Twenty five years have gone by since we last followed the orange blossom trail from Valldemossa through to Palma via Deia, Puerto de Soller and Soller, traversing the UNESCO protected Sierra de Tramuntana by bus, tram and train. Such a lot has changed, especially since Soller is no longer isolated, now that a tunnel replaces the windy mountain roads that were the main way in or out. The biggest change is the sheer number of tourists in Valldesmosa and Soller. When we last visited they were quiet towns where you could wander the streets and pick up an ensaimada to eat in a shady square. Not so now, you can hardly move for chi chi boutiques and open air cafes spilling out onto the street.
The hotel we stayed at in 1988 – the Esplendido in Puerto de Soller – has been upgraded to a very chic hotel well out of our price range!
Some things are the same though – the old San Francisco tram ride through the orange and lemon groves from the port to the town of Soller is as pleasingly simple as ever. It runs right through people’s back gardens and what you might call allotments if they were in the UK. The orange juice is as fresh and tasty as before, as is the almond cake.
The railway journey into Palma, travelling on a train dating from 1919, is a quirky trip through olive groves, mountain tunnels and the odd little town.
The view down into Soller was breathtaking.
Not sure I’d make this trip again in the summer months, but out of season, I’d love to!
In these days of one piece of hand luggage only, I found it quite a challenge to squeeze in everything I needed for a four day hop across the channel to Jersey on Easyjet. I thought I’d share what I packed.. Some are samples which are perfect for travel and others are firm favourites.
Clinique Super City Block 40 SPF. My daily summer moisturiser which I always take on holiday.
L’occitaine Ultra Gentle Moisturiser sample for bedtime
Molton Brown Replenishing Hand Cream sample
Rimmel Scandaleyes XTreme mascara full size
Barbara Daly full size solid foundation compact. Ideal for travel.
NO 7 lipstick in Bewitched. Goes with everything.
Maybelline Colour Tattoo gold eyeshadow. Nice and compact, can wear a little or a lot to suit the occasion.
Sanctuary Spa Smooth Body Lotion travel size
Liz Earle Naturally Active Cleanse and Polish travel size plus a flannel.
Max Factor Mastertouch undereye concealer full size
Philip Kingsley Elasticizer sample
Bourjois blusher full size. Has a handy little brush..
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. This is a handbag size hand treatment but I’ll use it for my poor sightseeing feet.
John Frieda shampoo and conditioner samples
For my wardrobe I picked a navy, blue and white colour theme to make it easy to mix and match. Evening outfits: pink and grey.
Navy cashmere sweater
Selection of blue, white and grey tops
Trainers for sightseeing
Blue down jacket from Uniqlo which squashes down to nothing
Two evening dresses, one from M&S, one from Monsoon
One pair black of Carvela heels which go with both dresses
Black skinny jeans for travelling and for the other two evenings
Black patent leather boots for travel and nights out
Black patent handbag which goes with everything
A pale pink Monsoon wrap which works with both dresses and for travel.
Everything fitted in one carry on bag and left room for some extra purchases of course!
‘I wonder if I’ll ever be able to fly long haul again, or go to a country where I’m not scared of having a heart attack and getting the wrong treatment. I want to be fit and healthy, but getting my heart right is such an uphill struggle. The right way forward is to live in the moment , do the things I want to do while I can still do them, and not plan to be some fabulous version of myself sometime in the future. I have to be the best I can be right now because now is all we really have’.
Little did I know that a few months later I would win a holiday to New York! Seven and a half hours away flying across the Atlantic. Panic mode set in! There was no way I was going to miss this prize but could I do it? Would I run away when we got to the gate? Would anything happen to me on the plane?
I needed to access my inner strength. The only way to deal with this was ‘head in the sand’ mode. I just could not think past the holiday. I was focused on getting myself to the airport and not planning any further than that! I didn’t think about anything I had to do when I got home because in the back of my mind I thought I may not make it! I know, drama queen!!
So we got to Manchester airport and I felt sick with worry. To distract myself I bought a couple of magazines and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I refused to envisage myself boarding the plane or being in flight. I just took it moment by moment.
And guess what? I’m still here! The flight was bumpy as hell, but I didn’t panic, I just buried my nose in my book and mags and focused on just being me.
The relief when we landed at Newark was quite something! It was like a light had been switched on and all of a sudden I was the old me again, itching to explore. We had a fabulous trip and I feel I’ve overcome a major hurdle in my recovery. I would definitely consider another long haul flight – so roll on Barbados next winter!!