Leaving the village of Santa Agnes behind, the car heads out into untamed countryside along a small, winding and uneven road to San Mateu
. On this road to the left, hidden along a dirt road, my favourite place to stay on the Island, Can Pujolet
. After flirting with the Ibiza countryside on the drive into Santa Agnes, the land now becomes real and imposes its strong presence in the atmosphere. The red earth looks harsh and dry and is scattered with difficult stone. Farming this land was never easy, I thought to myself, from the cool interior of my air conditioned car. This side of Ibiza is hidden away but a person can feel the hardship that people down through the centuries must have experienced in trying to eke an existence from the tough terrain. Terry Calliers haunting vocals on Love Theme From Spartacus
adds to the atmosphere.
The car starts to climb up into a pine forest, again twisting and turning until it emerges onto a plateau with great views of landscape to the right. As we enter another cluster of pine trees, we drive down a steep decline and meet a T-Junction where we turn left. Soon afterwards there is a turn to the right which is signposted for San Mateo
. The surrounding fields look much more inviting and tended as we approach the sleepy village of San Mateo. Public buildings and Tennis courts awaken you to civilised Ibiza again. A small restaurant on the left facing another traditional whitewashed church, seems to be all that there is about San Mateu as there seems to be no village centre. The road to the right looks well maintained and inviting but feels too new and fast. Instead we veer right and continue on the smaller, more leisurely country route.
|Terrace or Contour Farming on hill|
Soon the road opens up onto fertile looking and farmed countryside. Large stretches of land on both sides of the road slope down from a hill covered in pine. With Michael Woods beautiful remix of Cafe Del Mar
still playing in my mind, I change the excellent CD1 to the less enjoyable CD2, which starts off in an upbeat mood with one of the Prodigys most relaxed tracks Kilos
. Still, its a fresher sound and matches the surrounding vibrancy of the natural terrain. Veering to the right we start to climb again and into thick wooded pine both to the right and left of the road. Evidence of Phoenician, Carthaginian and Arab contour farming techniques remain in place after two millennium of existence. The ancient ambience that surrounds this area feels almost alive, as if it exists in a land that time forgot. There is something different about this place, hiding beneath the surface not wanting to be seen. Vines heavy with full black grapes can now be seen in the fields next to the road.
We meet a T-Junction and turn right, twisting and turning following the road through more arable and farmed land with vines, orange and lemon trees. We soon come along to a sharp bend in the road that opens out to reveal a small country bar and restaurant
nestled amid a few trees which offer shade from the heat. A few old men with character dripping from their sun beaten faces, play a game of cards outside on the terrace as I make my way to the bar. A young black haired Ibicenco serves me a cool glass of Estrella
which I gladly sink back, quenching my thirst. Another follows and I take it outside to the terrace where raised eyebrows dismiss me as a passing Tourist. I sit back and take in the local charm of the place, peaceful and relaxing and a world away from the hustle and bustle of San Antonio.
|Fortified Church Of San Miguel|
As I leave the small local restaurant, the car turns right and joins the San Miguel road. Its a better road and we start to pick up some speed. The area is full of lemon and orange trees and after a mile or so we pass Can Planells, which overlooks a fertile valley canplanells
. I stayed there once and it was very peaceful, with an excellent host by the name of Juan. Homemade farm produce and good value accommodation in a traditional Ibicenco setting.
As we approach the village of San Miguel, we merge onto the main road. Its important to take a left turn here rather than travelling out the signposted Benniras road. Not much to recommend in the village except for the Church, which is located on the hilltop overlooking the hamlet. Its well worth a visit, so I drive up the hill and park in the square, where there is a small bar that doubles up as a Tabaconist shop. Its been in the same family for many generations and it reeks of simple character. Its one of my favourite places to sit back and have a drink outside on its cobbled courtyard. After a visit to the church, which also defended its population from pirate attacks within its fortified walls, I travel back down the hill and take a left turn heading out the Puerto San Miguel road.
|Views from Hotel Hacienda.|
Its a dangerous road, with twists, turns and sharp bends, all on a descent into the bay of San Miguel, which was developed into a small tourist resort, complete with all inclusive hotels built into the cliff face without any regard to the environment. Some beautiful areas of Ibiza suffer from the bad planning of hotels, which stain the complexion of its beauty, like an ugly scar to the face. The Bay of San Miguel, despite the concrete, is still beautiful and a resort I enjoy visiting with my family, for its laid back and safe, environment. The well known Hotel Hacienda de Xamena hotelhacienda-ibiza
a 5 star property with stunning cliff top views out over the Mediterranean, is on a small road that veers off to the left as we drive into Puerto San Miguel. The turn to the right is the road I want to take to Benirras beach, but instead I drive to the end of the road to visit Restaurant Balansat
, a fresh fish restaurant renowned for its fish stew. The owner Miguel is a friend and we sit back and have a chat over a glass of Can Rich
. He persuades me to stay for something to eat, which is not hard to do, as the food is always fresh, homemade and unpretentious.
I leave Restaurant Balansat with a refreshed body and a smile on my face and head out the Benirras road. I take the left turn signposted for the Can Marca caves and climb up into the hills again. Its a steep accent along the small road, which also provides access to the hotels built into the cliff face of the bay. When we reach the summit, the views out over the bay and Isla De Sa Ferradura, a private Island with a €25k per week price tag are spectacular. Madonna, is one of many celebrity's, who have reputably stayed there. The road is cut into the cliff face and its twists and turns dangerously, with the contour of the coast. We soon pass the popular Can Marca caves at Cova Can Marca, a 10,000 year old cave discovered by smugglers in the 1500's. The decent into Benirras is one of the most exciting drives in Ibiza. Flashing glimpses through the pine trees of sharp blue sea and the famous "Finger of God" builds the anticipation of reaching somewhere special.
|Can Marca Caves|
|The Finger of God in Benirras Bay.|
The area around Benirras has that special raw energy about it. Its as if the bay of Benniras was once a port of reverence in ancient times. You almost expect a boat from Homers Odyssey to come sailing around the rocks. Its here, that every Sunday, the local Hippies come to witness the special sunset that only the bay of Benirras can provide. The beat their drums and dance at the imposing rock that points to the heavens like a finger from the sea, giving the sunset at Benirras its unique vibe. Its almost primeval and has to be experienced to fully understand its energy.