sunny sóller

During our trip to Mallorca we spent one day around Sóller, on the North-Western coast of Mallorca.  The drive to Sóller is an adventure on it's own - there was a sign on the highway that had two options to get to Sóller, it came up so fast we didn't have time to decipher the Spanish, so we just stayed on the road we were on.

It turned out that we were on the mountain road - it was 14 kilometers of tight, steep switchbacks, all the way up the mountains, then all the way back down again; the view was fantastic.  (Can you see all those tight turns on the GPS screen in the photo?)  The other option was a tunnel that went through the mountain - it's only 7 km, and it costs a few euros to use it.

We arrived in the morning and stumbled on a little bakery that had fresh ensaïmades, a perfect breakfast snack.  Ensaïmades are a Mallorcan specialty, and I absolutely adore them.  I love how the pastry is only slightly sweet and the dough is soft and light.  They look like they would be flaky like croissants, but they're not really - they're more bread-like.  The basic ones just have a light dusting of powdered sugar...soo good.  We sat in the central square in Sóller, in the shade of the cathedral, to enjoy our treats.

After our little snack we headed to the old rail station. Sóller has a beautiful historic railway line with old wooden trains that run back and forth between Palma. The train passes by some beautiful scenery as it snakes it's way through the mountains. It also runs through 13 narrow, dark tunnels - I bet I could have touched the walls if I stuck my arm out the window. The ride to Palma took about 75 minutes. Because we had already spent time exploring Palma we waited on the train, then rode back to Sóller right away. Riding the train was a nice activity to do, it was peaceful and the scenery was fantastic.

When we were back in Sóller we decided to skip lunch and walk to the nearby villages of Binniarix and Fornalutx where we assumed we'd be able to find a good spot to eat.  I think our guide book "oversold" the walk a bit...It described a scenic walk through lemon and almond groves to the picturesque towns, looping back to Sóller in about 90 minutes.  Sounds nice, right?  It wasn't.  It was incredibly hot and we didn't get to actually walk through any lemon groves, the shade was minimal and it took us about 90 minutes just to reach the first town.  Needless to say, we were both a little grumpy.  I'm still not sure what happened - maybe we somehow took the wrong path (even though we were following the signs) or maybe the author of the guide book didn't bother to try the walk themselves...we'll never know. 

Fornalutx is beautiful though.  It has narrow, winding streets and lovely ochre-coloured stone buildings with shiny green shutters and lovely vibrant bougeanvilla.  Every which way you turned your head looked like the perfect photo.  We walked around a bit but couldn't find a restaurant that looked appealing, so we ended up buying peaches and pastries at a little grocery store and eating under a shady tree in the square.  Fornalutx was so beautiful, I wish we had seen Binniarix too, but we didn't want to go on another crazy mountain walk so we hoofed-it back to Sóller.  If we ever make it to Mallorca again, or if you're planning a trip, I'd recommend driving to Fornalutx. 

Back in Sóller we did a little shopping, then stopped for a bite to eat.  It was that akward time of day when the majority of restaurants and businesses close, so our choices were limited.  We picked a little cafe near the main square.  I ordered pa amb oli (which means 'bread and oil') - another Mallorcan specialty.  It consists of rye bread (possibly toasted and rubbed with tomato) and a drizzle of olive oil topped with slices of Mallorcan cheese and serrano ham.  My plate came with a few pickled peppers, olives and some other type of pickles that resembled rosemary (but didn't taste like rosemary - I have no idea what it was).  Mine was just okay...but I could see the potential if it had been prepared a bit more carefully.  If you ever get the chance to try pa amb oli I would recommend it, just stay away from the touristy restaurants.

Sóller was a beautiful place to visit.  There was so much to see and do in the area that I think it would be worth staying close by for a few days - maybe even down by the port (which we didn't have time to explore).  Sóller had a quaint, laid-back charm that's hard to describe, but wonderful to experience.