Scheiß drauf, Malle ist nur einmal im Jahr, haben wir uns gedacht. Und sind halt mal rübergeflogen.
We’d planned this trip together with a friend of ours in Spring already, but for various reasons then decided to travel in mid-end September. And what a wise choice it was! Our plan was to hike the GR-221 from Port D’Andratx to Pollenca in a week and we found the conditions to be just perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, dry. And more or less lonely trails except for the sections around Lluc.
But before we could set foot in the Tramuntana, we had to get to the island first, which proved to be a bit problematic and expensive. I had booked a flight TXL-PMI return with HG (Niki) in March and we were supposed to fly out on Sunday, Sept 17th. And of course they have all my contact data, email, telephone, and they use it all the time and I’m a fucking platinum member … but still, they somehow „neglected“ to contact me. More or less acting on gut instinct I checked the app on Saturday evening, and boom, flight is listed as „cancelled“. No reason given, no alternative provided. Hotline doesn’t answer. At 10pm in the evening, all fucked up. So I checked the alternatives and found that all direct flights were booked out. Great. So I ended up purchasing an oneway Eurowings flight TXL-CGN-PMI (what a stupid routing) and a oneway easyJet flight PMI-SXF. For 1000 EUR altogether (2 pax). Fuck Niki, fuck you all, it’s just worthless money anyway. 🙁
We get to the airport Sunday morning, still trying to reach the Niki hotline, still not getting through. Service personnel at the airport is performing the usual routine of hiding from the customers. So we board the EW flight to CGN and I get a message from Niki, check the app and behold – they rebooked us onto a flight to DUS. Which is in Germany, not in Spain. They didn’t provide any information, for example how we’d get from DUS to PMI. And also no teleportation device to actually be able to get to the gate in time. Fuck you. But on the plus side, we both managed to get our hiking poles into the plane as hand baggage and didn’t have to check shit in. I hate checking in baggage. So we fly EW, we get to PMI a few hours later, meet up with Claus at the disgusting airport, jump into a cab and off to Port Anthrax.
And I have to say, once you leave Palma, it’s a beautiful island!
Just in case you’re wondering about the shitty quality of the photos – didn’t bring my camera, just took some snapshots with my phone, and only when I could be bothered to dig it out. So in terms of photography a fucking lazy vacation indeed. 🙂
The first leg from Anthrax to St Elm
was just a little leg stretcher – only 7,7km with 330m elevation gain and loss. So perfect for a little afternoon stroll in the Balearic soon. Beautiful coastal views, nice shady forests, calm and peaceful. Just the right thing after so much hate. 🙂
Dinner was less problematic than I had feared, vegetarian paella was available. It was decent, but not great and way overpriced for rice with veggies and too much salt. But we sat on a really nice terrace, overlooking the sea and the sunset, so that more than made up for it. On the way to the hotel we had some ice cream at XXX and what can I say? Fucking spectacular. If you ever get to Mallorca, go to St Elm to try this guy’s orange ice cream, it’s worth it. Believe me, I’ve had a lot of ice cream all over the globe.
We spent the night at a hotel in St Elm, going to bed early to get ready for the longest leg of the trip.
St Elm to Estellencs via Ses Fontanelles
26,2km with 1350m elevation gain and 1200m elevation loss. You can tell from the gain/loss ration that the whole profile is more or less up and down and up and down again. I like. We chose to do hike it in one go because there is only one Refugi along the road (Ses Fontanelles) and its name sounds funny in German. No, because we’d have needed to bring food for the night and couldn’t be bothered. And because we can of course, need a workout component after all.
We set out relatively early and enjoyed the sunrise from halfway up the cliff. Most of the track has great coastal views again, some nice forests and lots of Trockenmauern of course. The going was very easy for most parts with a nice little steep part just before you reach Planes d’En Cabrit. The way down to Estellencs is a bit dangerous, not because of the terrain, but because of the fantastic views – mountains, ocean, and heaps of terraced fields with Trockenmauern. Simply beautiful, but easy to miss your step if your too enthusiastic in admiring all this. 😉
Estellencs itself is another one of these very pictoresque villages, their special feature is the rusty horse statue at the end of the village. Well.
Dinner at Estellencs was a really nice affair at Restaurante Arandora. Small, but beautiful. The owner had to improvise a bit but we enjoyed the location, the friendly atmosphere, and the food.
Estellencs to Esporles via Banyalbufar
14,3km, 645 elevation gain, 602m elevation loss.
Compared to the previous day, this was a walk in the park. Most guidebooks split this into two days as well, but come on, 7km is not worth tying up your boots in the morning. Banyalbufar (anal foo bar?) made for a nice lunch stop, Cafe Bellavista really does have wonderful views, their terrace overlooking the ocean. And the village itself is like a set of postcards made real, very beautiful and romantic. Their specialty is the penis cactus. 😀
After Banyalbufar, the track turns away from the coast to lead a bit further inland, into the Tramuntana. All in all, this was a lazy stroll, so far we had not encountered any steep climbs or descents. But this was about to change the next day … . 🙂
We stayed at Sa Fita Backpackers in Esporles and it is one of the nicest backpackers I’ve ever seen. Super friendly staff, too. I could have done without that stupid German girl that had to come into the room at 3am in the morning with a lot of light and noise, but hey … Malle ist nur einmal im Jahr.
Esporles to Deia via Valdemossa
21,7km, 1335m elevation gain, 1399m elevation loss
Another 2-in-1, this time with some decent ascents and descents, to put all those calories we’ve been eating over the last days to good use. Didn’t want to stay in Valdemossa because, don’t recall anymore, but because we can, I guess. Valdemossa is a tourist hell destination like Rothenburg or Gatlinburg or … or … … … … … . Nice to have seen it for a short lunch break, even happier we could leave immediately after the break. 😀
This was probably one of the most beautiful stretches of the whole trip, nice workout combined with mountain and ocean views, interesting Steineichen and Erdbeerbaum forests, and lots of remnants of older civilizations like Kalköfen, Dreschplätze, Köhlerhütten. And Trockenmauern galore of course.
Deia is much more peaceful than Valdemossa, so wise choice to stay there at the local Refugi.
This was the first Refugi we stayed at in Spain at what a nice surprise. Clean, well-run, and spacious. I did not expect that much „comfort“ to be honest, so kudos and thank you very much.
Deia to Soller via Port de Soller
12,6km, 410m elevation gain, 539 elevation loss, taking the tourist train from the Port to Soller proper
Probably the easiest leg of the whole trip, made even shorter by the fact that the part between Port de Soller and Soller proper is mainly along the road so we took the touristy „Orange Express“ tram. Expensive as hell, but beats walking along the road. Soller is the citrus fruit capital of the Island and it shows, there’s oranges everywhere.
This section might have been short, but still very, very beautiful: views of the wonderful azure ocean, fruit and olive trees in terraced groves, and Trockenmauern. And from a culinary perspective, it proved to be the highlight of the trip. First, there was the Finca Son Mico, where a lovely French lady offer fantastic cakes along with freshly squeezed orange juice. You don’t get that too often when hiking. 🙂 Could get used to it though. And felt really good to be able to practice my extremely rusty French again after all those years. Next, Soller has some nice bakeries and ice cream places, so there was enough sustenance to keep us going throughout the afternoon. And then, finally, dinner. Best dinner on the Island at Ca’n Pintxo. Great food, a welcome alternative from the usual stuff, innovative ideas using local produce only, in a wonderful setting and with great service. Sweet potato mash with veggies and a foam of aioli and smoked tea. Purple potato with poached egg yolk and black truffle flakes. Do I need to go on? No, go there and see and eat for your fucking selves!
In stark contrast to the wonderful weather, scenery, architecture, and food was the accommodation at Hostal Nadal. Overpriced. We were lucky that the place was relatively empty, otherwise we’d have had to fight for one tiny shower and toilet with all the others on the same floor.
Soller to Tossal Verds
19,7km, 1035m elevation gain, 550 elevation loss
I keep wanting to repeat this for nearly every section on this hike, but this one maybe really was the absolute highlight. After the wonderful meal, no feast, at Ca’n Pintxo the night before, we had another early start. The first few kilometres are more or less flat, a nice warm-up for what’s to come after Biniaraix, mainly along an old pilgrim’s path/route. More than 2000 steps, up and up and up we walk, 750m elevation gain compressed into a little more than 4km. Not a nice as Walsh’s Pyramid in Queensland, but still a good workout. Again, we have the forest, the valley, and the mountain to ourselves. Peaceful and beautiful the path leads steadily up through a constantly narrowing valley, all of a sudden there are some fincas and olive groves sprinkled across the landscape before we climb further up into the steep massif. Looking back is fantastic, the early morning light illuminates Soller and the ocean in the background, the dark rocks loom in front of us and we eat a ton of stuff from the best pasteleria in Soller for late breakfast. 🙂
Tossal Verds to Lluc
13,6km, 835m elevation gain, 881m elevation loss
The refugi at Tossal Verds is absolutely top notch. Recently renovated (2015), super friendly hosts, very clean, spacious, comfortable. There weren’t too many people staying the night and instead of stuffing all of us into one big room (which would have been ok and perfectly understandable) they actually spread us out across all the rooms so every group had a private room more or less. Thank you! The location is also superb, we arrived relatively early in the afternoon and chilled out on the benches in the sun, in the gardens and fields around they are actually growing a lot of endemic plant species, so definitely a must-visit for flora enthusiasts. Plus a ton of wild goats roaming everywhere.
We enjoyed the nice and sumptuous breakfast the next morning and took off towards Lluc. And as it is the case so often in life, ups are followed by downs … . We only stayed at the monastery in Lluc because Claus had professed so much enthusiasm for it. My instinct and default mode is to always avoid all things religious and, if possible, destroy them or at least defecate on their doorstep. Fuck religion. Fuck you all. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. The hike itself was again, very nice, not too stressful with two short steep passages in the first half. The views were well worth the effort and we got to the Sanctuari de Lluc relatively early in the afternoon. What can I tell you? I don’t want to waste too many words here … it’s a tourist rip-off, you’re better off staying at the Refugi 1km further down the path. The restaurants are rather mediocre as well, so went to the Font de Cuberta restaurant at the parking lot – food wasn’t exceptional either (but also not bad and the cake was fine), but service was super friendly and the atmosphere very cozy. But the monastery, avoid at all cost. Don’t waste your time with this shit.
Lluc to Pollenca to PMI
17,7km, 325m elevation gain, 753m elevation loss.
Our last section was really a walk in the park, mainly down, surrounded by lots of sheep. But thankfully no shit hopping as on the Roy’s Peak track in NZ. 🙂 Pollenca was very busy with Sunday market crowds, but looked very picturesque. We had a short refreshment break and then hopped onto the bus to Palma, since nobody actually walks the last leg to Port Pollenca where the route is along the road all the time. In Palma, we checked into our hotel close to the airport (but at the coast) for some more refreshments (see below), excellent pizza at Bella Sicilia on the Carrer del Pins. And watched German election results whilst packing our bags for our return flight the next morning.
Flying back was uneventful, fortunately we did not encounter any Fire Elements at the airport. 😉
And we managed to get our hiking poles into hand luggage again. So there is still hope for good in the world! 🙂