We were ready to rave. A week in Ibiza. Bring it on.
An unusual choice for a mother of a six month old baby travelling with her husband and mother in law, but I put it down to the flight times and mild baby insanity. Departing from Aberdeen airport I chose a destination based on flights that left at a civilised time and were equally reasonable on the return leg of the journey. Ibiza fit the bill.
I have no tips for catching a plane with a baby that common sense won’t tell you already. There’s no magic wand. I used to love flying off on holiday- flick through a magazine, inflight movie and wait for a glass of wine to be brought to you, you don’t even have to wait at a bar. With a baby you just get through the flight. It was fine, it wasn’t traumatic, it just wasn’t particularly relaxing. The only tip is easier said than done – don’t forget anything. If they need pureed food, bring it, if they need a change bag, bring it, if they need a particular toy, bring it. Overall the security staff were very understanding of the little pots and bottles I needed to take onboard with me. It also helps to be fully aware of all baggage allowance for your little one thus avoiding any nasty surprises at the airport.
I’d booked everything independently – flights with Thomson, hire car at the airport and an apartment with Ibiza House Renting. When we landed we picked up our car, which didn’t take long, so we avoided the painful bus transfer times of a package holiday where a 20 minute journey can take one and a half hours as you drop strangers at their various hotels, leaving Mr Baby vast opportunity for more crying in front of a captive audience. We also wanted a car to explore the island and its beaches over the course of the holiday. This certainly paid dividends but it was an added expense.
Our base was Cala Vadella on the west coast of the island. It has a small sheltered sandy beach and it was an absolute joy taking Mr Baby paddling in the sea. The resort had enough facilities so you can pick up a few supplies, fresh bread or a takeaway coffee but it’s not overrun with shops and tat. It had a very chilled vibe in the evening at the few select bars and restaurants. [For more substantial supplies there is a big supermarket about a 20 minute drive from Cala Vadella where you can do your weekly shop.] I thought the balance was just right. It was quite a steep walk down to the beach so a bit of a slog uphill to get home, so this is probably worth considering if you’re heavily pregnant or have any walking difficulties. It’s also worth taking a lightweight buggy for infants. There is accommodation at the immediate beach-front if walking is an issue for you.
The last time I was in Ibiza I was 18 – VERY DIFFERENT HOLIDAY. I did worry that I’d be surrounded by ravers and teenage holidaymakers but I didn’t see a single glimpse of this lifestyle. When I travelled at 18 years old I flew in the middle of the night on a cheap flight, barely left San Antonio Bay and kept pretty nocturnal hours, so it makes sense that most families who travel through the day, stay anywhere outwith the island party zone and start the day at 7am (rather than ending it then) are living in parallel universes.
What I also liked about Cala Vadella was the fact that along the entire west coast was a real mix of beaches within a few miles drive – perfect if you want to explore but you don’t want to drive for ages with a small baby in tow, or if you don’t particularly want your baby to sleep on a long journey. I used nap times for sunbathing, eating and reading – best nap times ever. The beaches were so different – Cala Moli was a remote pebbly cove so we had it practically to ourselves, Cala Tarida was a buzzing sandy beach, lots of shops and restaurants but not overrun, Cala Carbo (pebbly) was quiet with a couple of secluded restaurants and Cala d’Hort (pebbly) is home to the renowned restaurant Del Carmen which the locals booked up every Saturday clamouring for its fab paella. We fed Mr Baby his puree in his high chair as we sampled the paella. Having this wide range of beaches within a few minutes drive is what made this region so perfect for our family but Cala Vadella was definitely our favourite beach.
We booked our accommodation through Ibiza House Renting. Our actual two bedroom apartment is no longer listed with them but we were very happy with the standard of accommodation (very stylish) and level of service provided and they have other villas available in Cala Vadella. The keys were waiting for us on arrival, the apartment had our additional travel cot ready as requested and we got our deposit back in full with no problems at all. I would happily use this company again.
We had just booked an apartment, rather than a villa with a pool, which meant that we did have to go out every day, sometimes returning for lunch before heading out again for the afternoon. We changed a lot of nappies in public! This was fine but ideally I would have loved the privacy of a private pool/villa, but who wouldn’t. We did approach Puerto Cala Vadella, an aparthotel complex with a pool, about swimming there. Despite not being residents they were hugely welcoming. We promised to buy a few drinks etc. whilst we were there to show our gratitude.
As well as visiting loads of local beaches we ventured into town – Ibiza Town. It’s so picturesque, moreso than I was expecting. We thought it was great that within the city walls there were lots of medieval market stalls, entertainment and goods for sale. It was so colourful. I figured it was like this every weekend but it turns out we’d luckily stumbled upon the annual Medieval Fair that hits the streets every May – the tourist board describe it as ‘an entertaining cultural event that attracts over 100,000 visitors every year over three days of festivities. The streets of Dalt Vila become a great open-air theatre filled with minstrels, artists, bird handlers, artisans, silversmiths, spice traders, dancers and chocolate makers, turning this part of town into a thrilling spectacle and a mass of colours, smells and flavours from several continents’. We were really fortunate to head out on this day. It is a pretty cobbly and hilly town but our Maclaren was so light and manoeuvrable that it wasn’t much of a problem. This is perfect sling territory if you’re into them.
We had a fab time in Ibiza. Mr Baby was quite happy with the heat, slathered in his factor 50 and chomping down the Weetabix, beans and other delights I’d brought from home. We were also delighted to have brought Mr Husband’s mother as she got some quality time with Mr Baby, an extra pair of hands was truly appreciated and we even got a date night as she kindly babysat.
We were sorry for the holiday to end, especially as we had to undertake the journey home. Actually, I take it back, I do have a couple of tips for the flight.
-If you want to take your carseat with you then drive to the airport with Mr Baby in it then, at the airport, fill it with nappies and wrap it in two bin bags as part of Mr Baby’s luggage. On the way home you can fill it with a bag of dirty laundry. Easy.
-You’re advised to breastfeed during take off and landing to help the little lambs’ ears adjust to the pressure. Don’t do as I did, start this too early and leave Mr Baby like a foie gras goose. After what I thought was a successful flight home he puked all down my back and all over the tarmac at Aberdeen airport. The milky bars are on me.