Covering everything from the major news of the week and burning social issues, to expat living and la vida local, EL PAÍS’ team of English-language bloggers offers its opinions, observations and analysis on Spain and beyond.

Meeting the neighbours.

Por: | 08 de diciembre de 2014

Can Rei in the sunshine
I told someone recently that I didn’t really feel as if I lived in Spain because Majorca has such a strong identity for me. But you would think, having lived in Majorca for a decade, that perhaps we would have got round to at least visiting the other of the Balearic Islands, wouldn’t you? It smacks of a lack of curiosity, but in reality it was a lack of time, money and opportunity that had prevented me from visiting Ibiza and Formentera until very recently when I was invited to take my husband and daughter to stay in a (rather lovely) house in Ibiza for a couple of days. This was our first ever trip together where we have not been going to visit another member of our family somewhere in the UK or France, but it was also the trip that almost didn’t happen due to a huge workload and schedules. However, we did eventually make it on to a ferry with our car laden with food, clothes and (unfortunately) laptops so we could keep working during the time away.

We’d been told that Ibiza would be “totally dead” by the time we got there, the clubs would have had their end of season parties, and that would be that. “Sounds perfect” was our response as peace and quiet is what we were after, and it is exactly what we got. The house, Can Rei, (from was about five minutes’ drive from Ibiza Town (so not too far from civilisation and supplies) and down a winding country track. It’s set in its own private garden with a big pool which my daughter was in immediately, despite the autumnal temperatures. Really, we could have stayed at the house for the whole time we were there and been perfectly happy, but with a nine year old climbing up the walls to do something we had to get out and about and have some adventures.

First up was a trip around and about to see some of the places that we’d heard about. Think Ibiza, and you probably either think of the big clubs or hippies. So we went for the latter and wandered around the “Hippy Market” in Punta Arabi at Es Cana. It reminded Oliver and I of a warmer version of Camden Market. It’s certainly got a lot of interesting stalls with handmade and imported goods, mixed in of course with a bit of tat, but that’s always to be expected in markets. I liked the atmosphere there, but I can imagine it would be quite packed and difficult to get round in the season. It sounds obvious but as we were driving around the island in our trusty little Wagon R we realised that Ibiza had quite a different attitude to retail and visitors in general. Now and again along the road you could come across a rather interesting looking shop selling interior decoration, or eccentric garden items, and on the beaches it seemed that the regulations about how much you could build on a beach or run a business on a beach were much more relaxed than they are here in Majorca.

Elements, Benirrás Beach, Ibiza
We went to Benirrás Beach, which you get to by driving down through beautiful hills and valleys. This is not only a beautiful spot to while away a day, but also a great place to be for sundown when drummers gather to ‘drum down the sunset’. We found ourselves in a beach bar called Elements, which was very relaxed and informal, and proudly displaying on their signage that they were going to be open until December. Looking inside in their boutique we had a quick glimpse of the luxury end of the Ibizan dream, with astronomical prices for artwork and designer clothes, as you can imagine we didn’t hang around too long in there with a nine year who’d just had a Berry Smoothie and was covered in sticky juice.

Ollie and Gigi off on their adventures

We also went to Formentera for the day. If you’re thinking of doing that and you’re a Balearic resident then take some ID with you to get the discount: 26.80€ adult return. After a thirty minute crossing you’re on the island and the first thing to do is to get your hands on either a bike, a car, a mini moke or a scooter. I had originally suggested scooters when we were talking about going, but stood there in the rental office signing up I started to regret the idea, and desperately said maybe we might get a mini moke instead? But my daughter was having none of it and we hired two scooters for the day. I haven’t been on a scooter since my teens when I was the proud owner of one those that you actually can pedal as well as have a scoot around on, so in theory I knew what I was supposed to be doing. In reality it took quite a lot of wobbling around roundabouts at a snail’s pace before I started to feel okay. Meanwhile my husband and child were off like a shot. My feeble efforts, and my “own personal traffic jam” were made fun of for the rest of the day. Ho hum.

Platja Mitjorn, Formentera
Formentera was absolutely gorgeous as well, and the beaches which have the legendary reputation of being Caribbean-like in their quality were exactly that. I can report that the sand is as close to demerara sugar as it can get, and the water is crystal clear and turquoise: absolutely exquisite.  We went to Platja Mitjorn and stumbled across a hippy beach bar called Piratabus which has been going for thirty years in the same position on the top of some sand dunes overlooking a wide expanse of the Mediterranean Sea. I was quite saddle sore and stressed out from my own personal battle with staying atop of a scooter and very much needed a sit down and a little something: sitting with an ice cold “clara” watching some old boys playing draughts whilst the sun warmed my back, listening to some very good acoustic guitar being played somewhere in the background will remain with me as a highlight of my Formentera day out. Asking my daughter what her highlights were of our trip she lists the Can Rei pool, and the amazing beaches.

I’d often read and heard about the different personalities of the islands of Ibiza and Formentera. And conversations since our trip with friends who are more au fait with the history and style of the islands support our own experiences. So, after a decade of living next door, we’ve finally shook hands with the neighbours, and we loved meeting them. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another decade to go back round to borrow a cup of sugar, Demerara of course.

For more information on properties visit Ibiza Summer Villas


Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only English language daily paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki. 

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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