A quick getaway to prolong our summer. We heard a lot about the Balearic Islands and in specific Mallorca, very touristic but we think this is mainly in Summer so we take our chances. After all, these islands are also very popular with (professional) sporters. So there must be more than beach …
Thanks to low-cost carrier Ryanair we can fly out last minute at a descent price from Brussels National Airport (about 2 hour flight). After picking up our rental car (never pay extra insurance, we did pay the extra cost which was a bit of a trap and unnecessary) we can start to explore the biggest of the Balearic Islands. Of course not before we stop at a supermarket (thankfully this is a touristic island and some supermarkets are hence open on Sundays …).
And yes indeed, our first stop and sleeping place is very worthwhile! The Petit Hotel Hostatgeria Sant Salvador is an old monastery, reconverted into a hotel and restaurant. Those monks sure knew where to build a house! Even though it is cloudy, the peace and vastness of the surroundings is magnificent. Not too bad for an island crowded by sun-baking tourists in summer 🙂
Our real first day starts with the descend from the monastery – a quick stop at the huge cross is a must to behold the plains beneath. The goal of today is Playa de Muro, in the north. We planned a visit to Ses Salines and Parc Natural de Mondrago, but a day only counts 24 hours, so we have to skip some sightings. We visit Portocolom, a small but nice fishing village. Porto Cristo with the Cuevas del Drach is one of those places absolutely to avoid! We drove a bit further to enjoy our peaceful lunch with views over the Mediterranean Sea.
Just 6 km out of Porto Cristo we stop at S’Illot to go back in time: in Mallorca there are several tablaotic settlements. The Poblat Tablaiotic de S’Illot is one of them and is free to visit. Some boardwalks give you a good view once you actually find the site … It is a bit out of the centre. Unfortunately some construction works were going on (I suppose it was the right timing outside the holiday season).
We continue our way up north and pass Canyamel. Again there are some caves here (Cuevas de Artà) but we read about a tower we could visit (we like to be high and dry 😉 ). I see something towerish from the road, but I think the tower must be higher in the hills. Google Maps guides us towards the tower. At least, we think. We end up on a dusty track leading to some houses. Wrong way, no tower.
So we turn back using someones drive-way, up to the next place to visit: Capdepera. We park outside the small village (sometimes it’s better to walk a bit than to risk a heart-attack in the narrow and for you unknown streets) and walk up to the Castell de Capdepera. The entrance is 4 euro. After we leave I notice it should only cost 3 euro, and we should have asked at least half of our money back. Half of the ruin is under construction 🙁 From the walls we can climb however, we have a very nice view over the surroundings.
We can only see a little bit of the coastline – that side was under construction. Some parts of the castle date back to as far as the 10th century and the ruin is nice. Once outside we try to reach the back of the castle but the bush blocks our view.
We end the day with a nice surprise at the next accommodation. Because the holiday park is fully booked, we get the disabilities cabin. No big deal, but this one doesn’t have a kitchen. We thought to save some money by cooking for ourselves. Not a problem though: we have access to the half board buffet for free!
The holiday park we call home during three days is situated just outside Valentin de Muro and the next town. We wouldn’t want to stay here in summer … But the park is nice and the location couldn’t be better for us: crossing the road, through a small piece of s’Albufera National Park and we have the sea all to ourselves around sunset and sunrise!
The weather is not that stable and we want to make the most out of our small holiday. So we change the program and hit for Cap de Formentor. Once we arrive at the spit, the road seems to take forever! We meander along the narrow mountain road, going up and down and avoiding mountain goats every second corner 🙂 We are very glad when we finally spot the lighthouse at the cape! We enjoy the magnificent views and turn around every stone 😉 (after such a difficult road, it would be a shame to stay for only 5 minutes …) When we return, we realise we came in just in time to avoid the crowds. We make some stops on the way back, which we skipped on our way up.
When we are back down, it starts to rain a bit. Lucky us, too bad for the masses going up right now! We decide to stop at Alcudia, where we want to make a walk over the city walls. However, this is a tourist draw and we are not into crowded places. So we drive further to Cap des Pinar. Once we are on the right track, we find that the road is blocked … Military zone but not mentioned on Google Maps nor the road map. We notice the rain is slowly catching up on us and when we cannot see the other side of the bay anymore, we pack and drive back to Playa de Muro. Not a nice way to end a lovely day, but the weather can’t be changed …
The next day the weather is better, and we head to the other side of the coastline, towards Cap Farrutx. Google Maps directs us other wise, it looks like this cape is very hard to reach by car. We suffered enough yesterday, so we decide to take a turn to Betlem. We drive as far as we can, which seems to be the starting point of a nice walkway. We take enough water and food with us (after all, we don’t know where this path will lead us to) and walk with the warmth of the morning sun with us. It seems like we do get to see the Cap Farrutx, from a different and unexpected angle. We walk up to Sa Calo, and can enjoy the sun for a very long time!
The clouds come from the other side of the mountains, and strangely enough they seem to evaporate once they reach the peaks. By the time the clouds arrive above the bay where our accommodation is, we decide to walk back and visit some small towns. What a nice day! Lots of sun, no tourists (at the cape, we only saw locals).
Three nights at the same place is a bit much for us being on a road trip 🙂 Time to explore the West of Mallorca. We have to cross the mountains to get to the other side. On the way, we visit Pollença. We find a parking space just outside the center, and walk towards the Calvary Chapel. Once a rest place for crusaders, now for tourists 🙂 In the middle of the 365 steps, we notice we have some company of mosquitoes … Deet and anti-allergicum to the rescue and we can enjoy the view from the chapel. Luckily we also have the company of the sun. Driving through the mountains can be very stressful, let alone when it rains …
360 view Mallorca landscape
We want to visit the monastery of Lluc, but a parking ticket of € 6 plus an entrance fee are a bit too much for us. So we drive further to the next stop: Torrent de Pareis and Sa Calobra. The road gets smaller and busier, we are even cought in a traffic jam! After some corners we can see why: a big tourist bus is driving in front of us. The closer we get to the gap, the more spectacular the environment gets. Luckily I can take a lot of pictures driving by, since all the lookouts are full. And so is the road towards the gap and the beach itself. Seems like the travel guide was right: come in very early or the tourists take over this place! We decide to pass this.
There are more nice stops further up, and before we know it, we get to Soller. We planned to visit this town the next day, but now we’re here and we have enough time . We decide to skip the botanical garden (saved 8 euro per person) and drive into the town. Well … not the best idea ever 🙂 Never try to drive into a small town you don’t know, looking for a parking space. Lesson learned 🙂 We visit the town with her beautiful church, bank building and railway station (you can take a train from Palma, the capital). At the railway station, there is a mass waiting to take the tram to Port de Soller (the beachside town where we stay this night).
For 6 euro per person, we hope this is well worth it, but we don’t take our chances on it. Far more interesting is the free (!!) exhibit with works of the masters Miro and Picasso. Nobody seemed to know this. Nice! Once we get to Port de Soller (and have a new encounter with the brilliant driving style of a local – oh ironically on the Carrer de Bèlgica) the rain has caught up on us. We find a nice restaurant, and I finally have the joy of eating a local dish: paella. We decide to skip a part of our program of tomorrow (no Deia, Banyalbufar or Valldemosa) and head straight to Palma. No more mountains for us!
Today we take a toll way road (which we usually never do), and after half an hour we can start our search for a gas station. We deliver our car back at the airport, and we take a bus to Palma. The easiest (and as it seems, the only way) is the Airport Citybus – 5 euro per person (website mentions 3 euro – never mind …), and luckily the bus stop is just across our hotel. Although it’s well before check-in time, our room is ready.
The sun wins the game with the clouds and we enjoy some nice summer weather during the afternoon. Palma is the biggest city of Mallorca, and the capital, but ‘big’ is relative 🙂 The harbour is home to some very expensive yachts and sailing boats, and it all seems very new. We walk along the seaside towards the world-famous cathedral and think about going in.
But the queue and the ticket price (7 euro per person) make us decide otherwise. The old center has nice small streets (mind the cars though) and we soon find the Arab baths. Although we thought about giving them a visit, the entrance price is more expensive than what’s mentioned in the travel guide (as was the price of the cathedral, here 2,5 euro instead of 2 euro – no big difference indeed, but all smalls count to one big!). The site looks very small, however nice 🙂
Somehow we arrive at the Mercat d’Olivera, a big indoor market where we have a look inside. At the end of the afternoon we have checked everything on our to visit-list. We have something to eat on one of the many squares, enjoy a very nice sunset and the effect on the walls of the cathedral and head back to our hotel. Time to pack our bags!
After a very bad night (the combination of the music on the corridor, the thin walls and the Spanish neighbours – luckily we always carry our ear plugs with us) we have a last walk along the canal (Passeig) to the centre. We fully enjoy the warmth of the sun and the view over the sea, and before we know it, it is time to get our bag and go back to the airport.