By phone at Delius Klasing Publishing.
Hotline: +49 521/55 99 33
By phone at Delius Klasing Publishing.
Hotline: +49 521/55 99 33
• Beautiful photographs portray the stunning coastal roads of Germany
• A new addition to a highly successful series
• Perfect tips for routes and sightseeing
Recently between Bunyola and Sóller, in a bitter infight with the serpentine inferno that is the Coll de Sóller, utterly immersed in the blissful staccato as I brake into the corner, breathe in, turn in, hang on to the apex for a moment as time stands still, hold my breath, release the steering, breathe out, accelerate. Suddenly, there’s a slight loss of grip at the rear end – a tiny countersteer and, at the same time, a stunning mountain panorama reveals itself. It was in this delectable millisecond that we felt it. We’re not trying to suggest that most people love Majorca for the wrong reasons, but we are absolutely convinced that there is far more to discover on these 3600 square kilometres in the western Mediterranean than is commonly known. Majorca is out-of-the-way and complex, sublime and rugged, abundant and full of energy. The roads are among the best that asphalt has to offer; they are a festival of Soulful Driving. Do we really need to argue the case for Majorca? Do we really need to explain how great this island is? For that brief moment, there was no doubt in our minds – yes! Where else should Soulful Drivers want to be in moments like this, if not here?
Majorca? – yup, really, Majorca. I don’t particularly want to explain it, but I suppose I’ll have to. This island has a polarising effect. It has become a caricature of itself – unfairly so. Perspective one is a shocking image of the cheap-all-inclusive-sunshine mentality of the heaving throngs of tourists who flood the island every summer like a biblical plague of locusts, the alcohol-induced excesses of mass tourism, the gentrification of entire neighbourhoods and communities and the AirBnB sell-out of private property. Perspective two cloaks itself in sentimental finca-romanticism, applying a naïve emotional autopilot to extol the unsullied beauty of many parts of Majorca with the ingratiating pseudo-insider knowledge of a would-be local – very much with a sense of “it’s not as bad as all that”. Somewhere in between languish the expats who, presumably in a sangria-soaked haze, concluded that Mallorca could transform a precarious existence into a success story and, in a misjudgement of their own originality, go on to have their crushing failure documented for reality TV.
Is that Majorca? – definitely not. However, it’s important to note that something is going seriously wrong here – the tourism machine is overheating and the Majorcans are, quite rightly, increasingly defending themselves against the complete sell-out of their island. But the problem is that the real Majorca is very difficult to spot among all the stereotypes and has the public persona of a true schizophrenic. The problems are either the only topic of discussion or they are carefully and diligently masked out. Maybe there’s no other way when you choose external analysis as the defining perspective.
It may therefore be no bad thing – legitimate, even – to adopt none of these points of view but instead to distance oneself with a respectful backward step. For non-Majorcans, there is one overriding truth – Majorca does not belong to us. Nothing can change that – regardless of those warm-and-fuzzy vacation feelings, emotionally overcharged memories or the idea that, after umpteen summer holidays here, you somehow belong on the island. Majorca is a foreign land – just like anywhere else in the world – best explored with respect and fascination. Without sufficient distance, it’s easy to become short-sighted. So, let’s consider the facts from the CURVES cockpit: Majorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean. It’s around 100 kilometres east to west and 80 kilometres north to south, with a coastline of more than 550 kilometres. The weather is hot and sunny in the summer, mild and occasionally wet in wintertime. Geologically, Majorca and the other Balearic Islands (Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera and more than 140 other uninhabited islands) is on the Iberian Plate. Politically, the Balearics are an autonomous collective within the kingdom of Spain. The Mallorquin dialect spoken on Majorca is a form of Catalan. Having been settled in the Stone Age by peoples from Iberia and modern-day Provence, Majorca managed to remain beneath the radar of great European history for a long time. Notable episodes include a period as part of the Carthaginian Empire and a later switch to the Roman Empire. Influences stem from the Moors and Normans as well as its more recent affiliation with Spain. However, in true island fashion, the dominant culture is Mallorquin – let things come and go but remain firmly the same.
If you come to Majorca with open eyes, you will quickly spot this dry, self-assured character and learn to appreciate it – much like the island’s landscape, which is largely rugged and primordial. Spreading inland beyond Palma, S’Arenal and Magaluf is a region called Pla de Mallorca. Baking-hot in summer, these flatlands possess a rustic, agricultural character that is as open and honest as the calloused handshake of an almond farmer. The region of Es Raiguer lies to the northwest and forms the hilly transition to the Serra de Tramuntana with its peaks rising to an altitude of more than 1,000 metres. Wild and solitary, the west of Majorca seems untouched, able to shrug off the tourist influx, even during the summer months. The Llevant mountains in the east, on the other hand, are a little more welcoming to visitors, while tourists tend to turn a cold shoulder to the rural south-eastern region – too simple, not sufficiently spectacular.
For visitors wanting to explore the true essence of Majorca, a trip around and across the island gradually reveals a very particular impression – it’s quite easy to lose yourself here. Majorca is too diverse a place to grasp easily or to be boring. Majorca has weight – a natural, grounding gravitational energy based on primordial nature and a culture that has grown and developed over centuries. The thin layer of that parallel, artificial world of tourism evident in some places always seems as if it can be shaken off in a matter of moments – the towering hotel complexes and raucous party epicentres along with the slick business conducted by marketing experts. One giant balloon. One tiny needle. BANG. And Majorca will still be there.
In order to achieve this level of objectivity, it helps to travel – on foot across the Serra Tamuntana, around the island on a bicycle or in a car. Just set off and keep your eyes open. Don’t go searching for sensations but simply let life happen. It might be hard to believe, immunised as we are by shrieking last-minute tourist deals and crisis portraits, but Majorca is pretty good at one particular, timeless discipline – being. On the voyage of discovery in the silence of a self-assured landscape, what you come upon first is a natural landscape that is expansive and harsh, sensual and pure. People who like Mediterranean sparsity have come to the right place. An ancient cultural landscape then brings you to people who seem unsettled by nothing and who hide great interest and warmth beneath a layer of cautious reserve. And then there are the stories told by this land – epic, tragic and sometimes even funny. It all has very little to do with sun, sea, sand and easy living. Mostly, it’s about beauty. Let Majorca surprise you.