Hike to Torre de Estellella

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Some people call them torres, which is Spanish for tower. Some people call them the watchtowers. But the real cool people in the know, call them atalayas. I will call them watchtowers…. even though I’m still cool. 🙂 At least I think I am and that’s half the battle, right?

A loooong time ago, Mallorca had a bit of a pirate problem. Who didn’t in the years 1200 – 1600s? Seriously. Especially with the famous Redbeard pirate (aka Hayreddin Barbarossa) hayreddin barbarossa and his brothers. In 1530 Barbarossa captured the castle of Cabrera and set up camp there to use as his base. They would storm towns in Mallorca and if you were lucky they would only steal your possessions and burn your home. Not so lucky, they were killed or taken as slaves. Due to the constant menace of pirate attacks a series of lookout and defense towers were built across the island.

There were 84 towers built in the 16th century on the island but only about 50 them still exist today. Some are in good to great condition and some are deteriorating rapidly. The majority of them were built without foundations, the towers generally had between two and four levels and can be square, rectangular or circular in shape. The entrance was several meters above land and was reached by a rope ladder.

Joan Binimelis from Manacor designed a simple communication system of smoke signals during the day and fires at night. With it, neighboring watchtowers could be alerted, and the information was passed from tower to tower to the Almudaina in Palma.

I see these watchtowers all around Mallorca and while I knew they existed to warn villagers, towns, etc of pirate attacks I love learning even more about how they worked and when they were built. You can usually check out most of them. Some you can enter but most are closed up and you can just walk around it. Kinda like the one I like to hike to in S’Estanyol. I wrote about my hike to the lighthouse here but you can extend that and hike about 20-25 minutes more and get to the Torre de Estellella. It’s a non-strenuous walk along the coastline and the end site is worth it. Think of the history! The pirates! The people watching for those silly pirates! Arrggghh.

Here is how to get there:

S’Estanyol is a small town in the southeast of Mallorca, to arrive you would follow the MA-6015 to the end (arriving at S’Estanyol) and turn right. Park at the end of the road, after the S’Estanyol Club Nautico and get ready for your hike. Walk along the beach and you can either stay on the coastline or walk on a path through the pine trees. They smell so good! Follow the FAR signs. FAR is lighthouse in Catalan (faro in spanish). Just keep following that and soon you will arrive at the rocky coast where you will find this beautiful lighthouse.

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We always like to stop here for a beer. A picnic is a wonderful idea too. To continue onto the watchtower just keep along the water walking away from S’Estanyol and towards Cala Pi. The path will curve to the right and soon you will have the watchtower in sight.

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And the view towards the sea ain’t too shabby either.

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If these walls could talk. I would love to hear the stories!

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And there you have it. If you are in my neck of the woods please stop by Torre de Estellella. We would love to see you. Don’t forget the camera and some sunscreen! See ya there.

Top 5 Things To Do In Palma, Mallorca

So many people ask me about things I would recommend doing/seeing in Palma de Mallorca when they are visiting the island. So, why not give a blog post to that topic. Just for y’all, my favorite peeps.

It was a difficult list. Palma has so much to offer – art galleries, museums, shopping, great bars, hidden back alleys where you stumble upon something new every single time. I could spend a whole week just exploring those narrow side streets.

In no particular order because they all rock.

1.Pilar y Joan Miró Foundation

First up, the Pilar y Joan Miró Foundation. If you are an art lover, you can’t miss this. You actually walk through the studios Joan Miró worked in through 1956 until his death in 1983. The collection of works by Joan Miró includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints. You can see how and where he worked at the two studios (Son Boter and Sert Studio), both of these have been included in the Bienes de Interés Cultural architectural heritage list.

One of my favorite Miro sculptures in Palma ~ FEMME

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Joan Miró – Femme

2. La Seu

Next, the Cathedral – La Seu. This majestic, architectural masterpiece took from 1230 – 1601 to build. It has a gorgeous, gothic, rose glass window which is one of the largest in the world. And if you are into Gaudí, he later designed the columns and the controversial Crown of Thorns that hangs over the altar. It is situated next to the Parc de la Mar which is also a lovely place to hang out, look at the sea and have a glass of wine.

A visit begins through the museum entrance and there is a small entrance fee.

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La Seu in Palma, the Cathedral that took almost 400 years to build. Gorgeous!

 

3. Passeig Des Born

Enough architecture and art for you? Alright, how about some shopping. Did some of your ears pop up? Palma has great stores – from Louis Vuitton to Caroline Herrera to Hugo Boss. And they are all in one of my favorite spots in Palma, Passeig des Born. Come here to this tree-lined promenade with boutiques, cafes, shops and beautiful fountains at each end. You can always find a street performer or two to keep you entertained, if you are needing that.

Walk up to Jaime III and if you turn left you will find Es Corte Ingles (Palma’s big department store), Mango and other shops. Turn right and you can head to Placa Major, where pretty much in every direction are more and more shops. If you have been dying for a Starbucks, one has been recently established at the Placa Cort.

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4. Ca’n Joan De S’aigo

Time for a break after all that sight seeing and shopping. Stop at one of the oldest chocolatiers in Europe, founded in 1700. So much deliciousness under one roof. It’s almost a sin. Pastries, cakes, ice-cream, cava and the popular Mallorcan ensaimada. My favorite is the one with apricots. They have two locations but the Calle Can Sanc has the mosaic from the original building. Bon Profit!

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5. Palma Old Town Bike Tour and Tapas

Did someone say bike riding and tapas? I’m in. This is a super fun bike tour to see the top sights of Palma ~ La Seu Cathedral, the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, ride down the Rambla of Palma and discover the nightlife center of La Lonja. Finish your excursion with tapas at the Illenc restaurant.

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I hope you enjoyed the list. I would love to hear about your favorite must-sees in Palma. Thanks for stopping by this beautiful city!

Hammam Palma

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Ahhhhh….. still thinking about my lovely time at Hammam Palma yesterday. A massage was definitely in order and it was a darn good one! Even got my face and scalp massaged. Have you ever been to a hammam, or Turkish bath? My first experience with one was a few years ago in Marrakech where I did the whole experience – steam, warm water sloshed over me with a bucket and then the fun begins; you are lathered up with black soap and then the attendant dons a loofah glove and vigorously exfoliates you from head to toe. Your body won’t know what hit it. And then off to a massage with oils. Heaven.

Yesterday was my first time at Hammam Palma. I had been searching for places for Felix and me to get massages. And it is seriously insane out there – either the place has closed for the winter season, closed on the weekends (what?!) or booked for months in advance. It was truly frustrating. Imagine my total glee when my email that was sent the night before was answered when I checked emails in the morning. And their answer was YES! All I had to answer was how long massage we wanted, our names and a phone number and we were booked. No calling and waiting, no giving a credit card. Thank you!

We arrived at 15:00 and were given towels and swim footwear to be worn inside the hammam. They want you to relax and experience the thermal bath and sauna for about an hour before your massage. They offer 15, 30 and 60 minute massages. They also offer the whole experience – black soap, exfoliation and massage if you wanted to be completely pampered. But just remember with the thermal spa you need to add an hour to whatever experience you choose. We scheduled an hour massage and were there two and a half hours.

It was so needed to take away stress and have a place that makes it easy and comfortable to do. I will be back very soon! Maybe I will do the complete experience next time. Stay tuned!

Hammam Palma ~ Calle Costa i Llobera 20, Palma de Mallorca  971.412.860

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BEER and stuff …

Wowzers! Do we have some stuff to catch up on or what? Last week I was in Marrakech, a month ago I was in Amsterdam, late last year I was in Paris (which I did do a blog or two about but there is still more to tell!) and even before that I was in my darling hometown of Stillwater, OK. SO, needless to say, I’ve got some shit to catch up on.

I think I have gotten a bit better at managing my time!?! I HOPE! I even had a mammogram that I’ve been putting off for decades. Thank you very much. AND I cleaned out and organized my closet which had been crying out for attention for a loooong time now. So, I feel confident that I can deliver lots of exciting post about travels and Mallorca and just the general news of my life. I know you guys are just sitting at the edge of your seat. Mwuah, back at ya.

So, Marrakech, Amsterdam, Paris, you say? Well, let’s just start off with my new favorite bar in Palma de Mallorca – Lórien. It is AWESOME, y’all. They have a huge selection of beers – and that is saying a lot considering all I can usually get around here is the same – Heineken, Estrella, Mahou, Alhambra. Hell, sometimes the bar will go crazy and have a Corona available. But not Lórien, no no no. What do you want? They have it. You want ale? They got it. You want a stout beer? They got it. You want a weissbier. THEY. GOT. IT! Ale, IPA, Lager Bock, Pilsner, Micro-Beers, Sparkling Ale, Stout, etc etc etc. They got it, yo. And you want it from a particular country. Guess what. They got it.

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So after touting all the fab beers, they have even more than that. Even more than all those beers you ask incredulously!?!? Yup. They’ve got games. And sandwiches. Stop the madness. We played chess, while drinking fabulous beer, at a cool place. You could say it was magical. And in fact, it was.

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So, bring your dinero, bring your happiness and bring your swank because it is all welcome here. Come visit the best cerveceria in Mallorca.

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Kiehl’s!!

Do you love free samples? Of course you do! And if you don’t, then you might have a serious problem….

Kiehl’s just opened a store in Palma, Mallorca (on Passeig Des Born). FINALLY! I love Kiehl’s products and now they are practically in my backyard. And you get 3 complimentary samples with every purchase. How awesome is that? There are so many products that I love and many that I still want to try. Isn’t the store in Palma cute? I love the skeleton.

Here are my top 5 favorite products:

1. Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser – This makes my face feel squeaky clean. Plus it helps breakouts.

2. Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub – This stuff smells amazing and makes my skin feel smooth and refreshed.

3.  Amino Acid Shampoo –  This lathers up nicely and has coconut oil in it so it smells delicious and makes my hair smell delicious too!

4. Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado – With avocado oil it gentle moisturizes the eye area.

5. Rosewater Facial Freshener Toner – This gently refreshes and tones the skin. Great before putting on makeup.

All Aboard – Destination Sóller!

Typing this post while listening to Madonna’s new album MDNA. L-U-V Madonna!

So that is a bit off track (ha, track – get it? train track!) from what my post is about but just wanted to throw out a “holla” to the material girl. If she visited Mallorca I do believe one of the first things she would do is ride the train from Palma to Sóller. This darling train complete with carriages largely constructed from wood with banquet-style seats, brass fittings and gaslights is a most enjoyable hour-long journey through the mountains. My friend Perla was here visiting and we went two years ago but wanted to go again! So, let’s go!

I  loved the paper ticket. I still have mine! We caught the 1:30 train, which gave us enough time to wander around Sóller a bit and then catch the last train back to Palma at 6:15. Don’t forget that you have to come back! Well, I guess you don’t necessarily have to come back. There are many lovely hotels to stay at for the night.

The 27 kilometre length of track (one of the narrowest in the world at 914 millimetres) opened in 1912, connecting the capital with Sóller and cutting journey times down from a day to just an hour and a quarter, thus allowing the citrus growers of Sóller to get to the Palma markets and back in a day.

Little has changed since then: the tiny station (at Placa Espanya) is reached through a wrought-iron gate bearing the words “Ferrocarril de Sóller”. The first part of the journey is a bit slow, as the track runs along through Palma but within fifteen minutes you start to reach the outskirts of the capital and into open countryside, with the peaks of the Tramuntana as a spectacular backdrop.

As you approach the first stop at Bunyola, olive fields give way to pine forests.

Beyond the village the train enters the first of twelve tunnels, which become progressively longer, until it breaks through the mountains and emerges on the west side of the island. The views here are superb as the train winds over bridges and across dry torrents, high above a valley rutted with terraces and dotted with disused farmhouses.  In the distance you can spot Sóller and the villages of Biniaraix and Fornalutx.

As you slowly make your way into Sóller the orange and lemon trees are close enough to stick your arm out and grab one. From the station in Sóller you can wander down into the town square, there are many shops, cafés and a beautiful church to see. Or you can jump on the tram that takes you to the sea at Port de Sóller.

Somewhere I thought I read it was a twenty minute walk to the port. I was wrong! Don’t do it. Just jump on the tram. Sadly, we didn’t do the tram because we ran out of time but next time I am definitely taking the tram to the port! So we wandered around Sóller; we grabbed a bit of lunch, a beer here and there and took in the sights. Fantastic!

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Son Mercadal

Before Felix and I moved to Mallorca we had already visited the island several times. And except for our very first trip here (awwww – we had JUST met) on the very first night we always stayed at Son Mercadal. We affectionately call it The Farm. I still love it, and I miss staying there. It is a rustic finca (which is basically translated into a farm, but can also be a large country estate to a small rural property). However you want to define it, a finca is always in the country and I have never seen one that I don’t love.

But Son Mercadal has a lovely charm about it. It is a family run hotel and every single room has its own special characteristic about it. Whether you have one of the upstairs rooms with its own private balcony or one of the room downstairs where you have your own private door to go outside, it is a fantastic place to get away from it all.

The pool has lovely oak trees surrounding it and a walk in the gardens can make you feel a million miles away from everything. Don’t forget to say hi to the donkey and if you want to ride a horse or a bicycle – guess what, you can! Isn’t this place amazing?!

And when you think you are completely in heaven you get to eat! And I love to eat. Breakfast (usually coffee or tea with toast or ensaimada) on the terrace is included in your room rate (which is super inexpensive btw) and if you have dinner there in the restaurant, you won’t be disappointed. I remember a mouth-watering feast of a mallorquin stew followed by suckling pig all washed down with local mallorquin wine.

What are you waiting for? Book a stay at Son Mercadal. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Fiestas de San Sebastian

Every year in late January the city of Palma de Mallorca, celebrates its official saint “San Sebastian” with a rousing display of correfocs (literal translation fire-runs) and a dance with the devils that ends with fireworks in front of the cathedral. This is one of my favorite traditions from Mallorca. And I am going to celebrate the correfocs this Saturday around 21.00.

This video captures the spirit and beauty of the Fiestas de San Sebastian. I have watched it, mmm only about ten times now. Can’t wait to see it in person!

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