Friday, 9 September 2016

Majorca in September




When the directions for finding our villa ran to three pages, a wariness took hold. I've been on many a trip that's started out so well – flying along a motorway, watching the klicks add up, making great time – only to lose it all and plenty more crawling along dark country lanes at night, trying to find the 'tall cypress tree just before the bins, then turn into the small lane on your right...'

I needn't have worried. Our destination, in the north-east of the island, in beautiful countryside between Pollença and Port de Pollença, was exactly where described. We arrived in 55 minutes with no kerfuffle of lostness and there it was: the wrought-iron gates, the wooden sign to the side, Finca Cuxach, and the key where we'd been told it would be.

Finca means farmhouse and Cuxach retains all of its rustic, traditional charm – bare stone walls, whitewashed inside, which are an arm's length deep; beautiful sandstone blocks for windowsills and doorways; tiles underfoot; ceiling beams and a terracotta roof; along with pretty still-life arrangements on mantelpieces and table tops – think earthenware bottles of varying sizes, a row of ladles along a wall, a mounted blue-flowered bowl and plenty of scatter cushions.

There are three bedrooms – one double upstairs with its own en suite bathroom – two down (one double, one with twin beds), along with a second bathroom all off on one side of the central entry hall/sitting room. To the opposite side is a large room with kitchen, dining and living space, so that, from the outside, the house looks entirely symmetrical.

Along with all the rusticity is fast wifi, satellite TV, CD player, microwave, dishwasher and all the usual kitchen gadgets and appliances, plus more than enough airport-bought paperbacks to keep you going for years if you forgot to bring anything to read. Outside is an enormous, shaded terrace with two eating areas, so you can mix it up or choose whichever is getting the darkest shade.

I've saved the best for last: a crystal clear, delightfully clean and sparkling-in-the-sunlight pool. It's the sort of amenity that has you saying, wherever else you may visit, "Shall we just go back to the villa?" when presented with possible ways of spending the rest of your day. Because it's quiet, peaceful, private. I literally had a moment when I felt the stress leave my body, lying on a lounger, listening to the nearby cockerell crow and realising there was nothing to do but just be.

Cuxach isn't in the middle of nowhere, but in an area of both working farms and high-end villas, some restored fincas, like ours, others more-recently built, but clearly with a lot of money. We couldn't see our neighbours, though we knew they were there, which is fine.

You might be thinking that, as we came in September, it would be cooler and this is the case at night, when you wake up searching for the sheet, but daytime temps were hovering around 30-31°C (that's upper 80s for you fahrenheiters), which is hot enough. We made it out of our domain every day and these were the highlights I'd recommend:

1. Formentor Lighthouse. Yes, everyone does it, but there's a reason for that. The winding road takes you past astonishing vertical drops and views that make you reach for your camera.

2. Port de Pollença. For the waterfront promenade, for the ice-cream kiosk at the Yacht Club Roundabout, for the people watching from a harbourfront café and probably for dinner one night. It's also the place to pick up one of the many boat excursions. We went on a half-day trip with the Maria Isabel, which promises no more than 12 guests and is a beauty of an authentic Majorcan sailboat.

3. Pollença itself. Probably the most beautiful of the Old Towns, with lovely squares, an astonishing church – it looks deceptively plain from outside, inside it's more heavily painted and ornate than Westminster Abbey – little one-off shops and plenty of dinner possibilities.

4. Alcudía, which made me think of a mini-Avignon with its castle-ly fortifications. The street market, which we found on a Tuesday, was a jolly affair and there was plenty of delicious fresh produce which is bound to tempt.

5. Palma, under an hour away – we did it in 50 minutes without breaking any speed limits – is definitely worth a day trip. Take a walk past the marina to gawk at the super-yachts, wander the Old Town streets, visit the Cathedral if you must, then collapse at a pavement café.

The best reason to go in September though, is that the summer crush has gone home to school timetables and jobs, and while there are visitors here all year round, it's simply that bit emptier and quieter, but totally still feels like summer.

Our villa came through TravelOpo. It sleeps six and prices start from £850 pw.

Oh, one last thing you might want to do here: look at the stars...

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