Palma’s sea edge was reclaimed in the 1950's, so we set of west along the bike path to explore Palma, dominated by its enormous cathedral. The streets are paved with ornate balconies overlooking narrow streets. It was an area to relax, window shop and sit awhile in a cafe with a cup of coffee, waiting for the next day to come and start our circumnavigation of the island.
East now along the cycleway that ran close to the beach, before heading inland and following the wooden bike signs. We regrouped at Talaiot to drink coffee at a roadside bar in the presence of some of the many road cyclists that would pass us over the next 10 days. What they did in Mallorca before tourism eludes me, but one clue was a massive pile of Salt just north of Salt Jordi. Hand scraped from evaporating sea water it's a highly prized commodity. San Jordi's THB hotel greeted us for the night where we swam in both pool and Mediterranean from the prominantry where the hotel was built.
The aquarium was an attraction for Julian, whilst the rest of us pedalled east towards Porto Petro. The southern half of Mallorca is pretty flat and benign as we cycled endless small stone walled lanes, passing cactus farms and the occasional sheep ringing its bell in the barren fields. Morning coffee in Santanyl before heading for the beach at Cap de Moro, where some swam whilst others café’ by the shore. We stayed at the hotel Varadero and had dinner at a delightful seaside restaurant where paella and sardines were enjoyed.
Round the harbour and back along the stone lined lanes towards Felintix. The views were more expansive and prettier as we passed knurled olive trees and goats looking for a bite to eat amongst the rocks and dirt. Felintix square fuelled us up with Nestea before we headed north towards Petra. Sited on a hill, the narrow streets led to a central square where market day was in full swing, but no room for pot plants and toy swords for us in the panniers. Heading for the coast it was a steady climb with miles of large square stoned wall for company before we descended to Can Picafort in the company of lots of club cyclists.
Estimates varied as I admired just how much people could eat at a buffet breakfast. Eventually we decided on a staged attack on the Cape that Phil described as a classic route. So we set off north along the boulevard, quickly joining the main road for the first stage, surviving the lines of gift shops and cafes that is Port d'Alucia. We were in good company as waves of carbon passed us and we made good time to centre. Everyone still with us, a group of children tried to take us out as they inexplicable rode at us on the left, but we survived to enjoy the crescent shaped bay to Port de Polenca courtesy of the fabulous cyclepath right by the narrow stretch of beach. Full of coffee and cake, our numbers diminished. Philip and Paul went in search of childhood holidays which inexplicably was the same hotel, Julian and Ruth decided that the Cap de Pinar was a better target, leaving Gary, Christine, Phil and myself to tackle the Cape. 6 miles up to the top where the views were great, then down to the midpoint before the final climb to the lighthouse at the end, where the cakes cost a bomb and the hire cars searched for spaces. The way back seemed easier somehow and on our return found that Linda and Barney had the ultimate solution, take the boat!!
Overcast as we set of for the mountains.along the boardwalk next to the sea, and grateful that all the revellers were still snoozing as we passed the deserted cafes and bars. It's never a proper tour without a spot of dirt road and the Parc S'Albufera provided, this along with ducks, bamboo and a lot of mosquitoes. Exiting it was a flat ride to a delightful bar in Sa Pobla.. Olive grove and fig trees dominated the landscape and this was a scenic area especially with the mountains as a backdrop, but it was underground that I chose to go into the Caves at Campenet. Discovered in 1945, there were several cave systems to explore with Europes longest thread stalactite as its claim to fame. The road started climbing now as we passed through Caimari before ascending the col to Lluc in pouring rain, which broke the drought of 100 days. Llucs monastery greeted us as we made our own beds and drank coffee in the courtyard. a meal at the cafe by the gateway finished the day in the gathering gloom.
As Phil held onto the shutters like Noah in the flood, it seemed that we must have been very bad as the rain fell and the wind howled. Fortunately by the morning the sun had risen and we breakfasted at the cafe by the entrance on yoghurts, cheese and ham. Climbing out of the bowl that the monastery filled we ascended the 5% gradient with mountains and olive groves around. Described as a classic, we descended Sa Colombra, which was OK except for the 2.2 km climb over a col to get to it. Basically it's a series of mad hairpins with a 360 thrown in at the start, then at the bottom turn round and do it all again, whilst dodging the coaches. Back on route and upwards we went, passing 2 reservoirs in the high mountain areas. Through two tunnels and then down down down into Soller where we negotiated the one way system to Hostal Nadal. We dined in the town square that night under the church on warm evening
A day off the bikes as most of us headed for the tram taking us to Port de Soller. Built at the start of the 19th century the 3 carriages rattle their way to the coast stuffed with tourists for 5 euros each way. Port Soller is basically a large curved beach with hotels to the left and fishing port/marina to the right and we spent time dreaming of which boat we'd like. You could take a boat trip to the beach at Sa Colobra, so this I duly did, passing huge sheer cliffs along the way. Back in Port de Soller it was back on the tram and a delightful meal at another of the restaurants that lined the main square.
More shutter holding in the night as the rain lashed down, Away at 0930 after a group picture and straight into the first climb out of Soller as we headed for the hillside town of Deia. Our reward was expansive views across the sea to our right and the terraces of olives to the left. Continuing along the coast brought another climb as we were passed by carbon bikes before the descent to Valdesmossa. The Mallorcan pie was a discovery by Ruth from the start and so armed with a tuna and pea example, it was over another pass to Puigpunyent where we either cafe'd or stuffed ourselves with pies.We were heading inland now, no cars, narrow quiet roads, but the gradient hadn't changed, it was either 5% up or 5% down. The interior of the island was mostly olive trees punctuated by the odd racing cyclist, climbing the hills. The final descent took us back to Palma. Having been out in the sticks for a few days it was quite a shock and we finished the tour with a beer/milkshake by the sea.