Month: January 2015

Mallorca’s Plastic Problem and how to make a difference with your own Dos Manos

If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance you’re lucky like me in being able to say you live on the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca. Strolls along the Bay of Alcudia, sunset drinks in Portixol and Es Trenc tanning sessions; it’s all everyday stuff for us 😉 But because of those stunning beaches Mallorca’s hardly the Med’s best kept secret!

Only last year over 9 million people flew in to soak up some rays and slurp on seaside sangria’s which is why you’ll hear anything from Danish to Dutch, and from Mancunian to Mallorquin on any of La Isla’s abundance of beaches. Our beaches are bu-sy and this gets reflected in the amount of rubbish left behind every day of which the sight alone is enough to make you shake your fist in fury! But apart from blighting our beaches it’s affecting our marine life and ecosystems in ways that will be impossible to reverse. Last year it was estimated that no less than 250 billion pieces of micro plastic are floating around the Mediterranean, turning the sea into a plastic soup ingested by fish and even plankton, the base of the whole food chain! Also according to a study recently conducted in Barcelona 70% of Balearic shearwaters, a critically endangered species, contain plastic fragments! 70!

The Balearic shearwater, a critically endangered species.  Licensed under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The Balearic shearwater, a critically endangered species.
Licensed under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

And while I’m no beach bum myself I still prefer my beaches bottle less thank you very much, which is one of the reasons I love Dos Manos, Mallorca based Asociación Ondine‘s approach to dealing with plastic pollution . ‘Take 30 minutes and two hands to clean up yOUR world anytime, anywhere’ is their slogan. And while they support the spirits of the big international clean up days Dos Manos call upon people like you and me to organise an ally (or not), pick a date and see what you can do with 2-4 hands in thirty minutes. And it’s this taking things back to grassroots what makes this project so cool as it concentrates on the things you and me can do for the places we care about anytime we want. Whether that’s picking up the crisp packets and plastic cups along Palma’s Paseo Maritimo, the chocolate wrappers and coke bottles on Cala Comtessa’s fine, soft sand or the random pieces of plastic in the port of Pollensa. And whether you do it because you’re concerned about the state of the Med, you want to protect seagulls from getting entangled in plastic six-pack rings or the sight of the abandoned remains of a picnic on your favourite stretch of sand is enough to wish you could track down the culprit and chuck him in the middle of the Pacific Trash Vortex, what you or you and a mate can do with two manos is easy.

Only a couple of minutes into the clean up!

Only a couple of minutes into the clean up!

So how does it work?

1) Get gloves, a bag / bucket together and download the Dos Manos audit sheet

2) Spend 30 min picking up as much plastic pollution as possible

3) Take a pic of you and your ‘haul’

4) Dispose of the collected rubbish correctly

5) Post your pic on the Dos Manos Facebook Page, sharing the results of your activities and letting the Dos Manos people know what plastic pollution you have removed from our beaches.

Me? I live a very fortunate 5 min from Anima beach in Palma and was curious to see how bad things are in winter. From afar the beach seemed quite clean but on closer inspection the shore was actually chocker with trash. So I set out last Saturday morning and after half an hour had collected a confused jumble that could inspire most contemporary artists to create a masterpiece! I picked up: 59 plastic bottles, 9 crisp packets, 18 plastic cups, 7 random bits of foam, half a chair, part of a trolley, an umbrella, torn police tape (?), a paint tube and a big heap of plastic bags which all together culminated in half a k of cleaned up beach.

I’m fully aware I didn’t save the planet that Saturday morning and definitely don’t deserve a big pat on the back but I did make Mallorca a teeny, weeny, tiny bit cleaner and that’s a helluva lot better than sipping cafe-con-leche’s complaining about those lousy litterers right?

And just imagine if half of all 858.313 Islanders would use their two manos for half an hour to pick up some plastic? This would result in no less than 214.000 km’s of beautifully, clean, clear beach. That’s the equivalent of all Mallorca’s 179 beaches… times 4280!

Just sayin’.. 😉

30 min and half a K of clean beach later!

30 min and half a K of clean beach later!

Palma’s Top Places for Tapas y Pintxos

Although we all know the word ‘tapas’ comes from the Spanish tapar, (‘to cover’), there are quite a few theories floating around on what the source of this meaning actually is. The most shared is that a piece of bread was often placed on top of a drink to protect it from fruit flies and at some stage it became custom to top this ‘cover’ with some ‘queso’ or ‘jamón’. We however also quite like the least known possibility where Felipe III passed a law which declared that when buying a drink, the bartender was to put a small snack over the mouth of the goblet. This to try and restrict rowdy drunken behaviour, particularly among soldiers and sailors! The idea being that the food would slow the effects of the alcohol. Ha! I’m not sure about soldiers but I know most sailors would need a lot more than a few ‘croquetas’ to stop them from being three sheets to the wind and having trouble staggering back to their ship..

La Bóveda's Bellota

La Bóveda’s Bellota

In any case Palma counts more tapas restaurants than you can shake a shrimp skewer at but just like you we only like to nibble on the best of boquerones and tuck into the tastiest tortillas thank you very much. And although we’ve been going around trying and testing the traditional tapas; so many calamares, patatas bravas and pimientos de padron! We’ve also done some serious snacking on tapas of the more contemporary kind and have thus come up with this list of solid places that serve up the most scrumptious of mini meals and finger foods for you to gorge on.

La Bóveda We’re certain you’ve eaten at this la Lonja classic where you’ll never spot an empty table, noise levels are suitably high, waiters occasionally grumpy but the quality of the Jamón Bellota always so incredibly good you want to slowly slide that plate over to your end of the table, create a barrier with your right arm and refuse to share any of it with your fellow eaters. We’re also quite partial to their pata negra and the house plonk, a crianza, is pretty good too.

Quina Creu in Palma's Old Town

Quina Creu in Palma’s Old Town

Quina Creu This hip hideaway features the cities coolest retro interior made up from weird murals, funky flea market finds and old style island treasure. It has two entrances; one for the restaurant and one for the pintxos bar where if the sweet sounds of bossa nova won’t lure you in, the sight of their selection of pintxos will. Their small skewered snacks are cheap (1,50€ each) and tiny which affords you to totally indulge. Chefs here come up with crazy, creative concoctions like the goats cheese, nuts, sugar and cinnamon one of which we inhaled four even before ordering our first verdejo.

L’Ambigú Bar Hidden in the dark windy streets of the old town you’ll find this cosy terrace lit by fairy lights and kept toasty during those two months Palma pretends to get cold with outdoor heaters and fluffy blankets. Unpretentious and always packed this place boasts an impressive display of imaginative pintxos like the tiny towers of smoked salmon/ grilled aubergine/ avocado or artichoke/ boquerones/ cherry tomatoes/ balsamic glaze which keep getting refreshed and kept us coming back for more.. Don’t forget to order a slice of the tortilla, it has some secret ingredients inside making it exceptionally delish..

Antiquari Cafe

Antiquari Cafe

L’Antiquari L’Antiquari used to be an antiques shop a few years back which is still evident in the quirky antiques everywhere so don’t be surprised to share your table with a singer sewing machine or to have to rest your drink on a black and white style telly. There are the ‘cafe con leche’ crowds during the day but come early eve it starts to buzz with locals and foreigners filing in to slurp on draft Guiness, friendly-priced cocktails and tuck into their pa amb oli’s, croques and salad’s.

Appetising, affordable, filling and all prepared fresh from their itty bitty open kitchen.

Gaudeix This place is tucked into a tiny square on Carrer de Can Sales and made us feel like we made a local discovery only seconds after we first sat down. There are tables outside on this pretty little plaza and as the street’s pedestrianised the terrace’s got a cosy backyard sort of feel to it. They serve tapas and pintxos but both are cooked to order so you’ll never need to wonder how long these tiny treats have been on display. The broad bean stew and oxtail are absolutely delicious and they serve a black pudding with a hazelnut inside so fantastically flavourful you’ll want to talk about it for the next two days..

Santa Catalina's Patxi

Santa Catalina’s Patxi

Patxi looks very closed for most of the day but after 8pm opens its shutters to attract a lively mix of locals and visitors keen to swill rioja and devour some traditional but very tasty tapas. There’s a restaurant at the back but it’s at the front in the bar where the noise, the action and fantastic platters of pintxo’s are at. When you walk in it looks like any other tapas place in town but don’t let these modest surroundings fool you as at Patxi’s it’s all about the food. Watch Patxi himself cook his socks off in the kitchen or wolf down the melt-in-your-mouth meats to know what we’re on about.

¡Buen provecho!

Patxi didn't fit but can be found in Sta Catalina

Patxi can be found in Sta Catalina at the end of San Magí on your right on Carrer Espartero No 28