“As the old year retires and a new one is born, we commit into the hands of our creator the happenings of the past year and ask for direction and guidance in the new one.” – Peggy Toney Horton
The end of the year tends to give many of us reason to pause and look back on what has occurred over the past twelve months. Fortunately, in 2019, we were on the lucky side and our “major events”, though significant to us, were happily not of the overly dramatic or earth-shattering kind. Just the way we like it! Not to say there wasn’t plenty of important stuff going on…there most assuredly was.
Palma Airport saw a record number of passengers come through in January, up 19% on the previous year to 840,000 passengers, with foreign tourism up the same percentage, visitors spending a total of €135 million. Great for the local economy and great for those of the tourists who got the sunshine without the summer-long lines.
When the Guards at Almudaina Palace in Palma did their monthly ceremonial changing of the guard, they were kitted out in brand new duds. The new uniforms still have the look of the 19th century, but now consist of red trousers, white coats, waistcoats and boots, a black bowtie and a tricorn hat. This was the first time the uniforms had been changed in ten years.
Taxi fares took a hike…but only by a little… after a seven-year freeze during the economic crisis. To offset inflation, daytime rates were raised by .05 cents and night-time rates remained the same. Moderate, indeed.
Mallorca also saw its second driest February since it started recording rain data in 1978. 2019 was only fractionally above 2000, the driest of the century so far, and the lack of rain made the days marginally warmer and the nights slightly colder than average.
Palma’s sightseeing hop on/hop off buses turned 20 this month and celebrated by giving free tickets to kids and free cake to all riders.
Additionally, the 15thedition of the Mallorca Classic Car Rally was held in Puerto Portals showing off exceptional beauties from Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Jaguar and Chevy, to name a few.
The new set of measures went into effect in Palma to try and curb excessive drinking and the associated problems that go with it. Fines up to €3,000 could be placed on bar owners who flout rules against happy hours and two-for-one drink specials, while tourists who exhibit “unbecoming behaviour” found they could be slapped with an equally stiff penalty. Residents and citizens groups applauded the move.
The Palma International Boat Show started on 29th April and received 7% more visitors than the previous year. There were more than 600 boats exhibited over an 82,000m2 exhibition area, and showed the relevance of Palma in the yachting world.
Additionally, a late Easter pushed back hotel reopening decisions, leading some hotels to delay openings until early May.
Bicipalma, the cycle pool programme that allows registered users to borrow bikes from stations all over the city of Palma, got an extra 200 bikes for free from the city of Bilbao. It seems Bilbao had a massive surplus and generously handed the bikes over, helping Palma in its efforts to go green.
Summer came in like a lion! June temperatures were the hottest recorded worldwide, with heat waves gripping large swathes of Europe, including Mallorca. By late month, scorching temps were hitting almost 40° and making residents and tourists take refuge at beaches, pools and cool indoor locales.
It was also announced that upward of 5,000 students in the Mallorca state school system would receive free school meals in the 2019-2020 school year, having earmarked €3.4 million in public funds to do so.
RCD Mallorca, the island’s football club, was returned to first division league standing after six long years in second and third league play. Fans welcomed their triumphant return by coming out in droves. 12,000 people filled the stands on their first back.
Check out Affordable Mallorca's How to Survive in the Heat >>
Weather made the news again, with near-record highs reported, rivalling 2003 when people died all over Europe from heat-related illness.
Mallorca got a new Minister for Tourism, Iago Negueruela, whose goals are for better worker’s rights, environmentally sustainable tourism and further measures against alcohol-tourism[[LINK TO Crackdown on Booze Tourism ARTICLE]].
Palma installed their first filtered drinking water fountain in the Plaça del Mercado in the city’s battle against single use plastic bottles. The water is free and meant to encourage people to use reusable bottles instead of just throwing them away. Happy news for the green team!
Enormous jellyfish were spotted all along the island's coast causing alarm to swimmers and tourists. Called Barrel Jellyfish, they have a weak sting despite their great size, and pose no threats to humans, except scaring the pants off us!
Soller's antique railway line was involved in a hostile takeover bid, but indignant residents fought back telling the would-be investors to bug off and that the train was not for sale.
Also, this month saw, for the first time ever in Spain, a top-level, first-division league soccer match refereed by a woman. Guadalupe Porras Ayuso was decision-maker of the night at Mallorca’s Son Moix stadium on 17th August in a match between Mallorca and Eibar, a team from the Basque country.
Thousands of British tourists who booked holidays with now-defunct travel firm Thomas Cook were stranded on the island when the company abruptly shuttered their doors in late September. The effort to get the marooned passengers home sparked the biggest peacetime repatriation mission in the history of the country. The closure cost employees in the Balearics 1,500 jobs, and left hundreds of hoteliers empty-handed as the company refused to pay its debts.
More than 4,500 people gathered in Palma for a climate strike rally, demanding the government to take action and develop urgent plans to battle climate change at a local level. Chanting “There is No Planet B”, the marchers, who included local environmental minister Miquel Mir, stressed the importance in adopting sustainable habits.
Mallorquin tennis hero Rafael Nadal won the US Open, making it his 19thGrand Slam win.
Speaking of Rafa Nadal… on 21st October, he wed his long-time girlfriend Xisca Perello at a lavish 350 guest ceremony at La Fortaleza, the location of the hit television series The Night Managerand believed to be the most expensive property in Spain. Former King of Spain, Juan Carlos I was among the guests.
Two days later a massive storm hit Mallorca leaving downed power lines, fallen trees and major flooding in its wake. The airport was forced to divert flights due to the gale force winds and driving rain, and emergency services had more than 100 calls in a 24-hour period. It was estimated more than 1,700 lightning strikes hit the island, causing a magnificent, if not slightly frightening, show.
Between the 22nd and 27th October, 2019, the town of Manacor hosted up the XXI European Hot Air Balloon Championship. Mallorca’s skyscape was transformed by hundreds of floating globes, an array of colours dotted across the skyline, and we were out there to cover it all. An experience beyond words - look and see for yourself >>
Finally, environmentalists were alarmed at the infiltration of a species of crab that hitched a ride on ships from North America. The crab is practically unconquerable, having few natural predators, an uncanny ability to live in salt and fresh water and an appetite for everything. Happily, they are also delicious so look for them on restaurant menus around the island soon!
After a super mild autumn, November came on like a polar bear with plummeting temperatures, strong winds, heavy rain and snow in the Tramuntana.
On November 4th, the International Airline Group (IAG), juggernaut who counts British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, and Aer Lingus among its holdings, signed a transaction agreement to buy Mallorca-based Air Europa for an estimated €1 billion. Read here what is at play for the roughly 1,000 people Air Europa employs on the island>>
Weather in the spotlight again as a violent electrical storm on 4th December dumped massive amounts of rain and hail, knocking out power in large swaths of the island.
Also, after 90 years, artefacts that once belonged to the King of Mallorca and were usurped by the Royal Armory in Madrid are returning to the island. Pieces including a headpiece of King Martí will be given back this month after Palma's Mayor Antoni Noguera successfully put pressure on the National Heritage Administrative Council to send the relics back to their rightful home. There will be an exhibition showing off the recovered items on 27th December at the Festa de l’Estendard.
And the island got a load of the Costa Smerelda, the fifth largest cruise ship on the planet, calling into Palma on its maiden voyage on Christmas Eve. The ship, powered by liquified natural gas, is the cleanest fossil fuel in the world and marks a new direction for cruise lines to follow, setting new standards for sustainable mobility.
Por Stephanie Horsman
24 diciembre, 2019