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 Coptic Civilization in Egypt

I am a bit biased and partial towards the good people of La Caixa. I am talking about the CaixaForum at the Grand Hotel, that stunningly beautiful Modernisme building opposite the Teatre Principal in Palma.

This exhibition centre is staging some of the best and most educated exhibitions I have seen in Palma over the last 18 years or so – they inaugurated and started doing exhibitions in 1993. So far, they have shown works by van Gogh, Picasso, Dürer and Warhol, staged exhibitions on African Art, Art from Cuba, the Greek Culture, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Etruscans, as well as thematic appraisals of Cocoa, Coffee, Salt or the Desert, presented Charley Chaplin and Federico Fellini and their work, and illuminated us on Ramon Llull, to name but a few.

Now we are treated to an exhibition devoted to the Coptic civilization in Egypt, dating from as early as the Roman times and extending until the Arab conquest in the mid-seventh century AD. The exhibition looks at the three historical periods of Christians in Egypt: the Roman period, the age of Byzantine and the Islamic worlds. The exhibition is a must see, if you ask me.

There are over 200 pieces on display, including some stunning textiles and dresses, paintings, ceramics, papyri, liturgical and everyday utensils, allowing us to learn about the Coptic culture based on writing, lifestyle and religious life. An exhibition catalogue is available for 25 €. The exhibition was organized by the Coptic section of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities from the Louvre Museum in Paris. The exhibition is open until May 6th, Monday to Saturday (10h00-21h00) and Sundays (10h00-14h00). Admission is free, as always.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 5th, 2012. The time was 14:16:26. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of obrasocial.lacaixa.es.

Moltes gràcies.

The Coptic Civilization in Egypt

Truffled Delights

Truffles are usually associated with the Grande Cuisine of France, and of course, also with Italy and its Grande Cucina, but, did you know that the Trufa negra is also growing on the Spanish mainland, mainly in the area between Tarragona, Valencia and Zaragoza. And what about Mallorca?

The Tuber aestivum (Summer truffle) is particularly native to the Islas Baleares and can be found here in Mallorca in fair abundance. You would need to have a pig with a nose for truffles, though, or a good dog with an equally good sniff, to find some of these treasures in oaky woods here on the island. Failing that, you could look for Mallorcan truffles in one of the autumn markets or else, in one of the main mercats in Palma, such as Mercat de l’Olivar or Mercat de Santa Catalina. Now is also the time when Mallorca’s top restaurants might offer you some Cerdo Ibérico con foie gras y jugo de trufas (Iberian pork with foie gras and truffle juice) or perhaps Carnes tiernas de cerdo iberico rellenas de Setas con puré de patata trufada (Stuffed roast pork with mushrooms and truffled potato purée). The choice is all yours.

Last week, the Guía Michelin España & Portugal 2012 was presented in Barcelona. In that latest guide-book, there are 113 restaurants listed in Spain with one Michelin star, 16 establishments with two stars and 5 estrellas with three etoiles each. In Mallorca, there are now six restaurants with one Michelin star each, and they might well have some seasonal truffle dishes on offer. The laurelled restaurants are Es Fum (Hotel St. Regis Mardavall, Palmanova), Jardín (Port d’Alcúdia), Es Racó d’es Teix (Deià), Tristán (Portals Nous), Zaranda (Hotel Hilton Sa Torre) and Es Molí d’en Bou (Sa Coma), with Es Fum and Jardín being new additions to the sometimes controversial merit.

You will probably find truffled delights in other good restaurants in Mallorca, just the same.

The photo was taken in Caimari, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 20th, 2011. The time was 13:40:45.

Truffled Delights

Good Vibrations

Last weekend, the Hotel Cala d’Or in Cala d’Or celebrated its 75 anniversary. The building was constructed in 1932 by Mijnheer Veerburgh, a Belgian architect who had fallen in love with the attractive natural beauty of Cala d’Or and its Good Vibrations. The premises opened as a hotel in 1936 under Senyor Josep Costa i Ferrer, when there was very little tourism in Mallorca and even less so in the southeast of the island. At that time, the Hotel Cala d’Or was only the third hotel in Mallorca outside the city of Palma, the other two being Hotel Formentor and Hotel Illa d’Or, both of which were in or near Port de Pollença in the north of the island.

Shortly after its inauguration, during the Spanish Guerra Civil (Civil War) the hotel suffered a set-back when it had to be converted into a military headquarters, housing the officers who were installed at the old fortín árabe (arab fort) in nearby Cala Llonga.

The hotel originally only had 9 rooms; today it boasts some 95 habitaciones (7 single and 88 double rooms) having been remodelled to a standard of four stars in 1987. This week, rates are 106 € for single occupancy and 152 € for a double room with garden view. The rates go up to 180 € for a double room with a sea view. This week, there is a minimum stay of 3 nights.

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of hotelcalador.com.

Muchas gracias.

Good Vibrations

Sweet November

Even though snow is predicted in Mallorca for Friday at an altitude of 700 m, November can be a lovely month in the Balearic Isles. There have been a number of Novembers when we splashed in the Mediterranean Sea when the children were little and, in fact, friends of ours were in the sea only ten days ago. The sun is still up most days and deserted beaches appeal for a leisurely stroll even with the waves all chopped up and the sunbeds stored away for the off-season.

Off-season is a bit of a misnomer or certainly an inaccurate appraisal. It all depends on who says what and who does what. In excess of 1,000,000 tourists came through PMI airport last month, and if last year’s November is any indication, this month just under 500,000 visitors will think that some quality time on the Isla de la Calma could be a good idea.

Things you can do in Mallorca in November and actually all through the quieter months of the year, include walking, hiking, cycling, joining a retreat or a sanctuary, playing a round of golf, putting in some hunting, mushrooming, bird watching, caving, fishing, rock climbing, wine tasting, celebrating any of the many gastronomic delights of Mallorcan food, visiting monasteries, getting to know the island capital, Palma, a little better by doing a guided tour of its historic quarters, getting into better shape by indulging in one of the wellness spas on the island, sipping a devilishly sweet xocolate, watching some glass blowing, riding on horseback, you name it. The possibilities are endless. Hotel rates are lower now, flights are cheaper in November as well, and if you ask me, the Mallorcans are friendlier now that the hectic Summer season is over. I love the off-season, I like sweet November.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 22nd, 2010. The time was 13:46:14.

Sweet November

The Península de la Victòria

At this time of year the island of Mallorca shows its natural beauty from its best side. The sun is still out most of the time but the heat of the Summer has receded. Now, walks and hikes can be done under pleasant conditions. There are hundreds of possibilities for an outing, and each one of them is more rewarding than the other.

Yesterday, we took a walk at the Península de la Victòria in the North of the island, between Alcúdia and Port de Pollença. We started our walk from the Santuario de Nostra Senyora de la Victòria, now converted into a small Hostatgeria (Petit Hotel), and headed for the Talaia d’Alcúdia. The area is classified as a Zona de Especial Protección (special protection area) for birds such as the Cormorán Moñudo (Common Shag) or the Águila Pescadora (Osprey). The Península de la Victòria is also an area where one can find plenty of Cabres Salvatges Mallorquines (wild Mallorcan goats), in fact so many of them that they can be hunted in a Coto de Caza Mayor (Big Game Reserve) either by rifle or with dogs and a lasso allowing for the animal to be caught alive.

On the way back from the the Península de la Victòria a number of small coves and secluded beaches invite for a swim. The water temperature is still pleasant enough to take a dip. It is near here where the Alcúdia Xtreme Swim Open Water was held a few weeks ago, an annual competition across the seven kilometre stretch of the Badia de Pollença from the Platja Formentor to the Platja de Sant Pere (near Mal Pas).

The photo was taken near Alcúdia, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 23rd, 2010. The time was 18:16:58.

The Península de la Victòria

The Avenida Building

avenida1

In the old days, there were no tall buildings in Mallorca, with the obvious exception of churches, the Cathedral, towers or castles. Residential buildings in Palma de Mallorca never exceeded five storeys, or six or seven at the very most.

All that changed when a new town planner was employed by the Ajuntament de Palma in 1940, one Gabriel Alomar. He made drawings for the building shown here to be built in 1941-42. The Avenida building had a staggering ten storeys and thus became the first Mallorcan skyscraper.

During the Fifties and Sixties the building housed residential dwellings as well as the Cinema Avenidas. The movie theatre did not survive the conquest of the multi-screen complexes and was closed in the early Nineties. The building has now been renovated into an upmarket town hotel (**** Superior), the Palacio Avenida, with a coffee bar and a restaurant. The building’s renovation was subject to severe planning rules; the external structure was not permitted to be changed.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 14th, 2009. The time was 14:12:02.

The Avenida Building