Take the Orange Express and see the sights of Mallorca
Freshly squeezed orange juice anyone, or how about experiencing some vintage time travel?
It may seem an unusual combination but such is life when you discover the authentic Majorca courtesy of Puerto de Soller.
Situated on the north west coast at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains, the beauty of this small resort with its natural harbour, promenade and sandy beaches is plain for all to see. There’s not a McDonald’s or Starbucks in sight!
It has a comfortable, relaxed feel – more in tune with families and Saga louts than lager louts – and one of the main attractions is the ‘Orange Express’ tram complete with wooden carriages and seating.
The tramline, which was opened in 1913, runs from Puerto through the orange, lemon and olive groves to the larger town of Soller. It costs 5 euros – the bus is much cheaper at 1euro 50 – but it’s not every day that you get the chance to travel in such style.
But that doesn’t have to be the end of your bygone rail experience as you can then take the train to the capital, Palma. Mind you this is not any old train, well actually it is as it dates back to the beginning of the 20 century.
Soller Station is reputed to be the oldest building in the world that is used as a railway station. It was built in 1606 as an ancestral home.
The journey takes around an hour and features numerous tunnels plus some superb views but you pay for it… 12 euros 50 for a one-way ticket. But it’s worth it.
The Central Square in Soller, dominated by the imposing neo-Gothic church of Sant Bartomeu, is a perfect place to people watch while the Saturday market has much to offer and gives you a chance to try out your haggling skills.
Palma has a touch of elegance coupled with a feelgood factor and if you want to shop until you drop then this is the place to be. Superb architecture abounds with the imposing palace and spectacular cathedral. Further investigation requires an entrance fee so the choice is yours.
One of the must-dos in Puerto de Soller is the walk to the lighthouse which is situated on the headland on the south side of the beach and offers stunning views out to sea and over the resort. It takes around half an hour but you can incorporate it into a two- hour circular walk if you’re feeling energetic.
The resort is the perfect base for hiking and walking with routes along the coast and into the mountain range.
Our hotel, Es Port, organised guided walks every day (Mondays free, while other days cost 35 euros) but you can buy a guidebook and map for 12 euros and go your own way.
You can discover the valley of the oranges (and lemons) with an hour’s walk to Soller and it’s a similar theme to Fornalutx which is regarded as Spain’s prettiest village.
Don’t miss out on a day trip to Deia, although the bus ride on tight switchback bends is not for the fainthearted. From here you can take in a circular walk to the coastal point of Cala Deia. Further along the road is Valldemossa with star inhabitants Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.
A Hotel with character
Hotel Es Port: It’s not often you get the chance to stay in a hotel of unique, historic character but Es Port is one such property.
Just a few minutes walk from the central area of the resort, this former fortified mansion dates back to 1646 and retains a number of original features. It was also used for the production of olive oil and the evidence is there with grindstones and other workings of the old press located in a number of rooms.
Olives were a prominent feature of the past but it was oranges that proved the main talking point at breakfast via the orange press. There’s a knack to getting your daily freshly squeezed juice complete with a little muscle power but it’s great fun and the perfect way to start the day.
The food features high standard show cooking which basically means you can see the dishes being prepared and cooked. There’s a vast choice including paella, pasta, fish, chicken, beef, pork and vegetarian options along with a salad bar and a tasty selection of desserts. You can even get boiled eggs for breakfast cooked for three minutes or six!
Our bedroom was spacious with a balcony overlooking a lawned area which was home to a number of age-old olive trees and loungers for people seeking a spot of quiet time near the indoor pool and whirlpool.
There’s also a large outdoor swimming pool and a small children’s pool plus numerous loungers complete with wicker-topped umbrellas. An adjoining café with a good sized seating area provides food, drink and the compulsory ice cream.
Great value all round.
Holiday facts: Thomson no longer uses the Hotel Es Port However, Thomson (www.thomson.co.uk; 0871 2314691) does offer a week’s half board at the four-star Rocamarina Hotel in Cala d’Or in Majorca from £414 per person (based on two sharing) including flights from East Midlands airport and transfers, which is a similar standard to Es Port.