Discovering Palma and Port Soller, Mallorca
After an extremely hearty breakfast, it was time to roam around Palma. The Port is very active – Cruise Ships coming and going, ferries to Ibiza and Barcelona, and pleasure boats all over the Bay.
The Gothic Cathedral is the most important part of Palma. The main gate is from the late Renaissance, finished in 1601. The facade is Neo-Gothic, other parts date from the 14th through 15th century. It is massive with sepulchres of the Kings of Mallorca. Antoni Gaudi did some renovation work, and renovation is still going on.
It was time to meet our Explore group arriving from the U.K. Tom is the leader, and he has already led nine groups this season. We total 16, all ages, four couples, and an even mix of women and men. The medical profession is well represented by a Radiologist, Pathologist, Dentist, Gerontologist and Dietician. (That should cover all the bases.) The Radiologist is Mark, a member of “The Society for Barefoot Living.” His worldwide Society members go barefoot whenever (and wherever) they can, and throughout the year. One member has even hiked the entire Appalachian Trail – Barefoot! Extremely impressive since I am always stepping on something, and here is Mark, walking over rocky trails in bare feet.
Tom led the group on another wander through Palma while our bags were transported to Port Soller. View image Past the Cathedral, through the old city, including a stop to gawk at a 1,000 year old Olive Tree in one of the squares. View image
It’s the weekend (as well as a Bank Holiday) so Palma is extremely crowded. In the Plaza Mayor, there are mimes, entertainers, and a mini-flea market.
From the square, we walked to this little train station for a 1:30pm train to Soller. The train is vintage and has been covering the Tramuntana route since 1912. View image The ride itself was semi-interesting, lots of tunnels but not that scenic. It wasn’t until the train actually arrived in Soller that the terrain changed. Orange and lemon groves everywhere. Terraced Olive trees, and some vineyards, along with the wonderful aroma of orange blossoms perfuming the air. Unbelievably fragrant.
Hopped off the train and onto the Tram which travels back and forth all day between Soller and Port Soller.
tram in Port Soller, Mallorca
As the tram made its way along the road, suddenly there was Port Soller spread out before us. Another blue bay, white sand beaches, and mountains as a backdrop. Each town seems to get prettier and prettier.
We are staying at the Hotel Marina, and have a wonderful corner room overlooking the entire bay of Port Soller. Just luck of the draw, since rooms are assigned at random. Port Soller has Youth Hostals, Hotels, and camping accommodations. There are gourmet restaurants, pizzerias, “grab and go,” and another “Burger King.” Visitors sit outside in the sun, under palm trees…watching people…drinking wine…bikers in their lycra and spandex zooming by…swimmers and sunbathers. A surprise to us, hiking is the most popular sport in this area. There are guided walks, strolls, kiosks selling maps…and a tremendous amount of people (all ages) setting off each day with their hiking boots on, hiking sticks in hand and very senior citizens with their canes. An amazing area.
There are some learning experiences (or hints) scattered through my articles. It doesn’t make an difference how much I travel, there is always something new to learn.
Hint #1 – Never noticed before that Spanish/European electrical wall sockets are ROUND and INSET into the wall. That meant a pilgrimage to find a round plug kind of “thingy” to plug my converter in. It is a holiday and many shops are closed. Finally found a shop that caters to boaters – victory – they had what we needed. Who pays attention to the fact our wall plates are flat, and their’s are round? Duh! Obviously, not me. That was a fast 7 Euros spent.
Our group is going to be hiking the GR 221, a 170 km. long-distance route which runs through the Tramuntana Mountain Range of Mallorca, from Southwest to Northeast. We are only eliminating a small section of the entire route. The GR 221 is considered a “Dry Stone Route” because the landscape, terraces, walls, fountains and paths were shaped by dry stone, built by many generations of peasants, wallers and shepherds. The Island itself is only about 70 miles across, and 70 miles in length (as the crow flies) with a population of about 3,000,000 total (approximately 240,000 in Palma).
The only meal included in this tour is breakfast which gives a lot of flexibility to go off on your own for dinner, and find the meal you are hankering for.
Tonight, we ate as a group at the Restaurant Cas Pages. Everyone pays for whatever they order. Bread, green olives and a garlic mayonnaise mixture is promptly put on the table.
Hint #2 – This restaurant charged 1 Euro for bread, 1 Euro for olives and 1 Euro for the garlic mayonnaise. Be prepared for that. It seems to substitute for a cover charge. And, if you order another bread basket, it’s another Euro…same for olives, etc. Some restaurants charged a flat 1 Euro for all. But they all charged something.
The Food was very good. We ate Grilled Calamari…forget salads (very small)…didn’t eat dessert….all we wanted to do was get back to the room and sleep….especially after you knock off the amount of wine our group was drinking.
Tomorrow the hike begins….