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31 May 2016 | News
Summer’s on the horizon and it’s time to start thinking about where to take your sandals. Here are five sunny hotspots where sandals are a must:
THE MALDIVE ISLANDS
These low-lying tropical islands in the Indian Ocean look pretty close to paradise. With crystal blue skies and perfect beaches, as well as countless lagoons and reefs, this island republic has long been a favourite for holidaymakers.
Distance is an issue: it’s a quarter of the way around the world and even a non-stop flight from the UK will take over ten hours. But you might argue that such a long-haul is worth it to visit the pieces of heaven that are the Maldives.
Language shouldn’t be an issue, the islands are an ex-British colony and English is widely-used, both in the tourism industry and in government and commerce generally.
The islands have been Sunni Muslim since the 12th Century and the capital city, Malé, boasts a striking mosque made from coral boulders, the.
But don’t waste time: climate change and rising sea levels threaten to bury the low-lying islands beneath the waves in the coming decades!
If a ten-hour haul to The Maldives isn’t your thing, much closer to home are the islands of Malta. They’re about three hours’ flight from the UK and, like the Maldives, are an ex-colony where English is widely-used: there’s no need to learn the unique Maltese language, which is a type of Arabic overlaid with plentiful Italian, French and English words.
Malta is a small place and can easily be driven around in a single day, but it’s packed with sights and things to do. The capital, Valletta, has an Italian feel and its origins as a fortress are clear from a casual walk around: sheer walls emerge from the sea, and gun emplacements can be seen at intervals.
Also worth a look is Marsaxlokk, a pretty fishing village on the southeast coast, and the nearby Blue Grotto is a treat for the eyes. For those wanting an easy day of sunbathing, the island has plenty of beaches and resorts.
THE CHANNEL ISLANDS
Closer still than Malta, on our own doorstep, are the Channel Islands. Their location in the English Channel means that they get the full benefit of the Gulf Stream, and so are warmer than you might think.
The islands’ charming culture is a blend of French and English, and although many sights will be familiar to the mainland Brit, the islands also have their own unique character, and their Norman-French language is in everyday use.
The good news for those wishing to avoid half a day on an aeroplane is that the islands are only an hour or so from airports in the south of England (add another half hour from northern England and another two on top of that from Scotland).
For those wanting to be “abroad” and “at home” at the same time, the Channel Islands are a great choice!
Without doubt one of the jewels of the Mediterranean, the capital of Spain’s restive Catalonia region is a definite must-see. From the famous street La Rambla to the quirky façade of La Sagrada Familia church, the city has something for everyone. While the main roads are straight and spacious, the city, especially in the Gothic Quarter, also boasts many labyrinthine cobbled back alleys, where cosy, inviting bars and restaurants can be found.
The city’s Gothic Quarter, the historic heart of Barcelona, also boasts several Medieval, and even a few Roman, buildings and has the advantage of being largely closed to traffic: only taxis and service vehicles are usually allowed on the roads.
Also worth seeing is the Park Güell, a colourful assault on the senses which features a number of unusual and pleasingly brash structures, as well as a museum dedicated to by Antoni Gaudi.
Posted by Mike Small.