Sunday, October 4, 2015
It looked like the perfect day for cala-hopping … and it was!
We started at Portocristo, about an hour’s drive east of our hotel, and just about in the middle of the eastern side of the island. Portocristo is probably most famous with tourists for the Coves del Drac, a cave system that is artfully lit and through which you ride in a boat. We visited it last trip. Instead we took a stroll around the town, stretched on both sides of a big U made by its cala, Cala Manacor.
From here we headed to Cala d’Estany, also the home of “Romantic Beach.” The beach was lovely, and not surprising for a sunny, Sunday it was also crowded. Again, this cove is much bigger than the coves we were seeking. The waves provided lots of entertainment for the swimmers, but we weren’t tempted (though we were prepared) to go in the water. Instead we wandered around and up a path that skirts the cliffs on the northern side, getting higher and higher until we reached the sea and could see up and down the coast.
Walking from beach to beach is not possible on this coast. Though there are no mountains per se, like those on the west side, it would appear that this side is actually a huge plateau. You have to go down to sea level to get to the water, and from there you can see the rock that supports the plateau. The rock has been split by erosion, and though not as dramatic here as on the west coast, there are still steep cliffs that separate the different coves.
To travel to the next cove you must backtrack along the road you came down, (in our case) go further south and find another road into another cove. Along this stretch of the coast there are myriad coves to choose from though the average tourist is not going to be able to figure out how to get to them. For that you need the help of a local. Unfortunately, the names of the coves change between the maps and the signs, sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish and sometimes in Mallorquín – accounting for a significant degree of confusion.
We decided to bypass all the little coves on the water’s edge of the map, and set off to find Cala Varques, mentioned in an article Gerry found on the internet of the “most beautiful calas.” Our map suggested that the way to get there was by foot, so we used the GPS in the phone to locate the road. We were tipped off by a profusion of parked cars nearby. We also parked, safely off the road, and walked to the entry road.
Well, we walked, and walked and walked some more – just about 2 miles total, and we came to a metal gate, gaily painted with graffiti, and then we walked even more! The way was stony and therefore quite uneven. Before the gate we were walking between farms stared at by sheep temporarily distracted from their grazing beneath the olive trees. After the metal gate we were walking through a scrub pine forest. Fortunately, a couple of people walking the other way reassured us that we were getting close and that it would definitely be worth it. At least!
Yes! It was worth it. The scene that met our weary eyes was a splendid beach with magnificently emerald water. There were lots of waves, and lots of people, too. Cala Varques is another wide beach cove – I guess more people believe that this is nicer than the pocket coves Gerry and I were seeking, as these seem to be the recommendations from all the various sources we read. No mind! It is beautiful and we decide to go swimming.
Or not! The water is cold! Way too cold even for me, a Wisconsin native, who has just walked 2 miles in the sun. Gerry – don’t even mention it. One toe was about all he could dip! Even without swimming (and mind you were among of the very few who did not go in the water), we could enjoy the beach and the sun. Noting the usual naked children, there were also a fair number of topless women, and a handful of fully nude men among the crowd. My American sensibilities still find that a bit odd!
A cold, tart lemonade mixed with beer was our refreshment on the beach, and our fuel for the walk back. Like most “walks back” it seemed shorter than the way in, thankfully!
Next we headed to Portocolom, another seaside harbor, touted as an authentic fishing village by our guide book. The town also rings a large, protected cove and was full of boats, both local fishing boats and an assortment of pleasure boats, small to large. The siesta should have been just about over, but this village was still asleep – perhaps as a permanent condition? There was none of the bustle we have seen in other port towns, and it took us several tried to find a place to sit and get something to eat.
The restaurants have tables moved out quayside, though we have seen during our stay that many establishments are already closed for the off season. Soon, diners will be confined in the actual restaurants that line the streets across from the quay.
Octopus, green peppers, bread and olives really hit the spot after a long hike and an hour at the beach. Interestingly, none of the waiters in the restaurant we chose spoke Spanish or Mallorquin! And all the other diners spoke German!
For our next, and probably last, stop we drove to Porto Petro. By this time it was “just another port town” and we drove through without parking. We are running out of steam fast, and after a halfhearted attempt to find Cala Mandragó, we headed to the hotel instead. Our route back took us through Santanyí, Campos, and Llucmayor before we reached the super highway to Palma.
Rather than drive around Palma on the by-pass, we took the through-town route along the harbor. Every time I see the enormous cathedral of Palma it is a delight! Coming from the east and driving along the harbor, I could see the full length of the enormous structure and marvel at its “gothicity.” (Yes, I made that word up! Gothic-nicity, perhaps?)
The palms that line the avenue along the harbor are also sight! There is such an Arab look to the entire place – so foreign and exotic!
There’s just a bit more, then we move on to Italy!