Category Archives: Spain

Extreme hiking

Thanks to the ever-inspirational BestHike.com I’ve just come across this rather excellent post about the 5 most gut-wrenching hikes on earth from hikingboots.com.

Most of them are actually Via Ferrata rather than straightforward hikes, but one in particular stands out for its scariness, El Camino del Rey, near Malaga in Spain:

Pretty precarious, no? Sadly it looks like it got so dangerous they’ve now closed it – but apparently they’ll be repairing it soon, and is definitely a hike to add to my ever-growing list of planned hikes.

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How the other half live

After nine previous nine trips to Ibiza, I’ve settled into a nice routine – a few days by the pool in my usual hotel, a couple of trips to my favourite beach, dinner at some of the best restaurants on the island (Soleado by the waterfront in Figueretas, El Olivo up inside the city walls of Ibiza Town, the beautiful courtyard of La Brasa). Normally a day trip by ferry to Formentera, a visit to one or two of the big clubs (normally Amnesia & Pacha).

I’m not normally the sort of person who goes to the same place again and again – there’s too much of the world to see for that – but Ibiza is different. It’s probably my favourite place in the world – I can’t think of anywhere else that can combine some of the world’s best partying and dining with completely unspoilt, stunning beaches and the beautiful landscape of pine-covered rolling hills. It’s the perfect holiday destination.

After my latest trip though, it’ll never be quite the same again. One of the perks of my job is the odd bit of corporate entertainment – normally lunch in some of London’s best restaurants, but occasionally the odd jolly abroad (and I do mean occasionally – I’m a crap blagger so this was only my second trip in ten years. My old boss used to manage about three a year). So when I was invited out there this year I leapt at the chance, and boy was it worth it.

For a start – no cheap hotel this time. Oh no. Instead, I got to stay in an enormous villa with a huge pool. I’ve kind avoided the villa thing before because I couldn’t be arsed cooking for myself. The organisers kindly got round the problem by arranging a chef for us. Hard life eh? And she was amazing. She even had me wolfing down the salads she made, and I *hate* salad.

Our villa

Our villa

When it came to eating out, I thought I’d eaten well on the island in the past. This time, I got to eat in probably the poshest restaurant on the island, L’Elephant. By day, we spent too days at different private beach clubs in gorgeous little coves. On the Thursday, we sailed out to Formentera on a catamaran, before having lunch at the best seafood restaurant on that island, Juan y Andrea.

Sunset at Cala Comte

Sunset at Cala Comte

As for clubbing, well, we still went to my usual haunts, but this time we had tables in the VIP areas. In Amnesia, that meant being on a balcony well away from the shellsuit-clad masses, and drinking vodka at the ridiculous price of €400 a bottle (that’s certainly one way of making sure regular people can’t afford to do the VIP thing). That was particularly bizarre – the table next to us was populated by a couple of short, fat, balding millionaires from Russia, accompanied by 5 hookers they’d shipped over from Moscow. It started out quite amusing, but as they leered at them and groped them it got a bit unpleasant.You just can’t buy class. The VIP experience in Pacha was much nicer – it’s the most beautiful club in the world as it is, but having a table overlooking the dancefloor and DJ booth was even better, especially with David Morales, one of my favourite all-time DJs playing. The drinks were equally expensive there – not that I got to enjoy too many of them as I ended up falling asleep at 5am. I’m not as young as I used to be, sadly.

The worlds most expensive vodka

The world's most expensive vodka

All in all, it was the best trip I’ve had to the island. I know they say money can’t buy happiness – but in this case it certainly helped a great deal (especially knowing it’s all someone else’s money). I was going to say I know what it feels like to be a supermodel now – except for the fact that I ate so much good food whilst there I have more chance of being mistaken for a beached whale than Kate Moss now. Time to get running again…

Inevitably there had to be a comedown – and of course, that was provided by Easyjet on the way home. With no full-service airlines flying direct from London, even VIPs have to slum it sometime, and we ended up delayed by two hours taking off, diverted from Stansted to Luton as the runway had shut, and then held for a further two hours after landing before they took our luggage off the plane. Three hours sleep later and I was back at work.

Madrid Airport

I’m not a big fan airports. They’re just a necessary obstacle that gets in the way of being where you want to go. British ones are generally especially bad on that score (and I haven’t even had the misfortune of using terminal 5 yet).

So it’s nice to travel occasionally through one that’s well-laid out and beautifully designed:

Madrid Airport

Madrid Airport

The flowing ceiling is so beautiful I really didn’t mind being there at all. I wish more airports showed that kind of imagination.

It’s not my favourite though – Dulles airport in Washington DC wins that hand down. Designed by Finnish Architect Eero Saarinen (who designed the nearly-as-lovely old TWA terminal at JFK), its roof is in one single swooping curve. It’s breathtaking.

Dulles Airport, Washington DC

Dulles Airport, Washington DC


(Picture by Feuillu)

Ibiza keeps pulling me back…

I promised myself I wasn’t going to go this year. I’ve been eight times now, the last time being last September. There are so many other places in the world I want to visit, and anyway, I’m getting too old.

And then the hand of lady luck intervened. First of all I managed to wangle a free trip via work in early September for four days. And just now I’ve found out I’ve won another trip next week for a couple of days.

It’s a hard life…