Bodega Biniagual and Mondragó Natural Park

January, 2022

We choose the perfect day for a wine tasting; it is cold, windy and rainy. Finca Biniagual is just a ten minute drive from our little village and situated in the wine-producing Binissalem region. It is a hamlet of 14 houses and a chapel and besides the vineyards, there are many olive and almond trees, sheep and cattle and seasonal fruits.

Nowadays, the wine industry is booming again, after a plague of phylloxera in 1891. This virus destroyed all the vineyards of Mallorca. In the 1970’s vines have been replanted and today, there are more than 65 wine estates on the island. Since 2002, the winery has been producing wine again.

The environment in the bodega of Finca Biniagual is elegant; nice seating arrangements, impressive paintings all around and a relaxing atmosphere. Wine samples are served, together with a description and an explanation, paired with delicious cheese, ham, quiche and tortilla. During the next couple of hours we try to honour the 5 S’s of wine tasting; see, swirl, sniff, sip and savor! What a great way to spend a miserable rainy day!

One of our last outings during this fabulous house sit, is a trip with the dogs to Mondragó Natural Park. It is located at southern Mallorca, in the municipal area of Santanyi. The Park has a surface of 766 hectares, but only 95 hectares are public property. The rest of Mondragó is privately owned land.

The landscape is made up of stoney fields, scrubland, wild olive trees, orchids, Aleppo pines, the rock rose, heather, lavender, almond and fig trees. Many different animals and birds also inhabit the Park. The rocky cliff-lined coast is an ideal nesting ground for the peregrine falcon. Both the rocky landscapes and the many dry stone walls are resting spots for certain reptile species; geckos, snakes and tortoises.

The dogs are on the leash, as some sunbathers found their way to the secluded beaches. Rosie would love to mingle with them! It is just January and already a warm day! The hiking paths are narrow, but the dogs love it. There are enough different smells and views!

Tomorrow will be cleaning and packing day. The owners of Rosie and Margot are returning from their holiday and we have to say goodbye. We will miss the dogs so much, but we hope to return one day!

 

 

 

Platja de Muro and a visit to Port de Sollér

January, 2022

Our intention is to explore Parc Natural de s’Albufera de Mallorca together with the dogs, on this glorious New Years day. According to our travel guidebook, the area is an eldorado for birdwatchers, as more than 200 species of rare birds have been spotted in the wetlands. We, and a few others, are pretty disappointed that the parc is closed, as we are fully prepared for a big hike. At least the beach is on walking distance and the dogs are getting very excited; they smell the sea! Platja de Muro is just an extension of the Parc Natural and it feels like we are on a Caribbean island! Soft sand, blue skies and a turquoise sea. In the summer it will be busy here with sunbathing tourists, but today there are just a few other dogs…..

Later we drive through Can Picafort, which was once a picturesque fishing village, but is now destroyed by ugly apartment buildings. At the far end of the boulevard some sculptures, made by the artist Joán Bennàssar, are overlooking the serene bay. These pieces of cement, mainly women, are goddesses and fairies, who dialogue with nature and the sea. They are distributed in 4 groups and are all located on the beach, along the promenade; desire, ritual, treasure and wound

The next day, we are going to discover a part of the northern coast and the dogs are joining us again for the trip. The Serra de Tramuntana, an impressive limestone mountain range of almost 90 km long, is covering this part of the island. Our plan is to drive to Esporles and from there direction Banyalbufar, both very pretty places! Just before Banyalbufar is a small parking place at the side of the very curvy road and it is also the starting point of a fabulous hike to Port de Canonge. Again nothing is going according to our plans, as the parking place is already occupied by a rough 20 cars. No other possibilities to park the car. Why did we go on the weekend, instead of choosing a quiet day during the week? The dogs are getting eager to go out and we too! We turn around and drive up the hill again and find a small spot behind the bus stop. Here, in the middle of nowhere, on top of the hill, a ruin of a former hamlet is visible. It is pretty spooky, but the dogs love it!

From here we follow the road to another pretty town called Valldemossa, a popular town for weekend outings! The road now turns towards the coast and passes scenic places like Deia. We decide to go to Port de Sóller, situated on a secluded bay with plenty of restaurants and lovely terraces overlooking the beach, the harbour and the lighthouse.

We take the dogs for a walk and they seem to like the ambience! Later we feed them, before they go for a nap in the car, while we have ‘a bite’ in town.

Port de Soller is fabulous and very relaxing! Our hike will have to wait for next time and NOT in the weekend!

The lively market towns Inca and Sineu

December, 2021

The commercial town of Inca is just a ten minute drive from our “home”. It is the third main town on the island and perfect for shopping. Inca is famous for the leather industry and the many old wine cellars, now converted into restaurants. We like to go on Thursday, which is market day and enjoy the Christmas spirit, with all the flowers on the square. I have never seen so many poinsettias in one spot! After getting some local produce, we find a place on a small terrace and enjoy the Spanish ambience, while sipping a red wine, a cappuccino and a croissant for the small amount of euro 5.40!!!

Sineu is another lovely market town and also very centrally located. Once it was the most important town on the island! Many tourists, as well as locals, are flocking the streets on the Wednesday, when fruits and vegetables, handicrafts and even livestock can be purchased. Another big attraction of this rural small place is the parish church, with its massive bell tower; Iglesia Santa Maria de Sineu. Very impressive from the outside and inside!

We stroll the streets of Sineu up and down, admiring historical buildings, and discover the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception, which is nowadays a nunnery. It was built on the ruins of the former Palace, residence of the many kings of Mallorca.

Later we return to the main square, where we find an empty table in front of the church, overlooking the market. We order a drink and a small bite and they serve us very tasty local cheese and jamón. A great way to end this beautiful morning!

Dogs paradise around Parc Natural de la Peninsula de Llevant

December, 2021

We are not the only ones, who are having a great Christmas holiday. The dogs just love to go with us on our day trips and above all they LOVE their Christmas present from the landlord!

Parc Natural de la Peninisula de Llevant is a small hour drive to the eastern side of Mallorca. We park the car at Urbanicació Sant Pere Betlem and hike the trail along the scenic coast until the far end; Es Caló. On one side the sea and on the other side the lower mountains of Puig Todosa.

This area is not very well-known and still unspoiled. On the Punta des Caló, where the trail ends, we find a very narrow path through the bush and arrive on a small and rocky beach. Here the dogs can run and swim! It is just paradise!

Another great area to explore is just on the eastern side of the same Parc Natural and it is called Cala Estreta, Cala Matzoc and Cala Mitjana. The area is great for hiking, very quiet and just nature! A beautiful trip and possible to combine with the ancient towns of Artà and Capdepera. We choose to spend more time on the wild beach with the dogs. Here they can run freely and there are more trails over the rocks and into the back country.

After a couple of hours we drive to Cala Rajada. The dogs are fast asleep in the car and we go for an early supper into town. Along the seaside we find restaurant “Euforia”, where they serve all kinds of delicious tapas. We are sipping our wine and absorbing the view over the Mediterranean Sea. By now the weather is changing completely; suddenly thunder starts together with some heavy rain showers and a beautiful rainbow appears!

After our delicious meal, we walk back to the car and take the dogs for a last stroll. The rain has disappeared and the sky turns into a dramatic painting!!!

Climbing to the top of the Puig d’Alaró

December, 2021

Definitely a must to visit are the ruins of Castell d’Alaró. They have always been a very important reference point in Mallorcan culture. To reach the ruins we drive to the small town Alaró and continue towards restaurant Es Verger via a terrible narrow and bumpy road. It is so small that oncoming traffic can’t pass. Halfway I get a panic attack, get out of the car and start walking. My partner just loves the challenge!

It is better to leave the car in Alaró and walk the old pelgrims route (four hours two ways with an elevation of 600 meters) or go to the other side of the mountain, to Orient. In Es Verger we first drink a coffee before we start climbing. The restaurant is rustic authentic, with a big fire place and famous for the lamb shoulder cooked in a wood-fired oven. We still have to earn our lunch and it will be cheese and bread and no roasted lamb today!

We hike all the way up to 825 meters and go through one of the fortified entrances. Just a few steps higher you will find the Hostatgeria and the ‘Ermita de la Mare de Déu del Refugi’.

You will be rewarded with dramatic views over Es Pla, the Tramuntana mountains and the Orient Valley.

On our return we take a smaller but quicker trail. You have to “mind your step”!

A house and labrador sit in central Mallorca

December, 2021

It is not easy to find a convenient house sit during covid times. You need to be patient and be willing to spend a lot of hours on the internet, browsing the house sitters websites. In the end we are rewarded with a great sit of nearly three weeks on the Balearic island of Mallorca. I never visited Mallorca in the past and in my imagination it was just one of those party islands, where nature is sacrificed for huge hotels and ugly apartment buildings. Pictures of our future house sit showed lushy gardens and panoramic views and when we saw the pictures of the two black labradors, we didn’t think twice!

We rushed to the bookstore to get information about hiking trails (Rother guides) and interesting places to visit on the island and we are very surprised to discover that Mallorca has many natural parks, scenic roads and historical villages.

In December Covid was still a big issue and we, as well as the landlords, had to try to stay healthy! It all worked out fine and we even didn’t need to get tested! The house was all decorated for Christmas, the fire place worked great and the doggies stole our hearts from day one, so our holiday started (and theirs too!)

We decide to take the dogs with us in the car on most of our outings. It means we can stay away a bit longer during the day and the dogs love to go with us on our adventures. Our first outing will be to Parc Natural Es Trenc, in the southern part of the island. Just before entering the parc, we pass Salines de Llevant. Several lagoons are nourished by the waters of the sea and later the salt is extracted and gathered into huge piles.

In between the artificial lakes and the 6 km long beach, you will find dunes with all kinds of plants, which are adapted to the salt in the soil. Once on the beach, we let the dogs run free, as this time of the year there are only a handful of visitors.

Our second trip goes to Cap de Formentor, in the north of the island. The peninsula is protected on one side by the Tramuntana mountains and blessed with some fabulous beaches on the southern side. To reach the east of the peninsula you have to drive a very curvy road. Don’t forget to stop at Mirador de la Creueta for some fabulous views!

We take the dogs out for a walk on Cala Formentor, where the turqoise sea looks inviting for a swim. Margot, the youngest labrador is afraid of water, but Rosie just loves to jump in!

After our hike and swim, we are driving back to Puerto de Pollenca, a lively fishing harbour, where we find a great place to eat, right at the water side; “Stay Restaurant”.

The dogs are sleeping in the car, totally exhausted from the hike. Later, after we have had our supper, we take them again for another outing on the beach, before we drive home.