Was I loosing my cool? I thought I saw icebergs on a Mediterranean island!
It was strange that on the way to a picnic on a special beach I saw what I thought were icebergs rising above the red clay fields.
They turned out to be hills of salt from the nearby salt pans ready for men to shovel into sacks. It was not the easiest of journeys but well worth it to reach the long bay at Es Trenc. It is a stunningly beautiful Caribbean style beach with turquoise blue water.
A couple of bars provided the necessities of life, a beer and a table to sit at while you eat your squid watch the beautiful people.
Later you can skip over the powdery sand and join them and don’t worry about the swim suit that is definitely optional. Frequent cooling off is necessary and investing in a sun brolly is a good idea.
Es' Trenc might not be as easy to find as the regular resort beaches but it is well worth the effort.
If you are on a package holiday booking a rental car and picking it up from the airport makes a lot of sense. What a couple can save by not having to pay the coach transfer to the hotel can cover a good bit of a week’s car hire. (They can save even more if they do without the, often dubious, in-flight meal.)
The car of course is key to getting away from resorts filled with Brits and Germans and getting the flavor of the real Mallorca.
The main roads can get you swiftly to places where you can turn off into a rural landscape. East of Campos the winds that drift over the flat fields power a large number of windmills. These are decidedly “un Dutch” with the vane shaped like an arrow’s tail and pointing into a brightly painted circle of rotating blades something like a child’s fairground prize.
Exploring the “Campos Wind Mill Route,“ I followed a tractor along a narrow road bounded by honey coloured dry stone walls. We passed fields where bright red poppies added a splash of colour to the golden corn.
I stopped every now by ancient farm houses to take pictures and listen to the silence. There was no traffic apart from a Senorita gliding gracefully towards me on roller blades and later, a farmers wife exercising a designer dog. A few yards further on three enormous pigs snuffled contentedly amid some ancient olive trees. It was all very peaceful and seemed a lifetime away from the bustle of Palma and he tourist towns.
This was a world where in the little towns had narrow streets, where your wing mirrors caressed the parked vehicles and if you stopped you touched pulse of local life.
Of course there are places where tourists travel en mass that you might want to visit.
The great advantage is that with the car you can avoid the crowds.
The little town of Valldemossa with its monastery clings to the mountains in north of the island. Try to get there before 9.30 or after 3pm and the coaches will be absent and the cruise ship passengers elsewhere.
The composer Chopin and his lover George Sands and spent a winter in the Monastery, and their celebretary status was capitalised on. They did for Valldermosa what James Herriot did for Yorkshire and Wordsworth for the Lake District. The Carthusian monks were gone by the time they stayed there but visitors still come to visit the cells occupied by Chopin and Gorge Sands. They also contemplate the monastic life and puzzle over memorabilia like the skull in the Prior’s alcove.
There is a view from the terrace where the chirping of cicadas joins the clicking camera shutters. Not that these are the only sounds. Some of the cells have become shops and the tinny tinkling of Chopin's moonlight sonata drifts out from a music box shaped like a piano. A more pleasing performance of his work can be enjoyed in an excellent concert that is part of the tour.
The visit at 8 euros is good value.
Away from the cafes, Valldermosa’s hilly little streets are decked with lemon trees and flower pots and in the Carrier Rei Samxo at each door a painted tile depicts a religious scene.
For an better understanding of the enchantment of the North Coast’s pine-clad headlands and medieval hill towns visit “Costa Nord” an Audio Visual show narrated by Michael Douglas, who helped finance the centre and has had a holiday home on the island for many years.
If you want to take a day off from driving then take a ride up through the mountains on the Sóller Railway.
This railway has connected the city of Palma de Mallorca with the small town of Sóller since 1912. The train travels 27 km along its narrow-gauge track through beautiful landscapes, and has wooden coaches. When you get to the station you can take a wooden tram down into Port Sóller. I would suggest using a taxi instead, that way you will be at the Port in time to get a table for lunch before the tram passengers arrive (and also in time to take a picture of it as it stops at the beach.)
You can also enjoy a holiday away from the holiday resorts without a car. You can base yourself in Palma city. It has cinemas, theatres, operas, concerts. It also has many bars and excellent restaurants. The old town has great charm and you can peer into magnificent courtyards of old mansions and wander a maze of narrow streets, the common place is now combined with the grand. Places like the Street of the Fishers, or the Street of the Bakers have now become desirable places to live.
There are plenty of quite little squares and parks where you can stop off for tapas and drinks. You can listen to guitar music as you explore the bastions or gaze at the Cathedral. My best sight of it was while immersed in a rooftop hotel pool with an infinity view while swallows darted over head.
Yes even in the city you can feel far from the madding crowd.
Where: Mallorca not Majorca.
Reis de Mallorca, features hotels with fewer than 100 rooms. http://www.reisdemallorca.com/
Hotel Tres has rooftop pool, http://www.hoteltres.com/
Dalt Murada restored Manor House,
Mallorca, not Majorca. Escape from the resorts.
Finding a Caribbean style beach at Es Trenc
The mountainous north coast with its Jurassic Parc like scenery and don’t forget local events. Pick up the English language' daily paper. The Majorca Daily Bulletin has a useful ‘what’s on section
DON’T GO THERE
If you are not prepared to explore.
Warm, about 9 degrees centigrade is as cold as you might expect in winter. It is normally very pleasant with highs of 30 in summer.
Icebergs and Windmills in the Med!
Allan Rogers finds....