Text and pictures by Sonia Nazareth
When I learned I was going to Ibiza, the formidable representational cliché of non-stop clubbing — driven by planeloads of 24-hour party people, at the very heart of the electronic music scene — was what sprang to mind.
But this island in the sea, as one discovers over time, has a softer, more introspective, quintessentially Mediterranean groove, which makes it a good binary contrast holiday. So here’s where to go, when you want a break from bacchanalian clubbing.
D’Alt Vila: The atmospheric 16th century walled old-town, with the sea lapping eagerly at its ankles, speaks volumes of Ibiza’s history as a fortress. To get the most of this heritage trail, wear sturdy walking shoes and take your time for there’s plenty to discover en route. Think grottos, private chapels, drawbridges, bastions, art galleries and stone courtyards. It’s as revealing to wander into smaller spaces in the old town — like the Madina Yabisa Interpretation Center (built around the structure of the old Andalusi wall) and the Puget Museum.
Neighbourhood of La Marina: Water is the wallpaper and carpet to the fine dining and exclusive shopping that occurs around La Marina. Once you’re done photographing resplendent yachts and cruise liners against the backdrop of the old town, dine at Restaurant Calma. In this restaurant surrounded on three sides by water, it is only natural that one ends up ordering the freshest seafood be it salmon or sea bream.
Gourmandize: For fresh market produce in a restaurant that doubles as a cooking school, S’Ametler hits the spot. If you’re keen on the other hand, for a dining experience without the trappings of plate poetry or charming service, but want rather to taste true-blue local food, book at Restaurant Can Alfredo.
Church visits: The high-ceiling churches, often filled with natural light, fit into this picture postcard vision with ease. With luck, there’s also a community festival on at the church you visit. If you have to choose from the litany of churches and white villages, Saint Miguel, Sant Joan, Saint Eulalia, Saint Carlos and Saint Gertrudis do the job well. Most churches have a well-stocked local bar near at hand, if you’re looking to feel the community energy that’s never far from the sacred in these parts.
Hippie Market: Catering as much to the bohemian with a platinum card as to the true-blue hippie with not many cents to spare, the hippie markets do an assortment of chic garments and artisanal jewellery by local and international fashion designers here on a break.
Sa Caleta Phoenician Settlement: A walk through the remaining ruins of a large Phoenician settlement abandoned around 600 BC ensconced by what looks like a digitally-manipulated landscape of beaches and coves and hills is certainly worthy of your to-do list.
Beaches: No two beaches here are the same, so make the trek even if you think most beaches speak a universal language.
Chill Out: Tropicana Beach Club (tropicanaibiza.com) and Blue Marlin (bluemarlinibiza.com) with their lounge chairs, umbrellas, easy music, champagne, cocktails, and a welcome atmosphere are perfect places to really feel the laid-back groove of the Mediterranean. Pereira Theatre’s (teatropereyra.com) billed as another escape from “pounding club culture.”
Pay homage to an Ibizan hound: If you don’t run into this lean, agile dog (probably brought to the island by Phonecian sailors in the 9th century) being walked by a local family as you take your morning constitutional around the Marina, it is worth stopping a moment to appreciate this ancient breed, in the sculptural installation of the hounds on a giant white hand at the traffic roundabout, near the Pacha hotel.
Pacha: This, the granddaddy of groovy, is where, even at 2.00 a.m., the party is only just getting started. At 3.00 a.m., I’m trying hard to find wiggle room in a vast sea of outrageously-dressed humanity floating in — hippies, clubbers, corporates, priests — all as inspirationally alive and joyful as Ibiza herself.
Fly via Barcelona or Madrid, spending some time, in either city first. On Swiss Air, one-way flights to Barcelona begin from Rs.43,000 and to Madrid from Rs.45,000. Airlines Iberia and Vueling offer daily connections to Ibiza. Flights from Barcelona to Ibiza begin from Rs.7,500 and flights from Madrid to Ibiza begin from Rs.16,000.
Visa: Spain requires a Schengen Visa. The tourist visa to Spain works out to Rs.4,277 for adults and Rs.2,495 for children over six. For children under six, it is free. The additional VFS charge is Rs.1,426. You can apply for a visa from the respective VFS counter in their city or can apply to the one closest to their city.
Accommodation: El Hotel Pacha is a short drive away from the old town, with the added advantage of being across the road from the nightclub by the same name.