Things to do in Tokyo

Recently, a friend with an upcoming trip to Tokyo reached out to me for itinerary suggestions. I was more than happy to oblige because Tokyo is one of my favorite places to explore. The first time I visited Tokyo was for a study abroad program at Sophia University. Last November, I returned to Japan with my partner and a group of our friends. Previously on my blog, I shared various sites to see in Kyoto and my visit to Lake Ashi.

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Sensoji Temple & Asakusa Shrine – the grounds house Sensoji (a buddhist temple dedicated to Kannon), Asakusa Shrine (a shinto shrine), and the iconic Kaminari Gate through which tourists enter the complex. There is also Nakamise, a strip of tourist shops and tasty Japanese snacks. Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest temple. This is one of my favorite destinations in Tokyo and I highly recommend visiting for the history, architecture, and Nakamise shops. Located outside of this complex is Shin-Nakamise Street, which has even more shops and snack options.

Takeshita dori – a quirky, narrow street in Harajuku with many independent fashion shops, cute boutiques, and cafes. The Sundays are especially lively, and many people come and dress up in stylish and trendy outfits. Once turning onto any of the nearby main streets, you will find larger chain stores and also Yoyogi Koen (park). It’s close to Harajuku Station and Meijijingu-mae Station.

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Meiji Shrine – a Shinto shrine that was built for Emperor Meiji during the early 1900s. The spacious paths have massive wooden torii and are lined with trees. On the complex besides the main sanctuary and shrine, is an expansive wall made entirely of sake barrels. Within the evergreen forest’s cool shade, the grounds immerse visitors within nature. The Shrine Since it’s across the street from Takeshita dori, it’s accessible by Meijijingu-mae Station and Harajuku Station.

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Zozoji Temple and Tokyo Tower area – this is a great area to wander Tokyo. I enjoy the visual juxtaposition of Zozoji temple with Tokyo Tower in the background. There’s usually a Sweet Potato vendor at the base of Zozoji Temple’s stairs. If you continue past the Jisho statues and prayers at Zozoji temple, you will find Tokyo Tower.

553363_10151854305308797_1121811822_n.jpgThe Imperial Palace East Gardens – was previously the site of Edo Castle, which was Japan’s second capital city. Much of the original structures are gone, except for some gates, guardhouses, and moats. Currently, the the site is now home to the Emperor, and tourists have access to wander around the outer areas and park.

Every Sunday, the streets before the grounds are closed for free cycling. However access to the public, main part of the Imperial Palace ends at 3:30pm on Sundays. There is a sidewalk that circles the grounds, but is popular with runners.

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View from Observatory at Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills & Observatory – shopping mall with a variety of restaurants, the Mori Art Museum, a garden and an outdoor area has light shows during the summer, and the Observatory that features a promising view of Tokyo’s skyline. When you purchase a ticket to the Observatory, it includes access to the Museum, and for an additional fee you can include the Sky deck. Mount Fuji is visible on clear days from the Observatory. There are bars in the observatory section, but they are expensive (think $16 or $18 for a cocktail).(including Tokyo tower and sometimes Mount Fuji). Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Sky tree also provide great views of the city.

  • Although it’s expensive, I’d recommend going to the Moon Lounge in the evening. Requesting a table by the window is incredibly expensive, so we settled on a seat at the bar that still provided a decent view of the city. I ordered the Gesyoku a mixed drink with red wine.
  • The Shinjuku Metropolitan Center offers a free view of the city. In my opinion, the Observatory or the Shinjuku Metropolitan Center offer better views than Tokyo Tower.

Odaiba – is a man-made island located in southern Tokyo that has arcade games, amusement rides, several shopping malls, and restaurants. Here is a comprehensive guide to all of the different attractions and sites. Fortunately, I visited DiverCity Tokyo Plaza twice, the first time was with the RX-78-2 Gundam in 2012 and most recently saw the Unicorn Gundam in 2017.

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Sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market – this marketplace is one of the oldest and largest fish markets globally. If you’re able to arrive at 5am, you can watch the infamous tuna auctions. Although I waited over 10 minutes to order sake (salmon) sushi in the outdoor area of the market, it was honestly the best sushi I’ve ever eaten.

Shibuya – experience of the mayhem of the overwhelming intersection before Shibuya Station. When all of the stop lights turn red, pedestrians surge across.

Kabuki or Noh theatre – if you’re a fan of theatre you should spare time to see a show.

  • Kabuki is known for it’s all men acting crew with dramatic make-up and decorative costumes. It also has detailed stage designs typically with features like with a bridge built into the audience, moving platforms, and trapdoors for stunts.
  • Noh is a classical musical drama with symbolic plots. The actors use their movements to present the story with minimal dialogue.
  • While I enjoyed Noh more than Kabuki, I felt the quality and design of kabuki outweighs the more simplified Noh shows. Moreover, Kabuki shows tend to be 3 to 4 hours in length, and Noh are much shorter. While both shows will be in Japanese, you should have the option to either listen to an English translation on a headset or follow along on a transcription of the show.

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    Visit in 2012 to Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland – it explains itself, however I loved my day here because it felt like a compact version of Disney World. However at Tokyo Disney, there are more adorable souvenirs and main characters walking around obliged to take photos.

I was ecstatic when I met Mickey Mouse and he took a photo with me. In addition to Disneyland, there’s also Disney Sea.

Miyazaki Museum – any fans of Miyazaki movies should tour this museum. While I haven’t had the chance to visit, it is on my bucket list for when I return. Unfortunately the only ways to purchase tickets are at a kiosk in Family Mart/Lawson’s (but usually needs to be done weeks in advance since they’re typically sold out) or with an overpriced tour online.

Chichen Itza, A Slice of the Mayan World

In the last week of April, I took a tour from Cozumel to the Yucatán peninsula to visit the ancient Mayan archaeological site, Chichen Itza. Even though each way took three hours because of a ferry ride to the mainland and a shuttle service, it was well worth it. 31543518_10156962242623797_420894816344211456_n

Chichen Itza (At the edge of the well of the Itzaes) used to be one of the main Mayan cities. The site was settled largely in its present location because of its close vicinity to two cenotes, which are accessible areas that lead to underground pools of water. The site is historically significant due to the synthesis of Mayan and Mexican architectural stylization. The stonework and hieroglyphs on the buildings were painted with local colors, some residual colors can still be faintly seen.

The Kukulkan Pyramid or El Castillo is the iconic, large pyramid that attracts millions of tourists each year to learn about Mayan history and culture. Recently in 2017, it was established as a Wonder of the World. Although tourists are no longer able to climb up the stairs of El Castillo, the site is still impressive. A quirky feature to El Castillo is that if a group of people clap before it, the sound of a squawking bird will echo back.

Here are some other noteworthy areas on the complex to see:

  • Temple of Warriors with its many columns and a statue of Chacmool, where human sacrifices occurred.
  • The Great Ball Court and the North Temple (Temple of the Bearded Man)
  • The Osario Group is a short pyramid
  • The Observatory is a tower with a circular staircase that is thought to be used by the Mayan people to study astronomy.
  • Temple of Xtoloc
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Panoramic shot of the Temple of Warriors

When I visited a few days ago, the temperature was beyond 90 degrees Fahrenheit It’s important to frequently drink water and apply sunblock. The ideal time to go is in the morning because the site will be overwhelmed by tourists in the afternoon. I heard the site was commercialized, however I was stunned by the persistent vendors that lined many main pathways on the outskirts of the site.

Don’t forget to taste Xtabentún, a local liquor made from honey and anise seed.

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The Osario Group with El Castillo in the background

Things to do in Kyoto, Japan

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Walking within the torii at Fushimi Inari

During my 8 day adventure through Japan, I explored Kyoto for three days in early November. Three days was not enough time. The city instilled me with a desire to return one day and visit more of it’s ancient sites.

Fushimi Inari is a Shinto shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice. There are many protective Fox Statues along the trails of the shrine. It’s located on a mountain, and is easily accessible from the JR Nara Line at Kyoto Station. This site also has free entry and is virtually always open. It’s best to go early in the morning because the pathways of red torii became quickly congested with fellow tourists.

 

Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Pure Water Temple) is a wooden Buddhist temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has a balcony overlooking Kyoto. We were fortunate to visit here during November, when all of the trees were bright with peak autumn colors. A diminutive statue of Kannon sits inside the temple’s Main Hall. While not the quickest route, we took the Keihan Railway Line to Kiyomizu-Gojo Station and walked about 20 minutes to reach this temple.

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View of Kyoto from Kyomizu-dera

 

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka are streets sloping downhill from Kiyomizu-dera Temple and into the heart of Gion’s historical district. The streets, architecture, and occasional Geisha promises to transport any tourist back in time. You can also spot Yasaka Pagoda from this area (not featured in the image below).

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Kinkakuji’s reflection in the pond

 

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion) is another iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan, but is distant from the main city. The Zen pavilion is layered in gold leaf and on calm days, you can witness it’s stark reflection in the pond. While the most inexpensive way to visit is by bus, we were pressed for time and took the metro to Kitaoji Station and then hired a taxi for a 10 minute ride.

 

Arashiyama is a town located in western Kyoto that’s infamous for it’s Bamboo Forest (a UNESCO World Heritage site). However it also has hiking trails, the Togetsukyō Bridge with gorgeous views of the river, shops, restaurants, and Tenryuji Temple another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Bridge in Arashiyama

 

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Nara is another popular tourist destination known for its Park. Inside of Nara Park are an abundance of sacred deer that will bow at you if you feed them crackers,
and also Todaiji Temple. Crackers can be bought everywhere in the park, but practice caution with some of the deer because they tend to nibble on everything. It takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes one way via metro from Kyoto Central Station.

Pontocho Alley is a narrow street along the river that boasts historical architecture like Gion. This area is close to Gion-Shijo Station and has plenty of restaurants, and fun thematic bars to explore at night. The bars are built into various floors of the buildings and can sometimes only offer limited occupancy of about 5-15 people. I wish we had more time to explore the fun bars in this area. One of my favorite bars we went to was Cafe La Siesta 8bit Edition. It’s a gamer bar with a myriad of retro consoles, hand-held games, and card games. They have a human-sized Gameboy that plays N64 and their drink menu is based off of vintage games too.

Nishiki Market is approximately a 400-year old market in downtown with over 100 stalls selling diverse foods and tourist items.

Lake Ashi and Hakone’s Hot Springs

29425232_10156834205338797_7907052753489231872_nStaying in a ryoukan (a traditional Japanese inn with an outdoor hotspring) has been at the top of my bucket list for a while, especially since I endeavored in a lot of anime and manga as a child.

Last November, I made my second trip to Japan and made sure to include this experience. Before the trip, I scoured the internet for hours before carefully selecting a ryoukan in Hakone.

Hakone is widely known for is its variety of traditional onsen, Lake Ashi, and vicinity to Mount Fuji.

On the day of our check in to the ryoukan, we took a Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hakone to explore Lake Ashi. We were sure to purchase the Hakone Free Pass, which cost 4,000 yen (approx 40$) from Odawara Station, and also had our luggage delivered directly to the ryoukan. While the delivery can be a little expensive, it was so worth it to not have to worry about retrieving our luggage from a locker in the train station after a long day of riding the rails and ropeways.

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Volcanic activity in Hakone

The Hakone Tozan Railway brought us to the ropeway, which passed through cloudy mountain tops and leisurely deposited us at Togendai on the shore of Lake Ashi. While it was raining when we caught the boat, we held our breaths at the possibility of spotting any views of Mount Fuji. Nonetheless, the ride on Lake Ashi was memorable.

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Torii of Peace at Lake Ashi

We went took the pirate boat to one of the few ports, Motohakone, to visit the Hakone Shrine.

The shrine dates back to the Nara period, and the cedar trees on the main path are at least 800 years old. The walk is easily accessible from the docks, and takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach.

That evening, we took the ropeway and train back to our ryoukan at the Naka-Gora Station.

At check-in we were able to choose a time slot for when we wanted to dip in a private outdoor onsen. We were also given yukata, socks, and sandals for walking about the resort and the traditional dinner.

  • Side note, many ryoukan offer a complimentary dinner and breakfast. While I don’t eat shellfish and I’m a borderline vegetarian, I struggled to enjoy the several course dinner. Bring snacks if you’re unsure whether you will enjoy the meal.

During our hour long time slot in the evening, my boyfriend and I relaxed in a private onsen that was hidden within bamboo thickets. The private bath was especially relaxing after a day of traveling from Tokyo and touring the countryside.

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My yukata hung beside the private onsen at the ryoukan

Our hotel room was spacious with tatami flooring, a king-sized bed, and we were greeted by Japanese sweets. There was also an intimate outdoor bath on our room’s porch with a view of the autumnal countryside. Although this additional feature was a costly upgrade, the next morning I enjoyed listening to the rain fall against the leaves in the hot bath.

While it was more expensive than would have been ideal, I’m glad that my boyfriend and I were able to do this together.

There are cheaper options available to have the Lake Ashi and/or onsen experience.

  • Catch an all day tour from Tokyo.
  • Take the Shinkansen/Romance Car to Hakone, and if you’re planning on staying in the area either store your luggage in a locker or have it delivered to your next destination.
  • There are many ryoukans in this region with various onsen options, such as gender segregated hot springs, a private bath at the ryoukan that can be ‘rented’ for you and your family/partner, or a private bath attached to your room.

Top 10 Sights in Scotland

Did you know that in 2017 Scotland was voted the most beautiful country according to Rough Guides?

While it’s no secret that I lived in Glasgow to complete my postgraduate studies  – Scotland quickly became ‘a home away from home.’ During my year as an expat, I was fortunate to explore much of this country. I couldn’t resist falling in love with it’s dramatic landscapes, moody weather, complex history, endearing people, and especially, the late sun in the summer evenings.

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  1. Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle – Both sites are considered to be in Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations. Parts of the ruined albeit impressive castle date back to the 1200s. Urquhart’s present condition reflects the turmoil it faced during the Wars of Independence. It’s easy to spend a few hours exploring the castle, and it’s surrounding area.
  2. Isle of Skye – I’ve visited Skye twice now. Once onboard a tour bus and again with a rental car. If you can – opt for the rental car. Every time I made the winding journey through the highlands, I made a pitstop at Glen Coe. While at Skye, I was able to see the town of Portree, the Fairy Pools, the Storr, Dunvegan Castle, and Caisteal Maol.28643150_10156771769248797_59557975_o
  3. St Andrews – When I day-tripped this coastal city, it was a rare summer day. While I was at St. Andrews’ Castle, I went in the medieval underground mine and 28722110_10156771747908797_1203095003_ncountermine. At 5’1″, I felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable in these mines, but I’m glad I saw such a rare site. Beside the castle is a coastal path, and also the gothicCathedral nestled within a gravesite. I made a quick stop at the University and also the ‘Old Course’. There are some places that one immediately feels a connection to, and this place did it for me. Upon leaving, I felt some regret at not doing my postgraduate studies at St. Andrews University, but Glasgow was a great experience.28536774_10156771769303797_1587794413_n
  4. Edinburgh – the free art museums, Old Town, Princess Street (and its gardens) with a view of Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, and Calton Hill/National Monument. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, don’t forget to go to enjoy a coffee from the Elephant Cafe, and check out the graveyard that inspired J.K. Rowling. If you can, go to the annual Fringe Fest during August to experience the wonder of the Military Tattoo. The military show is complete with light displays awash all over the castle and a firework show. If not, try to visit the Christmas Market from November to early January.
  5. Glasgow – While I studied at the University of Glasgow, I adored it’s campus and location in the West End. The Main Building was nearly used for Hogwarts Castle in the Harry Potter movies, and more recently, it was used to film scenes in Outlander’s third season. The West End’s atmosphere is encapsulated by boutique shops, quaint pubs, fairy lights overhanging Ashton Lane’s cobblestone streets, Kelvingrove Park and Museum, and the Botanic Gardens. Much of Glasgow is comprised of sandstone and Victorian architecture, and the shopping in City Centre.28535115_10156771733518797_1464088437_n
  6. Stirling Castle – I spent half a day with my friends touring this stunning castle, which you can read about here. One of my favorite parts was walking along the castle’s wall and enjoying the views of Stirling and the Wallace Monument. The castle offers interactive games, models of the castle, costumes, informative exhibits, movies, and actors.
  7. Isle of Arran – Since I’m passionate about Archaeology and Art History, I felt compelled to visit this Neolithic site. Before the standing stones, the site originally had wooden structures and was used for sacred rituals. On a rushed excursion via train and ferry, I visited the Machrie Moore Stone Circles with a best friend. You can read about our crazy adventure in a previous post.28642925_10156771733108797_1203021121_o
  8. Loch Lomond (& the Trossachs National Park) – The first time I ever saw Loch Lomond was from  a small Scottish village called Luss. The area around Loch Lomond promises various hiking trails, but you can also take a boat ride. Loch Lomond is not far from Glasgow and it’s easily accessible by ScotRail.
  9. Oban – a quaint fishing village with many shops and harbor views. Enjoy a tour and drink at their infamous  Distillery.
  10. Jacobite Steam Train – it’s nearly an all day activity, but it’s a leisure one! It deposits you at Mallaig for a few hours, which provides you enough time to enjoy a coffee or a late lunch, and explore the tiny town. Onboard the train you’re able to buy snacks and various Harry Potter fan items. While riding the train, make sure you’re aware of  witnessing the Glenfinnan Viaduct and the island where Dumbledore died. Tickets for purchase are available here.28537598_10156771733798797_1428303766_n

Winter at Niagara Falls

Due to February’s holiday weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to cross a popular tourist destination off of our bucket lists – Niagara Falls, Ontario.

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Apart from going tp Niagara Falls, I was really interested in visiting once I learned that Ontario has an expansive wine trail in the Lake District.

The drive took approximately 7 hours to arrive in Ontario. We parked at the Table Rock Welcome Center for under $17 USD. The center had an observation area that connected to a walkway that offered views of the Horseshoe Falls and the very top of its river.

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Since it’s February, the majority of touristy activities are limited, and the idea of getting soaked in 30 degree weather was not enticing. That evening we walked through the Casino Falls, and ate dinner at a craft beer restaurant called Taps on Queens. Although I’m not into beer, it’s industrial interior, local vibe, and food were great.

The next day, we ventured to Niagara on the Lake to vineyard hop. Our first stop was Konzlemann Estate Winery, which oversaw its own vineyards and Lake Ontario. While their tasting was 2 at 10$, we were provided a 10$ coupon off 2 bottles of wine (we purchased 2 Cabernet Sauvignon).

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Our next stop was Stratus, an upscale vineyard with a variety of 16 wines. Their Stratus White is the best wine I tasted that day and potentially one of most delicious whites I have ever tasted. We did 2 tastings for the price of 1, and were able to try their Ice Wine. We visited the vineyard nextdoor, Jackson Triggs. While at Jackson Triggs, we only paid only 12$ for 2 tastings and a bottle of Merlot. We even received a voucher for 2 free tastings at their sister vineyard – Inniskillin. At our fourth and final vineyard, we had our second ice wine tasting, which we later found out was award-winning. I purchased a bottle of their refreshing Pinot Grigio.

Between visiting 4 vineyards, we strolled the streets of the Heritage District. The area was quaint with a variety of restaurants and shops selling touristy items and sweets. Its very close to Fort Niagara and Fort George.

Overall, I would recommend going to Niagara Falls area during the summer. The area seems a little sleepy and tired during the winter months. However it was really nice for us to get away for a few days, enjoy each others companies, and experience a new place.

Savoring Sicily

Have you been to Sicily yet? Have you considered going? Sure, Rome, Venice, Florence, and Naples are great, but standard tourist sights. I’m not saying skip any of those, but I don’t know why Sicily hasn’t become a HOT destination. In fact, the only types of tourists I met were from Eastern European countries, students/Erasmus students, or Italians (from the it’s larger counterpart). In this post I’ll detail my favorite Sicilian destinations.

To be honest, before I committed to a Workaway program at a hostel in Catania, I never thought much about visiting Sicily.

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View of Mount Etna smoking from a terrace in Catania, Sicily (2013)

My first introduction to Sicily was when I was younger. After my dad recounted the story of my great grandfather leaving an obscure village in southern Italy called Bocchigliero, he pointed a finger to an island off of Italy’s foot on a map. He warmly referred to Sicily as Italy’s soccer ball (or should I say football? Sorry, I am American after all).

Sicily is nestled within the Mediterranean and offers beautiful beaches, mouth-watering cuisine, delicious wines (please try Nero, like now), and fascinating archaeological sites. Sicily is a blend of ancient cultures because the island was conquered only a few times (ie. the Spanish, French, Greeks, Germans, Italians, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Phoenicians, Arabs, and British). These conquests are evident in their architecture and historical sites. If you’re interested in learning more about Sicily’s history, visit here – the material is broken down in a digestible manner.

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Smoke emitting from Mount Etna’s crater

Recommended Sites to visit in Sicily

  1. Catania
    • Located on the eastern part of the island, and is the second largest city in Sicily after Palermo. I’m biased about Catania because of my month-long Workaway at a hostel mere steps away from its most prominent square, Piazza del Duomo. In the this square is the Catania Cathedral are great cafes, the Fontana dell’Elefante, and the daily Fish Market. Nearby is a lengthy shopping strip, the University of Catania, and Bellini’s theatre. This place is an Art Historian’s fantasy because of the breath-taking baroque architecture. There’s also a variety of places that feature live music and nightlife and because of the students.
  2. Mount Etna
    • The largest, active volcano in Europe. Yes, I hiked all the way up and back down the volcano. Yes, it was arguably one of the most physically taxing things I have ever done, and yes I wanted to die. Was it worth it? Yes! I value this photo because it shares my accomplishment. If you hike it, wear good shoes that don’t ‘breathe’ – the volcanic rock and debris will sneak into your shoes and become incredibly uncomfortable after hours of trekking.  Also take it easy if you’re not used to that kind of altitude. It sits 10,991 feet above sea level.
  3. Agrigento Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi)
    • A UNESCO Heritage site dedicated to 7 Greek deities – Zeus, Juno, Heracles, Concordia, Asclepius, Pollux, and Vulcan.
  4. Taormina
    • This town is also on Sicily’s eastern coastline. Taormina is known for its incredible beach, Isola Bella, and its ancient Greek Theatre. It’s Old Town is quaint to explore, and provides picturesque sights to enjoy a glass or two of wine.
  5. Scala dei Turchi
    • A natural limestone rock formation on the coast of Realmonte. Since we took local transportation and walked to Scala dei Tuchi, it was a little difficult for us to find it. While the sunset was incredible, it’s best to go early in the day because we missed our last bus and hitchhiked back to the bus station.
  6. Alcantara Gorges
    • This gorge is very close to Mount Etna, and approximately an hour long drive from Catania. The gorge was crafted thousands of years ago by the volcano’s lava, and the river that winds through the gorge cut into the hardened rock to create it’s textural geometric appearance. Although I went during a humid autumn day, when the cold evening settled in, I saw the best starry sky. Also, please be careful of leeches!
    • You can find more detail about this site in a previous post.

If you’ve travelled to Sicily before, comment with some of your favorite spots! I’d love recommendations.

Scala dei Turchi
Scala dei Turchi

5 Reasons to Visit Ibiza in the Off Season

At the end of my final semester in March I visited Ibiza, one of the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean. One of my European friends inwardly cringed and demanded why I was going during the ‘winter’ season and not waiting for summer (ie. May to possibly September). She claimed it would be cold and there would be nothing to do, however this was not the case at all.

  1. Obviously – costs are relatively inexpensive (approx. 40-60£) compared to the tourist season (approx 128-275£). Ryanair offered an impressive last minute flight from the UK that was too good to ignore. However the lack of sun in Scotland provided additional incentive to book the trip. We found there were a variety of accommodations with fair prices.

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    Canons overlooking Old Town in Dalt Vila
  2. With a lack of tourists, the atmosphere is quiet, as opposed to coming during prime travel season (summer) in which all of the clubs are in full effect. When we visited for a few days – the vast majority of fellow traverlers were families. Areas like Dalt VilaPort San Miguel and Cala d’Hort were calm with few people. Honestly – it was the true essence of a reprieve.

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    Es Vedra photographed from Cala d’Hort Beach
  3. At the finale of March, we wore our bathing suits on the beach. In fact, I returned to Glasgow with a cherry nose and honeyed skin. At between 60-75°F, the days were comfortable enough to wear a tank paired with a skirt or shorts, but the evenings required a light jacket or jumper at around 55°F.

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    Sun slowly setting at Cala Comte on the sunset coastline
  4. During our stay, we rented a car for less than 50 euros for a full 24 hours through Avis, which included full insurance.  Most tourist sites aren’t accessible without a car. Between the two of us it was cheaper to book a car than to go on a tour that only went to 1-2 sites. We toured Cova de Can MarcaPort de San Miguel beachSan Antoni, Cala d’Hort to view Es Vedra, and Cala Comte (Cala Conte). The roads were not crowded, besides near Dalt Vila, and the majority of people were locals driving to work. This was ideal as we had downloaded the maps on my friend’s iPad, however whenever we lost satellite (85% of the journey) we relied on the combination of my roadmap, the road signs, and asked locals for directions with my basic understand of Spanish.

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    Ibiza Old Town from ferry ride to island of Formentera
  5. Although most clubs aren’t yet open during the spring – there were parties, spring festivals, and open shops around Dalt Vila. We weren’t at a loss of things to do for the duration of 3 days. I detail our 3 day itinerary in this (post), however we wished we had an additional night to visit more of the island.

However, here are somethings to keep in mind before booking a trip during the off season…

  1. Hotels or low-key shops outside of Ibiza’s immediate city centre/Old Town might be closed until summer or under construction.
  2. The busses are far and fewer in between. Instead of coming every half hour, they were scheduled to come every hour, however the busses were often late with a nonchalant tranquillo attitude. We stayed outside of Ibiza at a beach front accommodation in Playa d’en Bossa, and felt stranded whenever the bus refused to show.
  3. If you want to do sightseeing outside of Ibiza and its immediate centre, you will require a car. The bus system near Ibiza remains close to the heart of its central tourist hub. WARNING: some roads along the coastline are winding, which may make individuals susceptible to motion sickness feel ill (guilty).

Check out my 3 day itinerary here 🙂