My father, my uncle, and I went for a hiking vacation. Some images from my 2017 stay in Port de Sóller.
Whilst on the vacation I wrote some of this post but never finish it. Until now in 2023. I finally got the opportunity to wrap it all up and hit publish.
After a quick flight of 2h from Paderborn to Palma de Mallorca we arrive at roughly 6am. I feel a bit messed up. Right now I am sitting in front of our hotel. The sun starts rising and a black cat is straying around me. Cheap flights in economy class are a bit of a pain. Well, you get what you pay for.
After a quick breakfast we decide to take a hike, an easy one - to warm up. It is a route to the cheese rock, a rock full of holes, like Swiss cheese. The route is a classic to us, nothing unexpected, fabulous views over the Mediterranean Sea. On the way we pass a trench that has been misused to dispose of a minivan, one motorbike and two small cars. From the top you only really see the underneath of a car and a bit of the minivan. Only after climbing into the trench, you can see them all.
Mallorca has the fate that too many tourists come to visit. As a result the best trails are cluttered with "entrada prohibida" signs and blocked by closed gates. Some landowners seem to have made a sport of setting up as many signs as possible. Even some of the more official hiking paths can only be reached by "trespassing". I think, the signs are meant to keep out the few ill-behaved tourists that leave trash everywhere and trample down fences. I guess, the signs are not meant for us then, so, as usual, we pass them with a shrug.
The ground is dry and grass grows sparsely. Around the fincas in the valleys of Mallorca's mountains grow olive trees and some goats and sheep are grazing. Lots of stone walls keep the dirt in place and form terraces that can be cultivated. From time to time we have to climb up or down one of the terrace walls to follow the way.
Our route has a beautiful view onto the sea. We reach the destination and picnic there.
A few days later, we go on a trip into difficult terrain.
It starts just as the first hike but leads to a different destination. From the point where we returned before, we climb down into a valley with a dry stream and start ascending the opposite slope.
The way is poorly marked. Some cairns (piled rocks) left by previous adventurers point into the right direction. Or not. At some points, we can see cairns in multiple directions, some of them leading nowhere. It's not really a path but a fight through the least impassible pile of rocks we can find. The rocks are extremely spiky and the grass is high, sharp and conceal holes in the ground. It has the tendency to form a sling around your leg when stepping on the leaves' ends with the other foot. Pro-tip: Bring solid shoes and long trousers! Like, really solid shoes.
Without the guidance of the cairns, it can be really tricky to not end up in front of a wall of solid rock or a trench you cannot pass. We fight our way through the ruff terrain, building some new cairns for the next hikers.
At multiple points on the way we have to climb through fallen trees or on top of a huge boulder to keep going. At one point I take a wrong turn and find myself on an overhang 300 meters above the sea. The view is spectacular. It helps a lot that I know how much my shoes grip on the stone. I don't want to slip here and cut my head open on the stones. It is kinda inaccessible here, not a good place to hurt yourself. Yes, I know, "inaccessible" is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Mallorca.
On top of the elevation there is a tower as many can be found in visibility to each other along the coastline. These towers, erected in the sixteenth century, up to 85 at times, were meant to warn the city of Palma and the citizens about approaching pirates. They used smoke signals at daytime and fire signals at nighttime which were reproduced at the neighboring towers until the signal reached Palma. The Spanish crown built them in response to pirates started to plunder the island. The pirates came in numbers of up to 1500 men. Thanks to the system of the towers a first defeat of the pirates could be celebrated in Sóller in 1561 (More on the towers).
After reaching the tower and the mountain top we climb down on the other side and pass through a valley with three fincas. A font provides us with cold water on the way. The hike ends at the Mirador ses Barques, a small restaurant and bus stop. In all the years that I have been to Mallorca I never caught a bus at this stop. The buses on Mallorca do not carry more people than they have seats for and that results in the bus regularly skipping our bus stop. Like, every single time. Luckily most of the people are tourists and are kind enough to take you back to Sóller in their car. We never did not get a ride back and it usually requires no more than asking one person. Today we do just that and are successful on the first try. An Australian photographer who is working for a magazine in New York takes us to Sóller. It is a small world after all.
Sóller is a small town near the North-Western coast. It is connected to Port de Sóller with an ancient tram system. Services started in 1913 and some of the original vehicles are still in use today. Others have been bought from Bilbao and Lisbon or were built later. Four trailers have been bought from Palma de Mallorca and were built in 1890. They, too, are still in service. The tram goes only about 25 km/h but still manages to transport about 900,000 passengers a year.
Each year the tram ride became more expensive, but it is still worth the money today. The tram passes right over the main plazza of Sóller and adds a lot to the scenery. Thanks to its outdated technology the tram shakes and squeaks, like it should. Delightful!
Sóller itself has lots of small alleys that barely fit a car. Every time a car passes, all pedestrians need to move out of the way to let it slip through. Most of the buildings are old, the town has preserved its flair of the past. Especially, if you go off the main roads and into the side roads where few tourists are, it feels like a sleepy Spanish town, conveniently located close to the Mediterranean Sea.
The city of Sóller is connected by a similarly old train to the island's capital, Palma de Mallorca. Palma has nice quiet places, but the main city center is usually packed with tourists and the accompanying businesses. We have the privilege to visit the roof of Palma's cathedral, la Cathedral de Santa María de Palma de Mallorca. The South Eastern side of the cathedral features a gigantic rose window, too big to capture with a 50 mm lens. Multiple layers of arches line the long sides of the cathedral.
From the roof we have a great view over the city and we get a look at some of the more hidden features of this church. It was built from 1229 to 1601 on the site of a mosque and is one of the tallest gothic churches with its 44 meter-high nave. To visit the roof, you have to book a tour in advance, which is highly recommended.
On our fifth day we hike up the Torrent de Pareis. It is a some 5 km long trench dug by the water over a very long time. The walls reach up 200 meters high on both sides. At the sea facing end the torrent is about 30 meters wide, going up it is a lot more tight. The path is often blocked by house high boulders. We hike up from the seaside and exit the torrent after about 3 km by going up a steep trail to Escorca. This really is the first viable exit for the whole 3 km as most of the time the walls rise up vertically on both sides.
The torrent should only be visited when it is dry. A rainy day can turn the torrent into a death trap as the rainwater of the surrounding mountains burst down the torrent. As the torrent cuts deep into the landscape, don't expect to have any phone signal for most of the 3 km. The landscape is phenomenal though. Many people decide to hike the torrent downwards and come towards us. The bigger groups sometimes present a great deal of entertainment when they have to pass one of the tight spots where you need to squeeze through a whole between some big rocks.
Where there is no rock there is sand and gravel. In contrast to the higher mountains the rocks are much smoother down here. The water has washed them into round shapes and left many puddles on the stone's tops.
After 2 hours we start the climb to Escorca. The path is rather steep but also poses some great views. When reaching the main road to Escorca, we, yet again, hitchhike home.
Despite its reputation for being the party island, Mallorca has lots of great hiking trips to offer. It can be a bit tricky to get your hands on a good map sometimes, but thanks to the climate and the sea you are rewarded with lots of great views and sunny days.
This has not been my first trip to Sóller and it most certainly won't be my last. 🕶
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