Pollença is a former Roman settlement. You can still find the Roman bridge there (photo taken here at night). It has about 17.000 inhabitants and the GR 221 starts (or ends here). It’s not that far away from Palma de Mallorca so you can just take a bus to get there. Pollença is mainly known because of its Calvari, a hill with 365 steps, with cypresses on both side as well as crosses, symbolising the Stations of the Cross. At the top of this climb lies the church of Virgen de los Ángeles. If you get there earlier, it is worth the trip. But the first day of actual walking is the stage towards Lluc. The path climbs quite steadily, from 50 metres to about 700 metres. After that you’ll descend a bit towards the refugi.
Pollença – Font de Muntanya
The start of this stage is more or less a necessary evil. You walk past a stretch of the road. Luckily, after a kilometre you head to the left, where you find a small path that follows the river. This part isn’t that well kept, but it’s definitely a curiosity as the GR 221 is well maintained overall. After climbing a less than sturdy ladder, you walk past a bit of the En Marc Valley, with a lot of green, fertile soil, mainly used to plant and cultivate the characteristic olive trees.
From there on you follow the Camí Vell, the medieval route between Pollença and the sanctuary of Lluc. From here on out the road definitely starts to climb. The path is well maintained and bends towards the coll. That way you do ascend quite a lot, but most of the time it isn’t too steep. You can also find shelter in the shadows of the trees if you need some rest or a breather. The GR continues its climb, this time following a dry river bed, until you arrive at the font (source) of Muntanya, where a big, round stone is the perfect table for a lunch.
Font de Muntanya – Binifaldó
The road keeps on climbing and after a while you can see the Puig (Mallorcan for hill or mountain) Gros de Ternelles and the Puig Tomir. After a while you can also see the Puig Caragoler. You won’t climb any of these summits on the GR though, although you can, if you want to, take a side excursion to the Puig Tomir (1103 m/3618 ft). Binifaldó can be found at about 600 metres above sea level. Today you can visit the educational centre of the Serra de Tramuntana. At that point you’ve done most of the climbing, though it’s not yet the highest point of this stage.
Binifaldó – Refugi de Son Amur
From here it’s about an hour and half to the Refugi de Son Amer, the unofficial ending of this stage. We get the company of some rather enthusiastic sheep for a while. The path meanders again through woodlands, passing two colls. The first one is Coll de Pedregaret (you’ll be able to reach Puig Tomir this way) and Coll Pelat, the highest point of today. There are a lot of trees though, so there aren’t many vistas to find here. Luckily the road itself is quite a treat.
The last bit is mainly going down. We also see the first terraces of our trip. No, not the ones where you can get some orange juice (we’ll save that for later), but the ones that were used and are still used to cultivate the hills and mountains of the Tramuntana area. It’s not only practical, but also has aesthatic qualities.
One last rather steep descend and we finally arrive at the Son Amer Refugi. The Refugi’s are your go to accommodation along the GR 221. You’ll get the absolute basic provisions, but after a day of walking, that’s all you need. The only problem we had was the lack of warm water due to technical problems. But that’s not that much of a big deal either. And the need to shower was probably big enough to compensate for the temperature.
This first day of walking was relatively easy, so there was room (and enough energy) left for a visit to the sanctuary of Lluc. The Santuari de Lluc is a monestary dating from the 13th century. It is said a Moorish shepherd found a Virgin Mary statue here. Today it is still an important religious site and a place for pilgrims, although you can also find a hostel, a school and quite some tourist accomodations here. It’s a nice place to visit but it’s not that memorable.
Like I said above, the Refugi de Son Amer is a good place to spend the night. The bunk beds are comfortable enough and there’s a large room to eat. The staff was friendly enough. The other guests were mainly German, who seem to have the strange habit of taking off their clothes in public. (Save there underwear) Peculiar.
Our companions are vegetarions so we also took the vegetarian menu. Apparently something went wrong with the order so they prepared a salad with tomato and ognions, drowning in oil and a hastily cooked omelette.
– Both Pollença and Lluc are places with an important religious connotation. The Calvari obviously plays an important part in the festivities of the Holy Week.
– Mallorca has been under the control of the Arabs for quite a long periode. You may not notice it through buildings or art, but the influence is noticable when you have a look at placenames. Binifaldó originates from Binihaldon, or sons of Haldum. The state claimed the propery in the nineteenth century. Before that it was in possession of the sanctuary of Lluc. The minister of finance, responsible for taking the property, was excommunicated because of it.
– A good travel guide will mention which sources are safe and which aren’t. The font de Muntanya is all good, so you can fill your bottle of water there.