An April 2002 trip
to Mallorca by Leesa
Quote: We’ve just got back from Mallorca, and I can’t stop telling people how great it was. We did our research enough to know it wasn’t all dodgy package resorts, and even then it still surpassed all our expectations.
* Trying to find a hotel in the centre of a maze of one-way medieval narrow lanes in a car
* Having to leave
Speaking Catalan or Spanish
I highly recommend learning a little basic hotel/bar/restaurant Spanish or Catalan. Attempting to speak a little won us huge encouragement and very attentive service over those that stuck to English or German. Attempting Spanish rather than Catalan seems entirely acceptable, although a casual ‘Bona Nit’ (Catalan for ‘Goodnight’) as I left a restaurant one night had them beaming from ear to ear. My own concoction of Portuguese, Italian, & French fortunately seemed to come across more as Catalan, so much so that I had one café in Port de Pollença point out they only spoke Castillian!
Driving was an absolute joy. In mid season the roads were quiet, and we barely saw another car as we carefully negotiated the winding coastal roads. The few cars we saw were either equally cautious tourists, or very patient locals. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Mallorca did not seem to have adopted the bad driving often seen in the Mediterranean. Mallorquin drivers drove well within the speed limit, never used their horns, and smiled cheerfully when dutifully stopping at pedestrian crossings.
Our only advice about driving in Mallorca is don’t drive in the medieval town centres. Not only is it impossible to park – pay parking is strictly enforced - but finding your way in the maze of narrow one-way streets is a nightmare. Even with a map it was hopeless without the one-way streets being shown! Park on the edge of town, and save your sanity and a couple of euros to walk a minute or two more.
Hotel | "Where to Base Yourself"
In the end, assured that we would have little problem finding accomodation in the shoulder season between Easter and mid summer, we decided on a DIY multi-centre approach. We rang ahead and reserved 2 nights in Hotel Cannes in Palma (see my Palma entry) and 2 nights in Hotel Guià in Sóller, and then play the rest by ear. After Sóller, we found a wonderful hotel in Port de Pollença, and then headed back to Hotel Cannes for a final 2 nights of style and tapas in the capital.
If you have both the time and the patience to make the arrangements, I would recommend a 2-centre stay in Mallorca – in Palma and Port de Pollença, or Pollença where you are in easy reach of the beach and the mountains.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 6, 2002
Four Sails Resort
3301 Atlantic Ave.
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451
Hotel | "Hotel El Guià, Soller"
Another somewhat dated characteristic was the man who greeted us, and doubled as waiter at meal times. Although probably only mid 40s his manner was very formal. He also bore a striking resemblance of Manuel from ‘Fawlty Towers’, down to the hotchpotch of languages he spoke in an attempt to communicate with foreigners, seemingly changing language depending on the room we happened to be in – halting Spanish in the lounge, and pidgin English in the dining room. Thankfully, the manageress spoke faultless English.
Another quirk is that the hotel does not accept credit cards, whilst the restaurant in the hotel does! So we ended up paying for our dinner by credit card and our room by travellers cheque, and even then the Euro Travellers Cheques caused great confusion. 60 euros for a large double with en suite in April 2002.
Shanty Creek -Schuss Mountain Resort: Golf-Skiing-Convention Center
5820 Shanty Creek Road
Bellaire, Michigan 49615
Hotel | "Hostal (Hotel) Bahia, Port de Pollença"
At the end of a strip of pleasant looking but unaffordable hotels, we were amazed to find that this hotel had rooms within our budget and had vacancies (at the end of April). There were no sea view rooms available, predominantly filled with middle aged guests or young families on package tours, but we were offered a ‘mountain view’ room, which seemingly was kept for private guests as one of the few doors marked private rather than with a room number. For the bargain price of 55 euros (in the shoulder season) we got a large somewhat dated room with an en suite, and unusually for all the other rooms at the back, with a balcony and views of a mountain through a largish gap in the low-rise buildings.
The hotel had a pleasant family feel to it, and offered a sumptuous breakfast a notch above the usual hotel continental breakfast - fresh rolls, croissants, cheese, ham, yoghurt, fruit,& fresh fruit juice – all of which you ate (if you were up quick enough to beat the early rising walking parties) on the veranda overlooking the bay. Quite a novelty to have to wear sunglasses at breakfast.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 6, 2002
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orlando-Orange Lake Resort
8505 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy.
Kissimmee, Florida 34747
Walking through the wrought iron gates of Boquer Farmhouse, heading due north from Hostal Bahia, we were a little put off at first upon realizing that a Mallorcan doesn’t have the same walkers’ rights of way that someone in the UK does. But a returning walker assured us this was the route.
One past the farmhouse you lose all sight of civilisation, and enter a granite walled u-shaped valley. Apparently, the sheer cliffs are home to much interesting birdlife. We probably saw more birdwatchers than we did birds – but then again we weren’t exactly looking. More obvious were the curious mini-wild goats, which appeared to be self marinating themselves on the lush rosemary bushes that carpeted the valley floor.
The bay at the end of the valley is a complete let-down after the walk. It is an undignified scrabble down steep sandy slopes to the water’s edge, with the ‘beach’ uncomfortably covered in oversized pebbles, and more unpleasantly , banks of flotsam and jetsam.
The return journey is back along the same path.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 7, 2002
Attraction | "The Rugged Northwest Coast"
The first striking scenery was the Serra de Tramuntana. This was clearly visible in the near distance from Andratx - surprising, because we hadn't expected to see such rugged barren mountains until much closer to Soller. And once we’d crossed the mountain ridge to the west coast proper, the winding road revealed a constant series of sheer drops to blue seas, or soaring slopes to granite peaks, and often a combination of both. Hillside villages, like Estellencs, Banyalbufar, and Deia, cling to these slopes spreading both up and downhill from the road.
Driving, contrary to our expectations of the Spanish, was unhurried and safe along these near hairpins. And a big plus of heading south to north was that the steep drops were well across the other side of the road to us.
Parking for the many view points was not so clearly thought out. Our hire car company map indicated many viewpoints along this stretch of road, but only a couple had either advance warning signs or anything more than a precarious layby to park in.
Serra de Tramuntana (Tramuntana Mountains)
Majorca, Balearic Islands
Used to using following trails on maps, we felt it was a very welcome surprise to find a little wooden signpost complete with walking stickman logo, destination, and walking time, at the head of the trail. The route took us along and gently down one side of the valley through a series of terraces. With our expectations of some development set by the final stretch along atarmac road (thankfully deserted), the deserted undeveloped bay was completely unexpected.
To vary the walk back you can walk back up the other side of the valley (equally well signed), which brings you up through more terraces to the centre of the village and the main road again.
Brighton, United Kingdom