The golf course and stunning view of the bay at Playa Sabater gets my engines reviving. Gunning my Ford Fiesta I shout excitedly, “let the party begin”. I Grip the wheel tightly and begin my assent up the famed Cape Formentor. Not 15 minutes from the hotel and I’m already eyeing views that are spectacular and I’m quickly transformed into Mario Andrade. I’m now driving Le Man’s, whipping my Ford Fiesta around like a go-cart on narrow winding roads that give way to sheer cliffs and the rocky blue sea hundreds of feet below.
German tourists constantly push the limits of BMW’s. Crotch rockets (motorcycles) take off regularly on my left leaving me in their noisy trail. I worry not; for I’m in no hurry today. This Internationally, jet setter, party popular Island is also a wild, winding racetrack perfect for tourists that enjoy a good drive. The starting flag is waved at 9:00 A.M. and their off. Some start in the North like myself today, others start in the South, yet still others begin in the East. Daily race events include tight turning, passing, parking, photos, bathroom, food and drink stops. Apparently drivers are given extra credit on their scorecards for the more places of interest they see in a given day.
My strategy is to cross the finish line late as possible and break – out of the flow of tourists as often as practical. I refuse to hurry up and wait.
A veteran mainland Mexico driver (survivor) I thought I’d seen it all. But the long winding curves of Mallorca are a sight to behold. Despite the fact the roads are good one’s driving skills are immediately called into play. Finding easy places to pull over is difficult and at times frustrating due to spectacular vistas and scenery. The key is to find one’s own flow on the road, keep one’s headlights on at all times, avoid night driving, and pick – out landmarks to help remember where one’s parked. Be-a-ware (beware) in the unlikely event one hits a sheep it will undoubtedly turn out to be one of Spain’s finest and most expensive. I would avoid speeding, local cops are writing tickets whenever they can in the current economy.
I descend from the cape (Formentor) down into Pollenca on old highway C -710 and suddenly find myself drifting back in time. Farms, ranches, horses, sheep, stone walls, olives, almonds, banana plants, fruit trees, vineyards all pressed into small communities along the highway. I spot a John Deere tractor working the fields. A Majestic range of mountains hug the rocky western coast of the Island. Typically each inland town has a corresponding port with the same name often times separated by only a few miles.
At the 4th traffic circle I see the sign point to Soller. Priceless entertainment awaits one at these circles as drivers go around and around often times occupying all three lanes, invariably they dodge the divider ending up stuck on the side road until the next circle where it starts all over again.
I’m already anxious to break – out of the flow of tourists that I no doubt started out with at the cape; they also are heading south to Soller, Deia, and possibly Valldemossa. I unexpectedly make my move darting quickly, undetected into a secluded, empty, mountainous campground. From here I hike and explore steep peaks, rolling hills, and even visit a nearby nature reserve.
These are tranquil landscapes. Back at camp I enjoy the birds, wine, cheese, olives, almonds, ham, olive oil and fresh-baked bread. Back on the road continuing south I periodically stop to take in a large lake, several ranches, sheep’s and dogs. I might even see a deer.
Driving south the mountains bend towards the sea, pulling one closer to hillside farms, vineyards, and the deep blue.
Suddenly a mountain’s mist kisses the sea. The streets of Soller comes into view. Andre Bocelli – Romanza – Con Tu Partiro fills the air. Nestled high on a mountain top Soller’s port provides safe harbor a few miles below. One can easily drive or take the cable car back and forth between the town and beach. The bay and beach are both excellent with many restaurants, shopping etc. but can get crowded.
Soller is a bit more developed than one would like but it has charm never-the-less. A good place to bring your swim trunks it also provides for great walks in and around the 17th Century town. Street side café’s in the center of town are a must – do. I always ask for the fish of the day at the market price in Spain. Then I know it is fresh. I recommend the Sacovia restaurant in the center of town directly across from the church. I had the Dorado which was excellent. Locally grown cherries, lemons, oranges, olives, and fresh bread make for a delicious and healthy lunch. A stroll around downtown with an ice cream is delightful. It’s easy to spend an entire day here.
Instead of spending the afternoon at the beach I opt to continue south just a bit further to Deia. This inspiring place of sheer beauty has attracted famous artists, writers and Hollywood types over the years. Green pines, sheer cliffs, blue sea. I listen to Radio Nacional de Espana – Radio Classica like our PBS. Breath – taking views and chic villas dot the cliffs promising privacy, extraordinary natural beauty, and real pampering.
Here I enjoy a café con leche and soak in the ambience, stop in at the now Cliffside Museum (Son Marroig ) for some of the finer coastal views one can ever experience. The scale, the size and sheer enormity of the physical landscape is at times overwhelming.
Returning to the Hotel driving north on past Soller and the lake on C – 170 I stop at the cove Cala Calobra which is off the main road quite a ways. Very quiet, fun winding drive down to the sea. Desolate, great place for a homemade snacks and cocktails. Puig Mayor is spectacular and a bit further down the road but I opt instead to try to catch the sunset at the Cape, Formentor. From there it’s a quick easy 15-20 minute drive back to the hotel.
I could easily have broken today’s drive into two. I could also spend another day shooting down side-roads. I must spend a day coming up from the South starting at Sant Elm and ending in Valldemossa. Then there are must-see-coves, beaches (Calas) the best of the best listed here of the 100 or more possibilities , these are tested, proven winners, standing the test of time!
Torrent de Pareis
Isla Cabera – Island – One hires a boat to visit
Playa de Es Trenc
Clearly it takes more than just a day or two to get familiar with Mallorca. The sheer size of the Island demands more time. Like all good things it requires some effort, driving can be tiring so I recommend short distances followed by frequent relaxing stops all throughout the day. Safe travels!