New season, new choices in the Soller Valley
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Tuesday 29th March 2016
The Soller Valley is buzzing with people arriving for an Easter break. The Hotels are spruced up and looking their best and the restaurants have fine new menus for this year. The overwhelming feeling is that the early start for the season is great news. Next year Easter doesn’t happen till the end of April so 2016 is being seen as a real bonus year for all.
The Soller Valley is a tourist destination from April to November by the definition of the administrative powers that be. The off season from December to March is considered a quiet time that residents reclaim the place for themselves with great pleasure. In the halls of the decision makers this theory has been put to the test on behalf of the only large supermarket that Soller possesses. Our supermarket opens seven days a week in the season and in the winter it goes back to residential status and is required to close on Sundays. This makes little sense to local people because the cyclists and walkers staying in the Valley year round make this, in their eyes, a year round destination worthy of a seven-day week supermarket.
The fight has been fought and won and this week it was announced that Soller has been defined a year round tourist area. The supermarket opened last Sunday with great pleasure and tells us that it will now be open 365 days a year.
Another battle is being fought in the Soller Valley about public transport. The bus services are very tricky to get right because of the number of walkers that get use the bus to get through the Soller tunnel and onto the first stage of their mountain walks. When the bus gets to the Bunyola road the passengers get off and the bus continues its journey to Palma half empty. Meanwhile the passengers left back in Soller who could not get on the bus, because it was full of walkers, are furiously phoning and emailing the bus company to complain. Local papers in Soller are conducting a survey from local people about what they want from a bus service and the results make very interesting reading. New rules, recently introduced have stopped passengers standing on the bus and this has reduced the numbers that can travel even further.
Soller has a beautiful tourist transport system in the Tram and the Train that is priced accordingly. Neither of these methods of transport can be considered a municipal locally priced service. The price per journey on the tram has just been increased to 6 euros per journey. There are reductions for residents who can prove the NIE status but even then a return journey on the tram is 4 euros per person. So with a bus that is often too crowded to use and a train and tram priced for tourists what is the answer? This is where the results of the consultation exercise are eagerly anticipated. There are local people who would love to organise local hoppa buses running non stop round the valley and a half hourly service to Palma. The ideas and funding for this has been available for a long time. The fight is with the Balearic transport authorities who either can’t or won’t give up their monopoly.
The Port of Soller received another accolade this week from the Guardian newspaper. The locations used by the Night Manager series on BBC 1 have proved very popular and viewers can’t get enough of the Port of Soller and Cala Deia amongst other Majorcan locations.
We were all very happy about the publicity until we started being described as being a ‘Colony of the Super Rich’. Whilst it is true that very fine yachts come to visit us in the summer with the A list on board we are a long way from recognising that description of the Port of Soller.
We are all very proud of a local Soller boy who has won his place in the Olympics. A civic reception was held at the weekend for Joan Lluis Pons, a swimmer who has been selected as one of the team representing Spain in Rio. The Mayor of Soller presented him with a plaque congratulating him of getting this far and assuring him that the Soller Valley are right behind him. This is all very exciting news and a great bonus for the swimming clubs at Son Angelats swimming club in Soller. The Olympic Games of 2016 will have such a special meaning for the Soller Valley.
So from super rich to super sportsman this area has got it all this week. The sun is shining, the visitors are here and every week there is a new story to tell. I have the best job in the world – see you next week.