Now that I’ve packed (kinda), and the reality of leaving as begun to sink in, I’m READY.
I think that the only two words to describe my emotions right now are excited and grateful. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. How can I not feel that way?! I’m moving to an island in the middle of the Mediterranean located in-between Barcelona and Ibiza. I mean, come on, this is like a dream. Plus, it’s 70 and sunny there everyday so that doesn’t hurt either…
This past weekend (after only 48 hours in Palma) we hopped on another plane and flew to Bilbao in the North of Spain. From there, we took a bus about an hour and a half to San Sebastian, Spain. The drive was along a gorgeous countryside complete with sheep, mountains, and little villages.As we made our way to San Sebastian I look out the window realizing that it is my first time in mainland Spain, so I am taking in the view. When we get there, we settle into the most quaint little hostel you will ever find called A Room in the City. They conveniently have umbrellas stocked by the door because little did we know it was going to rain for the next 36 hours. After settling in, we ventured out into this new and exciting city. The wind and the rain were unreal and after just a couple minutes we were soaked. We had to ditch the plan that Antonia had made for us because the weather was just awful. Instead, we went to the San Telmo Museo to learn about the Basque Country and look at Basque art. After the museum, we were free to explore the tapas area. I had tortilla de patata with spinach and some surprise items and a piece of bacalao (cod) with peppers and onions. Both were delicious but not as delicious as the one euro wine at Atari my friends and I drank all night long (well until we crashed at midnight haha yeah we’re lame)
The next morning, we started the day early at a cute little cafe with coffee and pastries. Then, we went on a walking tour of the city (umbrellas in hand) with a bilingual tour guide. She did a good job of explaining the city and some traditions to us as she showed us the beautiful (wet) city. We stopped for lunch in what seemed to be an Irish bar and got hamburgers (how American!) but they were so good. After warming up, we ventured back out to see the coastline (Paseo Nuevo), sculptures by Jorge Oteiza, and hike up a little hill to Castillo de la Mota for views of the city. Paseo Nuevo was really cool because the ferocious waves would come up higher than the wall and spray everywhere. Also, hiking up to Castillo de la Mota was cool, it was slippery rocks the whole way up to some pretty breathtaking views of the entire city and coastline. We also walked along the coast and saw the beach, surfers (who must have been crazy to be willing to surf in that water), and the sunshine (for 2 whole minutes). Honestly, I was pretty miserable and I wanted nothing more than a hot cup of tea and to warm up in bed after a full day in the cold and rain. After a siesta, we were ready to go get some mussels. The place that was recommended to us by Antonia was incredible. It was a counter service type place that only had mussels and calamari on the menu. You got a bucket of bread when you ordered your plate to sop up all of the leftover sauce and juices. I had only had one mussel before in my life, but this was a life-changing meal for sure. Then, of course some cervasas y vino before heading back to the hostel for the night.
The next day, it was back to Palma! I had such an amazing trip and did I mention that the sun was only shining for a total of 10 minutes the whole weekend. Now for a week filled of classes and internship learning!
I hiked to Pollença with two of my friends and a group of locals. I woke up and got ready to meet my friends at the park to catch the bus. I arrived about ten minutes early and saw a crowd of people that were clearly going on the hike as well. I suddenly became very shy and did not approach them, but instead stood sheepishly on the other side of the park waiting for my friends to show up. As the time of departure neared, my friends were on their way but I figured I better go sign in and board the bus. Emily and Jordan arrived and followed suit shortly after and we boarded the bus at 9 am. There were about 25 of us total, 3 Americans and the rest were 45-70 year old Spaniards. We were blatantly out of place by age and citizenship but hey, adventures are adventures, right? Yet, I could not have predicted how this group of Mallorquins would give me one of the most memorable experiences. To say it was an incredible day would be an understatement.
The bus ride from Palma to our drop off location was about an hour. We hopped off the bus, marveling at the views, and started on the path. Almost immediately, a couple members of the group started conversing with us as we walked along, chatting about travel and movies and nature. They completely accepted my broken Spanish and some even spoke a bit of english to us.
Ready to climb some mountiains!
Beautiful Emily & I before the hike.
The morning was crisp and sunny, perfect for a hike in the mountains. The group continued up the peaks, chatting along the way. Even though these men and women were older than us, they were breezing over the rocks and shrubbery obstructing their paths. They were full of knowledge and history, sharing stories and plant facts all along the winding paths. This definitely was not their first time navigating these mountains.
Breathtaking & it just kept getting better the higher we climbed!
We stopped to take a little break and drink some water. The locals were snacking and one woman offered us some black licorice. I had never tried black licorice before but of course I accepted her gift. I hesitantly placed the candy in my mouth and began to chew. Turns out, It’s actually really good. To me, it tasted like molasses. Unfortunately, Jordan and Emily did not enjoy it quite as much as I did.
The locals call the tall peak on the left Ninot.
We saw lots of sheep along the way. Sheep in Spanish is “oveja”. These sheep had bells around their necks that jingled as they walked. One of the men in the group pointed out the male sheep and told me that the males have horns, “cuernos” in Spanish. There were also some baby sheep and they were so adorable!
One of my favorite photographs from today’s adventure!
Ovejas // Sheep
The goal of the hike was to reach the summit of the mountain. The picture above shows the peak. Below are photos of the views from the climb up and from the top. This vista is phenomenal and honestly can not be replicated in a photograph. My brain had trouble processing that what I was seeing was real. The guide pointed out the highest peak in Mallorca, Puig Mayor, which could be seen from the summit we were standing on. Because it is so high, the top is covered in snow. The white cap was clearly visible from the top of the mountain we had climbed. God is good and his creations are perfect!
Along the way, there was a pile of bananas, oranges, and water left for hikers. It was a great snack, “merienda”, before the toughest part of the climb. Emily, Jordan, and I grabbed some fruit and peeled it open. The bananas were average, nothing special. But the oranges… BEST ORANGE ON THE PLANET! The perfect combination of juicy and sweet. We all had to take a moment and revel in the glory that is a Mallorquin orange. I definitely ate 3 of them during the hike… so good.
View from the climb
This one is for you GreyHouse Fam!
After reaching the top and enjoying the view, we descended the mountain to rest a bit and enjoy our lunches. The guide led us to a green opening where the grass was spotted with tiny little flowers. The group then seated themselves in little clusters and began eating. The sounds of laughter and conversation floated amongst the trees. Jordan, Emily, and I sat and ate our lunches. We then noticed that some members of the group had gotten up and were walking around to share some of their food. At first it was just one woman, but then more and more hikers began sharing. It was one of the coolest, most heartwarming gestures I have ever witnessed. This was the moment when I realized that this group of local hikers was a family, microscopic community sharing food and enjoying life together. These incredible people welcomed the three of us foreigners into their community whole heartedly. They shared dried fruit, dark chocolate, delicious sweet bread, candied nuts, rich chocolatey cookies, fresh melon, and hot coffee. My heart was so full as I watched this family of friends give and take and include me in their rich lives. I am honestly changed from this experience, inspired by the love and joy in this community. And to top it off, before departing from our lunch spot, they sang a song together, arm in arm. The song is called “Cielito Lindo”.
“Ay, ay, ay, ay, Canta y no llores, Porque cantando se alegran, cielito lindo, los corazones.
Pájaro que abandona, cielito lindo, su primer nido, Si lo encuentra ocupado, cielito lindo, bien merecido.”
The gentleman I sat next to on the bus shared a pretty neat story with me about Mallorquin history. He said that the cities were built a good distance away from the port in order to protect the city from pirates. The port served as a sort of defense wall to keep the pirates from reaching the city. This happens in two places in Mallorca, Pollença and Palma.
I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to join this phenomenal group of local Mallorquins on their hike. I feel so loved and I really learned a lot from their wisdom of the island. It was really cool to practice my Spanish with those who are so forgiving of my mistakes. They truly embraced Emily, Jordan, and me. On the bus ride on the way home, the driver was congratulating everyone on completing the hike and he gave “los americanos” a little shoutout and the whole bus cheered for us! It was so fun and it made me feel very special. The same sentiments were shared when we departed. Many of the community members wished us luck on our semester, encouraged us to take advantage of every opportunity, and encouraged us to come hike with them again. Best of all, really submersing us in the Spanish culture, we parted with “dos besos” (a kiss on each cheek). These people are rad and so full of life. I hope to be just like them when I am older. Doing life with other cool adventurers and sharing the love. Beyond thankful for today.
On Friday 22 April, several CIEE students joined an event in an elementary school named “English Day”, a big day for the school, where CIEE students come in and play games, teach, and interact with the children in English.
It was a fun day, because all the students devoted their morning to teach English to children with passion and dedication.
In the end they received a diploma by the Director of the school. This public school was very thankful to CIEE and our students for this voluntary work.
You don’t have to let me know that I have been slacking in the blogging department. I know I have. It’s just so hard to find the time to write paragraphs on a blog page of what you’ve been doing when you’re too busy, well, doing it.
The last time I wrote was February 14th. Aka the global holiday of celebrating love, receiving roses, eating chocolate (even if you bought it yourself), and-for some-watching the titanic and crying your eyes out because you always seem to end up like Rose does (Cold and alone). For all you know, this could be one reason for my hiatus…Just kidding but,
One really AWESOME thing I’ve done since then is meet the city of my dreams… Berlin. Now, I know I only spent a few days there, but like my friends Rose and Jack, it didn’t take long for Berlin and I to realize we belonged together.
February 26, 2016:
It was pretty interesting, I must say, to fly to Berlin from Spain. You go from one language to another, and neither of them are your strong suit. Immediately we stepped off the plane and the cold air comforted me. A taste of home, I thought. Kate and I were a bit flustered because the airport phones refused to work, I had no whatsapp connection, and we had an Airbnb to get to. We let Berlin take the wheel and decided to get on the bus toward Prenzlauer Berg anyway. After transferring to the train, we arrived at Prenzlauer Allee and decided to find our building with the address. We walked past a Kaiser, which was about to close in 20 minutes, and decided it wouldn’t hurt to try to call our Airbnb from a phone inside.
We walked in to two young men working the only check out lines in the place. It was a quaint little grocery, and with not many customers to bother at this hour, we decided to ask them if they could speak English. Well, guys, little did I know, everyone in Berlin speaks English. Everyone. So we ended up using their phones to call Akim and pretty soon we were again en route to our ‘home’. Yay!
Our Airbnb was situated in a courtyard of buildings. It was 11:45 on a Friday night, and therefore, it was pitch black. Our building was one of those you had to walk through the courtyard to get to. In other words, it was hidden behind the buildings visible by the street, and required the two little English speaking, anxiety ridden girls to venture into a narrow, very dark passageway. Neither of us really wanted to, and I even considered getting back on the train, but we held our breath and soon we arrived at the building. Our host greeted us and showed us around our apartment, a small one bedroom with a kitchen and a bathroom-perfect for the two of us for 3 days. It was quite cute, and we were quite tired. We planned our adventures for the next day and settled into bed. Finally, WE’RE HERE!!
[Wordpress gets really touchy after you write about 500 words, or stay on it for too long, so this adventure will be split into parts-observe title. Stay tuned for Pt. 2]
Today I would like to recommend you activities that can be done in Mallorca. I will show you a list of offers and activities to do if you are interested in discovering the Island. Mallorca is plenty of events, tours and excursions you can do and you can enjoy during your stay here.
For those of you who are interested in making tours around Mallorca here I suggest you different options you can engage with and the places these tours are done.
For those who like risk and adventure, there are Mountain Bike and Hiking tours as well as cycling routes, Trekking and Hiking tours that can be done with a Tour Guide in places such as Manacor, Port d’Alcúdia, Felanitx, Pollença and also in Palma. Those tours make people to keep in touch with the nature, the landscape and the Mallorca’s environment.
There are also tours offered to discover the center of Palma and its history thanks to Tour Guides and Buses which show you the historical monuments and ancient places of the Island. Those tours make people closer to the history of Palma and let them people know how the Island was found.
Located inside the UIB campus, partners, no partners, college students and no college students are invited to enjoy the activities that this center offers. The ones that are members of Campus Esport as well as college students can take advantages of discounts, tariffs and prices offered.
All the information regarding prices as well as schedules is updated in the web page of the Campus. You will also find a list of the documents you need in order to be a Campus Esport partner.
The Campus has a wide variety of facilities such as the swimming pool, tennis, soccer, volleyball and basket courts as well as a fitness room and cafeteria service.
Campus Esport offers different type of activities done in the swimming pool such as water polo, swimming and synchronized swimming. There are also classes for adults as well as for children and aquafit classes.
The swimming pool is distributed in 14 lanes and has all the equipment needed to carry out different activities. There are also changing rooms for women, men and children.
Tennis and paddle courts are distributed into eight exterior courts where tourneys can be done 1 against 1 or 2 against 2.
There are also prices and discounts that are updated in the web page and depending on the time played you will pay more or less.
Tennis and paddle court can be reserved per 30 min, in such a case the price will be reduced at 50%.
The covered pavilion has three interior courts of basket, volleyball and badminton. There are also changing rooms for children, women and men. Tourneys 5x5 can also be done.
All of the courts have the equipment needed to carry out the activities. You have to bear in mind that these courts must be reserved in advance, otherwise there won’t be a place for you to play.
A pic of the football pitch where tourneys 7x7 can be done.
Such a place is used by schools to make P.E activities.
Prices and offers vary depending on partners and no partners of the Campus Esport.
‘’Posa’t en Marxa’’and fitness activities offer pilates and yoga classes as well as several sport Machines to work out.
The cafeteria offers menús and diferent meals that vary depending on the week. There are also meals for special groups.
All the menús are updated in the web page . Menús include first plate, second plate , drink, dessert and coffee for 6,15€.
I love street art! I think it is so cool and can really add to the culture of a city. Mallorca is covered in it. Some is graffiti but most is actually really unique art. I have been spending a lot of my free time exploring the streets, shops, and cafes. This place is incredible. Below are some of my favorite works so far.
Mallorquín Sonríe/Mallorcan Smile
I pass this one every time I go to school
When I woke up this morning I told myself that today is the day I will try an ensaimada. Ensaimadas are a traditional Mallorquín pastry. It is fluffy white with powdered sugar on top. And yes, they are delicious. My neighbor here in Mallorca told me an interesting legend about ensaimadas the first night here. She said they were “invented” back when the Catholic Spaniards were conquering the island from the Moors. The Moors were given the choice to flee the island or convert to Catholicism. Many fled but some chose to stay. In order to test the Moors who stayed and claimed to have converted, the new conquers offered them ensaimadas. This was a test because they are traditionally baked with pig fat and religiously Moors can not eat pork products. If the person of Moorish decent ate the pastry then they had truly proven their allegiance but if they refused, they were removed from the island. It may be just a legend but I found it very interesting.
Ensaimada y Café
Today I wandered through Mercat de L’Olivar, a market near my home. This place is huge and filled with fresh produce, pastries, and meat. It is truly incredible. Just walking through made my mouth water. I was mostly just there to look, as I had just indulged in an ensaimada, but I did purchase a delicious apple to snack on for my walk home. The interesting thing I noticed as I was walking and munching is that I was the only one doing just that. Spaniards, at least Mallorquins, do not eat on the go. Everything is consumed sitting so it can truly be enjoyed. For example, if you ask for your cafe “para llevar” (to bring with you) they give it to you in a thin plastic cup that us Americans would normally drink water out of. It is definitely different culturally than in America where literally everything is to go. Different but I like it. Maybe we Americans should take note.
Wow. That’s all I have to say about the past week and a half. My parents visited Palma, we set sail on the MSC Magnifica, and I traveled to places I never thought I’d step foot on.
On Thursday my parents arrived from a long and tiring journey starting in Chicago and passing through Newark, Berlin, and then Palma. Of course you’d assume they were pretty pooped out, but they surprised me when they told me they were ready to explore Palma. That night I took them down by the Cathedral and showed them some of the places I like to go on a regular basis. Since it was the Thursday before Easter, Procession was going on from 6pm-1am. After dinner, dad decided he had had enough walking (since he is using a cane and all). We dropped him off at the hotel, and mom and I decided to check out the production of Procession on San Miguel. It was beautiful, and unlike anything I have ever seen before. It is incredible to me how such a huge population of people can have such strong, widespread faith in one thing. The U.S. is just so different, with a melting pot of religions and languages and beliefs. It’s almost hard to grasp.
Friday I took my parents to a beach called Cala Comtesa, only a short bus ride away from Palma. We enjoyed the sun and a few drinks. Afterward I took them to see the University, but since it was Semana Santa, it was closed off, and we could only see it from the road. That night my host mom had my parents over for dinner. It was interesting, since my parents don’t really speak any Spanish, and my host mom doesn’t speak any English. I was a translator of sorts. I couldn’t have been that helpful though, since my Spanish isn’t very advanced. However, we made it through. My host mom made a delicious dinner, and my parents had gifted her with loads of chocolate, which she was very happy about. Afterward, my host mom told me that she adored them! Probably because of all the chocolate she now had.
This past weekend I went on my first trip in Europe!
A group of my friends and I set out on Friday morning to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We flew into Belgium and from the Airport, we took a three hour train to Amsterdam. Once we arrived, we headed to our hostel and began exploring!
Just hopped off the plane in Belgium!
Our hostel was really cute! All eight of us shared a room and it felt like summer camp so of course I loved it! It was very modern and a perfect distance to the city. The hostel provided breakfast and was very comfortable. I think my favorite part was that we had to travel through this adorable pathway through a little garden to get to our room.
Vondel Park- located next to our hostel
The first activity we did in Amsterdam was visit the Anne Frank House. We were not allowed to take pictures but I can tell you that the pictures wouldn’t have really conveyed much. The museum was simple but the feeling you had from reading the quotes and just being in the building was astounding. It was unreal to think that Nazis walked these streets and raided these homes not too long ago. Seeing the recreation of the bookcase that covered the passage into the hidden annex was unsettling. The idea that people had to hide themselves due to fear of being killed because of something they believed in is horrible. I am very thankful for the opportunity to see the museum and for the progress we have made after this black spot in history.
That night we went to dinner at the Butcher. IT. WAS. AMAZING. I got a truffle burger and fries. It was so juicy and flavorful! I was so hungry from traveling that day that it tasted so great and was just what I needed. On the way to dinner, we got “appetizers” at FEBO. This is essentially a fast food vending machine. They sell burgers, croquettes, etc. where you put in your change, 1.6 euros in my case, and receive a hot snack. I got a croquette that literally tasted like fried gravy. It was so gooooooooooood. Never would I ever have preciously eaten anything like this but wow, no regrets.
Truffle Burger & Fries
Fast Food Vending Machines
The next morning we visited the Van Gogh Museum. This was super cool to see! There were two parts: a temporary exhibition and the Van Gogh part. We weren’t supposed to take pictures but I snapped a few. It was really cool to see all of the artwork. The museum taught me a lot about Van Gogh and his life as well. He was born in The Netherlands in 1853 and was always contemplative of the modernist art movement. He wrote numerous letters to his friends and family that contained many of his thoughts and wonderings. He battled with mental illness for most of his life and admit himself to a mental institution. He shot himself in the chest and dies two days later from untreated wound infection. He is best known for cutting off his own ear, his self portraits, Sunflowers, Starry Night, and the Potato Eaters. Van Gogh became famous after his death thanks to his sister in law and nephew. His sister in law worked very hard after his death to promote his work while his nephew established the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation. Unfortunately, his sunflower painting was not available to view and starry night is located in a museum in New York so I was unable to view these. Regardless, all of his works are beautiful and his story fascinating yet tragic.
Chillin with VG
The Potato Eaters
Next we went to the local Market. It was so fun and delicious. I bought some chocolate covered peanuts, mixed nuts, and some juice. It was all so amazing but my absolute favorite was the STROOPWAFFLE!!! Stroopwaffles are two very thin, cinnamon waffles with a sweet caramel syrup sandwiched in the middle… literal heaven. They were made right in front of us and so warm! Ugh, I can’t even tell you how good it was and I am kicking myself for not buying like twenty of them.
Pineapples at the Market
Michelle & I sipping some juice!
Incredible looking Apple Pie… Wishing I had bought some.
In the afternoon we went to the Heineken brewery and completed the Heineken Experience tour. It was pretty awesome. The beginning of the tour they showed us the ingredients of the beer: water, hops, barley, and “A” yeast. We got to taste a kernel of barley. Next we had a little history lesson on Heineken and how it came to be. Next, we went to see the vat that the beer is brewed in, ground some barley ourselves, and even taste the sugar water made from soaking the barley in water. The Heineken horses are even housed here! We watched a video that showed us what it would be like to be Heineken beer along the process from raw ingredients to the first sip. It was in a dark room and we stood on a sort of pad that jostled up and down or side to side in accordance with the video. It even blew bubbles on us when the brew was boiling. It was very fun! Lastly, we got to taste the beer. My friends and I went to the rooftop bar and drank ours overlooking Amsterdam. It was a great time and lots of cheers to us! Fun fact: cheers in dutch is “Proost” which is kinda like Prust. And how cool is it to say that I had my first beer in the Heineken factory in Amsterstam… let me answer that for you: Pretty Amsterdam Cool!
The beer is brewed in these giant vats.
Famous in all the World
The Rooftop Bar
Proost // Cheers
My first beer, believe it or not!
My friend Michelle and I love to check out the local grocery stores everywhere we travel because it is such a genuine representation of the local food culture. I took the obligatory pineapple picture! Michele bought some orange juice that she fresh squeezed herself in store. I tasted some and it was incredible!
Michelle with her fresh OJ
Though I have never seen The Fault in our Stars, the bench was a must see! The bench itself was ordinary, overlooking the canals and surrounded by tall, picturesque buildings. On the back of the bench is a quote from the book. It was pretty neat to think that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort sat here.
After the photo op at the bench, we continued to explore the streets! The buildings are so gorgeous. The interesting thing is that the buildings are slanted. Houses used to be taxed based on the width of the houses so they are deep and narrow, lined one next to the other. The foundations were set on stilts because most of the city was once marshland but the water table is now very low, which can be seen in the low waters in the canals. This is a problem because if the stilts are not covered with water then they will rot, hence the leaning buidings. Another key characteristic of Amsterdam are the canals and bridges. TO really learn about these, my friends and I took a canal boat tour. We learned that there are over 250 bridges, many of which open/lift to allow boats passage through the canal. House boats are also very popular and can be seen along the canals. They are so cute, covered in plants with little benches.
Bridges & Canals
Leaning Houses of Amsterdam featuring Bikes, of course
The city with more bikes than people
We ate a late lunch at The Pancake Bakery. This place has every kind of pancake you could think of! Savory with chicken, sweet with Nutella and bananas, even one with beans! The place was packed which is always a good sign of a delicious restaurant. My friends ordered pancakes of all sorts and loved them. I opted for a traditional split pea soup and apple pie with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. The cinnamon ice cream made my entire day. One of the best things I have ever eaten! IT WAS SO INCREDIBLE!
I would eat this one billion times over!
After our amazing meal, we stopped by the Tulip Museum and the Cheese Museum. They were fun to see and the cheese samples were nice!
Amsterdam was so beautiful and historical. We had the opportunity to do so much in the short time we were there! The food was delicious, the views were incredible, and the company was unbeatable! And just a disclaimer: I did not take advantage of the many coffeeshops readily available in Amsterdam.
I got up early to take this picture so I could be the only tourist in the picture.