Some people say that studying abroad is a 4 month vacation, and this post might add fire to this argument. But trust me when I say, for me, studying abroad has been much more than a vacation (I’ll explain more in an upcoming post.)
After about 2 months of being in Barcelona, I decided to book a cheap weekend trip to Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands, with my friend Jackie. Jackie and I went to high school together in St. Louis. The summer going into our senior year of high school, we studied abroad with two other girls in Costa Rica for 2 weeks. For me, that trip was a deciding factor in pursuing a Minor in Spanish and a reassurance that someday I would study abroad again (look at me now!) Jackie is also studying abroad in Barcelona, but she isa part of national program from the US and she is studying at different university than I am. Because both of us are studying abroad in Barcelona, it was easy to plan this quick weekend getaway.
Early Friday morning, the weekend of our trip, Jackieand I planned to meet at the airport, as we both live in different parts of the city. However, coincidentally, we ended up running into each other on the metro on our way to the airport. Our flight was early, and because the metro doesn’t open until 5 a.m., we we’re in a rush to get to our gate. We made the flight with no problem, and boarded the shortest flight of my life. I’ve never flown to Kansas City, but I imagine this flight was even quicker than that. It felt like we had just started ascending, and then the next thing you know we were descending. It took us less than an hour between Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca (I was impressed to say the least.)
We walked out of the airport and headed to the bus station. On our walk to the bus, we both agreed that it was much brisker than we expected it to be (I was very nervous considering I had packed anticipating island weather i.e. swimsuits and light tops.) We would find out later, when we were burning to a crisp on the beach, that our expectations were correct.
Our hostel was a 30 minute bus ride from the airport. The hostel itself used to be an old convent, but recently had been reestablished as a hostel. This was my first time staying at a hostel so I had no idea what to expect. We arrived 4 hours before check-in time, so we were only allowed to put our luggage in a storage area before heading out to find breakfast (it was still barely 9 a.m.)
We quickly discovered that we were on “island time” and none of the restaurants near our hostel weren’t open, so we began to walk more towards the city center. After about 30 minutes of hopelessly meandering around, we found a small cafe and I ordered the most appealing item on the menu: “super brunch.” I mean, I am an American after all, and easily drawn to anything that says brunch, and I was not disappointed. My meal consisted of a coffee, smoothie, water, meat and cheese platter, eggs, croissant, fruit salad, and yogurt bowl. It’s safe to say, I will be starting my diet promptly after returning to American soil (kidding. I love food too much to do that to myself. Besides I plan on binge eating as much Imos pizza, Bread Co. and Chick-fil-A as I can when I return.)
Even after our breakfast, it was still too early to check-in, so we decided to do some walking around. We headed over to the Santa Maria Cathedral to do some sightseeing, passing the port along the way. We walk around the Cathedral, but chose not to go inside. Outside the cathedral was a memorial, dedicated to all the people who are a part of the island, dead or alive. I thought that this was very interesting, because I think it is often overlooked that such a vacationy area is also made up of several locals who contribute to the functioning of the island.
By the time we finished walking around, we headed back towards the hostel and checked-in. When we got to our room we discovered we had two roommates, one of which was there, but didn’t speak a word to us. And the other was currently not in the room. We assumed the girl didn’t talk to us because she didn’t speak English or Spanish, but we later came to find out she was actually from Valencia, Spain. I was amazed that after sharing such a small room together, we didn’t know more about the girl from Valencia, but throughout the weekend she remained keen on keeping to herself (or just ignoring the two Americans in the room.)
We finished unpacking and headed down to the front desk to figure out where the closest beach was. We knew we wanted to avoid the enormous public beach, that looked like it would be a big family spot and full of tourists. The receptionist at our hostel told us about a beach about a 30 minute bus ride away that was more private and “más bonita.”
When we arrived at the beach, we were surprised to see that it was a topless beach. Although it was not crowded, of the few women there, the majority of them did not have their tops on. This didn’t bother us however because almost immediately after laying down on our towels, we both fell asleep (the early morning journey had finally gotten to us.) We laid on the beach for the remainder of the afternoon, until our stomachs and the sun got to us. During our search for food, I noticed that most of the restaurants around us were Turkish. I told Jackie we had to get döner dürum to quench my newfound obsession (thanks Alana.) With full stomachs, we headed back to the hostel.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by our other roommate, Rosie, who was from Russia. Although Rosie didn’t speak much English, we were able to communicate through Spanish. We quickly found Rosie was much more talkative than our Spanish roommate.
After meeting Rosie, we decided to take a nap before heading out for dinner. It was St. Patrick’s Day, so we were hoping to find at least one Irish pub. When we awoke from our nap, we discovered that just a few minutes walk away from our hostel were a handful of Irish pubs, so we got ready and headed that way.
Once we got to one that seemed to serving more than just beer, we found a table (it was hard enough to find a restaurant, let alone a restaurant that wasn’t completely full.) Jackie and I both got typical Irish dishes and enjoyed a Guinness before moving on to the next bar. Everywhere we looked, everyone seemed to be wearing these green top hats, and we wondered where people were getting them. At the next bar the waitress told us that if you guy two beers, you get a free hat (eureka!) Now we fit in with the rest of the obvious tourists. After making our rounds through the various Irish pubs, we headed back to the hostel to rest up for another day at the beach.
Day two was much like the first day, except we went to a different beach, near the original one. One thing I liked about Mallorca, besides the clear blue water, were the quiet coves that hid somewhat private beaches. They made for the perfect day of relaxing and for a great weekend getaway.
Like I said, day two was similar to the first day, we laid on the beach and then ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was a calm getaway, which was just what I needed. Two quick days of endless sun and relaxation before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Barcelona.
So yea maybe people may say I took a vacation on my “4 month vacation” (trust me, my semester has not been a vacation), but it was well worth it, and I would do it all again if i could.