I'm no angel, so the Devil's Isle seemed like the appropriate destination for a five day summer break. I left my dissertation at home and prepared for sand, sun and some strong margaritas. I packed my best bikinis (the ones that don't make me look completely flat-chested), factor 30 and a killer pair of wedges. The weather did not disappoint and there were plenty of hilarious sightings of grown men in tiny fluorescent y-fronts, but the Ibiza experience ultimately proved an empty one.
The beach was not the chilled-out haven I'd imagined, with thumping club tunes broadcast across the sand from 12am and frighteningly sunburned girls shrieking expletives because someone had moved their sun lounger a little too close. The boys in matching Baywatch outfits appeared too exhausted even to leer, their vision saturated by the flesh on show. The upside of this was that sunbathing topless was no event at all, and I could do it quite easily without being hassled. The downside was that I saw more fake breasts, complete with fresh surgical pads, than if I'd spent a week watching back-to-back porn.
I wasn't prepared to be accosted on every street I walked down, to buy sunglasses and watches and purses and tickets and pills and coke that I neither wanted nor could afford. The island mainly seemed to contain its summer guests in pockets of home-comfort, the cafés advertising 'British bacon' and burgers for twice the price of what it would cost to eat Spanish food in a Spanish establishment. However, it wasn't all overpriced chicken nuggets and the Passion café in Playa d'en Bossa offered the best energizing fruit smoothies I've ever tasted, perfect for curing a hangover, and a smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast to get out of bed for in the mornings!
I'd budgeted poorly and hadn't realised how eye-wateringly expensive evening activites would be, despite cut-price alcohol deals in the bars and supermarkets. The Blue Marlin beachside bar and restaurant charged four hundred euros to sit in a booth against some pillows with the word 'Moet' stamped on them. I figured that money talked especially loudly in Ibiza. Club entry was similarly pricey. Once inside, I moved stiffly to a repetitive beat, realising that everyone around me was screaming with their hands in the air because they were either crazy drunk or crazy high. With no desire for illegal substances, I attempted to drink my way through the early hours so I would be able to 'feel' the music too. I drank on the beach, drank with dinner, drank in bars, drank in clubs but I never quite felt absorbed by the cheerful madness around me.
San Antonio's West End is like the worst of every British high street, all crammed into one glaring, sweaty stretch. It was like being stuck in a nightmare episode of The Only Way Is Essex, only with fewer clothes and better weather. The fights, the off-your-heels tumbles and the post-kebab retching seemed to be amplified by a thousand, unsurprising in a place where it's always a party and every night is the best night ever. If you're not having fun, you must be missing the point. It's all about fun, as long as fun means cheap alcohol, expensive music and having your new pedicure splashed with someone else's sick.
I'm finally learning to be suspicious of anything billed as the best time of my life (people said it about school, and it was bullshit then) because it set the holiday up for a fall, like a precarious house of cocaine-coated cards. At 21, Ibiza made me feel ancient. When the evening rolled around and it was time for the next bar, the next drink and the next twisted ankle from my shoes, I had to admit to myself that I wasn't just tired and headachy, I was bored.