And onto Palma …

Our first trip to the island of Mallorca and we couldn’t miss out on going to Palma. I knew there was an impressive cathedral in the capital and an historic palace but I was surprised with the number of stunning Art Deco buildings … I love this style. I also cursed that I hadn’t brought a larger suitcase as there were lots of nice shops along the narrow streets but maybe it was just as well!

The streets of Palma, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
Just a few of the interesting things I spotted as we wandered around.

We thought the streets were pretty busy but we were told by one of the shopkeepers that it was fairly quiet as there were no large cruise ships in the harbour that day. She complained that the tourists don’t bring much trade to the city as they buy their souvenirs on board and stuff themselves so full of food they don’t eat in the local restaurants. The ice-cream sellers apparently do well though.

Royal Palace of Almudaina, Palma, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
Royal Palace of Almudaina, historic palace of the Royal Family
The harbourside, Palma, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
The harbourside

The Royal Palace is right by the waterfront as is the massive Cathedral which is adjacent. If you arrive by boat the Cathedral and Palace must look even more impressive as they rise above the city.

Santa Maria Cathedral, Palma, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
The massive Santa Maria Cathedral dating from the 13th century.

Inside the Cathedral is pretty impressive too. We had to queue about fifteen minutes to get inside in what must be the windiest street in Palma! The wait and the wind whipping round was worth it, the interior is beautiful even though jostling with lots of other tourists was a bit of a pain.

Santa Maria Cathedral, Palma, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
Santa Maria Cathedral, Palma, Mallorca

It was a great to escape from the crowds as we slowly meandered back to the bus station. The weather was changing and we were beginning to feel the cold so we stopped and had a warm drink. Just opposite the cafe was a church. Nothing elaborate from the outside although clearly very old. Ironically this little church had much more atmosphere than we’d felt in the cathedral. Maybe it was because there was just two of us in there. Sadly I don’t know the name of the church but the picture below shows the incredibly ornate altar which dominated the tiny nave.

Tiny church altar-piece. Palma, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
The elaborate altar in this tiny church in Palma.

The weather on the last two days of our holiday was definitely on the change. Bright skies one minute then showers and a very keen wind most of the time. Makes for great seascapes although walking along the seafront was quite a challenge.

Wild seas on the west coast of Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
Wild seas whipping the west coast.

Waking up on our final morning to sunshine we decided to go over to Bunyola in the foothills of the Tramuntana Mountains to visit the Jardines de Alfabia.

The entrance is impressive with an avenue of palm trees and at the top there’s an interesting ‘keyhole’ where you can look through to a still pond of crystal-clear water. The pergola further along was great too as you just have to push a button and watch small fountains of water criss-cross the path. Children would love this, particularly if any unsuspecting visitors are walking through the pergola at the time!

Interesting features in the Jardines de Alfabia, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
View through the ‘keyhole’ and the Romanesque pergola.
Jardines de Alfabia, Bunyola, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
Jardines de Alfabia, Bunyola and historical house. A great place to enjoy a glass of wine among the shady palm trees.

As I wrote in the first part of my Blog on Mallorca, we were very pleased we’d chosen Puigpunyent as our base. We ate out several times in the town and enjoyed all the meals. The Rose Restaurant run by a Dutch couple was excellent and is very popular with tourists. The Bar Ca’n Jordi is more basic with very reasonable prices, good food and friendly staff. Sitting outside by the town square is a perfect place to enjoy a beer or a glass of the local wine. It’s a popular spot for cyclists to pause and have a drink before tacking the gruelling climb up the mountains. The family-run Ca Sa Nina restaurant at the edge of the town was our favourite. As well as the excellent local wine, the fish was superb as was the steak that John had (on both visits) and the staff were great too.

I can’t finish this without mentioning the micro brewery in the town. Cas Cerveser has only been going a couple of years but has already made its mark on the island and beyond. And no wonder, the beer is great! The good news is that the brewery opens its doors every Friday evening. Beer straight from the barrels. No need to cook either …a pizza van arrives and parks opposite the brewery serving delicious wood-fire pizzas. In addition they have a live band which adds to the fantastic friendly atmosphere. This is a real family evening with children running around the square while adults enjoy a pint or two. We only had a five minute walk back up to our apartment and slept very well after three pints of the Galilea golden ale! We felt very at home in the village. It’s a peaceful place but has lots to offer and has the added bonus of being off the tourist trail.

Cas Cerveser Brewery in Puigpunyent
Cas Cerveser Brewery in Puigpunyent

A trip to Mallorca

View over Puigpunyent, Mallorca

Hoping to grab some autumn sunshine and warm weather we decided to head for Mallorca (Majorca). My man had done his usual research and found a studio apartment in the small town of Puigpunyent just twenty minutes drive from Palma. It was perfect, very quiet, newly constructed with stunning views of the Tramuntana mountains.

Beautiful views of Tramuntana mountain range
Secluded terrace with beautiful views of the Tramuntana mountain range.

This is a hilly island with a great coastline. Plenty of beaches away from the popular tourist spots and lots of great walks to do. Don’t make the mistake that I did by thinking my little dinky trainers would be fine …they weren’t. I should have sacrificed some space in my case and taken my walking boots, it was a lesson learnt!

Coastal walk from Banyalbufar to Port des Canonge, Mallorca
Old smugglers route from Banyalbufar to Port des Canonge

The coastal hike from from Banyalbufar to Port des Canonge is a popular one. Even in October the car park at the starting point was full but eventually we found somewhere. The hike takes you through pine forest along high rocky crags and after 6km down to the beach to the small port. I’m grateful to the cafe owner for giving me iodine and a dressing for my knee. I was much more careful about where I walked on the way back! It’s a stunning walk but make sure you wear appropriate footwear.

100 year old narrow gauge railway from Palma to Soller in Mallorca and the old tram to Soller Port
100-year old narrow gauge railway from Palma to Soller and the old tram to the Port

Most tourists visiting Mallorca go on this little train, so we did too! Good bus service from Puigpunyent to Palma and cheap too. We found the terminus with minutes to spare and sat back enjoying the 50-minute journey to Soller. No time to look round as the next stage of the trip is to take the old tram so you join the queue with the rest of the tourists. The trams wind their way through Soller before going along the coast a short distance to the port.

Sollar port, Mallorca with old tram by Maggie Booth Photography
Sollar port.

Even at this time of year Sollar Port was heaving. Beautiful weather as you can see. We weren’t too bothered about eating in one the many restaurants along the harbour front or tempted by the souvenir shops so after a short walk and a beer we got the tram back to Sollar. We had an inexpensive lunch in a sandwich shop away from the main square with entertainment provided by the owner who was quite a character. The Japanese tourists just couldn’t work him out!

Near Saint Elm in Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
A quiet beach just by Saint Elm.

With the weather still holding we headed the next day for the coast to the small seaside town of Saint Elm. This place is beautiful! We had been tipped off that if we walked down from the town a little way we would find a quiet little beach and we did. Five people including us, it was perfect, as indeed was the lunch we had later back in the town.

The 18th century monastery in Valdemossa and and the gardens The Palace of King Sancho by Maggie Booth Photography
The 18th century monastery in Valdemossa and the gardens of The Palace of King Sancho.
Inside the monastery at Valldemossa, Mallorca with the old monastic pharmacy by Maggie Both Photography
Inside the monastery with the old monastic pharmacy
A decorative tile on a house in Valldemossa, Mallorca by Maggie Booth Photography
One of the decorative tiles on a house in Valldemossa

The guide book on Mallorca says that Valldemossa is the destination of thousands of visitors every year. You can see why it’s so popular. The winding roads up to this mountain village are interesting to say the least and the town is very cute. There are flowers everywhere, decorative tiles on the houses and some great shops! You have to visit the 18th century monastery which includes the pharmacy used by the monks. We didn’t pay extra to go into the rooms used by the composer Chopin. The guides want you to, but we are a bit too shrewd to fall for that. The Palace is interesting too and is included in your ticket.

I think this Blog is quite long enough! Part two on our trip to Mallorca will follow shortly …

Still ‘Up North’!

After two very enjoyable days in Liverpool we headed off towards Howarth in Bronte country. Gosh what a busy little place and packed with tourists even on a murky day in October! There are plenty of tea shops to choose from but I won’t be putting a hyperlink to the one we chose because it was overpriced and not a good choice. The tea was OK as you’d expect in Yorkshire but the minuscule piece of cake definitely wasn’t worth the money. Still it didn’t matter, we had a train journey to look forward to!

Main Street Howarth by Maggie Booth Photography
The busy main street in Howarth.

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway has its terminus at Oxenhope which is where we caught the train. This iconic heritage railway reopened in 1968 and is run entirely by volunteers. One of the stops along the route is Oakworth station which shot to fame in the film ‘The Railway Children’. The journey is just over 4 and a half miles long with six stations each reflecting railway architecture of the 19th century. Although the weather wasn’t brilliant we still enjoyed the views and the Victorian stations. The decline of the textile industry in this area though is very evident with several derelict woollen mills lining the tracks outside Keighley.

Oxenhope station and engine 75078 by Maggie Booth Photography
Waiting to board the train at Oxenhope station
Engine 75078 at Oxenhope station by Maggie Booth Photography
Engine 75078 at Oxenhope station
Keighley Station on the Worth valley railway.
Keighley Station retains many of its original features.
Engine 75078 on the KWVR at Keighley by Maggie Booth Photography
Engine 75078 coming back from the turntable
Engine 75078 at Keighley taking on water by Maggie Booth Photography
Almost ready to reverse and connect with the carriages.
Oxenhope to Keithley steam by Maggie Booth Photography
75078 with a full head of steam and ready for the off.

After our train journey we headed off to catch up with friends who live just outside Howarth. We’d not seen them for a while so there was plenty of nattering going on washed down with a few glasses of vino … (ha! ha!). Then the following morning we were off again to see more friends who live near Silverdale Cove which is on the Lancashire Coast.

We hadn’t seen these friends for a while either and this was another lovely catch-up. Their eldest daughter who is eight was a baby when we were last up there and we hadn’t of course met their youngest little girl but we hit it off with them straightaway. Having said that it wasn’t long before the girls left us to our chatting …after all adult talk is so boring!

After mugs of tea and cake around the kitchen table we noticed the sun had come out …it was time to go for a walk. A short drive and we were at the coast and what stunning views to have on your doorstep! Silverdale Cove is beautiful and a great place to explore and photograph.

Silverdale Cove on the Lancashire coast by Maggie Booth Photography
The stunning Silverdale Cove.

We rounded off the afternoon with an excellent pint in one of the local pubs before saying goodbye to our friends and headed to our hotel for the night in Clitheroe. My man decide we’d go along the top road heading for The Trough of Bowland. It was getting dark but light enough to see some of the amazing landscape along the way, avoid sheep in the road, flooded bits and see (to our delight) a barn owl fly past us. If that wasn’t reward enough the fabulous sunset definitely was. Hope the pictures do it justice. This road is not for the faint-hearted with twists and turns and heart-stopping moments in case a car comes the other way. We made it but when we told the receptionist at the Waddington Arms how we’d got there she was pretty amazed!

Sunset going towards The Trough of Bowland by Maggie Booth Photography
Capturing a beautiful sunset heading towards The Trough of Bowland

We had an excellent meal that night in the hotel and a good room and were surprised at how cheap it was compared with prices around here in Gloucestershire. After a hearty breakfast we wandered around Clitheroe on a wet Monday morning before heading south down the motorway and home. It was a great four days away, the weather had been typically British but that didn’t matter and anyway we might find some sun on our next trip which will be to Majorca.