Thursday, August 31, 2006

Crime / S’Albufera / Index for August 2006

And then there is violent crime. A British youth staying in Puerto Alcúdia is apparently in a coma after getting into a fight with some other Brits. I don’t know if there are any crossed wires here, but if not and it is therefore a separate incident, I was told this morning that a girl was beaten up in the Bellevue vicinity last night.

All is seemingly not well at S’Albufera. According to an environmental group, the nature park is suffering from “progressive decline”. There has been no director in situ since April, there is no promotion of the park and there are inadequate technical staff. All of this is rather a pity, especially as the Targeta Verde Magazine, from the Balearics Foundation for Sustainable Development makes such a noise about S’Albufera in its summer edition.

Index for August 2006

Albufera - 31 August 2006
Alcúdia Jazz Festival - 30 August 2006
Alcúdia’s industrial estate - 14 August 2006
All-inclusives - 13 August 2006, 16 August 2006
Barquita Restaurant - 21 August 2006
Beaches - 11 August 2006, 13 August 2006
British tourists - 21 August 2006, 31 August 2006
Ca’n Picafort - 13 August 2006
Crime - 30 August 2006, 31 August 2006
Desalination - 9 August 2006
Driving - 2 August 2006, 13 August 2006
Ecology/environment - 11 August 2006, 14 August 2006, 31 August 2006
English breakfasts - 2 August 2006
Ensaimada - 14 August 2006
Fresh juices - 2 August 2006
Holidayforums - 13 August 2006
Jazz - 30 August 2006
Jellyfish - 9 August 2006, 10 August 2006, 17 August 2006, 22 August 2006
Language - 22 August 2006
Palma Airport - 8 August 2006, 11 August 2006, 25 August 2006
Playa de Muro - 11 August 2006, 25 August 2006
Price controls - 30 August 2006
Rental accommodation - 25 August 2006
Sunbeds - 25 August 2006
Terrorism - 11 August 2006
Tourism economics - 16 August 2006, 25 August 2006
Twister - 14 August 2006
Water - 9 August 2006
Weather - 2 August 2006, 7 August 2006, 8 August 2006, 14 August 2006

Crime / Pricing / Jazz

The “boom” in holiday bookings in the Balearics - we are led to believe that all records have been smashed - has brought with it an increase in crime. This is explained in exponential terms; the more people, the more crime. QED. Brits get into a fair bit of bother it must be said, but then there are also break-ins. Burglary is not a massive problem in Spain, by comparison with the UK, but it happens, of course it happens. My neighbour’s house is like Fort Knox but he has had uninvited guests in the night on more than one occasion. And then there is theft from hotels. One hotel around here, which I shall not name, seems to have suffered quite a bit from theft from rooms, and others have been affected, too.

There was a “viewpoint” the other day in The Bulletin, the thrust of which argued for price controls as a means of stopping Mallorca - and in particular its bars and restaurants - from pricing itself out of the market. This is a facile argument. Price controls rarely work; indeed they run contrary to the principles of a free market, and can - in certain circumstances - drive up the final cost to the consumer. Fundamentally, the imposition of a price control disturbs the natural price equilibrium which is achieved by the constant movement of supply and demand. At what level can a control be set? Too low or too high - either way the equilibrium is broken. Additional costs come, from other things, the bureaucracy needed to administer controls, which can only be found through the public purse.

Some while ago there was a highly simplistic solution proposed in a German newspaper to the problems of falling demand created by all-inclusives. It was: lower prices, and increase quality. Easier said than done. Inflation has risen here, key costs having gone up significantly over the past year or so - petrol, gas, electricity. The bar/restaurant owner has to contend with all of these in addition to rent, staff costs etc. The squeeze from all-inclusives means that margins can be eroded even more. Lowering prices may lead to increased demand, but it doesn’t lead to increased profit.

The argument that Mallorca is too costly is not necessarily borne out. Researching comments on the Internet, price - and this applies to research into Alcúdia - is not something that many people complain about; indeed some services (buses and taxis) are felt to be good value for money. So, price controls? Nah.

One of the summer’s last music programmes is about to start in Alcúdia. This is Alcúdia Jazz, a series of concerts during September. The performers are exclusively Mallorcan/Spanish. Nothing wrong with that. Spanish jazz, especially the crossover with flamenco, is often pretty damn good. Latin influence in jazz, down the years, has thrown up some of the world’s best jazz musicians. Chick Corea, for instance, even recorded a track called “Spain”, which was simply brilliant.

Corea’s contemporary, Billy Cobham, was one of the artists at this year’s Sa Pobla jazz festival. I mention this as I feel the Sa Pobla event has one over on Alcúdia. Promoting local talent is fine, but internationalising an event - in the same way that the Festival of Pollensa does - can help to attract a wider audience. Promoted correctly, with the right artists, and it could be a different means of bringing in visitors.

For information on the Alcúdia Jazz programme, click on the What’s On Blog in the links on the right side.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tourism economics / Palma Airport / Rental accommodation

Well here we go, some more “cheering” news. September is going to be a “bumper” month, with many hotels fully-booked, so says “Euro Weekly”. But, it would seem that much of this September frenzy is down to “young partygoers”. Maybe so, but I find it hard to believe that’s the whole story. On an Alcúdia-Pollensa note though, it would appear that the majority of these party animals are going to the south of the island. But this late-season surge is hardly unusual; indeed on 9 November on this blog I noted (thanks also to Euro Weekly) that the final two months of the season in Alcúdia were “surprisingly busy and successful for tourism”.

More on the traffic through the airport. Palma has seen the highest proportion of “low-cost” airline passengers of all Spanish airports during July - nearly 450,000 apparently, and up 12 per cent on 12 months earlier. Air Berlin is the biggest contributor. Now, this is all very well,. but in the Bulletin’s report of this, it then goes on to say that the numbers of passengers who arrived on traditional airlines in July was close to 800,000. Eh!? Those of you are paying attention will note that on 8 August I reported that Palma had “seen over 3 million passengers passing through it for only the second time. The figures are for July this year.” 800,000 + 450,000 = 1,250,000. Hmm. Frankly I give up on much of this statistics stuff, which is a shame as one of the key aims of this blog is to give an overview of economic activity.

But not to be put off, hotel occupancy in the whole of Mallorca during July was 89.8%. Jolly good. Maybe.

Back in December I reported also on the greater regulation of tourist rental accommodation. Seemingly 85% of tourist flats* have - as yet - failed to register properly as holiday accommodation. The deadline runs out on 26 September. Alcúdia and Pollensa are especially affected by all of this. If the proper certification is not in place, the accommodation will be deemed residential, and there cannot be dual purpose (residential and holiday; it must be one or the other). I say again what I said then - to regulate quality (and proper fiscal controls, and let’s face it there’s a strong sense of stopping tax evasion here- quite rightly) is good. No problem at all. Just that the hotel industry is big on complaining about this accommodation.

*I should point out that these flats are private rentals.

And finally for today, seems that Muro police have been busying themselves with removing sunbeds from the beach at Playa de Muro. The reason: more sunbeds than are allowed. There you go.

(Sources: Euro Weekly and Majorca Daily Bulletin)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Language / Jellyfish

News that the British Government is considering pardons for soldiers executed for cowardice and other offences during the First World War has led to calls for other military people of the past to be pardoned as well. One such is Admiral Byng who was shot for his alleged failure to relieve the garrison in Menorca in the mid-eighteenth century. This I mention by way of introducing the possible origin of an expression used widely in Menorca and also Mallorca.

“Uep”, pronounced ‘wep’, is a term of greeting akin to “all-right?” in English. As suggested to me by old friends from university days, one a resident of Barcelona, the other something of a polyglot, ‘uep’ might have been derived from the northern-English “hey-up”. It’s a possibility, and one I once put to the chap who is head of the pre-print section at my printers, and a man of some scholarly background, who thought that it could well be the case.

Given that much of the English language is, in essence, nicked from others, it’s nice to think that the people of the Balearics might have assimilated something from our own language, even if it is only a form of slang. Though of course this does raise the question as to the derivation of ‘hey-up’.

Jellyfish alert: Beaches in Calvia have now been affected, e.g. at Portals Vells, close to Magaluf and around the promontory (Cap de Cala Figuera) from Santa Ponsa. Most are the fried-egg variety (in appearance that is). Seemingly their emergence means that the mauve ones are on the way out, which is a bit of god news as they are the more painful chappies, and indeed it was a “mauve stinger” that was the “throbbing gristle” on Playa de Muro beach I alluded to on 23 July. The authorities are denying that there is a “plague” as in fact there are fewer jellyish than in previous years.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Barquita / Brits abroad

Restaurants come, and restaurants go. One of the more depressing aspects of living here is to see new owners take on a place, have bundles of enthusiasm, good ideas, the right attitudes, only for the whole thing to go belly-up.

Barquita in Puerto Pollensa is one case.

Julie and Michel had all the right ideas. Nice folk, really nice folk. But they had problems with the restaurant from an early stage this season, notably with terrace roofing. Then they had problems with staff (not uncommon, I’m afraid). Then they just stopped opening.

Very sad.

According to a survey by, British travellers have the unenviable reputation as being the “most unsociable of holidaymakers”. Apparently we Brits are the worst for giving other nationalities “the cold shoulder”, and we are accused of having a “reluctance to speak local languages or to explore culture beyond the British-themed pub”. Hmm, does sound rather familiar I must admit.

(Quotes from “The Times”, 18 August.)

Members of the Sa Pobla Cricket Club were rightly indignant that the final day at The Oval was called off because the Pakistanis took their ball home, or rather had it taken from them. All very stupid and of course ball-tampering here is a common thing, in that when the ball gets leathered for a six, someone comes back with a potato. Good for reverse swing, apparently.

And jellyfish. Still pretty much all clear up here. But the problem along the south-east coast has been confirmed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Well, while there is no obvious development in the advance of the jellyfish, the Health Ministry has issued guidelines in the event of a sting, which go further than those briefly given on 10 August.

The guidelines - in outline - are these:

1. Treat the affected area with alcohol.
2. Clean the wound with sea water, preferably at a high temperature.
3. Use an antiseptic and cotton wool with a 50% solution of ammonia or vinegar. Or - at least I think this is the case - use an anti-histamine or anti-inflammatory cream.
4. After a period of rest, apply heat and then a gel to reduce inflammation.

What not to do:

a. use fresh water.
b. use a compress.

Furthermore, advice is to take a 5% solution of acetic acid or vinegar to the beach, to never touch parts of jellyfish on the beach and to not scratch a wound.

So, there you have it. Basically, you should take the contents of a pharmacy, your drinks cabinet and a calor gas stove with you. It raises questions. It doesn’t say what alcohol should be used, presumably not a pint of Saint Mick though. How on earth are you meant to heat sea water? I’m baffled as to why one is advised to use a 50% solution but take a 5% solution with you.

Anyway, thanks to the “Bulletin” for presenting these guidelines today. On balance I think I shall continue just to take the anti-histamine with me.

NOTE AGAIN ON EMAILING AND COMMENTS: Please mail me direct at with your comments or queries. By all means add comments, but note that these are posted as "anonymous", and I cannot respond. If all else fails, I can add your comment to the relevant article if you've mailed me and want it included. Ta very much.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tourism economics

The news that the overall numbers of tourists is at its highest since 2001, as reported today, should be cause for celebration. Except... except that many don’t always believe the numbers, and also except that - and this is admitted by the tourist authorities - visitors are not spending enough. Accordingly, they are looking to find ways to increase spend.

What a ...!!!

The answer is glaringly obvious. Ok, consumers are more wary of spending generally, the euro has upped the ante, but - as or perhaps more importantly - is the growth of the all-inclusive. The market logic is so simple it barely needs reiterating. But let’s do it. If the tourist has spent once - as part of the AI package - he or she will not spend a second time, or will have less incentive to do so.

Want to increase spend? Cut back on the AIs, my friends, cut back.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Weather / Industrial estate / Ensaimada

Curious and curiouser, the weather. Still liable to a drop of rain, and a fair amount of cloud. But also today, around mid-afternoon, the wind that had been blowing from the south, i.e. across land, stopped abruptly. The sea was flat calm. Normally, there’s breeze away from the beach or by the sea; rarely is it still in both areas. Suddenly, amidst the calmness of the beach, there was a mini-twister. Sand spiralled upwards, sucking up lilos, beach-mats, umbrellas. One lilo ended up a fair way out. And then it stopped. It occurred in an area of no more than about 20 square metres, and lasted about a minute. Very odd.

The new industrial estate in Alcúdia has stayed off this blog’s radar for a while. There is a lot of preparatory clearance work going on, the actual construction due to start in October. The environmental issue, especially important given its proximity to the Albufera nature park, has led - or rather will lead - to this “polígono” being granted an environmental certification, the first of its kind in Europe. Specifically, 25% of its total area will be “green”, a significantly higher proportion than other estates on the island. Rainwater will also be collected in subterranean deposits and used for around 50% of the estate’s water consumption, while materials used in the actual construction will be recycled. Bet it still doesn’t satisfy the environmental lobby.

The ensaimada. This I can take or leave. For anyone who doesn’t know, it is the local bread type thing made in the shape of a coil and sprinkled with castor sugar. There are variants on this theme. Basically, it’s fat with sugar. Fat and sugar - yum, yum. In the absence of anything much else, the ensaimada, together with that other pile of grease, the croissant, passes for what is a Mallorcan breakfast. I don’t see the attraction, nor do I understand those folk who buy large ensaimadas at the airport when trooping off to the mainland. I can well imagine these folk’s relatives or friends in Madrid or wherever thinking: “Oh no, they’ve brought a bloody ensaimada again.” Or perhaps I’m wrong. Anyway, in Sant Lloreñç, on the east side of the island, there is a night fair, just celebrated. This year the ensaimada was the “star” product at this gig. Star product. Fat and sugar.

Jellyfish status. All clear at present in this area.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Beach party / All-inclusives / Driving

The wind blew in really strong from the sea yesterday and last night, bringing some more rain. At least it was 24 hours too late to spoil the fun on Can Picafort beach. The Friday-night beach party, part of the Can Picafort fiesta fortnight, is a seriously big gathering. The road into Can Picafort is jammed till around two in the morning with people coming in for the event, many of the cars emitting their own party sounds of booming music. Want to sleep if you live by the road? Forget it!!

All-inclusives. There is a very good discussion of the impact of AIs going on in a forum at While largely in the context of Greece, there are nonetheless some very interesting and intelligent points being made. Go to the site, find the All-Inclusives forum and then the Why All-Inclusives thread.

The new points system for driving offences seems to be having an effect. Whilst there are penalties being issued for mobile use and for not wearing seat belts, there are also those for speeding and reckless driving - both of them the real villains of the piece when it comes to road accidents. I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but I have the impression that drivers are observing speed limits much more faithfully. Good news.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Terrorism / Playa de Muro beach

That some people may have been inconvenienced or delayed coming to or leaving Palma Airport is unfortunate. But what else are the authorities and the airlines expected to do?

I am one of those, like many, who think that Blair, Bush and others may have cried wolf on occasion where terrorist threats are concerned. There was plenty of comment - speculative - flying around yesterday on both sides of the Atlantic that the alleged plot to blow up the five planes was an example of this. I don’t think so; I don’t think so for one moment.

The authorities are damned - by some - if they do, and damned - by all - if they don’t, or rather were not to have done. What is some inconvenience compared to the loss of significant life? No, this was for real; I’m sure of it.

To other matters ... My local beach, as I have mentioned before, is the rustic beach at Playa de Muro. This season part of the dunes has been roped off, people being asked not to enter. Apparently it’s an attempt to get the Kentish plover to nest there. The notice informing us of this ends with a further request, namely that when people leave the beach could they kindly dust all the sand off themselves and their belongings, as the sand is needed. Strange thing to ask. How much sand can one person carry away with him or her? But that’s ecological sensitivity for you.

The kitesurfers are really larging it at present along the rustic beach, and also at the La Marina rustic beach outside Alcúdia. Conditions are spot-on; a good breeze constantly blowing in to land. Whilst popular, it isn’t possible for anyone to come here and try their hand at kitesurfing - at least not officially. It’s considered dangerous and hence no licences are issued. Shame as I think a lot of people would like to give it a go.

Jellyfish watch: nothing more dramatic to report for the moment.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Here it comes - the plague of jellyfish. Can’t help but feel that this talk of “plague” is a bit over-egging the situation, but there seems little doubt this is a fairly serious situation. Like the inexorable march, or should that be swim, of waterborne Cybermen, the little monsters are gathering. Less a call for Doctor Who though, more one for International Rescue; at least it would put Gordon to good use for once in Thunderbird 4.

But to the reality ...

There are already jellyfish conventions off the south-west of the island around Andraitx and off the south-east from Santanyi up to around Porto Cristo.

Advice and action:

Civil defence advises to check with them before using waters

Yellow flags will be flown if jellyfish are spotted

If stung, use sea water but do not rub it into the sting (One might also pack a tube of anti-histamine cream such as the local “Neosayomol”, which is specifically recommended for jellyfish stings.)

Also if stung, contact the civil defence, Red Cross or lifeguards for aid with treatment.

Now, where’s that wet-suit?

NOTE AGAIN ON EMAILING AND COMMENTS: Please mail me direct at with your comments or queries. By all means add comments, but note that these are posted as "anonymous", and I cannot respond. If all else fails, I can add your comment to the relevant article if you've mailed me and want it included. Ta very much.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Water / Jellyfish

Pollensa, it would seem, is crying out for a desalination plant; they can’t cope with demand in summer. There is also some concern that the quality of the drinking water might suffer otherwise. I don’t know, but there are few people of my acquaintance who ever use tap water. There isn’t anything wrong with the water per se, just very few people bother with it. The carrying of bottled water here is far from a fashion accessory as it is in other places; it’s not essential, but generally people feel more comfortable with the bottled variety.

But still on water. Health advice is to take in 2 litres or so of water per day, and this isn’t just in a hot climate. It’s sound advice to offset dehydration, but up to a point. The potential problem is that too much water can dilute the body’s sodium. So, really those two litres should be supplemented with a pinch of salt now and then. Alternatively, take on sports’ drinks instead.

There is a warning of an “imminent” plague of jellyfish in the Balearics. I’ve noted here before the problems at Cala San Vicente and the sighting of jellyfish in the bay of Alcúdia, but this warning sounds potentially the real thing. Sea warmth and over-fishing appear to be the causes.

It thrashed down again this morning. Odd, odd, odd. But maybe now we’ve left behind this bad weather, except that Sunday more storms are forecast.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Weather / Palma Airport

Without wishing to sound like a broken record, the odd weather continues; thunder rumbling around lunchtime today, and some more rain - never heavy*, but enough to drive the hordes from the beaches. Fact is that weather is about the most important subject for most people at this time of the year, so no apologies for drawing attention to the current unpredictability.

* Just update that. It has chucked it down, absolutely chucked it down today.

And so some more record numbers. Palma Airport has seen over 3 million passengers passing through it for only the second time. The figures are for July this year. The reasons are low-cost flights, Spanish tourism and new offers. Hotel occupation is benefiting, the current season being better than expected. Well, fine, except this latter fact doesn’t chime with all that stuff we were being told about a record year back earlier this year. We had, after all, been led to believe that we could expect such a season. So, why the apparent surprise? Was it that those figures quoted earlier in the year were a load of cock?

The trouble with the airport figures is that they register those “passing through”. They do not differentiate between those who stay and those who go on elsewhere, or between those who stay for a short while and for longer. The figures may be good but there is an absence of nuance when it comes to presenting or discussing such figures.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Strange weather. For Mallorca, that is. Since August entered with the sudden cloud, there has been an almighty great storm, a fair degree of sun and also intermittent rain and heavy clouds. It’s not as I have ever known it at this time of the year. Elsewhere, yes. South of France, for starters. There the weather can be distinctly variable. But here. Most odd. The thing about the relatively poor weather is that it gives a sort of end-of-season feel to the place. You expect this sort of weather in September as things are starting to wind down, but not in the middle of the high season. Perhaps the climate has skipped a month, and we’re really in September.

For someone like me who lives here it’s a blessed relief after several weeks of high temperatures and solid sun. The temperatures are still high but the cloud is welcome - up to a point. The problem is it makes people feel miserable, tourists especially. But moreover, like I would think many, I don’t wish the summer away; it’s too good a time to be willed into autumn. Hopefully the weather will get its arse in gear, and behave properly.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Weather / Food and drink / Driving / Index for July

So apparently it was the hottest July for 40 years. Odd, I had thought that 2003 was the hottest everything, ever. But there you go. All I do know is that is that it has been damned hot - at 33 or 34 on average every day. And then August starts and suddenly there’s cloud. Curious how the weather can shift almost exactly on monthly schedule. Three years ago - during that long, long very hot summer - the weather collapsed exactly on the 1st of September.

I’ve been trying to compile some best-of places. Difficult when there are so many. But in a couple of categories - the English breakfast and fresh orange juice - here are some stand-outs. On breakfast, The Brunel Inn in Puerto Alcúdia - the egg is always runny (that’s a big plus point); Canny Lad also in Puerto Alcúdia (economical but I can forego the Geordie delicacy that is the tinned tomato); Bar Pepe, across from the Flora Apartments in Puerto Pollensa - Spanish but tip-top. Mail me - - with your own favourites.

On orange juice, I’m always a bit disappointed if a place doesn’t offer fresh juice. Of those that do, here are some top-raters: in Puerto Alcúdia, Café L’Illa on the Paseo and Ca’n Tomas. At Illa the juice is so thick with “bits” that they get stuck in the straw, but really good. In the old town of Alcúdia, Café La Sala, across from the town hall. Their juices are so smooth, they’re almost like smoothies. Superb orange juice, and the apple juice is also nectar.

In Puerto Pollensa, Bony’s always a sure thing for fresh juice, Gran Café is too expensive at 2.85 euros but it’s still good. Less great: in Pollensa, Café Juma, 2.50 for a small glass. Not great value at all. Again, mail me - - with your own favourites.

Oh, and just on coffee - I’m still convinced that Ca’s Capella in Alcúdia old town is the best of all.

Back to an old theme - crazy driving. I pulled up at the lights in front the Parc Natural Hotel in Playa de Muro, indicating to go right. A car squeezed in on my right side so as to be able to get away first, which it did. Up the road at the pedestrian crossing by the Esperanza, the car did not stop for a line of people waiting to cross. The driver? I kid you not, it was a nun.

Index for July 2006


All-inclusives - 20 July 2006
Animal charity - 8 July 2006
Banks - 3 July 2006
Beach tents - 15 July 2006
Beaches - 27 July 2006
Cala San Vicente - 4 July 2006, 23 July 2006
Closure - 4 July 2006
Consumer choice - 20 July 2006
Credito Balear (bank) - 3 July 2006
“Daily Bulletin” - 26 July 2006
Disabled - 9 July 2006
Eroski Syp - 3 July 2006
“Euro Weekly” - 9 July 2006
Festival of Pollensa - 8 July 2006, 9 July 2006
Fiestas - 8 July 2006, 26 July 2006
Guardia Civil - 15 July 2006
Hotels - 20 July 2006
Illegal selling - 3 July 2006
Jellyfish - 4 July 2006, 23 July 2006
Kerbstones - 9 July 2006
La Sexta (television channel) - 9 July 2006
Little Britain supermarket - 8 July 2006
Makassar Restaurant - 31 July 2006
Neptuno II Restaurant - 4 July 2006
Palma Airport - 9 July 2006
Patrona Fiesta, Pollensa - 26 July 2006
Playa de Muro - 26 July 2006
Puerto Pollensa - 26 July 2006
Queueing - 3 July 2006
Road accidents - 27 July 2006
Service - 3 July 2006
Spanish Civil War - 15 July 2006
Street selling - 3 July 2006
Summer music - 27 July 2006
Supermarkets - 3 July 2006
Tiberi Restaurant - 31 July 2006
Tourism economics - 26 July 2006
Tropical Minigolf - 4 July 2006
Verge del Carme Fiesta, Puerto Pollensa - 8 July 2006
World Cup - 4 July 2006, 9 July 2006