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11th April, 2015

Palma de Majorca

This morning we arrived at 7 am at the Palma pilot station. Soon after the pilot boarded we were entering the port and were berthed just before 8 am. Shortly after the officials boarded the ship was cleared, and passengers could proceed ashore and our tours could be dispatched.

Northern Delights & La Garanja was a leisurely excursion highlighting the spectacular scenery and history of Majorca. It started with a scenic drive along the rugged north coast with its pine forests, and almond and olive trees before arriving in Valldemossa, famous for its Carthusian monastery and renowned for its outstanding beauty. From here the tour continued to the superb 17th century Majorcan manor house of La Granja de Esporles. Standing in rustic surroundings, the house was built on the site of a 10th century monastic farm and is surrounded by fountains and formal gardens. The interior of the manor house is a museum depicting life on the farm two centuries ago.

Scenic Palma & Valdemossa started with a drive along the seafront, lined with hundreds of yachts, and past the magnificent Gothic cathedral and Almudaina Palace. This was followed by a drive through the city's old quarters, with both Gothic and modernist-style buildings, and the lively Ramblas. From here followed a drive through landscapes of pine forest, and almond and olive groves to Valldemossa, positioned high up in the mountains. The town is characterised by steep streets, stone façades and old churches and convents. Our guests visited the famous Carthusian Monastery, where Frédéric Chopin and the French author George Sand stayed in 1838-9. After this it was back to Palma to view the famous Bellver Castle and Bay of Palma before returning to the ship.

The Narrow-gauge Train to Soller took our passengers on a 17 mile scenic train journey offering beautiful panoramic views of the Majorcan mountains, orange groves, small fairy-tale villages and quaint wayside stations. Soller is a beautiful small town set on a hillside, with bars, shops, an attractive old town hall - the Casa de la Vila - and a fascinating parish church dedicated to St Bartholomew. Although it dates back to the Middle Ages, it was partly rebuilt in the Baroque style in 1688 and was given a stunning new neo-Gothic façade by Catalan architect Joan Rubió in 1904.

Simply the best of Valdemossa & Daie: Since the 19th century the self-governing village of Valldemossa has been promoted internationally as a place of outstanding beauty. Located at the foot of the northern mountain range, the tour took passengers along the mountain road, through vineyards and scented orange groves, to the fortress-like Carthusian Monastery of La Cartuja. The Monastery, now sometimes referred to as The Valledemossa Charterhouse, was founded as a royal residence and was later converted into a monastery of the Carthusian order. Following the confiscation of monasteries by the Spanish government in 1830, this historic estate was sold to a private owner, and today stands as a museum. From here the tour continued past 1300 foot cliffs along a winding road to the small picturesque coastal village of Deia. Deia, situated about ten miles from Valldemossa, is perhaps best known for its literary and musical residents and its idyllic landscape of orange and olive groves grown on steep cliffs overlooks the Mediterranean. Passengers were able to visit the former home of Robert Graves. Now a museum dedicated to his life, the house has been returned to very much how it was when Graves returned in 1946 after sitting out the Spanish Civil War and WWII. A prolific writer both of novels and poetry, Graves is perhaps best known for his books “I, Claudius” and “Claudius the God”. Last but not least was lunch at the deluxe hotel La Residencia, which is perched on a hillside amidst those wonderful olive and almond trees.

Once all our passengers were on board, we set sail for our next port of call, Cagliari.

After Dinner this evening Show Time in the Britannia Lounge was a lively performance by our Explosives Production cast. They got all our toes tapping to the sound of 'Let's Swing' with a performance of swing and big band music. This was followed in the Drawing Room by Easy Listening with The Perfect Mood Duo and in Cooper’s Bar by The Late Show with Dave Peterson at the piano.

Captain Kees Spekman

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