It’s not about where the party, or the after party is at anymore or where the cool kids are at. Our new rituals follow a much more personalised agenda – be it sunny brunches with friends, committing to a regular yoga practice, walking dogs from the shelter, hikes in the countryside, long luxe lunches or extended bouts of Netflixing – whatever your ritualistic pleasure, it can be dipped in and out of, shared with others or enjoyed alone. One of my own favourite winter rituals is the weekly treasure hunt that takes place at the markets. You never really know exactly what kind of bounty your rifling, scouring and rummaging is going to dig up, but you know that every weekend there is some special piece of treasure with your name on it. It’s out there. You don’t know exactly where it is, you don’t know exactly when you’ll uncover it… but you’ve got to make the ritual pilgrimage to each of the Ibiza markets to make sure it doesn’t end up in the hands of someone else.
Over the years, I have unearthed some serious gems (genuine knee-high leather riding boots in perfect condition for 5€, an antique chest of drawers for 20€, a classic Monopoly set, loads of books, beautiful plants, a vintage fur coat, the list goes on) and also some things that make me question my better judgement once I got them home (a circa 1970s child’s painting of a deer, a Pocahontas style green suede tunic with tassels, a life-size goose-shaped plastic garden lamp). To me, it’s not about whether you win or lose at market shopping – it’s all about how you play the game. And to play, you’ve really got to get involved.
In 2015, the Ibiza market scene has gone to the next level. The island is literally a treasure trove of markets, from north to south. It’s almost impossible to cover the entire circuit comfortably in one weekend – though trust me, it IS do-able. My first piece of advice – wear layers. And shades. Markets are like a sun-trapping micro-climate. No matter what your iPhone weather app tells you, you will be sweating by the first lap! The weather is so spectacular at this time of year that you can still wear flip-flops, shorts and a t-shirt while strolling around in the sunshine, and you are even likely to get sunburnt – I have made the mistake many times of donning ugg boots, a big cardi and a scarf – but you’ll need to be prepared as the temps drop rapidly from 4pm, and depending on where your journeys take you, you might just need the coverage later.
You’ll need to be fuelled up for the experience, so my advice is to start your day at the Mercado Nuevo early in Ibiza town. This is a fresh food market, so it’s also the perfect opportunity to grab your fruit and veggies for the week ahead but all the real action here takes place at Victor’s bar on the terrace, surrounded by off-duty cops, lawyers and bankers. You get the feeling this is where Ibiza’s real wheelings and dealings take place. Here you can start with a coffee and tuck into a slice of tortilla for essential carb-loading, but you’ll probably be coerced into having a Hierbas shot before paying the bill. Personally, I think it helps hone the senses for the adventures ahead.
First official stop: Mercadillo de Sant Jordi. The Saturday morning flea market that is as much about socialising as it is finding a bargain. You’ll see the post-party crew sporting big black shades, yummy mummies distracting their kids in the prams with whatever sparkly trinket is closest to hand and plenty of club workers flogging off their promo tees and CDs in a last ditch effort to make some extra cash for the winter. My advice is don’t pay more than 20€ for anything here – it is a car boot sale on a dusty old horse racing track after all. You’re unlikely to find any vintage designer labels hiding amongst the rails of Space tees and while there is an array of electrical goods sitting around, I think it’s worth spending the extra fiver and getting something new on Amazon rather than someone’s Nan’s old kettle. That being said, it’s a great place to find quirky décor, to pick up cactii and palms, oversized cushions and sparkly trinkets.
A good rule of thumb to go by at Sant Jordi, is that it’s time to head off when the guys on the stairs start playing the bongos – by this time, all the bargains are gone! Then you’ll need to detour via Playa d’en Bossa to visit the Once Upon a Time fashion market, which has taken up residence for the winter at Lips Reartes (during the summer it’s held at Boutique Hostal Salinas). Fashionistas take note – this is the place to find one-offs, vintage creations and some seriously awesome accessories and jewellery. A hit with the cool crowd, Once Upon a Time is a magnet for DJs, club promoters, fashion designers and fashion-savvy locals so if you feel you’re not dressed for the occasion – buy something and get changed!
Next stop – Ibiza Troc. While this isn’t traditionally a market, it’s worth a look even if you’re not in the market for… well… junk, which is pretty much what it’s stocked with. Ibiza Troc – set on the road to Santa Gertrudis – is a huge old dusty warehouse filled with furniture, art and décor, ranging from genuinely valuable antique furniture and collector’s quality art to stacks upon stacks of promotional beer glasses for about 10 cents each. They say one person’s trash is another’s treasure, and I find it easy to get lost in here, just imagining the stories behind some of the absurd things you see – and also thinking about the potential for upcycling.
Then it’s back on the road and time to head up north to Las Dalias, for the final stop on Saturday’s market route. The famous Hippy Market is open all year round, and though it is toned down a little during the winter months, you’ll still find the best of the best stalls and sellers peddling their wares. It’s also a good spot to grab some lunch, because in my experience, market shopping makes you work up an appetite. This is the place to go for boots, handbags, boho-luxe jewellery, sheepskin rugs, art and modern day hippy style fashion – sadly, retail therapy at Las Dalias isn’t that cheap anymore thanks to its global reputation but it’s great people watching if nothing else. When Sunday rolls around, if your feet (and wallet) are ready to get going again, San Joan Artisan Market awaits. This low-key little village celebration sees the main square and surrounding streets of the quaint northern village transformed into a market, mostly showcasing locally made arts, crafts and clothes, plus organic goodies like cakes, bread and biscuits, olive oils, coffee and even beer!
Be sure not to linger too long because in the main attraction awaits, and as they say, it’s first in, best dressed and in this case, quite literally. The Cala Llenya Flea Market (or ‘Rastrillo’) is like the upscale, northern bohemian’s version of Sant Jordi. It’s a little less dusty (but still roughing it in a field), a little more eclectic (throw record collections, antiques and art into the mix), a little more highbrow (yes, you will find vintage fur coats and the odd designer piece) and a little more expensive (of course). I love Cala Llenya – it feels like a long way to go sometimes, especially if you’re hungover on a Sunday, but it’s always worth it. If you’re peckish, around lunchtime the restaurant onsite throws on a giant paella, and there’s a pretty decent covers band playing good old fashioned American rock tunes (albeit with Spanish and German accents, depending on the singer) and the whole thing is usually over by about 3pm. Which is good, because you need to get back on the road and over to Atzaro, where the new winter market is the perfect place to kick back as you celebrate reaching the end your weekend shopping expeditions. Stalls are chock full of jewellery, fashion, art and home décor, all with a boho flair, and your shopping is soundtracked by live music, accompanied by even more food and people watching. Then you get to go home and take stock of your loot! There are plenty more little markets that pop up in local villages to celebrate fiestas, or sit along the promenades of the port and seaside town, and don’t even get me started on visiting Formentera for a market visit! So much to do, so little time… so many potential treasures!