Posts Tagged ‘Beaches’

Discovering Ibiza: a journey to Atlantis

October 20th, 2008

I am the worst sort of explorer, in that I am always stubbornly and vocally un-interested in something unless it’s something I’ve discovered.

True to form I have always publically yawned over Atlantis – Ibiza’s “secret” beach. The locals assure me it is no more or less than a rather nice beach and that’s good enough for me.

However, one of my best mates was over from London for the weekend. He’d found Atlantis on his last visit and – like any good evangelist – wasn’t going to let me off the hook till I’d found it too. So off we go in the hire car with a bottle of water, a camera and some sensible shoes.

Lucky it’s one of those glorious Mediterranean autumn days where the sky is hazy blue and the sun is a silky gold as melting butter.

The first leg of our hike takes us to the most incredible view of Es Vedra I’ve ever seen. I spin in dazed circles around the top of the lookout tower, as enchanted as Alice in Wonderland.

Es Vedra

Next up, the fun stuff. A slip-slidey journey down towards a narrow spit of land. Jumping from rock to rock, skidding on loose gravel, occasionally grabbing onto an errant pine branch and clinging for dear life. Above us, climbers are traversing a proper cliff, brightly coloured ropes swaying in the light breeze as they call to each other. They are enviably calm.

I nearly panic when I have to shimmy down a couple of metres of sloping stone to reach the fabled pool at Atlantis. (The only thing I’m more afraid of than heights is spiders, or possibly vice versa, depending on the height and/or size of spider involved.)

When I stop hyperventilating and look around I am dumbfounded. Blunt columns of soft, oatmeal-coloured stone frame the opal sea. Tiny speckled fish dart above shallow, rectangular steps showing where indifferent rock was quarried into a pool. Stone cairns of various sizes are dotted around and swirling, primitive faces break the right-angle lines of earlier craftsmen.

Finally, I get it.

Atlantis too

Over dinner with my housemate’s visiting parents I pull out the camera. “Have you heard about Atlantis? It’s this secret beach… It’s amazing…”

Yep. I’ve officially joined the ranks of the Atlantis bores!

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Tomorrow comes…

September 11th, 2008

salinasOne of the most popular words in the Spanish language is ‘manaña’ – meaning tomorrow. It’s generally used in conjunction with work that has to be done and normally refers to Spanish people, but this year it has been hopefully applied to foreigners – and specifically tourists.

The Spanish themselves are not prone to panic, but when May, June and then July proved to be quiet months many of the foreigners running businesses on Ibiza began to lose their cool and depress the few tourists who did darken their doorways with tales of despair and despondency.

Spanish business owners on the other hand, with the benefit of decades of profitable summers under their belts and in the bank, said “make the most of the peace and quiet, they’ll all come at the same time – in August!”

salinasTrue enough as it turned out – almost overnight vast expanses of sand turned into vast expanses of sunburned flesh. Despite this many of the foreign business owners continued to moan, claiming that the majority of the tourists were Italian and weren’t interested in their Full English Breakfast offering, or even 2 pints for the price of one!

No complaints, however, were heard from the ever-growing band of Italian business proprietors. It appears that Ibiza is becoming an overflow facility for Formentera, which is widely acknowledged as being temporarily annexed to Italy for the month of August.

Those who live in Formentera have long been aware of this fact and most nowadays have sufficient grasp of Italian to relieve their boisterous visitors of their euros with a smile. They also know from experience that as soon as August ends the other nationalities will return until the end of the season.

The other particularly numerous visitors to Ibiza in August are the flamingos of Salinas, however, they are completely ignored in the official figures as they don’t carry money.

Yet another thing for local business owners to moan about…

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Es Cavallet to Playa d’en Bossa – Ibiza off piste

August 21st, 2008

The view from the top
View from the top

Ever since someone told me, last winter, that you can walk across the headland from the southern end of Playa d’en Bossa to Es Cavallet I’ve wanted to try it. No real opportunity arose until couple of weeks ago when my little brother was here, visiting from the States. We’d taken the bus to Salinas and walked across to meet friends at Es Cavallet. After a few hours flopped in the sun we were both too lazy to hurry back to catch the last bus from Salinas.

“You can walk around the other way, to Playa d’en Bossa,” I told him, “Fancy it?”

“Sure, why not?” he shrugged.

It was nearly 8PM and off we went, hopping over a low stone retaining wall to gain access to the first swell of rock and pine shrub. I was wearing a mini-skirt, bikini top and a pair of Havianas, beach bag slung over one shoulder. The first twenty minutes or so was pretty easy. I jumped from rock to rock, feet slipping slightly as sweat greased the soles of my feet.

Up we went over one hill to find ourselves on the edge of a 30 or 40 metre cliff, meaning we had to swing inland to circle the notch in the coastline. It was getting steeper, the brush denser. We clambered up to the top of the first big cove and stopped to look back – and down. The waning sun cast everything in a richer-than-normal hue, Technicoloring the inky sea and the dots of white sails on the horizon. For the first time ever, in all my years visiting and living in Ibiza, I felt connected to the wildness of the island. I wanted to stand there and listen to the curling of the waves against the rocks, to tasty the piney air.

On the other hand, as much as I wanted to hang around having Treasure Island fantasies, I didn’t want to be scrambling towards unknown drop-offs in the dark. “What’s the hurry?” my brother wondered aloud as I scampered down the next hill. (Nothing phases him: he has a rugged physical self-confidence inversely proportionate to my extreme cautiousness.)

“I don’t want to be here after dark,” I said.

“Oh, okay.” We trotted on.

A thin gold thread flashed in my peripheral vision. Stopped me dead. “Holy shit! That’s a big spider!” I gasped. I am cripplingly arachniphobic (I once refused to sleep in my room for a week after seeing a freakishly large spider there. My friend removed it but I was convinced there were more, lurking) and the mere thought I might have face-planted this giant critter’s home made me feel a bit queasy.

“Damn, I’m glad you’re in front. I would have walked right into that,” my brother said cheerfully. After picking up a stick and carefully testing the pathway I ducked beneath the giant web and proceeded with care. Apparently the wilds are big-spider central in Ibiza. We narrowly avoided a half-dozen more huge, artful spans flung between shrubs on the putative trail.

Whether or not there is a trail remains open to debate, I think we were following one because, from time to time rough, royal-blue triangles were daubed onto the rocks – a clue or guide of some sort. What they didn’t hint at was how near we were to Playa d’en Bossa. The sun sank low enough to render my shades unnecessary, and they got chucked in the bag in exchange for a vest top, which was quickly wringing with sweat. Sticker bushes and random branches snatched as we passed, sinking cuts into my bare ankles and weals across my upper arms.

One thing I hadn’t expected (apart from the spiders) was the wide variety of rock formations. After crossing expanses of big, smooth, reddish stone we would suddenly be slithering across grey, clay-like rock closely ridged. Ordinarily I am the least-curious of naturalists, but I wished then I knew more about rocks, enough to at least adequately describe then.

More remarkable still was the appearance, at the bottom of a deep cleft that took us right down to sea-level, and across a narrow gulch, of a dirt-bike rider. He nodded as he gunned his engine, mysteriously ascending the path we’d just skidded down.

“Where the hell did he come from?” we wondered. The next leg of the journey left us none the wiser. While there was a definite trail across some points we had to tramp through trackless brush before we finally ascended the hill that overlooks the pirate tower guarding the far end of Playa d’en Bossa beach.

It was almost twilight but we relaxed our pace, ambling down the flattening path toward the cove of boat houses at the end of the beach. Rather than follow the coastline to the bitter end we swung inland, doubling back through a stretch of woods and dirt road until we came out on the sand.

Families were packing their kids into four-wheel drives, wind-surfers putting up their boards, sunbathers sloping towards their hotels with towels flung carelessly over shoulders. It was a relief to put swollen, scraped, sweaty feet into the sea and I was reluctant to let the adventure end. So we traipsed on, through the gentle drift of evening light, all the way up Ibiza’s longest beach till we reached Figueretes.

We stopped off at the fabulous Il Vecchio Molina restaurant in Figureretes for homemade pasta and a bottle of white wine. Rarely has a meal felt more deserved or been more richly enjoyed.

It was a moment to make me fall in love with Ibiza all over again, too. A reminder that even at the height of August craziness this wonderful, multi-faceted island is full of delights just waiting to be discovered. It really is treasure island.

About to scale the mighty moutain
About to scale the mighty moutain

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Posted in 2008, Beaches, cila warncke, Es Cavallet, Figueretas, hiking, ibiza sunset, Photos, Playa d'en Bossa | Comments (0)