Sunday April 17th MHC Walk – Soller

fornalutx-to-soller-walk-mallorca hiking

Hello Mallorca Hikers!

If you are not already enrolled in Mallorca Hiking’s residents’ walking Club and would like to join, there is still the opportunity to sign-up with a special 50% discount (call Fiona – details below)

The next MHC walk is scheduled for Sunday 17th April. One of our members John Ballard has very kindly offered to lead this lovely circular walk –

Soller and surrounding villages

John is an experienced walker himself and has led many groups of walkers in the past. Please read the walk description carefully, consider the grade we’ve given it (moderate in this case) and make sure you are happy that it is a level you can cope with.

We’ll meet at 10.30 am at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens on the road to the Port of Sóller and we should be finished by about 4.30pm.

The programme for the day is slightly different to last time. In total we will walk about 3.5 to 4 hours (excluding stops): 2.5+ hours before lunch and then 1+ hours after lunch depending on the speed of the group. But you’ll be pleased to hear that the walk after lunch is easy and downhill all the way!

We’ve organised a delicious set lunch at the Es Turó restaurant in Fornalutx, which has a fabulous terrace (with even more fabulous views) where we’ll eat provided the weather is still good. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy some apres-hike fun and relaxation. Please note that for the main course there is a choice between roast pork and vegetables and fish with vegetables – please let us know when you sign up for the walk, which one you’d prefer.

The price for the day is:
* 5 euros contribution to Mallorca Hiking for organising everything
* 15 euros + service to the restaurant for 3-course lunch including wine
* If you’re getting a lift from another member please offer to contribute to their petrol and the toll for the Soller tunnel.

We’ll be limiting the number of people in the group to 20 + 2 guides, so if you’d like to join us please let us know as soon as possible! Friends and family are very welcome to join us if there are still places, but Club members are given priority. We’ve posted the walk on Facebook, and will post a reminder during the week, so if you can please respond via a comment on these posts. We need final numbers by latest 5pm Thursday 14th April please.

This time don’t forget to bring your cameras and take lots of snaps as we’ll be running a photo competition during the week following the walk. The winner gets to come on next month’s MHC walk for free (excluding lunch).

We’ll be posting the winner of last month’s quiz over the next day or so. Watch that space!

We look forward to seeing you on the 17th. Until then happy hiking!

Best wishes, Fiona

Fiona McLean
+34 635 393 402

Mallorca Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey with Mallorca HikingBirds of Prey are not necessarily what you’d expect to see in brochures about Mallorca, but just as many other mountainous regions of the world are famous for their giant birds, so too are the Sierra Tramuntana of Mallorca. Off the beaten track with Mallorca Hiking, we often see these graceful birds gliding high in the sky above mountain peaks – graciously drifting up and down as they connect with warm thermals rising up from the lower valleys. Today we’re going to introduce you to some of the birds of prey you might see on one of our guided walking tours.

black vulture mallorca hikingThe most famous birds of prey resident in Mallorca are the Black Vulture. They were close to extinction in 1982 when only 20 birds survived as the only island vulture population in the world. However, thanks to a number of conservation initiatives introduced – initially by the Balearic Natural History Society and Ornithological Group and then the Black Vulture Conservation Group (BVCG), the black vulture population now stands at 120 birds with 15 mating pairs. With a wingspan of nearly 3 metres and a brown and black plumage, they glide majestically over the peaks of the Tramuntana range – make sure you have your binoculars ready for a closer look and if you’re lucky they may be close enough for some impressive photos.

Below is a video taken from a permanent nestcam positioned high above a vulture nest in the Tramuntana mountains. You can see more video footage here: BVCFMallorca

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9000AQwnd1M&feature=player_embedded

Other impressive birds of prey that you’ll see on Mallorca include the Griffon and the Egyptian Vulture, the Booted Eagle and Eleonora’s Falcon. A good place to see these fabulous birds is in the north of the island – the Boquer valley, the Albufeira reserve and Cap Formentor are all excellent spots, and are all within just a few miles of each other. The island of Dragonera in the southwestern tip of the island is a superb bird sanctuary and particularly popular for Eleanora’s falcons.griffon vulture mallorca hiking

Apparently in 2008 after some very heavy storms, around 100 Griffon Vultures landed in the Balearics. Most have since departed but quite a few settled here in the Cuber lake area. The Griffon vulture has a very white bald head, a broad wingspan of nearly 3 metres and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff and yellow bill. Vultures have a life span of between 50 and 70 years, with one reported case of 118 years!

Egyptian vulture Mallorca Hiking

The Egyptian Vulture is a rare sight in Mallorca. It is very distinctive with an underwing black and white pattern and wedge-shaped tail. Like other vultures it soars on the thermals. It has been seen to use stones to break the eggs of other birds, making it one of the few birds that makes use of tools.


Booted Eagle Mallorca Hiking

The Booted Eagle is another predator that lives in the mountains of Mallorca. It is a medium-sized bird of prey of about 47 centimetres in length and has a wingspan of 120 cm. It hunts small mammals, reptiles and birds.

eleanora's falcon mallorca hiking

Eleanora’s Falcon is a large and slender falcon, with long, narrow wings and a relatively long, rounded tail. This species comes in two quite different colours, a light and a dark plumage. It has a wing span of about 1 metre and can be seen throughout the Mediterranean islands – particularly in Greece.

If you want to see some of these wonderful creatures up close, and get a better idea of what you’re looking for in the wild, there is a fantastic Falconry show at La Reserva in Puigpunyent. You can view first hand the elegance of these wonderful birds with an impressive flight demonstration.  The falconer also demonstrates some training techniques and tells you all about the various different types of birds – well worth a trip..

Mallorca has a wide and rich range of interesting bird-life (and is a popular destination for birding holidays) and here we have introduced you to only 5 of our most majestic inhabitants. Watch this space for more bird-related articles, and why not come along on one of our Tailor Made holidays and see how many different species you can spot – don’t forget to bring your binoculars!

(click on an images  for the enlarged slide-show)

Tasty Easter Treats

Easter treats with Mallorca HikingEaster is another excellent excuse to cook up some delicious traditional culinary Mallorquin favourites. Here are some great recipes for you to try for three of the most popular Easter treats: Empanadas, Rubiols and Crespells.

Empanadas (a personal favourite!) can be made with many different ingredients – the most popular being just meat or meat with peas.

These pies are typical dishes for both the Christmas and Easter holidays here in Mallorca. Grandmothers throughout the island prepare them before the holidays start, usually baking enough for several days’ consumption! You’ll find them in bakeries all over the island during the run up to Easter in normal, large and miniature versions – but they are so much more enjoyable when you make them yourself. Here’s your chance to try a chicken variation (but you can also make this with lamb, beef or fish):

Ingredients for 20 medium pies (go on have a party!)

For the pastry:

1 kg flour easter empanadas mallorca hiking
120 grams of butter or lard
2 cups of olive oil
1 cup of water

For the filling:

8 chicken drumsticks
500 g of peas
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped and cleaned
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons black pepper
Salt to taste
Olive oil

Preparation and Baking:

Put chicken pieces from the drumsticks in a bowl, add salt, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons black pepper and a little olive oil over and then mix it all together. Put the peas in another bowl, add green onions, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons black pepper and a drizzle of oil and then mix.

For the dough:  Put the flour in a bowl, make a hole and pour in the butter or lard, oil and water. Knead the mixture until the dough is manageable. Preheat the oven (if electric to 170 º C) and grease a baking tray.

Now sprinkle a little flour  on a table or kitchen counter (so the dough doesn’t stick) take a handful of dough the size of an egg and kneading it, form a round shape and then place your thumb in the centre; start to create a basket shape pulling up the sides.  Fill the “basket” with a slice or two of chicken add peas etc and pour over a little oil. Take a little more dough the size of a walnut this time and roll it out. Again make a circular shape and place it on top of the “basket” with the filling in it. Gather the edges of the dough with your fingers and seal the top of the pie, making a zigzag with the tip of a knife or fingers. Place it in the tray, and repeat the process until you have finished the dough and the filling. Bake the pies for one hour or less.

Now for those of you with a sweet tooth: Crespells and Robiols

Ingredients:easter crespells with Mallorca Hiking
50 g icing sugar
80 g butter
75 g orange juice
1 / 2 lemon rind
2 egg yolks
300-350 g pastry flour (*)

Preparation: Mix together all ingredients with a whisk, reserving about 100-150g of flour to add at the end by hand (* depending on how many people you are cooking for). This will create your dough.

Robiols with Mallorca HikingSpread the dough with a rolling pin. For the crespells, cut out your shapes using cookie cutters in different shapes. For robiols, use a small round dish or container to cut out a circle of dough. You can fill your robiols with jam, cottage cheese, pumpkin, chocolate … taking care to put the filling in the center of the circle, fold the dough in half and seal it using a small fork.

Place in a preheated oven at 180 º for 15 about minutes until they are a pale brown. Sprinkle with icing sugar when cool.

Buen provecho – enjoy!!

Easter in Mallorca

Happy Easter Mallorca HikingEaster is a busy time in Mallorca and officially marks the beginning of the holiday and tourist season. This year Easter (Semana Santa) is running late with Palm Sunday falling on the 17th of April, which is when the festivities start. There will then be a full week of religious processions, fiestas, markets, entertainment and events for locals and tourists alike. The celebrations culminate on the 24th, Easter Sunday, with jubilant processions and celebrations.

The week starts with Palm Sunday celebrations throughout Mallorca. Thousands of people visit their local semana santa easter mallorca hikingchurches and take part in processions carrying beautifully woven palm leafs. These are then blessed in church and symbolize the welcoming of Jesus into Jerusalem. In Palma huge statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary are carried through the streets of the Old Town and city centre, followed by the local cofradias or fraternities. There are about 50 fraternities on the island, each of which wear different coloured tunics. The privacy of each individual’s penance and prayer is preserved by a pointed capuchin hood, which covers their face.

Processions are held every day from Monday to Friday during Easter week, the biggest being the Crist de la Sang (on Maundy Thursday) and Sant Enterrament (on Good Friday), which are usually celebrated in all Mallorcan villages.

For those of you who are amazed by the incredible costumes that adorn the hundreds of procession goers there is an exhibition of the robes and symbols used by the local brotherhoods in the church of Sant Antoniet.

La Seu Pascua Mallorca HikingThe events during the week include concerts in various churches, the most prestigious of which is held in the stunning La Seu Cathedral in Palma on Easter Tuesday, in aid of the Baleares Homes project. Mozart’s Requiem directed by Salvador Broton and supported by the Choir of the University of the Baleares will be performing. Tickets are in big demand so book early if you want to go along.

The Maundy Thursday procession attracts huge crowds to Palma for and starts the build up to Good Friday and then the more jubilant culmination of celebrations on Easter Sunday with the Procession of Reunion.

The most spectacular Good Friday event is “The Lowering” or Davallament which is held at dusk on the Calvari Steps in Pollensa. The figure of Christ is carried down the 365 Calvari Steps (if you climb the 365 steps you are seeking forgiveness – one step for each day of the year). Another impressive event on Good Friday is the enactment of the crucifixion on the stairs to Palma’s cathedral at around midday.Pascua Mallorca Hiking

Holy Week finishes on Easter Sunday, with the Encontre (the Meeting) procession, which represents the meeting of the newly risen Jesus with his mother, the Virgin Mary. Large platforms with statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary are carried through the streets of Palma symbolizing Jesus reunited with his mother. Activities during the following week include the traditional Pancaritats and Romeries, which are processions to various rural sanctuaries and hermitages.

Good Friday and Ebellver castle easter mallorca hikingaster Monday are both Bank Holidays in Mallorca and many villages have local fiestas on Easter Monday. The Sunday after Easter is also significant for family outings to the countryside and the many sanctuaries around Mallorca. In Palma you’ll see yet another procession on this so-called Domingo del Angel “Angel Sunday”. This fiesta is centered around Bellver castle and involves a procession of “giants” arriving at the castle from the city centre.  There are blessings followed by a Food Fair, dancing, entertainment and an enjoyable day out for all the family.

The religious celebrations are the main events throughout Mallorca but you will also find many other local events to help mark the end of the winter and the beginning of spring and the tourist season. Local traders and associations make the most of the many spectators and provide different cultural and entertaining shows. Don’t forget this is also an opportunity to enjoy the fabulous outdoors of Mallorca, so why not combine some Easter sightseeing and celebrations with one of our great Hikes

Also check out some of our tasty Easter treats in our last post…. Recipes for some of Mallorca’s favoutite traditional Easter specialities – get the baking trays out and to the ready…

Easter treats with Mallorca Hiking

The History of Mallorca – Part 2

Today is a continuation of our previous post 10 Fabulous (Historic) Facts about Mallorca bringing us from 1600 AD to the present time. So here are some more fabulous facts about how our beautiful island has evolved:

1. The War of Succession – so called because spanish war of succession mallorca hikingthe winner would succeed the heir-less King Carlos II, and rule a united Spain. It was fought among several European powers, against the Spanish loyal to Felipe V, France and Bavaria over a possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. Such a unification would have drastically changed the balance of power in Europe.

As it turned out, it resulted in the recognition of Felipe as King of Spain but he was required to renounce any claim to the French throne and to cede much of the Spanish Crown’s possessions thereby breaking up the Spanish Empire in Europe at the time.

Mallorca was the last territory to be acquired by Felipe in 1715, and the following years saw many changes for the island. The new King introduced a new regime, which abolished the autonomy the island had enjoyed. The first among the “Nueva Planta” decrees (another twist in the battle for language supremacy) was the decree that Mallorca would now use Castilian as the official language instead of Catalan. In 1716 the new regime made Mallorca part of the new Baleares region.

Antonio Barcelo with Mallorca Hiking2. Famous sailors and navigators feature in our next stage in history. Due to continued problems with pirates, the King gave permission for established sailors to defend their homelands. One “corsair” noted for his bravery (and for lending his ships to the King!) was Captain Antoni Barcelo. Achieving the rank of Lieutenant General of the Spanish Armada was one of the rewards for his gallantry and support.

Another famous sailor is the missionary Fray Junipero Serra. In the mid 1700’s he sailed to the new Americas and helped establish the missions of California. He can probably be given credit for founding such US cities as San Francisco. Not bad for an island boy brought up in Petra!

3. More wars in the 1900s – this time the Napoleonic version. The comfortable lifestyle and relative peace that had prevailed was harshly broken with the influx of refugees from Catalonia escaping the fighting on the mainland. Although this caused much unrest amongst islanders the new business skills of the Catalan settlers established a new bourgeoisie society and many new trading initiatives. This included shipping routes, train lines and communication channels with the mainland. The other major change was the return of the Catalan language.

4. Economic Crisis (yes, there were others!) – Bad times return and the equivalent of our current phylloxera plague mallorca history mallorca hikingeconomic crisis for Mallorca. The vibrant wine producing industry was devastated with all the vines destroyed by phylloxera plague. At the same time the colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines broke away from Spain reducing significantly the local shipbuilding industry. There followed an exodus of islanders to the mainland and America to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

5. Enter the 20th Century and Two Giants in Mallorcan political history:

Born in Palma, Antoni Maura was a politician and spent most of his political life in Madrid as leader of the Conservative party. He was Prime Minister of Spain on five separate occasions during the early 1900’s.

Joan March Ordinas was a “rags to riches” financier who at one time was reputed to be the third richest man in the world. He was a Mallorcan businessman closely associated with the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War, and with Franco’s regime after the war. He was notorious for shady dealings and political influence, and in 1926 created the Banca March one of Mallorca’s largest banks.

Spanish Civil War as told by Mallorca Hiking

6. Spanish Civil War – General Francisco Franco succeeded in installing his military regime from a coup he mounted against the elected Republican party in 1936. He was backed by many conservative groups as well as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

When Franco assumed power, the country entered three years of Civil War during which 1 million Spaniards lost their lives. He managed to keep Spain out of the Second World War that raged just after the Spanish Civil war had ended.

Mallorca was seen as a Nationalist stronghold and in 1936 it had a decisive battle against Republican forces. Now known as the Battle of Mallorca, it was won by the outnumbered islanders supported by the Italian air-force. Mallorca then became a base from which to send raids to the Spanish mainland.

General Franco not with Mallorca Hiking

7. The Franco Regime 1939 – 1975.

Franco’s right wing, military regime was hard and alienated Spain from the rest of the world. Franco implemented martial law and local languages such as Catalan, Mallorquin and Basque were forbidden in public places, with Castellano again installed as the official language. When he died in 1975, the monarchy was reinstated and local languages and cultures began to flourish.

8. Tourism arrives in Mallorca – from the 1950’s the island was discovered as a fabulous destination forholidays-in-majorca mallorca hiking holidays, sailing and (originally) fairly exclusive and classy clientele. This has steadily declined with mass construction of hotels in key resorts around the island. All inclusive breaks are the latest point of discussion in the context of the future of the island’s tourist industry.

Thankfully, the building frenzy that has left massive derelict and waste areas on the mainland and the Costas has been controlled to a degree in Mallorca. The latest economic problems have helped curb any further expansion. There is much debate about the need to return to quality tourism – highlighting the other Mallorca e.g. Rural Hotels, the natural environment, history and culture here at Mallorca Hiking we are big supporters of this latest strategy.

9. In 1983 the Balearics became an Autonomous State – the Balearic islands now have their own governing body, and local elections started shortly after the Autonomous Statutes were passed. Today, Palma is the capital of the Balearic Islands and is the seat of government for the political and judicial system for the ‘Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands’.

10. Mallorca Hiking was founded in 2001 – probably one of the most significant developments in modern times for Mallorca (!!) offering everything required to show the wmallorca-hiking walking holidays mallorcaorld the natural beauty, culture, cuisine and history of this wonderful island. This includes Tailor Made Walking Holidays for those who want to escape with their own personal agenda within the great outdoors of Mallorca; Guided Walking Tours; walking and wine tours, gourmet tours and now a growing local Resident’s Walking Club and all are helping secure Mallorca Hiking’s footprint throughout the Mallorcan countryside – come join our party and help us spread the word about our wonderful island!

Wild Orchids of Mallorca

bumblebee orchid Mallorca Hiking There are no less than 60 species of Orchid growing wild in Mallorca and the Balearic islands. They grow in hedgerows, meadows, woodland and even wet-lands, as they prefer a damp atmosphere. These beautiful specimens are protected in Spain and it is totally forbidden to pick them. But the pleasure of “collecting” them pictorially is even more enjoyable as you can look back on your find forever, and the Orchid can continue to give pleasure to all who pass by.

The areas around the island where you’re likely to find wild Orchids are the Mondragó nature reserve near Santanyí, in the s‘Albufera near Alcúdia, Cabrera National Park and (the most prolific) in the Tramuntana mountain range.

Orchids are incredibly adept at attracting insects to pollinate them, and have many tricks to attract their flyingOrchid Pollination Mallorca Hiking germinators. The flower grows to imitate a female insect such as a bee or a wasp (see examples in our slide show below), thereby enticing the male to mate with it. The male may leave disappointed, but the Bee or Wasp Orchid knows this will ensure it’s pollen will be attached to him and passed on to the next Orchid.

Other pollination ploys include emitting scents of the female insect and producing a form of glue so the insect has to struggle to escape. The flower then bends sufficiently as the insect breaks free to ensure the pollen is in the right position for when the insect makes contact with the stigma of the next flower.

Self pollination is also possible with Orchids, meaning if all else fails, they can do the job themselves! The result of this is that all genetic mutations are passed to all offspring of the parent. This gives rise to many stable populations as we can now see throughout Mallorca.All these factors have helped create a growing and varied range of Orchid species for us to enjoy on the island.

Orchids can be found blooming from as early as February . The White Helleborine with its white to cream-yellow flowers and the Giant Orchid, which grows to a height of 60cm are two early bloomers. Other popular species are The Mirror Orchid and the Ophrys Balearica or Balearic Orchid (the only native orchid species in the entire Balearic islands). Below we have created a slideshow of many of the varieties of Orchids you can find around our beautiful island. See how many you can find, photograph and identify later. We would also appreciate it if you left us a comment with locations on the island where you have discovered wild Orchids.

For a sure sighting of one of these beautiful flowers why not come along on one of our Tailor Made Holidays – or if you are resident in Mallorca join our Resident’s Walking Club – we have regular monthly walks and will bring you closer to all things beautiful in Mallorca.

Click on one of the images to open a lightbox slideshow

Photographs all taken in Mallorca

Photographs courtesy of:

Orchi at Wikimedia Commons (www.commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Orchi)

www.thinkoholic.com

The Peaks of Mallorca

Es Teix Peak with Mallorca Hiking

Es Teix Peak

The Serra de Tramuntana is the highest mountain range and the most extensive area of natural beauty on Mallorca. In this stretch of highlands, which spans from Valldemosa to Pollensa, we find some of the most enjoyable and demanding walks. There are many peaks (or Puig in Mallorquin) and each has a magic of its own, and it is from here that we get the most spectacular views across the island. Let’s take a virtual tour (or viaje) through these magical Peaks of Mallorca.

Starting from the beautiful village of Valldemossa we have clear views of our first peak, which is easily accessible on foot. Es Teix (meaning yew in Catalan and so named because of the yew trees growing on the slopes) stands majestically above the villages of Deia and Valldemossa – the central point of a long ridge running from Talia Vella to Sa Gelara above Sóller. It’s highest point is 1064m and from here there are far-reaching views of both sides of Mallorca as well as along the main ridge of the Serra de Tramuntana. This is a popular peak to ascend, as combined with the Archduke’s bridle path it is one of the island’s classic hikes.

Tossals Verds Peak with Mallorca Hiking

Tossals Verds

Moving on in the direction of Sóller we come to the Puig de Tossals Verds, which is the highest of a group of peaks south of Gorg Blau, and east of the Cúber reservoirs. There are a number of good walks in the Tossals area, and one of the most popular is the circuit around the mountain via the Tossals Verds refuge. However, in this post we’re focussing on peaks…. and this is another easy peak to reach. Together with a climb to the top of nearby Morro d’Almallutx, it is a challenging – and very satisfying – day’s hike; by itself, it is a good afternoon’s work-out – see our fun video on Youtube!  The highest point is 1115m and again we get some spectacular views down to the Bay of Palma and across to Massanella and Puig Major (see below).

From Tossals we move on to Puig d’en Gallileu which looks over the monastery of Lluc. This peak can be reached from the reservoir of Cuber through woodlands and passing the watering hole of Font Des Prat. Our route now ascends again, moving into the mighty backbone of this mountain.

Two more easily accessible peaks in the  area are Sa Rateta at 1084m and L’Ofre at 1091m. Together they constitute a fabulous day’s hiking, starting at the Cúber reservoir. L’Ofre is a very distinctive cone-shaped peak and this walk is a high ridge walk between the two peaks with breathtaking 360º views. Get your binoculars out and watch for the birds of prey - we very often see them in this area. Alternatively we could descend into Sóller from L’Ofre via the famous Pilgrim’s Steps and the pretty village of Biniaraix.

The peak of Massenella with Mallorca Hiking

The peak of Massenella with Mallorca Hiking

The highest peak on the island is actually Puig Major at 1436m but this is military zone so it is not accessible by the public. The highest accessible peak is the Puig de Massenella (1367m) and it is a challenging but enjoyable hike to the summit. The route to the top of Massenella finishes at Ses Bassetes, where the atmosphere and views are truly breathtaking – this is definitely worth the effort and a very memorable experience!

The peak of Tomir with Mallorca Hiking

The peak of Tomir

Heading a bit further north now,  we come to Puig Tomir (1103m), another well known and popular summit to climb. It is very accessible and we can reach the top via a glorious climb in about 1 and a half hours from the Binifaldó road. This is an intriguing peak – bare and rocky with steep crags and a circular snowpit nearby – and gets a unique perspective of Pollensa and the Formentor peninsular. However, our views are saved right until the end when we reach the top and look down over the town of Pollensa. Stunning!

Puig Roig with Mallorca Hiking

Puig Roig

The last of our peaks in this post is Puig Roig (1002m) – a magical walk with smugglers paths and cave houses, makes this a classic finish in our mountain adventure. We’ll very likely see birds of prey circling in the sky above – a glorious sight. This is a stunning and very Mallorcan hike, which ends with the descent to the monastery at Lluc, a suitable destination to bring our post to a close.

Now enjoy a selection of stunning photos of these wonderful peaks – below. Why not plan your next walking holiday with us at Mallorca Hiking – and make this virtual tour a reality? We’ll design an itinerary just for you and your friends – see our tailor-made holidays. See you soon…

The Moors and the Christians

Moors & Christians1 Mallorca HikingThe second Monday in May (the 9th May in 2011) is a massive fiesta in the Sóller calendar. Much of the activity revolves around the annual re-enactment of the famous battle between the Moors and Christians originally fought on the beaches on 11th May 1561.

Celebrations commemorate a battle won by the bravery of the Pollença citizens who fought against 1,500 Moors led by the fearsome pirate Dragut. Probably the biggest pirate attack ever to be launched  on the island was thwarted primarily by the bravery of local hero, Joan Mas.  His warnings and  his heroic launch into battle, leading his local kinsmen to attack the pirates landing on the beaches, saved the day.

The initial “attack” comes by boats from the sea and onto the beach near the pier in Puerto de Sóller; the action then moves down the coast –  accompanied by Moors & Christians Mallorca Hikingtraditional Mallorquin music. The battles then move into the town centre, where historically both men and women rise up against the pirates.

The whole town of Sóller gets involved in some way in this fiesta. The two warring parties are easily identified as the Moorish troops wear dark make-up, but sometimes within the chaos and modern day enthusiasm for the fight it is hard to see who is actually winning. Needless to say lots of food and drink is consumed and everybody – both participants and spectators have a thoroughly good and very rowdy time!

As well as a huge street party, there is also an amazing fireworks display in the evening. From about 8 p.m. everyone who has taken part in the battle arrives at the Plaza. Here everybody joins in the biggest “fight” of the day and the noise is quite deafening – thick clouds of smoke fill the village square. Banks and houses are “robbed” by ladder-wielding pirates; bodies are strewn everywhere as the enactment mimics history with people hanging from trees, and blood-stained clothes adding to the dramatic effects. Finally victory is announced and the village joins as one singing La Balanguera – the hymn of Mallorca. Now all become friends again and the party really begins!

Moors & Christians Mallorca Hiking

Moors & Christians Mallorca Hiking

Music and festivities continue late into the night.

Es Firó is the biggest and most dramatic fiesta that takes place in Sóller. It is well worth experiencing, so if you can get to Mallorca in early May it’s a great time of year to combine a walking holiday as well as some serious partying!

If you can’t take time off, take a look at our tailor made walking holidays – we can organise a walking itinerary especially for you and your group, exactly when you want it…

We hope to see you soon…

Mallorca’s Wines

wines of Mallorca

Today’s post is by Martin Ward from Wine Educators International, our partner in Mallorca Hiking’s walking and wine tours:

So, as we are well into summer and it’s been very hot, dry and sunny… the last few summers have given us record temperatures; spare a thought for Mallorca’s vines as they bake, rather than bask or bathe, in the sun.

We might think that vines, like us, love nothing better than a long hot summer but this is not actually the case as they are fickle, demanding plants.  If you contrast the arid dryness of Mallorca’s Binissalem D.O. with some other, cooler, classic parts of the wine world, for example – Champagne, Germany or New Zealand to mention but a few, we can be perceived as simply too hot.  It’s the same in many places on the peninsula and in Lanzarote, where it regularly exceeds 40ºC.

Thank goodness we are a small island and we have some counterbalancing breezes to cool things down a little!  So, our temperamental vines like summer ‘warmth’, a little rain (at the right times and not torrential), cool winters, just a pocito of frost, breeze (but not high winds)…. you start to get the picture.

Having said this, it’s amazing that we have quite dramatic differences in the microclimates of our vineyard areas.  We have the two official D.O. regions of Binissalem & Pla I Llevant but also vineyards that do not fall into either of the demarcated, geographic areas, like the lovely Son Puig near Puigpunyent (where of course we offer a very special Walking & Wine Excursion – Puigpunyent).wine growing in Mallorca

This means that the harvest for the charming Isabel, her father Raimundo and family at Son Puig can sometimes be several weeks later than that of say, Bodegues Ribas in Consell where Araceli and her family often pick as early as the end of August or beginning of September (and here at Ribas, we can even arrange for you to spend a day helping with the harvest – hard work but a very enjoyable day and a fantastic experience!)

Mallorca’s grapes may sometimes reflect those of the peninsula in terms of style with Tempranillo; quite often they are international in flavour with Merlot, Syrah (Sira), plus Cabernet & Chardonnay BUT we also have the wonderful, indigenous varieties that make the island special.  Why not try some of the wines that showcase these – Mantonegro, Callet plus Fogoneu and Gargollasa for the reds and Premsal for the whites….. My favourite white for this time of the year is Son Puig Planco, which is Chardonnay + Premsal and it just happens to have won a Silver Medal in the prestigious Concours Mundial Bruxelles!

Better still, come and join us on one of our itineraries in the vineyards, taste the wines with us, and maybe even meet the winemaker…

We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

 

Fiery Fiestas in January

Fiestas January MallorcaJanuary enjoys two of the most vibrant fiestas here in Mallorca, and both are deeply rooted in folklore. They are celebrated with bonfires, street parties, firework displays and live musical events throughout all the main squares of Palma and many villages.

The first fiesta is that of San Antoni Abat, the protector of crops and livestock, although this fiesta also has links to Mallorca’s ancient fertility rites. Celebrated island-wide (except in Palma) on the 17th of January – Sa Pobla, Arta and Sant Joan have the biggest celebrations and even make San Antoni an official public holiday.

On the 16th of January, the eve of the saint’s day, bonfires are started throughout all the villages. BBQs are lit on street corners where families and neighbourhoods come together to party and to eat sobrasada, grilled sausages and many other traditional Mallorcan foods. You’ll see many demonic characters fire walking and dancing in the streets depicting the devil and the temptations that San Antoni battled with in the dessert.

As he was the patron saint of animals, on the day of San Antoni many families with their children go to their local church to have their pets and livestock blessed in a charming ceremony, asking for protection from the saint.

San Sebastian is the patron saint of Palma, so it is the city Palma that hosts the main celebrations for the fiesta on the 20th. This is a major fiesta with a week-long itinerary of musical and other events throughout the week prior to the 20th (you can find a list of events on the web page of the Ayuntamiento de Palma). San Sebastain was credited with the “miraculous” end to the black death plague that struck Mallorca in 1523-1524.

The main street party during this week of festivities is on the 19th of January, when there is live music in most of the city’s main squares – famous names to local folk groups to djs perform throughout the night. The evening starts early at 19.00hrs with a procession of giants, which process through the streets from the Plaza Cort to the Plaza Mayor. Again, bonfires form the centre-piece of the night’s revelries in each square – the Mayor starts the first bonfire and then all the fires throughout the city follow the lead. The music starts any time between 20.00 and 22.00hrs and plays on until the early hours of the following morning…

The 20th is the actual day of the fiesta where morning mass is held in the Cathederal of San Sebastian the Solemn.

Then on the 22nd of January, there is the spectacular Artiafoc fireworks display where it seems that everybody on the island crams themselves into Palma’s Paseo Maritimo to watch the show. Cascades of colour from screeching rockets and vibrating explosions illuminate the whole of the bay of Palma – a night not to be missed!

Receive all the latest information about Mallorca, the fiestas, the gastronomy, the historic villages and beauty spots as well as the best walking tours and tailor-made holidays by following the Mallorca Hiking blog – see below.