Spring break held quite a few adventures through a lot of places I’d been planning to go, but my favorite day was one that was in a place I never thought I’d go to, and it all came from a well-timed layover.
I booked a flight from Madrid to Berlin to start my break in Germany. Looking at the details, I saw the fattest layover I’d ever bought for myself - leave Madrid at 6:00 in the morning to get to Berlin around 9:00 at night. The in-between gave me 11 hours to spend on the island of Ibiza off the western coast of Spain.
I had only heard of Ibiza in the context of celebrity vacations and raves that go on all night, so suffice it to say it didn’t sound exactly like I fit its target audience. But I knew that Jaume Gelabert, the Arcadia Academic Director for the Spain and Cuba programs, grew up on the neighboring island of Mallorca, and I had his WhatsApp from months before during orientation. I asked him what he could recommend (if anything) and he immediately put me in contact with his own friend who had grown up in Ibiza.
I got the most detailed itinerary I could ever ask for - from where to eat, what to see, even where I should watch the sunset. Amounting to maybe a dozen paragraphs, I was floored to receive all of this from a complete stranger.
So off I went to dream sweet dreams on the tile floors of Madrid-Barajas Airport and arrived on the island I never thought I’d see to pass the day seeing as much as I could, all by myself.
I walked through the old town’s castle, had a buttery croissant for breakfast, took a nap in the sun, strolled down by the beach, and overall just took my time with everything I wanted to do. Then I boarded my flight that evening, and that was that.
That day made me think about how relaxing solo travel can be (spontaneous naps in the park are much harder to do with company), but even more so it made me think about Jaume’s friend and how willing he was to tell me how to best see his childhood home. I appreciate those people who are so open and ready to share their worlds with others who have even the smallest connection, like a mutual friend. Those personal ambassadors are the ones who can turn an 11-hour layover into an unforgettable adventure.