Nice family beach town but no sign of Spain

Trip Start May 30, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  , Balearic Islands,
Friday, July 30, 2010

It is very easy to see distant parts of Mallorca from Palma.  I just take a local bus to the central bus station (also the train and Metro station conveniently) and check the schedule to see when buses are leaving for a particular town.  When I arrived today I consulted the board and decided to visit Can Picafort because they were having their weekly market.

Can Picafort is on the northern coast of Mallorca about an hour north of Palma.  The countryside is scenic with lots of olive groves, hay fields and stone houses.  Unlike most Greek islands where the terrain wasn't suitable for anything (except tourism) Mallorca is largely agricultural.  There are cool old windmills on every few acres which really create a rustic atmosphere. 

The roads, except for the couple of highways, are narrow two lane affairs often lined with stone walls or buildings built to the edge of the road.  This creates a nightmare for bus drivers who have to take up both lanes whenever there is a bend in the road (which is constantly).  Cars coming the other way have to stop as the bus slowly maneuvers to avoid hitting vehicles, walls or buildings.  Old towns did not include parking lots either so Spaniards have a habit of stopping their car in the road while they run in and get a coffee or cigarettes.  The bus can't get around so the driver honks while the culprit usually runs out and gives a wave of apology.  This happens frequently so even if a destination is 20 km away it can still take an hour or more to get there I'm discovering.

I just stayed on the bus as it made stops in Can Picafort until I saw the market.  It lined the road for several blocks with a large crowd already browsing.  I walked past all of the vendors and ended up splurging on a couple of fridge magnets.  My duffel bag already is overweight so there is no room for souvenirs or gifts (sorry!).  Many of the vendors were Nigerian typically selling handbags or women's clothes.  There were some local vendors but much of the stuff was probably made in China.

What had started as a sunny day clouded up while I was at the market.  Still I walked back through the town of Can Picafort along their nice seaside promenade.  The town was just a little dot on my map and my guidebook barely mentions it but the town was fairly large.  Many of the streets were lined with tall, majestic palm trees.  Can Picafort was full of modern hotels just like you'd find at Myrtle Beach or South Padre.  The beach was crowded with tourists (mainly German) despite the iffy weather.  The beach was wide and sandy but the water was rough due to a north wind blowing. 

I continued walking since I didn't see anywhere that looked good to stop - the snorkeling would not have been good since the water was rough and it was a sandy beach plus it was very crowded and noisy with tons of kids.  Eventually the promenade ended when Can Picafort meets Platje de Muro.  My guidebook did mention this beach (Platje) because it's a protected area and popular with birdwatchers.  They've even built little Washington Monuments for the birdwatchers so the birds don't realize they are being spied on.  Really a very cool and attractive solution.  There is also no development so the beach is only sand dunes and tamarisk trees making it preferable to the concrete jungle of Can Picafort. 

I read for a couple of hours before walking through the preserve to the main road.  There was a huge package hotel there that must host an Ironman training camp sometime during the year because a big banner was posted out front.  The resort had an enormous pool as well as a separate lap pool.  These resorts are sold to Germans and Brits who want to stay put once they get to their destination.  I can't imagine vacationing like that but it's big business and very popular.  Families with kids seem the main target since there is plenty for the kids to do on their own within the resort.

The bus stops on Mallorca are awesome because every one has the schedule posted.  Seems like a no brainer but apparently the concept hasn't reached Greece yet.  With this info I had to walk back into town before I found a central bus stop where the buses left for Palma instead of the local routes.  I was learning the system and liking what I saw.  The main issue was for people staying outside of Palma since the system is hub and spoke with Palma being the hub.  It becomes a challenge to go from spoke to spoke without having to go through Palma.  Fortunately I'm staying in Palma partly for that very reason.

Can Picafort and Platje de Muro were pleasant destinations and a nice introduction to Mallorca.  I thought the countryside was almost more scenic but Platje de Muro turned out to be a pleasant sandy beach.  I didn't mind Can Picafort being so generic since it was still a clean, well-done town.  The beach was great for kids wanting to play in the sand but the water too rough for most of them.  I was already going through my guidebook on the bus ride back to Palma looking at other good destinations.
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