We awakened on Sunday in our drab and dark condo on the ground floor of the resort that we had checked into the night before. Fortunately, we had already been promised a new condo today and for the rest of our stay and we were looking forward to that. While they were getting the new condo cleaned and ready for us, we decided to go on a driving adventure I’d read about. Ryan is doing all the driving because of restrictions they put on rental cars here and our car, a Spanish Seat Leon, has a standard transmission so he was a little nervous after hearing from me that this drive is one of the hairiest drives most people ever undertake. But, he was confident that he could do it and, as he drove more and more this morning, shifting gears came back to him as if he’d never stopped driving manual transmission cars.
The countryside here on Mallorca reminds us very much of Northern California or the Temecula area of Southern California. It’s dry, with rock covered mountains all around and lots of oleander, bougainvillea, and citrus and olive groves. The roads are narrow and often have rock walls on either side. Buildings look like they’ve been around for centuries and are made of the same rocks as the walls. At least it was mostly flat…in the beginning that is. Soon we started to climb up into the mountains and the roads became steep and twisty very quickly. To compound drivers’ frustrations, cyclists are more plentiful than cars and they don’t seem to worry that they are blocking your way or impeding your progress. Very few of them ever move over and you have to wait for opportunities to pass by moving into the opposing traffic lane. But, because the roads twist and turn so frequently it is hard to see very far in front of you to know whether anyone is coming your way. Blind corners are the norm when driving in the mountains here! Since we weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere, we just took it easy and waited for chances to pass whenever we could. Ryan did really well and coming from me that is saying a lot! I have got to be one of the most neurotic passengers you could ever meet but I was very comfortable the whole time he was driving. For Ryan it was non-stop intensity and white knuckle driving; sometimes we would be happy to see a turnout or view point as an excuse to stop and take pictures and have a break from the stressful position behind the wheel. As you can see, pretty much wherever we could stop presented breath taking scenery and jaw dropping views. It was truly an incredible experience and a drive we’ll always remember.
The trickiest part of the whole drive was a stretch that left the ridge of the mountain range we were driving along and dropped straight to the sea in 12 kilometers of the narrowest, most winding roads on which we’ve ever been. It is typical to see large tour buses traversing the same roads and leaving cars nowhere to go but off the side or to come to a complete stop. Unfortunately there is usually no road shoulder to move off on to, only straight drop offs hundreds of meters deep. We were lucky that we only encountered one bus and it was ahead of us going the same direction when we were on the way down. We got to watch other cars coming up have to deal with the bus and it made us hope we wouldn’t have any problems when it was our turn to come back up.
At the bottom of the road was a little village – Sa Calobra. You can’t enter the seaside town by car unless you are a resident so you have to park in a parking area and then walk the rest of the way to the water. Once there you are greeted by an amazingly beautiful sight – rocky coves and a bay filled with the aquamarine waters so typical of the Mediterranean. Once you reach the sea you walk along it on rock path taking in amazing views in all directions. Eventually the path enters two pedestrian tunnels and, after passing through the second, you come out to a beautiful pebble strewn hidden beach on its own cove. It was stunning and well worth the stressful drive, at least for me it was! Actually, Ryan says it was for him too. We had lunch in Sa Calobra looking out at the sea and the boats coming in and out bringing people to its shore who didn’t want to brave the road.
After making it alive back up the road to the main route on the mountain ridge, we decided to cut back down to the broad flatland that makes up the middle of the island of Mallorca. That way we would avoid retracing our steps on the challenging road we’d already been on and see something new of the island. Once down off the mountain we came to a hillside town called Caimari. Founded in the 13th century, its rock-built buildings with predominately green shutters made for a very clean and tidy-looking settlement but was seemingly void of its residents. We assume that’s because it was Sunday and most things are closed here then, unless in tourist areas. Anyway, it was something different and interesting for us to see.
As we were leaving the town we came across a restaurant among a large olive orchard and noticed there was also a shop selling their products. As olive oil lovers, we quickly made a stop there. The proprietor spoke no English and the little Spanish we were trying to use probably made communication even worse. But, we all persevered and the samples of their olive oils with chunky cubes of bread to dip in them made us determined to stick it out. In the end, we walked away with a tin of the oil we liked best and will enjoy having that to use when we get back home. It’s taste will remind us of our time on this Balearic Island. Exhausted but pleased with our day’s journey we returned to the resort here in Port d’Alcudia, Mallorca. We were so happy to find that the condo we had been moved into is wonderful! It is high up with a broad balcony running in front of the living room and master bedroom which looks out over the pool and at a saltwater inlet. It is light and bright, just the opposite of where we were placed yesterday, and we will go to bed tonight knowing that this is somewhere we will enjoy tremendously for the 3 nights we have left on this Spanish isle.