A Crazy Drive up the Puig de Maria, Pollença and Cap Formentor
Our second day in Mallorca greeted us with bright sunshine. After a restful night at Finca Son Pont, we got ready to have breakfast in this historic rural hotel. Tables were set up in the shady inner courtyard and we were going to have breakfast in the fresh air. We picked up some cereal, yoghurt, some fresh bread and locally ripened fruits and joined in the conversation with other couples who had sat down at the tables next to us. Two other couples were in town from Germany to attend a large wedding in Puigpunyent and one couple was visiting here from Holland, the second time that they were visiting Finca Son Pont.
Getting ready for a great breakfast at Finca Son Pont
After a leisurely conversation I took some more pictures around the property and we packed our luggage, ready to head on to our next destination. We thanked Hector, the older gentleman from Argentina, who is in charge of administering the property. We both agreed that we could have handled spending some more time in the rural serenity of this impressive rural estate.
Shortly before lunch we hopped into our small rental vehicle and drove the 12 kilometres back into Palma de Mallorca. Traffic on this tiny island that is populated by more than 700,000 people (and many more tourists during peak vacation season) can be very busy. We connected on the ring-shaped highway that surrounds the capital of Palma to the C713 highway that connects to the northeastern part of the island.
One night at the Finca Son Pont was not enough
Our drive was not much more than half an hour and was flanked all the while by the impressive Tramuntana mountain chain in the north while the agricultural plain in the heart of Mallorca was stretching to the south of us. We exited the highway at the sign to Pollença, a small town of about 15,000 on the north side of the island.
Our first destination was the Puig de Maria, a rocky local hill that rises 330 m from the surrounding landscape. It is crowned by an old monastery that has been turned into an accommodation facility. A restaurant and several rather spartan hotel rooms beckon at the top of this promontory. I had already called to reserve a room several weeks ago in Canada and was amazed at the very reasonable price tag of 22 Euros a night for two people.
Climbing up the stony path of the Puig de Maria
But that price tag came at a steep price: a most hair-raising drive about three quarters up the mountain on a very narrow and steep road that featured numerous 180 degree switchbacks. At one point we had misjudged the angle of a curve and got stuck right in the middle of the switchback with our wheels turning. The smell of burning rubber filled the air and I was afraid we would roll backwards and plunge down the steep rocky mountain face.
Finally we had reached the end of the road and could not drive any further. We parked our vehicle right next to a rock wall, got out and started hiking towards the top of the mountain. The pathway was made up of roughly hewn stone and after a short walk in a pine forest the path came into the open and we started having an amazing view over Pollença and the surrounding mountain panorama.
The view towards the Tramuntana Mountains is awesome
The view from here was simply gorgeous. But it took us another good 20 mintues to reach the top of the mountain and the former monastery. Once at the top we took in the phenomenal vista from the outer courtyard of the former monastery which opened up towards the Tramuntana Mountains and the northeast coastline of Mallorca. The jagged and mountainous Formentor Peninsula was stretching out in front of us like the back of a prehistoric reptile.
We entered the monastery and walked to the front of the courtyard from where we had an amazing panoramic view towards the eastern Mediterranean coastline of Mallorca. Then we explored the historic monastery which features a chapel, a small museum as well as a restaurant with very affordable prices. Unfortunately we could not get access to one of the hotel rooms, but from all the information I had, the rooms have retained the simplicity of the former monk’s cells. On the western side of the monastery is another courtyard that provides a great view towards the landscapes to the west of the Puig de Maria.
Old well inside the monstary on top of the mountain
We bought a couple of cold drinks and joined three English travelers at a picnic table outside. The ladies were from Newcastle and were thoroughly enjoying their getaway. They were planning to spend a few days in Mallorca to go hiking and enjoy the culture. They had not even rented a vehicle and were simply getting around by public bus. They were staying in the town of Pollença, in a historic hotel called Hotel Juma and were raving about this little town. It had taken them about an hour to get to the top of Puig de Maria, and now they were enjoying a nice packed lunch.
After our relaxing break we were ready to continue our journey and started our hike back to our car. I was already dreading the drive back down the mountain and was glad my friend volunteered to drive. We went down the steep serpentine curves at what seemed like two kilometres per hour, coming to a complete standstill on the sharp turns. Finally, after about 20 minutes or so we had reached the bottom and drove into the town of Pollença. Having grown up in the Austrian Alps, I am used to mountain driving, but some of these steep, narrow and winding roads here in Mallorca were definitely challenging my tender nerves.
Inside the old Monastery on the Puig de Maria