A Mountain Drive to Alaro, Bunyola & Valdemossa and Folklore at La Granja
After a tasty home-made breakfast on the balcony of my studio apartment in Port d’Alcudia I was ready to head out for a full day of explorations. Somehow, the northern mountainous part of Mallorca has an almost magical spell on me. I had already spent the major part of my entire first week on this island in the northern Tramuntana Mountains, and I just had to go back there today.
The church of Binissalem
So around 9 am I headed out in my little rental car and started driving westwards on Highway C713. I exited at Binissalem, a small country town with less than 7000 inhabitants in the shadow of the Tramunanta mountains. Binissalem used to be a major wine-growing region until the late 1800s when the phylloxera plague destroyed most of the vineyards, some of which were replaced by almond trees. Wine has been growing here as early as 121 BC when it was introduced by the Romans.
A look toward’s Binissalem’s main square
Today, Binissalem is a quiet town with a pleasant main square that was mostly frequented by locals this morning, doing their early morning shopping. I strolled down one of the main streets and came across a large open grassy field that was hosting the town’s weekly market this day. Dozens of traveling merchants had put up booths to sell fruits, vegetables, flowers, housewares, electronics and clothing.
A demonstration of kitchen gadgets in Castillian Spanish
I stopped at one stand where a local salesman explained a kitchen gadget to me – in Castilian Spanish, which I understand, not in the local Catalan language. The “Princess of the Kitchen” is capable of grating, cutting and decorating. The guy was a great pitchman, and I was almost tempted to buy one. A local lady tried to bargain down the price, but he was not willing to let it go at a discount. Altogether it was a very entertaining presentation and I thought that no matter where you are, sales pitches for kitchen gadgets are the same everywhere.
The main square of Alaro, with an invtation to vote in the European Union elections
From Binissalem I drove to the mountain town of Alaro where I parked my car and walked for about an hour through the narrow streets of this scenic historic town. The main square featured election posters for the upcoming European Union elections and the town was in full swing with the locals’ shopping and activities. Two oversized figures in traditional Mallorcan dress were on display in the entrance hall of city hall.
One of the oversized statues in Alaro’s city hall
I headed on in my car into the Tramuntana Mountains. I entered the mountain chain through a valley flanked by the two almost symmetrical mountains of Alaro and Alcadena, both a little more than 800 metres in altitude. The entire Tramuntana mountain region is very popular with bicyclists, and I ran into several groups of bikers coming down the mountains. The curvy road was steadily climbing up into the mountains, and once past the first row of mountains, it continued through pastoral highlands, surrounded on all sides by rugged limestone peaks.
Great mountain view in Orient
The next town I stopped at was called Orient where I got out of the car and walked up to the hilltop church called Sant Jordi, dating back to the 18th century. All these little country villages in Mallorca are so picturesque, and the surrounding countryside is so peaceful which makes this area a real magnet for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the many colourful tiles on Mallorcan houses: “Beware of dog”
Behind a mountain pass I came down on the other side in the village of Bunyola which also has a gorgeous location in a bowl-shaped valley that is surrounded on all sides by mountains. Bunyola is located only 9 kilometres from the island’s busy capital of Palma de Mallorca, but its serene mountain location makes it seem like a different world. I parked my car on the outskirts and strolled down into the centre, admiring the Baroque church of Sant Mateu.
The lovely mountain town of Bunyola