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Phespirit goes to Mallorca
Ca'n Picafort     May 2012

After four successive years of sunshine holidaying on the Canary Islands, Phespirit was well overdue a return to the Balearics. His last and only previous visit had been way back in 2005 when he spent a week on the minor island of Formentera. This time he would head for the biggest of the bunch: mighty Mallorca. On Formentera he visited the far west, north, south and east, and even went subterranean in the central caves. Faced with the substantially greater area of Mallorca, however, Phespirit concentrated his efforts on just one region: the north.

Three great limestone capes claw into the sea from Mallorca's northern coast. As Phespirit's inbound flight passed over each one from west to east he determined to hike the full length of all three. Separating the capes are two sweeping bays: Badia de Pollença to the west, and the much larger Badia d'Alcúdia to the east. Phespirit would be staying at Hotel Bonsai in San Bauló at the eastern end of Ca'n Picafort, at the very centre of Badia d'Alcúdia's broad arcing shore.

Before hiking comes relaxing, which means beaches. As he looked out to sea from his hotel window, to his left was a swathe of tourist developments and commercialised beachfronts; to his right was a near-wilderness coast. Phespirit spent a little time at the former and a lot more at the latter. Although the beaches were supposed to provide the relaxation before long strenuous walks, in practice he ended up doing most of his hiking along these more isolated shores.

The wilderness coast is devoid of commercial developments but peppered with three curious types of structure: ancient megalithic remains; wartime concrete pillboxes; and giant obelisk-style towers apparently built to help submarine crews triangulate positions when on manoeuvres. Phespirit visited the stunning megalithic necropolis (7th-5th century BC) not far along the shoreline from San Bauló, and the strewn stone remnants off-shore on Illot des Parros (wading across, shoulder-deep). These are overlooked by a small Dolmen semi-circle of stones on the shallow ridge above the coastal footpath. And finally, some way inland is the barely distinguishable heap of rubble known as Es Figueral de Son Real. All interesting diversions.

Still on a history trail, Phespirit boarded local buses for trips to two of the more intriguing nearby towns. In Alcúdia he walked atop the mediæval walls and strolled through the spread-out site of ancient Roman Pollèntia, complete with houses, forum and theatre. In Pollença he visited the magnificent barrel-vaulted Església de la Mare de Déu dels Àngels, the colourful Casa-Museu gallery of Dionis Bennassar, and climbed 365 steps to the pilgrimage chapel of Calvari.

Despite grand aspirations to hike the three rugged capes, in the end he managed not a single one. Still, he got around enough to earn thoroughly blistered feet, and came away with a taste for seeing more of this under-rated island.

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