The Taming of Young Bulls

The Plaça de Toros d’Alcúdia is more often a venue for concerts by Lou Reed or Anegats, or other public renditions, than an arena for bullfights. Twice a year, however, six young bulls are brought to the Colosseu in Alcúdia for a bloody showdown. One such Corrida (bullfight) happened a week ago, last Sunday, on the occasion of the Festes de Sant Jaume. The Alcúdia bullring is situated in what used to be part of the Mediaeval fortifications, the so-called Bastió de Sant Ferran.

Bullfights in Mallorca seem to be on their way out. Not so long ago, there used to be half a dozen occasions when corridas were held at the Plaza de Toros in Palma but, now it’s down to one day a year or two. The same is true in Muro and the same, again in Inca. Felanitx for the last fifty years only ever had one day of bullfights per year, but this year will be the third year running without a Corrida or Novillada due to the deplorable state of the arena site and the implied repercussions for the safety of the spectators. A Novillada is a bullfight with youngish bulls, those younger than three years of age, as often used to be the case here in Mallorca.

There were a few dozen protesters outside of the bullring in Alcúdia last week trying to picket the spectators away from the cruel fight. I venture to say that there won’t be more than two days of bullfights per year in all of Mallorca, within the next ten years and, perhaps none whatsoever shortly after that. Bullfights are banned in Catalunya from 2012 already. Soon, you will have to go to Andalucía, Pamplona or Madrid to watch a decent Novillada, or even Mexico or Chile soon after that.

The next bullfight event in Alcúdia will be held in two weeks time on August 15th at the occasion of the Festes de La Mare de Déu d’Agost. If toros take your fancy, book your seats soon, Sol or Sombra.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Miguel Garau.

Muchas gracias.

The Taming of Young Bulls

Overbooking and Other Tweaks in Tourism

It would appear as though the face of tourism in Mallorca is changing. Tourist numbers are up this year by some 7 % over last year and in the month of June 2011, by some 12 % over the same month of the previous year. This may be partly due to the unrest in North Africa, Tunisia, Egypt and so forth. During the month of June 2011 the Son Sant Joan Airport in Palma achieved an all-time monthly high with a total of 2,839,296 users. July and August are expected to exceed the year-on-year increase even more. This weekend alone, from yesterday until next Tuesday, a total of 782,250 passengers are scheduled to arrive at and/or depart from PMI airport, an increase of 15 % over the same period last year, the start of the Spanish holiday season. There is already some evidence of overbooking in some areas of S’Arenal and Magaluf.

But, some hotels claim that whilst ten years ago, tourists came and stayed for a two-week holiday, five years ago they came for a stay of only 8 days and, this year, the duration seems to be down to three or four days per visit. More people are coming here for a holiday than in previous years but, they seem to stay for a much shorter period. Some regular visitors appear to perhaps spread their holidays in Mallorca to two visits per year of four or five days each. Change seems to be the name of the game.

The numbers are up on cruise-ships as well. Cruise-ship passenger numbers in the Port de Palma totalled 1,250,000 in 2010, an all-time record, and are expected to top 1,500,000 this year. Cruise-ship visitors such as the ones in today’s photo visiting the Castell de Bellver only stay with us on this island for a few hours before they return to their vessel and continue their cruise.

Over the last few years, a number of palatial town houses in Palma were converted into luxury hotels catering for visitors who are coming for a long weekend or a couple of days, mid-week. The latest such establishment is a place called Can Cera which held their inaugural party earlier this week. Rates for the 12 rooms start from 180 € per night, for two people, excluding IVA, and go up to 495 € for the best of the 7 suites. Breakfast is not included in the rates and will be charged at 15 € a go. When I offered a Buenos Dias on a quick drop-in earlier this week, my greetings were left unanswered. Must be my accent, I suppose.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 27th, 2011. The time was 14:36:40.

Overbooking and Other Tweaks in Tourism

The Copa del Rey

The 30th Copa del Rey will be held in the Badia de Palma (Bay of Palma) between July 30th and August 6th. This sailing event is one of the most important regattas in the Mediterranean Sea and can be compared with the Fastnet Race in England, the U. S. Big Boat Series of San Francisco, the Middle Sea Race in Italy or the Sydney to Hobart race in Australia. It all began in 1982 when a regatta was held in Palma as one of the events of the Campeonato Internacional del Mediterráneo (International Championship of the Mediterranean). In 1984, the boat race was renamed as Copa del Rey.

For this year’s event, a total of 118 boats have registered for the week-long sail over ten trials, including 60 vessels from Spain and the remainder, from countries like Italy, Germany, Britain, France, Russia, USA, Argentina, the Netherlands, Portugal, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Today at 13h00, the participating teams will be presented at the Real Club Náutico de Palma. The actual regatta will be held from August 1st to 6th.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet., courtesy of prensarcnp.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Copa del Rey

The Da Vinci Code

I do not have many regrets in my life; nothing serious, anyway. But, I wish I had learned Latin. It was never offered to me; I never went to that type of school. I have always been attracted to Latin, not so much as a language but, as a code system of information. Take the Roman numeric system as an example. It is quite abstract in its use of letters to express numbers or dates but, at the same time this numeric code is incredibly immediate in its logic.

Palma’s Castell de Bellver is the home of the Museu de la Ciutat. There one can find a treasure trove of trophies from the Roman empire, the old Rome where Latin was invented. The treasures form part of the Despuig Collection. Antoni Despuig Dameto who later was to become Cardinal Despuig, was born in Palma in 1745. As a young man he was interested in pursuing a career in the Military but, his family edged him into choosing a career in the church instead. In 1774, Despuig was ordained as a priest and later, a Capitular of the Cathedral in Palma. In 1785, the crown of Aragón sent him to Rome where he became a senior advisor to Pope Paul VI and to Pope Pius VII, who anointed him Cardinal in 1803. Once in Rome, Despuig took an immediate interest in art and archaeology. He soon started collecting statues and epigraphic tablets from the time of the Roman Empire, a collection that during his lifetime made its way into his family’s home, Raixa near Bunyola. When the Despuig family sold Raixa in 1910, attempts were made to try to stop the collection from leaving the island. Finally, in 1918, the collection was bought and saved by two Mallorcan architects for the sum of 60,000 Pesetas who consequently sold the artefacts to the Ajuntament de Palma in 1923. The collection was exhibited from then on in Castell de Bellver and is so, to this day.

I am constantly intrigued in trying to decipher such epigraphic finds wherever I come across some. Often I do not get very far with my trials and tribulations but, I always get satisfaction from the endeavour to crack the Da Vinci Code, Palma-style.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 27th, 2011. The time was 14:27:02.

The Da Vinci Code

Crushing Grapes

The first grapes of this year’s crop are ripe now. They are mostly grape varieties suitable for eating. The vines earmarked for winemaking are in their last throes of maturing. Wine harvest will begin in a couple of weeks time in August for some white wine varieties. Grapes for red wines will be harvested at the end of August or the beginning of September.

The intriguing object shown here is an antique grape crusher as used in Mallorca in the past, let’s say, perhaps 130 years ago. Crushing gives a considerable amount of liberated or free-run juice that can be used for vinification. This free-run juice is said to be of a better quality than the juice obtained by pressing. Originally, crushing was done by treading with the feet. Grape treading can still be seen once a year in Binissalem at the occasion of the Festa des Vermar or Vendimia, in September.

The crushing with a device like the one shown today used to be a manual job. In our day and age, the crushing and pressing of the grapes is no longer done manually but mechanically, at least here in Mallorca.

The photo was taken in Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2011. The time was 17:29:44.

Crushing Grapes

The Annual Polo Cup Party

A group of Polo aficionados in Mallorca has been trying for some years to bring the Polo sport and its glamour to this island. So far, only a German estate agent has been successful in putting on an annual event, the privately organised Berenberg Polo Cup. Some of the world’s top Polo players, or so we are told, competed last weekend in the annually held Polo Trophy in Es Port des Canonge, somewhere between Banyalbufar and Port de Valldemossa. The event was attended by invitation only and yours truly was not one of the happy 300, all dressed up in white as was requested. That wouldn’t stop me from telling you about it, or might this be considered trespassing?

Both photos were borrowed from the Internet. The photo (top) was borrowed from drettmann.com, showing a scene from the event in a previous year. The photo (bottom) was borrowed courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Esteban Mercer.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

The Annual Polo Cup Party

Mallorca’s Benevolent Giants

Today, July 25th, the Festes de Sant Jaume will be celebrated. Santanyí, amongst other pueblos, will be busy celebrating all day long. Celebrations in Santanyí are scheduled to go on even beyond today and will finish next Sunday, July 31st, when an excursion of carts, horses and tractors will make their way to s’Amarador.

Santanyí held a Trobada de Gegants last Saturday, a meeting of the giants, as part of the patron’s fiesta. Last Saturday, a total of 27 gegants (catalán for BFG) united, having come from places such as Sineu, Sa Pobla, Campos, Llucmajor, Pollença, Calvià, Palma and a few other pueblos. The gegants in the photo are a pair from Sa Pobla, going by the names of Antoni and Margalida. They are followed by a couple of giants from Sineu, known as Marc and Maria dels Àngels.

I was surprised to find that Felanitx, the neighbouring town, was not represented in this friendly congregation of benevolent giants. Do I detect a spot of antagonism here, between two otherwise friendly market towns in the South East of the island?

The photo was taken in Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 23rd, 2011. The time was 20:07:59.

Mallorca’s Benevolent Giants