Article & Photography by Michael Morcos
From Madrid to Barcelona and on to the Mediterranean coast, Spain has a diverse choice of destinations for the world traveler, and it is hard to decide where to go!
Fortune smiled on us and after a stop in Mallorca when we took the short flight to Ibiza. What a difference! Where Mallorca has much more grandeur, historical sites and is considered as a center of commerce and politics, Ibiza is laid back, relaxed and a party town!
Ibiza started out as a poor, small fishing and farming community. Over time, the island became a popular spot and got its party reputation from the 1960s, when “hippies” arrived, bringing peace and free love to the beaches and quiet villages of the island.
Though it is still know today for its’ parties, it is only at night now, as during the day people enjoy the sun, sand, great weather and wonderful food.
Our first day we enjoyed a guided tour through the old town of Ibiza, Dalt Vila, declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1999. Unmistakably Mediterranean, the cobbled streets and white washed buildings act as the backdrop for this playground for many musicians, artists and movie stars.
Our good luck continued as the Las Dalias Hippy Market in Sant Carles was open while we were visiting. This authentic market started in the early seventies and has held onto the “groovy vibe” ever since. There were even many old hippies dressed as they did back then, which gives visitors a glimpse into the past. It was a great atmosphere and one of the major draws in Ibiza. Plenty of great artist and their crafts were on display and for sale and we bought an airbrushed painting of The Buddha and a CD of a local band. Their music was fantastic!
After our tour, we were free to explore the numerous shops and restaurants in the old quarter. Funny enough, we had the streets almost to ourselves as most visitors did not come out until the afternoon, no doubt as most were sleeping in to save energy for their evening in the old port, where the chic night clubs only open up late in the evening!
Surrounding this city of delights are the massive walls, some reaching over 25m in height, and their accompanying seven bastions. Impressive even today, these Renaissance-era ramparts that were designed to withstand heavy artillery are spectacular at night, with floodlights providing a dramatic look. Built to repel pirates, the ramparts now are a pedestrian walkway where visitors can enjoy great views of the Port area and closeby islands.
A tour of the countryside
Our visit continued in the town of Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera and getting there along the winding coastal road with breathtaking views from up high was a wonderful trip in itself.
The town has many features for a visitor, including the well-known old church and a breathtaking coastline. Our highlights included a memorable lunch at Bar Costa, a restaurant smack on the beach with a view of the clear blue waters and a packed beach of sunbathers. For lunch we had the restaurant’s specialty of Spanish paella with fresh sea food straight from the ocean coupled with great local wines.
Kayaks and bicycles
The day would become even more memorable as we went on a kayak ride along the coastline, and there is no better way to enjoy the beautiful coastline of Ibiza, with the bonus of a great workout to burn off those delicious meals. We enjoyed the recommended rides around the famous rock at Benirras beach, where the views are nothing short of spectacular and the rides are tailored to your skill level.
Our sporting tour continued with a guided bike excursion around Es Broll de Buscastell, and discovering the site of an ancient freshwater spring. This wonderful ride travels through one of the largest wetlands in Ibiza and weaves through a system of mounds, valleys and vales, a veritable explosion of nature!
We also had the pleasure of riding along the country side. It was like being in a fairytale. The olive groves, farms, cows, sheep, forests, fresh air made the experience much more than just great exercise going up and down hills.
Elaborar de vino
Winemakers in Spain speak how they elaborar (to elaborate) wines rather than produce them when describing their winemaking philosophy, as they feel the winemaker acts as a cultivator of grapes and wine rather than a simple producer. Our trip consisted of several stops for wine tasting, our favorite being the Bodega Sa Cova in Sant Mateu d’Albarca.
We were treated to a “small winery with a big heart” located in the centre of the island, a lovely example of Ibiza’s special place in Spanish culture. The owner showed us around the facilities and then offered us samples with local specialty finger foods.
Excellent wines and gracious hosts made for a wonderful wine experience!
At the beach
Platges de Comte, or ‘Cala Conta’, is a special treat for visitors. With sandy beaches, views of the coastline and beautiful turquoise waters, it is one of the best beaches on Ibiza Island. As clear as glass, the water is calm and safe for children, and more experienced swimmers can venture further out, but must be aware of the currents offshore. There are three sandy areas including a small cove reached by a rocky stairway. Though smaller than the big beaches of the mainland, the water is so inviting that very few people remain on the beach anyway!
Sunset in Ibiza
Sunset and dinner at the Ses Roques restaurant was a great way to spend our last few hours of our short tour of Ibiza. Located in one of the most beautiful parts of Ibiza, the terrace offers amazing views, with foods both delicious and unique. Authentic and local, I recommend the true flavors of the Mediterranean – fish and seafood , rice, meat , and their salads …
The sunset was truly marvelous, and the terrace becomes a romantic retreat for lovers and partners to celebrate the setting sun and the end of a fabulous visit.
You can read about our Ibiza accommodations in the Stay & Play section of this issue on page 62.
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