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Biking In Palma - Away with Words

By Martin HigginsMonday 15th June 2015

In March last year we held a competition to find an aspiring travel writer to send on-board Allure of the Seas as our very own guest blogger. Our competition winner Martin Higgins, and his girlfriend Emily, will be spending one month travelling around the beautiful Mediterranean while visiting some of Europe’s most loved destinations from Barcelona to Florence on our 7 night West Mediterranean cruise.

Read about their exciting adventure with the latest edition of Away with Words.

In the week that Bradley Wiggin’s broke another world record on the bike in the Lea Valley Velopark, I decided to see if I can cycle in a straight line without the use of stabilizers – and embarked on a sight seeing tour of Palma De Mallorca, enjoying one of the many excursions laid on by Royal Carribean to explore the local area. Not before I poured myself a fro-yo from the unlimited frozen yoghurt dispenser, and entered into the belly flop competition. Got to get your priorities right. Martin Eating Ice cream The heat was blaring off the cabin windows as we disembarked through the gangway and made the short commute to the meeting point, inParc De La Mar. But first, as a safety precaution, I found the lifeboats. Allure of the Seas Martin We passed the old artillery gun batteries along the headland, where you get a sense of the military past of this Balearic island, and how it’s history has been marked by a constant arms race along this rugged coastline, building new fortifications and defences to stem new threats. Artillery Gun Batteries Thankfully, the guns have long since been left to wither and weaken by the Ministerio de Defenso - but they will never stop menacing outsiders and potential invaders with their steely gaze pointing out to sea. We found our guide, James, waiting for us with the cycles on the cobbled path - luckily these were brand new suspension bikes so no sore bums and absolutely no walking like John Wayne when heading back to the ship. And the views aren’t bad from this vantage point either… Views Then we passed an oasis of sprinklers near Mercat Del Olivar, giving the coiffured flowerbeds a good drenching, and I took the opportunity to cool down in the midday sun with a stroll through the refreshing mist. After drying off, we had time to sample the local delicacies, like the famed Jamon Iberico, which you can buy in a paper cone like yours truly. Jamon Iberico We passed the portrait artists on Carrer De Sant Miquel busy at their easels. Artists Carrer De Sant Miquel The bike ride lasted about the 3 hours, and we took in all the main sights around the old town and the new – from the sandstone Cathedral La Seu to the statue of James the Conqueror and everything in between. James the Conqueror One discovery that is worth romanticising in the future will be my visit to the Convent of Saint Clara. We pulled up in a cloistered nunnery, entering through a sun-drenched courtyard that was only accessible through tiny secluded streets. The tour guide stopped to discuss the importance of the site, and told us of its ancient roots, and how the church had been founded by the Franciscan order in 1256. This site had been a Moorish residence for a number of centuries before that, but when James the Conqueror took the island, a new ecclesiastical order was ratified. Convent of Saint Clara This particular convent is notorious throughout the land for one specific reason. As a holy land for pilgrims with a sweet tooth. On top of their monastic duties, these nuns produce some of the most delectable biscuits and cakes you’ll find anywhere. The resident sisters are extremely pious, and are rarely seen in the outside world, having forgone the luxuries of modern society for a more simple, religious way of life. Inside the entrance hall there is a hatch – and to make an order you simply call across the barrier to the mysterious cashier hidden on the other side, then leave the money on the rotating shelf. This is a custom I have never seen before, and is very particular to this place. It was a privilege to witness. And here are the biscuits I speak of. After eating a box in one fell swoop I felt guilty. But then I remembered they were made by nuns. How sinful can they be? Biscuits Then it was back to the Allure of the Seas to rest those tired legs and refuel for our next adventure.

Words by Martin Higgins

@SMAGUdeBAGU

http://www.mhfreelance.co.uk

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