The Choice is Yours

Guardia de Honor Palma de Mallorca 2

Mallorca is quite a unique island, really. Here, everyone can find what makes him (or her) happy, be it the long beach or the solitary cove, the old town of Palma and its exciting history of 2000 years, the wilderness of the Tramuntana mountain range, the encounter with the past in Chopin’s Valldemossa, the fortified rock castles, the picturesque beauty of the almond blossom season, the intriguingly hooded Easter processions or the dramatic alpine roads, equally attractive to motorists, motorcyclists and competitive cyclists.

Es Calderer Sant Joan Mallorca

The market days in the pueblos of the island center are just as alluring as the festivities celebrating the wine harvest, the Melon Festival, the correfoc fire runs or the annual animal blessings. Only recently, Palma de Mallorca was named by an English Sunday newspaper as the most attractive city of all in terms of the standard of living. In Mallorca, there is so much to visit and even more to discover. The island offers a vast variety of gastronomic delights, from roast lamb or paella to the roast suckling pig or the thick hot chocolate. The range of restaurants, tapas lounges and beach bars is vast; the agony of choice sometimes turns a simple task into a daunting affair.

Badhia de Alcúdia Mallorca

Mallorca is said to have 254 beaches, 171 monasteries and hermitages, 57 wineries, 301 km of trail of the dry stone route (GR 221), 6,000 years of populated History, 228 sundials, 17 bird sanctuary areas, 6 nature reserves, 300 days of sunshine, 2,922 restaurants, 1,538 cafeterias and 3,064 bars, 53 municipalities, 54 mountains with an altitude of more than 1000 m, 16 lighthouses, 52 defense towers and 157 courtyards in Palma alone. Fortunate is he who has a vehicle at his disposal to find what makes him happy.

Far de Porto Pi, Palma de Mallorca 2

If you need a rental car for your trip to explore the island, you might want to examine the rates of Carhire-Mallorca. There, you will be given the best rental prices for a first class car hire service. The choice can be yours without the agony.

The Choice is Yours

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 Shoemakers’ Monument

Mallorca has a long tradition of shoemaking. We would normally think of Inca as the island’s major leather and show town, but Llucmajor also had an important shoe industry, right up to the 1970s. The town commemorates the brave shoemakers and cobblers of Llucmajor with a large monument in honour of the Sabaters (shoemakers). The sculpture was crafted in Piedra de Santanyí (sandstone) by Tomás Vila in 1963.

The shoe industry in Llucmajor has since almost completely vanished. Where once the majority of working people in Llucmajor were employed by the shoe industry, now tourism is the biggest employer.

Let’s see if one day the waiters, bellhops and room maids of Llucmajor will get their own monument as well. Somehow I doubt it.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 17th, 2011. The time was 12:54:34.

The Shoemakers’ Monument

Cala Deià

Cala Deià is a very picturesque, tiny pebbled beach near Deià. The beach is famous for its association with Robert Graves who came here for his daily swim during the Fifties and Sixties. The Cala was further immortalized by Anaïs Nin in an erotic short story called Mallorca. The cove is a beautiful sea inlet, surrounded by rocky cliffs, giving it a feeling of a hidden paradise; a torrent flows into the sea during the rainy season and there are some fantastic terraces. The views are truly stunning. Two bars serve refreshments and some food, including some fish which can be excellent. The water is crystal clear. The walk down the winding path to the Cala is well worth it, especially in mild weather. I went there just after Easter when the cove was absolutely deserted and peaceful; of course, then, the water was too cold for a swim. When I went there last week, the sun was too hot for a long walk and the small beach was too crowded for my liking. In the Summer, the beach is teeming with local visitors, some rich and famous, and the obligatory tourists. I may give it another try in September.

The photo (top) was taken near Deià, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 4th, 2012. The time was 14:40:16. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of platgesdebalears.com.

Muchas gracias.

Cala Deià

Street Miming

There are dozens of Living Sculptures in Palma’s streets and squares, ready for donations from the passers-by and in the main, from tourists. You may have seen some of these street mime artists yourself; there is a Charley Chaplin, a Flamenco dancer, a Zorro swordsman, a levitating China man, a Dracula figure and there are lots, lots more. Some of the mime artists are incredibly clever in their presentation, some are simply funny, in a good way, some are ever so intricate in their act. The best living sculpture I’ve seen in a long time is one I came across last Saturday (see photo). The act resembled a sculpture set in stone which came to life to play the stone lyre. The act included a fountain with running water and recorded lyre music activated only for the duration of the coming-to-life. Incredible. It was like a dance without any movement.

I am sorry to have to say that I was so busy snapping away that I completely forgot to offer my pennies. I’ll catch up with him sometime this week and pay my dues, promise.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 16th, 2012. The time was 13:27:13.

Street Miming

Save Our Souls

Whenever we have friends staying with us here in Mallorca, they inevitably ask, are there any nice, uncrowded beaches, and do we perhaps know somewhere that other people don’t know about? We can help, sometimes, but there are not many beaches left or Calas (bays or coves) that would be easily accessible but free from any hoi polloi.

Most of the beaches in Mallorca are in or near built-up zones. There are hardly any beaches or bays left in a virgin state of nature any longer. Promoters and the hotel lobby have seen to that.

There are a few exceptions, and they seem to have maintained their exceptional condition thanks to some legal protection. A planning law was introduced some 20 years ago, giving special ANEI protection to certain areas of nature deemed of special interest to the Balearic society (Área natural d’especial interès). In 1991, there were 47 ANEI areas designated in Mallorca, 19 in Menorca, 10 in Ibiza and 8 in Formentera.

Cala Blanca between Port d’Andratx and Camp de Mar is one such unspoilt bay. This area was not initially part of the ANEI protected zoning scheme, but was included four years ago, much to the delight of some local conservationists who had formed Salvem Cala Blanca, a lobby group raising awareness of some areas of Mallorca that needed to be maintained free of cement and wild urbanisation.

Alas, things seem to have changed. A new conservative government is now in charge in Palma, the Island council is now also run by conservative powers and so is the local municipal council in Andratx. The Partido Popular conservatives are seen as hotel-industry friendly; never mind any legal restrictions. A planning application has been presented by a hotel chain to build a large hotel complex in the vicinity of the ANEI protected area near Cala Blanca. A protest demonstration was staged in Cala Blanca last Sunday (see photo below); protesters voiced their concern about a complete and utter hotelification of this island now that La Crisis would seem to allow for any old excuse to shift the goal posts. Never mind the environment; bankers have the say now and politicians are relegated to puppets on the string. Shame on you, Sera. (Sera is the nickname of José Ramon Bauzá, the president of the Govern de les Illes Balears).

May I remind you that Cala Blanca lies on the edge of the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range, recently awarded Patrimonio de la Humanidad World Heritage Status by UNESCO as an area of great natural and cultural significance.

Save our souls. Will somebody please come to the rescue? We are drowning.

Both photos were borrowed from the Internet, the top one courtesy of zingarate.com, and the bottom one, courtesy of andratxnews.com.

Grazie tanto, and

muchas gracias.

Save Our Souls

The Baronia de Banyalbufar

During the Catalan conquest of 1229 the pueblo of Banyalbufar was granted to two noblemen, Gilabert de Cruïlles and Ramon Sa Clusa. A feudal Barony was established, the Baronia de Banyalbufar. Up until the 15th century, the Lord of the manor ran a practically absolutist government, the Barony of Banyalbufar. The baron maintained the civil and criminal jurisdiction over the entire population, stretching to and, at that time, including Esporles. Nowadays, the Baronia de Banyalbufar (see photo) is offering guest accommodation in nine rooms, affording splendid sea views. Rates for half-board are priced at around 96 € per room.

The Baronial tower dates from the 17th century even though I can’t help but detect a striking resemblance to other Mallorcan torres which are said to date back to the Arab period.

The photos were taken in Banyalbufar, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2012. The time was 16:45:40 and 16:47:35, respectively.

The Baronia de Banyalbufar