For many years we have gone on self guided walking holidays with Inntravel, an independent travel agent specialising in walking and cycling holidays. They are always happy to book our travel for us and we have tested then by asking them to find train routes, plus ferry when necessary, to Slovakia, Portugal and other far flung corners of Europe. So when we decided our next holiday would be walking in the mountains of Mallorca they took it in their stride.
One option was to take the Brittany ferry to northern Spain and travel south from there, but one of the joys of overland travel is the opportunity to see places along the way, so we decided to go by train through France. From Wiltshire we went to London, then it was the Eurostar to Paris and the TGV to Nimes in the south of France. An old university friend had been staying nearby so we met up for a leisurely dinner in a flower-filled courtyard, before going to our hotel.
It was a short three hour train ride from Nimes to Barcelona the next morning, and we had a few hours to explore the city and enjoy a dinner before boarding the overnight ferry to Palma. It’s a nine hour crossing so we booked a cabin, but you could save some money by taking the reclining seat option.
Many people holidaying in Mallorca flock to Palma and the nearby resort of Magaluf, but we headed to the mountains in the east for some peace and tranquility. Away from the tourist bustle we often found ourselves alone on the mountain tracks, and it being orange season, there were often glasses of fresh orange juice on sale along the way – a definite highlight. Sometimes the paths had views across the Mediterranean, and at other times we walked through nature reserves where, at one point, we were lucky enough to spot a pine marten. We stayed in small, quiet hilltop villages and enjoyed the local cuisine.
After seven days in Mallorca it was time to begin our three-day journey home. We returned to Barcelona on the daytime ferry, then after spending the night there took the train to Lille for our second overnight stop. Lille was not a city we knew but we enjoyed it immensely, eating out in pavement cafes and exploring the art galleries and Citadel. By chance we came across the Monument to the executed of Lille, a memorial to five civilians who were executed in 1915, which we found very moving. As Lille is so easy to visit by train from the UK, we resolved to return.
From there is was back to London on the Eurostar and onward to or home in Wiltshire.
I love travelling overland because you aren't suddenly whisked from one climate, landscape and culture to another, but can experience all the places (and cuisines) along the way. It is a great chance to chat to people and learn about them and their lives and it is very relaxing, with time to read or just gaze at the passing scenery, of which there is lots!