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Serra de Tramuntana

Some areas of the Mallorcan coast have been hit by the touristic boom, the one that has sown it merciless with large buildings and beachfront resorts. Luckily, others have been carefully conserved and have protected the environment.

This is the case of the Serra de Tramuntana, one of the most beautiful and emblematic landscapes of Mallorca, located northwest of the island. Of its relief the peaks over 1,000 meters stand out -like the majestic Puig Major, the highest peak of the Balearic Islands with 1447 meters- and the different landscapes that you will discover traveling the road that runs through it and running from Andratx to Pollença going by some of the most beautiful villages of the island as Bañalbufar, Estellencs, Deià, Pollença, Lluc, Fornalutx or Valldemossa.

An excellent area for practice hiking, caving and canyoning with spectacular views through valleys, cliffs and gorges.

Sóller

The town of Sóller offers various attractions: it concentrates a large number of modernist buildings such as the Banc de Sóller or the Can Brunera mansion -that now houses a museum-, the old church of San Bartolomé and a picturesque harbor with two beaches.

In addition, it is said that the ensaimadas from Soller are the best, with the garrovetes del papa, its typical sweet, or the oranges used to prepare juice and ice-creams. You can find these local products and traditional crafts in "Es Mercat" which is held every Saturday.

One of the fun trips you can do from Sóller is to take the Sóller train that connects the town with Palma de Mallorca. A trip to the past in their wooden wagons and with the rattling of a line that opened in 1912 and runs between the beautiful landscapes of the Tramuntana mountains and fields full of almond, olive and carob trees.

Fornalutx

Just above the village of Sóller there is Fornalutx, chosen as one of the "most beautiful in Spain" a couple of times. Their houses are finely restored and perfectly ordered despite the uneven, the flowers on the balconies, the cobbled streets and ancient tradition of painted tiles-present in many of the houses- make it a dream place.

Walkers have here many interesting routes ranging from Sóller to Fornalutx, like the one leading to Mirador de Ses Barques or the Cami de Sa Figuera.

Sa Calobra and other beaches and coves

In the same mountain range of tramuntana there is Sa Calobra, a cove created at the mouth of the River Torrent de Pareis where the sea, forest and cliffs converge in a natural setting of stunning beauty.

The access is complicated because you must go through 800 sinuous curves along 4 kilometers, including the convoluted 360 degrees curve known as the Nus de la Corbata (tie knot).

From Sa Calobra you can reach to the Torrent de Pareis Creek, where they celebrate each year the "Concert in Sa Calobra" every first Sunday of July. The canyon walls exert natural amphitheater, creating a unique and unrivaled sound.

Throughout the area you can find pristine beaches like Cala d'Egos in Andratx, Es Port des Canonge in Banyalbufar, the Cala de Valldemossa or Llucalcari in Deià, and although sometimes you have to walk a few miles down steep rocks or drive on narrow roads with impossible curves, it is worth the effort, to be rewarded at the end with a wonderful beach less frequented by tourists.

The Sanctuary of Lluc

The origin of its name comes from lucus, meaning "sacred forest". Here is the Virgen de Lluc "La Moreneta", patron saint of Mallorca; a small, dark-skinned virgin, that, according to the legend, found a shepherd in the mountains. The virgin was reluctant to leave the place and that is why a small chapel was built and with time, it became this beautiful sanctuary.

There are are some bars and restaurants around the architectural complex.

Picture Sa Calobra by Hugin | picture Sóller by jpm2112 | picture Serra Tramuntana by Carlos Delgado

A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.

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Five Culinary Enticements in Majorca

While “The Times” recently described Palma de Mallorca as “the best place to live in the world”, it should be noted that Majorca is not just Palma and that you are likely to come across your “ideal spot” at any location on the island. I imagine that the Germans would agree, too… On this, the largest of the Balearic islands, there are so many hedonistic enticements that they can scarcely be encompassed in a single getaway. That is why many finally decide to “occupy it”. With the island’s gastronomy as a pretext, here are some key venues in Palma and the rest of the island for tasting it, according to one’s appetite and urges. Some might seek a simple snack; others, a full-blown banquet.

Ensaimada. You will get tired of seeing them everywhere, but at Ca’n Joan de S’Aigo they make the best ensaimadas, which are also for takeaways. Plain or filled with custard, cream or apricot. Don’t be put off by the queues or the time-worn appearance of this pastry shop, arguably resembling your grandparents’ living room. If you’d rather try something different, go for the gató or the cuarto, two traditional, homemade Majorcan sponges.

Sobrasada. Still in Palma, you will come across lots of grocery stores that sell sobrasada. The legendary one is Santo Domingo, where you can see it on display in all its shapes and varieties. The sobrasada sold at the Xesc Reina delicatessen, or La Luna, in Sóller, is delicious spread on toast and honey.

Well-Starred Cuisine

Enogastronomy is on a high, riding on the back of names, paradigms and also Michelin stars. The island is now a foodie destination of the first order, thanks to the cuisine and “gastro-activism” of such chefs as Andreu Genestra and Fernando Pérez Arellano. Both use ingredients sourced locally which they show off in style in reasonably priced/quality tasting menus.

Andreu, in the Son Jaumell hotel, and Fernando in the spectacular Castell Son Claret, grow and pamper much of the raw material for their dishes in situ. Andreu also explores new techniques in his recipes, such as smoked spices, while Fernando dishes up signature breakfasts coveted by other hotels on the island.

Casual Cuisine

Stop off at Claxon, preferably with a prior booking, to discover the “composite cuisine” typifying this establishment, with its garden, lunch menu and portions menu. Amid the bustle of Santa Catalina, head for Patrón Lunares, featuring well-known dishes reworked with aplomb and served up in ingenious guises. You can also have a drink at both places.

Eclectic Cuisine

Rialto Living is the place to head for in downtown Palma if you’re looking for a classy, arty, cultured multi-disciplinary space with fine cuisine. A new restaurant will shortly be opened on the first floor, but you can meanwhile take a seat at one of the café tables and order a snack, or try their fusion cuisine.

And, Two Stayover Options in Palma

Sant Francesc. The hallmark of this hotel, housed in a listed building in Palma’s historic centre, is the well-being of their guests. With spacious rooms and common areas, a rooftop swimming pool, a cocktail bar and a substantial collection of contemporary art and photography, no wonder this spanking new hotel is already one of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World.”

Can Alomar. On the most exclusive stretch of the Born de Palma promenade, this classical-style luxury hotel affords panoramic views of the Cathedral and harbour from its rooftop solarium, as well as from its restaurant terrace, where sipping a drink on high is an elating experience.

Delicious, isn’t it? Why wait to discover these five gastronomic idylls in Majorca? Check out our flights here.

Text by Belén Parra (Gastronomistas)

Photos by Belén Parra y Vera Lair

 

 

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The South of Minorca at a Leisurely Pace

Minorca is one of the most fascinating islands in the Mediterranean. Its peculiar geological structure makes it an exceptional enclave. It also supports numerous endemic species; that is, species exclusive to the island, or else shared only by neighbouring islands such as Majorca, Corsica or Sardinia. The blend of both common and differentiating traits endows this land with an especially attractive natural heritage, which saw intense human development as far back as 4,000 years ago. Indeed, it was the first of the Balearic islands to be inhabited. Its earliest settlers came not from the Iberian peninsula but from other parts of the Mediterranean, including Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians and, later, Turks.

When it comes to slow tourism, three distinct parts of the island can be identified – the east, west and south. As the possibilities are endless, we are going to focus on the south and, in particular, the south-west of the island, centred around Cala Galdana as the main hub.

Beaches to Levitate on

Cala Galdana is also known as Cala Santa Galdana or Cala Santagaldana. It lies seven kilometres from Ferreries, between Morro de Ponent and Penyal Vermell, and alongside the development of the same name, flanked by the vantage points of des Riu and sa Punta which afford excellent panoramas. The place-name derives from the Arabic Guad al-Ana. This beach is one of the best known and most popular destinations in Minorca, as well as one of the most beautiful. It constitutes an isolated tourist resort surrounded by large swathes of practically virgin natural terrain. It is sited at a point on the coastline where two streams, the Algendar and the Algendaret, meet the sea where the latter forms an inlet, giving rise to a wetland, fitted with a jetty, featuring a wealth of animal and birdlife, notably peregrine falcons, frogs, toads, shrews and bats.

Cala Galdana offers countless options for relaxing, geared to all types of visitors. Minorca is well-known for being an ideal destination for vacationing families, as well as for those seeking solitude on a tranquil island, and children do not always fit the ambience of peace and quiet. Hence the existence of “adult hotels”, like the Hotel Audax. We tried it out and were treated to an experience of total relaxation, spa and library included. The hotel also offers wholesome food in its restaurants: Oliva, a gastronomic space with live cooking, a fusion of the best of Italian pasta dishes with Minorcan cuisine, and Galdana – slow cooking. In addition, there they manage all kinds of activities for you through Sports & Nature. Mateo, who is in charge of these services, is an enthusiast of nature activities and knows the island like the back of his hand.

Western Beaches

If we opt to do the western beaches, just a half-an-hour’s walk from there takes us to Cala Macarelleta. It is advisable to go there off season, which peaks from 15 June to 15 September, as it can be jam-packed during the high season. Spring is the best time to enjoy it. It breathes a special atmosphere, especially when fairly deserted. The route to this cove runs along the Camí de Cavalls, which skirts the whole island perimeter and is 184 km long. In bygone times, its function was to connect the island’s various defence towers. The Macarelleta cove is accessed via a timber staircase with 216 steps, spanning a drop of 150 metres. The walk is well worth doing as this is certainly the island’s most widely photographed cove. Its waters combine shades of blue, green and turquoise, while on land the chromatic scale ranges from greens to browns. If you head about two and a half kilometres further afield you come to Cala en Turqueta, a cove set in a stunning landscape. And, if you want to continue enjoying this pleasant walk along the Camí de Cavalls, you will reach Cala des Talaier (some 7 km from Cala Galdana) and Son Saura (at the 10-km mark). In addition to this coastal path, there are also trails winding their way inland along the island’s various gullies. Minorca has three rivers and their gulleys stay green all year around. If you can, it is worth going on a hike to d’Algendar to visit its caves.

Sea and Tranquility

Another way of finding peace and quiet is to enjoy the toing-and-froing of the waves on a boat. You can hire one, which is a good way of interacting with the island’s inhabitants, or take a ride on a pleasure boat. One of the best experiences, however, is to go kayaking, which you can do alone or with a guide. We recommend the latter option, as it has the advantage that you also get descriptions and recommendations. One of the most popular pursuits here is to witness the sun setting in the open sea. This is always best done in summer, although in winter it is also feasible, as long as you don a wetsuit.

Minorca offers a good variety of options for enjoying a holiday at a slow pace. Check out our flights here.

Text and images by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

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Nine Essentials In Palma de Mallorca

When talking about Majorca, we usually limit ourselves to the wonderful beaches and landscapes to be explored and tend to ignore its main city, Palma. Tucked away in this enchanting port city with a centennial history are numerous gems that make this a must-visit destination on the island. Following are some pointers to landmarks that make this city so alluring.

1. A Cathedral Filled With Surprises
You can’t help seeing it – Majorca Cathedral protrudes well above all other buildings in the city. Also known as La Seu, this monument in Levantine Gothic style is characterised by its lofty bearing – it is one of Europe’s tallest Gothic cathedrals – and its huge rose window, also one of the largest of its kind, while the interior is crammed with surprises. It features the legacy of Gaudí, who rearranged the interior in the early-20th century, incorporating Modernist ornamental elements and a baldachin on the unfinished altar. Then there is the amazing ceramic mural of Mediterranean inspiration which crowns the Chapel of the Most Holy, the work of Miquel Barceló, which visitors are unlikely to miss.

2. The Characterful Lonja
This must-visit 15th-century building, designed by Guillem Sagrera, was once the headquarters of the School of Merchants. Nowadays, visitors are dazzled by its helicoidal columns, which end in groined vaults that look like palm trees at first glance. The construction is enormously inspiring, capable of transporting the viewer to a time when Palma was a major trade centre.

3. A Route Through Miro’s Majorca
The imprint of Joan Miró is ever-present in the city where he spent the last 27 years of his life. Be sure to visit the Pilar i Joan Miró Foundation to see the artist’s house and workshop, in addition to a small part of his vast oeuvre. And, still in the same area, the recently opened Marivent Palace gardens feature twelve of Miró’s sculptures.

4. A Good Measure of Contemporary Art
In Palma, contemporary art is not limited to the figure of Miró. If you head for Es Baluard, Palma’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, you can also see works by the leading artists and movements that have come together and still converge in the Balearic Islands. Another venue you should make a point of visiting is the Juan March Museum Foundation which houses a highly interesting collection of contemporary Spanish art.

5. The Waterfront Promenade
Like any decent seaside resort, Palma is fringed from one end to the other by a long waterfront promenade which affords a different angle on the city. The view is stunning when you draw level with the Cathedral, and the promenade also has leisure areas where locals do various sports or just lounge around and chill out.

6. De Luxe Cuisine
Palma has splendid and highly assorted culinary offerings. The local tradition, in the form of tapas bars and restaurants offering locally sourced products, exists side by side with establishments that have reinvented Majorcan cuisine and taken it to a new level, and those serving up international cuisine. Don’t hesitate to try Majorca’s typical and essentialsobrasada,a spicy, pork sausage, or to put yourself in the hands of gourmet chefs with their bolder gastronomic interpretation.

7. Santa Catalina, The Hipster Quarter
This erstwhile fishing quarter has undergone a facelift and a marked transformation in recent years, becoming one of the most attractive beats in town. We recommend visiting it at dusk, when the establishments get into full swing, and refueling by opting for a hearty dinner in of one the area’s trendy restaurants.

8. Terraces with Views
Another way to enjoy the city is from one of the rooftop terraces which some bars and restaurants have tucked away. There you can order a small feast while soaking up the breathtaking views. One such spot with magnificent views is the Nakar Hotel, which offers an excellent culinary assortment served up by Majorcan chef Miquel Calent.

9. An Ensaimada as a Souvenir
You cannot possibly leave Majorca without an ensaimada under your arm. This is a giveaway at your destination airport, but there’s no resisting the delight of eating one. Filled with angel hair squash, custard, chocolate and even sobrasada – or without a filling, if you prefer – you can get your hands on this tasty souvenir in numerous pastry shops. Among our favourites are Forn Fondo and Horno Santo Cristo.

Book your Vueling to Palma de Mallorca, explore its streets and let yourself get carried away by the charm of this city.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Photo by SBA73

 

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