We recently had a long weekend off of school. Carnival (you know, that whole Mardi Gras thing) collided with the Day of the Balearic Islands (celebrating our islands becoming a recognized autonomous community). So we got lucky with Thursday and Friday off. Schools get 2 fun days (like snow days) they can apply to any weekend to make it longer. So most schools on the island gave everyone Monday off as well. So we had Thursday through Monday off. This is a “puente” a bridge over the long weekend.
We knew about this “puente” two months ago and began planning then. We were heartily considering flying to the nearby island of Menorca (reminder we live on Mallorca). Or flying to Rome or literally anywhere. We’re sure glad we didn’t because just about everyone on Mallorca left for the weekend. Seriously, we can’t find the numbers but it was an incredible amount of people who exodus-ed the island. Almost every one of our co-teachers left via plane. It raised the price of a ticket to Madrid (ordinarily $20 to $500). Incidentally the Germans have been flying in in full force so we didn’t really lose any population, just swapped it out.
What did we do if we didn’t fly somewhere else? Well we didn’t even go further than 18 miles from our hometown. We decided to walk (and take a bus) to some nearby tourist cities to see them while they’re still on off-season.
We really wanted to go to Artà to do some hiking. Getting to Artà from Manacor is easy, even in the off-season. It’s a 30 minute bus. But who wants to do that? Lets walk! We planned out getaway with two stops, one in Cala Millor, a beach resort town 20 minutes from Manacor (by bus), and the other stop in Artà.
Day 1: Manacor to Cala Millor (via Porto Cristo and S’illot)
We could’ve walked from Manacor to Arta direct on the Via Verde (retired train line) but we had been dying to do a famous coastal walk from Porto Cristo. So we took a 20 minute bus to Porto Cristo (in red on the map) the walked along that coastal trail to S’illot.
The trail took us past former farmhouses, around old stone walls, and even through a Bronze-age settlement. The trail leads past one of the last secret spots on the island, Cala Petita. True to its name, it is quite small, but it also has some of the most stereotypical crystal clear water we’ve seen.
The small cliffs were just begging to be jumped off of, and if it had been warmer it sure would have been tempting. Most of our students come here to jump and swim. The beach is too small to really sit on and enjoy (two-car garages are bigger than the sand here). Still, it’s a tiny paradise to hang out on. A woman smoked while painting on a full-sized canvas she had hiked onto the beach. Very posh, très European. Looked like the perfect afternoon (sans cigarette for us, though).
We had no canvases to paint or swimsuits to wear so we pressed on. We passed a few more calas (coves). Everyone else was enjoying the warm weather and were picnicking on the beach. The water is still very cold and the only swimmers were dogs.
While people watching (dog watching) we noticed a few defensive bunkers built into the side of the cliffs. These are from the Spanish Civil War. The anti-Fascists launched an attack on the fascist-controlled island and landed quite nearby to these bunkers (in Porto Cristo and at Castillo de sa Punta de n’Amer).
We arrived at S’illot (the end of the coastal walk). We were able to get onto a bike path through the city that had nice informational signs about the animals and plants.
This part of the coast is a nice fairly flat bit of land that used to be populated with small fishing villages (Cala Morlanda, S’Illot, Sa Coma, Cala Millor, Cala Bona). Of course these fishing villages have become tourist resorts, and the shoreline is mostly over-run with hotels and overpriced bars. We thought we would for sure be able to find a bite to eat here, but 90% of the restaurants are shut down for the season (or maybe some flood damage). Even Burger King (not Burger King!!!) was closed and boarded up. Literally nothing was open. We walked through miles of ghost town, populated only by construction workers busy remodeling hotels before the tourist season starts. They’re using the off-season to improve the resorts and also to remodel after the catastrophic floods in October.
If we had been able to eat in S’illot we may have hiked further to a little castle but we were getting sunburned and hungry. So we pressed on to the next city over (incidentally our final destination of the day) Cala Millor. There were people and open restaurants there, at least.
Our hotel cost us a whopping 35 Euros a night and was 3 minutes from the beach. We walked on the beach, got our ankles wet, and went to bed tired and sunburned from our hike. Sunburned because it’s been a long winter bundled up and our skin was surprised by the hot February sunshine.
Total walking distance: 19 km/12 miles.
If you want to hike the coastal trail/follow our route
Starting from Porto Cristo walk to the end of Avenida Cala Petita (where Avenida Cala Petita meets Carrer del Llaüt).
Follow the coastal trail (#8 on the map) past the Sa Ferradura archaeological site (on the right up a small hill/peninsula). Through Cala Petita and into Cala Morlanda. From Cala Morlanda you can see the two bunkers (at least two, there may be more).
Walk through the town a little to get onto the bike path (intersecting #2 on the map). It intersects Carrer del Verderol.
Follow the bike path through S’illot and you’ll intersect a walking path through Sa Coma. This was a ghost town in February but could’ve been because of the flooding.
At the end of the sidewalk you’ll intersect a dirt path going to the Castillo de sa Punta de n’Amer.
If you do want to see the Castle follow the dirt path to the castle then over to Carrer Castell. At the roundabout go on Av. sa Coma and you’re basically in Cala Millor. Alternatively there are many paths leading from the castle walk to the beach depending on weeds and how often people have gone on them. Follow the beach or beach walk into Cala Millor.
If you don’t want to hike to this, take a left and follow the bike path/walking path up Avinguda de ses Palmeres and take a left on 1 Carrer dels Baladres. Take the first left after the roundabout (off Av. sa Coma) to get to the beach walk path through the side of town.
We stayed in Hostal Saturno. The owners were very nice and it was cheap and basic but very comfortable. Many people were staying long-term (months at a time) which you could reasonably do.