Sanctuary, solitude and steps

Majorca, an island in the Mediterranean, is heavily dependent on tourists and last week we joined that happy crowd taking a very convenient two hour (ish) flight from our local Norwich (International) Airport.

We stayed in a rather nice hotel in Puerto Pollenca which is near the north eastern tip of the island.  We’ve been to Majorca a few years ago – once staying at  Cala d’or (south east) and another time at Camp de Mar (south west).  These previous trips were before we got into really loving all things hilly and mountainous.

So, here we were now, just a stones thrown from the Serra de Tramuntana, with walking boots at the ready.

Tuesday 24th May 2016

Pollenca old town is a short bus ride but we took a taxi as we were being far too British at the bus stop. We love to queue, say no more!

Once out of the taxi we headed off following the ‘Calvari’ signs. The town is made up of narrow streets with small shops and cafes and two or three squares.

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In a corner of the central square, Placa Major, is the large 13th century Church Esglesia de Nostra Senyora dels Angels. The walls and ceilings inside are quite impressive.

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Beyond the church, the ancient Calvari Steps lead up and out of the town to a small chapel. Lined on both sides with mature Cyprus trees and some small properties the 365 steps might be a struggle, especially in the middle of the day or height of summer.  We thought  they were relatively easy! After taking a respectful peak into the small church at the top (it really is small) we treated ourselves to a cool drink from the cafe next door. Sitting in the shade with the occasional scent from a flowering Jasmine, it was bliss…

The view back down to the town was really very good from the top of the steps. However, our eyes were looking beyond the town to the hill opposite, to the Puig de Maria. A couple of quick photos and we were soon making our way back down and cross town to start our ascent.

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Alongside the main road there was a sign which told us that it would take an hour from this point. We came across these sorts of signs in Switzerland last year – they usefully tell you how long a walk should take rather than the distance.

The path starts off as a driveable road but that changes gradually to a rough track then eventually to a cobbled path. The only way to get to the very top is on foot, zigzagging in tight hairpins with occasional glimpses down through the trees. It was warm and we saw only a couple of other people.

Near the top there’s a sign which tells you that you only 10 minutes more to go. Yay. This hill is only 330 meters high (1082 feet) but fairly steep walking.

Finally the monastery comes into view. This is the Santurari de la Mare de Deu del Puig. Built in the 14th century there is a chapel and monastery which housed nuns from the local area. The nuns have left but walkers now can spend the night in basic accommodation here.

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We crept inside – it was time for lunch. Along a corridor we found a small dark room with counter and a menu – listed on a piece of paper which was pinned to the wall. A man appeared to take our order but was unable to speak English so we ended up pointing at the menu to make our selection. The baked tuna baguette that arrived with olives, tomatoes and chillies, sprinkled generously with olive oil, was delicious and very reasonably priced.

There are areas to sit outside but as it was hot we sat inside in a room with shutters at the small windows, dark furniture, tiled floor and lots of beams. We were all alone and we whispered to each other….it was cool (in both senses of the word), it was very atmospheric.

Back out into the sunshine we explored the outside, took lots of photos then sauntered back down. The views were fantastic of the surrounding countryside, the mountains and the bay of Pollenca.

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We felt like real pilgrims.

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