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Posts tagged ‘Mountains’

Discovering Mallorca: The sleepy wonders of little Biniaraix

They say that the best things in life come in small packages, and this adage could not be better evidenced than in the form of the tiny village of Biniaraix in Mallorca. Nestled amongst the ripples and folds of the Tramuntana mountains, a few kilometres North East of the magnificent town of Soller, Biniaraix is urban living on a miniature scale dominated by the gigantic mountain landscape and extensive citrus groves that surround it.

With only some 150 residents, and roads between the town and Soller which make it difficult for even one car to squeeze through, let alone two side by side, Biniaraix maintains a feel of a village constructed for the horse and cart age. With one main street and various beautiful off-shoots, a single white-peaked church at its centre and a token cluster of cafes and shops straight out of another era, the village is the epitome of cosy.

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But Biniaraix also marks the start of the Barranc de Biniaraix, one of the most emblematic dry-stone walks climbing through the Tramuntana mountain range right to the Monastery in Lluc, a walk which is probably one of the most beautiful in all the world, but which we were only able to do the first 10 minutes of before giving up and heading to the Port of Soller for dinner. Still, we were able to get great photos of the village from afar, and even more colour-filled wonders when back in the village.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Discovering Mallorca: Formentor and its beach

If the word “spectacular” was to be given a pictorial definition, a photo of Formentor, the North Eastern most tip of Mallorca, would be it. Having heard much of the beauty of this narrow strip of mountainous rocky land, it was only a matter of time before I braved the multiple-meandering roads to get there, and a visit by my parents provided the excuse. So firmly belted into my hire car, the four of us (earnest partner included) braced ourselves for a twisting, turning adventure rife with hair pin bends and steep sloping plummets and headed to the Cap de Formentor.

The day that followed provided so many visions of beauty that we became sick of finding new superlatives with which to describe it. The first stop, the Mirador del Mal Pas, scaled to vast heights along a snaking stone staircase up to the top of a mountainous outcrop from where the views not only stunned, but scared in equal measure – the vertical plummet straight down to the cliffs and the thrashing sea hundreds of metres below is not for the faint hearted. 

Views from the Mirador del Mal Pas

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Beyond the mountains, the road led us to the beach of Formentor, a cala whose beauty could not be easily surpassed by the Caribbean, let alone other beaches in the Mediterranean. On this little strip of paradise, with the dappled light of shady pine trees on one side, and the most astonishing cerulean blue waters on the other, we laid back on the indulgent loungers of the nearby Barcelo Hotel, and celebrated Spanish Dia de la Madre in style.

Cala de Formentor

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Our final stop was onwards, to the very end of Formentor – the Cap de Formentor – where a 19th century lighthouse stands proudly atop a remarkably engineered snaking road which lies, like an abandoned silk ribbon, across the sloping mountain scenery.

Cap de Formentor

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Somehow, with legs shaking a little and our nails bitten down to their roots, we arrived back in Palma de Mallorca in one piece, the car unscratched, but our minds permanently etched with the visions of stunning beauty the day had provided.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

A weekend in Fornalutx (Part 1): Cobbled streets and Mountainous marvels

Driving around the island of Mallorca is like entering a sweet shop at Christmas time. The island offers such an intense panoply of dazzling spectacles that you almost don’t know where to begin with taking it all in. But as my intense enjoyment of the island continues, so too do my attempts to capture it on this blog, and after a weekend based in the faultlessly beautiful mountain town of Fornalutx in the middle of the Tramuntana mountauns, I have plenty to share.

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Fornalutx is a tiny paradise set amidst the very stunning best of the Tramuntana mountain range. Only around 20 minutes from the popular town and port of Soller, it is nonetheless far less frequented by the tourist masses giving the town an altogether more authentic air. Unspoilt therefore by the ravages which tourism so often bring, and lacking the spoil of souvenir shops and mass-production coach-party restaurants, Fornalutx is like a throwback to another time – a simple little village whose every twist and turn is made beautiful thanks to the most stunning mountainous backdrop you can imagine. And that backdrop is certainly not to be ignored – with the Puig Major, Mallorca’s highest mountain, amongst those vast forms casting their wide shadow over the town, this is scenery at its most dramatic.

The dramatic scenery of Fornalutx

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In this first photographic post, I concentrate on the little town itself: a town built in local stone which slots perfectly into a wide fertile mountain valley full of the most fragrant of citrus trees. The town is like a city in miniature, with a little local shop on a small bustling square, a handful of local cafes frequented by townsfolk and tourists, a tiny cemetery overlooking the stunning local scenery, and a series of twisting sloping streets broken by steep stone staircases and punctuated by colourful pot plants.

The charming streets of Fornalutx

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In tomorrow’s post, I’ll be focusing on two aspects of Fornalutx which deserve far more attention – its beautiful local cemetery and the citrus trees which characterise this beautiful town. Until then.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Discovering Mallorca: The divine delights of Deia’s mountainous heights

I count myself as really quite lucky to have seen some spectacular places in my short life. True, I have rarely ventured beyond Europe, but within its boarders, I have enjoyed incredible sights such as the stunning craggy cliffs of Capri, the wonderfully intact historical citadel of Dubrovnik, the romantic watery paradise of Venice, and the city of light, Paris. But none of the aforementioned or indeed so many of the other places I have been wowed by in life have ever taken my breath away quite as much as the tiny village of Deia on Mallorca’s north western coast.

Set within the craggy heights of the UNESCO protected Tramuntana mountain range, and in the shadow of the island’s second talest mountain, the mighty Teix, Deia is a village which enjoys a unique location, clinging to a rounded hill within a vast mountainous cluster which in itself is only metres from a plunge down to a crystal clear turquoise coastline. Famous for being the village to host many an artist, famous celebrity (Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Branson amongst them) and world-renowned writers (Robert Graves being the one to really place Deia on the map), there can be no guessing why this tiny settlement has attracted so many prominent and creative people over the years. Its scenery is other-wordly, as the village nestles amongst mountains so high that clouds collect along their slopes as though hiding the way to a real Mount Olympus – home to the gods. Meanwhile, on those fertile terraced slopes, an abundance of greenery including a vast bounty of citrus trees fills the air with such floral freshness that even breathing becomes a pleasure.

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I could go on about Deia forever, and I am certainly keen to apply this magical place to canvas. But for now I shall leave you with a few photos of the village – pictures which, to my mind, fail to do the mystical wonder of this place justice, but which at least give you an idea of just how idyllic an old village in Mallorca can get. I give you Deia: paradise sitting on the slopes of an almost authentic Mount Olympus.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Rural idyll in Mountainous Mallorca

It is sometimes difficult to remember, when passing most of one’s time in the bustling city centre of Palma de Mallorca, that mere miles outside of the city lies some of the most stunning natural scenery in all of the Mediterranean. From wide planes peppered with ancient windmills and sprawling olive and citrus groves, to incredibly vast vertiginous mountain scenery, Mallorca is an island rich in stunning vistas and bucolic idylls, and when I got myself a set of wheels last week, I enjoyed my first samplings of the island at its very best.

The car took us deep within the vast Serra de Tramuntana, a stretch of mountains which forms the backbone of the island sprawling from South West to North East, and which was awarded UNESCO world heritage status in 2011. Reaching the village from Palma involves an easy motorway drive East to Alaró from where the road turns inwards into the heart of the mountains.

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While the meandering mountainside road can be a little nail-biting at times, the accompanying views and sensationally untouched countryside are amongst the most stunning I have ever seen. Beneath towering mountains, terraced planes filled with olive trees and red stony terrain play host to mountain-hardy sheep and goats who totter around with iconic bells hanging around their necks. The result is a soporific melody of soft bells jangling in the still mountain air, a soundtrack which mesmerises me into an other-worldly state of epiphany. 

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Meanwhile through the delicate olive branches, soft warming sun rays bounce and scatter light across a crumbling dry soil, and all around insects stir against their beds of rustic tree bark and rocky-bound plant life. The landscape is almost biblical in its magnificence, and of course it lends itself to photography like none other.

So let me leave you to enjoy the fruits of my first visit inland. I can assure you now that there will be many more new mountain adventures to come.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Positano & beyond | Photos Part 4 – Mountain Passage

The thing about the wildly romantic mountainous geography of the Amalfi coast is that its pure altitude and geological breadth gives rise to equally dramatic weather conditions. And so in the short time that we were on the coast, we not only enjoyed days of glorious sun and blue skies, but also intense humidity, evening temperatures in the 30s, thunderstorms which came as barely a relief, and some mornings when clouds were literally tumbling over the mountains which loom large over the town. These days, while not as dazzling as the sunny ones, were still gloriously warm, but not so uncomfortable as when sun is beating down upon your shoulders, and so they made for the perfect weather conditions to hike up the steep stairs and slopes of which Positano is comprised, and explore the town.

On one such day, instead of turning right out of our hotel and down into the valley and onto the beach of Positano as we usually did, we headed up a very small little set of stairs opposite our hotel to try and establish where they led to. Unbeknownst to us, those stairs led up and up and up, almost to an endless infinity of altitude, until we reached an until then undiscovered upper road snaking around the town. This road not only led us along the quaintest of little shops, garden stores, and one of the most charismatic coffee bars we visited on our whole trip (where the coffee was by far the best – the most authentic flavour of Italy), but it also afforded us some of the most stunning views across the mountainous valley, stretching all the way down to the town below.

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One gets the feeling that much of the glitz and glamour of Positano’s boutique lined streets is put on for the tourists, and as lovely and extravagant as the experience of walking in amongst them is, the little mini town, higher up in the mountains, felt truly, authentically Italian. Old locals sitting outside doorways gossiping; others meeting in a bar clad with old adverts for coffee; garden shops and groceries overflowing with the most mouthwateringly fresh produce and stunning floral displays; and old fiats and scooters parked haphazardly in the streets in a way that looks as though they had been set up for a vintage movie shoot.

That wonderful walk, and all of the sights it delivered are the subject of this fourth photo display from my trip to the Amalfi coast. I hope you enjoy them.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com