Spend a Week as a Guest on a Mediterranean Island

Not everyone looks forward to getting up and going to work. But I’m not complaining. The most difficult task I need to tackle today is to finish packing a suitcase. So I’m having a very leisurely breakfast before heading to the airport for a flight to Barcelona, one of the world’s most electrifying cities.

Even though I’ve done it countless times before, I’m really looking forward to wandering down Las Ramblas—the pedestrianized boulevard that arrows down to Barcelona’s waterfront. It comes with flower sellers, pet stalls, and an ever-changing street theater of magicians, musicians, and mime artists. For me, it’s now almost a tradition to stop half way down at Cafe de L’Opera for a glass of Cava, the Catalan equivalent of Champagne.

I should say I’m catching a flight BACK to Barcelona. I was there a week ago—and it’s a week that has flown by. You, see I’ve been in Menorca, one of Spain‘s Mediterranean islands. And as I had to go via Barcelona, it seemed silly not to spend a couple of nights there too.

I’m traveling on the Red Carpet Passport, which means I’m a guest and most of what I’m enjoying is on the house.

Menorca is totally unspoiled, and it’s an enticing place for a laid-back vacation…but I’m here “working”. The work has involved checking out beaches—Menorca has so many half-moon coves lapped by pale turquoise water. It has involved exploring the shops, markets, and ancient streets of the harbor cities of Mahon and Ciutadella. And, of course, it has also involved eating and drinking…

They have all been so good, I can’t quite decide which Menorcan meal was the best. As I’m mad for fresh seafood, probably the feast of gambas a la plancha—succulent, jumbo-sized shrimp grilled to perfection.

But the swordfish I enjoyed at a little waterfront restaurant was excellent too. And so were all the tapas—the Spanish version of bar food. Somehow I’ve managed to get through everything from cod and chicory fritters to deep fried baby squid, stuffed eggplant, and garlicky cuttlefish.

As I take my work seriously, I thought I should put in some extra hours and check out an entertainment option. Mahon, the island capital, has a casino, so yesterday I paid it a visit. (Anyone who knows me would probably tell you that Las Vegas and racetracks are my spiritual homes.) Mahon’s casino is the smallest I’ve ever been in—and I was there too early for the blackjack and poker tables; they didn’t open until 10.30 p.m.

That was a disappointment, but as I was there, I decided to have a flutter on the slot machines. I walked out of the place with the equivalent of around $250 profit. Sometimes I need to pinch myself as a reminder that it isn’t a dream and I’m also getting paid to do this!

Ok, it was a bit of extra and unexpected luck, and I certainly don’t get to visit casinos every place I go. But whether it’s a fishing trip, an art exhibition, live music, or a vineyard visit, I usually manage to fit in at least one of my personal passions when I’m on assignment.

If you’ve ever wished you could also be gadding around the world…sampling delectable foods and wines…exploring off-beat islands, hidden places, and world-class cities…this is the best way to do it.

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