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30 April 2019

five day trips in mallorca, that aren't magaluf

i'd been to mallorca once before - a hundred years ago at least - and on that trip we didn't have the opportunity to leave the city walls. back then, our days were spent wandering the capital, from old town to new, in search of tapas and sangria (can't fault the logic). this time, with a borrowed car and a local guide to show us all the best bits, i was hoping to sample more than the local cuisine. though, as with any holiday of mine, that will always feature heavily - naturally. grateful that we were going to have at least a few days of sun, i was buzzing that i was going to finally see a bit more of the biggest of the balearic islands at long last.

jasmin and i took it in turns of driving, thankfully, because after one hour on those back-country roads i was in need of a still drink! it's difficult enough navigating narrow roads when you're used to the roads and the rules of driving, and the car is built the way you remember. when all that's swapped over for the opposite side of the road, it becomes rather hellish. add to that the inumerable amount of cyclists who'll want to share the narrow roads with you at every opportunity too, and let's just say that maybe there was a reason we stuck to the city last time.. ha. all jokes aside, having the car opened up so many new paths for us to discover the real mallorca, and here are my favourites from the trip:



this was my first introduction to real "rural" mallorca, and it was suuuper pretty. the village is world herritage listed for it's myriad of trails, panoramic views, and the natural beauty of the surrounding hilly landscape. the town's quiet streets are lined with beautiful plants and orange trees - something valldemossa is world-famous for, and the winding roads are as quiet as they are intertwined with each other - once you're in, you're in. the main attraction for the tourists that visit daily is the real cartuja, the monestary where chopin  and george sand once spent a winter. there's a museum there to mark that blip in time, too. what we were there for was to sample the local delicacies - obviously. the coca de patata is a light, sweet bun, made from potatoes. sounds weird, but it was bloody tasty. 10/10 would go back for seconds. we stayed for a pastry and a coffee, and then headed on - keen to see what else the island had to offer!


every sunday morning, the village's main square is filled with market stalls and the locals congregate after church to relax in the many bustling cafes. we'd arrived juuuuust as the stalls were starting to slow down for the day, but that didn't stop us from having a nosy around the boutique shops and crafty stalls that lined the streets. in the middle of the village you'll find the calvari steps - 365 steps made from ancient stone, one for every day of the year - that lead up, up, up to an old chapel at the very top. i probably managed 28 or so of the steps, before giving up and heading straight for more tapas. jasmin made it to the top, and by all accounts claimed it was a very pretty view indeed, especially as toward the top the stairs become lined with cypress trees for a bit of shade from the midday sun!

a few kilometers north is the port de pollenca, a gorgeous stretch of beach with amazing sea views and some prettttty tasty ice cream. the port was once a working harbour, but now is more of a horseshoe bay perfect for fishing, relaxing, and playing "spot the local", of which you will struggle in the summer as it's likely going to be all tourists.. sorry-not-sorry. a bit further north of the main strip you'll find the pine walk promenade, which is a more narrow and tranquil strip of beach, and has muuuuch less of that, if that's more your thing.

cap de formentor

if you're after a terrifying adventure and dramatic scenery, then this is the stop for you. the drive was nothing short of scary as shit - those narrow as hell roads made only worse by some insane hair pin bends and turns that came out of nowhere, coupled with absolutely idiotic cyclists trying to share the already-too-tight roads even tighter, and saw us - at times - sit in the middle of the road, waiting for cyclists to get to the next shoulder so we could in fact keep driving. and then, at the top - a beautiful lighthouse and incredible view of the northern tip of mallorca - and nowhere to turn your car around. absolute carnage for every sane person trying to get up there to take in the wild peninsula and sandy beaches below, but.. one thousand percent worth it.

there's a local joke that says that a parish preist and a cap de formentor coach driver arrived at the pearly gates at the same time, and only one was allowed in. who? the bus driver, as he had led far more people to pray for their lives than the priest. you think i'm overselling it, but honestly: i'm not. it's insane to think that people were walking on the road to get to the top - putting far more people in danger than needs be, but.. i guess people will do strange things for impressive views..


in the west of the island is soller. it's set back within a lush valley of orange trees (and celebrates them on the regular), and is plotted between the mountains and the sea. in other words: stunning. it's your typical mediterranean town; you know, narrow streets and coloured shutters, but beyond that the towns charm is also extended to a pretty orange retro tram that runs from the town down to its port, a few kilometers down the road, as well as a pretty special mountain train that runs from palma town into soller a few times a day, through the picturesque mountains above. the train dates back to 1912 and is still in its original state. sadly, we didn't get the train - we had the car after all, but katy had been on it before and spoke very highly of the views. we arrived late in the afternoon and so watching sun set on this little slice of paradise was preeeeetty spectacular, indeed.

palma de mallorca

it would be a crime to visit mallorca and not visit the city of palma, despite having been before. palma is such a vibrant city, stylish yet charming, and compact in size. from the gothic cathedral in the old town to the winding streets beyond the seafront, there is no shortage of sights or sounds to take in in palma. it was here we finally got our hands on the mallorcan delicacy that is the ensaimada - a croissant-like pastry that's made from lard instead of butter, and designed to be dipped into thiccck chocolate drink, before walking it all off and falling into one of the city's quirky cafes, to eat our weight in tapas. more bloody tapas. it was a surprise to me that i remembered a lot of the winding back-roads from our last trip, and even remember visiting the arab quarter and the legendary old olive tree - believed to be more than 800 years old, and one of the city's most admired landmarks.

these five days and five day trips were exactly what i needed to reignite my love for the spanish island, and i have to say a lot of that came down to having the car to get around. not that the island isn't doable without one, but it certainly made it a lot easier. so did having a local with us - katy; she speaks the language, and grew up on the island, so she absolutely made all the difference to the way our trip panned out. so, if possible, take her with you. she will probably say yes..?

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