Ibiza in winter: unplugged however nonetheless on track | Travel

It takes two hours to succeed in the Lost City. My information, Toby Clarke from Walking Ibiza, leads me down a highway that dwindles into barely perceptible paths rising and falling by way of the forest. Toby’s canine, Cosmo, runs off on lengthy diversions, a flickering presence within the sea mist that drifts by way of the bushes round us. Finally, we attain the stays of a protracted stone wall. It protects a thumb-shaped peninsula that rides out on white-chalked cliffs into the flat, tideless Mediterranean. Behind the wall are the flattened ruins of the Lost City. Many consider this was the final stand of the Moors, who ran the island as an Islamic caliphate for 3 centuries.

Ibiza map

It is difficult to hike to the Lost City in the summertime warmth however that is Ibiza in winter. An island becalmed, cooled and open to inspection. On a sunny February morning, I stand on the clifftop and luxuriate in a view unchanged for millennia. The distant, undeveloped hills bear solely juniper bushes. Gulls circle the empty expanse of Cala d’Albarca, Ibiza’s largest pure bay. The silence is so complete that it’s threatened solely by the mushy roll of the ocean 200 metres beneath.

Cosmo is an element podenco, the good-looking canine that’s emblematic of this island. The podenco was dropped at Ibiza on the galleys of the Moors; photographs of the breed are carved on the partitions of Egyptian pyramids. As Cosmo darts throughout the ruins of the Lost City, he’s working over ghosts.

Ibiza works in the summertime and rests within the winter. In the agricultural north, I drive alongside empty roads between fields stuffed with almond blossom and wildflowers, and the beautiful villages provide a commonality of whitewashed church, village sq. and a bar exhibiting indicators of life.

In close by Sant Miquel de Balansat, the stone flooring of Can Xicu bar has been varnished by centuries of toes. The place has been within the d’en Planes household for 130 years. A photograph on the wall reveals Toni d’en Planes performing with an Ibicencan dance troupe in New York in 1965.

Splendid isolation … Neil Forsyth on the cliffs above Cala d’Albarca

At the Can Vidal bar in Sant Joan de Labritja, a number of kilometres east, Vicente Vidal rattles by way of the 5 generations of Vidal who have owned the bar and insistently pours me a glass of hierbas, the island’s herb liqueur. At Bar Anita in San Carlos (or Sant Carles de Peralta), in the direction of the south coast, one other Vicente pours me one other, to accompany tapas of boquerones (marinated anchovies) and sliced pork in oil and lemon.

I’ve spent a variety of time in Bar Anita: I wrote a novel set within the village (San Carlos, Vintage, 2014). Bar Anita was the bottom of the hippie invasion of Ibiza that started within the late 1960s, initially pushed by US draft dodgers. The eponymous Anita served them tortillas and hierbas, and have become a put up workplace on the aspect. As we speak, Vicente factors out Anita herself, strolling throughout the sq.. The guardian of the hippies is a 94-year-old mannequin of Ibicencan reserve in conventional black.

I have lunch at Atzaró, a chic agroturismo on a working orange farm – and within the Guasch household for eight generations. Its menú del día is sourced solely inside 1km of the lodge. Then I drive west to San Antonio and the nice and cozy embrace of nostalgia.

Bar Anita in Sant Carles de Peralta.

Hippie hangout … Anita’s Bar in Sant Carles de Peralta, the place the author’s ebook is about. Photograph: Alamy

In 1963, my grandad Jimmy Walker, a physician in Dundee, efficiently handled the relative of a Norwegian. In gratitude, the Norwegian provided using a villa on a Spanish island known as Ibiza. After a two-day journey, my mom’s household reached San Antonio bay. On one aspect was a fishing village. On the opposite was the villa and empty fields.

One night, they noticed a handwritten signal for Doc’s Bar, and adopted it to a thatched bar overseen by an asthmatic man from Harrogate known as Cliff Buckle. Buckle, suggested by his physician to hunt hotter climes, had wound up in Ibiza and was constructing holiday houses for adventurous Brits. My grandparents operated beneath Presbyterian situations, however Ibiza does humorous issues to folks and so they paid £three,000 on belief for the home that continues to be within the household immediately.

I stand on the roof constructed by Buckle. The fields that my mom and her siblings hiked over to the seashores have been stuffed with motels, however the night view stays unchanged because the solar units behind the island of Conillera.

Can Partit, Ibiza

Rustic retreat … Can Partit, Ibiza

The subsequent morning, at my lodge Can Partit, the co-owner, Nieves, is anxious. I inform her of my plan to cycle throughout the island and she or he worriedly plies me with scrumptious, skinny omelettes created from eggs laid this morning. Can Partit is an enthralling, rustic finca surrounded by almond groves in Santa Agnés de Corona, and within the household of Nieves’ husband José for 200 years. José factors to an unlimited juniper beam within the roof. His grandfather, the strongest man on Ibiza, lifted it by himself.

We see the pool utilized in Wham’s Club Tropicana video, the bar the place Freddie Mercury had his days-long 41st birthday celebration

I cycle with Simon Rose of Velo Club Ibiza, who final yr coated 13,000km guiding cyclists around the island. We comply with nation roads which might be largely unsigned, not often seeing a automobile as we move fields of sheep and winter crops, and climb over hills of infinite pine.

With my legs numb, my saddle apparently changed by a spear, and Simon trying completely nice, we disembark in Santa Gertrudis. The partitions of Bar Costa, as with most of the island’s older bars, are embellished with the works of native artists, taken as cost for bar payments. Two bellota hams grasp above the bar.

Pikes Hotel pool and garden

Hedonists’ haven … Pikes Hotel reopens for summer season on 27 April.

I begin the subsequent day on a mountaintop platform, exhibiting what are absolutely a number of the most inelegant yoga stretches this idyllic setting has seen. The spectacular finca, Can Luminosa, gives year-round yoga ( and is an instance of the island’s reinvention (drop-ins welcome in winter; in summer season it’s residential). After the lager-laden 1980s and the clubbing 1990s, the 21st century is about wellness.

As an antidote, I go to Pikes Hotel in San Antonio for a reminder of the island’s hedonistic spirit. Dawn Hindle and husband Andy McKay had been one half of Manumission, the weekly membership evening that ran for 15 summers from 1994, providing barely contained mayhem for my era. Now they’ve purchased Pikes, the place founder Tony Pike was ringmaster for 30 years of superstar debauchery.

Dawn walks me around the lodge, which is being lovingly up to date throughout its winter break. We see the swimming pool utilized in Wham’s Club Tropicana video, the bar the place Freddie Mercury held his days-long 41st birthday celebration, and the suite the place Pike and Grace Jones started a torrid affair. Pikes has a bar round each nook. “We don’t do yoga,” smiles Dawn.

Ibiza’s Dalt Vila (high town).

White metropolis … Ibiza’s Dalt Vila (excessive city) Photograph: Alamy

That night I go to Ibiza Town, the place newer buildings unfold outward from the previous Dalt Vila (excessive city), on a hill behind huge 16th-century ramparts. Within these partitions, I stroll by way of cool lanes canyoned between grand homes. Coats of arms above doorways present helmets turned to the left, an indication that the homes had been gifted to illegitimate offspring, despatched to Ibiza by embarrassed mainland aristocracy. I stroll uphill, passing the Santa Domingo convent, the place housebound nuns promote pastries by way of grated home windows, and the embellished mouth of the tunnel by way of which Catalan troopers rushed in 1235 to start the bloody expulsion of the Moors.

At the highest of the hill, a platform gives a panoramic view over the Mediterranean. In the summer season this terrace would teem with folks. This night I’m alone, on the island my household have been coming to for over 50 years.

To the east, the native llaüt fishing boats set out searching for squid. To the west, the solar units over the Ses Salines salt flats. The view feels historic and unchanged. This is Ibiza in winter. When the island reveals its age, and is all the higher for it.

Way to go

The journey was supported by the Ibiza Tourist Board. Doubles at Can Partit price from €98 B&B in off-season. For extra on holidays within the Balearic islands, see

British Airways is the one airline that flies direct to Ibiza from the UK in winter, with returns from London City from £220. In summer season easyJet, Ryanair, and Thomas Cook Airlines (in addition to BA) fly from airports throughout the UK.

Best time to go
November to April are the quietest, least expensive months, for an genuine style of Ibiza with temperatures averaging round 15C (although they’ll go greater). The summer season celebration season runs from May to October, with July and August the busiest, hottest and costliest months.

Exchange charge
£1 = €1.12
Basic lunch round €15, beer €four

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