Beach Life in September

I am constantly amazed by the hordes of people on Mallorca’s beaches. One would have thought that now, after the end of the Summer holidays, beaches might be a bit emptier. But, far from it. If you had been to the beaches of Cala Pi, Es Trenc or Cala d’Or during the first ten days of September, as I had, you would have found it difficult to put your beach towel down without any physical contact to some unbeknown person next to you.

Statistical figures for PMI airport and the month of August 2012 were at a slight plus over the previous year (3,494,008 passengers; plus 0.8 %), the highest monthly figure in Mallorca, ever. The figures for July 2012 had been 3,435,936, an increase of 1 % over the same month in 2011. Figures for the time between January 2012 and the end of August suggest that there were 16,141,592 pasajeros (remember, each person gets counted as two, one for arriving and one for departing).

People in the hotel business are complaining that, even though this year’s tourist season is seen as a good one, income and profit are not good enough to make up for a relatively dead Winter season. Some people are never quite satisfied, aren’t they?

The photo (top) was taken in Cala d’Or, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 6th, 2012. The time was 12:56:15. The photo (bottom) was taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 24th, 2012. The time was 18:53:08.

Beach Life in September

The Sa Calobra Canyon

The Sa Calobra Canyon, also known as the Torrent de Pareis Gorge, must be one of the island’s most dramatic landscapes and is one of Mallorca’s two Natural Monuments. Friends of ours wanted to go there for a walk yesterday and were most surprised when we told them that it would be well worth visiting but would, indeed, be a very testing hike or trek, and not to be underestimated. We advised them not to overestimate their skills and rather enter the canyon from the seaside, trying to get up into the gorge as far as they could and to turn back when the going got too tough.

Luckily, our friends heeded our advice and set off with sturdy walking boots, a plentiful supply of water, the mobile phone charged up and a digital camera for the scenic views en route. They went through Inca and admired the drive up past the terraced landscape of the Tramuntana mountains, turned left on top in the direction of Sóller and turned right past the aqueduct in the direction of Sa Calobra. They were most impressed by the 12 km long serpentine route and by the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea when they got down to Sa Calobra. They found the beach, had a swim, walked to the mouth of the canyon and began the hike. The trek was far from an easy Sunday afternoon stroll but, was just this side of too demanding. After about an hour the path was blocked by some boulders of perhaps 3 metres in height and they decided that it was time to head back. I am glad they did. They went back for another refreshing swim in the gorgeous sea before they headed back for Inca where they treated themselves to some excellent fish (Cap Roig [scorpion fish], at 50 € per kg).

When they returned home they stated categorically that they wanted to live here as well. They had seen Mallorca at its best.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2008. The time was 15:58:08. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and Guacamoliest.

Thank you very much.

The Sa Calobra Canyon

El Portitxol

El Portitxol is the name of what used to be a fishing harbour just outside of the island capital. El Portitxol forms part of El Molinar which is now a suburb of Palma. Over the last twenty years, both, El Portitxol and El Molinar have slowly but surely begun to be transformed from a down-market area where fishermen and gypsies lived, as well as workers and other people on low incomes, to a popular area with lots of bars and restaurants, some of them a little chichi and some of them catering for Palma’s yuppies.

Even though El Portitxol is near the capital city and really part of it, it seems worlds apart. If you go there early in the morning or late in the evening, it seems rather sleepy and rural. You can hear and sense the busy life going on in a distance but here, time seems to pass much slower. In fact, it is so quiet and laid back here that some wildlife can be found prospering here, such as the Corb Marí Emplomallat (Common Shag). A rather large flock gathers every late afternoon on the low rocks between Club Nàutic Portitxol and the Club Nàutic Es Molinar.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2012. The time was 18:05:37. The photo (bottom) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 28th, 2012. The time was 14:47:21.

El Portitxol

The Hostatgeria del Castell d’Alaró

The Puig d’Alaró makes for an exciting outing for a number of reasons. You could hike up the northern ascent from Orient which will take you just under two hours before you get to the Castell d’Alaró, or you could choose to hike up from Alaró and the southern approach. On top of the impressive rock, the fortress allows glimpses into history with sometimes bloody chapters, going back to the Arab period and quite possibly even to the Romans.

Even further up, you will find the Hostatgeria del Castell d’Alaró and the 17th century chapel of the Mare de Déu del Refugi. The restoration work at the Hostatgeria has now been completed, at long last, and currently there are four dormitories with bunk beds for four each, with more to be furnished any time soon. The refuge is capably run by a young Catalan couple who rent out beds for 12 € per person, or offer a half board arrangement at 24 € per head. There are reductions for children. The hostel brings the number of refuges along Mallorca’s Dry-stone Route up to six, along with Tossals Verds, Muleta, Can Boi, Son Amer and Pont Romà. A stay in the refuge can be thoroughly recommended if you seek rest in peaceful surroundings of historic heritage and good food. Up here you are closer to the essence of life if that is what you might seek.

Alaró and the hamlet of Orient are within walking distance and the cozy restaurant of Es Verger is just a half hour stroll away. You will have heard of Es Verger‘s fabulous lamb specialties, all slow-cooked in the wood-fired oven at affordable prices (Paletillas are now served at 16 € a piece) and all eaten with great gusto.

The photos were taken near Alaró, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 21st, 2012. The time was 16:25:02, 15:04:14 and 14:48:03, respectively.

The Hostatgeria del Castell d’Alaró

24 Hours in the Life of an Island

(near Felanitx, at 00:40:23)

Twenty-eight years ago today, I orchestrated an exciting photo event in Los Angeles, California, in collaboration with one Red Saunders. Together, we edited the book that covered that event: 24 Hours in the Life of Los Angeles. All those years ago, we had assembled a team of 145 people, including 103 photographers from all over the world plus 16 local school children, to capture the life in this metropolis in the run-up to the 1984 Olympic Games.

Today, I have the pleasure to invite you to sample a similar adventure, somewhat different but nonetheless exciting, albeit without its results ending up in a glossy coffee-table book. I endeavour the making of a comprehensive portrait of Mallorca, my home for the last 25 years, by taking photographs over a period of 24 hours in the life of this island. This time, there is no team and there are no other photographers involved or invited. I will upload photos every few hours, depending on broadband connection, and today’s post will grow bigger and longer as the day progresses. The first photo was taken this morning at 00h40 on top of Puig de Sant Salvador near Felanitx, and the last one will be captured just before midnight in Plaça d’Espanya in Felanitx. Let’s see how it goes and let’s witness, if I will last the Tour de Force.

(Portocolom, at 01:28:42)

(Porto Cristo, at 02:03:46)

(Son Servera, at 02:52:00)

(near Canyamel, at 03:10:01)

(Cala Rajada, at 03:32:23)

(Cala Rajada, at 03:43:12)

(Felanitx, at 04:39:18)

I made a scheduled return to Felanitx to upload the first photos of this self-set challenge. Quite unscheduled, I fell asleep and had a 45 minutes nap. I was still good on time and schedule, though.

(near Petra, at 07:41:13)

(near Petra, at 08:00:33)

(Santa Margalida, at 09:24:54)

(Muro, at 10:44:09)

(near Muro, at 11:35:52)

At this time, I was still running to schedule, more or less. But it began to dawn on me that the task I had set might be a bigger one than I had calculated. I may have underestimated the challenge and the sheer distance between places, and I may have overestimated my abilities as a one-man-band. I decided that Mallorca was, in fact, a continent.

(near Muro, at 12:11:55)

(Port de Pollença, at 13:59:13)

(Pollença, at 14:18:33)

By now, it was quite evident that I was running late, and well behind schedule. I decided to alter my route plan. Instead of returning south via Crestatx, Sineu and Sant Joan, I decided to go up into the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana to see if I could catch up on time by eliminating some of the planned stops.

(near Pollença, at 14:58:40)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:23:18)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:25:40)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:32:31)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:33:02)

(near Fornalutx, at 15:37:35)

(near Fornalutx, at 15:43:27)

It now was clear: there was no way I could complete the whole island portrait, and comprehensive at that, within the self-elected time frame of 24 hours. For a start, there was no way that I could upload any photos during the course of my parcours. There were just too many kilometres to be driven from point to point. Mallorca is too big an island to be ticked off in one single day by one individual. I realized that I would have needed to employ the good services of a driver to allow me to concentrate on the scene selection and the location, instead of me minding the business of getting there in the first place. And it would have been wise to seek the support of an assistant to keep my back free from the logistics of the task. Me, on my own, doing the driving, route planning, rescheduling, time keeping, scene selection, setting up the tripod, shooting, editing, copy writing, Lightroom-ing, WordPress formatting and what have you, was just too much for one elderly man. And I was getting tired, sleepy, red-eyed, exhausted and anxious. I needed a hug, or a helpline, or something.

(near Sóller, at 15:51:15)

(Sóller, at 16:45:14)

(Sóller, at 17:03:36)

(Sóller, at 17:11:26)

In Sóller, I accepted the inevitability of defeat. It simply was impossible to cover all of Mallorca or at least, all 48 locations that I had scheduled, in one day and on my own. I would barely manage half that number and not even half the total distance. By now I had done some 300 kms, and I would surely need to do the same again, or more, with more than two thirds of the time already gone. I would need to be fitter (and younger), less mad, better equipped, better supported and assisted, and more realistic. I should simply have listened to my wife.

(Alfàbia, at 17:46:32)

(Alfàbia, at 17:54:46)

In Alfàbia I decided to go home. I needed to upload some of my photos and take stock. I might go out again after that to cover some of the Mallorcan hinterland, Porreres, Campos, Llucmajor, Sant Joan, Villafranca, Sineu, Llubi, and so on. For now, I certainly would not be able to cover the western parts of the island, Andratx, Estellencs, Banyalbufar, Valldemossa, Deià, Orient, Alaró, Bunyola; I might have to have another go at the region at some later stage. Palma, I was pretty sure that I would skip Palma for now.

(Felanitx, at 23:43:43)

Having aborted the project and not having gone out again once I arrived back home after 20 hours on the road and in the hot sun, I was busy photo editing, photo optimizing and uploading. I now did not need to do that final shot just before midnight that I had scheduled from earlier this morning. But I wanted to do it anyhow to have a pair of bookends, so to speak. As it happens, I met my friend John and he kindly agreed to pose as another mad hatter for mad me. No. This is not me sitting there, just in case you wondered.

Good night, and thank you for joining me on this ride and this very long day indeed. I need some sleep now.

24 Hours in the Life of an Island

The Oyster Bar Bonanza

I recently told you about the malaise of Mallorca’s fish trade. For the last two or three years, you may have noticed Se Vende signs put up at an increasing number of fish mongers in Palma’s Mercat de l’Olivar.

Now, a few months ago, a new trend has beset that very indoor market, Palma’s biggest and best. You will now find three or four stalls selling Japanese-style sushi and sashimi to eat in or to take home, and you can also find two large oyster bars offering creuses, plates and Fines de Claire plus Champagne galore. If you don’t like oysters, they also do Caviar. At a price.

As long as the better-off amongst the Mercat‘s clients do their civil duty and consume and indulge, there might be a future for the fish trade after all. If not, nobody knows what will happen. It could all end up in tears.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 30th, 2011. The time was 14:48:47.

The Oyster Bar Bonanza

Gay Mallorca

Doing a daily photo blog about Mallorca for almost five years inevitably turns you into an authority on things Mallorcan, or so some readers think. The secret is, I am not. Thank you, Amel, for asking for advice on Halal butchers, or Signe, for asking about sea shells, or Adel, for asking about Mallorca’s Gay scene. That’s what I think you were asking for, anyway. The truth is that I know a little about a lot of things but, I am not an expert in anything really.

Take the Gay & Lesbian scene here on the island, just as an example. I definitely have not the faintest idea. Perhaps one should know something about our homosexual neighbours but, I can’t pretend that I do. Okay, I know that there are leaflets and a map on the scene in Palma’s Tourist Information office, bless their little cotton socks. I also know that the scene appears to concentrate around the Gomila area of Palma, with a bit more in s’Arenal. There are three or four gay saunas in Palma, and quite a number of hotels, bars, cafés, clubs and discos catering for the same-sex community. In Avinguda Joan Miró, one can find at least four gay bars, Marcus, Status, The Black Cat and Yuppi Club. In s’Arenal, there is a girls-only bar, Sólo para Chicas, if that is what you want. In general, there seems to be no animosity towards homosexuals here in Mallorca. There certainly is no animosity here on the Mallorca Daily Photo Blog, or so I’d like to think.

A while ago, I did a blog entry about beaches for nudist bathing. Gays and lesbians bathers seem to be attracted to Es Trenc just the same, and also to Caló des Grells, Platja del Mago (Portals Vells) and La Niña Muerta (Can Pastilla).

For gay cruising or after-hours sex encounters, it seems that Dic de l’Oest (Dique del Oeste) is the best bet, not far from Caló des Grells. I would just urge you to bring condoms.

Should you need to get more information on this subject, addresses or other details, I would direct you to mallorcagayguide.com, cometopalma.com/gay-palma or gaypalmademallorca.com.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr and the photographer, ‘YÁRRET.

Thank you and

muchas gracias.

Gay Mallorca