Mallorca, Spain 2014
Springtime in Mallorca
April 19 to May 3, 2014
Our most recent adventure took us to the island of Mallorca, Spain. We have been members of the Bicycle Adventure Club (BAC) for thirteen years. The BAC is non-profit touring bicycle club offering more than 50 bicycle tours a year throughout the world. These trips are all member led. Alison Stone has led this trip about 9 times since 2007. It is one of the club's most popular trips. Anne and I have participated in 16 trips and we have led 4.
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands which are part of Spain. The Balearic Islands are located between mainland Spain and northern Africa in the western Mediterranean Sea. Mallorca is a fertile island that has the Tramuntana Mountains in the west, central plains with vineyards, beautiful coastal coves and golden sand beaches.
We (Anne & I and Diane & Vic Villhard) arrived in Palma, Mallorca by air from Madrid on April 19th . From the airport we took a taxi to the resort city of Cala Pi. In Cala Pi we met the other 21 members of our group. We arrived two days early to recover from jet lag and the possibility of a delay or cancelled flight. Club Cala Pi is really nice resort located above a gorgeous small cove and beach on the coast southeast of Palma. We assembled our tandems on the 20 th which was Easter Sunday. The official start of the trip was Monday the 21 st with a group meeting and opening dinner at the resort.
We took advantage of our extra day to get familiar with the island by riding an optional ride to the top of Puig de Randa for a 360 degree view of the island. On day two we rode a more casual loop from Cala Pi to Llucmajor and took a walk through the Bronze Age Talaiotic stone structural ruins just north of Cala Pi. On day three we rode northeast nearly 50 miles across the island to the coastal beach resort of Port de Pollensa. In Port de Pollensa we stayed two nights on the beach near the marina at the beautiful Hotel Miramar. On our layover day we rode north along the hilly cape to the lighthouse of Cap de Formentor. It was a challenging ride with spectacular views of Pollensa Bay and coastal cliffs with fantastic views of sea cliffs and stunning blue sea.
Our evening socials began at 6:00 p.m. with a selection of delicious tapas including local wines, beer and other drinks on the hotel patios. After about an hour of socializing, Alison would go over the next day's routes and options for sightseeing. The evening socials typically had enough food, that we would roam beach and promenades for dessert and coffee.
The highpoints along Mallorca's coast has a series of tall circular stone towers. Mallorca was constantly under attack by Moors, Turks and pirates. These stone towers were an early warning system of approaching attacks from the sea.
On day five we awoke to thunderstorms. Everyone hung out at the hotel waiting until the rain let up or stopped. There were two options for our inland trek to the agriturismo area of Campanet and the beautiful Hotel Monnaber Nou. Everyone took the shorter route. Only a few of us got caught by another thunderstorm. All our hotels were great but the Monnaber Nou was by far the most beautiful and unique. The stone building and spa area were built into a scenic hillside setting with ancient olive groves and gracing sheep. Here the social hours were on the veranda overlooking the beautiful agricultural valley followed by fabulous dinners in the formal dining room. Day six was a layover day with ride options or relaxing at the spa or pools. We opted to ride the hilly loop to Orient and Bunyola. Mallorca is a cycling mecca. Cyclists seem to dominate the roads. There are cycling clubs from all over mainland Europe that come to here to ride the Colls (passes). Today we summited several of these Colls. There are coffee houses and cafes at the summits that cater to cyclists. At one gas station with an adjoining café there was a display behind the cashier of bike tires, tubes and other bike accessories. Today we crossed paths with hundreds of cyclists participating in the 5 th Annual Mallorca 312 an international parameter cycling tour of the island. The main was 312 kilometers (193.4 miles) with a time limit of 14 hours. There were other routes of varying distances. I didn't cross paths with the main event.
On day seven we rode to the west coast resort town of Port de Soller. After ascending the Coll de sa Batalla (576 meters) we descended into Soller and turned right to Port de Soller riding along the wooden tram/trolley line between the city of Soller and Port de Soller. Port de Soller has a much smaller bay and beach than Port de Pollensa. We stayed three nights at the Hotel Los Geranios.
There was a lighthouse on a southern cliff of the inlet and stone observation tower on the north all visible from beach. The Soller region was constantly under attack by pirates. Today they have an annual reenactment of one those attacks by Moor pirates. This region was very important for agricultural export in the 19 th and first half of the 20 th centuries. A wooden train was built from Soller to Palma also a port city for support trade and passenger service between the two ports nearly 100 years ago. The train has been restored and now operates as a passenger and tourist service. A wooden tram/trolley operates between Soller and Port de Soller. This area of Mallorca is the birthplace of Spanish artist Joan Miro. Miro and Picasso spent considerable time in Mallorca. There is also Gaudi influenced architecture in Soller. The significant building is now a Santander Bank. This area is quite well known for hiking trails.
For our two layover days Alison had prepared five options to choose from. Only one of them included riding. We choose to take the tram to Soller and do a self-guided walking tour of the Soller while waiting for the first train to Palma. In Palma we did a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour hoping to visit the Miro Museum and the Castell de Beliver. It was Monday the museum was closed and the bus tour bypassed it and only made a very short stop at Castell de Beliver. We would have liked to have more time to tour Palma.
The next day Anne and I walked a good part of the northern end of the bay and hiked up to the stone lookout tower to enjoy the view. We really enjoyed being off the bike for a couple of days. On day ten we rode south along the coast line through the towns of Deia and Validemossa to the terraced hillside town of Banyalbufar where we stayed two nights at the Hotel Mir I Vent. The day eleven optional route went south along the coast and returned where you liked or continued onto Andratx and returned north inland through mountains to Banyalbufar. We rode south about 12 kilometers to es Grau. We had beverage at a cliff side restaurant before returning to Banyalbufar. Once back in Banyalbufar Anne and I walked up the narrow streets to the farms and houses above hotel. All the small terraced farms have their own concrete water retention ponds to irrigate their very small plots of land. Our closing dinner was at a very nice restaurant in Banyalbufar. We closed the dinner with two birthday cakes for Arlene and Tom who were both born on May 1 st . May 1 st is actually Labor Day throughout most of Europe.
Our final ride back to Cala Pi started with a steep climb followed by a downhill to Espories and across the plains east toward Santa Maria and south to Algaida and Llucmajor and finally returning to Cala Pi. The ride was 50 miles but one of the easiest of the entire trip. Once back at Club Cala Pi it was time to disassemble the tandem and pack it up for the trip home on Saturday May 3 rd .
Mallorca is an island in the middle of the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea. It has everything from beautiful beaches, coastal scenic cliffs, mountains, palm trees, Sonoran Desert cacti, thirteenth century churches and monasteries, 3000 year old stone village reins, narrow stonewall lined side roads called Cami Roads, very courteous motorist and bus drivers, 1000s of cyclists everywhere, great weather, old world character, modern hotel conveniences, good local wines and fabulous olives. Mallorca is truly an island paradise for cyclists.
If I were offered a free trip to either Hawaii or Mallorca, I would choose Mallorca.