Discovering Mallorca – Day 6 – Puig de Galatzo and Binissalem 

It’s a beautiful day for a hillwalk. We leave our accommodation early in the morning to avoid the mid-day heat. From Puigpunyent we follow the signs up to La Reserva Puig de Galatzo and park the car 2km away from the starting point at Font des Pi. The road is not the best and gets worse after the junction of the Es Cucui house that’s used as an orientation point in the walk description. So we leave the car here and walk the rest of the way. 

The path isn’t the clearest and gets worse after the fire watchtower. A few cairns along the way guide you up the mountain. However, once we reach the scree 100m below the summit, we have completely lost the path and find ourselves amidst cliffs and rocks that don’t lead anywhere. We decide to call it a day, have a quick bite to eat and take in the beautiful views. 

The way down is even worse, but we eventually manage to find the road and head back to the car whilst Puig de Galatzo triumphantly looks over us.

In the afternoon we drive inland to Binissalem. It’s 4pm and the village is deserted. The only place open is a small bar where we have a few drinks and a catchup with the hubby’s friends. By the time we leave it’s raining buckets and the roads have turned into rivers. At least it’s still warm enough!

I am still trying to find the delicious wine we had in Valldemossa and have located the winery Vins Ripoll in Binissalem. Very disappointingly the stockroom guy had left for the day along with the keys. So no Sang de Bou for us! We do, however, buy two just bottled unlabelled reds with the promise that it’s even better than Sang de Bou. We have to let it mature for a few months in the bottle before we try it though!

Discovering Mallorca – Day 5 – Sunday Market in Pollenca, Cap de Formentor, Port de Pollenca, Alcudia and Cap des Pinar

We get up early to head to the market in Pollenca. We find free parking just outside the village centre, only a 5 minute walk away from the market. By the time we arrive at just after 9am, the market around the Placa Major is already buzzing. The market on the main square is reserved for food stalls selling fresh fruit and veg, bread, cheese and cold meats. The back alleys are the Sunday home of crafts, clothes, leatherware and souvenir stalls. 

We have a quick coffee and feel energised enough to climb the 350 stairs to Calvari – a local pilgrimage site. The climb is easy-going thanks to the stairs being rather flat, plus the rewarding 360ish views from the top over the rooftops of Pollenca and towards the Tramuntana and Mediterranean make the little bit of effort very worthwhile. 

By the time we get back to the village centre the streets are a lot busier and there is hardly any space to navigate the narrow streets amongst the crowds descending from what feels like hundreds of tour buses. We buy some truly delicious deluxe (because of its price) bread. At roughly 16€ per kg they’re not exactly the bargain of the century, but they taste amazing. We went for the raisin and nut wheat loaf and the tomato loaf, but choosing amongst the 20 odd varieties was by no means easy. They are expensive breads but they will sort us out for lunch over the next few days. 

By the time we leave lovely little Polenca, parking has been hard to come by, so it’s definitely advisable and less stressful to get up an hour earlier and enjoy some peace and quiet before all hell, by that I mean tour groups, breaks loose. 

Next destination: Cap de Formentor. More beautiful scenery and coastal roads await. The drive up north on this peninsula might be even more stunning than Sa Calobra. It’s difficult to choose between them though. This road has a lot more traffic and even though it is narrow and only wide enough for one car in places, coaches don’t shy away from driving like maniacs around the edgy bends. It’s not long until the inevitable happens and some coach and car play a game of who’s strongest. The result is a long line of cars. Luckily we’re stuck at an amazing viewpoint and use the time wisely for some snaps. 

We reach the lighthouse at the most northern tip of the peninsula and wait for a parking space to become available. The views back south are stunning and worth the wait. It’s pretty busy up here, so we don’t spend too much time up here.

On the way back we pass a small viewpoint that overlooks Cala Figuera. There are only three parking spaces so we’re quite lucky to be able to pull in.

Our next stop is Mirador de sa Creuata – an overcrowded tourist destinations that sells overpriced icecreams and tacky souvenirs. There are coaches arriving by the minute now, blocking traffic from both sides because parking is very districted. Views are great 9nce again though. 

It’s a pretty hot day, so we drive back south and head to Port de Pollenca for a stroll along the promenade and some ice-cream. Port de Pollenca is a cute resort town that’s been developed to meet the demands of holiday crowds. The small sandy beaches along the promenade are brilliant for holiday makers that don’t have a hired car though and they’re very clean. 

Our final stop for the day is Alcudia which is at the other end of Badia de Pollenca where we try some more local beer and wander through the quiet streets. 

Our last stop for the day is Cap des Pinar. Again the views towards Cap de Formentor are stunning and it’s hard to leave the beautiful north coast behind. 

Discovering Mallorca – Day 4 – Andratx and Banyalbufar

There are only a few stops planned on our tour of the southern east coast, so we’re taking it easy and have a lateish start to the day.

We first head to Andratx and sip a coffee on the main square in one of the local bars – one of those that seem to have last been refurbished in the 50s where photographs of local sports heros decorate the walls. You’ll find these in most of the villages and they always remind me of Maltese kazins and even the Laurieston back in Glasgow. 

There isn’t a great deal to see or do in this little village, so we just head up to the town hall and have a wander around the landscaped gardens before heading north towards Banyalbufar stopping of Mirador de Ricardo Roca, a viewpoint along the coast. Not the best one you’ll see along this stretch of the coast, but worth stopping by. 

Our next stop is Torre des Verger an old watchtower that clings to the cliffs it’s been built on. It is no more than 1km away from Banyulbafar and there are parking spaces on your right hand side. The views are superb from the top of the little tower, so stopping is a must on your way into Banyalbufar.

We have an excellent lunch from a tiny place in the heart of the village. Pegason y el Pajarito Enmascarado offers an affordable menu del dia for 15.50€. The dishes change every day, are freshly prepared and cooked to perfection. No fuss and fancies, just sime honest food. Best lunch we’ve had so far. The pork and black pudding were delicious and the dogfish and cod were really well cooked too. The pork was probably the juiciest pork we’ve ever had anywhere and this includes cooking at home making it the best pork we’ve ever eaten.

Needing a bit of a walk to after the three course lunch, we had down the cliffs to Cala Banyalbufar. It’s not the nicest of shingle beaches but it’s a nice stroll and the water is a beautiful shade of blue. 

Before returning to Esporles we check out the local winery Son Vives and come away with a bottle of their 2010 red. It’s quite heavy bodied and reminds me slightly of Chateauneuf du Pape wines, but at 11€ it’s a lot less expensive. 

Discovering Mallorca – Day 3 – Valldemossa to Sa Calobra

We’re doing a tour of the Central and Northern parts of the west coast today which will take us to Port de Valldemossa, Valldemossa , Deia, around Puig Major, Gorg Blau and down to Sa Calobra.

Port de Valldemossa is a sleepy little harbour town accessible via a steep cliff-hanging road. There isn’t much more to it than a few houses, a restaurant and some boats, but it’s quiet and pretty. The water is crystal clear and two ladders into the water make the inlet an easily accessible swimming spot. 

Valldemossa is a short drive back up the cliff away. Free parking spaces are available in the outskirts of the village – no more than a 5 minute walk away. Valldemossa is very touristy. However, tucked behind the main roads you’ll find gorgeous litlle back alleys with views towards the mountains. Lots of plant pots decorate the facades of many houses making perfect postcard like picture opportunities. 

Valldemossa has its own saint – quite the thing to have isn’t it? Every door around the city has its own little hand painted tile depicting Santa Catalina right next to it. How many different versions will you find?

We have lunch at a tiny hidden gem called Quita Penas. There are no menus but a board behind the counter tells you the prices of drinks and the daily pa amb oli prepared with locally sourced specialities such as sobrassada, salami and cheese. Simple but absolutely delicious. Probably the best open sandwiches you’ll find in Mallorca. The wine available on the day was Sang de Bou from Binissalem – a stunning fruity red wine that has made it on my “things I want to take home with me” list. I usually like a full-bodied dark ruby wine, but this fine wine just proved that a medium body can have just as much or even more depth of flavour when it’s done well. 

Leaving Valldemossa behind our next stop is Deia, another quaint hilltop village. A lot less busy – probably because there aren’t any parking spaces for coaches. We park outside the city free of charge and walk along the lemon and lime tree lined pathway and up the hill to the church and cemetery where the writer Robert Graves is buried. 

The Ma10 takes us further up north towards Soller. Soller again is a lot busier, has numerous shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s not as picturesque as Valldemossa and Deia, but pretty enough to stop by for an hour or two. Parking is available for free outside the city centre along the main road, a ten minute walk away from the main square. The Banco de Soller and Esglesia de Sant Bartomeu, both designed by Joan Rubio, are adjacent to the main square and show rather striking modern facades. We stop at Cafe Scholl just in time to get some cover from the rain. 

Soller has its own microbrewery called Sullerica. We try two of their craft beers Blanca Cervesa de Blat Cru Mallorqui (raw wheat beer brewed with lemon peel) and the Original Cervesa amb Flor de Taronger (quite golden in colour with orange blossoms). Neither vowed me to be honest. The Blanca is hazy in colour and apart from some citrus finish there isn’t much else going on. The Original is slightly more flavoursome, but not overly exciting.

The last stretch of the tour takes up high up into Tramuntana up close with Puig Mayor. It’s an amazing drive with beautiful scenery and decent roads. There are plenty of cyclists about but unlike other mountain roads there is enough space to overtake them. 

The view towards the Puig Mayor at the top of the road is magnificent and really worth the drive.

Our next destination is Sa Calobra – a small touristy beach place at the bottom of what is one of the best scenic and adventurous drives in Europe. The route downhill this steep and curvy bit of tarmac is simply breathtaking. We got there just after 5pm, so the road was relatively quiet. I wouldn’t even want to imagine what it would be like navigating the narrow road in the height of summer when tour operators navigate the narrow road with huge coaches and you have to try and squeeze past those monsters. 

At the bottom of the road there are a few self service restaurants of doubtful food standards but a further 350m along is a beautiful beach surrounded by rocky peaks. It’s not of the soft sandy variety, but the waters are crystal clear and deep blue. Unfortunately, we arrived quite late so never managed to catch the light well enough. 

Completing the circuit back to Esporles we pass more amazing landscapes and rocky hill formations proving that Mallorca really is one of the most beautiful and diverse islands in Europe. 

Discovering Mallorca – Day 2 – Palma de Mallorca

It’s already 11am by the time we reach the historic centre of Palma. We left our hilltop accommodation quite late, but also spent half an hour looking for free parking which we eventually found right outside the city walls – approximately a 15 minute walk away from La Catedral. There are plenty of underground parking spaces around the city, but that would have been too easy. The money we saved on parking got invested in beer. So it’s a win-win for me.

We follow the Lonely Planet’s walking tour which unfortunately was the least exciting walk we haver completed that was described in the guide book. Palma is a beautiful city though and if you get away from the main shopping streets to discover the narrow back alleys you’ll find picturesque courtyards and tranquil plazas worth a picture or two.

Before heading for lunch we have a quick coffee at a place we “discovered” yesterday – Ca Na Cati. It’s a cafe/bakery that sells typical Mallorcan sweet and savoury pastries as well as cheap and tasty coffee. It’s a really popular place and a real treat amongst the other cafes on the plaza. There’s always a queue, but you can expect to get served really quickly.

I have a read a few very positive things about Spanish craft beer so was determined to try some and used “researching restaurants” as my excuse to stop at Cafe Antiquari which used to be an antique store but has been turned into a cafe/bar/bistro. A lot of the decor is reminiscent of the cafes history, but it is tastefully done throughout and not tacky like other retro bars . 

They have a small selection of craft beers. We opt for the most interesting sounding ones; La Socarrada which is a honey and rosemary flavoured golden coloured ale brewed with barley, and Er Boqueron which, paler in colour, is brewed partially with sea water. Both taste great, are full of flavour and come from the same brewey in Valencia, but I prefer the honey and rosemary one. Probably because it’s a combination I have never tasted in beer before.

After the small detour we have lunch in a place called Celler Premsa – a typical traditional restaurant renowned for its great value menu del dia which consists of a starter, main, dessert and a drink for 12.75€. Bargain! It’s not the best food we’ve ever had and not as good as the food we had at Restaurant de Canet last night, but it’s decent and portions are quite a good size too. It was really busy inside and the diners were mostly local which is never a bad sign. The menu del dia was only available in Spanish, but the standard menu was translated into English as well. 

On the way home, we stopped at one of the many German discount supermarkets available on the island to get supplies for breakfast and dinner. We’re still pretty full up though, so it might just be a glass of vino tinto, well more likely two, before bed tonight. 

I also made a new friend. Quite furry and not my usual type but really cute nonetheless.

Discovering Mallorca our way – Day 1

It’s an early start for us – 3am to be precise to make it to Prestwick Airport on time to catch the 7am flight to Party Central. Not that we’re the Party Central crowd that staggers about Magaluf at 3am in the morning (or 3pm in most cases) and apart from STIs doesn’t bring many other souvenirs/memories back home. We have opted to stay far, far away from the party crowd and booked up an AirBnb place in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere to be defined in our case as the Tramuntana mountain range. It is stunning. All you can see from Casa Magica are the surrounding mountains.

We’ve had an easy and relaxed day. Spent an hour in Palma to waste some time and then drove up the narrow mountain roads to get to our holiday pad. We’ve made friends with the house cat which from here on will be referred to as kitty cat and then looked up places for dinner in Esporles which at 4km distance is the closest village to where we’re staying.

There are only a few places to choose from in these neck of the woods (where a rental car is essential), so we decided to trust the locals and go with Restaurant de Canet which turned out to be an excellent choice. 

The restaurant was empty when we arrived just after 8pm but a few more diners joined throughout the evening. The food is excellent and by Scottish standards inexpensive, generously portioned yet delicious and really well cooked. The service was more than welcoming and made you feel at home. Even though we only had a bottle of wine, one starter and two mains between us we managed to spend 2.5 hours in de Canet chatting away to the waiter and the table next to us. We even got offered two free liqueurs to round-up the meal. What a great experience! Hopefully we’ll have enough time to go back.

We also drank our first Mallorcan wine – full bodied, but not too heavy and full of flavour. Needless to say we’ll have more of that. 

Honeymoon in France – Day 8 South of France – Les Baux, Aix en Provence and Nice

image

The drive from Avignon to Nice is over 280km (if you avoid the toll roads), so it’s probably a good idea to break up the journey and visit some stunning places along the way.

Being a sucker for dreamy hilltop villages, we decide to visit Les Baux which is a good 30 minute drive south of Avignon. It’s a pretty yet commercial village, but go early enough and you avoid all the crowds. Parking costs 5€ per day no matter how long you stay. There is no parking directly in the village, so you complete the rest of the journey on foot up a steepish hill. The later you arrive to visit, the longer your walk will be as parking spaces along the road fill up pretty quickly.

image

image

image

Les Baux truly is beautiful with its small alleys, cobblestones and magnificent views. There are plenty of restaurants and shops as well to keep you fed and occupied in case the scenery isn’t enough.

After a good two hours we drive off to Avignon – another wee city in the Provence I visited 16 years ago with my gran. It’s a gorgeous city and we’re lucky with the weather as well. Due to time constraints we limit our visit to the old part of town and Pavillon de Vendome which is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

image

image

image