Palma de Mallorca

Ever wonder where to go or what activities you would like to do on vacation. Do you ever feel like you have to choose between a good beach and mountains/nature? Luckily Spain, among other countries, has cities where you can have both.

Mallorca, Mallorca, Mallorca

Mallorca is the largest island of the Balearic Islands.

One of the first things I noticed was how big the Palma de Mallorca airport was. The airport is the first impression you will have of a city/country. The more developed the airport is (i.e duty free shops, Starbucks, McDonald’s) more than likely the more developed the city/country is. Taking the bus from the airport (you can get a round trip ticket for 8euros or a one way into the city for 5) to my hostel I saw just how developed Palma was. My first impression of the city was that it reminded me of Rio de Janeiro. My second impression was thinking how hilly the island was and how its going to suck walking around lol.

I knew my adventure was starting as soon as I was able to put my bags down at the hostel. After dropping my bags off I set off to see the Bellver Castle and then head to the city center to see the sites there.

Lets talk about the adventure I had getting to the castle. The walk to the castle from the hostel was about 15mins but all uphill. I arrived to the bottom of the park I was suppose to walk through and realized that not only was it uphill it was also a series of stairs. (I think stairs are my frenemy) The great thing about this park was that there were a lot of look out points to stop and rest to view the city and harbor. Despite it being a cloudy day I was able to make out the city and yachts/ships in the harbor. I could just imagine it being a clear sunny day. The views would be amazing! Now the heat not so much lol.

Fun fact: Upon reaching the entrance of the castle from the park you feel a sense of accomplishment from walking all those stairs and think finally I can go in and look around. Well that’s a negative. The ticket office for the castle is not at the entrance. Fortunately, the gate keeper/worker allowed me to walk in without a ticket so I didn’t have to go looking for it. (#winning. Saved me 4 euros that I later had to spend on the ticket back to the airport). There is a medieval feel to the castle. It’s totally worth the walk for the unobstructed views of the city and the history.

Walking to the city center was much easier and also very easy to navigate. Once back on the main road it will take you straight to the city center and apparently to El Arenal (the public beach and broadwalk).

Walking through the streets of Palma was clean and pretty empty since I went during shoulder season. Beautiful streets, quirky shops and people is a recipe for a great experience.

I ended my day walking in the opposite direction on the main road looking for Cala Fornaris. This is one of the many beaches on the island but unfortunately I couldn’t find the public access to get to this beach. This lead me to believe that it was a private beach because along the perimeter of the beach was privately owned houses.

Unfortunately, my original plans for Saturday got derailed. Instead of going with my gut and taking the 3 hour bus ride to the other side of the island to explore the beauty there I decided to rent a bike. Yup definitely one of my stupider ideas. For one, the last time I rode a bike was at least 15 years.

Adventure or misadventure I still haven’t decided yet. But renting a bike is super cheap (as long as your not in the city center). Bikes start at $5/day. The shop must be only deals with amazons and giants because all the bikes in the shop were too tall. First sign I ignored lol since its important that you are able to touch the ground with ease. So get this, I thought I was going to bike 64km one way to the other side of the island. Mind you I didn’t make it 6 km before crashing into another biker. Yup, I crashed and burned not once but twice. Luckily, the second time around I only crashed into the sidewalk (an inanimate object). Got my first black and blue eye on this adventure. I ended up only riding 15km to El Arenal and then headed back home.

Moral of the story is that yes it is important to do things out of your comfort zone but to realize that not always will it be a accident free experience.

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My battle wounds!!! But the views were worth it.

Overall, Mallorca is a beautiful island with a lot of hidden treasures and gems. But unfortunately, you either have to be an experienced cyclist or rent a car to get around the island because public transportation isn’t the best.

Leave a comment below letting me know what you thought of Mallorca.

Oh Segovia

Oh Segovia, Segovia! I kept hearing about this cute little mountain town north of Madrid. How it was so quaint, had some cool things to see, and had great food. Well guys I wasn’t disappointed at all.

I got there around 10am and when I say it was completely empty, there were literally only two small families on the streets and an Asian tour group. Y’all know Spanish folks party hard and sleep late. They literally don’t start their day until 12. The crazy thing to me is they have a siesta from 3-6 sometimes 7pm. But anyways enough about that: back to the cuteness that is Segovia. I was able to explore the town without a large crowd and bonus take pictures without people photo bombing intentionally and unintentionally.

Getting to Segovia was an adventure in itself. I took a blabla car (uber for far trips) and boy was that interesting. My driver was super sweet but super active and talkative (like would not shut up talkative). But it was cool, I got to practice some Spanish and he got to practice some English. He dropped me off on the outskirts of the city partly because he had no idea where he was going and partly because he was getting anxious since he was late for his run. But it worked itself out because where we decided to stop I could see the beginning of the aqueducts. So it worked out.

My time in Segovia began with walking along the Aqueduct and marveling in its wonder. A tingy bit of history, the Aqueduct, its Roman…. History lesson over lol!!!

But on the real it’s a beautiful structure held together by air. Well maybe not literally but there is no grout holding it together.

Walking along the wall are many different paths to explore the town but don’t worry you can’t get lost. Everything circles around so you can easily find where you began or at least somewhere you actually recognize.

The Alcazar isn’t that big but still very impressive. It looks like a quaint castle. Now paying 3 euros to go up the tower not really necessary but you do get great views of the city. The only other place to get unobstructed views is to climb the tower in The Cathedral (I think it was either 1,5 euros or 3 euros to climb). Y’all the warning on the signs for The Cathedral said that the climb and descent takes about 70 minutes. That’s how tall and steep it is. I debated doing it and in the end I opted not to. The climb up the tower in the Alcazar was about 10 minutes if that lol.

View from The Alcazar Tower:

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Let’s talk food. Oh yummy food. So one of the most have foods to try (of course that’s if your not vegetarian/vegan) is Cochinillo. Cochinillo is a suckling roasted piglet. Jose Maria is the restaurant you must go to, to try it for the first time. Honestly, I was skeptical because I like to eat off the beaten path but locals and tourists alike were raving about the cochinillo at Jose Maria. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed at all. It is such a cute restaurant. Side bar: cochinillo cost 24 euros person for a piece of meat, no sides, no lettuce, no nada. So your girl was a little skeptical to try it so when I walked in I noticed they were having apertivos so I decided to order a beer and try one. I had the paella and it was quite delicious so that and the fact the vibes in the restaurant was great I decided to stay and go for the cochinillo. Y’all it’s a whole production and its great to see. I ordered cochinillo and a side of fries (not needed bad idea). The waiter came out with an appetizer and a basket of bread. I am only one person, I couldn’t possibly eat all this food. But everything was delicious and well worth every euro. Honestly, I think that’s the most I have ever spent on a meal for (key word is I spent lol).

Overall, Segovia is a cute little town and you only need about 4-6 hours to explore it. Of course, those who like museums would be on the longer end but honestly you do not need more than 8 hours to explore in its entirety.

Leave a comment below letting me know what your thoughts on Segovia are.

Traveling as a Bahamian Woman!

Oh the joys of traveling as a woman and to top it off being a (black) Caribbean woman. Traveling in itself is an adventure but when you add being a woman, being black, and being from the Caribbean it just spices up your experience even more. Depending on the country you travel to will depict how spicy your experience is. Of course if you travel to a country that rarely has a black female traveler let alone a Caribbean woman traveler, your travel experience will be like eating a whole goat pepper, seeds and all. (Spicy as all hell. Also if you haven’t noticed I do like food a lot lol!!!).

Some things that will more than likely happen to you as a (black) Caribbean woman traveling by continent:

  1. Asia:
    1. First and foremost are the stares. No conversation, no hi, no smile, JUST a stare. I usually smile and wave or stare back with my mean face depending on how I am feeling. But I mostly smile and wave.
    2. Photo bombs anyone!! Need I say more? While in China, natives constantly stood under me. Not next to, but under me because of course the concept of personal space is lost. Most times they won’t even ask for a picture they will just stand under you while a family member or friend takes the picture.
    3. You also get called Beyonce or any other celebrity or singer they know.
    4. Hopefully you are not afraid of babies because you will probably hold at least three during your time in the country.
  2. South Europe
    1. Now while living in Madrid, I have experienced some stares but it’s mostly because Spanish people can be rude at times. The biggest question I get asked is; ‘Are you from Senegal? Are you from Nigeria? Or my all time favorite, ‘Are you from Africa?’ During my time in South Europe I have noticed that there are not a lot of black travelers.
      1. Side bar: South Europe experiences a lot of migrators from various African countries so they assume that every black person they see is from an African country. (Remember, I am not speaking for all Spaniards or all South European people, just the majority/what I have experienced) Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being from Nigeria or Senegal or any other African country. The problem lies in the assumptions and the closed ended question. What’s wrong with ‘Where are you from?’

So these are some things I encountered from these specific areas but in general you can expect to experience some variation of them anywhere you go. Disclaimer: I haven’t been to all of the countries in the continents mentioned but where I have gone I have experienced those things. Some countries are better than others. Extra Disclaimer: I wouldn’t want to change my experiences. The different reactions of people help make it a trip, a trip to remember.

Let’s talk visas. So as a Bahamian there are some countries that I need a visa to enter. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced an issue in obtaining a visa for the countries I wanted to visit that needed it. What I have experienced though is the shocked faces when Border Patrol Officers/Custom Officers have when they see that I have a Bahamian passport. This is usually followed by one of two things; ‘Wow, you’re the first person I’ve meet from The Bahamas!’ or ‘Do you need a visa to enter?’ I find that I normally do their job because like anything most people only remember things that they constantly do. What sometimes annoys me is when the officers don’t have a list of countries that need and don’t need visas to enter their country readily available. Travel tip: Make sure before booking your flight and accommodations that you double and triple check if you need a visa and the process to obtain one. So far I have only needed to apply for and send my passport to the consulate for about 10% of the countries I have traveled to.

Leave a comment below letting me know your travel experiences!!!

Making the most of a long layover…

Time is a luxury we don’t always have while traveling. Some people believe that you need 1-2 weeks to visit a country. On the flip side, who has an unlimited amount of vacation days from work that they can take such a long trip let alone take a trip multiple times a year.  I truly believe that you only need 2-3 days to get a sense of what a city is all about. Don’t get me wrong, to find all the hidden gems in a city you definitely need to spend more time but hey thats what a return visit is for.

With that being said lets talk long layovers. Layovers are the perfect way to get a glimpse of another country when you have a limited time frame and budget. Fun fact, tickets are usually cheaper when a layover is involved. To me a long layover where you can actually leave the airport and enjoy the city is anywhere from 6 hours and longer. Mind you there are a few airports that you will need a minimum of 8 hours but for the most part 6 hours is a good rule of thumb.

During my first European Adventure with my girl Tori, we decided to book a ticket with a 24hr layover in Istanbul, Turkey. We landed late evening and stayed in the lounge for Turkish Airlines (one of my favorite airlines to travel) and left the airport very early the next morning. We had about 12 hours in the city and boy did we do and see a lot. Really its all in the planning but of course things can go wrong so you must be adaptable. We planned to leave the airport that evening but I couldn’t get my visa on arrival because my passport only had I think 4 more months until expiration. So unfortunately we all know the later you arrive to the airport or anywhere the less people working. The people who could override my date and issue me a visa wasn’t on shift for a few more hours that’s why we had to stay in the lounge. But hey, bright side, we stayed for free. The person manning the desk was super nice and helpful and allowed us to spend a few hours in the lounge for free. So overall, win win situation.

Traveling to China from Houston, I specifically looked for a ticket with a long over in another country. Lucky me, I found a bomb ticket (cheap and with an amazing airline). I found a ticket with Korean Air (my first love before discovering Turkish Airlines so now I have 2) with a 24 hour layover in Seoul, South Korea. After purchasing my ticket I started researching the airline and airport to see what perks might be there. And let me tell you, my research did not go unnoticed.  Korean Air offered complimentary hotel rooms for persons with a layover longer than 12 hours (this was in 2014 so I don’t know if they still do). Yup, you heard me. I got a free bomb, clean, hotel room on the airport shuttle route and close to public transportation to explore the city. Now it took a little work to get it. I had to email customer service; they responded with a number I had to call. When I called they tried to say Korean Air didn’t offer the service any longer. But with luck and being persistent I was able to find an agent willing to give me the complimentary room. Lesson here is never take no for an answer. Make sure you put in the work and don’t leave any table unturned.

* For some reason I can’t find any of the pictures I took in Seoul. Guess I will just have to go back since no pictures is pretty much like I never went. *

Now don’t just start purchasing long layover tickets without doing any research. Make sure the airport you are flying into isn’t far from the city center or the must see attractions. Make sure you have a general idea of where you want to go, if you can leave the airport, and a general idea of cost. If you prefer leisure travel, a long layover still could be possible but instead of fitting as many sites in as possible maybe you would just want to see one or two sites and eat something.

Remember, always do what is best for you. It is your travel experience so make it work for you.

Leave a comment below letting me know what some of your tricks are when booking flights.