Skip to content

Winter Weekend in Ibiza | Part 4: The Birds

Watching Hitchcock’s infamous masterpiece, as I was the other night, you could really develop a complex about birds. Suddenly, the great master of suspense cinema has you thinking about these apparently innocuous creatures in an altogether more sinister light, especially when seen perched in a group as though anticipating their next attack. But as this last post of my little weekend trip to Ibiza must surely demonstrate, Hitchcock has really done birds a great injustice – for they’re perfectly photogenic and very, very cute.

The photos which follow were all taken in the sun-drenched surrounds of a very quiet Ibiza, at a time when nature had regained prominence on an island whose summer months are given over to all night discos and neon lights. Happily in these transformed tranquil surroundings, little sparrows hopped around cafes, eagerly awaiting the odd crumb from the few island visitors, and in the weak but warming winter sun, pigeons slept gracefully atop folded down cafe umbrellas. They may as well make the most of it. Party season is only weeks away.

DSC06575DSC05993 image2 DSC06095 DSC06403 image5 DSC06846 DSC06560

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Winter Weekend in Ibiza | Part 3: The beach at Talamanca

While to all intents and purposes, a winter weekend in Ibiza may not have found the island at its best (it was after all almost completely deserted with only around 10% of businesses open and even fewer people left remaining) there was one part of the island which lacked nothing despite the time of the year. Just minutes from our hotel at the Marina Botafoch lay a sensation in waiting – the beach at Talamanca.

With a wide white sandy beach and sumptuously crystal clear waters, this was the kind of beach that seduces millions with promises of the summer in travel brochures every year. Yet here we were on a January afternoon, with an exquisite long beach before us, the sun shining in the sky, and barely a soul around to interfere with our utmost enjoyment of it.

DSC06636 DSC06716 DSC06758 DSC06637 DSC06654

What struck me most of all was how serenely calm the waters were, almost as though the sea itself had taken advantage of the low season and gone to sleep for a while. The waters were so still, that they managed almost a near mirror-like reflection of the low lying coastal houses alongside them – the kind of image you expect to see in a still mountain lake rather than the Mediterranean sea. I was also delighted by the abundance of natural scenery located so close to Ibiza’s capital. For just past the hotels and holiday houses lay vast rocky outcrops calling out to be explored. It was there that, up on a cliff top, we stopped to read and relax with the most incredible view back on Ibiza Town and the vertiginous plunge down to the azure waters below.

So once again the Balearics showed that the melancholy of winter would not defy their beauty. Here on Talamanca beach, we had truly found a reason for all the fuss that surrounds Ibiza every year.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Winter Weekend in Ibiza | Part 2: Sunrise and Sunset

You can’t beat a good view, and whenever I go away anywhere, whether it be for a week or just a day, I make a point of finding one, not least from my hotel room. For some, a room in a hotel is just somewhere to shut their eyes and recuperate before exploring the outside. For me, it is an instrumental part of the travelling process, where I can rest and contemplate the sights I have seen around me, where I can write and sketch, and where I can soak in bubbles or take a long shower. Best of all, it is where I can enjoy a good view for long periods at a time, without the self-consciousness that I may be lingering too long in a restaurant or stealing the view from someone else.

Sunrise

DSC06313 DSC06320 DSC06310 DSC06316 DSC06325 DSC06323 DSC06315 DSC06328

On my weekend in Ibiza, the Hotel Ocean Drive did not disappoint, placing me and my partner on the third floor from where a beautiful view across the Marina Botafoch and over to the stunning hill-top Dalt Vila (old town) could be enjoyed. This combination of rocky outline coupled with the hilly topography which surrounds the city, together with the great watery expanse of the port and the various small marinas located within it meant for a stunning show at all times of the day, but no more so than at sunrise and sunset, when the colours turned from blue to a ripening pink, and utter calm descended across the landscape.

Sunset

DSC06293 DSC06789 DSC06796 DSC06783 DSC06786 DSC06290 DSC06296 DSC06809 DSC06801

This post is devoted to those moments, when shades of raspberry and peach and soft primrose yellow filled my camera lens, and added clarity to the dark outline of the city against a pastel-coloured sky. As I am unable to choose which of sunset or sunrise was my favourite, I have included both. For they were both manifestations of the most perfect of views; a vista which made my first experience of Ibiza unforgettable.

A room with a view

DSC06817

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Winter Weekend in Ibiza | Part 1: The Dalt Vila

When I think of Ibiza, images of boozy beach parties and cocktails under the stars accompanied by the mechanical beat of Buddha bar and the chilled groves of Café del Mar spring to mind. And while for thousands every year, a trip to the Balearic’s most infamous island means, in the words of the Vengaboys, that they’re “gonna have a party, Whoa! in the Mediterranean sea…”, at this time of the year, the only party you’re going to have is with the shadows filling the deserted streets and beaches. For as I discovered when a business trip took me to Ibiza last weekend, Ibiza is officially in the midsts of its hibernation.

Ibiza’s historical old town

DSC06331 DSC06425 DSC06283 DSC05985

This is no more obvious that in the hilly streets of the Dalt Vila, or “upper town” as the ancient old town of Ibiza’s capital is called – an area packed with stunning little cobbled streets which twist and turn all the way up to the Santa Maria d’Eivissa, the church which towers across Ibiza’s main port. While the plethora of quaint little houses lining those streets suggested that in the warmer months, they would be a tourist’s paradise, in January not a single business was open. And so it was that my Winter Weekend in Ibiza was a rather bizarre affair. For the Med’s party paradise was punctuated with neither a disco beat, nor any other human sound, and the only action that could be found was in the modern extension of the city (the Eixample), where some locals continued to live on, despite the silence all around them. 

Historical streets of the Dalt Vila

DSC06112 DSC06424 DSC06358 DSC06395 DSC06340DSC06101DSC06406DSC06124DSC06455 DSC06242 DSC06495 DSC06088 DSC06100 DSC06098 DSC06374 DSC06397 DSC06504 DSC06240

Of course this desertion was not all bad. For crowds are undoubtedly overrated, and while the town undoubtedly lacked the charm it would exhibit when open for business, I was at least joined by my partner, and together we were able to explore both the old town and its surroundings relatively undisturbed. And with the sun shining its winter warmest, this could not have been a more pleasant experience, not least when the steep roads out of the old town took us onto the vast ancient city ramparts and the natural rocky outcrops upon which the city is built.

Rocky outcrops and views of the stunning natural surroundings

DSC06216 DSC06231 DSC06204 DSC06206 DSC06213 DSC06194 DSC06205 DSC06499 DSC06259

So while this first set of photos is unlikely to feature much by way of people action, I think it aptly demonstrates what is undoubtedly a charming and unique historical centre and a feature of the island which undoubtedly falls unjustifiably within the shadow of Ibiza’s  all encompassing party reputation. After all, the clubs and the larger louts form a very small part of an island which is otherwise both geographically stunning and historically rich – features which are no more obvious than in January when the drunks are safely ensconced a thousand miles away.

DSC06250

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Mallorca Moments: Sunday stroll to Portixol

It’s funny how quickly one becomes accustomed to routine and habit; how we as humans are drawn to certain patterns and securities. I suppose it is what makes us who we are – knowing that there is a certain structure in place around which the greater vicissitudes of life can gain some stability. And I am no exception. For despite what has been a huge move from London to Mallorca, including a complete change of career, language, society and goodness knows what else, I have still found myself falling into new structures which help to normalise this big transformation.

Chief among them has been my Sunday stroll to Portixol. A little port lying just East of Palma’s city centre, it is only a short 30 minute walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but it couldn’t be more different. With small story fishermen’s cottages, pastel coloured facades, and of course an enviable position directly next to the Mediterranean sea, Portixol has all of the charm and charisma of a typical seaside village with the most laid back of sensibilities.

DSC00116

This makes Portixol the perfect place to dine, wine and recline, and with the number of cosy restaurants and bars lining the waterfront, it is no wonder that the port has become our perfect Sunday retreat. And should all the food become a little too much for the good old new year’s dieting resolutions, there is a real spirit of the great outdoors about the port, as its ample paseo maritimo is used by joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers alike.

So here in Palma, Sunday morning has a new morning: Coffee on the beach, a stroll along the seafront, a continuous view back to the glorious cathedral and ahead, the food destination of Portixol a mere half hour away. It’s another of those Mallorca Moments that makes my new life in the Balearics such a daily joy.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

From Alaró to Orient: Rural idyll in Mountainous Mallorca

It is sometimes difficult to remember, when passing most of one’s time in the bustling city centre of Palma de Mallorca, that mere miles outside of the city lies some of the most stunning natural scenery in all of the Mediterranean. From wide planes peppered with ancient windmills and sprawling olive and citrus groves, to incredibly vast vertiginous mountain scenery, Mallorca is an island rich in stunning vistas and bucolic idylls, and when I got myself a set of wheels last week, I enjoyed my first samplings of the island at its very best.

A rather fortuitous work project took me high into the mountains to the little village of Orient, a tiny urban pinpoint set deep within the vast Serra de Tramuntana, a stretch of mountains which forms the backbone of the island sprawling from South West to North East, and which was awarded UNESCO world heritage status in 2011. Reaching the village from Palma involves an easy motorway drive East to Alaró from where the road turns inwards into the heart of the mountains.

Sheep

While the meandering mountainside road can be a little nail-biting at times, the accompanying views and sensationally untouched countryside are amongst the most stunning I have ever seen. Beneath towering mountains, terraced planes filled with olive trees and red stony terrain play host to mountain-hardy sheep and goats who totter around with iconic bells hanging around their necks. The result is a soporific melody of soft bells jangling in the still mountain air, a soundtrack which mesmerises me into an other-worldly state of epiphany. 

DSC05274DSC05369 DSC04917 DSC05036 DSC05319 DSC05178

Meanwhile through the delicate olive branches, soft warming sun rays bounce and scatter light across a crumbling dry soil, and all around insects stir against their beds of rustic tree bark and rocky-bound plant life. The landscape is almost biblical in its magnificence, and of course it lends itself to photography like none other.

So let me leave you to enjoy the fruits of my first visit inland. I can assure you now that there will be many more new mountain adventures to come.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Demons and dynamite: The Palma Correfoc

I’m feeling very spoilt by my relocation to Palma de Mallorca. Spoilt because every day, the sun shines a little stronger and for a little longer, despite the fact that we are heading deeper into the winter. Spoilt because each week I discover some sensational new landscape a mere stone’s throw from my front door. And now spoilt because a mere 10 days after the Christmas lights were switched off after the 12th night, they are now back on again, twinkling their beautiful best in celebration of Palma de Mallorca’s patron saint: Saint Sebastian.

And as public festivals go, it looks as though this one is set to be a biggie. As I write, stages are being erected in almost every square in the city; a programme of extensive musical entertainment is waiting in the wings; and a mountain of fireworks is being heaped by the cathedral ready to be ignited. But although most of the celebrations will kick off this evening, on Saturday night, a very unique event hit the streets of Palma: the Correfoc.

IMG_1045 IMG_0992 IMG_1046

Roughly translating as a firerun, there is frustratingly little that can be found on the internet to explain the history of what is ostensibly a satanic orgy of dancing demons setting off a continuum of shrieking fireworks to the beat of traditional gralla drums. But whatever the source of this tradition, this typical folk festival characteristic of a Catalan celebration is an eye-opening sight to behold. Except open your eyes too wide and you could live to regret it – for in a crowded spectacle alive with the pop and crackle of a bounty of exploding whizzing fireworks set off in all directions including over the heads of the heaving crowds, health and safety is not exactly paramount.

But everyone knows that health and safety spoils a real party, and Palma’s unrepeatable firey festival certainly proved worth the risk. Grinding dancers gyrating to the carnal rhythm of drums; horrific demon costumes silhouetted against the mass of burning fireworks; and the sound of fireworks shrieking like taunted spirits as they burst and and flew through the air; all the elements amassed to create a spectacle which felt like both a surreal nightmare and an incredible piece of performance art, and Palma’s biggest street party.

IMG_1031 IMG_0997 IMG_1048 IMG_1027 IMG_1049 IMG_1361

 

The Daily Norm Photo of the Week: Borne Tortoise

The year hasn’t long started, but as far as photographs go, this has to be my favourite of the year so far. Created in a moment of pure suspension of time, this tortoise, one of four holding up an obelisk at the end of the Paseo Borne (Passeig del Born) in the centre of Palma, is happily basking in the Winter sunshine, while beside him, the water from the fountain spurting energetically all around has dissipated and separated; atomised into what appear half way between gelatinous forms and glass beads. It’s a shot whose success owes itself to a huge amount of luck and less to skill, but I am particularly thrilled with the composition, and the shapes which have emerged – particularly the crossing of the water, and the hint of Christmas decorations and autumn leaves in soft focus in the background.

DSC03913

There can be no doubt that this photo deserves its place as The Daily Norm Photo of the Week.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Mallorca Moments: A January Sunday on the Port d’Andratx

Before you look onwards to the photos below, I want you to remember (as you purview the crystal clear blue waters, accompanying blue skies and verdant plant life) that this is January. Yes January. And while for the Malloquins, this sunny January Sunday may be expected, to we two Londoners, this is just incredible. 18 degrees, and a sunny stroll on a beach along the Mediterranean sea. If this is January, then what are we to expect from July?

But weather asides, the topic of my latest Mallorca Moment is a place surely worthy of further exploration. For the Port d’Andratx (or Puerto Andratx) on the South Western coast of Mallorca is a gem of the island, whether in Summer or mid-winter. Benefiting from a naturally curved harbour, almost closed to the forces of the Mediterranean sea, Andratx is a true seaside haven, where fishing boats reside naturally alongside pastel-painted houses and hotels, while next to a cobbled harbour edge, cafés provide the perfect sunny sanctuary for visitors to enjoy the stunning views: of clear blue skies, hillsides clustered with houses, and a direct vista onto the Med.

Reflections on Port d’Andratx

DSC04532DSC04742DSC04717DSC04740 DSC04732 DSC04758 DSC04764 DSC04556 DSC04604 DSC04850 DSC04756

And this is exactly what we did this Sunday past, as we started to explore outside of our home of Palma with the aid of a trusty hire car and something of a will of iron in getting behind a wheel, on the other side of the road, after several years passed without a single day’s driving practice. But as they say – it’s like getting back on a bicycle; the driving skills returned to me, and we whisked off through a picture-perfect mountain road to this inimitable little port.

After a tipple of the necessarily non-alcoholic kind (such are the downsides of driving), our explorations took us to the port’s stunning coastline, where craggy rocks jut out to sea like mysterious figures from a surreal landscape by Dali. There as the winter sun steadily strained over the rocky outposts, long shadows created some stunning photographic effects, and made for an extremely sultry soujourn to while away the early afternoon.

The stunning craggy coastline

DSC04592DSC04649 DSC04696 DSC04694 DSC04653 DSC04623 DSC04676 DSC04636

But heading back towards the car, we found another wonder of nature away from the coast, where a small river met the port. Here, with rushes and long grasses growing naturally in marshy land alongside the small little stream, we felt as though we were in a rural idyll rather than metres away from a bustling port. My photographs taken here have to be amongst my favourite of the day.

Rushes and grasses by a stream

DSC04804 DSC04774 DSC04830 DSC04843 DSC04812 DSC04508 DSC04833

But you know it’s winter when the sun descends early, and as the pearly round fireball started to make its rosy descent into the horizon, we headed back to Palma, to a garden centre to start a nature reserve of our own. Now, in my office amongst plants freshly installed, I await the onset of Spring, and yet more Mallorca moments in the sunshine.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Discovering Palma: Mercat de Santa Catalina

This weekend, rather unbelievably, we will be marking two months since we moved to Mallorca – in some ways surprisingly long, in others surprisingly short. For we have already discovered so much about our incredible home city of Palma de Mallorca – from its winding old town streets, to its hidden tapas gems, nearby sandy beaches and even a cinema showing films in English – that it is hard to accept that we have only been here a mere matter of weeks. But despite many an exploration made, there is still much left to discover, as our recent gastronomic sojourn in the Santa Catalina market demonstrated.

We had heard much about the Mercat de Santa Catalina (or Mercado in Castellan) before we ventured there ourselves. Half the problem was that despite its excellent reputation, we could never quite seem to find the market, despite wandering always close by. But this time we had the market firmly marked on the map and did not miss it.

DSC03963 DSC03978 DSC03974 DSC03998 DSC03975

Compared with the Mercat de Olivar, a market on an almost industrial scale, the Mercat in Santa Catalina is a far more select affair, and for that reason is characterised by a clear focus on gastronomy rather than economy – a clear case of quality, not quantity in this refined temple of food. Walking amongst its compact and well stocked aisles,  any chef or food lover cannot help but get emotional at the sensational food on offer, from an abundance of fresh fish in glittering silvers and soft pinks, to fruit and vegetables so perfectly rounded and robust in colour and quality that they look picked straight from Eden.

Happily if, like me, you become a little overwhelmed with all that is in offer, so astounded by the impact of the produce that all cooking ideas float straight out of your head, you can at least sample some of the best food from the market in a series of popular bars dotted around the periphery. Such is their popularity however that you must jostle for a space, and that meant seizing upon such opportunities to reach a bar as arose. For us that meant finding ourselves squeezed into a small space at the bar of the Tallat a ma S’agla, which was a fine piece of luck, because the Salamancan bellota ham we indulged in was amongst the finest I have ever eaten.

The Mercat de Santa Catalina can be found bridging the Carrer de Servet and the Carrer d’Annibal just East of Palma’s centre.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,391 other followers