Message in a Block
April 10, 2017
As our taxi arrived near to our hotel’s entrance in Port de Soller, the late afternoon sun was low on the horizon. Hotel Marina where we will be staying for the next seven nights is located on the beachfront pedestrian promenade. With our suitcases in tow, we walked the 50 feet towards the hotel’s entrance, and as we walked, the atmosphere greeting us was of dusk closing in, wispy clouds with blue skies peeking through, a balmy breeze, and a quiet that characterizes that time of day when visitors and residents are winding down. We took in the sights of the beach and harbor, the boats moored in the distance, the lighthouses that frame the harbor’s entrance, and the calm Mediterranean waters lapping on the sandy beach. I turned towards our guests, just as I heard in a whispered incredulous voice, “it is magical.”
Mallorca is a wonderful place to visit whether you want to walk, cycle, explore the countryside or relax on the beach. It is the essence of the splendor of the Mediterranean region and for walkers, it offers a perfect walking culture in a perfect setting. The Tramuntana Mountains where we walk are host to many trails including long distance and village to village footpaths. Mallorca’s climate allows for seasons but not as harsh as colder climates with the spring and autumn months offering the perfect temperatures for walking. It isn’t too hot or too cold and the natural beauty of the island’s offerings are at their peak. The trails are well marked and maintained and Mallorcans welcome walkers with open arms.
Our walking week in early April was perfect – 60s and 70s with mostly sunshine. The paths were in good shape and not crowded. Our walking group was united in their enthusiasm! This isn’t unusual but sometimes there are walkers at different levels or expectations and it is our job to ensure all guests are satisfied. This group made that very easy! Our lunches were packed and eaten along the trail and every day we stopped in a village or mountain top café’ for a refreshment and often a slice of Mallorca’s famous Gato d’ametlla, a delicate cake made from the native almond.
What we see along the trails: The Island is rich in bird and animal life, and a landscape that cultivates the diverse vegetation indigenous to the Mediterranean. We usually see donkeys and goats, an abundance of wildflowers, flowering trees and shrubs, almond and olive trees with some olive trees over a thousand years old, and the ever present orange and lemon groves in the Soller Valley. There are the quaint stone villages surrounded by the terraced hillsides; there are structures that host history and some mystery; the pilgrim steps; the ice pits high up in the mountains; the Village of Valldemossa famous for past visitors; and, the spectacular scenery which caps off the experience whether you are walking through lush valleys, along mountainside coastal trails, or high up on the mountain ridges.
On our first day as we approached the Village of Fornalutx, we walked by a church unique in its construction and a reminder of Antoni Gaudi’s work. It was locked but we all took a peek in the windows. It was a small church with just bench seats along the side walls. One guest offered that the church seating along the walls may be related to the medieval idiom “Weakest go to the wall.” And from this expression may have evolved the more common phrase today“… to have one’s back to the wall.” While this church is likely not from medieval times, it peaks our interest and becomes part of our trail swag.
Our second day of walking took us to Deia where the guide, unbeknownst to the group, found the way to where a pivotal scene of the television series Night Manager was filmed. For those who had seen the episode, they were thrilled to retrace the action and the others were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the café in a rocky and protected cove. The café was in the middle of what looked to be a massive renovation, presumably due to the throngs of onlookers the series was drawing so they were adding a bit of seating and additional toilet facilities. The setting is stunning and the rocky caverns intriguing and inviting.
Group, Social or Otherwise: Guests can be as engaged as they desire. I have experienced the full range and it all works. Some people come to be on their own but to have the logistics taken care of for them. Others come to engage, not just in the country, but in the comradery of sharing interests. It is always and never surprising how much people might share – we usually learn so much from hearing others’ stories and occasionally, we end up with friendships that last a lifetime.
Great Circle Route partners with professional and experienced guides and tour managers to offer Americans the opportunity to see the beauty along the trail that is the Island of Mallorca. The majority of Americans have not yet discovered Mallorca, but when they do visit, they are very pleasantly surprised by all it offers in scenery, history, culture, cuisine and the Mallorcan people who are welcoming and genuine. I have been encouraged by the residents to bring more Americans to their lovely Island!