So far on this journey we’ve spent the majority of our time bouncing around islands in various countries, but also a fair amount of time on the mainland. Going back and forth has forced us to pay attention to the differences between the two types of lifestyles. Whereas the islands have been more fun to visit initially, whenever we spend more than a couple of days on the same island, we begin to lose interest and get bored. The reason is because the islands aren’t “real” places – they exist only for the tourism, and there’s a noticeable superficiality in all that. Because tourists have only a short attention span and require only a few days worth of entertainment, the islands tend to deliver that and not much else. The other problem with the islands is that they effectively close when the tourists stop coming for the season, so you have to time your visit right – it’s just not as fun when the restaurants and bars are boarded up and the beaches are lifeless. As beautiful as they still are, a visit to the Balearic Islands at this time of year is a bit like going to Disneyland after the park has closed for the day.
The mainland cities are different – these are “real” cities that don’t exist solely to extract money from travelers. These cities may not be as attractive on the first day – they may seem ugly and commercial, but often when we leave these places, we feel like we didn’t have enough time. There are more things to do, more places to see, the true culture is evident, you mingle with real local people who aren’t just there to sell you something, and you can imagine actually living in some of these places year-round, rather than just visiting.
In our short time on Ibiza, we did manage to see the whole island, and we definitely hope to return here sometime. But we leave it now bruised and battered thanks to a motorscooter crash on a wet road. And the beach party we went looking for on Saturday night (supposedly the last one of the summer) was cancelled because of the rain. Although we’re not expecting any sympathy cards for all this, we can say, as we sail away from our last Mediterranean island this year, that our motion towards the mainland feels very right. We’ve seen enough of the islands for now and are looking forward to a few solid weeks exploring a more “real” part of Europe.