Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Train to the Plain and the Mountains: Soller and Puerto Soller

While we were on our Andorran hiking journey, a well-travelled British couple told us, "When you get to Mallorca, don't miss the train to Soller." What we found out in researching this excursion is that it's been in service since 1912 and has had uninterrupted service every day since then.
Palma Station Son Sardina station Son Reus halt Santa Maria halt Caubet halt Bunyola station Túnel Major Mirador des Pujol d’En Banya viewing point “Cinc-Ponts” viaduct Tunnel “Cinc-cents” Ca’n Tambor halt Sóller station

The railway is characterized, amongst other things, by the fact that it is narrow gauge, the track width being 914 mm (an English yard), which is infrequent nowadays; moreover its rolling stock is extremely varied and meticulously finished, and maintained using traditional methods. One source stated the trains were originally part of the streetcar system in San Francisco.

The Sóller railway also stands out for the special, attractive route it runs along, overcoming the natural barrier of the Sierra de Alfàbia mountain range which is 2.8 km wide and 496 metres high. To do so, in just seven kilometres, the railway rises up 199 metres with an inclination of 23 millimetres, runs through thirteen longitudinal tunnels ranging in length from 33 to 2,876 metres, crosses over several bridges, the “cinc-ponts” viaduct which has five arches with spans 8 metres high and a great many bends, some with radii below 190 metres.  You get a great understanding of the varied terrain of Mallorca...from seashore to mountain.
olive orchards abound

some of the mountainous terrain of Tramuntana

The city of Soller from above the plain

High peak with clouds

One of the viaducts.
I was particularly impressed  by the length of the tunnels through the mountains. That represents a lot of work and engineering! Once you arrive in Soller, you board a smaller tram to Port de Soller, a sleepy fishing village...filled with TOURISTS who wanna swim and hangout. Often their body parts are "hanging out" too! :)
Port de Soller: a natural bay and home to many yachts and sailboats

One of two lighthouses.

Orange cake from local oranges and diet Coke. What better?

The tram to Port de Soller.
The ride up the mountain was scenic. We passed orchard after orchard of olives, oranges, lemons, almonds, figs and grapes. It's really pastoral in the interior.
Seriously, I thought this cat was dead. A cat contortionist!

Another black cat with no real agenda.

excuse me while I hug this chunk of sidewalk
We had to laugh at the cats of the village of Port of Soller. We walked up to the top of the village to admire the village and the ocean and all along the way we encountered black cats in  a veritable state of coma. These guys could NOT be coaxed into moving at all. Apparently, with all the heat and humidity, they had a lot more sense than we do!
The beach area and train from on high

beautiful mediterranean coastline. Lots of blue hues.
At the end of the journey at the train line, we were treated to two nice museums. One was Picasso and the other paintings of Miro, who adopted Mallorca as his home. These were absolutely free of charge and really nice.
Picasso sculpture

Random door in Port de Soller

Some guy in a hat
We returned home and really admired all the great scenic areas that this train trip afforded us. We celebrated with dinner at Bougaderia, recommended in the New York Times for their tapas. It was an excellent meal with great local wines.
Looking into the restaurant from the front door. They seem to like Iberian ham :)
Duck leg confit!
We certainly cannot complain about our meal or our wonderful day of train travel in Mallorca.

“I like trains. I like their rhythm, and I like the freedom of being suspended between two places, all anxieties of purpose taken care of: for this moment I know where I am going.”
Anna Funder

Paul's Ponderings:  Today was consumed by the trip up to Soller, involving vintage trains.   It was great, because we got to see another part of the country.   Very warm weather here all day.   We wandered about Soller and the port and then took the train back to Palma, which was followed by a great dinner this evening.  Pretty much a perfect day in Mallorca!

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