Newsletter Number Twenty – August 2007

For many years I had avoided visiting the Spanish island of Ibiza. Reality TV shows and exposes showing the plight of drunken British tourists (usually female) perched in a gutter painted a picture of a less than idyllic get-a-way. So when ‘young’ Adam announced that he was celebrating his 30th birthday by renting a villa and inviting 12 friends to join him it was with a slight hesitation that I joined the celebrations.
Well to cut a long story short (I can hear the sighs of relief) I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.  We had a lovely villa out of town (Can Bob) to call home for the week. Now if anyone wants to know where it is, you drive through Saint Josep, go around the bends and the driveway is on the right just after the 60km sign as you approach the flat stretch - got it?? On more than one occasion I missed the turn off.
The island itself is quite large hence having hire cars is a must. After almost 12 months without driving this meant me driving on the wrong side of the road (well wrong for those of us from the colonies). Boy it was good to get behind the wheel of a car again, even if the Citron we hired does not actually use a key to start the engine. I found it a little 007ish to use a push button to start the engine – however no rocket launchers, ejector seat or bikini clad femme fetals were to be found! 

The old town of Ibiza is quite lovely. The history of the island is fascinating having been colonized by the Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and Catalans. Now I know many of you skip through my rambling and head straight to the pictures, so if you would like to find out more about the history of the island follow this link. The fortified town is built on hill with a maze of narrow streets and alleyways. Outside the city walls can be found the bars and clubs that tend to be focus of most TV exposes.
It would be slightly mendacious of me if I said we stayed away from all the clubs. To celebrate Adams entry to the 30’s we headed to Space, one of the biggest clubs in Europe. A nice feature of the club is that it has a large outdoor dance area and great music.
Away from the clubs, bars and restaurants there are some lovely beaches to visit. A few of us took the ferry to Formantera where we hired motorbikes to explore the Island. Although small in size these bikes carve up the road and can reach speeds of 70km/h… I certainly felt the need for speed and a Ducati motor bike has been ordered. You can see from the pictures in the gallery section that we had a good time.


Athens and Mykonos
July saw me take the second of my island breaks, this time a return voyage to Mykonos. However before stepping foot on shore I had a few days in Athens. My initial reaction to this city was “if this is what it is like post Olympics – how bad was it before the games??” OK – I am being a little harsh. The airport did surprise me. It was clean, efficient and very easy to get into town with the new metro system. If you really want to know about the airport, send Thierry an email – the poor boy was stuck in the airport for 9 hours on his way from Brussels to Mykonos.

The hotel that I booked can best be described as “basic, cheap and cheerful”. I did have an initial concern as when checking in you are given the TV and air conditioning remotes – who normally stays in this place? The hotel is located near Omonia Square which was referred to as the Trafalgar Square of Athens in one guide book. However, at night young men from Easter Europe and the Baltics occupy the square, many homeless and drugged or drunk into oblivion. Despite this there is a metro station that can get you to almost any part of the city.

Now what would a trip to Athens be without a visit to the Acropolis? Well if you had arrived on a weekend in July – nothing. Staff at the attraction were striking on the weekends to secure permanent employment contracts much to the disgust of weekend holiday makers and American cruise line passengers. Luckily for me I was in town from Monday to Thursday. I have placed pictures of the various ruins and monuments in the gallery pages, however none of these capture the magnificence of the view as your approach the Panthenon.

July is not the best time of year to visit Athens, mainly due to the heat – and I mean hot! As I was leaving Athens this temperatures continued their ascent towards 40degrees. The surrounding bushfires did not help with the air pollution. So my only option was to leave and take the ferry to Mykonos, a lovely 4 hour boat ride. I must say that with all the airports that I have to pass through, travelling by train or boat is a pleasant alternative.
Now both being islands is where the similarity between Ibiza and Mykonos ends. Whilst Ibiza is a commercialized party island, Mykonos is more about the beaches, bars and relaxing all with a degree of class and glamour. Sure Super Paradise has an afternoon party, but not to the same extent as Ibiza. Avid readers of this web site (and that would be my Mum) would be aware of my visit last year, the rest of you can see the 2006 pictures here (the place does not change that much). The picture from this year are also in the gallery section.

August is traditionally Amsterdam Pride and this year we were blessed with wonderful weather. After watching the parade for the last 4 years I have become less camera trigger happy and in fact took no photos of this years parade. Frans however did take a few happy snaps of the festivities that took place on my roof.
Snow Ball And finally I am pleased to announce the new arrival of a ‘yet to be named’ kitten. The proud parents, Lincoln and Jezebel are doing well… OK – they are not my cats but part of Thierry’s menagerie of animals.
Well that’s your lot for this purge of my mind; till next time take care…..

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