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

Easy Riders

I was trapped in my car amidst a horde of Easy Riders the other day, a long trail of perhaps twelve or fifteen Harley-Davidsons, with three heavy machines ahead of me and the rest behind. Mallorca’s secondary roads are quite narrow, so overtaking was not an easy option. But, hey, they were considerate and as soon as there was no oncoming traffic and the vista was clear, they waved me to pass, one at a time. They were driving quite conscientiously. Muchas gracias.

My friends and I were slightly concerned that the rowdy, or rather not so rowdy, lot may have been heading for the same restaurant as we were for our lunch, but no. We had a pleasant meal of cochinillo (suckling pig) and leg of lamb and had soon forgotten about the previous encounter. After lunch we headed for the monastery of Bonany, on the outskirts of Petra. You can imagine our surprise when walking up from the car park we passed a noisy gathering of leather clad folk having a picnic-type party. Here they were again, the Easy Riders. Apparently they were from a Harley-Davidson penya in Palma. Oh well. Apart from the exceedingly loud rock music blasting out, they were quite amenable, really.

The photos were taken near Petra, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 9th, 2012. The time was 14:58:27 and 15:06:31, respectively.

Easy Riders

The Balearic Mountain Championship

The annual car race up the Sant Salvador mountain near Felanitx is the fourth out of six races making up the Campeonato de Baleares de Montaña 2012 (Balearic Mountain Championship). So far, races were held to Valldemossa, to Monte Toro and to the Castell de Son Mas in Andratx. After Felanitx, two more races remain in this year’s competition, up to Puig Major (October 6th-7th) and to Cala de Sant Vicenç (October 20th-21st).

Tomorrow, September 1st, will be a day of training sessions, starting at 16h30. The proper race will be held on Sunday, September 2nd, at 09h30. Thirty cars have registered to compete here in Felanitx. And the winner is …..

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of mallorcarallye.com.

Muchas gracias.

The Balearic Mountain Championship

The Other Half

The other day, a commemorative act was held in Portocolom to mark the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Spain’s first civil school for amphibian planes, the Escuela de Hidroaviación Civil. The occasion was reason enough for the President of the Consell de Mallorca, Maria Salom Coll, to descend upon this Eastern harbour town together with a few mandarins in her entourage. The festive act with self-important speeches by the political class was marred by a cacophony of ear-piercing whistles, shouting and booing by up to a hundred mostly young protesters. The audience attending was clearly divided into two groups of pretty equal numbers. The scene was a fair mirror image of today’s society in Spain and more to the point, Mallorca. La Crisis in Spain and here on the island seems to be affecting one half of the population whilst the other half happily pursues a routine of daily life as if everything were normal. I was shocked to see how seemingly far removed the political class present in Portocolom appeared from half their populace. They were all smiling and irritatingly cheerful, totally ignorant of the motives of the protesters who appeared to belong to the 21.3 % (24.6 % in all of Spain) of unemployed, or rather, 48 % in the case of youngsters under the age of 35, which seemed about the age range of the whistlers.

Massive protests have been seen frequently over the last six months wherever the president of the Govern Balear or his counterpart at the Consell de Mallorca made public appearances, either in Sa Pobla, Inca, Felanitx, Sóller, Andratx or Muro. Political decisions effecting cuts and changes in education, language, the health system, paired with effects of inflation, unemployment, taxation and dispossession have caused a lot of ill will amongst many citizens that the ruling body shrugs off without any further discussion. The argument goes like this ‘We have been elected with a majority and will now do as we please‘. A pity though that half the adult citizens did not vote Conservative and seem to feel utterly misrepresented.

It appears only fitting that just two days earlier, the government in Madrid had set up a new Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (Ministry of Homeland Security). I think that sooner or later the street protests in Spain will not be restricted to mere whistling.

The photo was taken in Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 25th, 2012. The time was 19:27:48.

The Other Half

Caterpillar Tracked Mechanical Donkeys

The ingenuity of humanity is quite mind-blowing. Does it not sometimes make you wonder how on earth these massive monastery buildings or defence towers were erected on relatively high mountains, here in Mallorca, when there was no road going up, let’s say five hundred years ago, and when there were no helicopters or lorries or other such wonderful modern implements available, when in fact not even the power engine had been invented yet, nor even the steam engine?

I tell you how the folks of old did it. They used the donkey. The history of Mallorca would be quite different without the ingenious use of donkeys or mules. These hoofed bestias have been used for centuries here on the island to carry loads and building material and water and whatever else to wherever these should be needed, with camino in existence or without.

Sadly, these ases (donkeys) or mulas (mules) are not much in demand any more, not here in Mallorca nor elsewhere. Instead, the caterpillar tracked mechanical donkey of mainly Japanese provenance seems to be taking over. Lately, I have seen these little power monsters with increasing frequency here on the island. Traditional small-scale farming is on the retreat as well, and the youngsters who might have inherited their family’s fields without knowing how to till the land because they have an office job or else, work in hotels or restaurants or drive a bus, seem more intrigued by mechanized toy gadgets such as the one shown in the photo (top).

The problem is that these caterpillar track barrows are quite lethal when it comes to any sensitive handling of old and historic tracks and caminos, for instance of the dry stone category. Historic Camins de pedra en sec have been lovingly restored over the last ten or fifteen years in the Serra de Tramuntana. An increasing amount of damage to these old caminos has been reported to the authorities, in all likelihood caused by the caterpillar tracked barrows, each capable of carrying up to 600 kilogrammes or so and causing the dry stones to be dislodged or broken under the weight and due to the friction caused.

I wish some people would come to their senses.

The photo (top) was taken near Deià, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 4th, 2012. The time was 14:39:04. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of riowang.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

Caterpillar Tracked Mechanical Donkeys

Saint Christopher and the Car Blessings

According to the Catholic faith, Saint Christopher is the saint of safe travel. It is quite customary, here and elsewhere, to put Saint Christopher medals on display in one’s car to bless the vehicle, the driver and the passengers with safe journeys there and back.

There are a few pueblos in Mallorca where this tradition is upheld, amongst others Felanitx, Biniali and Sant Joan, and of course Palma. A Beneïdes (blessing) of lorries, cars and motorbikes will take place next Saturday, July 7th, in Portocolom, the harbour town of Felanitx. The time will be 10h30. I am giving you a few days warning in case you would want to make your way to Portocolom. I am not sure about the date of similar blessings in Biniali, but last year it happened to be a week or two after Felanitx. I don’t know the reason for this divergence of dates. As far as I know, the official saint’s day is July 10th. The Saint Christopher blessings are usually officiated by a priest or someone similarly qualified.

Beneïdes de Sant Cristòfol blessings were also held in the village of Sant Joan for the last 56 years, but they have now been cancelled for this year. Apparently there has been some conflict between the Penya Motorista Sant Joan and the local Ajuntament. What can I say?

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, M. Bosch.

Muchas gracias.

Saint Christopher and the Car Blessings

Price Hikes

Steep price hikes were introduced from June 1st for transport on the island. The train from Palma to Manacor is now charged at 3.80 € one-way when it used to cost 2.45 €; an increase of 55 %. The bus from the airport into Palma is now charged at 2.50 € when it was 1.80 € last year, up a mere 39 %. My bus from Felanitx to Palma used to be 4.25 €; now it costs 4.80 €, up 13 %. The bus from Portocolom to Felanitx was 0.95 €; now it is 1.60 €, up 68 %. Other train and/or bus charges in Mallorca have increased between 47 and 58 %. You may have had your own experience if you use the public transport; no one will be spared.

And if you use the car, petrol has gone up as well a week or two ago. Petrol is now 1.44 € per litre un-leaded 95 octane, and 1.55 € per litre un-leaded 98 octane, the sixth increase this year alone. Diesel sells at 1.35 € per litre at the moment.

You may consider this a boring blog entry; believe me, I am quite enraged.

The photo was taken near Inca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 1st, 2012. The time was 13:01:08.

Price Hikes