S'Albufera de Mallorca is the Catalan name of the largest nature reserve on the Balearic islands, and we were just across the road from it, which had been one of the reasons why we had chosen the hotel: the beach on one side, the nature reserve on the other, that was surely going to keep us happy for a week!
So on the first full day of our holiday, after a delicious and rather opulent breakfast, we left the hotel. Our first stop was the tourist information, where two very friendly people didn't quite understand what we wanted, in spite of speaking English - all we wanted was a little map of the surrounding area, so that in any case we wouldn't get lost on our walks. No matter with what simple words and how clearly we explained that we did not want a rental car or a bus tour, but really just to WALK on our own feet straight from where we were standing now, they seemed confused and offered all sorts of maps showing the whole island, being no use to us. Finally, a doubtful looking lady handed me a colourful map of Playa de Muro, showing all the hotels and restaurants along the beach - plus the roads and streets leading along and from the beach, with the nature reserve showing well on one side. Exactly what we wanted!
Another bit of confusion arose when we asked whether this (pointing at the corresponding dot on the map) was the only entrance to the reserve or could we reach it also by walking down the road the tourist information was on; the helpful colleague of the map lady nodded enthusiastically, which we took to mean "yes"... but it wasn't; we ended up at a dead end in a residential area, only being able to look at the park through the fence:
The residential area was nice enough to walk through, and so we didn't complain and simply walked between the quiet villas and gardens, with almost nobody else in sight, until we reached the gate to the nature park.
Everyone who enters the park has to get a (free) visitor's permit at the information centre, where they also hand out a useful leaflet; you can look at the leaflet here. It is in English and gives information about the many species of birds, fish and plants as well as general info about the reserve, as well as a map with various walking routes well marked. The longest walking route was stated to be a bit over 11 km long; we wanted to save that for another day (but never got round to do it, for reasons you will see in future posts). Instead, we went on the mid-length walk of about 5 km, which nicely covered the most interesting parts of the area.
The park was very quiet, only a handful of people walking in there; we saw and heard many birds, observed the fish, met the buffalos (but not the Camargue horses that are also roaming the park) and enjoyed the whole day very much.
In the afternoon, we went back to the hotel for a little rest, then changed into our swimming clothes and had a first dip in the Mediterranean before we showered and changed for dinner, which was just as delicious and opulent as breakfast had been.
After that, a cocktail at the outdoors bar, a romantic little walk to the now empty beach under the starry sky, and our first day was over.