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“My life in Santa Catalina” by Izaskun.

Santa Catalina used to be a fisherman village, out of the walls of the Old Town of Palma. Located on the west side of the city and close to the sea, this neighbourhood was inhabited by humble people dedicated, mostly, to the fish industry. In addition, there also lived mooring manufacturers and flour millers, and we can still find 18th-century mills in Industria street and in Es Jonquet. This area still conserves the ancient style of a little village: two floors houses, Mallorcan blinds, small balconies, smalls interior gardens, orange trees and stoned streets. Its name’s due to an old hospital dedicated to Santa Catalina de Alexandria (patron saint of merchants and sailors).

Nowadays, Santa Catalina is one of the most attractive neighbourhoods in the city. With the atmosphere of a village, it combines lifestyles and old and modern features. Its geographical position explains its current popularity among the boating community and has also become the culinary meeting point par excellence, full of restaurants and bars where locals mingle with foreign residents, and with visitors from all over the world. 

El Mercado de Santa Catalina

Built-in 1920, the Mercat de Santa Catalina is the oldest gastronomic market in Palma and is full of stalls where fresh meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and other gourmet products are sold. Its regular customers include both, professional restaurant and yacht chefs and local residents.

Santa Catalina maintains the character of a traditional market that offers fresh products, mostly locally produced and seasonal, for those who are used to buying fresh food on a daily basis. It has become a meeting point not only for the common customer, but also the professional or gourmet chef or any gastronomic enthusiast looking for information or advice, where in addition to making your daily purchase you can enjoy special events, taste new flavours, or just stroll and eat something in one of the bars of the market, letting your senses do the rest.

This market is the soul of the neighbourhood.

 For Santa Catalina it seems that time has not passed, it has simply been added some posts of “picoteo” next to the fish stands, the greengrocers and the bars of a lifetime. On Saturday at noon, people change the bar of Can Frau, one of the sunniest bars, by the sidewalk to the sun. 

Can Joan Frau is a reference in Palma. People crowd the bar and the lucky ones find room in the little tables behind her. Here everything is served is homemade and Mallorcan: from the vegetable cake (coca de verdura) and empanadas, the Frito Mallorquin made with cuttlefish or lamb, the stuffed eggplants, to the Sopes Mallorquines or the paella.

Tomeu Martí, a chef who is quite a character, settled in the market a couple of years ago. His restaurant Arume, displays all his know-how, technique and imagination, especially at night when he offers two entertaining tasting menus, here, in the market. It follows the trend of the Asian stalls: a simple stand where only sushi and dim-sum are served. 

Tardeo

This custom of the Palmesans to lengthen the aperitif from Saturdays to noon is so peculiar that the “tapeo” has been renamed: here it is called “the tardeo”. Yeah, because you happen to end up chaining your appetizer to dinner and then end up dancing in one of the clubs in the neighbourhood. Don’t panic, this is the antipode of Magaluf and the after-hours.

On Saturday afternoons, between 5 and 9 o’clock, hundreds of kids with crow’s feet come to this place located on Avenida Argentina, very close to the Paseo Maritimo. In fact, they form endless queues to access at peak times, which here is between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. 

My favourite places for “Tardeo” are: 

My experience in Santa Catalina

My adventure in Santa Catalina began in September 2019 when my former landlord told me that I should leave the apartment where I was living near the Escorxador. Somewhat desperate to see the unaffordable prices that are being handled in Palma right now, I happened to find this apartment advertised on the internet. With the deposit money in my pocket, I arrived at the appointment where they were going to show me, that I didn’t know at the time, would be my new home. The owner of the apartment, a Mallorcan man who owns the establishments and dwellings of half street, showed me the studio, a small flat of 35 m2 ideal for a single person. The price was affordable even though the apartment was somewhat small but enough for my puppy and for me. Best of the apartment, location. It is located in the middle of the whole life of Santa Catalina, two blocks from the market where I shop for fresh products and a 1-minute walk from my favourite place to party. At the end of the short visit to the apartment, I put the money on the table and said: “Shall we sign the contract now?”·

I didn’t know the neighbourhood much more than on Saturday nights I used to come out for beers with my friends. Surprisingly,  I discovered how quiet the neighbourhood is during the day: the small shops of vegan/ecological food, the haberdashery, the stationery, the bakery, even a theatre! It was such a village in the middle of the city. Incredible. People speak quietly and neighbours still wave each other. Es Jonquet is a pedestrian area – where you can find the ancient, non-working wheat mills – where is perfect to walk my dog and the views of the port are amazing. Also, you can descry the Castell de Bellver crowning the hill. AT night, feels magic!

As breakfast lover, soon I started to investigate the places where to enjoy a good breakfast. I spotter several places: 

  • La Madeleine de Proust Santa Catalina is a gourmet bakery where you can find any kinds of french pastries, special bread and offers a cute environment to take some coffee. 
  • Simple with vegan and raw options, this places offers smoothies of any kind and what’s best for me, they accept dogs inside!
  • Santina, the favourite place for brunch for my neighbours. It’s a bit expensive but anyways, you’ll find a variety of quality products and the decoration is fab! If you are lucky, you will sit down in the cute terrace facing the market. 
  • Ca Sa Camena is not a place to sit down and have your breakfast but to take away. It is a typical Mallorcan bakery where you will find all kinds of Mallorcan pastries such as “Coca de Verdura”, “Panades”, “Rubiols” i “Ensaimadas”. Apart, they offer also different types of bread and chocolate cakes. Remember that if you wish to take an Ensaimada as a souvenir, you need to order it 48h in advance.

On Saturday mornings, the market collapses between vermouths and tapas and in the feixina park there are always kids practising skateboarding and dogs running on the lawn. Moreover, every Saturday, my street fills up with people who come for a drink and to have fun for “tardeo”.

The area is flooded with good atmosphere and laughter. I found out that half of my neighbours are not even Spanish. I may hear other languages are spoken surrounding my house: English, Italian and even Swedish. Makes sense as the neighbourhood has been “recovered” thanks to foreigners that have bought and refurbished the properties. 

I feel so proud of living here. As it’s not the best place to grow a family as the streets during the night are too crowded and noisy and there’re no schools nearby, it’s perfect for a young single lady like me!

My puppy and I feel very happy and fortunate!

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