Soller is situated in the plains of the valley, surrounded on three sides by the majesty of the Tramuntana mountain range. This encloses us and keeps us safe or insular – both interpretations are valid. It is very common for my neighbours to think they are planning a huge expedition if they venture through the tunnel to join the rest of Mallorca. The car gets packed up with the ‘just in case’ supplies and local friends wish them a good journey.
The outside world visits us every Saturday and the market is in full swing from 8 am in the centre of Soller. The market stalls start from the covered market hall and wind their way up side streets and alongside the main square. La Lluna’s shops lay tables in the street and the market theme is everywhere. Arrive in Soller by train on a Saturday morning and you will not miss the stalls selling jewellery, clothes, toys, sweets and local handicrafts. The stalls selling hams and sobrasada are very inviting and you can taste before you buy. The ‘must have’ straw baskets with leather handles are usually alongside the ham and no self respecting Solleric goes to the beach without their ‘market bought’ basket carrying towels and sun cream.
The market is a very important social occasion where business is done and meetings take place that oil the wheels of the community. It may look like kisses on both cheeks and a coffee but much more is going on under the surface. In fact I would go as far as to say that a local’s presence in the market on Saturday is a requisite of living here and entering into village life. Children are often to be found selling homemade cakes and orange juice to raise funds for local group activities and everyone has their little part to play in supporting the local economy. The community is often entertained by music groups or the town band and the stage is often set for a presentation and a speech. Saturday mornings in Soller are definitely worth a visit. The best place to get a ringside seat and soak up all the action is from Café Central or Café Paris. Sit awhile with a coffee and just watch, you will be surprised at what you see and absorb.
On Sundays the focus shifts to Santa Maria where a huge market takes place from early until about 2 pm. Soller’s market caters for the locals and tourists, Santa Maria is the market town of the north-west of the island and as such it encompasses the people and the produce of the area. You will find many Solleric who regard this market as the one they cannot miss each week. Everything is sold here including wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables from all the surrounding farms. Parking takes time but there are large car parks on the three sides of the town and walking to the market square is not far. There are a number of local cafes to sit and watch market ‘Santa Maria’ style happen.
A few minutes up the road from Santa Maria is the town of Consell which hosts the island’s largest flea market every Sunday. The goods here range from second hand clothes, toys and furniture to jewellery, antiques and a vast selection of items that would only mean something to the buyer! This market attracts many people each week and is worth adding on to your visit to Santa Maria. Enjoy the markets of the hidden valley – they are worth it for the ‘people watching’ alone.