Deia and Valdemossa

Tom Fenton and Faith Ressmeyer
Mon 9 Sep 2013 18:30
Although it was Sunday, we decided to visit Deia and Valdemossa. After all, this is still high season, as the Mallorcans remind us when they levy colossal harbour fees. Surely all the tourist attractions would be open? Not at all. Robert Graves's house: closed. The Paleaonotological Museum: closed. The Carthusian Monastery: closed from midday. Despite this, we enjoyed the trip. The bus winds up precipitous cliffs (If I had seen the road from the sea before taking this bus route, nothing would have persuaded me to do it.) and through terraces of ancient olives (though none that I saw with the 40m circumference recorded by George Sand). Deia's church stands at the summit of a conical hill surrounded on three sides by mountains and on the fourth by rocky slopes descending to the sea. The terraces around the church contain a memorial to Waldren, an American who discovered Myotragus balearicus (a small mouse-like goat, or sheep, that inhabited Mallorca between 5M and 5,000 years ago) and the cemetery, where Graves and Waldren are buried.

From an ancient communal wash house fed by a vigorous spring, the Fonte Fresca, you can walk down small cobbled lanes among stone houses built into the hillsides, and their orchards. We lunched at the Can Boi Mountain Refuge (a sort of Youth Hostel I think). I remained on their terrace drawing while Faith walked down to the port in the small cala below.

The bus took us on to Valdemossa, famous for its Carthusian Monastery, disentailed in 1835 just in time to accommodate George Sand and Frederick Chopin on a naughty escape in 1838. The Guide Books say her 'Winter in Mallorca' is no good. They are quite wrong. It is funny, wise, intelligent, and evocative.

The Monastery contains not only the baroque church and the Prior's rooms (not a bad life for a celibate pauper) and the Chopin/Sand apartments but also a museum that has some good paintings of Mallorcan scenes by local artists but also a rather desperate attempt to do a modernist thing to provide context for Miro, Picasso and the local boy, Julio Ramis. But the whole experience, which we came back for on Monday) was great. We returned to Sóller happy and fulfilled.