“8 o clock will be fine. We used to do 2 sittings but since the crisis we only have one”
So said the owner of Baiziki, arguably the best Indian restaurant in Palma. Like many businesses in Majorca it is struggling. Previously packed out each evening it is now on restricted hours with less than half the tables occupied.
Last weekend was the MAMILs annual Majorcan cycling trip. The scale of the worsening economic crisis was clear to see. The first thing you notice are the benefits to tourists. With such a dramatically weakening economy the local businesses seem to be in a race to cut prices and attract custom. Traditional bars in the squares of beautiful rustic villages were often asking less than one Euro for coffee and less than one and a half Euros for a large beer. Way cheaper than even last year.
Apart from the more modern hotels supported by trade from the major tour operators it was clear the vacancy rates and prices were low. A 3 star 1970s hotel with swimming pool and sea view was coming in at around 15- 20 Euros per person. One wonders where this race to the bottom will end. Once vibrant streets in downtown Palma are now half boarded up whilst groups of unemployed youths gather in cheap bars and local parks – more visible than in England given the weather.
A few steps away from Palma Cathedral and its bustling seafront and you sense a tired atmosphere in a city too big for its economy. But more worryingly was the atmosphere of hostility to Germany. In one bar we saw a picture of Angela Merkel stuck on a blackboard accompanied by grossly offensive remarks which were easy to translate. In the airport toilets anti – German graffiti was common as it was elsewhere in the towns and villages. For an island so reliant on German visitors the counter productivity of this is obvious.
Where it all might end was signalled clearly when we went to pay the hotel bill on the last morning. Despite it being twelve years since the single currency our bill was presented in both Euros and Pesetas. A statement of intent indeed.