Hiking the Dry Stone Route in Mallorca – from Deia to Lluc monastery

November 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Europe, featured, Leisure, Mallorca, Nature, Spain, Walking

My friend Julia and I spent a few days in Mallorca this September, walking the GR221 Drystone Route that runs along the west coast and through the Tramuntana mountains. Having walked the Tour de Mont Blanc together over the previous four years, we were ready for something a little gentler this year. Mallorca seemed to fit the bill with autumn sunshine, some challenging mountain walks combined with sea views and comfortable hotels to stay in rather than a communal dorm in a mountain hut. You can read here about the first two days of our walk starting at the pretty artist’s village of Deia when we walked to the mountain monastery at Lluc.

Heather and Julia ready to set off on our walk from Deia in Mallorca Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Julia ready to set off on our walk from Deia in Mallorca

We’d flown in to Palma late the previous evening and after breakfast in the pretty courtyard of Hotel Born, we hoisted our rucksacks on our backs and walked through the narrow streets towards the bus station at Placa d’Espanya. There is an excellent and regular bus service joining all the major towns of Mallorca and we took the bus 210 which passes through Valldemossa, Deia and Soller which are all convenient points to pick up the Dry Stone Route – timetables and more information on the tib.org website.

From the bus we could see Valdermossa, a picturesque town surrounded by mountains with views of the sea in the distance, where the writer George Sand spent a winter in 1838 with her lover, the composer Frederick Chopin. They had an uncomfortable and unhappy time and she wrote a rather scathing account of the Mallorcan people and customs in her book “A Winter in Mallorca“. We got off the bus at the next stop of Deia, a hilltop town which became popular with writers and artists because of the writer Robert Graves who made his home here. Exploring the small streets off the main road we discovered the village shop where we bought a few provisions for lunch and some water before starting our walk.

Dry stone route from Deia to Soller, Mallorca

Dry stone route from Deia to Soller, Mallorca

Further along the road from the bus stop, we soon picked up the signs for the GR221 which took us along the hillside winding through olive groves with views towards the sea. Seeming easy at first the path then crossed a few stiles and became quite rocky, so I got out one of my walking poles to avoid twisting an ankle. We snaked down the valley and followed the road for a short while before turning up steps between two houses and joining a path that ran parallel to the main road below.

This stretch was very pleasant as we walked in the shade, with cicadas chirping and the scent of pine needles in the air. The path was now taking on its ‘dry stone’ character, with stone terraces containing olive trees, the occasional stone built house and the retaining walls by the path making a grey patchwork with the stones fitting together perfectly.

Around 2 hours after walking out of Deia we came upon Can Prohom, a gorgeous large Mallorcan farmhouse with an outdoor terrace serving fresh orange juice and home-made lemonade with an array of quiche, meringues and almond cake. This was a taste of the wealthy country houses of Mallorca with an old carriage on display in the entrance and a mural of local costumes above the kitchen and we were perfectly happy to sit for a while on the terrace to take in the views over the valley.

Can Prohom between Deia to Soller, Mallorca

Can Prohom between Deia to Soller, Mallorca

Feeling refreshed, we walked down below Can Prohom, following the road for a while before it turned into a path that took us through fields and scrubland, until we came over a rise and could see the sea in the distance. A little further and we caught a glimpse of the Far des Cap Gros lighthouse and a small cruise ship just below the point at the entrance to the bay of Port de Soller. We stopped at the Rifugi de Muleta, a solid stone building which was once a telegraph station but now offers simple accommodation and refreshments for passing walkers like us. Never one to miss the opportunity for a drink of fresh orange juice or a terrace with a view, we sat here for a while before walking down the hill past the whitewashed lighthouse.

Far des Cap Gros lighthouse above Port de Soller, Mallorca Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Far des Cap Gros lighthouse above Port de Soller, Mallorca

The point where the road reached the lighthouse and Refugi de Mulata offered fabulous views over the bay and was clearly a favourite spot to walk up to for a photo opportunity for the more adventurous holiday makers of Port de Soller. Our Hotel, Citrix Soller was a modest establishment set on the same small road just above the resort, so we checked into our room and relaxed there a while before walking down to explore the resort, which encircled the bay with the usual selection of shops, bars and restaurants aimed at the tourists. Along the seafront stretch of sand were kayaks, pedalos and a marina at the far end of the bay with the old fashioned tram going up and down the promenade.

Admiring the view over Port de Soller, Mallorca Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Admiring the view over Port de Soller, Mallorca

The vintage tram ran every half an hour from the seafront at Port de Soller to the older town of Soller and took us to the Placa de sa Constitucia surrounded by outdoor cafes and the 17th century church of Sant Bartomeu. We decided to have dinner in Soller, enjoying the authentic, Mallorcan feel of the town and took a recommendation on Tripadvisor to find the charming Café Scholl down a side street. This pretty cafe had the retro feel of a Viennese tea house, with cakes and light veggie dishes – perfect for morning coffee or a light lunch but also open in the evening. We sat on the covered patio at the back and enjoyed a delicious meal of beetroot gazpacho and fluffy ricotta ravioli with an orange Aperol Spritz that has become my favourite aperitif since I tried it in Italy.

The tram to Soller and our dinner at Cafe Scholl Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The tram to Soller and our dinner at Cafe Scholl

We made an early start the next morning, taking the taxi into Soller where the Saturday market was just setting up with a van selling cheese and sausages and some clothing stalls. Picking up the GR221 signs from the central Placa, the walk soon took us away from the residential streets, through the orchards and orange groves for which this valley is famous. Soon we were approaching the Binibassi, all green shutters and bright pink bougainvillea and then on to Biniarix, another pretty village with old stone houses, a couple of bars and shops and a communal washing house at the end of the village.

Walking through the lemon groves outside Soller in Mallorca Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking through the lemon groves outside Soller in Mallorca

Looking back towards Soller, the mist was still hanging over the valley as the sun tried to come out to burn off the haze. Below us the fields were terraced, with figs, water melons and tomato plants irrigated with fat black pipes fed from stone reservoirs at the corner of each field.

View back towards Soller in Mallorca Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View back towards Soller in Mallorca

Now we were at the start of the Serra de Tramuntana with craggy stone peaks rising ahead as the path became a broad series of cobbled steps snaking up between orange and grey sandstone cliffs. It was striking how the sides of this valley were terraced everywhere we looked and I wondered how they could maintain the walls, terraces and even houses so well in such an inaccessible place. Many of these terraces are centuries old and the Mallorcan government has put a lot of investment into maintaining and developing these walking paths in recent years, in the drive to develop rural tourism.

We passed a mule coming down the path, laden down with paniers on either side, perhaps filled with the olive harvest. Since no roads go up this far, this seems to be the only way to transport goods up and down to the few small houses that the farmers use when tending the land.

Walking on the dry stone route from Soller to Cuber, Mallorca

Walking on the dry stone route from Soller to Cuber, Mallorca

After following the path steeply uphill through a place where the gorge narrowed, we finally reached a viewpoint at the top where we sat under a tree to eat our late picnic lunch. The path continued through dense woodland and finally opened out to a spot where we could glimpse the Cuber reservoir below us in the distance. Plenty of walkers passed us from that direction, since it seemed to be a popular day-hike to take the bus up from Soller and get off at the reservoir, then walk downhill back to Soller, a much easier incline than our arduous uphill struggle!

View towards Reservoir Cuber in Mallorca

View towards Reservoir Cuber in Mallorca

The path led us through an open valley grazed by sheep and horses and along the side of the milky blue reservoir. The water looked inviting but we didn’t dare pause too long since we were heading to the carpark at the far end of the valley where the bus was due to pass through only once that afternoon. The GR221 continued from here to the more remote Refugi de Tossals Verds where we would have loved to have stayed, but it was closed for renovation, so we had no option but to take the bus on to the Lluc monastery where we had booked for 2 nights.

View towards Reservoir Cuber in Mallorca

View towards Reservoir Cuber in Mallorca

We arrived in good time at the car park and waited there for some time, since there was no official bus stop, hoping that the bus would come and we wouldn’t be left stranded. Eventually it did and in 20 minutes we were entering the gates of the imposing complex of Lluc Monastery, one of the major pilgimage sites of Mallorca. Stay tuned for my next article about our stay at Lluc Monastery and the final stages of our walk on the GR221 Dry Stone Route in Mallorca.

If you’d like to walk the Dry Stone Route

Trekking in Mallorca GR221 guide

Click to buy on Amazon

If you plan to walk the GR221 Dry Stone Route I recommend the guide book that we used Trekking through Mallorca – GR221 The Dry Stone Route by Paddy Dillon published by Cicerone.

To transfer from Palma airport to the centre of Palma we took the airport bus No 1 which runs every 15 minutes and will leave you at Placa d’Espana where you will find both the train and bus station. Cost around €3 one way.

Information on routes, timetables and costs of the excellent regular bus service throughout Mallorca, visit the www.tib.org Mallorca Transport website. We used the bus to get from Palma to Deia, from Cuber to Lluc and from Pollenca to Palma.

You can buy the rather uncomplimentary account of Mallorca “A Winter in Mallorca” written by George Sand about the winter she spent there with her lover, the composer Frederick Chopin.

We stayed at Hotel Born in Palma, Hotel Citric in Soller and Santuari de Lluc. In Soller we ate at Cafe Scholl.

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Why Port Soller is perfect for luxury holidays – Mallorca, Spain

One of the reasons why a holiday in Majorca holidays is so popular is that it combines sun, sand and sea with a real sense of luxury. And if it’s luxury you’re after, one place definitely worth staying in is Port Soller, which you’ll find on the north-west coastline.

Port Soller is not to be confused with the town of Soller, which is situated around 3 km away. Acting as a kind of coastal extension of the town, the port has a reputation for being one of the prettiest harbours on the island.

Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain Photo: Hanspoldoja on Flickr

Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain

Views galore and luxurious hotels

One of the biggest draws of Port Soller has to be its amazing views. Now, you’d expect a lot of Majorcan destinations to have pretty decent coastal scenery (it is an island, after all), but there are far fewer spots that offer both this and amazing mountain vistas.

That’s right – if you stay in Port Soller, you can gaze out across the ocean to the horizon or admire the ever-impressive Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range. Plus, there’s a hotel that really lets you make the most of this stunning location.

While it’s actually located on a cliff top above the village, the Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa is still one of the destination’s best hotels. In fact, in terms of luxury, I doubt you’ll find anywhere that beats it.

A five-star establishment, it’s got several pools and restaurants, as well as a spa where you can really pamper yourself (you can get both modern and traditional treatments here, so you can try something new if you fancy!) In terms of enjoying the view the hotel offers, though, you absolutely have to go to the Sunset Lounge, which is on the top floor of the main building. From here, you can see the port, the sea and the mountains – and have a cocktail while you drink it all in.

Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel Photo by Jumeira.com

Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel on Mallorca

Discover the north-west’s best beach

Majorca’s got a great reputation for its beaches, but you won’t find too many of them in the north-west of the island. Luckily, Port Soller has one of the few fantastic ones.

While it’s often referred to as a single beach, it is actually two – Playa d’en Repic and Es Traves. The latter is the longest but, generally speaking, the former is usually the one visitors rave about it.

Running along the back of the beach is a pretty promenade, which has a decent number of cafes perfect for a little light refreshment. You’ll also find the local tram service follows the beach front, before heading to the nearby town of Soller – which is our next top attraction of luxury holidays here.

Beach Promenade at Port de Soller, Mallorca Photo: Morten Brekkevold on Flickr

Beach Promenade at Port de Soller, Mallorca

Soller

With its unspoilt scenery and luxury hotels, Port Soller is undoubtedly a brilliant place for a lavish getaway. Since it’s a pretty quiet destination, though, it’s likely you’ll be keen to spend a little while exploring one of the local towns. Fortunately, you can get to Soller quickly and easily on the tram, which is something of an experience in itself!

It’s well worth visiting on a Saturday, when there’s a weekly market, but I think one of the best attractions here is actually the train service that runs between the town and the island’s capital, Palma. I’d forgive you for thinking a train journey doesn’t sound all that appealing, but the Tren de Soller really is wonderful.

Why? Well, for one thing it dates back to 1912, which means it’s a real slice of history – but I think the amazing scenery it takes you through is the ultimate highlight. Crossing the Serra de Alfabia, it runs through 13 tunnels and across a lot of bridges and viaducts, climbing steeply to provide incredible panoramas along the way.

Tren de Soller in Mallorca Photo: Bibigeek on Flickr

Tren de Soller in Mallorca

More places in the sun to enjoy

Walking in springtime in Mallorca
Top tips for a great holiday in Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca
Cesar Manrique and the volcanic island of Lanzarote

Photo Credits: Port de Soller by Hanspoldoja, Jumeira Hotel Port Soller by Jumeira.com, Beach Promenade at Port Soller by Morton Brekkevold , Tren de Soller by Bibigeek

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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Family Villa Holidays on a Budget

Looking for ideas for your next family holiday? This article will give you some destination ideas that are ideal for a family villa holiday that won’t break the bank…

The ideal way to get yourself luxury family holiday accommodation at a price you can afford is to hire a big villa and share it with another family too.

Once you become a parent, you have to accept that some things will never be the same – like how you approach annual holidays. No more leaving things to chance and grabbing a last-minute deal to somewhere exotic. Now it can feel more like an exercise in strategic planning – negotiating children and adults’ holiday expectations, arranging flights that won’t break the bank, or finding enough things to keep little ones entertained on a mammoth car journey can all make the longed-for break seem too stressful to bother with.

But it is still possible to combine a bit of everything in a holiday, with enough variety to satisfy everyone – and renting a villa gives you the opportunity to indulge in a little luxury and give the kids plenty of space to run riot without other guests tut-tutting under their breath. Although the cost of hiring a villa may initially seem high, if you go for a larger one and share the cost with either extended family or friends you’ll be surprised at the value they offer. The kids have mates to play with, you have company too. And you get pool, barbecue, fantastic views and more.

Palma on Majorca

Palma on Majorca

Magic Majorca

Spain is an increasingly popular holiday destination and Majorca may be a sensible choice if you’re travelling with younger children. The largest of the Balearic Islands, Majorca has long sandy beaches and fun-filled waterparks.Aquacity claims to be one of the world’s largest water funfairs, and even has a small zoo and parrot shows to keep non-water babies happy. The Palma Aquarium is home to the deepest shark tank in Europe and holds four different species – blacktip reef, smooth hound, sand tiger and sandbar sharks. Qualified divers can jump in and swim with the sharks, should they so wish, while younger children who have tired of the marine world, can let off steam in the play area or large rooftop jungle garden.

Villas in Majorca come in many different styles, from the traditional finca or farmhouse, to the super modern, so you should find something to suit you. Sharing your holiday with friends with similarly aged children means that the kids will entertain themselves and you can share evening childcare with your friends, giving everyone a chance to have a little quality couple time too.

Villa Tomeu in Pollensa has five bedrooms and sleeps up to ten people, so will give you plenty of space in which to relax. There’s a pool, and grassy terraced areas equipped with a barbecue which are perfect for al fresco dining. Pollensa itself has several bars and restaurants if you are tempted away from the villa, and there are many beaches to explore.

Beautiful Kefalonia

With spacious gardens and barbecue areas, villas in Kefalonia may prove too tempting to leave. But if you do manage to drag yourself away, take the opportunity to visit one of the world’s most beautiful beaches – Myrtos Bay. Just remember to pack sandals as the sand stops at the waterline, and the pebbles can be painful on bare feet. Argostoli Town, Kefalonia’s capital promises a bustling town square, great shops and waterfront tavernas, so would also make a good day trip.

Fiskardo, Kefalonia, Greece

Fiskardo, Kefalonia, Greece

Villa Astria, just outside the picturesque fishing village of Fiskardo, boasts not one, but two pools and enough space to sleep ten comfortably. The smaller pool is perfect for children and there are terraced gardens as well. This villa is separated into the main building and an annexe, so is perfect for two families who want to holiday together but might enjoy a little more privacy.

Cool Corfu

Corfu offers many choices for family holidays, from bucket-and-spade to high action watersports. Head to the north of the island for shallower waters and family-friendly beaches, or the west for sandy beaches and watersports – including pedalos, paragliding, waterskiing or windsurfing.If the kids need some cultural stimulation, take a day trip to the island’s attractive capital Corfu Town which offers lots of shops for souvenir hunting, pleasant café-culture and several interesting museums including the Archeological museum which is stuffed with impressive Roman remains. Head into the interior of the island for complete away-from-it-all countryside and wonderful views out to sea.

Beautiful beaches on Corfu

Beautiful beaches on Corfu

You’re spoiled for choice with villas in Corfu. If you’re more of a modern family, with children of different ages ranging from young adults to little ones, Triton House in AghiosStefanos may provide the solution. A separate guest house with twin beds would provide older teens with the privacy they seek, while being close enough to enjoy the benefits of a larger villa – including the swimming pool and covered terrace to make the most of those balmy days. AghiosStefanos has bars and a busy harbour with yachts – so get your sailing shoes on and make the most of this seaside holiday.

My thanks for this article, written by Belinda Weber on behalf of luxury villa holidays specialist Meon Villas. All the villas mentioned above can be found on their website: www.meonvillas.co.uk

Useful links

Meon Villas – the luxury villa holidays specialist
Aqualand water park on Majorca
Palma Aquarium on Majorca

Photo credits: Palma on Majorca by Piutus, Fiscardo, Kefalonia, Greece by sisaphus, Beach on Corfu by mickpix

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels