Ibiza is an island known for its parties. Mariah Carey herself has one of her rappers name check it in her “Don’t Forget About Us Desert Storm” remix. David Guetta got his start there in the discos. This is the Ibiza known to the world.
I challenged that notion. I’ve been wanting to go to the island for a long time but in “plan tranquilo”, as the Spanish say. I went the first weekend of March, risking “bad weather” (I live in the Basque Country and grew up in Ohio. Unless it’s a Mediterranean storm, I’m not going to be too fazed) and being bored. Neither happened.
I stayed in Ibiza Town, the biggest city with a population of about 50,000 people. The clouds were a bit grey, but nothing that deterred me from exploring the Dalt Vila, their Casco Viejo, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The views of the sea and nearby island Formentera were incredible. Medieval villages and cobblestone streets never get old in my book, and I explored this part of the city to my heart’s content.
Despite being March, there is a bit of nightlife in Ibiza. My morning flight kept me from really seeing the discos, but I had a few drinks in the Plaza del Sol. The locals were friendly and excited that a guiri spoke catalán. They seemed separated from the political drama of Catalunya’s quest for independence and Valencia’s quest for language independence for their “valenciano” dialect. As long as you didn’t call it “mallorquín”, they were okay with it being called catalán.
On Sunday, they were having a celebration, as apparently March 1st is Balearic Island Day. A parade nearly had my bus ride to Santa Eulària des Riu cancelled. The bus made it through, and I went a half hour north to the third-largest city on Ibiza. The church on the hill made me feel more as if I were in Greece than Spain. The white décor and blue roof enchanted me, and the views of the spectacular sea below were nothing short of breathtaking. It was about 20ºC (68ºF), warm enough for a nice, long, barefoot stroll on the beach.
The highlight of the trip was the nearby island Formentera. This is the stuff desert islands are all about. The choppy waves made the half hour ferry ride torturous, and for the first time in my life, I got seasick. It was one of the windiest days I’ve seen in my life, which meant no bike ride through the island for me. Darn. I did take a hike to the nearest village from the port of Formentera and fell in love with the island.
By going during off season, I got to experience an Ibiza far removed from the parties and tourists that would make it a living hell for me during the summer. I found a quaint, picturesque island and friendly people. It was a nice return to “Spain” after living in the Basque Country for so long, and it is a place that I would enjoy returning to. I definitely preferred it to its big Balearic Sister Mallorca, which I think is owned by Germany at this point. I look forward to the day when I can go to Menorca, the least-known Balearic Island and supposedly the most beautiful. I can’t speak for the summer night life, but for a late-winter escape for those wanting tranquility, Ibiza can’t be beat.
CINC MERAVELLES D’EIVISSA
- Dalt Vila, Ibiza Town
- Santa Eulària des Riu
- Puig de Missa, Santa Eulària des Riu
- This Sunset