Finding Freedom in Ibiza

My trip to Ibiza was a last-minute decision. While studying for an environmental isotope course exam during my Master’s in Germany (back in 2011), I started searching for a “reward” trip online, having 10 days between exams in late August I was itching for a little sun and sea vacation. It was 11 pm the night before my exam when I’d found a motherload of a deal: return flight from Stuttgart to Ibiza, nonstop, 120 euros. The only caveat? It was leaving at 6 pm the next day.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much studying done after that-or sleep, for that matter. I was the first one to finish the exam (and pass!) with just enough time to grab my backpack, get on a bus to the airport and take me to the magical Mediterranean destination I’ve heard so much about. Not that what I’d heard is what made me want to visit. On the contrary, I’ve never been a fan of techno music, staying up all night partying or seeing famous DJ’s. But what I did find was that a campsite spot was only 20 euros per night with hot showers, communal kitchen and a little on-site restaurant, all within a quick walk to the beach (Cala Bassa) and reachable by public transportation.

You see, I was a student and my budget in this largely UK tourist dominated destination was a small fraction of an average weekender. My plane arrived before sunset and I quickly found the bus that would connect me to another bus, taking me across the island to where I’d ovrnight in a city campground. Not the best choice, but I knew I wouldn’t make it all the way to the western tip of the island (3 bus connections). That said, navigating the buses was easy: the destination is displayed on the front, a schedule is displayed in a terminal and if you tell the driver which bus you’re trying to connect to, he’ll tell you where to get off.

my $20 tent didn’t do too well on the rock hard ground

The city campground was exactly that: bare, loud, overpriced, dirty bathrooms, but all within a 5 min walk to the main street. When I was done pitching my tent at 11 pm, realizing I hadn’t eaten since before writing my exam that afternoon, I’d ventured into town, hoping to at least find a few snacks at a mini-mart. To my surprise, the dinner hour was just starting! Night street performers, party people dressed in all sorts of attire were just venturing out and at 12:30 am, and having finished my meal on the main square, I knew I’d come to the right place. Any country that serves dinner this late is alright in my books.

enjoying a free beach next to the big spenders
enjoying a free beach next to the big spenders, Playa Cala Bassa
Idyllic beach on the northwest end

The next day I spent the day at the city beach before taking the afternoon bus to Playa Cala Basa, where I’d spent 9 of the following nights. The campground was an eclectic bunch: a skinny guy who looked like Jesus, a former business owner from the UK who spent at least 3 months in Ibiza with his family each summer, and a few younger folk. The vibe was relaxing and safe-much different than that of the night before.

Being the end of August, the heat was sweltering and there was simply no refuge from it, with the night dropping to 24C from the day’s 35. Most nights I had to sleep with my tent open, due to it being so bloody hot and my tent not having any ventilation capabilities whatsoever, while simultaneously fighting a colony of ants that were delighted to crawl all over my sweaty body. (That should teach me for skimping on the tent!)

But the morning “cafe con leche” for 1 euro with a fresh baked chocolate croissant made it at better, followed by a dip in crystal blue waters that were less than a 5 min walk from a campsite.

Some days I felt adventurous and took  numerous walking paths that were lining the coast, which make exploring other beaches quite easy (including a little nudist one!)

Once I’d had enough of that, I rented a scooter for 20 euros a day and went all over the rest of the island (ok, I didn’t drive it-we split the cost with another solo traveler and I’d stayed in the passenger seat, taking in the view). Exploring the island on a scooter is not only a fun and safe way to do so, it makes parking at crowded beaches or driving on a dirt road to a deserted lookout a pure breeze.

Completely deserted coastline in August!

But there is more to Ibiza than any amount of words or pictures can explain, though I try. Whether it’s feeling the wind through your hair, or finding a new swimming hole every day, wearing as much or as little clothing as you like, camping in the large sprawling trees or listening to the soothing beats at the Sunset Ashram, this place just feels like home and has been calling me back ever since.

Happy and Free

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