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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I’ll be back

PALMA DE MALLORCA, MALLORCA, SPAIN – I haven’t really been blogging as much as I have wanted to for a long time now. Perhaps you’ve noticed. The reason was because a certain someone in my life was spying on me (his words) and making things difficult – because he could. Fortunately that person is now far, far away 🙂

I recently heard that he was ‘surprised’ that I had blocked him on a social media site…all I can say is, some people really do lack self awareness. When someone goes out of their way to make your life and other peoples’ lives difficult and unpleasant on a regular basis, you can’t help but smile when karma turns out to be a bitch!

Pardon my colourful language…

Now that he is gone, people keep commenting on how much I’m smiling. That is so good to hear.

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So I’ve turned a new corner in my life in England and you know what, it feels good. Really good. And so I plan to get back into my photography, writing, travelling and blogging.

My last trip was to Mallorca – one of the Balearic islands off the coast of Spain.

I loved it and would go back readily. In another post I’ll get into specifics, but for now I’ll just post some photos of the cathedral in the capital Palma de Mallorca. I’ve been to a lot of cathedrals and many of them mirror each other. So far, in all my travels, only two stand out. Sagrada de Familia in Barcelona and this one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf I could go to church bathed in a rainbow every Sunday I wouldn’t skip it as often as I do.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis cathedral had such pretty stained glassed windows of the perfect hues that when the light shone through, it formed rainbows all around. I found a quiet pew and sat there for several minutes admiring the light playing in front of me. It was so mesmerising and enchanting. I wish I could be here every Sunday.

Do you have a favourite religious place you like to visit?

Three days in Barcelona

BARCELONA, SPAIN – A good Groupon deal provided me with the chance to go and see Barcelona for the first time. I’ve never bought a travel deal from this website, although I’ve used it for other purchases, but a few friends have and it’s worked out for them. So my friend and I followed the crowd and bought a package to Barcelona, a city that everyone is raving about with good reason.

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The deal (£150) included flights and two nights accommodation at Hotel 4 Barcelona plus breakfast. I’m based in St. James near the tube station and perhaps the biggest schlep was transport to and from Stansted airport. I’m not gonna lie, it added hours onto the trip. This is the trade off for cheap flights. We caught a bus at 5:10 am (can’t remember the last time I woke up at 4 am on purpose) with Terra Vision from Victoria Station on Thursday for £15 return and travelled to Stansted which took 90 minutes! Then we hopped on a Ryan Air flight and landed in Barcelona 2 hours later.

Getting through customs at Barcelona was so easy it makes me a bit worried. I simply handed over my passport, got it stamped by the official, who handed it back and then I walked through. There was not a single question about why I was in Barcelona, where I was staying and when I was leaving. It would be pretty easy to get into this country and live off the grid if you wanted to. I don’t think the locals would notice…

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Since living in London, I’ve noticed that I stealthily walk in a different direction if I see someone looking lost as they try to understand the transport map. It’s selfish, but when you live in a city that attracts millions of tourists, regularly helping them out takes a lot of work. Thankfully, the Barcelonans are much nice than me. We got lost almost immediately, but everyone who we stopped to ask for help didn’t hesitate to assist us at all. The locals are great.

This brings me to my next point. Many people speak some English in Barcelona, particularly the younger generation. They might not be fluent, but they know enough English to help you get around or answer some of your questions. Our hotel was called Hotel 4 Barcelona.

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The number 4 stands for four stars, I think. But lets be honest, this was more a three star in the same league as a Best Western/Holiday Inn type Hotel. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice hotel, close to the tube station (Llacuna) and also close to the beach. Staff were friendly, helpful and professional. Our rooms were clean and well presented. We didn’t have a view of the beach, but then we were on a Groupon deal and you don’t go on holiday for the hotel view, right?

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When I do go on holiday I usually do my research and find out what’s cool to do in the area. But with this trip I did absolutely nothing, only relying on what I’d seen and heard from the many cooking and property shows I watch regularly (I’m a ‘ A place in the Sun – Home or Away’ addict). So, we were winging it. But we still got to see and experience the city.

After purchasing a day pass for 7,5 euros (this gives you access to all buses, trains and metros in the city), we headed to La Sagrada Familia. It’s a wacky looking expiatory church (meaning built from donations) that’s taking forever to be built. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARight now the expected completion date is oh, I don’t know, say the first third of the 21st Century!!!! It was started in 1882 by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar (1828-1901) but is best remembered for Gaudí taking over and putting his stamp on it up until his death in 1926. Sagrada Collage3If you do decide to go to Sagrada, buy the earphones. It’s much easier to enjoy these tourist sights when someone is talking in your ear and giving you some interesting information about what you’re seeing.

The funniest part of our first day was a flamenco show at Patio Andaluz. We had coupons for the show at this restaurant and according to the marketing, it looked professional. But instead it ended up being a bit of a hole in the wall restaurant for tourists wanting a cheap taste of Spanish culture.

We stepped inside and were lead to our table positioned right in front of the stage which was probably 2,5 metres by 3 metres in size. If we stretched out our arm, we could touch the skirts of the dancers – we were that close. We just looked at each other and laughed because we realised it was going to be a small mom-and-pop production, nothing worthy of the West End.

The first part of the production was filled up by three women who danced some synchronised moves in pretty skirts, but the real star of the show was Roberto – the same guy who sold us the tickets at the front door. He came in wearing a blood red shirt and black suit and topped it off with a blue and white scarf and his long hair tied back with a women’s hair clip. I think he was a good dancer. I mean he wasn’t bad. But he was intense. Every move he made exuded passion and emotion and serious intent. But it was hard not to laugh because when he danced he made the funniest faces – like he was passing kidney stones. He looked like he was in agony. It was too much at times. And then when he bowed to say good bye, it was sweeping and grand, as though he were at the Royal Albert Hall and not this small little stage under the streets of Barcelona. He belongs at Eurovision. This stage was way too small for him.

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What do you love about Barcelona?