After a fabulous night’s sleep, Rich and I were ready for what the day brought. We all had a quick breakfast in the villa, then headed back to Palma to rent scooters. Stacey and Rich had reserved the scooters months earlier, but when we arrived, the shop owner said they needed International Driving Permit (IDP). However, only Stacey had one since it was required to rent a car in Mallorca.
After haggling for twenty minutes with the owner, who won’t budge, Stacey and Rich asked to get their money back. The owner agreed, but said they needed to write an email and jump through half a dozen hoops before they could get a refund. Happily, both Rich and Stacey got a refund a week or so after sending the email.
The whack-a-doodle part is that you can get an IDP by going to AAA (American Automobile Association), completing a form, presenting your current driver’s license and two identical passport photos of yourself, and then paying $20. The permit doesn’t replace your driver’s license. It’s just a language translation of your driver’s license. Dumb!
In a sense, I’m glad we couldn’t rent the scooters because it was much, much more fun to sit in the car and chat as we went from place-to-place.
Our first “place” was Santuari de Lluc, a monastery and pilgrimage site in northwest Mallorca. Before we could get there, we needed to pass through several small towns. Lining the streets of one town were orange trees, full of gorgeous, flawless oranges. Feeling a bit hungry, Stacey pulled over to the side of the road, and Rich hopped out, stretching his 6-foot-3-inch frame to snag a couple of juicy specimen.
We thought we were so clever.
Together, Shawn and I peeled oranges to share with our significant others. Holy sh*t! Those oranges were more acerbic than a lemon. I’ve never eaten an orange that shrunk my tongue a full size. As we picked up speed, and got onto the highway, we opened the car windows and chucked out the oranges!
Our next stop was considerably tastier, an olive oil factory with samples of their latest pressing. While the factory was closed – being it was winter and the olives had probably been harvested and processed months earlier – we wandered through the gift shop. It had shelves of different grades of olive oil along with candies, preserves, wine, spices, serving dishes and knick-knacks made from olive tree wood (very beautiful), bags of salts, and different gourmet items.
During the warmer months, the factory and gift shop is a restaurant, Sa Tafona De Caimari, which based on its reviews, serves delicious, traditional Spanish dishes.
After purchasing a few things – Rich bought almond and pistachio nougats, and some almond candy in hard caramel – we were back on the road to the monetary.
The sanctuary was founded in the 13th century after a Moorish shepherd found a statue of the Virgin Mary on the site where the monastery was later erected. It’s prominently displayed in the church, and was larger and more detailed than expected. It obviously wasn’t quickly carved, and whoever hid it, took care to ensure it wouldn’t be damaged until eventually found.
Santuri de Lluc is considered the most important pilgrimage site on Mallorca. Much of the monetary has been modernized to accommodate its boarding school, visiting scholars, hikers, and pilgrims. Associated with the church is Els Blauets, a boys’ (and now girls’) choir, which are known for their blue cassocks. Here’s a video of the choir.
What I found particularly interesting were the original monk cells, which were in a two-story building with a large overhanging roof. On the lower level were trough for feeding horses and pack animals. It seemed so dignified to share the facility with animals, rather than relegate them to a barn.
Part of the monastery is a museum, which was interesting to tour with a collection of paintings, decorative fans, pottery, and other historical items, including a Seder plate. After viewing the museum, we wandered through the gardens, which contained plants from around the area and numerous water features.
Leading from the gardens was a mountainous path to various religious stations and art pieces. As we climbed, I could hear the delightful tinkling of bells, coming from the valley below. Shawn, we has raised farm animals, solved the mystery, saying they were sheep bells. When a sheep or goat gets lost or tangled in brush, the herder can locate it by listening for its bell.
Throughout our stay in Mallorca, I was mindful of the soft tinkling of sheep bells, which could be heard as we toured towns, stopped at attractions, and hiked. This is how it sounds.
After leaving Santuari de Lluc, we headed to the resort town of Sa Calobra on the northwest side of Mallorca. The narrow, two-lane road to the seaside resort town is famous for its hairpin turns and switchback roads. Cyclist also value it for training since it’s steadily uphill with lots of challenges and a 12% climb at the end.
Driving in a car is significantly easier; although, we held our breath several times when passing large tourist buses, speeding trucks, and cars, which deemed both lanes to be theirs to crisscross. In one section of the road, two huge rocks have fallen together, creating a narrow space for vehicles to travel. Check out this video of a bicyclist sailing down the road.
Much of the Sa Calobra was closed, but the cafeteria was open. Very hungry, we grabbed plates of seafood paella, ribs, bread, olive, aioli, and meatballs with potatoes. I instantly eyed a large mug of fresh-squeezed orange juice, hoping it was sweeter than the oranges we picked earlier. Thankfully, after the first tangy sip, it proved to be very refreshing even though it was more acrid than American orange juice.
We gobbled our food while drinking in the view of the ocean, and the pleasant smell of olive tree wood being burned in the cafeteria wood stove. A playful tortoiseshell cat added some entertainment, lounging by the woodstove, then brushing up against our legs to be pet.
Outside, there were numerous other cats, including two all-white youngsters tussling in the bushes, a black cat, and a partial Siamese. None of them, most likely partially feral, were interesting in human attention.
We had a few hours before the sunset so we wandered down to the beach took a path, which seems to parallel the sea. It was a lovely walk that passed through a tunnel drilled in the rock and illuminated with florescent green lights. The beach at the other end is feed by a fresh water stream (torrent) and is framed by tall, jagged rocky cliffs. This part of the beach is called Torrent de Pareis, which means “twin streams” because it’s the confluence of the Lluc and Gorg Blau reservoirs.
There was quite a bit of water running out to sea, which we gingerly crossed by walking on larger stones and leaping across narrow rivulets. During the summer, when the stream dries out, Sa Calobra is a popular place to hike.
Our drive back on the curvy road was uneventful with fewer people on the road. We stopped at a large grocery store near the Marriot resort to get food for dinners and breakfasts. That evening, I made spaghetti carbonara with ham and peas. We also had a large salad, and obligatory bread with olive oil (from the factory) and olives. Yum!
Before eating, we wandered down to the resort’s spa, which had a large indoor pool, two hot tubs, a steam room, a sauna, and an outdoor pool, which you could reach by swimming through a plastic curtain at the far-end of the indoor pool. We were all very relaxed afterwards!