Have Bag, Will Travel
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Tag Archives: Balearic Islands
My final Spanish island is Ibiza which I have visited only once, in 1988 and once, I can tell you, was most certainly enough!
We were staying in the resort of Santa Eulalia just east of Ibiza town and the first thing that went wrong was accommodation allocation shortly after arrival. We had booked with a package holiday company and the brochure showed attractive little two story apartments surrounded by flower filled gardens and with an inviting azure blue swimming pool in the centre but the transport coach drove us straight by these to an alternative part of the complex where there was an unattractive high rise, grey and ugly, which looked like something that had been relocated from Stalinist Moscow.
We told the holiday representative that we thought there must be a mistake but she assured us not and after she had persuaded us to leave the coach told us to take the matter up at the on-site office. Getting off the coach was my biggest mistake because once off one thing was certain – they were not going to do anything about it.
So we allocated a third floor room without any of the facilities that we had been promised in the brochure and to make matters worse a dangerous balcony with a gap at the bottom wide enough for a young child like my twelve month old son to wriggle underneath and fall to a certain death. I complained about this and several other things too but the office staff were completely unhelpful and said that they could only move us to different accommodation if we paid extra money.
Paid extra money? This was another problem because I hadn’t actually got any extra money! Two young children, one income, big mortgage, credit card maxed out – that’s why I was on a budget holiday in the first place!
So we put up with it and to cheer ourselves up hired a car for three days to get away from the place and used most of our holiday spending money in the process which on reflection was a rather silly thing to do.
We weren’t to know until three days later of course that hiring a car was not only a silly thing to do but also a complete waste of money because Ibiza is not the most exciting or picturesque sort of place anyway. Up in the north we went to the bay of Portinatx where they allegedly filmed some of the scenes from the film ‘South Pacific’ but if they did I couldn’t understand why because I didn’t find it very thrilling and surely it would have been better and more authentic to do it in the South Pacific!
Once the three days were up we had to hand the car back and then we were stuck in the sub-standard accommodation, quite a walk from the town centre and desperately short of cash. We spent the days on the beach with the children, one day we walked to the hippie market at nearby Es Cana and in the evenings we would take the walk across the river via a shaky wooden bridge and walk around the harbour and the streets and look at the restaurant menus that we couldn’t afford and envied the people in the cafés and the bars who could.
On the way back we would buy food in a mini-market and take it back to the apartment to cook for ourselves. About half way through the holiday I found a take away pizza shop which had one of those old fashioned credit card swipe machines so I went there quite regularly reasonably confident that without an electronic payment system I was unlikely to get the card rejected and confiscated.
I remember my holiday in Ibiza being a rather miserable affair and as a consequence of that I have never had the inclination to return. The only thing that might persuade me is an invitation to an Ibiza town foam party but to be honest time is rapidly running out on that personal fantasy.
Or maybe I am just being plain unfair, after all, I didn’t visit Ibiza town which must be worth an afternoon of anyone’s time and since my holiday there the island has acquired UNESCO World Heritage Site status and that sounds very exciting:
“Ibiza provides an excellent example of the interaction between the marine and coastal ecosystems. The dense prairies of oceanic Posidonia (seagrass), an important endemic species found only in the Mediterranean basin, contain and support a diversity of marine life. Ibiza preserves considerable evidence of its long history. The archaeological sites at Sa Caleta (settlement) and Puig des Molins (necropolis) testify to the important role played by the island in the Mediterranean economy in protohistory, particularly during the Phoenician-Carthaginian period” – UNESCO Website.
I am moving on now from the Canary Islands and back to the Mediterranean and specifically to the Balearic Islands off the eastern coast of the Spanish mainland.
These days the only one that I would really like to visit is Majorca and its capital Palma but although this is probably the most interesting of the island group I have never been there so will have to tell you about Menorca and Ibiza instead.
I first went to Menorca in 1987 and stayed in the whitewashed holiday village of Binibeca in the far south east close to the capital of Mahon. It was a nice enough place with some coastal walks, a charming village centre with some nice bars and restaurants but not a really great deal of interest. These were the days of holidays with small children so there were early starts, endless days around the swimming pool or on the beach, an early evening meal and then a night on the balcony drinking cold San Miguel waiting for the whole thing to be repeated again the next day.
The trivial little thing that I remember most was that there was a noisy family of Scots in a nearby apartment who insisted on sitting around listening to an oversized ‘boom box’ with music belting out all day. I hated that, but not as much as my dad (we were there with my parents) and one early morning before the irritating neighbours were up he stealthily approached their apartment and turned around the sprinkler valves so that they pointed towards the balcony instead of the gardens.
And then we waited. We waited until mid afternoon and then the water came on and his water joke worked perfectly as the boozed up Caledonians were hit with an unexpected eruption of water and I have no idea how we all managed to keep a straight face. Unfortunately the water didn’t damage the ‘boom box’ and it was returned to full volume soon after!
We did visit Mahon which was interesting but the previous capital of Ciudadela on the opposite western side of the island was even better and we hired a car and circumnavigated the island and visited the several excellent beaches set out around the perimeter at regular intervals.
We returned to Menorca a couple of years later to the resort of Santo Thomas on the south coast and there was absolutely nothing memorable about this holiday except that one day I was walking around the pool and someone shouted out to me – “hello Andrew”, which isn’t especially surprising of course because that is my name, but what was a shock was that it was my next door neighbour! Neither of us was aware that we were even going on holiday and certainly not to the same place!
This is not the only time that this has happened to me because in 1989 we met some people from our street in Disney World Florida but the best chance encounter of all was on the Greek island of Folegandros in 2009.
One September evening we were in the Chora at an outside table at our favourite restaurant when I glanced across to the party sitting next to us and instantly recognised someone I knew from work.
This was a real shock because Folegandos is a tiny lump of rock in an inaccessible place in the western Cyclades and pretty much the last place that you would expect to bump into someone you know.
It was the Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire County Council and he was with a small group of people. He knew me, we had attended meetings together but although I flashed him a smile of recognition he looked blankly back because although I recognised him he didn’t recognise me disguised as I was in my holiday clothes and with my annual attempt to grow a beard.
I couldn’t help but overhear his conversation which was almost entirely work related and he punctuated this with mobile telephone calls to the Leader of the Council. I found this intriguing because who talks continuously about work when on holiday? Even though Kim and I worked at the same place we had a strict rule that work talk was off the list of things to talk about.
After an hour or we finished our meal, settled our bill and prepared to leave but I was not going to go without saying hello. I wandered across to his table and said something like ‘Hello there, fancy seeing you here’. It took him only a couple of seconds for the penny to drop and I sensed his discomfort immediately. After the initial shock of being interrupted in a way that he couldn’t possibly imagine he regained his composure, said hello and introduced me to his press secretary!
There was no way that he was going to be able to explain what he was doing in Folegandros with his press secretary and although with the benefit of the consumption of several Mythos I was prepared to continue to chat Kim sensed that it was embarrassing for Tony and she led me away, back to the bus stop and to our hotel in the port.
Next time I am off to Ibiza.
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