After a strenuous week of ice-creams, BBQs, nephew and niece fun, Kindle-reading, card games and switching between sunbathing by our villa’s pool and Magaluf beach, Dean and I decided it was time to do a little exploring. The best option seemed to be to rent a nicely air-conditioned (it was 33 degrees and humid) car for a day and see where the road would take us.
First we drove a little way inland to the west and then up along the north-west coast, weaving in and around the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. The region is a UNESCO World Heritage site so we got to tick another one off the list. There were a few hairy moments facing on-coming traffic on incredibly windy roads, next to steep drops!
I have to admit that, given the heat, I assumed it would be a fairly arid landscape but I was pleasantly surprised by its green lushness. The MA-10 took us along the Mediterranean coast and we stopped from time to time in mirador lay-bys to take in the views.
Our first proper stop was a pretty little village called Estellencs, nestled into the green hillside. Despite midday on a Tuesday being mainly quiet, there were signs of festival preparations around: colourful paper bunting fluttering in the occasional breeze, an unoccupied stage, and – less quietly – the town windband were roaming around the streets, pausing in front of seemingly-random houses to play a short piece of music before moving to the next. They appeared to be being led by a couple of little girls in traditional dress. We also briefly popped into the church of St John the Baptist which soon began filling for a lunchtime service.
This little, completely un-touristy cafe – Sa Tanca – supplied us with a welcome break from roaming in the heat before we hit the road again.
After a few more viewpoint stops, we drove through Banyalbufur, a picturesque location famed for its terrace farms, vineyards and irrigation systems dating back to the 10th century.
Speeding past neat rows of ancient, wizened olive trees, next we reached the historic town of Valldemossa. It’s one of Majorca’s most visited towns due to its prettiness and cultural heritage. Frederic Chopin and his lover George Sand spent a winter here and it was also the birthplace of the island’s only saint: Saint Catalina Thomas. Back to her in a moment.
Feeling rather hungry, we headed to a cafe called Ca’n Molinas to sample a local delicacy we had repeatedly read about: coca de patata. We were thinking chocolate… potatoes…? But no. It was essentially just a round iced bun but with icing sugar instead of runny icing. Googling informs me the bread does contain potatoes but we really couldn’t understand the hype!
The town was incredibly busy with bustling cafes and touristy shops of varying calibres.
We wandered away from the centre to discover peaceful, quaint back streets. Potted plants hung from walls, lined the edges of the narrow cobbled streets and adorned windowsills. Locals greeted one another and stopped for a chat. Now and then we turned a corner to glimpse views of the mountains leading to full vistas in only a few steps.
Down one such back street, we stumbled across a tiny, unassuming terraced house which had been converted into a shrine for the island’s patron saint, Saint Catalina Thomas. She was born there to a peasant family in 1531 and, after being orphaned at 7, was cared for by an uncle. As a child, she saw visions and prophesied the future and, at 21, she became a nun until her death aged 43. She was beatified in 1792 and canonised in 1930. In addition to the shrine, plaques depicting Catalina’s life are hung outside all the nearby houses.
Before returning to Ca’n Molinas for some tasty baguettes, we continued our wanderings round the slightly busier areas of the town, including a lovely formal garden with a statue of Chopin.
Onward we travelled, passing through the idyllic village of Deià, where The Night Manager was filmed. We pulled over just afterwards for a view out to sea.
Then, ascending to Fornalutx, we enjoyed the freshest, tastiest orange juice imaginable!
Our final destination was the busy town of Soller, again known for it’s citrus groves as part of the ‘valley of oranges’ or the ‘valley of gold’. We browsed a few shops, ate ice-cream and visited the scaffold-clad Sant Bartomeu church. Unfortunately we arrived too late for the big-names art gallery, Ca’n Prunera, but we did stumble across a free Joan Miró exhibition in the tram station.
After heading back to Magaluf to return our hire car, we enjoyed a tasty meal by the beach at the Chili Lounge.
I’ll leave you with a few pool action shots from our last day at the villa!