In Brugge

BRUGGE, BELGIUM – Everyone kept saying you’ve got to go to Brugge.

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So I did.

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Getting to Brugge from London via Eurostar is easy (just over 2 hours). And from Brussels Midi there’s another train (1 hour) and then once in Brugge it’s a quick bus ride into town (5 minutes).

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This being Belgium they flog their chocolate prowess with a chocolateria on every corner – no joke. It’s well priced so I found myself eating quit a bit but justified the over indulgence with my daily runs (a holiday first).

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The first chocolateria I popped into was just around the corner from my B&B and is family owned. I asked the owner if he ate chocolate every day “But of course,” he said with big eyes. “It’s good for you.” Well when a salesman speaks your language you’ve got to pull out your wallet.

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There are only two experiences you really have to have when in Brugge: a boat ride along the canals and a climb up the bell tower for a panoramic view of the city. Apart from that, the rest of your time should just be spent walking around, shopping and eating (friets and chocolate). That’s what I did. People said you don’t need a full day to do Brugge and they’d be right. It’s a small city. But it’s charming.

Note: I timed my trip to coincide with the Christmas market. I have to say, it wasn’t that impressive. I expected rows and rows of Christmas trinkets but it didn’t blow me away at all. Perhaps next year I’ll head to Germany or Austria for the Christmas markets…can’t hardly wait.

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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?

Paris again

PARIS, FRANCE

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I couldn’t wait to head back to Paris. I’d enjoyed it so much the first time and yet there was still so much to see. Round 2 didn’t get off to good start though.

I had booked my room through lastminute.com and specifically opted for the secret hotel deal where you pay a heavily reduced price for a ‘top hotel’. The catch is you don’t know the name of the hotel until you book it and you don’t know the exact location either. I bought my hotel stay (Novotel Paris Est) and after doing some research I thought that it would be great. It was advertised as a four star but once I arrived I was unimpressed with the room and hotel in general, not to mention the dodgey location. It was appalling with tattered carpets and old furniture and so it didn’t take me long to check out.

Luckily I got reimbursed from lastminute.com and was able to purchase a new hotel room (Eurostars Panorama Hotel) in a better area near Gar du Nord that allowed me to get around Paris with ease and safety. It’s small but clean and modern and the staff were brilliant. I’d like to stay here again. I really, really like France. I’m thinking of learning French! Oui.

Bottom line: Don’t purchase secret hotel deals on lastminute.com The risk is too great. Take the time to find a nice hotel. It’s worth it.