Travel '98: August Mallorca

The five British summer visitors who arrive every minute at Palma airport on their way to the beach could be missing one of Spain's best- kept secrets.
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Palma de Mallorca wants to be taken seriously. That's why it opened a huge new airport terminal last summer. For most of the year, the vast structure is an absurdly over-engineered and under-occupied waste of space. But it is designed to manage the peaks, which at summer weekends means it handles more flights than anywhere else in continental Europe.

During the average August, five British visitors arrive every minute, 1.6 million in a full year. But few of them will be aware of the proximity of one of Spain's most profoundly beautiful cities; and a lot of people who have never flown to Palma manage a sneer at the very prospect of joining the throng at Britain's favourite holiday island.

Palma smiles benignly as the coaches speed past en route for Magaluf. Like a bright teenager, she is smaller and more approachable than her elder sisters of Madrid and Barcelona - and knows that, in time, the world will appreciate her immense beauty. Palma possesses the same genes as those mainland Spain twins: art and architecture veering from medieval to Modernista. The cathedral is one of the greatest Gothic creations in the world, with structurally impossible dimensions. It was started 800 years ago, and completed, by the eccentric Catalan architect Gaudi, only this century. It is, therefore, the blood relation of the Grand Hotel, a Modernista miracle. Ironically, for an island whose prime business is accommodating tourists, the hotel has turned into an art gallery - complete with a cafe of Barcelona-grade chic.

How to get there

You can fly to Palma on British Midland from Heathrow, on EasyJet from Luton or on Futura Direct from Gatwick, for fares starting at around pounds 125 return. From other UK airports, there will be plenty of charters too.

Other August holiday spots to see, not slag off

Alicante

Blackpool

Corfu

Deal

Estoril

Frinton

Great Yarmouth

Herne Bay

Ibiza

Jersey

Kinsale

Lloret de Mar

Marbella

Newquay

Ostend

Pwllheli

Rimini

Sorrento

Torremolinos

Ullapool

Ventnor

Worthing

Xativa (south of Valencia)

Yarmouth (IoW)

Zanzibar

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