Annette, an Administrator in our Leaders’ Department, travelled in October to Puerto de Soller, Majorca, with her partner - and photographer - Andy. Here is her account of life’s ups and downs, well, the enjoyable ones experienced on their holiday!
Having travelled separately to Majorca, it was almost dinner time before we met up with Julian, our leader, and the rest of the group. Over a drink in the hotel lounge, Julian gave us a briefing about plans for the following day while showing us the proposed route on a map. This was followed by a lavish Majorcan buffet dinner in the hotel (exactly what was needed after a long day which had started at 04.00 in order to catch the early morning flight from Stagnated).
Julian had already mentioned that ‘a girl from the office plus partner’ would be joining the holiday and we found ourselves being quizzed during dinner about whether we were actually walkers. Andy and I assured them that we had been on walking holidays previously (OK - it was before children!), we regularly walk our dog, and also go for a walk most lunchtimes, but realised that the test would take place on our first walk. As this is a Grade 4 holiday, we were expecting to cover distances up to approx 16km depending on the terrain and the amount of ascent/descent.
Having arrived a day later than the rest of the group, we realised we had missed the easier first day’s walk. So, when the alarm went off on the next morning, we knew we were going to be under scrutiny. Following a hearty buffet breakfast and a visit to the Spar shop next door to buy some lunch, we were ready to join the others on the tram to Soller from where we started our walk.
After 1½ hrs we arrived at the village of Fornalutx where we stopped for coffee and to sample the local almond cake. Another hour and a half later we stopped for lunch at the Mirador de Ses Barques. After a further couple of hours we eventually returned to Puerto de Soller. So, over the course of the day, we felt that we had proved ourselves to both the leader and the rest of the group. It had been an exhilarating day with amazing views of both the mountains and the sea, and, of course, we were in good company.
The following day’s walk took us west from the hotel and on to a section of the GR221, the long distance footpath (173km) from Puerto Andraitx in the south of the island, crossing the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana, to Pollensa in the north. In the middle of nowhere we stumbled across someone selling freshly squeezed orange juice and then, a little further on, we stopped for coffee at farm run by two French women.
Our lunch was eaten at a shady spot on a hillside and our route then took us down to Cala Deia for a very welcome cold drink. (This is one of the locations used in the BBC series ‘The Night Manager’.) From here we walked up to Deia, where the author and poet Robert Graves is buried in the churchyard. Unfortunately his house, which is now a museum, was closed due to a bereavement.
As the next day was a ‘free day’ – Andy and I decided to visit Palma, the capital, using the tram and single track railway. However, this allowed only four hours in the city – giving us time to visit a couple of museums and have a nice lunch - before taking the train and tram back. Others in the group decided to stay closer to base and explore Soller or Puerto de Soller.
On our penultimate day, we were driven up to approx 600m, and from there walked along a different section of the GR221 through a dramatic gorge (which would be spectacular in the wet season when water cascades down the river bed). The terrain under foot was demanding but the scenery was amazing and made it worthwhile. The descent was particularly tough on the knees so walking poles were especially useful on this day.
On the final day, a minibus drove us to Mirador de Ses Barques, where we started our magnificent walk to Cala Tuent. This was a day of ascents and descents – firstly to the bottom of a remote valley for morning coffee. However, what goes down must also go up so the next hour was spent climbing out of the valley. This resulted in one of the highlights of the week – a ‘balcony’ walk high above the north Majorcan coast. On arrival at Cala Tuent some of the group went swimming while others adjourned to the only bar for an obligatory cold beer. We were then picked up by minibus for the spectacular drive back over the mountains to Puerto Soller.
Anyone going to Majorca expecting only sun, sea, and sand, may well be surprised to find big mountains and spectacular scenery.
We stayed in the Hotel Marina which is situated next to the beach in Puerto Soller. Our dinners were taken either in the hotel or local restaurants, enabling us to sample many local delicacies.
All in all this was a very enjoyable week. Andy and I were reminded how much fun can be had on a walking holiday and we look forward to exploring another area in the near future.