Friday, 30 March 2018

Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain - Final days

After my long walk on Wednesday I took it easy on Thursday.
I did a bit of weeding in Liz and Martin's garden but mostly I read on a lounger in the sun. Finally the temperature is in the low 20s!
I swam, just 4 lengths as it was pretty cold, but I just had to go in, it looked so inviting.
Liz had reserved us a table at NuNu for my farewell dinner and we sat outside even though it was a little cool (note the blue blankets)
so that we had a front row seat for the sunset.
I sat on the beach wall, with a glass of Cava, happily snapping pictures

of the beautiful sky and reflections in the bay,
until the reflections that I was getting were from the lighthouse beam.

We started by sharing tuna tartar and suckling pig spring roll. Then Liz had the lamb special (with stuffed zucchini and lemon jelly) and I had the scallops in a brandy and bechmal sauce. We both had dessert and then Liz asked the owner to serve his special brandy. She didn't actually want the brandy, she just wanted the show, as he set it on fire and poured it between the 2 glasses.

The following day, Friday, I spent packing, sweeping and then went for a short walk.
First I followed Liz and Martin's directions and found what they told me was the oldest olive tree in Mallorca.
Martin had told me it was estimated over 2000 years old
Then I walked up the Figuera valley. It is the last walk that I did last year and I realized I hadn't yet done it this year.
The rain and now warmth has everything green and lush
This years blossoms and last years berries.
Nasturtiums growing wild along the river bank.
Happy and hot tile on a chimney.

A sheep snoozing in the sun.
The almond trees were in blossom when I arrived and now the almonds are growing.
Fresh eggs and lemons for sale at the end of one driveway.
Some beautiful fincas up here with large tracts of land. Would be a full time job just keeping all the terrace walls repaired.

I had been climbing for about 45 minutes when I saw a sign indicating a walking trail to Soller. I started along it, past more modest fincas and walked for about 20minutes before deciding to turn back - I had no map, no hat, no water, no food
and didn't even have my good hiking boots on.
Stones on the roof to stop the tiles blowing off.
Looks big enough to be 2 chickens.
I thought this dove was a stone ornament until it moved.
The primulae (still flowering) and the oregano will end up in one of the gardens but Liz thinks she will paint this container and leave the lettuces for her next tenants.
I am all packed and ready to be picked up at 5:30am for my flights to Cardiff. Next stop Wales and the forecast is 7 days of rain. I am not sure of Chris' internet situation so the blog may be delayed 'til I get home.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain - The Archduke's Trail

I was down at Tramuntana Tours at 9:30, a little apprehensive about what I was taking on. Jeremy loaded the 5 of us into the van and we met up with 3 more in Valldemossa, where we would start the walk. An Irishman, a couple of Danes and the rest German.
We stopped at the trail map

and Jeremy described the route we would take.
We started to climb immediately
soon looking down on Valldamossa
and a little higher, down the valley and out over Palma and the central plain. We could see the airport and the cathedral.
Archduke Luis Salvador originated from Austria but spent much of his life in Mallorca in the late 19th Century, studying and documenting his love of wildlife and nature. Buying large swathes of mountainous land, the Archduke built paths that rose nearly 1000m high with spectacular views across the Tramuntana Mountains and the Mediterranean sea. (from

Periodically we stopped climbing to catch our breath (alright, that is what I had to do), have a drink of water and for Jeremy to give us some info. He spoke of the Archduke coming first to Mallorca when he was 20 to recover from the tragic death of his lover. He fell in love with the island and was concerned that the natural areas were being stripped of forest. He bought the land to preserve it and on his death (at 68), gave it to the island government to be open to the public.
Still climbing. In total we would climb more than 600 metres.
but the views were certainly worth the pounding heart and wobbly legs.
We stopped at a raised stone circle and
2 ruined buildings while Jeremy described the life of the carboneras, families who would spend their summers creating charcoal. The Archduke was concerned about the loss of trees so restricted the amount of wood that could be cut and insisted on reforestation.

We stopped for another break at
"the cave of the hermit".
Did I mention we were still climbing? Sometimes a muddy path, sometimes gravel, sometimes stone stairs, first through woodland and then
up to where there was very little foliage, just rosemary and some other low bushes.
The Archduke loved walking this high ridge, from which you can see both sides of the mountain range, so much, that he had a permanent path built, wide enough for two people to pass. Thus "The Archduke's Trail".

Taking a breather I stood and watched this boat sail around the rock (note the hole in it) and set anchor.
Jeremy promised me that this would be the last climb. 3 of the other hikers had taken turns walking at the back with me. So kind, standing with me while I got my heart rate back down and assuring me that it was good for them too, to take the time to appreciate the surroundings, not just march on, looking down as the footing was rough.
We ate our lunches at the summit, looking towards Palma
sheltered behind rocks from the cool sea breeze
with no trees to break its bite.
The descent took comparatively little time though at times it was slippery and had low hanging branches (Darren, the Irishman, hit his head enough times that we started discussing protective headgear - a helmet?, a cap with a foam pad at the front? and he declared he's been concussed since birth)
We walked past the van and into Valldemossa for a drink and then Jeremy took pity on us and went and fetched the van to pick us up and drive us back to Port, along the coast, past Daia and millionaire's row (huge villas with magnificent sea views).
I was exhausted but strangely invigorated. I had, again, found that my rapidly increased heart rate was my main impediment to this kind of walk. I was having Inca Trail flashbacks (but nowhere near as bad as that). Two of the walkers talked about climbing Kilimanjaro (one had done it) and that it wasn't as steep as what we had just done. Chris wants to do that!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain - sun and finishing touches on Villa Nicole

For the first time, this year, I have been following the Volvo Ocean Race. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, with a favorite boat (Turn the Tide on Plastic) and love the coverage and elements of the race and website. I check in to the boats locations, blog and updates in the morning when I check my e-mails and then watch the daily video update in the evening when I go online to do my blog. Last night there was an announcement that one of the sailors had been swept overboard. Tragic. Sailing! What most of us do as a hobby (mind you not on those kinds of boats or in those kinds of conditions). It really bought it home to me that at that level this is not just a sport, not just my entertainment, but an extremely dangerous occupation. I was sad and sorry going to bed and checking in again this morning, sad and sorry still, as they have now given up on finding him.

I walked down to Tramuntana Tours this morning to pay for my Archdukes Trail walk. Now I can't bail on it tomorrow. Every web site I have looked at rates it as challenging.
A Llaut, newly painted and shiny, being relaunched.
Approaching Easter the Port is getting busier and busier. People pour off the tram or out of tour buses often lead by a guide with an umbrella and a headset and microphone.

The restaurants are upping their game and all are open now.
Though from the look of these signs not all the residents are happy about it.
I sat on a low wall, in the sun, and sketched the church doors.

Unusual barred windows
and ornate brass knobs
and lock.
I spent the afternoon on the terrace, in my bathing suit, with a book and then popped downstairs to see how Liz was doing putting the final touches on Villa Nicole before taking her advertising pictures and welcoming guests tomorrow.
The new patio, with the sun loungers out, from the wall at the top of the garden.
These pictures were taken at 4:30 when the garden was in shade. In the summer it will be in full sun most of the day.
Except for this spot under the lemon tree.
There's a small seating area outside the door, that can be covered by an awning. A herb garden is just in front of the steps up to the garden
and that gate goes out into the street.
An outside eating area can seat 8 even though the apartment only accommodates 4.
Martin mentioned that the BBQ was looking a bit stained
It was my suggestion to paint it so I ended up with a paintbrush in my hand
and while I was at it
painted the new cupboard for the outside frig.
The doves who came to visit seemed to approve. At least their "cooing" sounded like  approval.