» It’s always better to be underestimated.« – Michael Scott
If you’re looking online for things one needs to do, see or eat in Palma you’ll probably read about the cathedral La Seu, the museum Es Baluard or the Castillo Bellver. If the website you’re searching on is giving so called “insider tips”, it might also mention the Santa Catalina market or some popular tapas bars. The quarter Portixol is only very rarely – or pretty much never – recommended. Maybe, because it’s not located directly in the center or because it’s still underestimated by travel guides since it used to be an old fishing quarter. So I guess I have to be the one to give the world (or at least the small part that’s reading this blog) the advice: Next time you’re visiting Palma, please make a detour to Portixol
I had almost missed the quarter even though I was there nearly daily. I was there to take photos, to go for a walk; I went through Portixol on my way to work. I just never took the time to simply stay for a little while. Maybe you know this situation: You permanently pass a café, a store or a bar and every time you tell yourself that you really need to go in there – but you never do. That’s how I felt about the cafés in Portixol. In the end it took me over a year until I finally entered the first one. And as I was sitting on one of the terraces, I thought: Why, oh why did I wait for so long to come here?
Portixol has gone through an extreme change. It has turned from a bedraggled place, which one better stays away from, into Palma’s latest in-quarter. Because even though Portixol might still be an insider tip for tourists, it definitely isn’t one anymore for Majorcans. During the week they sit in the cafés, enjoying their siesta or later on their after-work-drinks. At the weekend it is sometimes quite the challenge to find a table outside that isn’t already taken. In front of one restaurant there even is a little queue of people waiting to get a seat – but to be honest, 7.90 € for paella and a desert really is unbeatable.
With that being said, the first reason becomes clear why Portixol has become that popular. Prices here are (still) lower than in the city’s center but still you’re not getting served cheap products. Fresh juices, smoothies and salads are advertised everywhere. All cafés are very creatively and invitingly furnished so that it’s quite a difficult choice to decide where to go to. But they all offer something that I have always missed in my beloved bars in the Santa Catalina quarter: A sea view.
Almost everything in Portixol is a little smaller than in Palma’s center. The harbor, the boats, the houses. Just one thing is wonderfully broad and long: the seafront which therefore turns into the top-destination for fans of all kinds of sports. Whether inline skater, jogger, skateboarder or biker, no matter the age, here is the place to be
Despite the sporty-relaxed lifestyle which can be sensed at the seafront and in the cafés, the real estate prices here are almost as high as in the luxury towns of the island. But still, there is a decisive difference: When you’re looking at the houses in Portixol you don’t think about how much money they must have costed. The apartments here still seem down-to-earth and have somehow kept the character of the old fisher’s houses they used to be. When walking through the quarter, it’s not money that is on one’s mind. Instead, one thinks about the easiness of summer, the happiness on the first day of a starting vacation or about living more often just for the moment.
Maybe that is also the reason why Portixol is still a little underestimated. Because you don’t directly see the luxury that it actually offers. I am not talking about the material luxury one probably finds behind the walls of the small houses. A walk through Portixol is perfect to think about something or simply about nothing. When you’re going jogging here, you can switch off or run as fast as you can and it doesn’t matter what you look like because in the midst of all the other runners you probably won’t be the only one whose face is brightly red. You can come here to enjoy the sun and life as well. And that to me is a luxury that no money in the world can pay for.
Text: Jessica Hanack