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.

Travical Summer 2017

I made it to 12 countries this summer! I know, it sounds crazy and unbelievable to my ears as well. July and August were busy months for me. In July I solo traveled to Guatemala, Panama, and Costa Rica. August I took the Golden Girls (My mom and aunt) to The Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Israel, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, The Vatican, and Madrid. This summer brought my total count to 31 countries visited.

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In the native shoe in Amsterdam. 

Man sometimes I wonder how I planned everything. Central America was easy because it was just me and solo traveling is the easiest way to travel. Traveling with the Golden Girls now that was a different story. Don’t get me wrong I had a great experience but it was challenging sometimes. From trying to decide which countries to go visit, how long to stay, where to stay, what to do, what’s the budget for each country, how are we traveling (student budget or nay), modes of transportation; these are questions you have to ask when traveling with a group.

Coordinating with a group can be difficult but I find that the best way to plan is for one person to take the lead. What does taking the lead mean, being responsible for researching everything, from the best routes to hotels to transportation etc. Another way to go about being the lead is to delegate different tasks for each person in the group to do, collect the information found and compile one document. As in any occasion working in a group you must always be prepared for one or two slackers.

Working with the Golden Girls was fairly easy because they pretty much left everything to me. From choosing which countries to visit to where to stay to basically anything you can think of. So for me it worked out great. Well except that one time I spent 3 hours planning tickets and hotels for a set itinerary to only have to do it all over again because one of the Golden Girls remembered that she always wanted to go to the Holy Lands. Mind you we had finalized the list of countries a few days ago but hey I made it happen.

The itinerary was 3 days in Amsterdam, 3 days in Vienna, 3 days in Budapest, 7 days in Jerusalem, 4 days in Athens, 3 days in Sofia, 2 days in Rome, and 5 days in Madrid. Honestly, I still can’t believe that we pulled off that itinerary in 30 days.

~A few pictures from a few cities~

To research prices I used different search engines to get the best deal. The ones I most frequent was Kayak, Google Flights, Expedia, and One Travel, Hotels.com, AirBnB, and Booking. Travel Hack 1: make sure you look the airlines baggage rules when determining what flight is cheapest. For example, if Airline A is $150 for a flight but charges a $40 for 1 checked bag and Airline B is $170 with no charges for 1 checked bag then by going with Airline B will save you $20. Travel Hack 2: make sure you check if the airline requires you to check in or pay for checked baggage online to avoid astronomical fees. For example, if Airline A charges $15 for pre-checked luggage done online vs. $40 to check in luggage at the airport, which is a savings of $25.

Overall, an amazing experience and worth all the airport hours I accumulated. Any questions on how you can book your own travical experience write a comment below.

 

Alicante or should I say Levante

 

Looking for a beach in Spain can be a difficult task especially depending on what constitutes a beach for you.  This weekend, my friends and I decided to head to the beach and chose to go to Alicante which is in the south of Spain.

Getting to Alicante was a journey within itself. At first, we wanted to drive there but couldn’t because none of us have international drivers license.  The process of looking for a rental company that would rent to us was annoying and we gave up and decided to go by bus instead.  The bus ride to Alicante from Madrid is 5 hrs.

Alicante is a cute little beach town. At first glance it seemed quiet due to the fact that its not beach season yet here in Spain but for me I appreciated the quieter side of things. We stayed at this awesome airbnb that was less than a 5-minute walk from San Juan beach with great views of the water, town, and mountains.

Now lets talk about the most important thing, the water.  The water really surprised me, from its color to its cleanliness.  The water had some blue hues in it and was really pretty from afar.  You know ya girl went in the water. It was cold at first touch but once you are in it feels great.  It was really windy this weekend so the water and waves were rough so I couldn’t really spend as much time in the water as I wanted to. According to one of my students the wind has a specific name here, Levante. Levante was definitely acting up this weekend.

 

One thing I didn’t understand is the fact that there were no stars in the sky.  I love to star gaze and hearing the waves of the ocean while seeing the stars play and flash on the water is one of the best things but I was sad that there were no stars in site.

Nightlife, you would think it would be dead because the town was empty but boy were we wrong.  Friday night started with us going to the Thai Corner to eat you guessed it thai food.  Calle Labradores is the street the restaurant is on and it was so busy and had a great feel and atmosphere. While walking to the restaurant we saw a big box with a bunch of post-it notes people wrote, a woman doing someone’s make-up, and a host of bars and tapa places.

We made it to the restaurant and boy were we pleasantly surprised. There was a distinct New Orleans atmosphere, from the playing of jazz music to people swing dancing.  While eating our food we got to watch some live performances. Overall I would say the dinner experience was great.

If you are looking to get away from the city for the weekend, Alicante is the place to go. There you will find a little of everything, nightlife, the beach, and great food and atmosphere. Another city of Spain down, a million more to go.