If you live on the Balearic Island of Mallorca, a far distance can be 20 minutes away. Perhaps it is the island mentality, but you don’t take the slow road in Mallorca if there is a faster way. The Ferrocarril De Sóller chugs along at the slowest of paces for a local, taking over an hour to go from Palma de Mallorca to the town of Sóller. Covering 27.3 kilometers, the route is frequented not by locals but tourists with time. They hop abroad not just for the train’s slow pace but to experience a part of history on the island.
I arrive at Placa de l’Estació in Plaza de España in Palma de Mallorca. I cross through the little station on my way to the one and only platform for the Ferrocarril De Sóller. Wooden cars greet me, resembling nothing like a regular old train. Transportation has taken a turn for the ugly, imploring more practical methods of construction and makeup than the train I board today.
This route remains something of a constant on the island. The old wooden line has linked Palma and Sóller since 1912. Back in those days, its sole purpose was not for the eye candy of tourists but to transport goods and merchandise over the Serra de Alfábia mountain range in northern Mallorca.
I step inside one of the wooden cars and seemingly cross into a different time. Little etchings of castles and island landscapes hang on the front of the car. The light fixtures don’t utilize fluorescent bulbs but a soft yellow light, best appreciated when going through one of the 13 tunnels along the route. The longest of those tunnels is appropriately deemed Tunnel Major. At 3.7 kilometers long, it took three years to carve out its passage back in 1907.
Suddenly the train slows to a crawl, and with good reason. We have reached Mirador Pujol de’ n Banya, a lookout point over the Sóller Valley. You can spot the Sóller cathedral and its little streets cascading through the valley. The mountains and orange trees step aside for the creamy, almost peach colors of Sóller.
After arriving in Sóller and exploring the town for a time, I head back on board to continue my journey down to the Port de Sóller. This route is a little bit different from the Palma-Sóller stretch. The old wooden railway represents the first electrical tram on the island. Opened in 1913, the route travels 4.9 kilometers until it blows you away with a dramatic look at the port.
Families, couples and individuals soak up the sun and perfectly colored water as I pass on by. I could almost dive in from the tram’s window, but I resist. While islanders would never take such a route, one that takes time and patience, I understand in some respects why. These scenes of turquoise waters, peachy town overlooks, orange groves perfuming the air and mountain scenery are all merely a part of everyday life in Mallorca. When you see such beauty every day, you don’t need a slow way of transport to point it out to you. The back and forth sounds of the wooden Ferrocarril De Sóller haunt me as I take a route less traveled by locals, forever engulfed in the magic of traveling by train in Mallorca a little differently.