Barcelona introduced us to tapas, Sangria, and the first of many Spanish beaches during my family’s stay this summer. We loved the location of our hotel because it was in the heart of the city and not far from the beach. Most of our time was spent exploring the Gothic Quarter, shopping different neighborhoods, and admiring the Gaudí architecture. Our touring was limited to La Sagrada Família, the famous unfinished cathedral, and La Ramblas Market where we enjoyed fresh juices. I cannot wait to explore this city more someday.
Although we began the trip in Barcelona, the Balearic island of Mallorca inspired our visit to Spain. I began dreaming of Mallorca after seeing photos of the beautiful beaches on Pinterest but to our surprise, Mallorca was not as we anticipated and we found the island hard to manage. However, we stayed in Palma, a charming town with great shopping, beautiful churches, and narrow cobblestone streets.
Ibiza exceeded all expectations. Nearly an hour after arriving on the island, my family met and instantly connected with an amazing German family, who travels to Ibiza often. Rouven, Lotta, and their daughter, Nika, adopted our family and devoted their vacation to sharing the hidden gems on Ibiza. As a party of seven, we ate dinner together each night and constantly found ourselves lost in conversation. Although we live 5,000 miles apart and our families lead different lives at home, we share a love for travel, Bon Jovi, and 80’s culture, among many other things.
After eating dinner together in the Old Town one evening, our German friends led us through local neighborhoods, winding up to a secret bar with a view of the club scene in Ibiza. We also boated to Formentera, a beautiful nearby island, where we swam in the most beautiful water I have ever seen. Following the boat excursion, we shopped the Hippy Market which is basically a flee market on crack where local artists and hippies gather to sell handmade jewelry, clothes, and art. We spent three hours shopping, eating, and listening to live music at the market. I could have spent all night. Our trip would not have been nearly as fun or stimulating without the guidance and company of our new friends!
In addition to our German friends, the boutique hotel we stayed in, Can Xuxu, also made our trip especially special. Tucked away in the hills, the Bali-inspired, open air huts and beautiful gardens at Xuxu created a “glamping” like experience. The owner of the hotel, a former Parisian fashion designer, and his team also became fast friends, creating another hard goodbye.
Ibiza is magical and the energy is contagious. Ibiza is known for the clubbing scene and while we were there while David Guetta and the Chainsmokers were performing, my parents were quick to veto any clubbing. Instead, we experienced the raw, spiritual side of the island. The shopping and food blew us away in all three spots but especially in Ibiza. Similar to the hippy market, locals sold bohemian clothes and jewelry in beach-side boutiques. We spent each day at a different beach. Each had beautiful white sand, gorgeous blue water and was packed with locals. My favorites included Experimental beach, Cala D’hort, Cala Bassa, and Sa Caleta.
Our German friends and the staff at Can XuXu created an unforgettable experience for our family and reinforced the power of people and places. We cannot wait to reconnect with them both and in the meantime, I’ll be adding “buying a one-way ticket to Ibiza” to the top of my bucket list.