, after meals. But by far the best eating experience was the tapas at Restaurante La Aventura, so good that we returned for a meal on our last night. Owned by the charming Antoni Fortiza, whose mother opened the restaurant, and who has been working there since he was 14 years old, proficient in many languages, he proved an expert in just the right level of attentiveness – enough to make you feel cared for, but not so as to make you feel pestered. Antoni served up an array of sizzling delicacies which we washed down with some exceedingly good house wine. With a view over the harbour from a balcony bedecked with geraniums, we watched evening fade wistfully, lights from boats and the cafés opposite joining in to smile at the night.
You may be thinking by now that we spent the entire week festooned on café terraces. Not so! The Other One had not chosen Porto Petro for nothing – it is situated adjacent to the Mondrago Natural Park, which at this time of the year looks like a garden of Paradise. I haven’t seen so many orchids growing wild for a long time. We walked to the beaches of Mondrago and S’Amarador (reminiscent of the Caribbean) and then North West along old Moorish routes, one day to the small town of Santanyi with its quiet back streets… ….its vibrant market…
….and another day to the sleepy village of S’Alqueria Blanca. The local buses were great when we felt our legs had been punished enough. Antoni from La Aventura remarked that he had seen us walking all over the place. I guess Porto Petro wasn’t overrun by other British walkers, although there were a few Germans around and a fair number of cyclists. We seldom encountered anyone on our walks across the Park. And whilst the weather was still a tad cool for swimming in the sea for us softies, it was just lovely for walking… …just warm enough to appreciate that well-earned stop-off in one of those harbour cafés!