It’s that time if year when you send an email – to pretty much anyone except online shopping boutiques – and you automatically receive the out of office bounce back. It makes perfect sense; it’s the holidays, most people are home celebrating with friends and families and don’t require a lot of services, advice or witty banter online. Usually, I am not one of these people. As most people who know me know, I am quite a perfectionist and am what could be called addicted to my work, and so I very rarely switch off. In fact, I can tell you the last time I switched off: December 2016, for four days. But today, I’m feeling the urge to join the ranks of the rest of you out-of-officers and take myself a mini-break. Deep breath in!
You see, even when I travel, I take my laptop and I am the one who is frantically smashing on her keyboard on trains, in taxis, in the airport, on the plane. I’m the one who is incredibly frustrated that there’s no internet on board planes. And I’m the one who often misses important moments because she’s sitting in her hotel room ‘working remotely’ or ‘on a deadline’ or jumping on ‘one last call’. But let me be clear – this is no woe is me email. I like my life like this. I LOVE my work. But this time, starting from today, right here, right now, I’m going to try and step back just a little and see what it’s like on the other side.
With that in mind, I’m going to cut myself short (who knew that was possible?) for the very first time in my life, put my out of office on and go and join my friends in the pool. But before I do that, there’s just one last thing I’d like to say: Thank you so, so much to everyone who reads this blog week in and week out. Thank you to those who’ve been reading since the beginning; thank you to those who tune in and out on the occasions that suit them; thank you to the newbies who’ve only recently discovered it. I wish you all the happiest of new years, wherever you may be ringing in this new decade, and send you you all a lot of love. I’ll be back, rested and who knows, maybe even tanned, in time for my next blog and we can pick up where we left off. Have fun, party safe and remember what Ram Dass said: We’re all just walking each other home.A Christmas wish list with a difference
As we’re all very aware, ‘tis the season to be shopping and while normally I’m dropping hints so big Santa can spot them from the North Pole, this year I find myself feeling a little differently towards the tradition of Christmas gift-giving. Now (take note Santa) that’s not to say I’d say no to a present if someone happens to have one wrapped and waiting for me under their tree (I’d be ever so gracious and also probably also quite overexcited), I’m just feeling a little more conscious these days. Conscious of commercialism, conscious of the waste caused by so much packaging and gift wrapping, conscious of my carbon footprint when ordering things online, conscious of over consumption and of course, conscious of budget.
So when I started to think about writing my Christmas wish list for dear old Santa – and anyone else on the good old world wide web who happens to stumble across it – I realised that all of the things I really wish for right now are things that don’t require any money; things that can’t be wrapped; things that don’t do any harm to the environment; and things that I can’t even take home with me. For a minute there I felt incredibly grown up by knowing the difference between needs and wants at Christmas, but then as I put Pikes’ Sunny’s Christmas Karaoke playlist on repeat for the fifth time today and felt the reindeer ears on my head wobble as I sang along, I realised you don’t have to be a grown up to be able to enjoy the spirit of Christmas AND live more consciously too.
Christmas wish #1: NO STAR WARS SPOILERS PLEASE I cannot express how much I am staying off social media until Christmas Eve, when the cinema in Ibiza finally (FINALLY! Do you hear me Cine Regio? We deserve it in English on opening night too!) screens Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in its original language version. It is absolutely killing me that there are people out there who know how the saga ends – with previous episodes of the franchise, I have been known to to Barcelona to watch the premiere in English (yes I’m a mega-fan) but this year, some other important commitments kept me in Ibiza so I am waiting with baited breath, buns in hair and special R2D2/C3PO leggings on in anticipation. And I’m blocking my ears, can’t hear a word you’re saying about it, fa la la la la, la la la la laaaaa…
Christmas wish #2: PEACE AND LOVE FOR ALL ANIMALS Yes, yes, and for all mankind too – but we need to be voices for those who can’t speak. There’s been so much furore in Ibiza recently (and rightly so, I believe) about animals being shipped off to be put to sleep if they haven’t been adopted, and there has been a horrific spate of goat killings in Formentera (don’t Google it if you don’t want your heart to break), not to mention the slaughter of the goats of Es Vedra, and I’ve seen two of the owners of Ibiza’s voluntary animal shelters who are being evicted from their premises who need help. Every single day without fail I see new baby kittens up for adoption on Facebook, ALL of whom have been dumped by owners. WHO are these people? HOW could you throw an animal away like garbage? I really wish a solution can be found before more animals are harmed unnecessarily – I’m not really sure what it is, or even how to help more (I have adopted enough cats, I walk dogs from the shelter and I donate to animal charities), not just in Ibiza but all over the world.
Christmas wish #3: GOODWILL TO ALL PEOPLE In today’s gender-sensitive climate, I thought it best to be careful not to colloquially say ‘to all men’ anymore! But I digress – if you read my blog last week, you’ll know that we’re all becoming more and more aware that the holidays are a tough time for many many people (and if you didn’t read it, click here to get the scoop). As I sit here writing somewhat tongue-in-cheek wish lists, I’m all too aware of my own privilege and I’m even more grateful for my own happiness. I wish that we could all just get along; I wish everyone knew that they are valued and loved; I wish nobody felt alone or hurt or helpless. I wish we could find a way to end suffering for those who can’t see a way out. I hope we can all strive to be better humans, long after the Christmas warm and fuzzies have passed.
Christmas wish #4: FOR CLIMATE CHANGE TO SLOW DOWN We’ve been talking about this till we’re blue in the face, but it’s not stopping Australia from burning; from animals (even the most basic koalas that I grew up with! Not to mention more exotic or noble creatures) becoming extinct; from people losing their homes and worse still, their lives. Talking is also not stopping the sea being polluted more than ever before, even though it seems like so many of us are living as consciously as possible. It’s not stopping places like Venice crumbling after more floods; it’s not making the world change its eating habits; it’s not keeping our coral reefs alive; it’s not stopping people from travelling to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s a tragedy that’s unfolding with each new year – now a new decade is upon us and part of me dreads to think what might happen. Which leads me to…
Christmas wish #5: PUT SUPERHEROES IN POLITICS Now, I’m not one to discuss politics (you know the rules), but things are just getting a bit out of hand now, aren’t they? Given the recent UK election, and today’s announcement that Donald Trump has been impeached, it’s actually kind of hard to stay away from these kinds of conversations. I know we live in a bubble here in Ibiza – well, those of us who are unaffected by Brexit anyway – but it would just be nice if Wonder Woman and Thor could come in and sort everything out with the lasso of truth, plus the mighty hammer. It would be nice to live in a world where the people in power looked after those less fortunate, and that doesn’t seem to be the way we’re headed. Let me just call my friend Chris Hemsworth and see what he can do.
Christmas wish #6: LET IT SNOW IN IBIZA I’m not talking about the sleet that covers the north of the island on super cold mornings. I’m not even talking about those little pretty snowflakes that float on down to the Balearics every couple of years but melt the second they hit the ground. We need more than a flurry! I would just love to see – even for just one day – our whole island covered in fluffy white powder (no jokes here people) with kids (err, and me) making snowmen and sledding down the Dalt Vila ramp. I’d love to see the Santa Eulalia river rise back up and then freeze again, so we could ice skate along it. As a girl who grew up in the southern hemisphere and spent Christmas in raging heat, I thought moving to Europe would afford me fairytale festive seasons. That’s not to say I don’t love Christmas here in Ibiza, I would just love it even more if it snowed…Where to eat in Ibiza in winter
Your favourite beach restaurant has been packed away, and those famous dining destinations you visit every summer have shut up shop for six months, so where on earth does a hungry island visitor – or resident for that matter – go to eat in the off-season? The truth is, the winter is really the time that many of Ibiza’s best restaurants really come into their own. It’s the perfect time to explore the island’s inland villages and sample the many menu del días (traditional set lunch menus) on offer.
You’ll discover secret little spots in the hills for a romantic evening, snuggled up with your loved one next to a cosy fire, or the best fun and festive places to plan a big reunion dinner out with friends you haven’t seen since May. There are some wonderful places to eat in winter, whatever the occasion, and some great offers too if you know where to look. Our team of year-round island experts have done all the hard work for you – trying, testing and most importantly tasting their way around Ibiza to bring you this list of winter restaurants.
For a leisurely weekend lunch or indulgent romantic dinner, the charming and intimate A Mi Manera – found on the famous San Juan restaurant road in the island’s north – is an ideal spot. The quaint and cosy interior works equally well for a group of friends celebrating, as for a couple looking for a secluded supper, thanks to the traditional farmhouse layout of the restaurant. The Mediterranean menu has a strong Italian family influence, with authentic homemade pasta and fresh garden produce from the restaurant’s own backyard farm featured in many dishes. The charcoal grill uses prime cuts of Wagyu, Kobe, and Black Angus beef, alongside mouth-watering local pluma Iberica. Open for lunch and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, and for long lunches on Sundays complete with live music in the sun-drenched garden. Keep your eye on their social media for other special events including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve feasts.
The undisputed king of the San Juan restaurant road, Bambuddha has been known as an iconic summer dining destination for the past 20 years, but this winter, to the island resident’s immense pleasure, the legendary MediterrAsian temple continues serving up its signature cuisine until the end of the year. Open weekly from Wednesdays till Sundays from 7pm, island residents receive a 20% discount once you’ve sign up for their Resident Members card. On Wednesdays, it’s all about the six-course Chef’s Special for just 45€ per person, whilst Sundays play host to The Infamous Bambuddha Buffet, an all-you-can-eat feast featuring all the restaurant’s classic dishes plus some new favourites for only 35€ per person. On other nights of the week, the à la carte menu covers all your dining desires, drawing on only the finest ingredients and a healthy amount of local produce. Bambuddha is also open on Christmas and New Year’s Eve – reservations highly recommended so you can celebrate in style.
For fad-free raw, plant-based and vegan cuisine, botanical eatery Wild Beets, in the centre of Santa Gertrudis village, covers all the bases. A popular destination for healthy eaters in the north of the island, it’s often said that you can tell when winter has arrived in Ibiza because the stylish floating fireplace is re-installed to replace the fans in the light-filled restaurant interior. The extensive menu features carefully calibrated dishes combining fresh, local and seasonal produce with nature’s healthiest ingredients, so whether popping in for a quick juice and a tofu scramble, a coffee and raw Beetroot ravioli, or settling in for a long leisurely lunch over a quinoa and hempseed Protein bowl, there is something tasty for every occasion. The regularly returning local crowd makes for a friendly vibe whatever the time of day, and children are catered for too, making this a handy pit stop after the school run or a run-around in the village playground.
For mouth-watering Italian influenced cuisine served in a cosy deli-style restaurant, head for hip rustic eatery, Bottega Il Buco in the chic village of Santa Gertrudis. The first international outpost of the acclaimed NYC restaurant brand by Donna Lennard, the Bottega Il Buco team host buzzing aperitivo sessions from Monday to Saturday throughout the winter from 5pm until 7pm, giving guests the chance to sample some of their signature ancient grain focaccia with its endless variety of toppings, along with delicious wines and bespoke cocktails. On sunny winter days, the terrace is a gorgeous spot to linger, whilst in the evenings the snug interior makes a great place to meet friends, or settle in for an early supper. The menu is inspired by local produce and ingredients, along with some hard-to-find Italian delights, which can also be bought from the store itself should you wish to recreate the Bottega Il Buco magic at home. The restaurant is also hosting a special Christmas lunch, with limited seating so reservations are essential.
For a winter lunchtime destination with wow factor, famed island restaurant La Escollera on the rugged and deserted Es Cavallet beach is hard to beat. Often crowded with tourists in summer, as soon as October hits, this stunning unspoiled beach in the heart of the Las Salinas nature reserve is transformed into a natural paradise, enticing island residents out of their winter hibernation. The sunny and expansive La Escollera terraces boast views across the waves to Formentera and the iconic Dalt Vila, making it a stunning spot for lunch. Don’t be surprised to find the alfresco spaces full if you turn up on a sunny day without a reservation, but there’s also a huge interior, boasting those same views – also ideal for days where it’s a little chilly outside. The traditional Mediterranean menu has been passed down through generations of the owners’ family, but in recent year’s it’s also been tweaked to include some creative vegan options. Must-tries are the classic paella recipe, Black Angus sirloin and salt-baked dorada, while sushi lovers will also be impressed with the extensive options on offer. Open 365 days a year, with a friendly and fun atmosphere, La Escollera is a treat to return to again and again – no matter what the weather.
If the thought of spit-roasted chicken or ribs makes your mouth water this winter, then look no further than La Chickeria in Santa Gertrudis – open all year round from 12.30pm until midnight. Recently opened this summer – you’ll find it next to the Spar supermarket on the main road through the village – this is the fifth eatery, from the Dutch Van’t Spit group, who have a chain of these family-friendly concept restaurants in Holland. Focusing on antibiotic-free chooks grown naturally and free-range, the 100% plant-fed chicken is then expertly roasted by ‘Spitmaster’ chefs on Spanish charcoal, using custom-made grills for that perfect smoky yet juicy barbecue flavour complete with crispy skin (everyone’s favourite part). Homemade sides of chips, corn, salads and sauces complement the package, and the whole shebang is also available for takeaway if you don’t mind the wait. With a buzzing front terrace, a cosy interior and a secret garden in the back, there’s always space for your get-togethers, catch-ups or date nights. Live music takes place in the garden on weekends, so be sure to check out La Chickeria’s social media for line-ups special events.
When looking for a winter dining spot to settle down for a while, to catch up on some remote work, to host a meeting or just to go over the dally gossip with a friend, make a beeline for the all-new Ve Café, adjacent to W Hotel on frontline of the southern end of the promenade in Santa Eulalia. The bright and colourful seafront terrace is ideal for basking in the winter sun or keeping an eye on the kids playing on the beach, and the stylish interior features free high speed WiFi and handy power sockets for your laptop or phone – ideal for travellers and corporate nomads alike. The 100% plant-based kitchen menu offers tasty winter warmers, like sweet potato soup or roasted vegetables with tahini and lemon, alongside the restaurant’s signature staples of Buddha bowls and hummus bowls, all made with locally sourced produce and organic ingredients. Of course with so much good healthy stuff in the main courses, it’d be a sin not to linger for dessert – these indulgent delights are definitely worth saving room for. Open daily from 9am for breakfast, and until 5pm for lunch.
Healthy eating isn’t just for summer, so if you find yourself craving some serious goodness and food that sustains, make Passion Café your year-round restaurant of choice. Two of the brand’s six locations, Passion Marina and Passion Santa Eulalia remain all winter, from 9am until 5pm daily, with a fresh and hearty winter menu perfect for filling breakfasts, brunches or warming lunches. From Buddha bowls, black bean burritos and Beyond Burgers, to avocado fries and delicious dahls, the vegan and vegetarian options are second to none, although there’s also something on the menu to satisfy the carnivores in your group too. Chicken, salmon, hearty curries, deluxe burgers, steaming hot soups, keto-friendly dishes – the options are almost endless. With the island’s most extensive and creative drinks menu (from ‘trendy’ lattes and health-boosting shots to smoothies, juices and more), plus desserts that are the icing on the cake (pardon the pun), it would be easy to spend the entire day here. Both restaurants are blessed with enormous sunny terraces, so even if you might be a wearing a scarf, it’s still possible to pretend it’s summer as you sip your super greens!
When it comes to the art of a really great burger, beef, chicken, vegan or otherwise, Project Social in Santa Eulalia has pretty much reached perfection. The extensive range of toppings and fillings may take a while to sample (all the more reason to visit!), but once you’ve found your favourite, you’ll be back, like so many others in this part of the island. In winter, the friendly vibe and regular faces makes this a vibey destination whatever the time of day, and the many special offers keep Project Social affordable for locals too. From Monday to Friday, the Breakfast Club includes a coffee and a juice for 10€, with a menu packed full of everyone’s favourite morning dishes (think pancakes, avo toasts, acai bowls, full English and veggie brekkies), while the 11€ Lunch Menu features burgers, ribs or hearty salads with a choice of drinks. Everyone’s favourite Fish & Chip Fridays, and traditional Sunday Roasts with all the trimmings on the weekend give you even more reasons to spend time here, and did we mention Backgammon Club, Tequila Thursday and the nightly Hours of Happiness?
A good lunch in Spain always involves a menu del día, and tucked away on an unassuming side street in the village of Santa Gertrudis, you’ll find one of the island’s best at Can Mimosa. The 200-year-old converted farmhouse has a lovely sunny courtyard perfect for whiling away the lunchtime hours, and the weekly changing menu makes the most of locally sourced seasonal produce, including ingredients plucked straight from the restaurant’s own vegetable allotment right outside the kitchen door. A choice of three courses costs just 17.50€ and includes plenty of vegetarian or vegan options. Time-honoured dishes like chickpea broth and endive salads are served with baked dorada or vegetable cous-cous, with classic such as apple crumble or crema Catalana for desserts. Sundays in the garden are all about traditional Sunday Roasts (reportedly the very best on the island), served with Bloody Marys and a side of live music for a truly sociable way to enjoy the weekend. A New Year’s Eve feast is also in the works – the perfect place to fuel up before heading out to party.
Most of us associate the holidays with good times. Maybe some slightly annoying times (Susan at your office Christmas party, the inappropriate uncle or embarrassing mum and dad at your family get-together, paying for overnight delivery but receiving gifts a week late – you get the drift) too, but on the whole, it’s all about fun, love and giving. But sadly (and increasingly) there are also people for whom the holidays are painful, sad and lonely, and it’s these people the rest of us need to show up for at this time of year (and beyond). And today, rather than wax lyrical about Ibiza as always, I’d like to dedicate this blog space to what we can do to make a difference.
I want to start by saying I’m by no means an expert; at the bottom of this blog is a list of people who are. I am very fortunately one of the aforementioned people who loves the holidays, however at the same time, I am also someone who has been affected by suicide at this time of year. I am someone whose friends and family have been heavily affected by depression; I am someone whose local community revolves heavily around never-ending good times, and I am someone who is becoming more and more aware that these never-ending good times are the cause of some seriously dark and troubled times for those around me. And I am not the only one – I don’t think anyone is immune these days.
Despite the fact the topic of mental health is becoming more and more prominent in our society these days, there are still far too many people suffering in silence. While suicide has no bias – it happens within all age groups, all nationalities, all backgrounds, all communities, all income brackets, all genders and non-genders and so much more – there is currently an epidemic of men committing suicide. It’s the highest cause of death among men aged under 45 in the UK alone, while every 40 seconds around the world, a person takes their own life. That’s coming close to one million per year. On top of that, statistics show that for every one person who commits suicide, there are around 20 more who have attempted it (and those are only the ones who have disclosed it, there could be many more).
This is absolutely heartbreaking, and to those of us left behind, it’s baffling. We cannot fathom how the person in question didn’t know or understand how loved they were, or that they didn’t think there was anyone to talk to, or that they just couldn’t see any other way out. We (and when I say we, I mean those of us who are not struggling with their own mental health) can’t understand it, because we are not suffering the way they were. We see all the ways that things could have/should have/would have improved if only they had reached out. If only. It’s the phrase you see most often in online tributes to those who have taken their only lives. If only he’d reached out to me. If only she knew how loved she was. If only she could see the outpouring of support for her now. But ‘if only’ always comes too late.
In many cases, we’re not aware that other people are suffering in silence. Sometimes it’s the happiest, most fun people in your life who have been experiencing the darkest times (this is prevalent in Ibiza, and the dance music industry in general) for many years. So what can we do? We can do is listen more carefully. We can pay attention. We can encourage our friends to talk more (with our real voices, because texts and online chats or social networking can be so easily misunderstood or not taken seriously), to listen more, to encourage more human connection. Allow our friends to express their thoughts and opinions without judgement. Of course, it’s not easy – we’re not therapists or doctors. We don’t know what the warning signs are; sometimes there are no warning signs at all.
This link is particularly helpful if you are concerned about someone: https://www.thecalmzone.net/help/worried-about-someone/
If you happen to be the person who is feeling like there’s no way out – THIS is the sign that you need to reach out NOW. If you feel like you can’t be honest and authentic with your friends, family or community, there are support networks out there where you can speak to someone completely non-judgemental (see below), and confidentially. The world we’re living in today is a very very different place to just 10 years ago – so much has changed that can make day to day life much more difficult. Social media gives us a façade to hide our truths, our authentic selves, to project a different image to how we actually feel on the inside. While most of us have down days, or experience sadness, loss, grief at some stage of our lives, we also know that time – along with the support of friends, family and professionals – can help heal everything. If you feel like you are an exception to this, please, please, please think again. There is no problem that doesn’t have a solution.
It’s OK not to feel OK. It’s even more OK to admit you don’t feel OK and to reach out and ask for help. There is zero shame in reaching out – it could just be the thing that saves, and changes, your life. They say on average that when one person takes their own life, 135 people (on average) are directly affected. If only they knew that before making such a tragic decision. When it’s someone who is a vital part of a community (say, dance music and Ibiza), the amount of people who are affected is monumental. Every one of these people are human: daughters, mothers, sons, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbours, even customers.
What they are not is hopeless, helpless, a burden or alone, no matter how much it may feel that way. We have so much to learn about mental health. About depression. About grief. About addiction. About anxiety. About chronic pain. About the many, many conditions that cause suffering on a daily basis. But what we do know is that suicide can be prevented with the right support. Please share this blog with anyone you think may need to read it; share it with as many people as you can – because we all need to be more aware of being there for one another, more so now than ever before. It doesn’t have to be a blue Christmas… but it would be without you.
HELPFUL PHONE NUMBERS AND LINKS Thank you to the many friends of mine who posted these helpful links and information on social media this morning after yet another devastating tragedy in the dance music community. We hope by sharing them here on this platform they may reach people in need, or those who can help others in need.
CALM 0800 58 58 58 (5pm to midnight daily) www.thecalmzone.net/
Samaritans 116 123 (24 hours) www.samaritans.org
Maytree 020 7263 7070 www.maytree.org.uk/index.php
MIND 0300 123 3393 (Mon – Fri 9am – 6pm) www.mind.org.uk
Papyrus 0800 068 41 41 (Mon – Fri 10am – 5pm / 7pm – 10pm. Weekends 2pm – 5pm) www.papyrus-uk.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au/
MUSIC INDUSTRY SPECIFIC LINKS
AFEM The Electronic Music Industry Guide to Mental Health www.associationforelectronicmusic.org/afem-mental-health-guide-for-the-electronic-music-industry/
Help Musicians www.helpmusicians.org.uk
Music Mind Matters www.musicmindsmatter.org.uk
Music for Mental Wealth www.musicformentalwealth.com
Music Support www.musicsupport.org
Winter is a fabulous time to visit Ibiza, and not only to enjoy the temperate climate and stunning nature in this season. As soon as the summer tourists leave, the winter social calendar springs into life, and new corners of the island pop up for exploration. Whether enjoying the natural surroundings and discovering new walks, or learning new skills with the whole family, the list of activities to keep everyone busy in the off-season is endless and full of variety. From sports and fitness, to numerous educational and craft workshops to more indulgent days and more – there’s even enough nightclubs to fill up a naughty weekend. Our team of island experts (who also happen to be year round residents) have compiled a selection of things to do in winter when you’re planning an island escape – the only difficulty will be fitting everything in.
Bring family and friends together while to practicing crafts or learning new skills at Numero 74 L’Atelier in the heart of the cosmopolitan village of Santa Gertrudis. The unique concept store and health food café runs a series of creative workshops and classes for all ages every weekend, all of which are perfect for fun family afternoons, or just dropping in for an hour with a friend. Choose a two-hour introduction to ceramics to get your hands on a potters’ wheel, or pop into a knitting class to get some tips to try at home. Creative Saturdays also include a World Food Buffet for 25€, so you can fuel your creativity with a fab feast. Meanwhile, Family Day Sundays features classes running all day from 11am until 7pm, so you and your little ones can spend plenty of time creating together. There’s also a festive Raclette night every Thursday if you prefer to get cheesy rather than crafty!
With over 300 days of sunshine, the opportunities to get out in nature in Ibiza aren’t simply limited to summer, and Walking Ibiza gives you the chance to enjoy Ibiza’s landscape, and expand your social life at the same time. The weekly guided walks are a chance to make new friends and discover hidden corners of the island. There are four weekly walks including Short & Sweet, around five kilometres, the BIG WALK, more than 20 kilometres, plus mindfulness walks and classic island routes – all include introductions to local flora and fauna and some interesting stories along the way. Be sure to add the Christmas Eve Charity Walk which starts at 10am in San Juan if you want to get a head start on burning off those festive calories, not to mention the New Year’s Eve walk and lunch, starting San Mateu at 11am, to your diary. Those left standing can start the new decade with the New Year, New Guide, New Walk from Can Jordi on Friday January 3, 2020 at 10am. Best feet forward!
Chilly winter afternoons are best spent indoors, so head to SOMM Wine Shop in the centre of Santa Gertrudis to combine two of the best out-of-season pastimes – vino and shopping. Tucked up a secluded pathway, behind popular health food café Wild Beets, the owners of this inviting specialist store see themselves as talent scouts for wines, with a team of highly experienced sommeliers selecting the best producers from vineyards around Europe. Whether looking for a particular bottle for a dinner party, or just browsing to discover a new favourite, this is the place to find a passionate wine advisor with plenty of information and fascinating stories behind each supplier to help you choose your tipple. Keep an eye on SOMM Wine Shop’s Facebook page for regular events over the festive period too, including mulled wine evenings, and tasting workshops.
One of the best things about Ibiza in winter is the exclusive shopping that can be found once the summer fashions disappear. Design store Blink Ibiza in Ibiza town is full of unique pieces from a collection of hand-picked designers that you won’t find anywhere else on the island. From gorgeous jumpers to natural wool ponchos, the careful selection makes it easy to find something you love – or something for someone you love at Christmas. There are simple classic jerseys from SIYU, and urban sweats for him by Barcelona’s Syngman Cucala, plus bohemian antique jewellery made here on island by Circa Ibiza, Italian handbags from MASqueMas, Parisian scarfs from Inouitoosh and ethically produced cashmere by Solopuro. The cream of the crop of European designers, just steps from Ibiza’s main square. Happy shopping!
Private chefs and healthy eating gurus The Ibiza Kitchen are ready to transform your winter eating habits with some practical, fun and informative lessons for Ibiza residents running on Thursday December 12, 2019 and Friday January 3, 2020. First up is Eat For Our Future, a two-hour teaching, cooking and eating session that looks at ways to create less food waste, to make your animal produce stretch further than just one meal and to build a menu plan around seasonal and local ingredients. January’s workshop looks at How To Eat Well Without Dieting, finding ways to connect to food in positive way and instil healthy eating habits that make you feel good every day. Considering that so much of the winter season in Ibiza is taken up with dining (when not walking, wine tasting or shopping!), it’s the perfect time to get into the kitchen and learn some impressive new skills.
For island residents, summer months are often spent working far too hard, so when winter rolls around, it’s all about indulging in some well-earned me time. Fortunately for those who live here, the luxurious spa at Atzaró Agroturísmo in the heart of the island remains seven days a week all year round, making it a heavenly spot to relax during the quieter off-season months. It’s not just for residents of course – hotel guests enjoy complimentary spa access and visitors can treat themselves to a spa day, complete with lounging around on daybeds in the lush orange groves on those beautiful sunny days and enjoying healthy cuisine from La Veranda restaurant. The sauna, sauna pod and hammam at Atzaró Spa bring the heat whenever the need arises, and wide menu of treatments and massages using organic Atzaró-grown plant-based products are at the heart of your experience. A daily schedule of yoga and wellness classes ensure your wellbeing too. This is one self-care escape that everyone thoroughly deserves this winter.
Dedicating some time to charity couldn’t be easier or more rewarding than taking the dogs from local animal shelter Sa Coma out for a lovely long winter walk. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings from 9am until 11.30am, volunteers are invited to just turn up whenever they can, and exercise a pooch. There’s a whole range of rescue pups housed in the centre, behind the fire station on the San Rafael highway – the turning is just opposite Hipercentro – so you’re be assigned a dog dependant on your size and experience. Then through the woods and around the surrounding footpaths, you’ll take your hound for their run of the day. The more regularly you can go, the better you’ll bond with a particular dog, and if you think you could find room for them at home, of course these are all up for adoption too. Just remember, a dog is for life – not just for Christmas.
Although many winter activities seem focused on being healthy and active, this is still Ibiza, and it wouldn’t be the white isle without a little late-night naughtiness. The major super clubs have closed their doors, but weekends in winter are still buzzing, with at least three discotheques hosting events for those who aren’t ready to hang up their disco (house or techno) boots just yet. Cabaret restaurant and club Lío Ibiza remains open on Friday and Saturday nights, with parties from local promoters Game Over, Zoo Project and Ibiza Talents. The Cirque Du Soleil collaboration club HEART Ibiza also stays open weekends, with events from labels like Moon Harbour and promoters such as La Troya. Ibiza Underground has some sporadic parties planned (keep your eye on their Facebook page for details), while newcomer Octan Ibiza throws a weekly shindig on Saturday nights. On New Year’s Day, you can’t go past the legendary Circo Loco at DC-10 – plenty of opportunity to be led astray if willing.
It’s been a long-standing New Year’s Day island tradition that locals unite on the beach at Las Salinas at lunchtime, to plunge into the new year with a fresh and frisky dip in the Balearic Sea before heading down the road to Circo Loco at DC-10. In recent years, the the fun-loving crew behind family-owned wine store Vino & Co have turned the tradition into a more official event in the very best way possible, by very generously bringing plenty of wine, and bringing a sense of order to the thousands of people who come to the beach to participate. The team – who are no stranger to NYD dives, as it’s also a tradition in their native Holland – assemble a gathering in the centre of the nature reserve of Las Salinas, right on the beach between the now-closed beach bars of Malibu and Beso Beach, and organise swims on the hour at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm followed by a communal feast – all swimmers are invited to bring a plate to share. Swimming is optional of course, usually dependant on how much wine has been consumed!
Well, would you look at that? It’s already the most wonderful time of year again! Halloween came and went in the blink of an eye after we wrapped up the summer season and now there’s a giant tree standing tall at the top of Vara de Rey, quaint little wooden market huts in the square and the streets are festooned with festive lights – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. There’s something so old fashioned and charming about Ibiza at this time of year – despite the evolution of the island, it still seems to have escaped the clutches of Christmas commercialisation…
I’m not saying retailers aren’t wringing their hands with glee at the thought of all that extra Christmas trade (after the mayhem of Black Friday is over, or as I prefer to call it, Bleugh Friday), but here there seems to be a lot less overkill when it comes to gift giving. The shops just trade their regular hours, day in, day out. They close on Sundays, like always. You hear far less Christmas carols – or bastardised pop versions of Christmas carols – than you do in any city! Gift wrapping services are minimal to say the least (think store-branded bag with a sparkly gift tag – no gift wrapping stations or choices of paper and ribbon). You don’t see countless stocking stuffer gifts that are rendered completely useless after the first moment they were opened. There seems to be a lot less greed here at Christmas, and along with that, less waste. It’s not totally minimal but it’s not Oxford Circus.
Which brings me to the lights. One of the things I’ve always loved about Ibiza at Christmas is the simplicity of the lights strung across the main streets (31 on them according to the local newspaper!). For many years, they were recycled, simply rotated from street to street so it always looked different – aside from the ‘Bones Festes’ at the entrance to Ibiza town, which still makes me giggle even though I know the translation. Last year, new energy efficient lights were introduced and hopefully these too, will be rotated around the island rather than simply replaced by a new-fangled design like other major cities in the world. The lights will be switched on this Friday November 29, 2019 at 6.30pm (which must make all the pre-Christmas naysayers happy – sticking to traditional timelines like this) by none other than the goddess Tanit, which seems like a very bizarre Christmas deity (or, err, celebrity) but hey, it’s Ibiza and who are we to argue?
In my ideal world, the official Ambassador of Ibiza, Paris Hilton (I’m not kidding – she really has been ordained), would jet into town and do the honours, or maybe her island highness Charlotte Tilbury, who was born and bred in Ibiza and could do an in-store appearance just a little down the square in Sephora after she’d done her switching-on duties. Or maybe it should be the Mambo King, Javier Anadon, alongside his sons the Mambo Brothers in honour of their A-list DJ status, with an after party. What about Carl Cox (could he also dress as Santa? ‘Ho-ho-yes!’), or Papa Sven? The truth is, once the summer is over, the remaining population of Ibiza isn’t likely to be interested in superstar DJs or famous faces (and vice versa!), especially when it comes to lighting Christmas lights – and that’s what makes it still so quaint and charming.
I have always loved Christmas. Always, always, always. I believed in Santa Claus (or at least pretended to believe) right up until the point where I couldn’t get away with it anymore, and on the inside, I still secretly hope to hear sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too, on Christmas Eve. I have always loved the way a Christmas tree lights up a room – even without the lights on! I love collecting decorations – even the ugliest of felt decorations from the late 70s in our house had a story – each year and adding them to my collection, and I love that magic moment when the tree is finally ready and you add the angel on top. For me, it’s always got to be an angel. I love giving gifts – if I lived in a city I would be the worst for buying into the commercialisation of Christmas, so perhaps it’s better that I live here and follow a more frugal gift giving style!
But, I am indeed a purist when it come to my tree. It won’t be going up until December 1 and it will come down on January 6, promptly. These dates were instilled into me as a child and no matter how much I love Christmas, I can’t break the rules (although there was one year that I left the tree up until March, but I’d been in an accident so couldn’t physically do it – suffice to say though, I definitely did experience bad luck!). If other people want to put their tree up before D.Day, that’s their choice – and I totally understand why you would! Who doesn’t want more Christmas joy in their life? And if you take it down in February, or later, well, if you want to risk the evil spirits taking hold of your home after the ‘twelfth night’, again, that’s your prerogative.
Here in Spain, the twelfth night is actually also celebrated as part of Christmas – Kings Day, as it’s called, is the day children receive their presents (from the three kings, not Santa – though you’ll find these days they often get both), so I’ve come to love Christmas even more ever since I moved here. It’s the occasion that keeps on giving – whereas in Australia, the UK or the USA, you’ve moved onto New Year and the subsequent hangovers and resolutions, here, we take a break to party and then get back to the Christmas festivities. The more Christmas the better!
We may not have snow in Ibiza, we may not even have weather cold enough to warrant wearing a Christmas sweater, but our little island/small town Christmas is just about as perfect as it can get if you ask me (which you didn’t). We’ve got oysters and champagne in Plaza del Parque, we’ve got Christmas hippy market at Las Dalias, we’ve even got gluhwein and chestnuts roasting on an open fire at San Jordi flea market on a Saturday. We’ve got the goddess Tanit lighting our Christmas lights! We can have Christmas lunch on the beach (and yes I KNOW we can also do that in Australia, but it’s far too hot there to enjoy eating anything at all). We’ve got Casa Maca’s awesome Christmas Market. We’ve got the Three Kings Parade on January 6! It’s the Christmas that keeps on giving. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just got to go and put on my Kylie Christmas album and start unpacking the decorations in preparation for Sunday morning – because I wouldn’t dare do it a moment before, but that doesn’t stop me from singing along!Where to stay in Ibiza in winter
The parties are all over, and the tourists have gone home, but contrary to popular belief, life in Ibiza goes on. While the major clubs have packed away their VIP tables, and beach clubs have downed their umbrellas, many of the local towns and charming villages spring into life in winter, with seasonal festivals, saints’ days and festive markets held under glorious sunny skies in mild temperatures. Add to that a bustling foodie scene, plentiful wellness and healing events plus the odd party on the weekends, and you’ve got plenty of reasons to visit the white isle in the off-season. Finding the perfect place to stay for your winter visit can be a little tricky however, so our team of island insiders have compiled a list of the island’s best off-season hotels and Agroturísmos to make your planning a breeze.
Escaping the chill of winter couldn’t be easier at luxurious rustic bolthole, Atzaró Agroturismo, in the rural north of Ibiza. Set on 13 hectares of fragrant orange groves, gardens and farmland, the centuries-old restored finca makes an idyllic and authentic retreat off-season. Thick-walled bedrooms feature secluded terraces for soaking up the morning sun, and traditional fireplaces for snuggling up in the evenings, plus luxe four-poster beds and deep soak tubs for indulgent nights. Days are whiled away at the Atzaró Spa, where the saunas, hammam, yoga and wellness classes warm the body in preparation for afternoons of massages and treatments with organic estate-grown products. In-house restaurant La Veranda offers a healthy farm-to-fork menu, full of fresh produce grown on the estate. The more energetic can enjoy guided walks and bike rides in the surrounding countryside, but with so much to explore onsite, leaving Atzaró Agroturismo probably won’t even cross your mind. Atzaró Agroturismo photography by Ana Lui Photography
Social jetsetters love the handy hilltop location of boutique hotel Casa Maca, overlooking the iconic Dalt Vila skyline. Fields of wildflowers surround the boutique hotel, creating a haven of peace and quiet just moments away from the hustle of Ibiza town. Make the most of the island’s off-season shopping sales, winter nightlife and seasonal markets, before retreating to your juniper roof beamed room and luxurious four-poster bed for rest and recovery. The hotel’s hip Airstream cocktail bar, plus its buzzing outdoor restaurant and grill are THE hangout spots for island locals, with popular Sunday Roasts, live DJs, interactive craft workshops, wellness classes and a bustling Christmas market keeping the diaries busy all winter. Best of all, readers of White Ibiza receive a 10% discount and a welcome drink on all direct reservations made before March 1, 2020 – valid for stays between now and May 1, 2020. All the more reason to stay at Casa Maca…
For an intimate winter hideaway, look no further than magical Agroturismo Can Sastre. With just four spacious and stylish suites, it’s an ideal base for a group of friends or multiple families to explore the island off-season, or alternatively for couples seeking an intimate escape. Surrounded by farmland in the centre of Ibiza, close to the rural village of San Rafael, all the colours of autumn come to life in this tropical paradise, complete with citrus orchard and charming cobbled pathways leading to sun-drenched chill-outs. Scandi chic suites and spa-style bathrooms delight the travel connoisseurs, while a daily gastronomic breakfast satisfies the foodies. From Can Sastre’s central location, the breathtaking countryside walks of the north and the stunning winter sunsets of the west are within a short drive, along with the buzz of Ibiza town and historic Dalt Vila. That’s if you can drag yourself away from this oasis in the first place.
For an urban getaway in winter, head straight for the historic landmark Gran Hotel Montesol, presiding proudly over Vara De Rey, the pedestrianised main square of Ibiza town. Spacious and sophisticated suites with nautical overtones provide the plush setting for your stay, but with the island’s thriving bar and cafe culture right on your doorstep, you’ll want to get amongst the action quickly! The five-star hotel is in the heart of Ibiza’s main shopping district, both high street and high-end, where the winter sales are worth the cost of a flight alone. In December, the lively Christmas markets pop up in the square and you can join in the much-loved tradition of oysters and champagne after shopping. Downstairs, the hotel’s elegant Art Deco-inspired bar is a hive of activity – particularly with the local after-work crowd – and its popular contemporary restaurant is the perfect spot for evening tapas or a stylish late night dinner.
In the heart of the island – between the sleepy villages of San Rafael and Santa Gertrudis – rural hotel Can Lluc offers luxury, comfort and peace within the grounds of a 300-year-old farmhouse, lovingly restored in an authentic Ibiza style. Lush nature including vineyards and pine forests are begging to be explored on foot in the temperate off-season months, and there’s always something new to discover in the cosy village restaurants close-by. In the hotel itself – which is also pet-friendly – the traditionally decorated rooms are fully equipped with all the latest amenities, some with traditional fireplaces for extra winter snugness, and the hotel’s spa, with sauna, Jacuzzi and massage area offers pure relaxation for your precious downtime, and there’s also a gym if you prefer to keep up the pace. The hotel restaurant is a well-kept secret amongst the locals, with international twists on Ibicenco cuisine being a speciality, ideal for sipping cocktails on the terrace in the winter sunshine.
Long leisurely lunches in the Marina district are a highlight of the sunny winter season in Ibiza, and a stay at the hip El Hotel Pacha puts discerning travellers in the heart of the gastronomic action. Along the front of the glistening harbour, the sun-drenched, south-facing restaurants of Marina Botafoch and Marina Ibiza draw in the crowds with special set menus or a sunset aperitivo. Boat lovers can still charter a sleek vessel – the bright clear days of winter are perfect for a trip to Formentera. Back at the hotel, suites are spacious, calm and white – perfect for relaxing after a long day of socialising. As darkness falls, the bright lights of Lío Ibiza and HEART Ibiza are within walking distance, meaning there’s no better place to base yourself if you want to experience off-season nightlife. Guests of El Hotel Pacha also receive free entry to all events at Lío Ibiza – party heels at the ready!
The popular Saturday hippie market, Las Dalias, is within walking distance of cosy and romantic rural hotel Can Curreu – set just outside the sleepy village of San Carlos. Deep in the heart of the Ibiza countryside, the beautiful hotel boasts stables for laid-back horse-rides through the campo, as well as a thermal circuit spa, with sauna, hammam, Jacuzzi and plunge pool for relaxing afterwards. The fully equipped gym and treatment rooms are perfect for indulging body and mind, while the renowned restaurant offers traditional Ibicenco cuisine served next to the hotel’s lush vegetable garden and orange groves. Rooms are typically Ibicencan in style, with plenty of space, private terraces and relaxing countryside views. With winter promotions including massages and dinner packages, plus a special Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve menu in the restaurant, there is all the more reason to check in to Can Curreu for a special time away this festive season.
In the rugged north-west of Ibiza, rural and rustic boutique hotel Can Pujolet is sure to appeal to those who love nature and invigorating walks in the countryside. Meandering footpaths lead directly from the stylish country hotel to spectacular clifftops with views across the island and its breathtaking coastline. The 18th century farmhouse itself is set amongst terraces of its own fertile land, with stunning vistas of the pine forest and almond tree filled valleys, which are overflowing with gorgeous white blossom between late Jan and early March, making it an inspiring time of year to visit the area. The nearby village of San Mateu hosts an unmissable local wine festival in December, while the picturesque village of Santa Ines offers cosy fireside dining all winter long – not to mention the best tortilla (Spanish omelette) on the island. From your winter base at Can Pujolet, the north of the island is wide open for exploration.
The summer season is officially over, awards season has come and gone, and the winter season (as locals like to call the six month break between club closings and openings) is here. Depending on whether you call Ibiza your summer home (leavers) or if you reside here all year round (remainers, obvs), the arrival of winter will mean one of two things: booking flights to warmer climates or much colder parts of Europe, or pulling your winter coats, ugg boots, dehumidifiers and heaters out of storage. I fall into the latter category, and for me, this is definitely the most wonderful time of the year! For leavers however, it seems to be a bitter sweet time of year – which is totally understandable – as they pack up their things and say goodbye to the island and their friends.
This season it seems that the longstanding tradition of saying goodbye has transcended phone calls or text messages or the time-honoured tradition of farewell drinks, and has made its way onto social media – is anyone surprised? Since early October, I’ve been reading a string of goodbye and thank you messages on Facebook and Instagram that wouldn’t be out of place if they were read out at an awards ceremony. I’m talking about the kind of end-of-season wrap up posts that goes through the highlights, lowlights and achievements of the summer and thank every new friends and old friends (#youknowwhoyouare) for making it all possible, posts that mention every venue someone has ever danced or dined in, the posts that express so much love for the island that is their spiritual home while also expressing dread at facing reality ‘back home’ or about having to embark on ‘new adventures’, always ending with a ‘see you next summer’ kind of vibe because clearly we were all on the edge of our seats as to whether you’d be back or not…
I’m all for practicing gratitude, don’t get me wrong. I fall asleep every night counting my lucky stars and wake up counting my blessings. True story. But I don’t feel the need to post about them all over my social media accounts – well, except for my cats. You’ll always see me posting about cats. But I digress. I can’t help but wonder whether these are driven by the leavers’ hearts or by their egos? Has modern society (in Ibiza anyway) become so narcissistic that people now make thank you speeches about every day life? You weren’t fighting a war, putting out fires and unless you’re a vet or doctor, you probably weren’t saving lives. Whatever happened to one to one communication? What about getting together and expressing these sentiments with sincerity to the people who deserve to hear them, in person?
The irony of complaining about having to read unsolicited opinions/speeches from people in Ibiza is not lost on me as I type this blog. I’m 100% certain not everyone wants to read about my cats/love of winter in Ibiza/hatred of WhatsApp voice messages/obsession with Luciano (watch this space on that one!) or countless other waffling topics I’ve written about over the years. I also know full well that if I don’t like a post, I can just look away or unfollow. But let me be clear: it’s not the thought of expressing thanks that bothers me (the more gratitude in this world the better) – it’s more the idea that most of these posts (which usually come accompanied by an album of heavily filtered selfies in key Ibiza locations with ‘cool’ people) seem like an insincere attention seeking, look-at-me, desperate attempt to get more likes.
Side note: I am very much looking forward to seeing how the online world responds to Instagram’s removal of likes this week! A glimmer of hope is on the horizon…
I want to empathise more with the leavers, really, I do. Maybe I’m such a staunch remainer, I don’t remember what it feels like to leave the island after an intense summer. Almost all of my close friends are remainers, so we never get faced with the sadness of saying goodbye. Perhaps I am the one in the wrong here, having never publicly thanked everyone who has made my life in Ibiza possible! With that in mind, I would like to jump on the online thank you bandwagon and take this opportunity to express my gratitude to every single person who has contributed to my experiences in Ibiza (#youknowwhoyouare). Gracias, gracies, merci, grazie, danke, arigato, obrigado, spasiba, tak, hvala, mahalo, terima kasih and THANK YOU! It wouldn’t have been the same without you – yesterday, today and in all the days to come.Sail away, sail away, sail away…
After spending a day sailing the stunning north-east coast of Ibiza last week, I haven’t been able to get that old Enya song out of my head (and my sincerest apologies if that happens to you after reading this headline). Calm, dreamy, ethereal and a little bit haunting – not to mention written by a fellow cat lady – it’s the most apt piece of music to soundtrack a classy and elegant day at sea, one that conjures up the magic of the dramatic high cliffs and deep blue sea, and one that should accompany the view of the sun setting in the west as the moon was rising in the east. This was a boat trip like nothing I’d ever experienced before in Ibiza – this was the Saga.
When most people think of boat charters in Ibiza, they’re likely to envision sleek white sailboats whizzing across to Formentera with thumping house music blaring on-board, the mojito man meeting you for fresh-made, well, mojitos obviously, and jet skis and floating unicorns and all that jazz. Now, there’s obviously a time and a place for that kind of thing, but there’s also a time to take things slow, to appreciate the beauty of the island we live on, to connect with your friends and just r-e-l-a-x. So when my very good friend Miss S – who is soon to become Mrs SS – asked for help organising her hen party (with the stipulation that it be a classy do with no phallic images/toys/straws/hats or silly hen games), we decided that the weather was still perfect for a day at sea and that the Saga would be the ultimate floating location!
I can almost hear you thinking, what is this Saga she’s speaking of? Well, let me set the scene for you. A classic wooden sailboat – for those of you who are boat-ish types, I believe the correct term is schooner (which where I come from is a large beer, so I can’t bring myself to call it that) – handcrafted in 1935, lovingly maintained and then restored to the stylish condition you see here in these photos. Just shy of 25 metres long and with two masts that extend high into the sky, she’s one-part pirate ship; another part romantic adventure vessel – large enough to host 36 people on board (the only boat in Ibiza that can do so), but intimate enough to work well for small groups.
Basically, it’s just incredibly stylish and makes you feel like you’re on a movie set for the duration of the day. Manned by a handsome crew of European charmers, all dressed in very appropriate nautical blue and white stripes, the Saga sails the route less travelled in Ibiza – from San Antonio, up past Cala Gracioneta, past Cap Negret, beyond Cala Salada, alongside the Ses Margalides islets and all the way up to Cala D’Albarca on the north coast. It’s an incredibly picturesque part of the island – and one that very few travellers to Ibiza get to discover, due to the overwhelming buzz about Formentera – and one I couldn’t recommend highly enough at this time of year. While the sea across to Formentera can get a bit choppy at the end of the season, sailing north is so protected and calm – a balmy 26 degrees and pure sunshine.
So now you get the picture: a film set of a boat, a picture perfect Ibiza day and a group of pretty damn gorgeous women from all over the world who were coming together to celebrate the future Mrs SS’s last day of freedom*. I’m going to be honest – I felt a little trepidation about being stuck on a boat for a full day with that many women, most of whom have very strong personalities, with nowhere to escape to but the water (and those who know me will know already that I don’t swim! So that was no help to me), but I was so pleasantly surprised when at 7pm the Saga crew asked us if we’d like to stay on the boat longer to enjoy the sunset/moonrise. It felt like only a couple of hours had gone by to begin with! *Side note to the feminists out there (and to Mr S): I sincerely doubt being married will do anything to hamper Miss S’s current state of freedom, it’s just a turn of phrase, and I’m using it with creative license!
Given that we were sailing along the side of the coast that isn’t peppered with beach clubs to head ashore to for lunch, we’d opted for a package which included an open bar (and I hear that we may have drunk the bar dry of rosé and indeed drank more than any other group to have sailed on the Saga this summer – oops!) and an enormous paella, made from locally sourced ingredients that everyone on the boat declared to have been the best paella they’d ever eaten in their lives – and this included some born and bred Ibiza girls, so that’s saying something. The paella was cooked fresh from scratch on the boat, which was something I hadn’t expected – I always thought boat catering was a bit lame, like pre-packaged salads scooped into plastic bowls or ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ style paellas whizzed in from seaside restaurants, but this was quite the opposite: restaurant quality food that was clearly made and served with so much love, right there on deck.
We also had paddleboards and snorkels included in the trip, which made for some pretty funny moments on the sea. In fact, there were SO MANY hilarious moments (despite zero hen-related paraphernalia) on the Saga during our day out, but out of respect for the hen and her friends’ privacy, I shall take them all to my grave. Or at the very least, not write about them in a public forum. What I can tell you is this – it was so amazing to do something I’d never done before, with such a wonderful group of people. On top of the day of cruising the coastline, to quite literally be sailing off into the sunset, while simultaneously watching the moon rising was so special. Sometimes we islanders can have a bit of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude to island activities, so when you do finally discover something like this, it really makes you stop, step back, and appreciate where we live and the fact that we have access to trips, and indeed boats, like this. And then you wish you’d set aside the time to do it more often! But here’s the thing. There’s still time.
If you’re here in Ibiza right now, just take a look out the window (that’s if you’re not already outside in this blazing sunshine!). This Indian summer is quite possibly the best one I can remember in the past five years (maybe more? Help me out Ibiza friends!) and days at sea are indeed still possible. While Formentera and its restaurants are in the middle of shutting up shop, the Saga (complete with its talented chef!), and indeed the unspoiled north-west coast of Ibiza, are still open for business, and there are some great end of season deals to be had too. Call your pals, make up a guest list, get your family together, enlist your work colleagues, make it a romantic day out for you and your partner, or just you and your BFFS, or whoever you want to spend a day at sea with – but whatever you do, do it soon. Because as most of us know from experience, these extended summers usually come to a grinding rainy halt sometime just after Halloween, which means the clock is ticking! Now is the time to sail away, sail away, sail away…
There’s a common belief people identify as one of two personality types: you’re either a cat person, or you’re a dog person, and never the twain shall meet. Of course, there are also those who aren’t ‘animal people’ at all, but we all know that’s just code for being a psychopath. Or allergic. Anyway, whatever gender, or non-gender, you associate with, whether you’re a good person, a bad person or somewhere in between, no matter how young or how old you are, there’s this generalisation – thank you internet – that you must declare your allegiance to the feline or canine species and stay faithful to that species for the rest of your days.
I myself have often been lumped into the cat person category – ‘crazy cat lady’, to be more specific. I can see why people might think this. I have two cats who I love more dearly than I could ever love any human being. I have the Japanese kanji symbol for cat tattooed on my neck (there’s a story that goes with that). I have another tattoo of yet another Japanese symbol, the enso circle, that’s been fashioned into a curled up cat on my wrist (there’s a story that goes with that too). I wear a lot of leopard. One of my writing pseudonyms is Kit Willow (and Willow was the name of my best friend’s cat back home). I make friends with stray cats in the street, going so far as to give them names. I have a fascination with big cats – as in tigers, lions, panthers, pumas, cheetahs and even the local Ibiza genet. But you might be surprised to know, I don’t consider myself a cat person at all. Well, maybe a little bit, but in my heart I think I am a dog person.
I love dogs. I have always loved dogs. I have always been a dog person. Until I moved out of home anyway (which, umm, was about 20 years ago). I had a German Shepherd called Sarah (yes weird name for a dog – it was the 70s, blame my mum and Fleetwood Mac) who I loved with all my heart for the first 18 years of my life. I still have framed photos of her on my mantle. After that I had a little black terrier – who was the Toto to my Dorothy. In fact, her name was Toto. I’m shedding a little tear now as I remember her. OK, so as always, I’m digressing. I was a dog person, then I left home and lived in apartments and couldn’t have a dog, so I got a cat. The cat that started it all. The cat that moved all the way across the world to Ibiza with me. The most amazing cat that ever lived (sadly, she’s in kitty heaven now). And the cat that made everyone come to think of me as a cat person. Which brings us to today.
Recently, the dog person in me has started to rear her head – or prick her ears up, however you want to envision it. You see, I’ve been thinking lately it would be nice to have a dog again. A dog would make me take nice long walks every day, get me away from the computer, off Instagram and just generally out in nature more. But, alas, I live in an apartment and no matter how big it is (the people next door have a Great Dane living in the same size flat!), I just don’t want to have two cats and a dog in a place without a garden. And I don’t want to move. You see my dilemma?
Enter Sa Coma. A dog shelter in the countryside near San Rafael that’s in desperate need of volunteers, donations and obviously new homes for their dogs. Dogs end up at Sa Coma for all kinds of reasons – some are found while they’re wandering the island lost, and need to be reunited with their owners. Others have very been abandoned, by people who can no longer care for them and very sadly, some have been hurt by horrible humans or injured by cars or other animals.
All of the dogs need rehoming, but while they’re staying in Sa Coma, they obviously need to be cared for, fed, watered and – this where volunteers (and me!) come in – walked. When I first learned that you could volunteer to walk the shelter dogs at Sa Coma, I felt a little bit of trepidation. What if it was too sad? What if my dog escaped while I was walking it? What if (gasp!) it didn’t like me? What if it bit me? What if I accidentally adopted a dog, even though I know I can’t have one in my apartment? But as with most things in life, I realised very quickly there was no point in thinking about the what ifs of the situation. Because forget all the negative what ifs – WHAT IF IT’S AMAZING?
I arrived at Sa Coma, dressed in my very best Sporty Spice attire – after reading the website instructions about volunteering and packing a bottle of water and a container for the dogs to drink out of – and was so happy to see a host of people from all walks of life happily traipsing up and down the camino and in the nearby fields with dogs of all shapes and sizes (though many were on the larger scale). What a beautiful thing. There were elderly men and women, there were families with kids, there were super young English girls, there were big tough guys, there were people in groups, there were plenty of people walking solo… and there was me!
I have to be honest – I thought on that first walk that my dog was totally going to fall in love with me and want to come home with me, but I quickly realised (especially after the second and third walk), they don’t see you like that. You are their connection to nature, to the world outside their cages, but they’re more interested in just being outside than who is on the other end of the leash (in the beginning anyway – of course if you walk the same dog on a regular basis, you could build up a bond with it). But what I didn’t realise was just how incredible it would be to watch a dog’s mood and body language change from the time they are led out of the shelter (a little bit timid and pensive), to about 30 minutes later when they are bounding in the grass with happiness. You really do see exactly what a difference you can make in their lives, even if it is just for a short time a couple of times a week.
The sad reality is however, that is just two hours of the dog’s day. For the rest of the day they’re confined to the equivalent of a jail cell, with a concrete wall and with no regular affection or companionship. Don’t get me wrong – they’re treated well, and always looked after, but it is an animal shelter, just like a pound you might find anywhere else in the world. They’re not all running free and being best friends like a canine commune, like we’d love to imagine. They’re sad. They’re lonely. They need love. If you’re in Ibiza and you’re like like me and you’re not in a position to adopt a dog, then please think about volunteering your time to walk some dogs, and bring some temporary happiness to their days. Or donate some money to contribute to their food and vet bills, and the general shelter running costs. But if you are thinking about getting a dog – please please adopt, don’t shop! And if you’re a cat person, I have some good news! There are also cats and kittens waiting for adoptions at Sa Coma too. I think it is possible to be both a dog and a cat person. Sa Coma invites volunteers to walk dogs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 11.30am, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3pm to 5pm (in winter, summer hours are 6pm to 7.15pm). Adoption times are Monday to Friday from 12pm to 2pm.