climbing to castell d'alaró then feasting afterwards

As we were driving through the town of Alaró I looked out the car window at the mountain we were heading towards and said to Trevor: "You don't think the castle is all the way at the top, do you?" Turns out it was. We drove up a windy, narrow cliff-hugging road with a view of the central plains of Mallorca on one side and terraced olive trees on the other side. Things got a little tight when there was a car going the opposite direction! Eventually we made it to the restaurant part-way up the mountain and they told us we could keep driving for a few more kilometers, then it was a further 30 minute walk up to the castle...not exactly a leisurely stroll...

The walk was pretty hot & dusty (make sure you take water), but the views were worth it.  I was surprised at how far above the restaurant we had climbed, but the sounds of their goat's bells could be heard all the way up at the castle.  

Castell d'Alaró is an ancient fortress that was built sometime around 900.  Because of it's mountain-top position it was the site of many military sieges - in fact, those within the fortress had to be starved out because it was impossible to climb the surrounding cliffs.

We had fun looking around the ruins, chapel and other buildings right at the top.  There was a little cafe, and I think you can even spend the night there, but we were planning on having dinner at the restaurant.  The drive back down to didn't seem quite as bad as the drive up.

The restaurant was a family-run place called Es Verger.  We picked a table that had a view of the castle and also a bit of view of the plains spreading out below.  It definitely had a laid-back and relaxed feeling to it and we both really liked it there.  We enjoyed a dish of fruity, spicy Mallorcan olives and bread with aioli before dinner.

I ordered the cod with roasted tomatoes and potatoes.  It was really good - the fish had a light batter on it and the tomatoes and potatoes were flavourful & tasty.  Trevor ordered roast lamb shoulder.  I got to taste a bite and it was really good - super tender with a delicate flavour.  We had a bit of a laugh when we looked around and saw all the sheep grazing nearby...I think his lamb was probably super-fresh.  Those cute little guys sure can be tasty!

Both of our meals had a great 'home-cooked' taste to them.  In fact, it almost felt like we had been invited to dinner at someone's house.  And when you're at someone's house, you definitely don't turn down dessert!  I used my very restricted Spanish vocabulary to ask our waitress which desserts she would recommend.  One of the ones she pointed to was the Mallorcan pudding, so I tried that one. It was a creamy custardy, almost flan-like dessert with hints of cinnamon & vanilla and a thin layer of cake at the bottom.  It was soaked in a dark liqueur that gave it a bit of an edge, but balanced out the richness.  It was a lovely finish to the meal.

Seeing Castell d'Alaró was really neat.  Sometimes it's hard to believe that ancient buildings really are 1000 years old as you scramble over them.  It was also really great to eat at Es Verger.  The food was good, but it was also a really fun experience.  

I couldn't resist sharing a few sunset photos I snapped as we were driving back to our hotel...