Road trippin’ in Mallorca

Spending the majority of my life in Florida, I knew I always wanted to live near the water. Than after living in the mountains last summer, I found myself in a rut. I needed both! To my surprise, I found both on a beautiful Spanish island, Mallorca, in March. Mallorca is one of the 3 Balearic islands off the coast of Valencia. A few classmates and I flew into the capital of the island Palma de Mallorca on the 22nd of March. I was especially excited because I was meeting my best friend, Abby, here in paradise in a few hours! In the mean time Jacie and I rented a car, and it was just as easy as buying a pack of gum. We were ecstatic to be able to move around the island at ease, tiempo de la isla. We were headed to the airport to pick up Abby in our new car when we got a call.

Me: “We are coming to pick you up in the car!”

Abby: “I missed my flight and there are no flights until Sunday, I can´t come.”

This news was really disappointing, but luckily I was with my friend Jacie so I wasn´t alone. Our next problem was that we had already rented the car, and the cost that we thought was going to be split between 3 was now down to 2. We couldn´t do anything but embrace it, so that´s just what we did. Since it was already getting late we decided to stay around Palma and head out to the mountains the next day. If you are in Palma at night make your way to Ave de Argentina for the majority of the night life (which we did after we parked our car).

MA-2141

MA-2141

Our next destination was Sa´Calobra and no trip to the island is complete with out coming here. We began driving on MA-10 which is a coastal highway that stretches North to South on the West side of the island. On the left all you can see is miles and miles of ocean and to the right all that is in your view is the majestic Serra de Tramuntana mountain range that covers a majority of the West side of the island. In order to get over to Sa´Calobra we had to go over a mountain via MA-2141.

Wild sheep

Wild sheep

We saw dozens of wild goats, sheep and even a huge ram casually grazing on the side of the road. Unlike deer that are common road kill in America, these animals stayed on the grass and in the rocks, just observing the people passing through. The traffic that comes through this road is minimal, just tour busses and the occasional bunch thrill seekers like our selves. This was the most intense road I have ever seen, literally winding through the mountains and at some parts this two-way road would randomly turn into one lane. Infinite applause to Jacie for driving this road like a champ! I didn´t take this video, but here is one I found of the road we were on for Sa´Calobra.

cFWUy2gQFm7zxmpjkCLLhF3F_9vHJ2xWohpK9QtYKW4S-FmjjSwjTt_DEkqquWjesmscXjgzSqUfxFGsfdx438_zps31f2ef16We made our way to the main beach in Sa’Calobra unexpectedly, by following a sign that read “Torrent de Pareis.” The beach was amazing, discreetly tucked in between two huge cliffs where the Torrent de Pareis reaches the sea. The water was crystal clear and a deep turquoise blue that reminded me of the stones typical to the jewelry sold in New Mexico. After we walked along the water, we went exploring in the huge canyons that accompany the torrent and the valley in front of the ocean for miles. We were walking through shrubbery in between the canyons for about 10 minutes and were a little confused as to why there was no trail, but it had to be a hike, there was a sign that said 6 hours long, so we continued, in hope of a sign of another hiker or something to assure us we were headed down the right direction. 9S7pcVFhSepdkStRpWMEkczT8MG-MZ7tA2eN3_82AZYBZfCcfQnXEbi1uYbGZq0sJSt-5jR_GYMePvGeKjmzDc_zps20ce14c7Than we ran into a huge pool of water surrounded by dozens of boulders. As we continued to walk more natural pools of water appeared. It was a bit to cold to swim but we saw people in wet suits earlier who had been swimming all day!  I felt that I had been magically teleported back to the times when dinosaurs ruled the land. All that was surrounding us were rocks, more rocks, and water. Climbing, splashing and staring in awe is what consumed the majority of our day. Unexpected beauty delivered by nature, yet again. After our hike we needed to fuel up our car before it got dark, running out of gas on the dark MA-2141 was not how we would have wanted to end such a glorious day. 893899_10151538000427692_1234008909_o

So we skipped sunset on the beach and headed to civilization, we began heading up the MA-2141 and as we were doing this the sun was beginning to set. Colors of purple and orange filled the sky as the sun began to fall behind the enormous mountain moving along with us as we cruised along the mountain side. We finally made our way to Inca and got gas, but of course that came with obstacles. I inserted my handy visa into the pay station and waited a few minutes before we began to pump. Little did I know, after 3 minutes the payment becomes invalid, which I would later find out. So we asked the men next to us if they could give us a hand, and these men ended up helping us figure out what was going on with the gas. They had lived on the island their whole life and we began to chat, after we said we were from Florida the man told us his girlfriend was from Tampa, small world, because that is where Jacie and I are from. He was thrilled and was even more eager to talk to us and give us some local tips about the island.

Cap de Formentor

Cap de Formentor

After the gas was pumped we said good-bye and that we were going to have some dinner, they laughed at the idea of having dinner so early (it was 7) but said they were headed to a place where we could eat much better food than we were about to. Being food fanatics, we hopped in our car and followed them to a small restaurant Ca`s Puput in Mancor de la Vall, a pueblo we would have never run into with out these guys. We walked into the restaurant and our new friends greeted the man behind the counter in a way that made me believe they were long time friends. He asked what we would like to eat and we responded with what ever a local would get. The food was amazing, we ate Costillas de Cordero (lamb ribs) which were so tender they fell right off the bone. For dessert we had a traditional Mallorcan treat, Cardinal, which is a light, white cake that is very fluffy in the middle and tasted a bit like marshmallows. The majority of our conversations took place in Spanish and at one point they were speaking English and we were speaking Spanish, for practice. The culture exchange just from being at this restaurant for a few hours was through the roof. We got to laugh with local kids and joke around with, which was quite entertaining.

First sight of the day

First sight of the day

Our new friends insisted we spend the next day at the northern most point of the island, Cap de Formentor, we had no plans so we took their advice, said our good byes and headed North. The next morning we woke up before 9am and began to explore. We came to our first mirador (look out point) before any other tourist and watched the goats graze on the dew washed grass while looking out at the ocean. We could see a light house in the distance, so that was our next destination. We drove up another beautifully designed mountain road and made our way to the top where the light house was. The views here were phenomenal, we could see the road we just came up from and the land scape of the island.

lbcuvfMa3NKqs6PhVYZjHaAmeUvd83_CGe2FcL0HlUYPzJGzX35h7L4jI6DfHsPVlpoLBQEnZIbuw1jWFeZNx8_zps7395025dOn our way back down we stopped at a few cami de … which are different hiking trails off the side of the mountains. There were dozens of trails as we worked our way down the road. The one we went down led us down to a cliff overlooking the ocean and jet skiers in the distance. We went to a beach down the mountain, Playa de Formentor, which was completely surrounded by nature; pine trees, mountains, rocks. After we felt satisfied with our sights on the Formentor peninsula, we went to the neighboring peninsula, Alcùdia, and had lunch beach side in a port town. It was a pretty town but it was a bit to city for us, so we asked the waitress a recommendation for another beach nearby that she considered beautiful.

Photo by Jacie

Photo by Jacie

She said if we headed across the peninsula (just 10 minutes) we would end up at Mal Pas. So we did, we had tea at a restaurant that had a view that was like nothing I have ever seen, or imagined. It looked fake, like one of those back drops you take photos in front of on a cruise or something. Nothing but waves crashing in front of infinite mountains. The perfect combination of mountains and the sea! After we hung out there for quite some time, it was time for our final sunset of the weekend. We headed up a smaller mountain in Mal Pas and sat on a hill and watched the sunset. We knew this was the end to a surprising journey, we laughed and still tried to imagine how this was real life. The sky turned orange and the sun 536878_2941780279063_210771908_ndisappeared behind another mountain and all the was left was the ocean brushing up against the rugged mountains. The sound of waves crashing mixed quite well with the music of the Spanish club scene that was coming from a 90-year-old womans birthday party in a house just behind us. It was comical, viva la tierra, viva España, viva la vida. 

306018_2941778239012_358090770_n

Advertisements

BURN, BABY, BURN!

Since I was extremely silent on here for the month of March, I need to explain why!

  • The first 3 days of the month were spent in Prague
  • Than the beginning of March kicked off the festivities for Las Fallas festival, the main events being from March 14- March 19
  • Mallorca road trip March 22- 25
  • Barcelona school trip March 25 – 28

Mascletás

20820_10151628133213973_855780948_n

Las Fallas official start of day 1

Until I knew I was moving to Valencia, I had no idea what Las Fallas was. Although no amount of words and pictures will be enough to justify these 5 days, I will certainly try my best. Starting on the first day of March Mascletás go off in the city center everyday at 2pm, these are day time fireworks that are louder than any noise I have ever heard, but it is beautiful and every day is in a different symphonic order. Plaza del Ayuntamiento is completely filled with people everyday until the Mascletás come to an end on the last day of Las Fallas, March 19. As each day gets closer to the end of the festival more and more people fill the streets surrounding the launch site in Plaza del Ayuntamiento and it actually feels like you are swimming in a sea of people, usually I am not one for huge crowds, but it is amazing seeing the plaza fill up more and more each day with people from all over town, the country and even the world! Than stopping to think, I live here!

Espectáculo de luces

525313_10151539914862692_1629235700_nAbout a week before the kick off date of Las Fallas officially starts, el espectáculo de luces (light show) that happens, every night for 7 days in the district of Ruzafa! I have been to my fair share of raves and Disney world parades, but wow, Disney has nothing on Las Fallas. The light show would start at 8pm and reoccur every 30 minutes until 10pm to the beat of a few different songs, the funniest was “scream and shout” and seeing a little girl on her dad´s shoulders saying     “it´s Brittney bitch.” The first days of this were the best because we had free range to move and dance as crazy as we wanted, the last few days of Fallas it got pretty packed, as if there was actaully a live concert happening, nope, just the lights.

sds

Having way to much fun during intermission, because you can´t just see it once!

Having way to much fun during intermission, because you can´t just see it once!

564434_10151628137003973_1987411617_n

Fallas

Notice this is much higher than the apartment building behind it

Fire spinning Falla! Notice this is much higher than the apartment building behind it

It will happen almost over night, you are strolling through any of the 350 neighborhoods in Valencia (Fallas-communities in this case) and bam, there is a huge sculpture in front of your eyes that was not there just a few hours ago. Each Falla-community commisions two fallas-sculptures, a falla and a falla infintal. Each falla is made up of ninots. These are the figurines that all together make up the multi-faceted story of the falla. The bigger the falla, the more money that community has. The most expensive Falla this year was 600,000 Euros (x1.3=USD). The fallas are typically satirical, playing on political figures, movie stars, even Steve Jobs.

One cute dragon ninot that makes up another enourmous Falla

One cute dragon ninot that makes up another enormous Falla

The artist and teams who commission these fallas spend about 364 days working on them, the most fascinating part is on the last day of Las Fallas, every single falla (except the one voted best) gets burned to the ground!

The falla right outside of our study center .. appropriate

The falla right outside of our study center .. appropriate

Falla infintal These are much smaller and get erected first and burned first

Falla infintal
These are much smaller and get erected first and burned first

A ninot that is just a piece of one huge falla

A ninot that is just a piece of one huge falla

bu

It´s Jack!

Paella

foto de mi amiga Alex Tellez

foto de mi amiga Alex Tellez

The most typical dish to Valencia is the Paella, my favorite being Paella de Marisco (Seafood), the most typical one is made with rabbit and chicken. During Las Fallas, each Falla– community has their own tent to party, dance and make Paella! I ate so much Paella this week, before Fallas even officially started our class was invited to a multicultural desert competition which also came with all the Paella and Sangria you could drink! The following day our falla tent had a Paella competition between the teachers, which obviously also included all the Paella you could eat. It is really neat seeing this dish be prepared because when it is made for the masses they use these huge pan´s over an open fire. It is a science and also an art, things were heating up (quite literally) and the winner went to a FSU favorite, Professor BJ. I was sure to try all of the Paellas, my favorite being the one with snails, shell and all!

Fuegos Artificiales

215422_10151575914586694_1368337602_n

One thing that can always make me lose my breath is fire works, in Spanish, Fuegos Artificiales, I have spent countless holidays at the beach, New Years on the bay and 4th of July at  Epcot (Disney park) but no fire works show I have ever seen in my life can come close to the fire works I saw in Valencia during Las Fallas, even my friends mom who has seen a lot more years than we have agreed. Every night for 5 nights at the amazing river bed park at 12 (or 1) fire works would go off for 30 minutes, 45 minutes honestly I have no idea, forever! Each night topped the last, with what seemed like cannons of golden glitter exploding in the sky, everyone was going crazy. The entire park was full of people screaming and hollering for these explosions in the sky!

539685_10151628137593973_1299863818_n

579043_10151594591045439_1647913961_n

Desfiles

48120_10151628139763973_828287969_n

Fitting right in

A very important part of Las Fallas is el desfiles, the parades. Whether it is the falleras and falleros or just people dressed up with their fallas tent, people are always going to be marching with the tradational fallas pasodobles. While you can see parades at any given time during this 5 day fiesta, it is important to note 2 imoprtant parades during the week:

537121_10151539921102692_1519660861_n

The start of the virgin

The start of the virgin

Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados This is when Falleras big and small march to the plaza de la virgen (right near where I live) with bouquets of flowers they present to a towering statue of Virgin Mary. The streets are blocked off and it is an obstacle course making it a few plaza´s down town, but so entertaining it´s worth the wait! It is a nice change of pace, the whole week you are bombarded with the smells of fire and smoke but during la ofrenda the plaza is filled with scents of flowers.

306054_10151539920377692_2100600410_n

61561_10151539919917692_464588440_n

Fallera picking flowers for la ofrenda

58966_10151628139123973_789724565_n

The Virgin composed of flowers

The Virgin composed of flowers

483781_10151594595295439_1843818022_nCabalgada del fuego was the craziest parade I saw during the week, or maybe during my life! This parade is a prelude to la crema bringing 300 hell fires out to play. Ladies in firey red costumes, men dressed up as el diablo and fire, fire, fire! The crowd was out of control on Calle Colon but luckily my class mate Alex managed to snap some awesome shots!

531622_10151594596450439_19900332_n

The battlefield

In the middle of the city stretching for miles is a park, where a river once was, but has now been converted to an enormous stretch of land where there are different kinds of exercise equipment, play grounds, museums, everything! But during Las Fallas the riverbed turned into a war ground. It was impossible to walk through here at night without a constant suspension of a fire cracker coming down from above. The first night that the boys in my program found the pyroshop we had a battle. Some of us were on a bridge overlooking the river bed and the rest of us were down below. Tossing firecrackers back and forth, drinking and playing with fire… not a safe combo, but no one lost any body parts (from our program) which shocked me a little.

Nit de La Crema

Nit de La Crema 2013 View of the city from the top found this photo online

Nit de La Crema 2013
View of the city from the top
found this photo online

The trojan horse falla gets lit

The trojan horse falla gets lit

The highly anticipated crema happens on the last night of Fallas, by this time everyone’s bodies are drained from the constant boozing, lack of sleep and infinite walking. Even though we were on day 5 of constant fiesta the fact that is was all coming to an end was quite sad, but the show must go on, and that it did. Nit de la Crema, night of the cremation, is what all the partying leads up too. A spring cleaning some say. I got to see 3 different Fallas burn and it got hot! As each falla goes up in flames fireworks accompany it.

Fallera very sad it´s over

Fallera very sad it´s over

Falla infintal are the first to go

Falla infintal are the first to go

Next, our Falla goes up in flames!

cIa_474vJWmqZuLG7ggBhOEcDmYvxdRM1iQS6QMpeBc

Nc-tJZIddwkdjAnXBqyd11H1IjS2lBrmybFYh2KXyZs

Zc-IHym75NGN26G3iH9xZToiArv4c_gWkGRzxme7C3I

PloRiDusqBap9APSFyOzub108La6j7ahjs7TeISKPK4

Tent hopping and ran into this!

Tent hopping and ran into this!

Ciao bella

Ciao bella

Las Fallas can never be put into a perfect description no matter how many words, photos or videos I use, but I hope this gave yáll an insight on how unique Valencian culture is. Alex Tellez made an awesome Fallas recap video i´ll post on here!

Praha, final city of our spring break adventure

Aside

We hopped on a double-decker bus around 8am in Vienna and headed Northwest to a city I knew very little about, except that I should go. The first step I took into the city I was in love, the architecture here is so elegant, old and different from anything I have ever seen. I could not keep my eyes from looking up at the pointy tops of the buildings the whole time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We arrived in Praha, Česká Republika (in English, Prague, Czech Republic) around 1pm and made our way to our hotel for the night “City Center Hotel.” I wouldn´t reccomend staying here, the hostel, Arpacay we were at for the remaining 3 days was much cozier and all around had a much better vibe. Being able to jump into a down comforter that accompanied all of the beds in the hostel was quite nice and the breakfast was cheap but filling (tons of granola, yogurt, bread and meat), the staff helpful and the location perfect! It is located in the lower town (Mala Strana) of Prague, near the castle. ImageOur first night in Prague We walked up and down the Vltava river and each step presented us with a different view of the Prague castle, which is over 1000 years old! It felt like an alternate reality. I am from Florida, so I grew up seeing “Cinderella’s castle” at Disney World, there were times when I had to remind myself this is a real city, and that is a real castle. Nothing excites me more than the history that lies in these European palaces! We made our way to lesser town and hiked up to the castle at night! This was really awesome because we got to beat the crowds and look at the castle with out a group of 20 posing in front of it. Another interesting time to visit the castle, which we did, is at noon for the changing of the guards. There is a band and the guards are very traditional during this ceremony. Expect it to be packed, but worth it. I definitely recommend going at both day and night because you get to see two very different views of the city, dark and light. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the extensive walk to the castle, we were parched, and headed to The Pub to wet our whistles. I´m not one to splurge much, but the bloody´s at The Pub are worth it! I never really acquired a taste for this drink, but after having my senses rocked by the bloody I tried in Prague, I´m a fan! The man who made our Bloody´s took his precious time, and for obvious reason, perfection!

My favorite musician in the town!

My favorite musician in the town! Check out that instrumental masterpiece he created!!

The next day we made our way from our hotel in old town to our amazing hostel in lower town. The best part about this walk is crossing the Vltava river via the Charles Bridge (Karlův most, take not of the Czech name because it is on signs everywhere and a very central landmark in town). In my opinion, the best free thing to do in Prague! On this bridge you can find several musicians, artist, and other types of vendors. Much entertainment to be enjoyed on this bridge, not to mention killer photos!

Charles bridge late night

Charles bridge late night

Viva La Musica!

Viva La Musica!

Photo by mi amiga Kim who I got to meet up with in Prague!

Photo of Trdelnik by mi amiga Kim who I got to meet up feast with in Prague!

After yet another trek, we were hungry, the lady at the front desk of the hostel recommended us to two amazing restaurants, both in lower town, U Schnellů and Malostranska-Beseda. My favorite being Malostranska-Beseda, it was here that I asked the bar tender how to say cheers in Czech, na zdravi, always a good word to know when visiting a foreign country! I fell in love with Czech food during my time in Prague. I had never given thought to Czech food before, but I´m glad we found each other. At Malostranska-Beseda they started us off with complementary bread and butter. This wasn´t your typical bread and butter, the bread seemed to have cheese and pieces of bacon baked into it (and I don’t even like bacon) and the butter was garlic and chives. For my main course, I ate Roast beef with traditional creamy sauce, cranberries and a variation of dumplings. The combination of roast beef and cranberries is AMAZING!! The next day At U Schnellu I had roasted eggplant filled with cheese, tomatoes, basmati rice and yogurt salsa. Both places were very reasonably priced but it’s always good to keep in mind the 100 Koruna (Czech currnecy) = about 5 US Dollars.No visit to Prague is complete with out grubbing out on street food, which we found plenty of in old town (Staroměstské náměstí) square. After missing our free tour, were living in Spain so being on time for anything has turned into quite a struggle, we did the next best thing, EAT!481250_10151474249027692_1781322584_n Our first snack was Lángos, which is actually a Hungarian treat. It consists of fried dough, garlic butter, tomato sauce and cheese. Although they can consist of many other things when made at home. Our next task was satisfying my ever lasting sweet tooth. The most common sweet treat on the street is Trdelnik; rolled dough coated with sugar, cinnamon or nuts, this was perfect to warm our hands in the cold weather that accompanies Prague in mid-February. Something I noticed almost instantly is that there are Puppets everywhere! Scary, cute, funny, naughty you name it Prague has it. We made our way to a puppet shop and I was able to sneak in a few pics for my Uncle Jimmy who collects these strange dolls.

Astronomical clock in old town!

Astronomical clock in old town!

My favroite piece at the butterfly effect exhibit!

My favorite piece at the butterfly effect exhibit!

We went to an exhibit that was only in Prague until Mid-March, The Butterfly Effect, which hosted very unique pieces of art and then finally found our friends at the hostel! We met up with some of our best friends in the FSU Valencia program, Hector and Tash! I was beyond ecstatic to have this crew in the middle of Europe. We decided to hit The Jazz Dock, which I highly recommend. The atmosphere was chill but up-beat at the same time, the drinks were good and the food was great. Our group of 6 held down seats at the bar right near the band and enjoyed the sounds of this amazing quartet. After the Jazz dock some of us went to the most

Jazz Dock

Jazz Dock

visually pleasing club I have ever seen, Cross-Club. It is not in the center of town but well worth taking a cab. Just be careful with the cab drivers ripping you off and make sure you discuss the price prior to getting in the cab. One of our cab drivers tried to blatantly rip us off by saying my friend didn´t hand him money, when he did, luckily we didn´t let his sneaky ways get to us and we got my friends change back! 392958_497878680269200_407887803_nThe next day after watching the guards change at the castle and grubbing out on street food, we climbed up to Letenské sady (in English Letná Park) on Letná hill and hung out here for hours and could have stayed longer! Our friend Vanessa has an amazing camera so we got to take lots of pictures of the old town from this view and the Vlatava River rolling under the Charles bridge. The park is huge and there´s intersing buildings, swings and things to do all over it! We spent a lot of time watching the metronome swing back and forth, ha-ha. Fun fact, Michael Jackson kicked of his 1996 world tour here. If you want to people watch, this is definitely the place to do it! That night we went to a bar called the big lebowski, maybe you´ve heard of the movie. This is the only bar in Prague where you can actually name your price for your drinks and pay in Euros, Koruna or USD. The white russians were top-notch, next we headed back into the old town and went to a reggae bar (across from the 5 story club Karlovy Lazne) don´t go to this bar with your parents, but if you want to have some fun I would highly recommend it! And so came our final day in Prague, we obviously knew this day would come and wrapping up the most amazing trip I´ve ever been on was sad, but then we reminded our selves we were going back to our home in Valencia, España so it was fine. 525227_10151474239877692_172865002_nBy this point of the trip we were all scraping change so we decided to get into some nature (free!) and headed to the north-west outskirts of Prague via metro to Divoká Šárka. This place is amazing, directly behind a McDonald’s (gross) you can find this park and walk for hours! To the left of us were really impressive cliffs and to the right a bubbling creek where locals swim in the summer! There was definitely no swimming happening during my visit but we got to see snow, the combination of the green valleys and white snow was the  perfect sign that spring was just a few weeks away. This is a really tranquil place that makes you feel you are hours from the city, when in reality your bout 20 minutes away. Divoká Šárka was the icing on the cake for the final day of our spring break. A plane ride to Barcelona and bus ride to Valencia is what was left on our itinerary, sunny Spain here we come!485041_10151474233942692_1989390868_n Prague is the most architecturally pleasing city I have ever been to from walking the streets to hanging out in the park every sight was picturesque. If you ever make your way to this city be sure to bring some good walking shoes, eat all you can and use the public transportation because its easy, cheap and covenant. Also we found a use-it map for Prague and it was super handy! This map isn´t your standard map, it gives you advice about where the locals eat, party, shop and even how they act!

And im out, Danielle