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Spring in Midwinter

21/01/2022
white and pink almond flower

During the month of January in Mallorca a small meteorological miracle takes place known as the January calm, or las calmas de enero” in Spanish, a brief, euphoric spring in the heart of winter. At this time of the year the sea level is lower and the calm days are a result of high atmospheric pressure. The daytime temperatures increase and the sea level drops between 20 and 40cm. We are blessed with sunny, still days accompanied by calm seas that are like a millpond. This coincides with a spectacle that links natural beauty and human intervention as the first fruit tree of the year comes into flower. As the first cereal shoots start to emerge, the almond trees begin to blossom and are covered in elaborate rich brocades, with delicate, vaporous flowers that will become sweet fruit in summer. 

 

Mallorca is covered in a blanket of pink and white tones during this period that offers us a glimpse of spring. As in Japan or the Jerte Valley with the flowering of the cherry blossom, seeing the almond blossom in bloom is a magnificent sight that instils in us a sense of new beginnings. Discover more about our island by staying at Inturotel where you’ll be able to witness small miracles of nature just like this.

 

Almond trees picture

 

Vincent Van Gogh, one of the world’s great artistic geniuses, had a special relationship with trees in blossom and for him they represented an awakening, new life and hope. He demonstrated his fascination for them in his work Amandelbloesem (Almond Blossom), painted in honour of the birth of his nephew.

 

Like Vincent (who suffered from a bipolar disorder all his life, experiencing periods of severe depression that forced him into isolation), on a global level we are all going through a difficult period, of social isolation, introspection and in some cases unwanted solitude. More than ever, we need to have hope and faith that the situation will soon improve and that once again we will be able to enjoy our social events and trips to the sun and sea of Cala d’Or in Mallorca.

 

Seeing the almond blossom fills us with optimism and a desire to make plans for the warmer weather, such as enjoying the countryside, the mountains and the beach in a celebration of the senses that represents leaving this long winter behind us and holding out hope for a better future.

 

Almond trees and sunset

 

The almond tree, the tree of lovers

The almond tree is the tree of lovers and its blossom symbolises love, death and resurrection. There is a Mallorcan saying that goes: “Flor d’ametller, amor vertader” (almond flower, true love). Below we explain the reason behind this saying.

Almond trees typically grow in warm climates and studies show that they possibly originated in Central Asia and North Africa from where they were introduced to Greece and Rome. Mythology explains their origin through the beautiful yet sad tale of Phyllis and Acamas.


Phyllis, a princess of Thrace, was in love with Acamas, a handsome young soldier who was sent to fight in the Trojan War.

At the end of the war the soldiers returned home. Every day Phyllis went to the port to await her beloved’s ship, but the days passed and he did not return. On the ninth day, convinced he would never return, the princess died of sorrow.

The goddess Athena, grieved by what had taken place, turned Phyllis into an almond tree. The next day Acamas returned, having been delayed because of damage to the ship in which he was travelling.

 

On discovering what had happened, the heartbroken Acamas embraced the tree and Phyllis responded to his embrace and his pain by adorning her branches with beautiful white flowers.

Since then, the almond blossom has symbolised how love overcomes all, even death, or that the flowers are a comfort for those we love. Almond blossom means eternal life.  

 

Forest with almond trees on a sunny day

 

A typical Mallorcan landscape

Come and wander along the rural tracks near our hotels on foot or by bike, without rushing and taking everything in. You’ll discover that almond trees are not usually grown on their own, but rather in Mallorca they are planted with carob trees and to a lesser extent fig trees, with them alternating along the symmetrical rows of the fields.

 

Looking up you’ll be enchanted by the pink and white blossom of the almond trees and looking down the earth is like a green carpet flecked with the cheery yellow stains of the Bermuda buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae). If you’re really quiet and go for a walk very early or late on in the day you might spot a hare, partridge or rabbit scampering by.

 

The branches of the almond tree provide home for birds such as the black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), the Sardinian warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) and flocks of goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) that eat the small insects and parasites that invade the trees. Running and hopping over the fields of green carpet you’ll see quick and nimble white wagtails (Motacilla alba).

You might get to hear the fleeting flight (like the buzzing of an insect) of the song thrush (Turdus philomelos). And high up in the intense blue sky you might spot the majestic flight of a red kite (Milvus milvus), a sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) and flocks of crows.

 

Almond tree flowers

 

A pleasant activity that many locals participate in is making bouquets from some of the most beautiful branches to bring the promise of spring into the house. You can create a small “ikebana” (living flower), the Japanese art of flower arranging. To do so you need to select a single branch or various branches of a species that is in season, in this case the almond tree. When choosing your branch or branches, it is important to consider the vase or container that you are going to use, as the shape and distribution of the flowers and buds must be in harmony with the container and the space in which it is positioned (preferably in the entrance hall to greet visitors with this natural world in miniature). Provided you only take a small branch you won’t harm the tree or the farmer. Every flower that is picked represents one less fruit in the summer. 

 

wood table with almond tree flowers and scissors

 

Did you know that the almond flower is edible? It has a bittersweet taste that means the flower is highly prized in oriental cuisine as it can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. It is used in soups, infusions (very good for the digestion) and desserts. In Mallorca, however, it is the fruit, the almond, that is the star and an essential ingredient in delicious sweet and savoury recipes.

 

Recommended routes for contemplating this paradise.

The municipal district of Felanitx, just a few metres from the Inturotel hotels, has one of the best-preserved rural landscapes on the island. You will find beautiful walks through areas of special natural interest right on the doorstep of your room.  

 

The walk to Cala Mitjana and Cala Sanau is dotted with farmland where almond and carob trees grow and native breeds of sheep graze. If you continue walking you can follow the coast to Cala Estreta and you’ll go past the old ‘marés’ sandstone quarries along the cliffs.

If you’re travelling by bike, we recommend going from Cala Sanau along the Cala Ferrera road towards S’Horta. Before you reach the village take a little track that leads to Portocolom via Cala Brafi. It is a wonderful route. And for the most daring we recommend an energising dip in the calm transparent waters of any of these coves. Even though the water is still cold, taking a swim at this time of year has been shown to have many health benefits.

 

The Can Marines path takes you to the little village of S’Horta passing by fields of almond and carob trees, flocks of sheep with the sound of the birds in the air. From there you can continue to the “Els Horts” area and walk through orchards with the Santueri Castle watching over you in the distance.

 

Another lovely walk starts in Es Carritxó and takes us via Binifarda to the Santueri Castle with spectacular views over Mallorca’s southeast coast. You can see Portocolom, Portopetro, Cala d’Or and with the help of binoculars even your hotel. You can also enjoy beautiful views of the Sant Salvador monastery.

 

ikebana

 

We highly recommend visiting our district during the flowering of the almond blossom so that you can experience it in person. Our Inturotel Esmeralda Villas Freestyle are the perfect option for enjoying it all at your own pace even before our hotels open their doors for the season.  

 

All of us at the Inturotel team look forward to your visit and hope you have a wonderful holiday.

 

 

Blog

A walk along the coast
02/05/2022
A walk along the coast
The walk (or run for those who are feeling energetic) starts from one of our hotels located in Cala d'Or, Mallorca. Walk towards Cala sa Nau until you reach the cycle path (if you’re coming from Sa Marina join the cycle path at the roundabout at the entrance to Cala d'Or next to the Cespa petrol station). From the other hotels head along Calle de s'Espalmador and, keeping to this street, continue until you reach the start of the cycle path that takes you to the Cala sa Nau/Cala Mitjana path. After approximately 1km turn right along an unpaved track towards Cala Mitjana (cars are not allowed along here). This track leads right to the cove. Once there, have a short rest and take in the extraordinary beauty of the landscape. In summer a ‘capfico’ (a dip in the sea) is a must, although you can also take one in winter. Sea lovers and swimming enthusiasts will not be able to resist the turquoise waters and will want to plunge straight in. If you have never tried cold water swimming, we would encourage you to give it a go. It’s a very special experience.     Did you know that swimming makes up happy? The relaxing sensation of the water against our bodies reduces stress and releases powerful endorphins that improve our wellbeing. So, leave your worries behind and take a dip in one of the world’s clearest seas.   After your rest continue along the route towards Es Puntàs and Es Cossi, two stunning sites along this coastal terrain. Take a cobbled path that runs parallel to the left of the cove (avoid the paved road as it’s private and you might get told off). The next section takes you over the rocks (it can be a bit uncomfortable so we recommend wearing trainers with a thick sole or walking boots) heading east until you see the impressive hole of Es Puntàs crag. This is a very popular spot with rock climbers. The coast between Cala Serena and Cala sa Nau is a top spot for those who do psicobloc, also known as deep-water soloing, and in spring and summer you’ll see people doing it. Young people who are fans of this extreme sport come from as far away as the United States and Australia to do this type of free climbing. It is very dangerous and has resulted in a number of deaths. The pioneer and person responsible for naming the sport was the Mallorcan Miquel Riera. He made this type of climbing fashionable among his acquaintances from all over the world. The Mallorcan pop group Antònia Font dedicated a song to him.       The island has excellent climbing training centres if you want to give it a go or improve your technique so you can climb in uniquely beautiful natural settings. We recommend you do not climb alone, always let someone know where you are going to climb and take all safety measures. Mallorca is a paradise for adventure sports such as scuba diving, kayaking, caving, snorkelling and climbing.     Geology This coastline is formed of karst platforms that originated under the sea during the Tertiary Period, some 10 million years ago. Along the low stepped cliffs, sea erosion has created areas of smooth rock covered by sea water. The area closest to Cala sa Nau has an almost lunar landscape, with large formations of marés sandstone (ancient mangrove swamps) containing fossils of shells and other living creatures trapped in time.       Flora Although the coast is hit by heavy storms from the east during the winter months and conditions for plants are tough due to the salinity of the environment, you can see true survivors such as saltpetre, sea fennel,  juniper trees (one of the native trees that is most resistant to the salt thrown at them by the easterly storms) and a few small pine trees that are reminiscent of Japanese bonsais because the wind and salty water stunt their growth, sculpting them into unusual forms.     Fauna If you are a nature lover, we recommend taking binoculars on the walk. Look out for the flight of the cormorant (Phalacrocoracide) coming and going from its home in the cracks in the rocks, the colourful bee-eater (Merops apiaster), the majestic Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae) and listen out for the song of the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius). The walk takes you through cultivated fields and pine groves where you might see red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa), Eurasian hoopoes (Upupa epopos), European goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), red kites (Milvus milvus) and great tits (Parus major). Some migratory species can only be seen in certain months. If you’re lucky you might even get to see dolphins when the sea is calm (the best time is the early morning or evening).     Toponomy Some points of interest are Es Cossi, Es Puntàs, Sa Cova de Cala sa Nau and Forat d’en Mengo. The latter is only visible from the sea and is highly recommended as a kayaking trip. For more information check out our adventure sports partner: marimonte-online.com   Head towards Cala sa Nau leaving Es Puntàs on the right with its majestic window out on to the sea. Soon you’ll see Cala sa Nau in the background. Walk near the sea over the rocks. We recommend following the red trail left on the rocks by walkers (if you stray from this path the rocks become very sharp and walking is very uncomfortable).   A surprise awaits you on the walk that will take you right back to prehistoric times on our island. You can see the funerary hypogea or burial caves at Cala sa Nau. Archaeologists cannot agree on their date, but it would appear that they are from the Pretalayotic period (between the 3rd millennium BC and the end of the 2nd millennium BC). The Pretalayotic period is the name given to the first cultural manifestation of prehistoric society on the Gymnesian Islands (as Mallorcan and Menorca were known before the Roman conquest). You’ll find the burial chambers on your left right at the end of the path. Then have a final dip in the waters of the cove or sunbathe on the warm sand and enjoy a few moments of relaxation. We recommend avoiding the hottest months of the year and the middle of the day. The route is ideal for walking between October and May and is best done in the morning.   The return route is straightforward along a paved track towards Cala Ferrera-Cala d'Or and then retrace your steps along the route you have just taken to return.     We hope you enjoy your walk. Remember to leave nature as you find it and take any rubbish home with you in your rucksack. Musical recommendation to accompany the walk: Antònia Font ‘Un Minut Estroboscòpica’.    
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