39° 47.762’N 2° 41.687'E Port Soller, Mallorca
We instantly loved Mallorca. Folk tales of Magaluf had my imagination spiralling into the fires of ‘Brit’s abroad’ hell. The reality was nothing short of delightful.
Port Soller is a lovely sheltered marina, with a sandy, family friendly, beach and a gentle curving promenade of restaurants and tourist shops.
A few kilometres away is Soller, the old town. A small, simple village with a sweet, central main square based around a pretty church filled with gold leaf decor and candles. We found an excellent tapas restaurant, not far from the square, called Ca’n Pintxo.
We wanted to explore the hilltop villages around Mallorca so we hired a Vespa from Bullimoto in Port Soller.
Our first stop on our scoot scoot was Eco Vinyasa, an Orange grove nestled in the microclimate of the valley. Oranges are the headline act in this part of the world, sweet and refreshing. Although a stroll through this orchard also showcases lemon trees, avocados, grape vines, blossoms, peacocks and pomegranates!
Fornaluxt, the ‘Most Beautiful town in Spain’
With origins back a thousand years this village is kept in authentic shape by the proud 300 or so residents which call it home. The stone buildings and red tiled roofs combine with the scent of the surrounding orange and lemon groves to provide a traditional rustic charm.
The centre of Fornalutx is the small square Plaça d'Espanya, overlooked by the church and surrounded by cafés, a bakery and a general store, on the road leading out of the town are several restaurants with dining terraces looking over the valley. Thats about it. The village itself is undoubtedly the main attraction. Simply strolling the narrow streets admiring the architecture and traditional beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year. Of note are the Town Hall which includes a 17th century defence tower and the 17th-century Gothic church.
Charm is Deia’s middle name. Deià is so aesthetically pleasing you can’t help but fall in love with strolling it’s lanes with green-shuttered, ochre-coloured houses, sitting on terraces, soaking up the Mediterranean sun and enjoying peeks of the Tramontana as you wander. As with Fornaluxt, controlled urban expansion has meant that this little village has maintained its traditional beauty.
It is no surprise to learn of it’s reputation as a creative haven, historically and today the village is very much an artist’s town, there are a number of art galleries and it is a popular haunt for the rich and famous, all of which lends itself very nicely to good quality restaurants.
Being a part of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, awarded World Heritage Site status, means that Deia is surrounded by some of Mallorca’s finest landscapes. Parking is not easy during the summer but you can reward yourself with a fresh lemonade or gelato.
Just outside of town, it’s well worth heading down to Cala Deià, there is no sandy beach but the water is divine!
The tree lined road in and out the village is very sweet in itself. As are Valldemossa's picturesque streets, sprinkled with shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants. Doorways are lined with beautiful plants and flowers, and almost all homes feature a portrait of Saint Catalina Thomàs, the first saint to be born in Mallorca.
The lanes are quiet of traffic but there are tourists everywhere you look, most of whom come to Valldemossa to see the Real Cartuja, the 13th-century monastery where Chopin and George Sand once spent a winter. We purchased a couple of Mallorcan Ensaimadas, the local sweet pastry, and sat in the square watching tourists pass by.
On Thursday we had thunderstorms, which was also the day we’d picked to go mountain biking.
We hired two full suspension off road bikes from Tramuntana Tours in Port Soller, he pointed us uphill and off we climbed, and we climbed, and we climbed. My dad’s rule has always been, you must earn the downhill by slogging the uphill!
About an hour in, the heavens opened and it absolutely chucked it down. At times the rain was so heavy we couldn’t see where we were going and had to take cover under trees/hide below scaffold propping up an historic chapel. As the rain slowed us down, Casa XORC caught my eye so we stopped for a gaze through the gate, they invited us in out of the rain but we were so grubby we declined!
The summer dust covering the rocks turned to slippery slime and being the charmingly stubborn woman I am refused to follow Captains lead and walk the bike down the gnarly bits, so I ate mud… more than once. I’m often bemused where my bruises come from but then I write these stories and it is fairly apparent !
We were soaking. I was bleeding. We were both muddy and we were absolutely loving it!
We decided to treat ourselves and book a night in Casa XORC, the villa in the hills we found on our ride. We felt drawn to it and the room had a bath so it was a tempting option after so long with a boat shower. We sunbathed, swam, soaked and scrubbed up before heading off to Deià for dinner, where the receptionist had arranged us a table at Sebastians. Sebastian’s was excellent, the food, the service, the ambience. It was absolutely lovely.
Walking in Mallorca is magnificent. The ancient paths that linked many of the quaint mountain villages in the Serra de Tramontana have been maintained and you can walk here, there and everywhere. Check at the tourist office for maps and trail information but the most well known is the GR221.
Along the GRR21 section between Deià and Soller is the charming Finca Son Mico where we sat in the morning light overlooking the valley below and feasted on homemade quiche, lemon cake and drum roll please… freshly squeezed orange juice. There’s a theme here folks.
We took advantage of the hire car and drove the Sa Calobra Road. A huge feat of engineering this road is not for the faint hearted but it is breathtaking.
We drove all the way down to Cala Tuent where we had freshly squeezed orange juice and shared a mind bogglingly sweet lemon meringue pie sitting on a terrace over the bay.
A couple of days later we took the antique train ride to the capital of Mallorca, Palma. My Jasmine, lifetime friend and soul food sunshine, is in Palma and I can’t wait any longer now we are on the same island. Captain & I do plan to sail to Palma, but we are going to circumnavigate the neighbouring island of Minorca before we take the boat to Palma and I’m too impatient to wait to see her.
From Port Soller get on a vintage tram to travel the couple of miles to Soller town, then change to a rickety vintage train to Palma. The rails take you through the Tramontana and olive groves all the way to Palma and back again.
We were a little early to meet Jaz and Chris so we took a seat in the shade below the cathedral, checked out my bruises and napped on our rucksacks.
We gathered supplies at the local markets and headed back to base where we settled in to watch the rugby Word Cup whilst Jaz kept us topped up with a tipple or two!
The next day, with a foggy head, we collected new crew. Captains ol’ mate Chris is making an appearance for a few days onboard.
Did anyone else used to laugh out loud to the comic Calvin & Hobbes? Chris is the epitome of Calvin, cheeky, bright and always up to trouble!
We jumped aboard the antique train from Palma and headed back to our floating home waiting for us in Port Soller, it’s going to be nice to have some company onboard!