Island life – Mallorca, Spain

MALLORCA, SPAIN – This summer I wanted to go to an island in the Mediterranean. I’ve had this strong desire to swim in this sea because it just looks fantastic.

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I wasn’t wrong.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMallorca, excluding Magaluf, is beautiful and well worth a visit. I stayed in a somewhat dumpy 3 star hotel in Cala Ferrera on the East Coast which redeemed itself quickly with its easy access to a splendid beach. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Most days were spent on the beach tanning and swimming (well mostly me – my travelling buddy didn’t want to swim as it would ‘ruin her make up’ – her words not mine).

It’s funny but we found ourselves settling in to the pace of the island right away and doing as the tourists do. Within a few hours we had each bought a lilo (we left this on the balcony on our last day – typical). And then in the afternoon I bought some goggles. Followed by a snorkel the next day. It didn’t really end there. We also bought an umbrella (did not make its way back to the UK) and spent too many hours looking through the rather rubbish touristy shops in the area that sell stuff ‘made in China’ (think plastic) with the Mallorca name on it.

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I signed us up for a few day trips with local tour organisers. A coach picked us up from our hotel and took us to a town called Sinue where there was a buzzing market with lots and lots of interesting things to buy including livestock and pony rides. This place was a lot of fun for me and the food stalls were excellent and most prices were more than reasonable.
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We also stopped off in Formentera where we walked to a wonderful look out point and saw the island’s coves and cliffs followed by a dip in the sea. It got a little hairy when I saw jelly fish inches away from my face!! Oh I forgot. The other thing that was inches from my face was the nudity. Yip you can count on Europe to give you topless chicks and men in tiny speedos. Sadly so many of those who were channelling their earthy side were those with too many curves or senior citizens. In fact each day there was this overly tanned and wrinkled couple that would parade topless in front of EVERYONE . And sometimes he would tuck his speedo into his bum to get rid of the white bits. I’ll spare you the graphics (coz some things you just can’t unsee) and instead let you think of the sea instead.

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After five days in Cala Ferra our last night was spent in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the island. One of my favourite excursions was a ride on a vintage train from Palma to Soller, a coastal city that’s full of charm.

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The line for the train is long, but it’s worth the wait. Once at Soller you take the tram (imported from San Francisco) to the Port of Soller. Soller is busy as it’s picturesque, vibrant and has a lovely waterfront.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think I timed it just right because I fell in love with Palma quickly…not too many tourists giving you the sense that you have the place to yourself. I loved walking up and down the small quiet alleys. Poking my nose in lots of different shops. Eating pastries and local cuisine. Stumbling upon hidden gardens and cool vespas.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you have a favourite island in the Mediterranean that you would recommend? I’m going back to Mallorca. But I’m keen to explore new places too. Would love to hear your recommendations…

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Portobello Road: crowded, touristy, but worth a once over

LONDON – When I first came to London two years ago, once of the first things I did was take a look at Portobello Road. On the day that I went, the market was closing for the day as I had arrived late. I only briefly saw a few stalls and shops. I actually hadn’t planned to return. The reason being I suppose, I didn’t feel like such a tourist any more and more of a local. This market is really aimed at tourists and boy do they come in the thousands.

But last weekend, I headed to Golborne Road in Notting Hill and when that proved disappointing, I walked from the one end of Portobello Road all the way up to the other end. It’s a couple of blocks but nothing you can’t handle. The crowds were enormous on the day I went. It was Saturday and sunny. But to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were a lot of interesting things and what also surprised me was the variety of food that made you want to forget about your waisteline. Apart from the outside stalls, there were also some interesting trinket shops as well as some well-priced antique shops. I saw a few items that, had I a car, I think I would have bought on the spot.

 I actually didn’t buy anything when I went, but I think if you did go, be aware that it’s a bit out of the way, there are crowds but there is plenty to keep you interested. Have you been to this market? Can you recommend any others in London?