An alternative side to Ibiza

Post-Madrid, my next few trips had an element of ‘work’ involved. A few days in May to explore the beach town of Cascais (which I wrote about here and here), a week in Croatia in July where I returned to Vis Island to write about a newly launched SUP yoga retreat and then another trip back to the island in September to teach on a yoga retreat and contemplate whether I could spend a while longer on the island in 2017. You can find out what my decision was on that here.

And then it was time for one final blowout before I hunkered down for the winter.

(October 2016)

Woo, we’re going to Ibiza (again)

Although my trips to Croatia were undoubtedly fun, I still had an urge to get away for one final break that was purely just for pleasure before the winter festivities kicked in. When I saw that the Ibiza Yoga Festival was coming up in Mid-October with flights to Ibiza at just £60, it was kind of impossible to resist. I was tempted to book on the spot, but after such an enjoyable experience last year with my friend Charlotte, I knew that traveling with a companion might just be that much more fun than going solo.

I mentioned it to my friend Rachel that weekend and by midday Monday the flights were booked and we were researching car hire and accommodation.

Although Ibiza is best known for clubbing, I’d experienced a different side to the island the summer before and knew that I wanted to go back to explore more of the alternative side to Ibiza. Hippy markets, vegan restaurants, secluded beaches, a return to the magical Es Vedra rock and also trips into Ibiza town were all on the agenda but, I was also keen to let my hair down a little and the thought of heading to one of the clubs was also pretty appealing.

After a little research, we opted to stay with the lovely Wendy at The Lotus Pad, a traditional Spanish finca that doubled as a yoga retreat location throughout the summer and a yoga B&B in the shoulder months (booked through Adventure Yogi). Wanting to retain an aura of seclusion and relaxation, guests don’t receive the location of the accommodation until just a few days before they arrive – perfect for adding to the sense of adventure for the trip, not so perfect after a delayed flight and a confession from my co-pilot that she couldn’t be trusted to drive the hire car as she had crashed her rented vehicle just a few weeks before in Barcelona. But, I was secretly happy to play designated driver for the weekend as I’d loved the freedom of driving around the island the year before; bare-feet, windows down, music up, and now with my trusty companion playing navigator, it was even more entertaining. Plus, it meant that we could pretty much traverse the entire island (skipping some of the more commercial areas) within just three days, which is exactly what we decided to do…

Day 1 – Hippy markets & hanger issues

As I said, we were due to arrive late on the Friday night and instead, it was more like early hours of the morning on the Saturday by the time we pulled up to our new casa for the next few nights. Party girl intentions were all forgotten after a hectic week and instead we crashed as soon as we arrived, thankful that the first yoga class of the day wouldn’t be until later that evening. But despite our bodies craving more sleep, our busy London minds were already stirring, making plans for the day as we chomped down on a delicious breakfast along with Wendy and the only other guest, Brighton girl Jo. Fresh fruit, bread, yogurt, muesli AND eggs lining our stomachs, we left the casa feeling full of energy and excited for our first stop of the day, Las Dalias Hippy Markets.

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I fell in love with a suede fringed bag as soon as we entered the markets and could think of nothing else until we returned full circle for me to collect it. But in between, we wandered through the bustling market taking in the mix of local artwork and jewellery (amidst the kind of tat that would look great if you picked it up authentically in a Thai or Indonesian country, but which is becoming a bit ten-a-penny across markets worldwide to really seem treasurable these days).

Despite technically now being ‘out of season’ the market was still bubbling with life with an international array of customers who I can only imagine must be locals who have visited previously and fallen in love with the endless sunshine and other-worldly energy that Ibiza seems to dish up. I’d been here less than 24 hours by this point and I was already gazing longingly at the beautiful fincas we passed on each car ride, wondering how many lifetimes it might take me to save up for my own piece of paradise.

After the markets, encouraged by the 20-plus degree sun (yes this was in mid-October!), we decided to check out one of the nearby beaches, Aguas Blancas. Accessible only by car, the beach is popular among residents and on a windy day has a good enough swell for a spot of body surfing.

14681829_10157708784875002_948903427286655558_nWe grabbed a coffee and some olives from the rustic café on the beach and then found a spot on the sand next to the cliffs. Perfectly shaded for red-haired Rach, with enough sunshine to keep my sun-loving side satisfied, we sat for a while just gazing around at the mixture of families, solo travellers and groups of friends and couldn’t help but notice a nudist couple laid next to us (we later realised that it was in fact a nudist beach). We went for a quick cool down in the waves, inventing our own version of body surfing sans the boards and then ventured back to the car, stomachs now rumbling as we headed off to hunt down a vegan café we’d read about in Rachel’s pocket Lonely Planet.

By the time we arrived at Wild Beets in Santa Gertrudis, we were famished and the array of interesting sounding dishes on offer was almost overwhelming. The café was quiet and we were attended to immediately but my indecisiveness meant that asking for ‘a couple of minutes’ to decide led to a state of hanger as the typically Spanish ‘go slow’ attitude meant that it took quite some time for the waiter to return back to take our order. Thankfully a thick creamy maca-based chocolate smoothie and the lovely sounds of an acoustic guitarist kept us distracted whilst waiting for our colourful lunch choices to arrive.

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Now sated, we had just a short time to head back to the finca for our first yoga session of the day – which in theory wasn’t a problem, but with mine and Rach’s combined crappy sense of direction (and a pit-stop at the supermarket to stock up on snacks) we arrived just in time to swap our beach attire for yoga gear and settle in for a 90-minute session of relaxing Yin.

Energy levels re-instated, we were keen to wash away the sand and sweat for the day and don our summer dresses for a night out! We invited our new friend Jo along for dinner, travelling in separate cars as we clearly planned to have a ‘big night’ but knew we needed to line our stomachs first with a light-ish dinner in Santa Eulalia. The beach front area was quiet for a Saturday evening so we had no trouble at all finding an outdoor table for three at our restaurant of choice, the organic vegan-friendly Caos. Although vegan-friendly, there were plenty of delicious options available for vegetarians and carnivores alike but it was nice for Rachel to have some options other than some bland offering that a less eco-conscious restaurant might present. A sharing platter, hearty tofu wraps and a chocolate cake split three ways later, all plans of heading out on the town were forgotten as the toll of our busy working week caught up with us and we headed back for an early night instead.

Day 2 – The Ibiza Yoga Festival

Thankfully this meant that we awoke brimming with energy which was great, as Rach and I showed no intention of adopting the ‘tranquilla’ Spanish attitude and instead had a full day of activities scheduled in. A 90-minute yoga class with Wendy, followed by a day of yoga at the quirky Pikes Hotel, followed by a dash back up to the north of the island to watch the legendary sunset to the sound of the drummers at Benniras Beach. Oh, and an after-party at Amante Beach Bar.

We had a lovely class with Wendy, the perfect balance of gentle and challenging, which she easily adapted to each of our levels. Then, a lengthy breakfast filled with more delicious food and conversation, making it hard to leave and head to San Joan Sunday markets en route to the yoga festival. Rather than rush, we decided to skip the markets and headed straight down to Pikes.

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I’d loved the festival last year, mainly because of the lovely friends we’d made whilst sipping drinks on the sun loungers in between classes. This year, we arrived as one session was wrapping up and so got a taste of Jo Youle’s flowy class before it was time to head to the bar for a much longed-for cocktail. The vibe was different pool-side this year though, all the sun-loungers had already been taken and considering we’d now done almost three hours of yoga already, we decided to skip some of the itinerary and instead headed out for lunch and a beer close to the Las Dalias markets.
This meant that come early afternoon, we weren’t exhausted, as our original plans no doubt would have made us and instead we were buoyed with energy to see what Benniras Beach might offer. We parked up and started walking down to the beach, the sound of the drummers enticing us in the distance. We passed through another hippy market, not wanting to stop but finding it near impossible not to. The swanky Elements beach bar was already overflowing with well-dressed locals and I was tempted to grab a bottle of prosecco and clamber in amongst them, but we had the glorious sunset to enjoy first…

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The bar to the left side of the beach was overly crowded by this point, with locals and travellers pouring out onto the sand and some wading ankle-deep in the sea, so we decided to clamber over the rocks to the right and watch from a more scenic vantage point as the sun set, creating a rainbow of pink, orange, and purple over the rocky entrance to the beach.

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It would have been perfectly acceptable to sit there all evening, perhaps with a beer or two to hand, but the mosquitos were eating us alive by this point so we headed back to the beachside bars and waited for what felt like an age at the pizza place next to Elements.

Post-pizza, we hopped in the car ready to turn the sedate vibes up a notch or five as we made our way over to Amante beach bar, ready for their closing party. By now it was around 11pm, still early in Spanish standards, and even earlier for an Ibizan night out. But, we were keen to get the party started and as I’d been driving all evening I couldn’t wait to ditch the car and let the merriment begin. We drew closer to the bar fully expecting some laid-back dance tunes to be heard through the trees but even as we were literally on the doorstep we couldn’t hear a thing!  It didn’t sound promising and we were soon to find that the party had been cancelled earlier in the week. And so, we had two options; scout out another party (but who knew where when the season was already over) or perhaps take it as a sign that maybe this weekend was more about rest and rejuvenation and park our bums on some bean bags overlooking the ocean instead. We opted for the latter; large wine glasses in hand, just three girls sharing our stories and laughing at our rather lazy attempts to seek out a party.

Day 3 – Es Vedra

The next morning we bid adieu to Jo and had our final class and breakfast with Wendy before swiftly packing up our belongings and heading straight to the south of the island to visit the enchanting Es Vedra rock.

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We sat in an almost meditative-like state for just a short while and then headed to Cala D’Hort beach for a final soak of the suns rays before it was sadly time to depart for the airport. Time always passes way to quickly on the last day of a trip, but a part of me was looking forward to getting back to London too, I had a couple of gigs lined up with friends and there was a second date with a rather intriguing guy to look forward to. And much like Barcelona, I knew Ibiza would be somewhere that I would return to again.

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