Miss W’s blog: So this is winter…
The longer you live in Ibiza, the more you fall in love with the winter season. Fact. For most islanders, winter begins on November 2 – the day we shake off our Halloween hangovers and embrace the start of the off-season – and continues right through until Easter. The rest of the world insists it starts on December 21 if you’re north of the equator, but really, we know better. Residents often spend their summers dreaming of the winter, much to the confusion of friends and family who prefer to visit in high season, when all the restaurants and clubs are open, the sea water is warm and flights are more regular. “Isn’t it a ghost town?” they ask. “What would you even do in the winter?” is another common question. “Don’t you get bored?”
Ask anyone who’s spent a winter in Ibiza about the off-season and you can brace yourself for an epic monologue as they wax lyrical about the island’s out of season delights for the next 30 minutes or so. You see, we (and when I say we, I mean me and everyone else who chooses to spend the ‘other’ half of the year on the white isle) know something other people don’t. It’s something I’m not even sure you can understand until you’ve tried it. Actually, probably not even until you’ve lived it. But I’m going to try and explain it to you anyway. Brace yourself – and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Wait, wait, wait a minute. Hold up. Let me think this through. Maybe I shouldn’t be telling anyone anything. Maybe this knowledge should remain our (and when I say our, I mean me and… well, you know who I mean!) little secret. After all, if everyone knew about how magical Ibiza is in winter, the island could become overpopulated, turn into a year-round tourist destination and we’d lose our special winter times. That contrast of high and low season could be gone for good. But the fact is, the cat’s out of the bag when it comes to spending winters in Ibiza. You don’t need me to tell you all about it – it’s in the news, in magazines, in the Sunday papers, on the television. It’s the most wonderful time of the year… you just have to know where to look.
Over the past few years, the island’s off-season population has rapidly increased as more and more people have decided to ditch the super cold climes of northern Europe for our sunny shores (once you’ve visited once in winter, it becomes a no brainer!). In response to this, more and more restaurants, shops and businesses remain open to cater to all these people, meaning there’s more to experience than ever before. Ten years ago, winter may have meant surviving on skeleton staff or being limited to just a couple of places to eat out, shop or dance – it was very much like living in a very small town – but these days, Ibiza is deservedly considered a worthy winter holiday destination.
I once read the Ibiza winter described as the reward residents got for surviving the summer and I have to agree. When you can finally let the stress and frenetic energy of summer pass and sit back and appreciate the pure beauty of where you live, it’s impossible not to feel at peace. When you finally have the luxury of time to spend with friends and realise how fortunate we are to live in a paradise that attracts so many unique personalities connected by a shared love of this little Mediterranean island, it’s so easy to be happy. Winter is not about what you can do or where you can go or who you can see. Winter in Ibiza is a feeling. For me, winter in Ibiza is like somewhere over the rainbow.
So now, this is winter. It’s the contrast of blue skies and blazing sunshine by day and cosy fires and plush blankets by night, with incredible sunsets in between. When I got up this morning, there was frost covering my windows. When I got to my car at 9am, all rugged up with a scarf, beanie and ugg boots, the entire vehicle was covered in icy dew and the windows were fogged up. By the time I came out of my yoga class just one and a half hours later (because yes! I finally have time to practice again), the sun was beaming down on the island like a hot summer’s day and people were walking around in t-shirts. I even had to turn on the air conditioning as I drove to my next appointment. True story.
Now I’m back home and the sun has just set over the hills in the distance, the winter chill is already creeping in through the cracks under the doors and windows. If you live in what’s considered a ‘charming’ old building like I do, you’ve really got to be prepared for the winter. The extremely high humidity levels on the island can make your interiors Baltic if you accidentally forget to close an upstairs window (which I often do) or don’t put the draft excluders in place before dark (guilty, yet again). The single glazed windows start to frost up again come midnight, meaning you’ve got to be vigilant about closing your wooden shutters before you go to bed each night unless you want to wake up in an ice box.
But for me, that’s all part of the magic. Don’t get me wrong – this is not the only way to live in Ibiza in the winter! Certainly, many people choose to live in centrally heated sleek apartments or villas where all the doors and windows are perfectly sealed, tiled floors are heated from below and towel racks make getting out of the shower a toasty warm delight. I just have a soft spot for thick socks, flannel pyjamas, oversized knitted sweaters, cosy duvets, red wine and a couple of cats to snuggle up with, not to mention the bohemian beauty of 12-foot high ceilings in a centuries-old apartment with striking art deco tiled floors I just can’t bear to hide beneath rugs for the sake of warming my feet. Call me crazy, or call me a romantic… but I wouldn’t want to spend my winters any other way.