Not A Pretty Sight

dany_cardona_reuters

A car bomb exploded yesterday at 13h40 in Palmanova (Calvià), Mallorca, claiming two fatalities and shattering the tourists’ holiday dreams. Two Guardia Civil officers on duty were killed in the monstruous attack, 27 year old Diego Salvá Lezaun, and Carlos Enrique Sáenz de Tejada García, age 28. A second car bomb was later found nearby but was detonated safely.

It is widely assumed that the Basque ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna = Basque Homeland and Freedom) organisation may be behind yesterday’s killings. The bombing in Palmanova was the second attack in Spain linked to ETA in less than 36 hours. Wednesday night, a car bomb exploded near Burgos in mainland Spain causing injuries to 65 victims. No lives were lost in Burgos, luckily.

Today, July 31st, marks the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Basque separatist group ETA. The Basque conflict started during the Franco years as a consequence of severe repression by the fascist regime such as the attacks on Durango and Gernika. The Basque homeland extends from the Northeast of Spain to the Southwest of France. The severity of the armed conflict in Spain can perhaps be compared with the troubles in Northern Ireland and the IRA.

The attack was the fifth ETA assault carried out in Mallorca since 1977, if indeed ETA was behind this latest attack. ETA normally has a habit of issuing warnings before any massive attacks but no such warning was received before yesterday’s bombing. Thankfully, the previous ETA terror strikes in Mallorca had not resulted in any loss of life. One of the previous ETA assaults in Mallorca had been an attempt to assassinate King Juan Carlos I. The Spanish royal family usually spends their summer vacations in Mallorca. The royals are expected on the island any day now.

sniffer_dog

The photos were borrowed from the Internet. Thanks are due to Dany Cardona/Reuters as well as to AFP. Muchas gracias.

Not A Pretty Sight

Out Of Business

tancat

This week, Mallorca is enjoying one of the busiest weeks of this year’s temporada alta (high season). The tourist season 2009 does not seem all that bad for Mallorca considering what might have been. The weather is hot, almost too hot with the recent heatwave with temperatures around 40° C, and sometimes even above. Many hotels are filled to near capacity in July and August or so one hears, at least in the main tourist areas.

So, all is well, or is it not?

Passenger figures at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca (PMI) are reported to be 9,057,375 for the period January – June, 2009, a shortfall of some 8 % when compared to the same period last year. Hotels offering an All Inclusive package have gained in popularity, but to the detriment of restaurants, bar owners and shopkeepers who complain that tourists stay in their hotels and do not spend money in tourist related establishments. Tourist numbers are down, and tourist spending is down, or so it would appear.

Many shopkeepers did not even make it to the season’s peak; quite a number of shops and bars closed down for good earlier in the year. La crisis, I suppose. It might have been worse, but it seems that the tourist season is pretty bad nevertheless.

Fingers crossed.

The photo was taken in Port de Sóller, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 9th, 2009. The time was 14:06:33.

Out Of Business

A Book Lover’s Treasure Trove

libros

El Bazar del Libro in Palma de Mallorca is a book lover’s treasure trove. It is one of Palma’s institutions and a bit of a legend really.

No matter what turns you on in literature, poetry or history, in maps, guide books, magazines, old calendars or prints, this antiquarian book shop next door to the Esglèsia de Santa Eulàlia, to the back of the Ajuntament de Palma, is bound to have what you are looking for, or something that comes very close to it.

The drawback is the infinite quantity of books and other printed items. It is really difficult to browse through all the stacks of goods that have accumulated over the last 40 or 50 years. There are only two ways out: you either know exactly what you want and ask the shop keeper for it. He will find it in an instant if he has what you are looking for. Or you just trust your luck and dip in here or there. You may find something that you haven’t looked for but which delights you nevertheless. Good luck.

But hurry. I’d be surprised if the business would be there for very much longer. After all, the shop is a bit of an anachronism, and with La Crisis, who knows?

bazar_del_libro

The photos were taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2009. The time was 11:42:22 and 11:42:12, respectively.

A Book Lover’s Treasure Trove

The Fray Junípero Serra Museum

museu-fra-juniper-serra

Petra is the birthplace of Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer, later known as Fray Junípero Serra. He joined the Franciscan order at age 16 and later became the monk who was sent by his church to Mexico in 1749, aged 36, and ultimately to California, as a missionary to spread the word of the Bible.

Junípero Serra never returned to his homeland but instead died in Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel in upper California in 1784, at the age of 70.

His hometown Petra is the seat of a museum in the missionary’s name and in his honour, the Casa-Museo Fra Juníper Serra. This year the museum celebrates its 50th anniversary. A visit is recommended to those who are interested in the history of Mallorca, or the history of the United States of America, or the history of missionary efforts by the Catholic church and all the implications relative to that. The museum visit is free of charge but a small donation would be expected. One can also visit a neighbouring house where Serra supposedly lived as a child, except that this building is currently closed for minor repair work.

The photo was taken in Petra, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 19th, 2009. The time was 14:19:44.

The Fray Junípero Serra Museum

Deregulation Of Mallorcan Electricity

electricity

In case you live on this island, you will have received a letter from your Mallorcan electricity supplier, either GESA or Endesa, a month or so ago. You were told that you now can freely choose who you want your electricity supplier to be, and a choice of six or eight companies was quoted. The deregulation of the Spanish electricity market came into effect on July 1st, 2009.

But, don’t get excited. All is not what it seems to be.

Electricity consumers in Spain and here in Mallorca will be able to choose their supplier from now on, when the company supplying the electricity and the company marketing it cease to be the same entity. It is hoped that the move will increase competition amongst electricity companies who will have to reduce prices and add incentives in order to attract customers. As from July 1st, the companies that currently own the electricity supply network will concentrate on expanding and maintaining this network, reading electricity meters and dealing with faults. Every customer, be it a private household or a business, will have the right to choose the electricity supplier, which will be the company that sells the electricity to the customer.

Customers with a power supply of less than 10 kw (as is normally the case in individual households) will be assigned to the Tarifa de Último Recurso (TUR) with a price fixed by the government. Customers with a power supply of more than 10 kw (some larger individual houses and most companies) can choose the most suitable offer from the various suppliers available. If they do not, their supply will remain unchanged, but they will be charged an additional 5 % per quarter until April 2010. If by then they haven’t chosen a new supplier, another provisional period will begin, lasting until November 2010, during which time they will be charged TUR plus 20 %.

What does it mean? In the case of you running an average household with a power supply below 10 kw, you will have to do nothing, and nothing will change. In fact you are not given any options. Only if you have an electricity supply above the average, you should look around and talk to the various companies given by GESA in their letter to you, or check on their website. Basically, it means if you have a swimming pool or an air conditioning unit, then you are likely to fall into the higher than average category; if not, you probably don’t. Whatever the situation, your electricity bill will go up once again, having gone up twice already during the past 12 months.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 7th, 2009. The time was 19:03:55.

Deregulation Of Mallorcan Electricity

Ca’n Marcel

can_marcel

Ca’n Marcel is a lavish townhouse in Palma’s old town with Gothic origins. During the 18th century, a French corsair from Marseille acquired the property and added first floor balconies to the front façade in breach of the prevailing building laws of the time, or so I’m told.

The house is arranged around a courtyard with Tuscan style columns and pilasters. Today, this patio is elaborately decorated with fountains, murals, plants and bird cages with feathered creatures aplenty. Since 1978, Ca’n Marcel opens at night as an expensive cocktail bar (Abaco), with hundreds of candles lit in the patio as well as inside. Apart from candles, birds, paintings and the most beautiful flower arrangements you will ever have seen outside the Chelsea Flower Show, you can spot some famous faces there, at a price well worth the money, at least once. The background music selection is exquisite and discerning as well.

abaco

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 16th, 2009. The time was 11:59:44. The photo (bottom) was taken from the Internet, courtesy of S Walker/Flickr. Thank you.

Ca’n Marcel

Fish Markets In Palma

fish_market

Here in Mallorca we are particularly privileged with an abundant supply of fish and seafood, and with it, the related markets and outlets for the freshest fish and of the widest choice possible.

There is the Llotja del Peix, at Es Moll de Pescadors, near the Real Club Nàutic de Palma, but you would have to get up early as trading here starts at 06h00. Then there are the three big municipal markets in Palma de Mallorca offering huge fish sections: Mercat Olivar, Mercat Pere Garau and Mercat Santa Catalina. There are also some smaller markets in Palma’s boroughs, and there are impressive fish sections in the hipermercats and department stores, such as Carrefour, El Corte Inglés, Mercadona and Eroski, to name but the most prominent ones.

I have noticed three main changes over the last twenty years in Mallorca, relative to fish: the provenance of fish is more and more of farmed origins, fish has become quite expensive now when it did not use to be, and finally, a good proportion of fish mongers in the markets have shut down, given up or are currently selling their stalls. It seems as if there has been a fish market crisis before La Crisis set in.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 3rd, 2009. The time was 14:59:10.

Fish Markets In Palma