'As a child my parents rented holiday accommodation right across Europe and as an adult I've always preferred self-catering to hotels, for the space, for the freedom and because I love to cook and to shop for food. There's no point shopping for food when you're staying in a hotel so the great holiday pastime of wandering around markets is less purposeful. Four years of home swapping has only increased this pleasure because we always swap basic store cupboard essentials so picking up two Dover Sole in the market in Bury St. Edmunds didn't mean I also had to buy a bagful of flour in order to get a spoonful to dust them. Our home swap partner in Bury was amused to learn that we were looking forward to returning to the market as much as we were to re-visiting the Abbey.
In Nice it's a joy to stroll through the bright colours of the flower stalls to reach the fruit and veg. We have sniffed and selected our way right across France! In Venice it's the fruits of the lagoon which captivate us in all their strangeness and here in the UK we find that different markets in different towns each have their individual personalities. Covered daily markets, weekly open air markets, they seem to help you to get "under the skin" of your destination.
But my favourite of all was in Barcelona, not la Boqueria (in photo) as you might imagine, interesting though that was, but the indoor emporium which was open every morning just around the corner from our exchange property. Here was a well- stocked neighbourhood market, fish glistening in icy piles, luscious salads and vegetables heaped like jewels, breads, meats and preserves of every kind, puddings and desserts to tempt and tantalise, and a sunny terrace to return to with our booty.
However, don't think I'm deprived at home in Tooting. Maybe it's less glamorous and exotic but we've got a large covered market here too!' - Sandra Newnham, London
Editor's Note: Sandra and her husband have become very enthusiastic home exchangers during their first four years as Home Base Holidays members and Sandra is a regular contributor to this blog and our newsletter. See the couple's London home exchange offer (members: logon). Tempt them with the foodie delights in your area!