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davidx Soller - A travel report by David
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Soller,  Spain - flag Spain
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davidx's travel reports

Sightly Sóller in multi-faceted Mallorca

  15 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
I had a well-formed image of a place called Majorca – then I read something very different on a place called Mallorca – and I knew it was the same place! Which was right? Both, for different parts of the island – read on.

Church and square, Sóller
Church and square, Sóller
It’s called Mallorca and the Mallorcín language is virtually the same as Catalan. The island is in practically every cheap holiday brochure in the UK and Germany and probably elsewhere as well. An image is created of a sea hidden from a nearby road by gaudy hotels, all pretty much the same and catering for sea, sand and sun addiction. Many like that; fine – they-re welcome but leave me out! Part of the island suits this image perfectly. Each side of Palma, the island capital, supposedly finite and distinct resorts stretch out with no space between them along the coast. Yet there are parts of the island which will never be like this. How do I know? particularly when in Sóller, near the north coast, all the land between the town and Puerto de Sóller is covered in building work. It won’t happen because it can’t – the precipitous nature of much of the northern coast, with mountains rising almost from the sea itself, with steep cliffs just leaving room for a few villages and isolated houses is safe. Moreover the mountains are strikingly beautiful with some gorgeous walks and picturesque villages. I based myself in the town of Sóller, near to the centre, where most of the building work below doesn’t show and the narrow streets have foreshortened views of mountains apparently rising straight from the end. There are three routes from Palma; the antique train going in a tunnel through the mountains to Sóller town, with an ancient tram rolling down from outside the station to the port; the direct bus, again through the tunnel, less interesting but providing access to some fine gardens and the bus via Valdemossa and Deia, a beautiful route –but the best part can be included in the circuit under ‘special’ below. Palma, in spite of its surroundings has a graceful and thoroughly pleasing centre, which makes it well worth a couple of nights. The TIC issues a winter bus timetable – check with the drivers and don’t trust anything but what they say!!

Favourite spots:
Near Biniaraix
Near Biniaraix
Sollér’s port, despite its wonderful classic cove shape is spoiled for me by building. However the town itself is delightful in the upper part and it is only a short distance from two idyllic villages, Biniaraix and Fornalutx. Walk to both – smashing. In Sóller itself the main square, the area around the station and the market –just follow the tram lines – are all worth seeing. The church in the square has a Gothic rear but a modernist [art nouveau] façade at the front and the adjoining bank has a grill designed by a pupil of Gaudi. At the outside of the town the Botanical Gardens are good, not perhaps so much for themselves, [in winter anyway], as for the perfect view of the ring of mountains beyond the town. Also see the gardens of Alfabia – get off the direct Palma bus immediately you emerge from the tunnel.

What's really great:
The ex-monastery, Valdemossa, shades of Chopin!
The ex-monastery, Valdemossa, shades of Chopin!
In winter there is only one bus on one link, that from Valdemossa to Andratx – make sure it still exists but even the nearest shop denied its existence; I used it! Start from Sóller with the long distance bus to Palma but get out at Deia and get the next one to Valdemossa. Make sure you have a fair while here before your next bus. The monastery is where Chopin and George Sand stayed one winter near the end of his life. The views from the ‘cells’ are superb and the Old Apothecary’s shop has to be seen. There is a separate palace building covered by the same ticket, where a 25 minute Chopin recital takes place every hour – even if, like me, you’re the only visitor. Now take the bus to Andratx, when you will cross the mountain range and get views right to the south coast, OK from this distance. The only thing to be said for the stretch from Andratx to Palma is that it provides the only way to finish what has, up to this point, been a magic journey.

Castell de Belver, Palma
Castell de Belver, Palma
Palma is great for just strolling and is big enough for a bit of window shopping to be included. The Passeig d’es Born is particularly good. The Mercat de Olivar [market] is well worth a visit.
Particular sights I enjoyed a lot were the Cathedral, the Palace close by it and the Castell de Belver, noted for perfect roundness, in the city but a short bus journey away.
I was sorry that La Llotja, the old Gothic Stock Exchange building, said to have fine pictures and sculptures, was closed at the time of my visit.
Some English people at the market went up to a tapas stall and simply said ‘no pescados’. They were served with a number of mixed tapas dishes, some being clearly excluded. I wondered where, in an English speaking country, to say ‘no fish’ would result in anything quite as good!

Towards Biniaraix
Towards Biniaraix
Palma – Ritzi, Apuntadores 6. Phone 971714610 Cheap, great situation near coast and best buildings. Tapas places galore in same road.

Sóller - Casa de Margarita, Carrer de Reial [phone 3971 634214]
Cheap, convenient, excellent breakfast in your room for €3, friendly but limited English. There,s not much in the town open in winter but to me this is much better than staying in Puerto de Sóller.

Bank grill in Sóller, pupil of Gaudi
Bank grill in Sóller, pupil of Gaudi
In Palma, Apuntadors and adjoining streets are bursting with good tapas bars.
In Sóller, El Guia is only open for lunch in winter but there are some good places around the square.
This is true: in one of the bars in Apuntadors I had drunk one wine and eaten one ración. Great – I decided on another. I was half way through the ración and had not touched the wine, when I heard a scream and felt something like a mule kick my chest. I knew instantly who had screamed – I had – but I had passed out for an instant and thus only felt part of the double shock administered by my machine to stop and restart my heart.
The English ignored me totally, Spanish women looked first – then ignored. Spanish men were very kind. This was well after 22.00. By 01.00 I was in bed, having been to hospital by ambulance, thoroughly examined, interviewed by a nurse, a house doctor and a cardiologist – and found a taxi back. Now, that’s some health service!

Other recommendations:
One day I went to Alcudia, well north on the east coast. There were buses there not shown in my TIC timetable and, had I realised in time, I could have reached Puerto de Pollença at the far north-east. Alcudia is said to have the best Roman remains in Mallorca – perhaps but its not a very good contest! However it’s a pleasant town with some fine walls and gates and a good market outside the walls.
The bus continues down the coast past the s’Albufera Bird Reserve, a noted area of wetland. I found this quite delightful, although my only ‘new’ bird was a penduline tit. It was a fine place for watching some old favourites.

Published on Wednesday January 26th, 2005

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Tue, Feb 01 2005 - 07:21 PM rating by mtlorensen

Although a sun and sand worshipper, Mallorca never caught my attention...until now. I'd love to see some of the places you describe! Very nice report!

Sat, Jan 29 2005 - 03:36 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii dav
nice to read ur report

Wed, Jan 26 2005 - 11:34 PM rating by gloriajames

well done!

Wed, Jan 26 2005 - 11:14 AM rating by britman

Another lovely read completed with a few anecdotes and good pictures.

Wed, Jan 26 2005 - 10:36 AM rating by johnnye00

Excellent report, lots of details and practical advice for getting around.

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