Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nightlife on Ibiza

The 'super clubs' of Ibiza are renowned the world over as the global HQ of dance music, and deservedly so. Not only for their size and splendour, but mainly for the unique atmosphere created by thousands of people, fresh off the beach, letting their hair down with a holiday vengeance.

It has to be borne in mind though that these clubs pre-date the 'dance music' phenomenon by many years. Most have been around for three decades, during which time they have put on top ranking the artists of the moment down through the years and therefore every musical genre that has come and gone over this period - from the hippies onwards.

This is still the case today and will be tomorrow and more than likely forever Witness the fact that the Global room at Pacha is devoting six nights a week to perfecting the blend of Hip Hop and R&B with House music in a very effective crossover, whilst on the other side of the island Es Paradis have had 'Twice as Nice' dispensing R&B, Garage and 2-Step sounds for years. This year check out their Drum and Bass night on Sundays vs. the Old Skool spectacular 'Helter Skelter meets Innovation'.


Es Paradis
El Divino

text taken from ibizaholidays

Ibiza Beaches

One of the greatest benefits of living on a tiny island like Ibiza, with over 80 beaches to choose from, is that you can select the perfect beach for the moment. Be that a special occasion, putting yourself around, or simply attaining that serene tranquility that you seek...

Then to change your mind, seek an alternative, and discover that wherever you are on Ibiza it is no more than half an hour to your chosen alternative vibe, even if it's on the other side of the island.

Wherever you are on Ibiza there will be some days when the prevailing wind will offer waves - when you planned a day of snorkelling, or a flat calm - the day after you polished your surf board.

Occasionally you wake up and look out to sea to find clouds spoiling your plans for the day on the beach, but linger a while longer and you will suss the direction of the prevailing wind, which creates the clouds by forcing the colder air upwards as it reaches the land mass of the island. It soon becomes easy to work out which beaches will still enjoy sunshine on the windward side whether you fancy waves to play in, or a sheltered cove to enjoy snorkelling with sunlight illuminating the seabed below?

Some days the skies are clear on your local beach, but the incoming wind is creating surf when you really fancied a lazy hour watching clouds vapourise from your lilo? Relax in the knowledge that it's only 30 minutes to that new dream beach you never checked out before - sometimes even less than ten minutes walk?

!!! Enjoy:) !!!

text taken from ibizaholidays

Ibiza Fiestas

3 Kings Parade - 5th January

After the excesses of Christmas & New Years Eve the childrens turn comes on the evening of the 3 Kings Day Fiesta on the 6th January with parades, fireworks and the distribution of presents and thousands of sweets to the children of Ibiza.
On the 5th the three kings (Melchor, Gasper and Baltasar) arrive in many of the towns and villages throughout Ibiza. Some arrive by boat, some on horseback, but they parade throught the streets throwing sweets out and then afterwards giving away presents.

Carnival - 1st March

Ibiza folk love fiestas - and the more the merrier. In fact they seize upon every opportunity to break out the traditional costumes and display their folk dancing talents in a display of religious fervour.
Carnival, however, is a completely different ball game incorporating none of the above elements. It is simply an excuse for the population to celebrate the end of winter with pure enjoyment, flamboyance and fun.
Endless pageants of glittering costumes, brilliantly decorated carriages, loud music and laughing faces are the order of the day as both adults and children display the fruits of their labours over the previous weeks - building floats, sewing costumes and practicing dance routines.
The results of all this toil are then released onto the streets in a chaotic and diverse display that often reflects the preoccupations of the islanders. Satirical digs at political characters and events are to be expected - this year's favourite was the topical 'motorway' building project currently being opposed by the majority of the population. However, all of this takes place in an atmosphere of joy and infectious exuberance that extends to the spectators, who also dress up, celebrate and dance - everyone with everybody regardless of nationality, language, colour or creed.
Laughter knows no boundaries.

Santa Eulalia - 1st Sunday in May

The first Sunday in May may seem a fairly loose date for a fiesta, in terms of dates and diaries, but this is perhaps a clue as to how far back into antiquity this fiesta dates. It is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the quaintest of the island celebrations. One of the highlights is the procession featuring beautifully preserved and with flowers decorated horse drawn carts. That's where the name Flower Festival comes from.
Nobody knows how old the tradition is, but it certainly pre-dates the town's current fortress church. Tradition has it that originally there was a small chapel atop the cliff to the north side of the bay of Santa Eulalia , which was perfectly adequate for the settlements smaller population of the day. However, one Sunday (very likely the first Sunday in May) almost immediately after the service and the departure of the worshippers, there was a loud rumble and the little church slid down the face of the cliff and into the sea. As nobody was hurt the incident was proclaimed a miracle by the hugely religious population and word of this miracle spread swiftly around the island. This prompted people from all over the island to travel to tiny Santa Eulalia each first Sunday in May to celebrate the miraculous salvation of the local worshippers and the holy place.
Bear in mind that the vast majority of the island's population travelled by horse and cart until only a few decades ago which largely accounts for the negative attitude of locals to travelling great distances, of more than a few miles, even today. Long-term residents soon seem to absorb this attitude too. Then consider that there weren't any roads to speak of - even today's roughest camino would look like a motorway to our ancient horse and cart.
But they made the effort to trek over to this fiesta on their carts and thus this Santa Eulalia celebration became the island's annual cart exhibition.
Cart processions can actually be more entertaining than one might expect. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the 'día del trueno' meaning the 'day of thunder'. It has long been a tradition to crown a fiesta with a spectacular firework display long after the sun has set - and they are indeed spectacular. However, as any proficient pyrotechnist will tell you, it is vital to test one firework from the installation long before unleashing the barrage that marks the end of the fiesta. Unfortunately on this occasion, probably due to a wiring fault (in the best of local tradition) the afternoon test firing unleashed the entire display as the horse and cart procession made its way down the main street. The noise somewhat alarmed the horses who took off in complete panic with carts and occupants in tow. Unfortunately the full effects of the firework display were invisible on such a sunny afternoon.
This misfortune was only to be bettered the following year when the town hall decided that distributing the traditional sweets from a low flying aircraft would be a novel idea. Once again fifty or more horses fled up the side streets of the village in terror.
To end on a more positive note - tradition has it that the submerged bell of the sunken church still tolls on dark and stormy nights to warn passing ships of the shallow waters near to the cliff. In recent memory this seems to have worked? Anyway, let's look forward to an eventful day out with the rest of the island - see you on the first Sunday of May.

San Juan - 24th June

One of the most loved Fiestas - this falls on June 24th, coinciding almost exactly with the summer solstice - suggesting that this festival has been around some time.
Although a Catholic holiday, it falls into the category of 'existing pagan festival' renamed as Christian 'holy-day'. This one dates back to times when churches were caves and altars were trees. But when the sun reached its summer solstice zenith everybody felt good. The trees were full of fruit, the crops were in the fields, the sea was calm for fishing and the weather was warm. People were content - much as they still are nowadays in June, as the night club opening parties compete for attention.
The main feature of this Fiesta is still the huge nocturnal bonfires the locals light to express their gratitude for being alive, and these are spectacular even nowadays. In days gone by, when light at night was practically a non-occurence, it is easy to see how these came to assume wizardly proportions in island mentality. To some extent this could explain the very 'other worldly' vibe of the village of San Juan and those who choose to live there?
The symbolic significance of the fires is that of release and renewal. All present throw something old into the fire in order to make room for the new. Different items represent different mystical messages e.g. old shoes mean that the thrower wants to walk a new path of life? Despite all of the serious magical associations, this is still a fun Fiesta if you can find a parking spot or don't mind a long walk?

El Carmen - 16th July

The Virgin of Carmen is the patron saint and protector of fishermen and sailors - those who live on and from the sea. Little surprise then that her 'saints' day is celebrated vigorously throughout Ibiza and Formentera, where the sea is almost inevitably your distant horizon.
Most churches on the island contain a statue of 'Nuestra Se-ora de Carmen' as local worshippers have great faith in her benevolent aura, which is apparently most powerfully felt at the tiny hamlet of Es Cubells on the south coast.
However, this cult only arrived on Ibiza 150 years ago with a Carmelite friar exiled by the government of the day, who were none to keen on the clergy, or their influence over the population. The friar, Father Palau, was one of Barcelona's leading intellectuals and therefore a major dissident problem for the far-left progressive government. Ibiza seemed the perfect, inaccessible backwater for their problem.
(In fact Father Palau was only here for six years before he was absolved of any political wrongdoing and returned to Barcelona.)
Nonetheless he left an indelible mark on the island during his extended sabbatical. Clearly not seeking company he chose the tiny hamlet of Es Cubells to set up home, which at that time consisted of two houses and a few farmers' outbuildings.
In the absence of intellectual stimulation he retreated within himself and made nature his family. This passion regularly drew him to the uninhabited. mystical island of Es Vedra where he would meditate and fast for as long as a month at a time. Surrounded and inspired by nature and nothing else he chronicled his experiences and found sufficient inner peace to return to society and build a small hermitage overlooking the sea. This was dedicated to his beloved Virgin of Carmen and, despite the risk, he arranged for his old icon of the virgin to be smuggled out to the island for the altar of his shrine.
He then set about touring Ibiza and Formentera preaching her virtues in every house of God. His sermons generated such fervour that an icon of El Carmen appeared at almost every church on the Pitiusas.
However, hordes of worshippers still chose to brave the long, rocky road to Father Palau's little hermitage at Es Cubells to best worship the Virgin, or thank her for her benevolence. This they felt was where her power was strongest, in much the same way that many people feel about nearby Es Vedra.
Nowadays the current church of Es Cubells, with its magnificent view and undeniable ambience, stands on the spot originally occupied by Father Palau's original hermitage.

Formentera - 25th July

July 25th is the Fiesta de Santiago, a national holiday throughout Spain, which has its roots way back in highly religous legend. However, in Formentera it is known as the Fiesta Sant Jaume (St. James' day) and has its roots in much more recent history. Unusually these roots have no religious connotations and pay little homage to the 'saint behind the day'. This is how it came about:-
For many centuries, since Formentera was abandoned in the 14th century during the Black Death, pirates ruled the waves around the Pitiusan islands (Ibiza & Formentera) and made Formentera too risky a place to live. Even after the Ibicenco corsairs had more or less beaten off the pirates, they were still not entirely eradicated which meant that travelling to and from Formentera was not the pleasant afternoon out that we enjoy today - it was a life and death venture.
However, during the 18th century families slowly trickled back to stake their claims on the little island and by the middle of the century there were some 200 people living there. As it happens many of those brave souls came from the Santa Eulalia area of Ibiza where, for some reason, there was an inordinately high concentration of men called Jaume (James?). For this reason many of Formentera's new settlers were called Jaume - some had Jaume for a surname too.
Late July was a relatively quiet time in the agricultural calendar and is even today. The fruit has already been harvested and the wheat has still to ripen. In addition to this the summer sea is at its calmest and most inviting for a boat trip. There was only one thing for a self respecting, sensible Ibicenco to do given this fortuitous situation - jump in a boat and pay a visit to the friends and family in Formentera? The perfect day usually selected for this visit was, of course, San Jaume and before long the spontaneous visits coalesced into an official holiday.
What a good reason for a fiesta? the re-uniting of long lost loved ones..... (church optional)


Ibiza, the smallest of the three Balearic Islands, attracts thousands of people from all over Europe every year. Lying near its bigger sister Mallorca, Ibiza itself is an internationally leading tourist destination. Nicknamed the capital of electronic music, Ibiza has one of the best nightlife offers of Europe with several discos, bars and night clubs which have gained international reputation particularly because of the numerous intense dance music sessions and parties held during the summer months.

Nevertheless, the island of Ibiza is internationally known not only because of its non-stop party atmosphere, but also for its cultural and natural features. A great part of the island is listed under the United Nations World Heritage Sites. The treasures underlying this land are innumerable. Inland from the coastline, the traditional scenery of many villages and remote country houses and villas has remained intact, retaining the unique character of this island.

Ibiza is also the perfect destination for those seeking to enjoy of water sports, as surf, snorkeling and scuba diving, especially after spending time on the beach during those sun-drenched days. The island has several sport facilities along its striking seashore and many tourists and locals use this great opportunity to cool themselves down when the sun is really burning.

Immerse yourself in Ibiza, its unique culture, beautiful beaches, wild nightlife and friendly people - this unforgettable island boasts with both active and relaxing options, leaving anybody out of breath. No matter what you like, Ibiza will definitely delight you.

text taken from Ibiza Travel Guide

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gardens & Parks of Beijing

The Grand View Garden

Helpful info:
Admission fee: CNY 40
Bus route: 59, 122, 717, 721, 806, 816, 819, 939

The Grand View Garden was created using the description from the story ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ an ancient Chinese masterpiece. Started in 1984 and finished in 1989 it was first used as a TV series location for ‘Dream of Red Mansion’.

There are more than 40 scenic areas within the 32 acre garden combining artificial features beautifully with nature. The essential ingredients of a classical Chinese garden are all there – palaces, pavilions, water features and rockeries to name but a few. If you should feel in need of refreshment after visiting the gardens the Grand View Garden Restaurant is the perfect setting to enjoy dinner in this glorious setting.

Beihai Park

Helpful info:
Admission fee: CNY 5 (Nov - Mar), CNY 10 (Apr - Oct)
Opening hours: 06:00 - 20:00 (Nov - Mar), 06:00 - 22:00 (Apr - Oct)
Bus route: From South Gate: 101, 103, 109, 812, 814, 846
From North Gate: 107, 111, 118, 701, 823
From East Gate: 5

Beihai Park which was opened to an enthusiastic public in 1925 has the honour of being one of the largest and oldest Imperial gardens. Well preserved after its 1,000 year long history, this ancient garden combines the characteristics of the Northern and Southern gardens along with magnificence of imperial palaces and formal religious constructions.

The park is built according to ancient Chinese tradition using the legend of the 3 magic mountains located to the East of China where man could gain immortality. In Beihai Park the water-mountain combination is represented by the pool and the 3 islets, Jade Flowery Islet, the Island of the Circular City and Xishantai Island. More than half of the park’s 0.71 square kilometres is taken up by the lake.

On top of the Jade Flowery Islet stands the White Dagoba, built in 1651 and twice rebuilt after being destroyed. It was built by the 1st Emperor of the Qing dynasty to show his belief in Buddhism. Standing at 35.9 metres high it is topped with two bronze canopies around which hang 14 bells. Inside the dagoba holds the monk’s mantle and alms bowl along with the Bhuddist Scriptures and two pieces of Sarira.

When you have finished your tour of the islet the Eastern Shore Scenic Area can be reached by crossing the Zhishan Bridge. Here are to be found many ‘gardens’ within the garden, the Hao Pu Creek Garden being of special note. Then by moving Westward you will arrive at the Northern Shore area.
Here is to be found the Quiet Heart Studio being the most prominent independent garden in the park. Initially built in the Ming Dynasty it contains palaces and pavilions, towers, halls and corridors.

Dragons play a major role in Chinese history and they are to be found here at the park. The famous nine-dragon screen which has 9 dragons on each side was built in 1756 and is about 27 metres long. The screen is embossed with coloured glazed tiles and along with the nine dragons on each side. Hundreds of large and small dragons in various postures decorate the two eave ends totalling 635 dragons! Southwest of this magnificent screen lies the Five Dragon Pavilions.

This structure is made from 5 connected pavilions with spires and was built in 1602 and repaired several times since. They are on the North bank of the lake and protrude out over the water making a peaceful and tranquil place to rest.
To complete your tour of the gardens visit the Circular City on the South-western corner of the park. Standing at 4.6 metres high, the encircling wall is 276 metres in circumference. The city includes many halls, pavilions and towers. The most important of these is Chengguang Hall where a priceless statue of Buddha made from White Jade is to be found. Again if you are feeling hungry you could have a meal in Fangshan Restaurant to be found at the Northern shore of the lake.

text from Accommodation olympic games Bejng 2008

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