Under the Mallorcan sun, Spain

August 22, 2011 0 comment

There is another Mallorca away from the over-developped coast in the East. It has retained all its charm and dramatic coastline. I am talking about the area around the towns of Soller, Deia and Valdemossa, in the North-West of the island, North of Palma and inland. The landscape is breathtaking, the Sea & Sun is Mediterannee at its best, the food is mouth-watering (think grilled gambas, fish a la plancha and multicolor paellas…) All that’s missing in the happy-kid formula is Sand, but you can easily make up for it with some snorkelling, boat trips, and trekking up and downs the little bays for a swim.

Above, the view from Hotel Esplendido…Below, Cala Deia.

We had the treat of a long week end just the 2 of us. Once in a while, it’s a luxury & a necessity (this is not an oxymoron). That said, I could see how Mallorca would have been equally enchanting with Los NiñosIn Southern Europe, kids are always kings.

SLEEP in Mallorca

The Esplendido Hotel in Port de Soller is truly a great address, for families and not. Located 35 min from Palma international airport, it is literally on the water in the tranquil bay of Port de Soller, facing the sailing boats and the light house. Stylishly decorated with a modern-vintage feel and many personal touches from the Scandinavian owners, the rooms are spacious and rather simplistic – read no chichi, which I like when staying in a hotel with children. And for the fun, there are two swimming pools located on the high-up natural terraces facing the sea. One is special for the families so you’re not bothering when splashing and making noise. It’s perfect that way. The owners also have a well reputed property in the city of Palma, The Portixol (stay tuned as they will open The Valluga this December in the famous ski resort of St Anton, Austria.)

      

If you’d prefer staying inland and waking up to the charm of the old town of Soller, three hotels come well recommended: La Vila right on the main square in a former Art Nouveau townhouse, Salvia (beautiful garden and pool) and the new L’Avenida but they will certainly not be as easy on the children as the Esplendido. An old-school tram links Port de Soller to Soller every 30min. It’s a very pleasant and rather short ride (albeit pricey at Eur4 pp, kids pay too). Note that there’s also a frequent and charming turistico train that links Palma to Port de Soller. And in the town of Valdemossa, Es Petit Hotel seemed to have the best location.

   

SHOP in MALLORCA

Soller’s weekly market is held every Saturday morning until 2pm. Then it’s siesta time and everything – literally everything – is closed. At the market, you can get gorgeous fruits and vegetables. A great type of sea salt called Flor de Sal flavored with lemons from Soller, rosemary or several other natural fragrances. I also picked a very long peasant skirt. It’s very old (call it vintage!) and I loved the fabric. On the spot it looked great. Obviously, now that I am back home, I am wondering what sort of curtains I am going to make with it… You’ll see everyone wearing albarques in Mallorca and I was determined to get my own pair too.

   

While these sandals are originally from Menorca (another Balearic island), I got mine (and Ceki’s and Amalya’s in size 24!!) at Ben Calcat in Soller, where they are hand-made right on the spot. They’ll even ship abroad. Shall I dare to say that going to Mallorca was in large part motivated by the fact that I could finally get my own pair of albarques?

   

EAT in MALLORCA

I had not been back to Spain in more than ten years and Oh Señor, nothing tastes better than a good paella eaten right where it’s from.

For the best tapas in an old school bodega, we feasted at La Boveda in the old town of Palma. That was right after landing, and it set the tone for the rest of the week end. Grilled gambas, jamon Serrano, Patatas bravas, Chipirones…. it was a feast.

On a day trip along the dramatic coast, we stopped at Cala Deia, a beautiful little bay where kids play on the pebble beach and jump in the sea from the rocks. Cala Deia has some parking and it’s useful given how steep the path to the beach is. Right there is a fish restaurant called Can March with tables overlooking the bay, barefoot. It’s wonderful and everything is so fresh. There’s also a little shack on the beach for quicker snacks.

And if you hire a boat (sailing or not), please make sure to reserve at Sa Foradada restaurant for a paella, barefoot too. It might be one of the most beautiful cliff restaurant I have ever seen. Perched high above the sea, the family has been running it for 42 years and the owner has had plenty of time to perfect his recipe. The paella is the best I have ever had. Gracias Cesar x

It’s always fun to try the local delicacies when travelling around and Mallorca has quite a few. My favorite was this typical pastry & drink combo from Valdemossa: perfect for afternoon snack time, when the sun starts going down and you come back from the beach, the Horchata de Almendra served with a Coco de Patata aka an almond drink and a cake made with potato, sugar, eggs, lemon and cinnamon. Only good things.

Photo credit above Esther Moline

DO in MALLORCA

You could take a hike early in the day when the sun is not so high. The mountains are great for walking and there are good destinations such as Fornalutx and Biniaraix within a half-day’s walk from Soller. You could also rent a bike from Tramuntana Tours in Soller (+34 971 632 423).

And you could charter a sail boat for the day. There are plenty to get at the harbor in Port de Soller. We had an amazing time on Mezzo Magic  going around with our skipper Mark who showed us some pretty scary but exciting secret underwater caves. I’m sure that grown-up kids would have loved that too.

Culturally, there’s quite a lot to do too. Here are the addresses I picked up in an interview with Miquel Fluxa, the man behind Camper. Did you know that this famous shoe brand is from Mallorca? And that Miro’s mother was also from Mallorca, where he spent all his summer holidays?

Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro. Saridaki, 29. Palma

Es Baluard museu d’rt modern i contemporani de Palma – Placa Porta Santa Ctalina, 10. Palma

Studio Barbara Weil – Camino San Carlos, 20. Puerto d’Andratx

Catedral de Santa Maria La Seu – Plaza Salmoina, Palma

And in Valdemossa, stop by the house where Chopin and George Sand used to live (they were lovers) and gently caress the nose of Chopin’s statue. A kid ritual.

   

Some old-school charm by the cathedral in Palma…

And for more, check this very complete post on the blog Travel with Jonna, who was in the same region over New Years eve with her children.

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