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Stories from our Travelers

Memories of Mallorca

Clouds gather over Deia's secluded cove

Beware of dog

Deia rooftops (© Sven Weber/Fotolia)
by Leigh Gozigian

[From Fall 2008]

My husband and I were planning our 10th anniversary trip and had a few priorities. Romance, of course, was first on the list; but as working parents of a rambunctious three-year-old boy we also yearned for a little tranquility (no all night dancing to Euro-pop, thank you). We wanted to soak up culture and history in an unhurried, unscheduled fashion – preferably while hiking. As always, good food and wine were nonnegotiable. After much consideration, we settled on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. Mallorca is one of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean, which include Ibiza (famous for its nightlife, it draws a young crowd) and relatively remote Menorca. All of the Balearics are renowned for their fabulous climate and idyllic, terraced hillsides covered with olive, almond, and lemon trees. When compared with other vacation spots of the Mediterranean, they are relaxed and economical.

Although Mallorca is small, one can experience remarkably diverse scenes in the different regions. Had we ended up along the northern or southern coasts of Mallorca, we would have been disappointed. These regions cater to package holiday travelers with their children. That is precisely what we were escaping. We were thrilled by our choice of Deia – a charming village perched on a cliff-side overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean. Deia, which over the centuries has drawn artists, writers, composers, Moors and sundry other invaders, had everything we wanted. In the village – or nearby – we found wonderful restaurants (from casual to elegant), amazing hiking trails that offered sublime views or access to off-the-beaten track antiquities, and quaint, cobbled village squares ideal for people watching. Our favorite pastime was wandering from the village, down the old donkey trail, to the secluded, pebble-strewn cove along the coast. The trip would have been perfect had we never strayed far from Deia, but one day, on a lark, we decided to see more of the island. It is that day we will remember always.

We had spent a few hours hiking outside the town of Valldemossa (its monastery was home for a few months in 1839, to the composer Chopin and his lover George Sand) and were not quite ready to return to our lovely apartment with the huge terrace overlooking Deia’s hilltop church and the interior mountains beyond. Our guidebook had mentioned a ruined fortress, accessible only by a harrowing, single lane road and a steep hike. Of course, we were intrigued and decided to explore. The drive east through the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana and the lush Vall d’Orient was rewarding in itself. We passed through delightful villages and broad agricultural valleys with golden fields and enchanting, old, stone fincas (farmhouses). We found the narrow road leading to the Castell d'Alaró, decided not to brave it in our economy rental car, and set off on foot instead. About half way to the ruins we passed a car park and an old farmstead that had obviously been converted to a restaurant. An old woman was tending lambs outside. We vowed to eat there upon our return. Another half hour of steep hiking brought us to the ruins of the old fortress, castle, and church; while they were fascinating, we cut our tour short because we could not stop thinking about the restaurant/barn we had passed and what it might have to offer.

We presented ourselves to the mistress of the farm, and she led us into the converted barn. The building had been broken into a main room and smaller "party rooms". A large open-hearth oven dominated the main room; the smell of roasting meats was intoxicating. When our hostess presented us with the menus, our utensils, and a jug of the local Rioja, I had to suspend my germ phobic tendencies (less than an hour earlier I had observed her tending sheep, after all). I am so glad that I did. The wine was delicious, and the roasted lamb with potatoes – clearly drenched in local olive oil – was more succulent and flavorful than anything we had ever experienced. As my husband and I sipped Rioja, nibbled on morsels of roasted lamb, and gazed into each other’s eyes, we drifted into a fantasy. For an evening, we could pretend that we were unencumbered young travelers who had stumbled on this place, this evening, and one another.

If You Go

From the U.S., it is simplest to fly to Madrid (service on most major U.S. carriers) and connect to an Iberia (Spanish national airline) flight to Palma de Mallorca. Make sure to take time to visit Palma, the capital city.
The modern airport is easy to navigate and rental cars are located a short stroll from the terminal. Driving on Mallorca is safe and easy (hairpin curves notwithstanding) and most of the island can be covered in a few days. The drive from the airport to Deia is about one hour.

Although it is tempting to keep secret the name of the farmstead where we had dinner:
Es Verger
Tel. +34.971.510.711.

In Deia, we rented an apartment in the Son Canals complex. Individual units may be booked through a variety of online holiday rental sites. Search for “Son Canals” to explore. Also consider these two hotels:

S’Hotel d’es Puig
8 bedrooms in a converted stone townhouse. Village center. Lovely breakfast room and small pool, in season. Doubles from $160.
Visit the hotel web site at S'Hotel d’es Puig

La Residencia
Upscale, full-service resort on the main street. Beautiful rooms, pool. Doubles from $358. Tel. +34. 971.63.9011.
Visit the the hotel web site at La Residencia

Photo credits: bottom: © Sven Weber/Fotolia, home page, top and middle: Melissa Cicci

An avid skier, hiker, triathlete and all-around adventurer, Leigh spent an idyllic - but energetic - holiday on Mallorca. Raised in the Northeast, Leigh has lived most of her adult life in the Rocky mountains. As a high-school social studies teacher, she has worked with students on the Navajo reservation in Flagstaff, Arizona, and at secondary schools in southwestern Colorado. She lives with her family along the Animas River in Durango, Colorado.

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