Fiesta fiends and nudist beaches

2008-05-21 00:00

I had reservations when Brenda suggested we catch a ferry to Ibiza. Not the kind of reservations that sensible people make when they go on holiday, but more the kind that make you think twice about going to an island renowned for its wild around the clock sex and drug-soaked parties. I was anxious. What if we couldn’t find the parties? Or worse, found the parties but weren’t allowed in because we talked funny and dressed like homeless people?

Brenda resolved my quandary by stepping through the doors of Iscomar’s office in the harbour town of Denia and buying two one-way tickets to this wicked isle of sin.

The ferry was oddly empty. So was Ibiza. When we landed, a chromium-plated platoon of dangerous bikers was waiting at the docks. As we disembarked, a police siren cut through the air. Instead of making a run for it, some of the bikers hopped off their Harleys and started grooving to the mad, swooping sound. Then a cop joined in, waving his bullhorn in the air and howling like a dog.

The streets were virtually deserted and everything was shut.

“Maybe these fiesta fiends only get out of bed when the sun goes down,” I said, hopefully. Sadly, that was not the case. Instead, we had once again run aground in the middle of a public holiday. Wherever we went, people were either asleep or drunk in the name of Jesus, an assortment of virgins or sundry patron saints of flowers, horses, chickens, fish, wine and ham.

We sat down at a pavement café and, surprisingly, got served within 18 hours. This is the average length of time one spends trying to rouse a waiter in what the Spanish euphemistically call the low season.

Later, trawling side streets that hadn’t been upgraded since the Phoenicians were here in 654 BC, we came across a shop renting out scooters that were last ridden during the second Punic War. I chose one that was relatively free of Carthaginian blood stains and we spluttered off in search of hotbeds of abject hedonism.

Ibiza is bigger than I thought and we both ended up with sore bottoms for all the wrong reasons.

We had only been there a couple of days when I discovered that the island’s auto-nomous government had introduced legislation forcing night- clubs to close by 6 am. This was outrageous and I insisted that we left before the fascists put us under house arrest. We fled to Formentera, a far smaller island half an hour’s boat ride away.

“This place is deader than a stillborn sheep,” I said over a jug of sangria at a lonely beach bar. Brenda’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. I thought she was having some sort of chemical reaction to the sangria so I quickly polished it off. “Look behind you,” she gasped.

And there, willy a-flap in the breeze, was the reason people come to Formentera. He was hung like a convicted killer and strolling brazen as you please past the bar. Quite put me off my tapas, it did, so I dragged Brenda back to the car and we found another beach.

This one had naked women on it which made me feel marginally less appalled. I took my trunks off and stood there for a bit but the sensation that a police sniper was drawing a bead on the back of my head was too much to bear so I put them on again.

This story really has to end.

Two days later we arrived in Barcelona, well, not so much arrived as got sucked along in a raging torrent of cars, trucks and bikes and then spat out at Columbus’s statue at the bottom of the Ramblas.

I took Brenda to see where I had once holed up in the narrow back streets of the Barri Gotic. I was horrified to see the changes.

“Where are the doe-eyed hookers? The hash dealers? Where are the Moroccan muggers in Nike running shoes?” All gone. Swept away when the city hosted the Olympics, an old man told me.

It was better under Franco, I said.

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