11/8/2014

TODAY I LIKE ··· BEST SUMMER READS 2014

Last summer just a year ago I recommended my fave summer reads, being "The truth about Harry Quebert" by Joël Dicker and "The house we grew up in" by Lisa Jewell. Both highly recommended whatever time of the year it is! This summer I've read a lot - one week in a resort in the Mayan Riviera in Mexico with not much to do certainly helped - basically my so-loved Scandinavian crime fiction sagas and the always compelling romantic chick-flick novels :) 

Here goes the list of the books I've read this summer so far:

SCANDINAVIAN CRIME FICTION

Always a must in my all time favourites, this year the queen of murder and mistery novels set in the northern countries has undeniably been Mari Jungdsted!! It all started in April when I read her latest book in Spanish, "The Double silence". I was so mesmerized by its characters (Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas and the journalist Johan Berg) and the beautiful Swedish island of Gotland, that I started looking for information about Mari and found out that the book was actually part of a crime series featuring the same characters and location - lucky me!!! So this summer I started reading the first three ("Unseen"' "Unspoken" and "Unknown"). I absolutely loved each of them. Though the criminal story is different in each book, the fact that the main characters remain makes you instantly bond with them and become interested in their personal lives: their love affairs, marital problems, families, work issues... Specially moving is the love story behind Johan. Who said you can't find romance in crime novels??? Reading a saga of several books makes me feel at ease: if I like the story I'm not dreading the moment it's over, because I know there are more books to read and the link with the book characters won't be broken :) And of course, I can't wait to visit Gotland!

CHICK LIT

I returned to 3 of my fave writers - safe bet! 

- "Something you should know" by Melissa Hill: if you love secrets and stories that go back and forward, this is your book. Set in Dublin.

- "The unpredictable consequences of love" by Jill Mansell: loved the fact that the book was set in Cornwall (UK) in an old charming hotel overlooking the sea. Love story with its fair share of past secrets, gossip, friendship and some big life lessons.

- "The One and Only" by Emily Giffin: I've read all of Emily's books, starting with "Something borrowed" - turned intona film a few years ago. This book is a bit... Different. Not because it's not her usual style, it is. The book is collecting a lot of mixed reviews online... Most of them really bad... It's got to do with 2 things (no spoiler): it's absolutely based on the world of American football. In every page, in every chapter, you'll find reference to the game. Shea, the female main character, adores the game, it's her life, and everything revolves around it. At the beginning I was a bit dissatisfied because I don't like the game and I thought its over presence was annoying... Then I accepted it. And the second big issue... I won't dwell on it here in case you haven't read the book but the thing is: Shea falls in love with her best friend's dad (recently widowed) who's 30 years older and is the  football Coach of the small Texas town team where the book is set. Some people consider it gross... Other people believe you can't control your feelings and being happily in love is above all... I personally don't know what to think - about the book I mean. I would't like it if this happened to my own dad, ouch! But the book is definitely addictive. And we owe it to Emily, she's a great writer and I think she's been very brave to write a story she knew would be controversial. 

And then... THE BOOK I'VE LOVED THE MOST!

"The third wife" by English writer Lisa Jewell. Her first book, "Ralph's Party" (1999) was my first attempt at "adult literature" and casually it was also the first chick lit book I ever read. Of course, I did not know about the genere back then - I was only 15. But the book made a huge impact on me. I wanted to be a twenty something living in a victorian house in London, have cool friends to go out with, a crap job and a romanantic love story :) I have read all of her books, "Vince & Joy" is probably my fave. But last summer she published this gem of a book called "The house we grew up in" and I was flabbergasted. It's just brilliant. Couldn't think she could do any better... Until her latest book, "The third wife". I read somewhere that Lisa felt a bit weird while writing the book when she was asked what it was about... And I understand, because if you try to summarise it into a couple of ideas it may seem a creepy story ... A bit like what I was telling you about "The one and only". But, believe me, it's such a beautiful heart-warming book that will keep you up until the early hours... There's a family secret in the plot: one man, three marriages, a tangled web of lies. 5 star rating indeed.


And last but not least... The other day, scrolling down my Twitter feed, I happily found out that the great Mike Gayle -yes, the first male author in my list! - is releasing a new book in late August!! 28th of August to be precise. This is fantastic news!! He's just brilliant, probably the most hilarious writer I've found. And it's nice to read the kind of stories we girls love reading... written by a guy. This way things turn out to be more realistic, I guess, but let me tell you, he's got a big heart, so his stories are always romantic! It's great to read it the other way round: from the man's perspective. So anyway, his new book is called "Seeing other people" and it's available to pre order on Amazon! Wouldn't miss it for the world!

I hope you find this list complete enough! Should have posted at the beginning of summer, I know, but then it wouldn't have been my favourite summer reads :)











24/6/2014

TODAY I LIKE ··· 2 DAYS IN IBIZA

Hello! I just returned from a 4 day break in Ibiza & Formentera, 2 small jewels part of the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean sea in Spain. Today I wanted to give you some recommendations on Ibiza, short but simple, in case you're planning to go there soon. The truth is that the island has become famous for the association with nightlife and electronic music, being well known for its summer club scene which attracts a large number of tourists... But of course there's another side of Ibiza, one that you should definitely discover and that will take your breath away. There's more to Ibiza than clubbing! So here goes a short list of my personal recommandions!

- Where to stay: Agroturismo Can Pere Sord. Featuring an outdoor swimming pool, this hotel is set in a 19th century house in the Ibizan country side. It's a 9 rooms agroturism hotel located in the north of the island, a 25 minute drive from the airport, and surrounded by gardens, lemon trees and the forest. They serve a magnificent breakfast with local food. I absolutely loved the place, and don't be fooled for the location because everything is handy if you have a car and the most beautiful small towns, restaurants, shops and hidden beaches are just 15 minutes away! I didn't even go to Ibiza town this time, I just relaxed and explored the countryside instead :) 

- A beautiful town: Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera. At the geographical heart of the island, Santa Gertrudis is a bohemian village where many artists, sculptors and musicians have settled over the years. You will find bars, restaurants, shops, galleries... all surrounded by sheep, goats and cows. 

- Best day-time plan: stop at your nearest mini market (there are plenty of them scattered around the island, small but offering every thing you might need - and more! - at good prices) and order a take away bocadillo (sandwich with real bread filled with either cheese or cold meat and olive oil) and then head to the beach! I went to Las Salinas because I love white sand beaches but of course there are hundreds to choose from ;-) I recommend buying your own food at the supermarket (and plenty of water and fresh fruit) not only because it's cheaper but also because it's practical and everyone decides when to eat and then you can just go on sunbathing without having to stop and go somewhere to eat... and trust me, they prepare excellent bocadillos!! 

- Best shop: it has to be, without a doubt, Sluiz! It's a super creative, huge concept store located on the road that goes to Sant Josep village selling almost everything: clothing, furniture, food, bicycles... They even have their own bar/restaurant. It's such an inspiring, colourful and magic place that you will instantly fall in love with it and will regret not having a bigger suitcase with you!

- THE place to go for a drink (or dinner): Bambhudda Bar. Just visit their website or check the pictures below and you will understand. Hidden behind the trees on the Sant Joan Road... 

- The Hippy thing to do: go to Las Dalias Market on Saturday morning. You will find Adlib clothing, costume jewelry, sandalwood, exotic musical instruments, fabrics, little figures, antiques, books... There are many restaurants and some cafés offering cakes and juices. I ended up buying tons of string bracelets :)

I will tell you about Formentera soon :) Have a good day!


the Hotel

lemon trees surrounding the hotel

pool bar at the hotel

breakfast was served inside the house for you to take outside by the pool
hotel

hotel 
I have a soft spot for these mini  markets.. 
... selling the most beautiful straw baskets :)

Sluiz shop

Sluiz shop 
Sluiz shop bar



charming shops in Santa Gertrudis village 
Santa Gertrudis church 
A French restaurant in Santa Gertrudis village

Es Cucons shop in Santa Gertrudis village
Sluiz shop 
Sluiz shop 
Sluiz shop
Santa Gertrudis village 
Las Salinas beach



Las Dalias hippy market 
the bracelets I bought at Las Dalias market :)
cafe at Las Dalias Market 


Bambhudda Bar 
Bambhudda Bar 
Bambhudda bar




6/6/2014

TODAY I LIKE ··· BATH CHRISTMAS MARKET & THE BEST COSTWOLD TOUR

I know it's not summer yet but for those of you who like to plan ahead and are already wondering what your next holiday break will be, today I'm recommending the beautiful English town of Bath and its charming Christmas Market.

For the last 3 years I have visited different European Christmas Markets with my family: Berlin, Munich and Bath. It's an experience you can't miss: hot mulled wine, regional food specialties, Christmas tree decorations, carol singing, candles, stalls selling handmade gifts... it's a unique atmosphere that makes you feel as if you were part of a Disney tale :) 

The only "problem" is that Christmas Markets have become way too popular: reservations are made months ahead (I started looking for a hotel in Bath in early August and it was almost all booked for the beginning of December!!) and tons of people come to visit, so it's quite packed. Don't forget that markets run for 2 weeks only! You can check the dates for 2014 Bath Christmas market here.

Why Bath? Its Christmas Market has only been running since year 2000 (the one in Munich was first held in 1310!) but it's considered to be the best in England. And I always wanted to visit this Somerset city famous for Jane Austen, the Roman baths, the Georgian architecture... and of course, being a fan of Agatha Christie's books, I always wondered what the English countryside would look like! Those cute villages with the traditional pubs, tea rooms, stone-roofed houses... and Bath is set on the southern edge of the Costwolds, a series of gently rolling hills and honey-coloured villages that are quintessentially English! You can read some information about this beautiful region here

Our trip was a huge success!!! Let me give you some tips to help you plan a wonderful 3 day weekend in Bath covering the city, the Christmas Market and an unforgettable tour of the Costwolds:

1. Accommodation: since most of the city center hotels were already booked, and we were looking for the Bed&Breakfast English experience, we stayed in a suuuuper cute boutique B&B only a 20 minute walk from the center. It's the One Three Nine B&B and it was wonderful.  
2. Flight: we flew Barcelona - Bristol with Easyjet and then we booked a taxi through the hotel to pick us up at the airport (30 minute drive). There's also a bus service
3. Traditional English Tea: you definitely can't leave England without this experience. It's a real must. There are many places to chose from, we went to the Pump Room Restaurant, just beside the Abbey and the Roman Baths. There was live piano music inside and it was veeeeery elegant :)
4. Sally Lunn's: again, you can't leave the city without visiting this place, home of the original Bath bun! It's a eating house in a historic building serving breakfast, tea, lunch and dinner. Great place.
5. Nice restaurant to have dinner: Bill's. Great atmosphere!
6. What to do on Sunday morning: visit No.1 Royal Crescent, a Georgian town house that creates a wonderfully vital picture of life in Georgian Bath. It was the first house to be built in the Crescent and originally provided luxury accommodation for the aristocratic visitors who came to take the waters. Highly recommended visit!
7. A bit of shopping: Milsom Place, a fantastic mix of famous names and breakthrough brands, hot spots to eat in and cool places to enjoy a cocktail. Carluccio's, Jamie Oliver, Cath Kidston... jus to name a few!
8. Cultural sights: the Royal Crescent, the Roman Baths, the Abbey, the Circus and the Jane Austen Center.
9. The Christmas Market, of course!! Find all the information here.
10. And I'm leaving until the end what probably was the highlight of the trip... the amazing Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circles, Castle Combe & Lacok village tour!!! Organized by the sweet team behind Mad Max Tours, it's considered to be the best tour service departing Bath. We chose the full day tour (8:15 - 17:30h) traveling in a 16 seater mini coach driven by a really nice guide who told us everything about the history and beauty of the countryside around Bath. We visited Stonehenge, a Costwold village that was voted the prettiest village in England and a traditional Wiltshire village used in the filming of Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter movies :)

Some pictures below, hope you enjoy it!





Sally Lunn's

tasting the real bun at Sall Lunn's  





Bill's restaurant



























The Pump Rooms restaurant 
Afternoon English Tea

The hotel - One Three Nine B&B
breakfast at the hotel