On a small street, next to a rippling brook at the foot of the Tramuntana mountain, Johan and Erica Månsson welcome us into to their newly purchased apartment in Sóller, on Mallorcas West Coast.
– It is the first time we’re in here since we bought it. We’re just getting settled, Erica says.
The apartment is soon to be fully furnished. There are new towels hanging in the bathroom, an unused bathroom rug is placed on the floor and in the bedroom the bed has been made with brand new bed sheets.
– We bought most of the things in Ikea here in Mallorca. It was the easiest and most convenient way, Johan says.
Even the furniture on the balcony is completely new.
– We barely had time to use them, we just sat down to try them, Erica says with a smile.
In the living room there is a sofa bed to accommodate overnight friends and to make sure that there is always room for Johan and Erica’s daughter when she comes to visit. In the hallway there is a small bureau which they bought in a second hand store in Sóller.
– Then we probably don’t have room for more furniture, Johan says with a laugh.
The apartment is quite small, but it is exactly what they were looking for – a low maintenance apartment with no need for refurbishing.
– We wanted to be able to move in straight away, Johan says.
But even though the apartment is completely new, Erica and Johan are more than familiar with Sóller. This small village has had a special place in their hearts for many years.
– We’ve been here on and off for 20 years. We love this village, Erica says.
On the kitchen counter there is a bowl filled with oranges from Sóller and Erica serves freshly squeezed orange juice and croissants from the little bakery on the town square. Sóller is, among other things, known for its lovely oranges and lemons, and in almost every garden you will find the Mallorcan citrus trees. Beautiful with a sweet scent while in bloom, colourful and covered in fruit when it is time to harvest.
– A lot of people put baskets of fruit outside their garden for passing people to take. It is so nice, so welcoming, Erica says.
It was that welcoming feeling that made the couple fall in love with this little village in the mountain.
– Everything is so warm and personal, so old-fashioned in a very positive way, Johan says.
Johan and Erica loved Sóller from the start and they came here as often as they got the chance.
– We’ve been here a lot during the off season as well, even for long periods of time. We like to be here regardless of what time of the year, Johan says.
But despite their love for Sóller, they felt no desire to have a place of their own in Mallorca.
– We did not want to own anything, we did not want any kind of commitment, but to just come here and enjoy being here.
But things changed when Erica a few years ago was diagnosed with cancer. She, who has had several management positions through the years and spent a lot of her time working, felt that her priorities shifted.
– Suddenly you begin to think that maybe there will not be a “later”. It makes you think more about what you want to do with your time. And more time in Sóller was high up on my list, she says.
So the couple finally decided to buy a second home in their favourite village.
– It feels amazing that we have a base here now, a place with our things. A place where we can come at anytime, whenever we want to, and have everything we need.
Although there are many amazing places in Mallorca, there was no question about where to look for an apartment to buy. Johan and Erica only had eyes for Sóller.
– It’s up here, in the village, that they live the life we want to live, Johan says and Erica agrees.
– You get up in the morning and see the sun rise over the mountains, you go for a walk and buy freshly baked bread and on your way home you sit down for a coffee in the square. You see familiar faces every day and people you pass in the street greet you with a smile. It is an incredibly relaxing lifestyle.
But it is not only relaxation and vacation when Johan and Erica come to Sóller. This small apartment is also their little writer’s den. Alongside their jobs, the couple also write crime novels. Together they have written two detective stories about inspector Lucia Gomez, in the small mountain village of Santa Maria, on the fictional Mediterranean island Albali.
– We get a lot of the inspiration from Sóller, for both environments and characters, Erica says.
Their first book, or the idea for it, was born during a storm on a vacation trip to Gran Canaria.
– We were stranded at a restaurant during a hurricane and we began to write a story – just for fun, Erica says.
While the storm raged outside, characters emerged, environments took shape and a conflict where starting to boil.
– We even drew a map of our small fictional village, she says.
What started out as a fun way of killing time at that restaurant, eventually resulted in a finished book. “The death of a snow bird” (Original title: En snöfågels död) was released in 2008 and the independent follow up, “Migratory birds” (Original title: Flyttfåglar), was released late last year.
– And we have already started thinking about the next book, Johan says.
Then what could be better than having your own little creative workshop, located in a beautiful village that gets your inspiration flowing?
– We will be spending a lot of time here from now on, Erica says. We even started dreaming about moving here in the future.
Text: Maria Strömqvist
Photo: Ida Carlsson