Spain 2016: Mallorca island, beyond the party

The beautiful island of Mallorca was quiet in October, the vacationing hoards long gone. We relaxed by the beach and explored the island by car, discovering the island’s hidden charms.

From the vast balcony of our top floor AirBnB apartment, we feasted our eyes on S’Arsenal Beach. We walked around and were surprised to hear a lot of German being spoken, and many stores and restaurants featuring German food. To me, that was a bit of a let down, since I expected more of a typical Spanish island fare.

Spain Majorca Mallorca

We took advantage of having our (very purple) rental car and set out to explore the island. We followed the winded road up the Tramuntana mountain range—declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its historical, cultural, and environmental importance—to the idyllic village of Valldemossa, then to Deià and Sóller.

2016 Spain Majorca itinerary 1

Valldemossa’s yellow stone homes and fences, perched on verdant hillsides reminded me of the Tuscan countryside. The village might look like a quiet isolated place but it has quite an interesting past. Its Moorish beginnings brought the irrigated terrace architecture. In the 13th century, the local philosopher Ramon Llull founded a Franciscan monastery, which led to Mallorca getting its first printing press in 1485.

Later on, composer Frederic Chopin rented a former monk’s cell together with his lover, the French novelist George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin de Francueil)—one of the most successful female writers of the nineteenth century. Their hopes of spending a peaceful and romantic time on the island didn’t come to fruition: between the bad weather and Chopin’s piano delayed arrival, the relationship became strained and Chopin’s health suffered. On a positive side, Chopin is said to have written some of his best work here, while George Sand took out her frustrations in a book entitled “Winter in Mallorca.”

In the 1900s, another significant artist lived at the monastery while working on a novel entitled “El Oro de Mallorca” (Mallorca’s gold). Ruben Dario, a Nicaraguan-born poet, journalist, and diplomat (representing Nicaragua in Madrid as ambassador from 1907 to 1909), initiated the Spanish-American literary movement called Modernismo, which flourished in the 20th century.

The locals pride themselves for Valldemossa being the birthplace of Santa Catalina Thomas, Mallorca’s patron saint—a 16th century peasant girl, she became a nun in Palma, and achieved sainthood in 1935.

After squeezing by a tourist bus (we folded in our car’s mirror to clear the bus), we found a parking spot and enjoyed the town on foot. Cobble stone narrow streets led to colorful cafes and shops. We checked out the famed local bakery C’an Molinas, which has been around for more than a century now, offering traditional pastries and sweets.

More things to do and see in Valldemossa

From Valldemossa, we continued to nearby village of Deià. On the way, we took in the scenery: rugged hillside covered by gnarly olive trees descending to the blue water. Occasionally we spotted a donkey or cow grazing stealthily in the low vegetation. We spied a couple of sailing boats near Sa Foradada, a unique rock formation jutting out into the sea.

The village of Deià fought to get its autonomy from Valldemossa and it is another quaint place visit on the island. Since the 19th century, Deià has attracted artists and dreamers in search of a bohemian lifestyle. Overlooking the sea and the rock of Sa Fordada, the estate of Son Marroig was once home to the Archduke Luis Salvador, who was one of the first people to document wildlife and nature on the island. British poet, historical novelist and critic Robert Graves was another famous Deia resident and his house, Ca N’Alluny is now a museum open to the public.

More things to do and see in Deia

The town of Sóller is known for its beauty: an ancient port town nestled in orange and lemon groves. Joan Rubid, a well-known pupil of Gaudí, created the neo-Gothic church of San Bartomeu and Banco de Sóller, two distinctive buildings in town. The city also displays French-inspired architecture, as it had close commercial connections to Marseille where they traded oranges and wine. If you want to take in the views through the mountains and the town, hop on the Soller train, a 1900s wooden carriage departing from Palma.

More things to do and see in Soller

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