Silent Equilibrium

Rolf Schaffner is a German artist and sculptor (1927-2008) who came to Mallora in 1962 where he made his home in Santanyí. He died in Palma de Mallorca three years ago, on March 23rd, 2008.

A number of large-scale works, mostly made of local sandstone, grace Mallorca’s south-eastern landscape. The most impressive one to my mind is a 6 m tall stele called Equilibrio (South) made of nine large, uneven blocks of Piedra de Santanyí, weighing in at a total of 10 tons. The sculpture forms part of a five-part series located by the artist in Santanyí (Mallorca, Spain, 1995), Cologne (Germany, 1997), Trondheim (Norway, 2000), Volgograd, the former Stalingrad (Russia, 2005) and Cork (Ireland, 2009), forming between them an imaginary axis cross or Meridians of Peace, as the artist has us know, spanning the European continent.

Should you want to visit the Mallorcan Equilibrio site, you will find the massive and seemingly precarious stone stele in Cala Santanyí near the Foradada of Es Pontàs. If Santanyí is a bit out of your way, there are two large-scale sculptures from this artist’s hand in Palma, one in the Jardín de Sa Quarentena next to Paseo Marítimo, and the other one in Vía Asima in the Polígono de Son Castelló.

The photo was taken near Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 25th, 2010. The time was 12:58:59.

Silent Equilibrium

BiciPalma

The cycling lobby in Palma de Mallorca is well pleased. For a start, an extended net of cycling lanes was implemented over the last few years, culminating in a good stretch of the Avenidas being freed up for cycling lanes some 18 months ago. A total of 45 km of cycling lanes are now available in Palma’s metropolitan area and it all amounts to a successful bit of environment friendly city management, much to the delight of bicycle wielding citizens (see map below).

Now there’s even more good news: BiciPalma is here. The bicycle sharing municipal initiative was successfully tested in metropolitan areas such as Barcelona, Bilbao and Sevilla. Now it is Palma’s turn, albeit for the moment on a trial basis. Some 28 pick-up and return stations are distributed all over Palma (see Google map, below). At the moment, 336 brand new bicycles are available for rent for up to 2 hours per day, with a recommended rental period of 30 minutes at any given moment. One needs to be a resident of Palma over 16 years of age and possess a Tarjeta Ciudadana (Resident’s chip card), pay a onetime registration fee of 5 € and off one goes. Those aged under 18 will need parental authorization. Interested citizens had to put down their name and only the first 5,000 applicants are being considered for now. A total of 4,500 subscriptions have already been taken up and the remaining 500 places should be filled any time soon. If you missed the boat, you’ll have to join the waiting list. The service is for free for the time being but, in the long run a small hire charge will be levied, such as 0.50 € per each half hour. More than the 336 bicycles under the scheme at the moment should become available in the long run, if and when the initial phase proves successful.

The BiciPalma service will be available all year round, including Sundays and holidays. Bicycles can be rented Mondays to Thursdays, as well as Sundays and on public holidays, from 07h00 to 22h00, and Fridays and Saturdays from 07h00 to 24h00. After those times, bicycles can only be returned, but not taken out.

Residents of Mallorcan pueblos such as Algaida, Andratx, Banyalbufar, Binissalem, Calvià, Campos, Consell, Deià, Escorca, Esporles, Felanitx, Inca, Manacor, Mancor de la Vall, Marratxí, Puigpunyent, Sencelles, Sant Joan, Santa Eugènia, Sineu and Valldemossa can apply for the Tarjeta Ciudadana as well but, have to direct their application at their own home town Ajuntament. Bad luck if you hail from Alcúdia, Pollença, Santanyí or Sóller. You’ll have to blame your town hall for not signing up to the scheme.

More details can be found on the BiciPalma home page (Catalan and Castellano only).

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 28th, 2011. The time was 17:04:41. The map (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of palmademallorca.es. The map (bottom) comes courtesy of BiciPalma and Google.

Muchas gracias, moltes gràcies and thank you very much.

BiciPalma

Revisiting Santa Catalina

Last night, I had the dubious privilege of attending a Junta Comunitaria (assembly of the community of owners) in Palma’s Santa Catalina district. No, I do not own any property in Santa Catalina, nor anywhere else in Palma, thank you for the asking. But, the meeting gave me a good enough excuse to have another stroll down memory lane.

A year ago I commented on the barrio of Santa Catalina, saying that this used to be an area of fishermen and flour mills but, lately had acquired a bohemian and alternative feel to it, with its picturesque streets being lined with restaurants and bars popular with Spanish and foreign yuppies. Well, twelve months on one cannot overlook the fact that this old suburb of Palma and perhaps the whole of the Balearic capital city is changing beyond recognition. Carrer Fàbrica has been converted into a lifeless pedestrian area, the century-old Mar i Terra theatre has undergone a long and costly restoration without offering as much as a scheduled programming of any sort, armies of traffic wardens dish out parking tickets by the dozen and new restaurants and shops everywhere in Santa Catalina aim to dispel the myth of La Crisis having taken hold of Palma and, indeed, of Mallorca as a whole, never mind of Spain. The district’s inhabitants of old are subtly or, as the case may be, rather arrogantly being elbowed out of their life-long residences. Mammon rules with a vengeance.

Believe me that not all of it is a pretty sight, attractive as it may appear on the surface.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 28th, 2011. The time was 18:55:32.

Revisiting Santa Catalina

Springtime With Plum Blossoms

We were blessed with an early Springtime day yesterday, here in Mallorca. The sun was out all afternoon reaching 18° C in Llucmajor and even 21° C in Sa Pobla, I am told. Fruit trees are beginning to blossom now as is this prune tree, a cherry plum of the Prunus cerasifera kind, Pisardi variety (Ciruelo de Pissard). One can find plum trees with pink flowers or those with white to rose-coloured flowers. When ripe, the fruit is red, yellow or of a reddish-yellowish shade and will be ready for eating from late May to mid-June. Yumms.

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 26th, 2011. The time was 14:56:27.

Springtime With Plum Blossoms

The Sala de les Cariàtides

The Parlament de les Illes Balears will hold its last session of the current legislature tomorrow, March 28th. After that, the Balearic parliament with be adjourned due to the upcoming regional elections being held on May 22nd, 2011.

Parliamentary sessions are usually open to the public, subject to prior registration. Seats are limited, however. During the Summer recess, guided visits will be on offer, most likely in May when the anniversary of the Balearic constitution will be celebrated.

The parliament is housed in what used to be the Círculo Mallorquín building, a club for the upper-class social circles of Mallorcan society during the 19th and early 20th century. When the Illes Balears gained autonomous status in 1983, the building was acquired to house the new autonomous parliament. The erstwhile Salón de bailes y conciertos (ballroom) of the old Círculo Mallorquín is now the plenary assembly hall, a beautiful space which was originally designed by Mallorcan artist, Ricardo Anckermann Riera. The room also used to be called Sala de les Cariàtides in reference to the exquisite marble statues shown in my photo.

I would suggest you visit the splendid building if ever you have the opportunity.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 23rd, 2008. The time was 14:58:08.

The Sala de les Cariàtides

The Canaleta del Verger

An excursion from Sóller through Biniaraix into the Barranc de Biniaraix will offer you a plentitude of pleasures. The scenery is probably one of the most impressive on the island. The canyon-type gorge was formed by geological forces which formed the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range millions of years ago, leaving an indelible and pleasant mixture of cliffs, banks, terraces, mountain peaks and water torrents. Then there are the man-made dry-stone walls and the impressive Ruta de Pedra en sec, the old stone paths of the Serra de Tramuntana which form part of the GR 221 hiking route. The woods are a mix of olive, pine, oak and box trees in combination with ferns, plus a wealth of herbs and wildflowers.

The thing that impressed me most, apart from the occasional waterfall, was a narrow canaleta bringing water down to Sóller from es Verger. Water is so precious on the island that over hundreds of years, man had to be inventive and ingenious to channel and store the scarce resources. I believe that the water channeling system in Mallorca was first installed by the Moorish population in about 1100 AD. The Canaleta del Verger is of a more recent construction but probably goes back a long way in its original form.

The photo was taken near Sóller, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 19th, 2011. The time was 15:34:51.

The Canaleta del Verger

The Museum Of Smells

The other day, I was conversing with a local person about how much things have changed in Mallorca over the last twenty or thirty years since I first came to the island. The illa is barely recognisable when compared to the Eighties. The landscape has changed, the attitudes have changed and the general feel has changed. Most of all, though, I thought that the sounds of Mallorca have changed, and the smells. We have photographs and postcards to remind us of what Mallorca looked like a generation ago but, sadly, there is no way to preserve sounds or smells.

Or is there? Alan Lomax, an American musician travelled round the Balearic islands and other Spanish provinces during the Fifties recording local traditional music. I believe a book/catalogue is available of his prolific endeavour from Sa Nostra, including a CD with sound recordings. Wouldn’t it be great to have the sounds of a place digitally catalogued for posterity, and perhaps even have a museum of smells before they, too, become extinct.

By a long way of imagination, the Museo Etnológico in Muro might be such a place. You can’t actually hear any sounds there – the place is almost eerily noiseless – and you certainly can’t smell anything there. But the place is full of things and tools, bottles and equipment which suggest and represent sound and smells. The museum exhibits baking and cooking equipment, a coffee roasting machine, farming, harvesting and threshing equipment, apothecary-type bottles and jars as well as other items galore that hold but don’t impart the smells of bygone times. Quite a fascinating place, bringing back a lot of memories, if that is what speaks to you.

The Museo Etnológico de Muro is part of the Museo de Mallorca in Palma, a museum under the hospices of the Ministerio de Cultura in Madrid. The Muro museum is open daily from 10h00 to 15h00 as well as Thursdays from 17h00 to 20h00. Admission is free. One is not allowed to take photographs (ahem). The Museo de Mallorca in Palma is undergoing a complete overhaul and rebuild and, sadly, will be closed for the foreseeable future.

The photo was taken in Muro, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 10th, 2011. The time was 12:40:12.

The Museum Of Smells