El Firo 2017

May 15th. It’s the first Monday after the second Sunday in May. In Soller that can only mean one thing – It’s Fiesta Day, El Firo.

A chance to celebrate the victory by the Christians over the Moors in 1561.

This year I decided not to get involved. My plan was to just sit outside the hotel with a pint in my hand and watch the parade pass by.

Enjoying life

Of course I had my camera with me and took a few images. Here’s what was going on.

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This year there seemed to be more people involved. It was very good natured, but noisy. I kept out of it.Well, almost.

In the thick of it

Happy days

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Cuber to Lluc.

769 Signpost

It was the last full day of my holiday and we set off to walk from Cuber to Lluc following the GR 221. We set out from the Font des Noguera where the signpost indicated that the walk should take us 5 h 22 min. It should be quite a day as the temperature was predicted to hit 29 degrees. We strolled alongside the now familiar canaleta enjoying the views down to Gorg Blau.

770 Gorg Blau

772 Along the canaleta

We crossed the canaleta at the fourth ramp and after passing through a gate we began the steady climb through the holm oak woods towards the Coll d’es  Collomes ( Pigeon Pass). This was the path we had taken last week when we climbed Puig de Tossals Verds. The path levelled out at the Coll d’es Colloms and a few minutes later we came to a signpost indicating the Font des Prat was just a short distance off to our left.

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We made the short diversion. It looked like a cave so of course Greg had to go inside. It looked as though the floor was dry, but that was deceptive. There was a few inches of crystal clear water. You could only tell by the slight ripple. Inside the well the date 1748 is engraved on the stone. This marked the start of the construction of the Canaleta de Massanella.

775 Greg at the Font de Prat

Back at the junction we followed the main path that would lead us up to the Coll d’es Prat. Initially we were walking through the woods but soon emerged into the full heat of the sun. The path was rough and very eroded After heavy rain it must become a torrent.

779 Heading towards the Coll d'es Prat

I had to frequently pause to catch my breath but it was a chance to look back and admire the mountains surrounding Cuber where we had begun our walk.

780 Waymark near the top of  the Coll d'es Prat

The path improved slightly but became steeper. Ahead of us we could see the Coll d’es Prat 1205 m.

784 Nearly there

We stopped at the Coll d’es Prat for lunch and to take in the amazing view,

786 At the Coll d'es Prat

790 Lunch stop

786 Coll d'es Prat

We could look across to the east of the island and the bay of Alcudia whilst to our right was the massive bulk of Massanella.

After a well earned rest we set off following the waymarks towards the Casa de Neu d’en Galileu.

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We passed a couple of snow houses, casa de neu,, in which before the days of refrigeration, snow used to be packed during the winter to be transported down to the villages by mule in the spring and summer.

803 Cases de neu

We descended to the Coll de Telegraph before beginning the climb up to the Coll de ses cases de Neu. The climb was steep in places and wound its way between a sea of asphodels. Ahead of us was the lovely peak of Puig d’en Galileu.

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At a junction by the Galileu balcony we paused to consider our next steps. Paul and Greg decided on a quick ascent of Puig d’en Galileu whilst Bill, Krystl and myself rested and enjoyed the view.

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829 Puig Galileu

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Our way now led down the well laid out cami de Ses Voltes. The original path was laid out in the 17th century but has been renovated by the dry stone wall building college. It reminded me of the ‘Pilgrim Steps’

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Our waymarked path led us down through holm oak woods to the road which we crossed and continued down into Lluc. We ended our walk by the Font Cuberta, where we were able to refill our water bottles. The cool water is supposed to cure stomach upsets.

858 Font Cuberta

Across the road was the Font Cuberta Bar where there was something more refreshing. A glass of cold beer.

856 Cold beer

It was 6.30pm by the time we got back to Porto Soller and I had to get packed. Later I wandered down to Pizzeria Del Porto. I walked in to find that my usual table had a reserved sign on it. As I began to turn away the waitress called me back. Senor, It is reserved for you. We know it is your favourite.

Pan, olives and Ali Oli, followed by chicken breast with peppercorn sauce. Accompanied by a bottle of Rioja. A perfect end to the holiday.

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Es Castell d’Alaro

The climb up to Castell d’Alaro is one of my favourite walks, offering some beautiful scenery, a bit of history and the chance of a pint at the end.

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We started our walk from KM 11.9 on the Alaro to Orient road and after passing through the access gate we began the steady climb through terraces of ancient olive trees. The trees had twisted into some beautiful shapes and the views down the Orient Valley improved as we gained height.

01 Ancient Olive Trees

Soon the way became tougher as we began to climb the zigzag path through the woods to reach a clearing known as Es Pouet.

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We continued along the old cobbled trail to reach the archways of the castle entrance.

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We crossed a level area from where there were fantastic views of the Sierra Tramuntana but I kept well away from the edge and the precipitous drop.

We continued upwards to the top where one of the buildings in now a cafe. A chance for a nice cool drink.

30 Rest stop

Nearby was an old telescope giving views over the south of the island.

29 Viewpoint

We searched our pockets but none of us had an old 10 pesetas coin to get it to work.

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There was also the small but beautiful old chapel.

28 The Chapel

Climbing some steps to the rear of the chapel we came to an area from where we could look down into the Sollerich Valley and across to the high peaks of the Sierra Tramuntana. A new notice board helped us to identify the peaks, almost all of which we had now climbed.

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Looking down over the almost sheer cliffs it is easy to understand how the fortress of Castell d’Alaro was almost impregnable. After the Reconquest of Mallorca by Jaime I in 1229 the Arab commander-in-chief was able to hold out here for almost two years.

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We returned by retracing our inward route. It was much easier going down and the views were somehow different.

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Back at the car we decided to travel back via Alaro to avoid some of the cyclists. We ended up in Bunyola and a chance to visit the bar in the small square for a pint of Estrella, amber nectar.

57 A refreshing drink

That evening I once again chose to eat at Pizzeria Del Porto. Pan, olives and Ali Oli to start with, then swordfish and a bottle of White Rioja. Perfect.

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A visit to Raixa

493 Raixa

We decided to have a day off from walking and visited Raixa, a country estate situated close to Bunyola.

Raixa was originally an Arabian estate but following the conquest of Mallorca by King James 1 of Aragon in 1229 the land was granted to the count of Ampurias. In June 1660 Ramon Despuig i Rocaberti, the first Count of Montenegro purchased the property  and it became their family estate.

Improvements and extensions were made to the house over the years but major transformations were made by the brothers Joan and Antoni Despuig i Dameto. Joan was the 4th Count od Montenegro whilst his brother was appointed Cardinal by Pope Pius VII in 1803. The Cardinal was an art collector and brought many pieces of sculpture back from Italy. The gardens became more formal in style and were laid out in strict geometric patterns.  This was in contrast to the Moorish design which was to keep the gardens natural. One thing that remained was the water features. Water was considered precious to the Arabs.

518 Formal Gardens

519 Formal Gardens

The house itself was very interesting and was full of paintings and murals.

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Most rooms featured an audio visual display, available in several languages.

497 The dining room

To the rear of the house are the upper gardens and the staircase dedicated to the God Apollo.

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504 The big pond

From the big pond we climbed up the hillside passing a grotto. Greg of co0urse had to go in, her felt quite at home.

505 Home

 

Nearby was a small chapel.

511 The Chapel

We climbed up to the Neoclassical viewpoint  and to a small building with beautiful stained glass windows.

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Back in the gardens we had time for a rest.

520 Our group

I found a gargoyle. Does it remind you of anyone?

494 Gargoyle

A fascinating day.

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Puig de Tossals Verds from Cuber Reservoir.

My walk today started at Cuber Reservoir and from there I climbed to the top of Puig de Tossals Verds. The summit is at 1115 metres so it is quite a climb and part of it is pathless. But it is well worth the effort for the views.

We started our walk from the bus stop and small car park close to the Font de Noguera Area Recreativa. The area has now been tarmacked making parking much easier. We followed the GR 221 signposted ‘Font de Prat / Refugi des Tossals Verds’ and walked alongside the concrete canaleta which carries water down from Gorg Blau which we could see in the distance.

84 Gorg Blau

We crossed the canaleta via a concrete ramp and after passing through a gate we began the steady climb through the oak wood along an old charcoal burners trail. Shortly before reaching the Coll d’es Colloms we turned right to begin the climb up to Puig de Tossals Verds. The climb up through the woods was beautiful. We were in the shade and the air was full of birdsong. We had to look carefully for the cairns but we eventually emerged from the wood to pass through a gap in the wall close to a large snow pit.

A reasonably clear path heads off to the left towards some rock formations.

59 Rock formations

We passed behind one that always reminds me of a monster.

59 Monster

As we continued climbing the views improved and we could look south to the twin ‘sugar loaf ‘mountains of Alaro and Alcaldena.

61 Admiring the view

A final push took us to the summit of Tossals Verds where we could relax and admire the view. I was surprised to see about a dozen people at the summit. On previous visits we have met no-one.

66 Relaxing at the summit

70 View from the summit of Puig de Tossals Verds

74 At the summit

We then retraced our steps down to the Coll de Colloms and on to the canaleta. Despite there having been hardly any rain in the past month there was quite a lot of water flowing down.

82 Along the canaleta

We followed the canaleta all the way down to Cuber to see the water gushing out into the reservoir.

85 End of the canaleta

 

89 Cuber Reservoir

We had an hour to wait for our transport so we sat at the end of a spit of land and relaxed. We had earned it.

That night I ate at Campo Sol, sampling more local cuisine. Pate de la Casa followed by Conejo con Cebella ( Rabbit with Onions). Accompanied by a bottle of Anares Crianza.

As I strolled back to my hotel I could take in the view across the bay.

Sunset

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Picturesque Cala S’Estaca.

Today was a fairly easy day, just a short walk down to the picturesque Cala S’Estaca. We drove down the narrow road leading to Port de Valldemossa and after many hairpin bends we managed to find a parking place close to the Marina Font Figuera track. We walked down the concrete track passing more marvellous olive trees.

39 Olive Trees

Soon we could see the white towers of S’Estaca. This house was built by Archduke Ludwig Salvator, but is now owned by Michael Douglas. We thought we saw him mowing his lawn but perhaps it was just the gardener.

44 S'Estaca

We continued down the track and then down some steps to the tiny settlement of Cala S’Estaca.

50 Cala S'Estaca

53 Cala S'Estaca

Steps squeeze between the well cared for houses although the place seemed deserted. On the slipway there were some colourful huts.

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57 Fishermens Huts

64 Cala S'Estaca

The water was crystal clear and looking inviting enough for a swim. We could see some fish but then we noticed the jellyfish.

7367 Jelly fish

Maybe forget the swim. The The place is so beautiful and peaceful. Well worth the effort of getting down there.

74 Cala S'Estaca

On our way back we called in at Valldemossa but could not stay long as we had to get back to Porto Soller before they closed the road. It was Fiesta Day. More of that later.

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Cuber to Soller via the Cami Vell

Today we travelled to Cuber Reservoir from where I thought we were going to do the three peaks, Sa Rateta, Na Franquera and L’Ofre.

06 Puig Major from Cuber

Weather conditions were perfect as we gazed across at the radar installation on Puig Major.

Walking along the track we could see Sa Rateta directly ahead.

08 Sa Rateta

It was only now that they informed me that we would be doing it the hard way. First climbing up the gully and then a bit of a rock scramble. This was not for me. My power to weight ratio is less than ideal and the last thing I was is to be hanging onto a rock by my fingertips.

I decided to walk down to Soller via the Coll de L’Ofre and the baranc de Biniaraix. The climb up to the Coll de L’Ofre was easy and I could rest by the cross and take in the view.

15 At the Coll de L'Ofre

I now had to descend through the woods to the top of the Baranc. Directly ahead I could see Es Cornadors, one of my favourite mountains in Mallorca. Only an extra 200 metres of ascent to reach the summit at 957 m. Should I go for it?

18 Which way now

When I reached the path junction I decided against it. The temperature was 28 degrees and I would be in full sun. I headed down the baranc de Biniaraix but at a junction I turned left to continue down the Cami Vell. This was a rougher path but had the advantage of offering some shade.

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A signpost suggested that the walk should take 4 hours. I had done it in 3 hours 50 minutes but I still had some way to go.

Eventually I reached Biniaraix and found that the little bar was open.I was ready for a beer. Suitably refreshed I headed for Soller where I had an ice cream at the ice cream parlour. All that remained now was the mile or so back to the port.

It had been a long hard days walking but I had been amongst some beautiful mountain scenery.

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I have found a nice restaurante where tonight I can relax over a good meal and a bottle of Rioja.

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