In 2017 Mallorca received 10 million visitors, up from 6 million in 2010. Only a two hour flight from Northern Europe, it has been jokingly referred to as the 17th Federal State of Germany. Most signs are in Catalan, German, English, and Spanish – in that order.
The largest of the Balearic Islands, its popularity with weekending Northern Europeans belies its size. It is over 100 kilometres on its East-West axis and it is more than an hour by car from the main airport at Palma de Mallorca (the capital) to the island’s east coast.
The shining white roofs stretching as far as the eye can see down the coasts either side of Palma suggest few feel the need to venture further afield. With only three days, I contented myself with the five kilometre circle that is the old city, with one afternoon excursion down beyond the empty blocks waiting for tourists, who will not come, to a small beach an hour from the city.
What has stood out most for me has been the number of real estate agencies. By the end of the second day, as I sit writing this, I have counted 22 within the old city. Many, like Engel & Völkers target Germans, but I have spotted others in Russian and Swedish. They outnumber any other shop type except clothes and food.
A quick google map search reveals
14 hits in English
15 hits in Spanish
10 hits in German
The use of colour is bracing. Two tones, usually a light yellow offset by green shutters, are the norm and many are not shy about a splash of red or pink. Combined with colourful tiles, courtesy of Al-Andalus, it gives Palma a vibrancy whose absence, in the glass and monochrome minimalism of home, I am only now appreciating.