Tag Archives: ibiza

The Package Trip – Returning Home

What a journey back.
This morning I felt terrible. On the short coach ride to the airport, I thought I was going to vomit.
Then we stopped and picked up some noisy chavs from another hotel. The kids were loud, and the dad kept over-yawning in a ridiculously over the top manner. Irritating.
On the way out, I got checked at the airport by the handheld scanner, so it’s only fair that my girlfriend get scanned on the way back home.

We boarded the plane, and they were showing music videos on the tv screens.
What would be the most inappropriate thing to show on a plane (with audio over the PA system, that you can’t turn off), before taking off?
How about Cheryl Cole’s hit “Parachute”?

Lyrics here: http://www.musicloversgroup.com/cheryl-cole-parachute-lyrics-and-video
Yes, really!

“I don’t need a parachute
You’re gonna catch me
You’re gonna catch if I fall
Down, down, down”

On a plane!

Take-off was smooth, flight smooth, staff superb. Incredible really that you can travel 6 miles above ground, at 400mph (they announced it), and it feel like you’re barely moving.

Some of the passengers were really annoying though.
Two chavvy Bristolians ended up behind us, choosing to sit in a manner which meant every movement they made, knocked the back of our seats.
My girlfriend thought they were really tall so couldn’t help it, but when they got off at the end, we realised they were just arseholes. And short-arses.

Also, for the entire flight, the guy in front of me with his stupid quiffed hair couldn’t decide whether he wanted to read his book, or put it away in the overhead lockers, or wear his coat, or put it in the lockers, or sit on the other side of the plane, or sit with his mate. Just sit down and sit still for fuck’s sake! How hard is it?

My girlfriend got a vegetarian lunch that she said was quite nice. As I wasn’t feeling well, just the smell of mine was turning my stomach, but it looked nicer and possibly more edible than the breakfast on the way out.

A few other random comments

Thomson/First Choice’s safety announcement video sucks.
I told them as such (actually I used the word “unprofessional”) in the customer survey they asked me to fill in on the return flight.*
(* I also mentioned their poor choice of a song called “Parachute”, and marked the flight food as “poor” – I’m amazed they have a box for “excellent” at all.)
It’s like the normal safety video, which tells you about reading the safety card, and where the life jackets are, except it’s presented by primary-school-age children.
I shit you not.
One primary school age girl telling another primary school age girl to store her teddy bear in the overhead lockers.

I don’t especially like children on tv anyway, and for something as serious as a safety announcement, I want it demonstrated by someone who is at least old enough to have had the relevant safety training.
Considering how competent their actual staff are, I think it does them down too. Is it all so easy that an 8-year-old can do it? Of course not.
I may write them a letter about it.

Ibiza is very clean

Most of the rubbish is natural – like leaves.
They have not just bins, but separate recycling bins – everywhere.
There is practically no dog mess anywhere. There are lots of dogs, and lots of bins for waste of said animals, complete with free bags.
Sadly, there are quite a few cats, which don’t seem to be owned by anyone. Crazy cat people put out food for them, so you’ll be wandering down the street and happen upon a load of cat food all over the place. Cat shit to follow shortly after.

Checker cars taxi service

£27 fee (each way), but the price is agreed before you go anywhere, and drivers friendly.
It works out marginally more expensive than parking my car for a week there, but with the added bonus that I don’t have to drive to the airport at 5am when I’m not really awake.
There are cheaper ways, but split two ways, it’s not that bad. It would have been £10 for both of us to get to Temple Meads via the airport bus, then we’d have to get home with all our bags and whatnot. A recent test suggests it’s about £10 from Temple Meads home, by taxi. There isn’t a direct bus.
For the extra money and convenience, it’s worth it.

The Package Trip – Day 7

Our final day, before we fly back in the morning.
Yesterday in the Internet cafe, we had checked for more information on the land train. Sadly, it only went to places we had already visited.
My girlfriend suggested we could take a boat to Formentera, this nearby island. Apparently it’s unspoilt beaches, hardly touched.
Yes, why not.

I thought no more about it until we boarded the boat this morning.
I’m not a natural sailor. Or swimmer.
In fact, it’s fair to say that I have a healthy fear of drowning.
Never mind eh?
We’d Googled Formentera, and it’s not far from Ibiza. 4km, from memory.
I mean I could probably walk 4km in half an hour, and surely the boat goes faster than me walking.
How long can it take?
Over an hour.
Nearly an hour and a quarter, of me, sat on the top deck of a catamaran, freezing, with my girlfriend trying to relax me.
FINALLY, we arrived at the island. Very nice it is too.

Not quite unspoilt really – there’s an Eroski (a chain here) supermarket, lots of cars, and cycle paths.
We rented two bikes for the day for the princely sum of €10. Dynamo lights (not that we’d be out in the dark) and a lock included. No deposit taken, and they gave us a free map.

We set off for some nice cycling, seeing lots of wildlife, down lots of country lanes. I saw lots of lizards (there are apparently rare blue lizards there, but the best I saw was green), various birds, rabbits, sheep. Then we happened upon a couple doing yoga, completely naked. That isn’t a euphemism. They were doing yoga. Stretching, etc., naked.
Well you don’t see that every day.

We got lost down some country lanes, checked our map and realised we were never going to get anywhere interesting in that direction with the time we had, then made for a nice beach near(ish) the marina.
Unspoilt, save for rubbish bins, and a wheelchair access board, which is completely inaccessible by wheelchair. See:

No shops, no bars, no other people.
Crystal clear water too.

Soon enough it was time to catch the boat back.
Now, if I didn’t enjoy the boat across, travelling to a magical unspoilt island, you can imagine how much I liked the same journey, backwards to our hotel, with more wind, and more waves.
For the longest hour of my life, I gripped the table with one hand, my girlfriend’s hand with the other, my feet stuck hard against the floor, my spine forced painfully into the back of my seat. I kept my eyes closed and focused on my breathing, and trying not to fight the rhythm of the waves.
Normal people, with better sea legs than me wandered about, up and down the stairs, to the bar, the toilet.
My girlfriend asked me on more than one occasion if I wanted the carrier bag to be sick in.
Somehow, I managed the hour and a quarter back. I wasn’t even sick.

Sadly, the mini-cold I’ve picked up while here has finally taken control of my voice and I can hardly speak. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will fix that.

The Package Trip – Day 6

Up early, but not early enough. We missed the bizarre land train by minutes. Balls.
Turns out the stop is substantially further from our hotel than I thought.
My girlfriend had already told me this apparently.
Might have another go tomorrow.

After a quick trip to buy some bread, we caught the bus to Es Canar, home of the famous hippy market. Literally everyone bangs on about it. It’s on every poster which mentions Es Canar. They’ve clearly never been to Glastonbury – all manner of hippy tat available there.
Luckily it wasn’t on, but what we hadn’t realised is that there isn’t much else in Es Canar. If where we’re staying is Tenby, Es Canar is Brean. There’s a few shops, a fairly average beach, and more British chavs than you can shake a stick at. That’s it.
We decided to walk up the coast a bit. Then a bit more. Then round some cliffs. Then a bit further.
We bought a couple of lemonades and some cake on a beach. Then walked a bit more.
We walked further than any human should, in sandals. Through pine forests, and all sorts.
Then realised we were a bit tired, so as we passed a bus stop, my girlfriend convinced me we should get the bus back to our hotel.
Spot on time, a bus appeared.

Back in town, we discovered another area where our hotel is ripping us off, by visiting an Internet cafe. They charged €1 for an hour (our hotel is €8 an hour), and apologised repeatedly about the slow speed, but that they had a line fault at the moment.
It was much faster than my home broadband ever is.

For dinner, in amongst the normal food of the all-you-can-eat buffet was “squid rings”. They’re like onion rings, but in the middle is octopus.
I took one.
It’s like a bad cod, which is also incredibly chewy. Not very nice at all.
Not horrible enough to be vomit-inducing, but unpleasant enough I couldn’t finish it.

We retired to our room to watch .nova – a Spanish tv channel.
They love their soaps. There’s loads of them, and if you think Eastenders is violent and depressing, you’ve clearly never seen La Tormenta.
In the space of 10 minutes of this, it went from a couple having sex, to a group of cowboys torturing and beating a man to within an inch of his life. And it starts at 19:30. We switched over when they started removing his fingers, one-by-one.

The Package Trip – Day 5

Today was a bit of a let down. I felt a bit guilty about it really.
I convinced my girlfriend to Platja d’en Bossa. Our rep had told us this was the longest beach in Ibiza, it would be a very hot day, and where better to go on a hot day, than the longest beach? And as it was near Ibiza Town (that we went to yesterday), I thought it’d be easy.
Plus, it being a Sunday, half the buses weren’t running, but there were still ones to Ibiza Town aplenty.
We got up, walked to the bus stop, grabbing an ice cream and some water en route.
The bus was late. By about 20mins, but they had both been dead on time the day before.
A bad sign?

Some girls asked my girlfriend if she spoke German. She does. She claims not very well, but she can have a conversation, and watch German tv and get the gist.
They asked her about the bus, she told them it was late, but that it was a Sunday.
Turns out after we heard them speaking to each other, that they were French. I can see why they chose to speak in German though, because everyone here speaks German, English or Spanish. I’ve not seen anyone else carrying onions or wearing a beret.*

(*Childish stereotype. Obviously they weren’t. They were quite overweight though, which given the French diet of coffee and cigarettes, must be difficult to achieve.)

So anyway, the bus arrived, and off to Ibiza Town we went. We get off, start walking to Platja d’en Bossa. It’s a bit further than I thought.
Also, when we got there, pretty rubbish.
Long, yes.
Covered in leaves from the trees, yes. It was more like walking through a woodland than along a beach.
Also, it wouldn’t be fair to say it was near the flight path. It WOULD be fair to say it was directly under it. I’ve never been so close to a moving plane, without being on one. And it’s a pretty busy airport. Every 20 mins, we got a good look at the underside of another plane.
There are hotels here too. Lots of hotels. I’d be a bit annoyed if I’d booked a hotel there.
We walked all the way to the end of the beach to see if it improved. Sadly, the only thing that increased was the prices of the beach cafes we passed. 20+ euros each for a basic pasta dish at one of the latter ones.
I had said that we shouldn’t take food today. And should just eat out somewhere. I regretted this idea. 50 euros on lunch was really more than we could afford, so we just kept going, thinking there might be another (cheaper) cafe further along.
We got to the end, and by luck, were next to a bus stop. We caught a bus back to the centre, and I apologised for suggesting it in the first place.

In the centre of Ibiza Town, we went into a bakery and bought lunch. Which of these items do you think is a sausage roll?

I wasn’t sure either was, so bought both.
One contained apricot jam, the other apple. On the plus side, it meant me and my girlfriend could share them.

The Package Trip – Day 3 and 4

Note: Yes, this is a few days at once.
And a bit shortened.
You see I got a text from o2 to say: “You’ve spent £20 on data so far while you’ve been abroad in Europe. We’ll send you another message if you reach £40.”
£20?! That’s about 6.5mb of data.
6mb from a few photos? The occasional twitter update?
Plus international texts at 10p each?
Turns out my email has been downloading full mails, and I forgot to close it properly, but I’m still surprised.
Anyway – in for a penny, in for £20.

Day 3

Today I tried out a big local supermarket.
No cheaper than Spar, much bigger, busier, noisier, longer queues. Think I’ll use Spar next time.
Bought some extremely disappointing apples. Royal Gala, apparently from Europe, but they were very soft.

I bought a touristy t-shirt with a picture of a lizard on it from a funny ‘suitcases, teatowels and t-shirts’ shop.
It’s been adopted as a kind of symbol for Ibiza due to the number of them there are, about.
I quite like the lizard as a logo for the country. It’d look more fun on a flag than something boring like stripes of different colours. And it’d be better for people who are colour blind.
Not much else of note – I spent a long time looking for (and failing to find) a public toilet, before buying something in a cafe, so I could use theirs.

Day 4

Got up early(ish) this morning.
Went to breakfast and didn’t feel the need to have a second bowl of cereal. I think the charm of all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts is finally wearing off.

Off out, and without any help from reps at the hotel, or travel agents, my girlfriend and I caught a bus to a nearby town.
€1.85 each (single).
It was quick, clean, driver friendly. We went about 10km for that money too, which seems a bit of a bargain really.

We got on, and I’d swear the heating was on. I immediately opened a window, and when the driver got on and we set off, he switched on the air conditioning.
It’s October, but in Ibiza, it was 22 degrees c.
I was in a t-shirt.
However, I guess if you live here, you become acclimatised to it.
Several Spanish people pulled their shirts tighter as if they were cold. Some were wearing jumpers.
When we got to our destination (Ibiza Town/Eivissa), some people had coats on!

Ibiza Town is nice. There’s a whole walled city with houses, shops (and the ugliest cat I’ve ever seen) in it. I took his picture. But it’s on my other camera, and I don’t have any way of transferring it, so I’ll post it when I’m back.
It’s a lot less touristy – a lot of signs are not in English (they almost all are in English and Spanish, where we’re staying).
That said, everyone still speaks English.
A Dutch guy gave me a business card advertising a mock-Irish bar and said I should visit because they have Guinness on draught. He couldn’t have been further from his target customer.

Today, I described Ibiza as “like England, only warmer, cleaner, and the people are nicer”.
I can see why people retire to Spain.

On the way back to our hotel, 45 cents for 2l of Spar’s own-brand bottled water. Yes.

Another shopping note:
I’m not sure my (vegetarian) girlfriend will ever get used to the amount of meat.
You’ll be shopping and right there next to the chocolate biscuits – will be half a pig.
I saw a woman yesterday with the trotters of a whole pig’s leg poking out the top of her shopping basket.

This evening’s entertainment in the hotel interested my girlfriend. Previous nights have included bingo, and a pensioner singing ballads, but tonight was some African acrobats. I wondered how they were planning to do this on our tiny hotel stage, but they use a lot of chairs and other props, so don’t require as much space as I had thought.
Apparently they were at the Bristol harbour festival and had been popular.
I didn’t think I’d be that impressed, but credit where it’s due – it looked pretty difficult. Must involve a lot of training.

Anyway, tonight’s entertainment takes place in the same place as the others. A room with a lot of pillars. Less of an issue with singers, but more of an issue with a visual act, given that a massive chavvy family have turned up, and were sitting in the way, chatting away.
It almost seemed like a sitcom at one point, when there was three Africans forming a human pyramid, while this lot sat with their backs to what was happening and pestered the waiter for another drink.

Now I can see this sort of act might not be of interest to everyone, but if you’re at a festival and an act comes on you don’t like, you move off somewhere else, to let others who do want to, see.
Anyway, rant over. Time for bed.
If you’ve got this far, please enjoy this slightly-racist-sounding product I found in a shop.

The Package Trip – Day 2

Amendment to yesterday: it isn’t as expensive as I first thought.

Today I discovered our hotel (and directly around it for a street or so) is quite abnormally expensive.
Venturing a bit further we discovered a few Spar shops (there are loads – it’s like the equivalent of Tesco Express in the UK) where prices are much lower.
500ml of water at our hotel bar is €2.
Spar sells 1.5l bottles of the same brand of water for €0.65. Bargain.
Saw an advert on tv for a budget supermarket which packages things very plainly (ala Tesco Value), but haven’t tried there yet.
The water thing is handy, because although we’re half board (and so get breakfast and evening meal included), the evening meal doesn’t come with a drink.
There’s all-you-can-drink tea, coffee and orange squash at breakfast, but not even water free in the evening. Odd.

We thought we’d save some money this lunchtime and have a picnic. Quite tricky really.
Cheese isn’t available in small amounts, and we don’t have a fridge to keep it in. That also rules out yoghurts (only really in packs of four or above), fruit juice, or anything else that needs to be chilled.
I joked that the Cheddar cheese probably wasn’t from Cheddar (if you’ve seen that Channel4 moaning food programme recently, you’ll appreciate that), only to find out it practically was. A farm in Somerset, listed right there on the back. Curiously orange colour though.

Chocolate seems very expensive still. Cheapest I found any today was still about €0.80. Comparatively, you can buy a huge bag of crisps for €0.65, so it isn’t an “unhealthy tax” or anything.
Also saw at least two bars of Cadbury’s chocolate which I’ve never seen in the UK. I had no idea they had non-UK products that they sold around the world.

The meeting with our rep went well. He’s not at all pushy, seems quite friendly. Very camp.
He mentioned that you can hire a car for about €40. Sadly, being overly worried about getting them stolen, neither me nor my girlfriend bought our driving licences with us, so that’s a bit of a #fail.
There is a land train – of the sort you get up/down Weston Pier – which does 3 hour excursions. It drives down main roads and everything. I’m almost tempted purely for the bizarre-factor.

If I take away one thing from this trip, so far, it’ll be how much one culture merges with another.
My tv was advertising Hannah Montana a few hours ago.
There’s a KFC and Pizza Hut within walking distance.
In a corner shop earlier, the cashier counted the change back to us in a very British manner.
Spar sell Dorset Cereal bars. And Heinz ketchup.
This afternoon I walked past a sign essentially offering “Cash for Gold”.
Quite amazing how international everything is. I’m surprised you can’t get Colon washing powder in the UK though – for that really really deep clean.