Let me set the scene. It is Sunday the 12th of August. It is very hot. It is the very height of the peak summer season and all the crazy dynamics that come with it. We decide to take an evening off and go on a wander.
When I say ‘we’, I mean my wife Rhian, our 8 year old son Blue, and myself Nick Gibbs.
When I say ‘evening off’, well kind of. We thought it might be fun to take the camera and a notepad, and ask those we come across on our travels what they were loving right now about summer in San An.
We didn’t want to end up with just a list of big club nights or self-promotion, more personal stuff, whatever was putting a smile on people’s faces. To try and keep things as natural as possible we asked everybody to tell us the first thing that came into their head.
I hope you enjoy the responses.
Stop 1: Relish Restaurant
Our first port of call was in the Bay for a late late lunch and more Spritzers than the podiums in the 70s Olympics.
One reason to love Relish: Quality of service, particularly in the details. Also, a very practical reason for today’s purpose, huge car park and view of water taxi jetty.
Bruce & Kate Axworthy, local residents also taking a late family lunch.
What are you loving Bruce?
“Taking my dog Lottie swimming in the sea near our place. She is a rescue dog and only came to us recently. She absolutely loves it.”
Adam Mate and Joanna Maslewska, both Ibiza workers, Joanna in her first year.
What are you loving Adam?
“Well I don’t know if this is good enough, or if it will sound crazy, but yesterday I was walking to Lidl supermarket. The sky was so blue and I was walking under palm trees with sunlight streaming down through the leaves. I thought to myself, wow, even going to Lidl is fantastic here. I love it, I feel like I am in the right place, I am meant to be here.”
Doesn’t sound crazy at all Adam, I think many people will totally get what you mean. And how about Joanna, what are you loving?
“This one will sound crazy for sure. I was at an after party this week with my friends. I just started to cry. But please, I was not drunk or crazy or anything like that. It was just, I don’t know, perfect. I gave up everything to come here. I sold everything I had, and it was a big risk. The thing is, I don’t cry. I have not cried for years. I don’t really know what happened, but I know it was because I was happy.”
I was filling up myself by the end of that. Crazy? No, in fact I feel sure a lot of people reading this will be thinking back to one of their own ‘perfect storm’ moments when everything came together to make that very special Ibiza bond, and I expect an awful lot of those moments were at after parties.
Bruce and Katie, clearly loving life, and Adam and Joanna showing all the signs of that Ibiza loving feeling. Couldn’t have asked for a better start to project loving – so it’s off to the water taxi and the cooling breeze of the bay for the jaunt over to San An marina.
Stop 2: Joe Spoons
Given it is half way up the West End, Joe Spoons is not a logical location for our first visit in San An, but that hike past all the temptations en route is worth it for two very good reasons.
First, one of our longest Ibiza friends and Spoons’ daytime manager is finishing work at 9pm, and we don’t want to miss him, Second, and it is a biggie, Joe Spoons has without question or competition the best air conditioning of any San An bar.
Which is the more important reason? It would not be fair to rate friendship against fresh air, but given the number of times I have walked through that door wilting, then to see Simon’s hand go to crank the cool up to the max before I’ve even reached the bar, I think we both know it would be a tough call.
One Reason to Love Joe Spoons: After air con & Simon of course, I’ll go for the totally unfashionable act of an unplanned session drinking (downing) proper strong, proper ice cold, Vodka Limons with a sense of purpose that says ‘whatever today was, it now isn’t, anything could happen’.
Gav, Libby, Loopy, Paige, Big Simon, Dan, and Mister Spangles (a.k.a. Chips)
I don’t often get to see Joe Spoons at night when in full on party mode, but from what I do see in the day and evening another thing to love about Spoons is the family feel among the staff. I get a sense that they all know the best and worst of each other, that functional dysfunctional old school Ibiza worker love. For two of them it has gone even further than that …
Loopy & Libby, San Antonio West End Workers
Me. What are you loving Loopy?
Loopy. “What am I loving, erm …”,
Libby jumps in. “Well you met me …”
Loopy. “Yes, I was just gonna say that, that is exactly what I was about to say …”
They have a cuddle and smiles that tell me Loopy is not in trouble.
Libby. “We met in Tropi this year, and as soon as we saw each other …”
Loopy. “That’s right, and now we’re together, in love”
Me. “What, real instant, love at first sight?”
Libby & Loopy in unison as if to emphasise the answer, “Yes”
Brilliant stuff. Tough act to follow for Simon.
Big Simon, Resident, Santa Gertrudis, and Worker, San Antonio West End, since forever
Me “What have you got Si, what are you loving in your world?”
Simon “Had a brilliant party for one last night”
Me “Anything printable?”
Simon “I shouldn’t think so”
Me “Stupid question. Shots?”
And we move on, but can’t leave Joe Spoons without a mention of …
Mr Spangles, worker (elsewhere), and with what some would say was a foolhardy sense of optimism, due to be going on shift in half an hour.
Lovely Guy. We had a good, if somewhat disjointed, chat. Didn’t specifically ask him what he was loving, I suspect the answer was ‘everything’.
Stop 3. Tropicana / Tropi
Just a little further up the Santa Agnes main drag hill of the West End you come across the Trance stronghold that is Tropi, and inside the Trance Generalisimo himself, Oscar Costa.
We hadn’t seen Oscar for ages, so though my brain processes the jarring and juvenile nonsense of a noise that is trance as some kind of ear punishment, we had to stop and say hello. It would be a dull old world if we all liked the same stuff though right? I love that specialist places like this exist, and Tropi is one of those that will have regular tourist visitors every year coming back again and again.
Oscar Costa, Original Native Born Ibicenco, Trance Guru, and Betrothed of Ria Jessop
Once Oscar had finished telling Blue stories of his babysitting for him when he was very small, we got onto the question of the moment, what are you loving this year Oscar?
“It is fantastic. I have got my own Trance party Tranceformation. It is what I love, I’ve wanted to do this always. We have a party every Thursday across the road at Tropicana. You should come Nick?”
“But Oscar, I just don’t like the noise. I love Trance people, I just don’t like the noise they make.”
“You’re crazy man, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s the best.”
I’m sure Oscar and I have had this conversation before, and I’m sure I remember the same look in his face – somewhere between pity and incomprehension.
“Let’s take a photo Oscar.”
“But it’s not open now Nick”
“It will be fine, just sit on the step and look moody”
If you ask me it’s still that look of pity/incomprehension more than moody, but done, we move on.
Stop 4, Delilah’s Welsh Bar
Delilah’s is San Antonios sole Welsh representative among the many flags flown from bars along the drag.
For me it only needs to fulfil one requirement to gain my custom. Which brings us neatly to …
Reasons to love Delilahs: The Merthyr accent. I just can’t get enough of it, and though it seems there are few others like me who put it up there with French in the sexy voice stakes, it does it for me every time. (I should mention that my wife is originally from a village a short way from Merthyr, so it does kind of legitimise my loving it)
Delilahs boss Beth, herself a Merthyr girl and one of the friendliest faces on the strip, was not in for our visit, but I need have had no fear as of course standing in her place was another Merthyr Tydfil original…
Leah Russell, Merthyr born Ibiza worker.
Me. “Tell us what you’re loving Leah”
Leah “We love the Tropical party at Eden. Its brilliant it is, we have a great laugh and they look after us. The music, all the decorations, it’s a great night.”
Me “Will you say something sexy for me in Welsh Leah”
“Rwyf am fynd i’r toiled”
My wife Rhian “what did you say?”
Leah “I want to go to the toilet.”
Stop 5. The Boozer, West End
Next on our meanderings was the bastion of the cor blimey, the geezers gaff, the first and only Boozer.
John Hood is as London as the last train from Liverpool street, and I often feel just as relived to see him (see reasons to love, below), but tonight was not to be as John was, very unusually, not in the bar.
Shame to miss him, but we were pleased to chat with two lads from Plymouth and you can’t get much more southern than that.
One reason to love the Boozer. For me it is stuff like talking to someone who knows what Rock Eel is, and what word has to be repeated twice before you say Savaloy, for anybody else, the pool table room is a good bet.
Ben Edmondson, Plymouth, tourist, on second visit to Ibiza.
What are you loving Ben?
“Easy, no question. Definitely seeing Richy Ahmed at Ushuaia yesterday. I’ve loved his music for so long. Brilliant, insane, to get to see him and the whole package at Ants was superb.”
I will mention that there was a very enthusiastic ‘loving it’ story from another chap in the Boozer, however details must be withheld. All I am at liberty to say is that it involved ‘dancing with a woman who had the most beautiful bum I’ve ever seen’.
As we left we noticed that Mr Spangles had decided against that shift start, instead deciding to take a nap on the terrace opposite. Good call.
Stop 6. Ruby’s Indian & Balti
Scott Fowler’s Ruby’s restaurant fulfils that essential British need for proper Indian food. And I stress the word proper. All homemade from Naans to Samosas to all those fiddly bits that make all the difference, with the curries indistinguishable from your favourite UK curry house growing up.
I say indistinguishable, though that may actually be a little unfair on Scott. Our request for a mild curry with some bread and rice for Blue was met with a far tastier and altogether just better quality looking plate than many offer as the obligatory bright orange children’s korma. As a dad who really dislikes the laziness of the nuggets and chips approach to the children’s menu section, it is great to see that kids are getting the same effort and attention as adults. Plus dad got to eat the very tasty leftovers.
One thing to love about Ruby’s. Proper. I just can’t stress that enough, proper curry.
Scott Fowler, proper curry facilitator, family man, and mildly enthusiastic Sheffield Wednesday supporter.
What are you loving this year Scott?
“You know for the restaurant at least I think I’d say families. Every customer is important to us, but it just feels really good that we are getting so many more families come to eat this year. I think it’s to do with getting known and our reputation getting out there. It’s the busiest year we’ve had.”
Despite the general good cheer, Scott declined my request to cross his heart and hope to die that he would set up an immediate home delivery service round to the bay. Don’t worry though, I’ll keep working on it.
Stop 7. Kilties Scottish Bar
Blue’s curry request has left us a bit later than expected and so we are now heading down the West End with it gearing up to full party mode. For an eight year old this does present a few sights to be seen, and with the gusset fashion of the day seeming to be based on the concept of ‘right up it, go on, right up there’ I think I was having as many bewildering moments as Blue. Looks so uncomfortable, though I guess many would say a safety pin through your ear was more so. It is by now around 11p.m. and all friendly enough.
Kilties is one of the West End institutions that you would want to include on a night out. Jane and Michelle are Kilties royalty, a double act that will shot til you drop, and they told us of a party inside that were just perfect for the ‘loving it’ theme. Accepting the risk that I may have to explain to Blue why that man over there had a light up penis-nose, or why that girl seems to have accidentally forgotten to wear any clothes, the Hen party was duly rustled up …
One thing to love about Kilties. It is a proper pub but I have to mention the attached chip shop, also ‘proper’. Though I sadly can’t get my Rock Eel or Savaloy (Oi Oi), I can get haggis, curry sauce and chips, which is no bad substitute.
Shari Miller, the Hen, ex of Kilties and soon to be Mrs Adams.
Tell us about your Ibiza love story Shari?
“I used to work at Kilties and met my future husband in 2015, when he was on holiday.”
Michelle from Kilties Chips in “Aye, and don’t forget to say I fixed up the first date”
“We fell in love, real love, and our baby girl, Luci, was born on Christmas eve 2017. I am celebrating my hen party back where it started and we will be married in September. Michelle did fix it up. Kilties love”.
Stop 8. The Corner Shop
Had to give a quick hello to Danny Graham who has opened The Corner Shop, toward the bottom of the West End. It is full of all those creature comforts and cravings from home and I hadn’t yet had the chance to pop in.
Reason to love The Corner Shop. There are thousands of reasons, all stacked high on the shelves around you. See those crumpets in that picture. My crumpets. I love crumpets, simple as.
Danny Graham, Ibiza resident and businessman.
Tell us something fantastic Danny, what are you loving about this year?
“I can’t think of anything. I’ve gone a blank. Er ….”
We were a bit unfair on Danny really in what was a flying visit. That said, we urge all readers to visit the corner store and express love through hugs. Here is a link for anybody that doesn’t know where it is. https://www.facebook.com/TheCornerShopIbiza/
Stop 9. Soul City, West End
Our need to leave Danny’s quickly was evident when we turned out of his corner shop into the main drag West End, which at now past midnight had definitely moved on from its PG parental guidance, and though not yet anything of a hardcore 18, would certainly warrant a 15 certificate.
Rhian and Blue therefore went straight onto Bondi on the altogether more family friendly fountains for milkshakes, while I indulged myself in a brief bump n grind at the West End’s home of everything that isn’t house, Soul City.
I do love that place – and it seems around midnight is a mighty fine time to go; dancefloor busy, I’m guessing 50 or 60 people, but room enough to be your own master of when and who to be bump, though I’ll admit it would be another hour before it got to its optimum grind time. Anyway, I’ve no wife nor time for either tonight, so after my quick fix I returned to spend ten with Julian Cobby at the door – a man who knows the West End better than anyone. Julian is joined by camarera Macarena while we are having a chat.
Now I think of it, I don’t know Julian’s actual job title. He just kind of is Soul City. Julian takes a very diferent approach than many others in his role. He speaks of a respect that tourists have saved up and paid a lot for their once a year holiday. He sees his job as trying to help make it a good holiday, and by giving them that respect and treating them well, he reaps the dividends of good positive attitudes in his customers, so a better club environment, end result everyone is a winner. It seems to work whatever it is, as Soul City always feels a good place to me.
Reason to love Soul City. It is the only place I can expect to hear Grime on a normal night of the week.
Macarena Briones Gonzalez, Soul City Camarera and Tings
Tell us what you are loving Macarena?
“I love that since I have come to work in Ibiza I have friends from everywhere around the world. It is fantastic.”
Julian Cobby, the face of Soul City, Ibiza Resident.
Tell us something that has made you happy recently Julian?
Before answering Julian has to handle a guy that is trying to ‘gift’ him a balloon. I had seen Julian chatting to him, giving him some advice, when i went inside. Now the same guy was keen to show his gratitude with the gift of a balloon. I mean for all its lowlife aspects, it was actually quite a sweet gesture. It reminded me of a cat delivering a mangled dead bird to its owner. Like ‘this is all I’ve got to give, I don’t know why you wouldn’t like it, I like it’.
Having dealt with the guy expertly and discretely, Julian could see I was loving the West End street cabaret.
“We get it all Nick, you wouldn’t believe it, but you see among it all it is the good people do that stands out to me, that would be what I’m loving this year and every year.”
Julian explained a recent situation of a bag lost by a tourist, with her identity etc life inside it. The bag had been found, given to Julian, by when the tourist had left and Julian had asked another Soul City customer to take it back to the UK and return it to the owner.
“Then I receive this Nick” Julian shows me the message I have added below.”It’s great isn’t it, just little things really, but people being good to each other, helping each other. That is what I love”.
Stop 10. Tulp Beach Cafe, s’Arenal Paseo
Back to the family and having met again at Bondi we decided on the obvious choice of a nightcap venue – Tulp Beach Cafe, perfect for families at any time.
With a walk along the Paseo ahead of us, the August crowds and with them the attention of the inevitable street traders, our 10 minute walk could easily turn into twice that and risk ruining the atmos.
No problems, only solutions, so we took the backstreet approach of walking the beach shoreline. At this still relatively early hour everything was still well lit and I couldn’t understand why we were the only people avoiding the madding crowd and at the same time having the pleasure of the sand between our toes and sea lapping our feet. We had it all to ourselves, and ambling along s’Arenal was a simple but none the less great pleasure of the evening.
One thing to love about Tulp. I think that all things considered Tulp is my personal number one spot for cocktails. Great quality ingredients and mixing, very good pricing and a setting that just says ‘drink cocktails here’.
Nico Reiners, superstar DJ, Tulp manager, Ibiza resident and the only Belgian I know with a thick Yorkshire accent.
Nico is normally smiling, however since a large slice of chocolate mousse was dropped on my camera recently it is giving me a huge amount of jip, and this is the one photo of four that came out. You’ll just have to imagine him smiling.
Tell us something fantastic Nico? Tell us something you love?
“It’s my day off on Tuesday”.
It might not be the most romantic or eloquent of the night, but I think it will strike a chord with most Ibiza workers – we’ll take it.
And So The Night Ends …
We found ourselves best seat in the house, i.e. the one by the big fan – it was still really hot, and met a lovely family on their holidays with a young girl around Blue’s age. We had a chat, some laughs, a drink or two, and then at an hour that may be surprising to people in the UK but is far less so living in the Med, we sauntered off home happy in having had a good night enjoying San Antonio and the Bay.
The loving it project was good fun too. It was great to hear people’s positive stories and it was only a shame we could not get to more of our favourite places. I think I will therefore rename this article Loving it Part 1. Let’s see where it takes us next.
I hope that this article will have given you a little of the feel of the real San Antonio. The San Antonio we experience. I have not attempted to explain the town away, to reveal hidden depths, nor to promote it. For us this was just a Sunday night with the addition of a camera and a positive question, which I hope demonstrates one simple truth. Go to San Antonio with a positive mind, give it a try, you might end up amazing yourself.