Visiting places like these comes with a certain set of expectations, clichés, imposed assumptions, things you expect to see, feel, experience. And it’s all true when visiting Ibiza. But then again, at the same time, it isn’t… Why is this place so different to what you hear, and why is it actually a bit exactly what you’d expect? Well, let’s take a look!
Well, yes and no. If you’re going to Ibiza with a ‘when in Rome’ attitude, it’s inevitable you’ll be drawn to a number of clubs that offer all sorts of different vibes, music types, and clientelle. I’m not a party animal (any more), but I love music of all types and house music has a special place in my heart. So if you’re after quality (house) music from both local and star DJs, be prepared to pay for it – you do get what you pay for here, and I would generally avoid the main strip of San Antonio in particular where the target audience is a typical flying-in-Brit-hot-weather-and-cheap-entertainment-hungry. I’d also (strangely) avoid weekends for your quality music hunts as then the focus is on mainstream, and it isn’t as interesting. It really is quite disappointing what you see there, the easily and freely accessible places, mind you – it reminded me of “The Beach”, a movie my friend and I both love. Dig deeper though and you’ll find amazing people, music and atmosphere! For that, spend some time online and look up those at-the-beach venues such as hotels and hostels which open their doors to boogie lovers and hosting local and well-loved DJs. Just make sure you get yourself on the waiting list and have your wallet ready, it’ll be worth it in the end.
Perhaps a little disappointing is the fact that I didn’t take my camera with me when on the prowl around the clubs but I got cold feet about it all. If you’re planning to though (kudos to you, my friend), make sure you snap quickly as a lot of attention is drawn to tourists even with no cameras round their necks. This is especially true for the many immigrants employed by shady establishments to provide party boosters and, well anything you fancy really, to make your night wild. Me, I chickened out there, sorry, but no regrets as I’ve got some mental images from some areas and things I rather not to have in print. Just me however, you do you.
Ibiza the clean
Once you escape the stereotypical, party-infused vibes and clubs of Ibiza, it’s difficult to not note how clean and still unspoilt the island is. It starts from landing at the airport where from the plane you can see how much green the island has. Then, during the transfer to either Ibiza town, San Antonio or wherever you’re staying, you notice a wild variety of plants, trees, colours and, to my great surprise, very little (if any) rubbish at all! It strikes you if you come here from a typical European city break where the sometimes overpowering smell and evidence of human presence is prevalent. Here, you’re spoilt with the opposite: the smells of blooming flowers, clean streets and very well-maintained back areas. This is something other destinations could learn from and I never stopped noticing it during my stay.
I visited the island with my friend who’s interested in the Spanish language and culture and he kept on feeding me snippets of knowledge related to the differences in pronounciation of words, cultural aspects and attitudes. This was really valuable and interesting as I’m a linguist by education and so I geeked out on a number of language differences between the Catalan and Spanish variations. I’ve also had a chance to chat about the culture of Ibiza and its struggles through tourism-related pros and cons with one of the locals, a guitarist and wanderer whose music provided a blissful soundtrack to overlooking the port of Ibiza from the top of the old town. He told me that during his time in Ibiza, now 12 years and counting, he’d seen the island transform and adapt to the growing expectations and needs of the tourists from the West. And he disliked it a lot. He told me the locals have this saying around Ibiza and around most of Spain; “take away the weather and we have (almost) no culture left”. I found this sad and unfortunately true when I looked around–the place becoming more and more normalised and losing its tribal core, giving away to the expectations of the West visiting for the island-specific provisions: music, drugs, parties.
On the other hand, not everything is lost yet and there are places and people still who continue to value, cherish and pass on tradition onto younger generations in the hope that the culture maintains its originality. One of those traditions, we happened to come across and witness by chance when I spotted a woman walking in her red flamenco dress out on an empty street. I was spotted taking photographs of her by an older lady who, in her broken English, said that I should follow and go (here, she pointed to the place) as there’s more to see there. My friend and I did, and what we found was a bit surreal. The stage was set with musicians tuning in to support singers and a priest who’d deliver a mass to locals all dressed in traditional clothes, mostly oozing flamenco vibes, and reciting well known prayers – all to the locals of all ages. And I must admit, for both of us, as my friend agreed, we never saw a mass like that!
The food – don’t miss it!
I love simple pleasures in life and the food in Ibiza (although not cheap if you’re on a budget and fancy a proper daily catch) is simply amazing! I didn’t go to Ibiza on a foodie expedition, yet I found myself on one! Apart from the usual and one of my favourite seafood paella (which I of course had to have, and did, and it was delicious) I discovered delicacies I thoroughly enjoyed. One such revelation was simple yet so effective and fulfilling that I had to mention it here; a kimchi mayo dipped avocado and salmon pieces, diced in small square in shape chunks all washed with a cooled and freshly squeezed orange juice – bliss!
When I came back from Ibiza many have asked me whether I’d go back, either to revisit the same places or explore the island more. I’d definitely go with the latter as I feel there’s so much more to see and experience there! I’d love to go to Santa Eulària as I’ve heard excellent things about it plus, given what I saw in the busy parts, I’d be very tempted to go to the quiet and almost secluded areas instead, which I’ve been informed are a plenty.
The island definitely has its vibe and I’m sorry if you got all the way to the end of this article and didn’t get to see the stereotypical Ibiza, the Sodoma&Gomora of it all, which you can definitely experience there too. For me though, this trip was about something else: I wanted to just dip my toes to see what the party-labelled island has to offer but never intended to put it all on red. Instead, I wanted to rest, to meditate and dig a bit deeper to verify what I had heard about the island; its beauty and what it has to offer beyond the obvious. And I think I got a snippet of that in the short time I stayed there. Would I recommend it, and if so, to whom? It’s a resounding YES! Whether you’re looking for a fun trip with friends and want to party (hard), or a family guy/gal who’s looking for a beach holiday with stunning views, beaches, colours, culture, nature, or perhaps a food lover that wants to treat your palate to new experiences – Ibiza has you covered! I highly recommend visiting it at least once, whichever traveller type you are.
All images were taken with the Fuji X-Pro2 and Canon FD 28mm F2.8 / Canon FD 50 mm F1.8.
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