15 – 17 April 2017
(or not killing cyclists in Mallorca)
Before you read this post you need to know (if you didn’t already) that Stefan was, in the not so distant past, a very passionate road cyclist. Over the last few years he has exchanged his lycra for sailing gear. As we spent more time on the boat he gave up his crazy long distance rides and eventually sold his beloved road bike. You wouldn’t, however, recognise this love of cycling from what happened when he got behind the wheel of our rental car to explore more of Mallorca over the Easter holiday weekend.
We left Pintail safely in Pollenca, in the northeast corner of Mallorca, and hadn’t even left the town before we encountered the first of Stefan’s lycra clad former comrades. Cycling is not just a sport in Mallorca, it seems to have near religious status. Elite cyclists, enthusiastic amateurs and everyone in between were out this Easter weekend.
They were everywhere, crazily climbing the mountain roads and then racing down. The roads through the Tramuntana mountains are steep, twisting and narrow. Overtaking cyclists with a sheer drop to the side of you and no idea if there is another car coming round the bend ahead soon took its toll on Stefan’s patience and he became full of cyclist rage. My gentle reminders that he was once one of them fell on deaf ears! Having got stuck behind more than one group riding three abreast, he delighted in going extremely slowly down hill to impede their speedy descents. I am, however, grateful for two things: that no cyclists were harmed on this roadtrip – though wonder how many meet their fate on those roads; and that in spite of them, we got to visit some lovely places on the roads of Mallorca.
After a climb through spectacular limestone peaks, our first stop was at the monastery at Lluc, as good a place to start on Good Friday as any! Despite the holy day we neither saw nor heard the monastery’s blue cassocked choir boys.
We did find a whimsically, wonderful botanical garden full of shaded dells and quirky sculptures.
More vertiginous limestone, more improbable mountain roads, more seemingly oblivious cyclists, more swearing from Stefan and we made our way slowly to Soller.
In Soller we realised that a public holiday was probably not the best day to explore one of Mallorca’s most popular towns. Although the parking was free, space in its pretty streets and squares was hard to come by. We managed a short wander – finding Mallorca’s traditional Easter treat of apricot jam filled pastries – before seeking somewhere a bit quieter.
Having exhausted Stefan’s patience for windy mountain roads we decided against the ongoing trip to Deia and Valldemossa. Instead we stopped off at the tiny village of Fornalutx. Surrounded by terraces of orange trees, the smell of their blossom was delicious.
Day two of our roadtrip gave Stefan respite from small roads and an opportunity to fly down the motorway back to Palma bay to catch up with our Mallorca friends again. We caught up with John for coffee at Port Adriana and then had a wonderful lunch with our Pintail family, Fiona and Fernando, at their home in Bendinat.
Fernando cooked his speciality paella on their outdoor paella cooker. We were too eager to eat it to take photos but here are the leftovers! And yes, I did eat it! My fish and seafood eating adventure has well and truly begun. Time spent with Fiona and her family has definitely been a highlight of our time in Mallorca and we very much hope it will not be long before Pintail brings us together again.
Day three of our roadtrip was Easter Sunday and, having missed all the holy week processions, we hoped we might bump into the Easter procession in Alcudia. When we arrived however, instead we found the market in full swing. The people we had followed into town hoping they had information about the procession were actually heading for some retail therapy! On discovering that we had left our money on the boat we went for a walk around the town’s medieval walls.
At Fernando’s suggestion we continued our drive around Alcudia Bay and stopped for coffee in Son Serra de la Marina. The sea was definitely better suited to surfing than sailing and we were grateful to be ashore.
From the tiny harbour we were able to walk along the dunes where we found lots of plant life surviving on the sand. The pine trees had even adapted to horizontal living! We also found more of the fur ball like sea plant that we have seen along the Mediterranean’s coast.
At Betlem, in the far corner of the bay, we found a perfect picnic spot for our Easter picnic, perched on the rocks above the crashing waves and beautiful views along the shore.
In one final test of Stefan’s patience I suggested we take the road out along the peninsular that runs along the northern edge of Pollenca bay to Cap de Formentor. We got halfway before the multiplying numbers of cyclists proved just too much. At the Mirador de Sa Creueta we still got some incredible views and turned back to return the car.
Thank you for some epic driving, Stefan.
Let’s get back to sea. There is far less traffic out there!