We usually travel to Ibiza at the beginning and end of the season. (You can read about Ibiza here if you are thinking of travelling in October.)
April is normally a nice month to go and I was continually checking the weather on my iPhone. It forecast rain for the day we arrived, would the gods smile on us or not?
I planned to drive to Gatwick airport and park the car in the short stay carpark. It is a little pricier than staying in the long stay, but I could not face the waiting around for shuttle buses and thought for the extra money it’s worth having convenience.
We overnighted at the Hilton Gatwick as it is located next to the short stay carpark and therefore easy access to the terminal. Now that British Airways have relocated their terminal to the South, this is worth considering. We were given a double superior room in the new refit. Although further away from reception along seemingly endless corridors, (at one point I thought I was trapped in a Haruki Murakami novel!) you get a much nicer room.
Cocktails are good here, the food was ok in Amy’s Restaurant but not worth the price. The bar is set in a nice atrium area, so feels light and airy and you can choose bar snacks to accompany your drinks.
Unfortunately as I write, South Terminal has woefully inadequate restaurants pre Security, hopefully this will change as it becomes more established. This was the first time that we had flown with BA without the complimentary food and drink service. It was a shock to have to part with money for my normal gin and tonic, especially as BA fares are not at all budget.
Mr B said it was not worth considering BA to fly short haul again and suggested we look at budget ‘no frills’ airlines. It was the same plane after all. I shuddered. No thank you. BA do have to rethink this faux pas, it now takes twice as long to get served in the cabin because of the extra time to take payments, (card or avios points only) If you are sat near the back, forget it, you will be eating and drinking just 30 minutes before you land. My advice is go to Wagamamas upstairs in the terminal before you board your flight and get some nice food and drink there or pack a picnic from Marks and Spencer before security and get your drinks when you’ve gone through.
When we arrived in Ibiza, we had booked a hire car through Sixt cars. We’ve never used them before, but they were a good price and the cars are located at the airport, there is no waiting around for the minivan and a drive of ten minutes to get to the cheaper car hire companies. The lovely young man upgraded us to a BMW 4 series. Mr B was over the moon. That made up for the weather being cold, damp and rainy. Despite Mr B’s protestations that he wanted to relax this break, I knew that the car would be too much of a temptation to do a whistle stop tour at some point. Our first two nights were booked at Atzaro, an Agroturismo, situated in the middle of orange groves in the centre of the island. It’s been two years since we last stayed there and is wonderful. We had been lured away by Aguas de Ibiza and the delightful Mirador de Dalt Vila, but it was good to be back.
I booked through the hotel website for the first night and got a good price from Booking.com for the second night. We had booked a suite for the second night so they upgraded us for both nights which was lovely. Our room was behind the main building, in a quiet and secluded part only for guests. We had two terraces and a small garden with a day bed. The suite is called Llebiec (pronounced Yeh Beck) and was glorious. We had an open fire, which was perfect for the inclement weather that we were experiencing, a huge four poster bed, and a decent sized bathroom. One thing to watch for is many of the bathrooms have climb into baths with the shower in the bath. This can prove a little tricky when you are trying to clamber out of the bath all wet and slippery. Extreme caution needed. Atzaro use the best bed linen and very comfortable beds with extra pillows. Bliss. We were very pleased with our room and immediately unpacked and I popped off to the bar for our first drinks of the holiday. Two large gold fish glasses of Vodka and Fresh Orange for Mr B and Gin Mare and Tonic for me.
Thankfully food in the restaurant is very good and provided you mention it to the staff upon arrival usually they will have a table free. Book ahead in high season as Atzaro is very popular with the locals and tourists alike. The fillet steak is always a good choice. Atzaro does also have a spa. It has two wonderful (one unheated, one heated) outdoor pools, a hammam and a sauna. There are also massages on offer, I had one of my best massages ever here and a range of yoga classes that are complimentary to guests so you can still work out and do your practice in a class if you wish. Sadly this time I had forgotten my lycra so a practice of full on relaxation beckoned for me.
However, due to the relentless drizzle, it was too wet to even drag myself to the spa. I preferred to cosy up with a roaring fire, a nice glass of red and of course, Mr B.
We took the car out for a spin the next day, exploring the hair pin roads to Portinatx, St Joan and along to St Vicente. The sea around Ibiza is mesmerising, beautiful shades of cool cerulean and deep turquoise blue almost too vivid to be true, it is breathtaking.
One of the bars on the seafront at Cala St Vicente called Restaurante Playa San Vicente is a great local place for simple food. Their tomato and tuna salad is delicious. They also do one of the cheapest and best mojitos. The Beach Bar is also good for food, portions are large, cocktails delicious and they also do nice healthy smoothies. This is at the far right of the beach set apart and next to the car park. It sometimes offers massages on its roof terrace.
Be careful heading through San Carlos on a Saturday as that is when the extremely popular Las Dalias hippy market is held and the roads soon get swollen with traffic. If you’ve never been to the hippy market either go first thing in the morning, or late in the afternoon to beat the crowds. You can feel a little like salmon swimming upstream otherwise. You get no chance to browse the lovely stalls, you only get spat out onto the pavement in the crush of people.
They also run a night time Hippy Market check online for details. Cala D’Hort was next on the list to revisit and is a must see, its the opposite side of the island to Cala St Vicente and both have a connection to Tanit. She was the Carthaginian fertility goddess who was worshipped here thousands of years ago. You canstill feel her energy on Ibiza. At St Vicente there is an ancient cave that was excavated and found to be an old Phoenician temple. (Es Cuieram). Many of the finds here can be seen upclose in the Archaeology Museum in Dalt Vila. Es Vedra on the other side of the island in the south was said to be Tanit’s home. It is also purported to be the site of the lashing of Odysseus to the mast and his rowers ears were stopped up with wax to prevent them hearing the sirens bewitching but deadly calls in Homer’s Odyssey.
The beach that overlooks the incredible iconic rock of a thousand postcards, Cala D’Hort, has three great fish restaurants. They do get incredibly busy though so do book ahead. Interestingly Hort in Catalan is garden. Translated Beach of the Garden. Garden of Eden perhaps? =)
Es Vedra attracts all kinds of energy from being the 3rd most magnetic point on the globe after the North Pole and the Bermuda Triangle. It has also attracted religious types. Take Palau I Quer for example.
Palau I Quer was a 19th century Carmelite priest who had been expelled from Tarragona in 1856 and sailed across to Ibiza. He became a hermit on Es Vedra for three years and experienced powerful visions about the end of the world foretold by a mysterious being who appeared to him. He wrote a book which is now in the private library of the Vatican and the Pope is the only one allowed to read it. The Vatican sent out emissaries who spoke to him and asked him what he wanted. He replied that he wanted to build a church for the fishermen, so they did at the nearby village of Es Cubells . This church is still very much in use today and has some interesting statues inside. There is also a statue and plinth of Palau I Quer along with a Carmelite nunnery. I find this piece of history fascinating. Any other place in the world that is famous for seeing visions of Mary and other saints are venerated and capitalised upon.
Not Es Vedra, it stands there, noble and not wanting veneration, it exists and it does so powerfully. The beach can get incredibly packed and the road down is very steep and quickly turns into a bottle neck. It is better to turn left at the road down to Cala D’ Hort instead of turning right to the beach as there is a fantastic natural car park where you can park up and admire the view. Be careful of your step though as it is a long way down and the usual boring bit about not leaving valuables on show as this is a favourite spot for unscrupulous car thieves.
If you are fortunate to come here in winter book a table at one of the 3 fish restaurants on the beach, or Es Boldaldo just across the way via a separate road. Your tummy will thank you. Disclaimer: There is nothing to stop you booking in summer, but the roads to and from the beach are so congested that it becomes a bit of a bun fight and I can’t bear that.
After leaving we were a little peckish so decided to call in to Sunset Ashram at Cala Comte. A few minutes along the coast from Cala D’Hort this is another lovely beach with glorious sunset views.
The restaurant here has been bought out and is nowhere near as good as it was a few years ago. The food menu is a bit whacky, also expensive. A small bowl of 5 baby potatoes fried was 12 euros. They were not nice at all and were microwaved and reheated. Pitiful. Yet the views are incredible and it is a wonderful place to stop for a drink.
I wonder how long this remote stretch of a cluster of restaurants will survive however, as a couple of years ago, billionaire developers from London bought a 12 km stretch including Sunset Ashram. Recently there was an auction for sun beds on the beaches in the south of the Island and now there are bans on live music and DJs at some of these beaches. The winds of change are coming and Ibiza may change immeasurably over the next few years.