A mid-winter Mediterranean escape: Part 311th December 2018
One subject that I purposely left out of the previous part of this trilogy of posts regarding my 2016 trip to Mallorca was what started to take hold of me on the bus journey back from Sollér to Palma. The day had me wondering if had been underdressed on my walk up and down Barranc de Biniaraix. The summer-like weather was out of keeping with my usual wintertime experiences so my being clad in little more than shirt and trousers for much of the time felt odd.
Feeling Less Strong than Usual
What I probably had neglected to do was acclimatise to the new conditions. Instead, I went from place to place as I set about getting to know the island and, on that bus journey from Sollér to Palma, I began to feel signs of a sore throat with my brain starting to race into fears of falling ill. Quite whether this was something that I had picked up on the journey to Mallorca or whether I had thought myself into it is an open question. There might have been a mix of the two but the symptoms became real enough.
The result was that Thursday night was not as restful as I would have wanted and the ideal thing to do might have been to take a rest day around Palma on Friday. However, such was my state of mind that such a design was not to satisfy me. The chance to go pottering around Port d’Andratx won out in spite of my less than optimal physical state. Slower strolling up and down gentler gradients was my decided compromise for a day with much sunshine and more cloud cover.
Pottering around Port d’Andratx
My day around Port d’Andratx was to involve another encounter with the GR 221, this time at its south-western extremity. The buses there and back stopped in more places with many being tourist hotspots for more leisurely activities than what I was pursuing. That may for a busier trip on the outbound journey but that was no intrusion because my destination turned out to be a quiet spot and exactly what I needed for my own form of gentler activity.
Even so, I had it in mind to walk from Port d’Andratx to Sant Elm with views of the island of Sa Dragonera along the way. There may have been concerns about infrequent buses from the latter to Palma but I decided to give it a go anyway. Thus, I set off around the quays on what felt like a summer day. Pleasure craft lay docked while all around was mostly quiet and I kept walking.
In time, the gradients were to steepen but I was following a road with many switchback bends so progress was steady. At times, I found paths through tree cover that got me out of the strong sunshine for brief episodes; any relief that they gave was relished. Building works were to be heard yet my quest was to take me away from built-up surroundings, at least for a while.
Finding the GR 221 trail and staying on its route needed some care. Apart from the constraints of available maps, there were tracks and trails leading in various directions so the inattentive and undisciplined easily could have gone astray for signage was absent. That was not my destiny though so I got to reach those sought after wilder surroundings, as dessicated though they appeared to me. It felt as if any supposed proximity to houses was an illusion.
After a while, I took to locating myself according to nearby hill tops even if more striking ones in the more distant east proved less easy to identify. Closer ones like Puig d’en Ric and Pintal Vermell were much easier to recognise. As it happened, my journey took me to the top of the latter with its views of the sea and the island of Sa Dragonera. Sant Elm was on show too and seemed tantalisingly close.
However, the path that I need to drop onto a track leading there was not obvious on the ground and I had exhausted my quota of risk taking for the day. Consequently, I decided to return to Port d’Andratx after contenting myself with the sights that I had savoured. On the way back, I purposely veered onto a lower track to get a different perspective but I seem to remember a height gain cost for that before that final descent of the day commenced.
All in all, a good walk had been gained despite various challenges and an afternoon departure ensured a timely return to Palma. The outing had continued the theme of exploration of Mallorcan coastal and mountain scenery that had brought so many rewards. While thoughts of my imminent departure from the island were not to be scotched, there was some time for rest and a further slowing of pace before I did so.
Friday night was taken slowly as was Saturday morning. Given that I had an evening flight back to Manchester, I stayed in the hotel as long as I could on Saturday. When I left there, the mild sunny day meant I could lounge near the cathedral and its precincts until I needed to go to the airport.
As I did so, my possession of a larger camera ensured that I was asked to make photos of others with their devices. People photography may not be my thing but the list still included a German group and an English lady seeking a photo of her wearing a certain t-shirt for someone in her home country. Though these snappers may not have such demanding needs, I always wonder if my efforts suffice. In fact, they generally do just that.
There were opportunities for photos of my own too and the time came for catching a bus to the airport to start my journey home. Given that this was New Year’s Eve, I opted for a stay in a hotel near Manchester Airport in preference to a possibly expensive taxi ride home. Given how tired I was on my arrival, that probably was just as well and it allowed me a leisurely journey home on the first day of 2017.
January 2017 was to see me battle that cold for a few days more until it left me just before I went to Ireland to sort out some business there. This was the end of the time-boxed inheritance works though some overshot the January deadline but they could be completed in their own time. Other matters came before them in priority and such things as a springtime sabbatical, eventual career break and subsequent career alteration lay in the future. It was now time to sort out my working life so I could manage my Irish interests while keeping my emotional health in order.
Overseas journeying continued with trips to Norway and Sweden though nothing like that has happened in 2018 aside from a longer recreational trip to Ireland last month. A more settled working life may help me to start those overseas trips again and the prospect of a mid-winter sunshine break has come to mind again. Possible choices include a hiking break on one of the Canary Islands or various city stays like Rome or even Singapore. The actual decision will be revealed at the right time and that is not now.
Lessons have been learned from the Mallorcan trip so any new mid-winter escapade will be less packed with objectives. Time for acclimatisation is a must given any differences between winter climates and that applies even more so for any antipodean outing where the seasons are opposite to our own in the northern hemisphere. Life’s adventure continues and the Mallorcan trip has taught me a lot as will any future ones like it.
Return flights between Manchester and Palma de Mallorca. Return bus journeys to and from Port Pollença, Sóller and Port d’Andratx.