The next chapter

The time has come, school is over and it is summer time. Something I would usually be ecstatic about, but in this case it means leaving sunny Spain, saying see ya later to my new friends and beginning a new chapter of life. As most of my friends were boarding planes back to Florida I was trading sangria, paella and the beach for chocolate, cheese and the alps; off to Schweiz, known to most of you as Switzerland. I was lucky enough to find a job as an au-pair for the summer. I didn’t know much about the country except there were big mountains, which is enough to draw me in. I have now learned there are 3 main languages here German, Italian and French; depending on what side of the country you are in. I live in Gais, in the canton of Appenzell and everyone speaks German. Unlike most au-pairs I do not live with the family. I actually live in “The Falcon” with 3 of the families interns for their company. So it is pretty awesome that I have fellow 20-something’s to hang out with here. A normal weekday in Gais consist of waking up around 7:45 (big change from Spain) and hopping on the 8:20 train for a 9 minute ride to the house of the family I am working with. The interns work at the house as well because the office is upstairs, the house is actually a restored factory. It is surrounded by goats, sheep and lots of mountains in sight. The baby is only 6 weeks so there isn`t much action coming from her except for feeding, sleeping, pooping and the occasional smile, but she is an amazing baby and so cute! After work if the weather is nice we walk and sometimes end up on top of a small mountain looking out over the whole town. It is amazing, within 15 minutes we can be in the clouds looking at the snowy alps that surround us. My first post-work run we ran up a mountain and then had a snow ball fight, because up high there is still snow! Come dinner time, we take turns cooking and since meat is super expensive and one of the guys is vegetarian we don’t cook any meat. Most of the food at the grocery stores are farm fresh. After that we usually watch a movie, which is nice because the amount of movies I have seen is very low. In the past 2 weeks I have watched more movies than I have all year. Having down time and going to bed at 12am rather than 4am on a daily basis is quite refreshing. gTpxnmC3-wW4ZLUgiqyVShmgEHtEjp1oMrZjuI8xnzo,6mV_5VT1er0aj8joOzfhWawGq5JLnQt8azpLGiXDPscSwitzerland is very different from Spain; the people, the food, the land. The things that stands out most to me so far is the punctuallity of the trains and people in Switzerland. Something that is completely different from Spain, and myself. I have always lived on what is known as Cuban time and being in Switzerland is going to really help me become more punctual (I hope ha-ha). A half-tax card was included in my au-pair gig which means that I get half off on all transportation in Switzerland. There is an additonal add on (glais 7) that is available for people 25 and under that allows us to travel for free from 7pm – 5am. I was advised to buy it so I did and it makes traveling around the country very convinent. Friday after work I hoped on a train and headed to Zurich, since it was after 7pm it didn’t cost me one Franc! I arrived in Zurich at about 8pm and met my couch surfing host, Hana and her friend Manu at the train station. We went to a cafe where a different band plays every Friday and had a beer when another girl who was staying at her house, Kristi, joined us. IMG_2600Hanna suggested we make our way to another place for music, Musikklub Mehrspur. Before even walking in the bar I could tell this place was right up my alley. We arrived during the set break and on stage I saw a few shiny, brass instruments, a bass guitar, a piano and drums. We had arrived at a jazz club and I was happy as ever to finally here some excellent music! A 6 piece band from Hungary hopped on stage and played for about an hour. They were pretty good, and jammed at the end and I finally got a drop of phunk, but not nearly enough to satisy my craving for the funk, haha.

View from Hana's neighborhood

View from Hana’s neighborhood

The next day Kristi and I explored Switzerland`s biggest city (still small by other countries standards) and wow I totally understand why it is ranked one of the top cities to live in in the world. Running through the city is a huge lake that is surrounded by endless mountains. There are docks, sail boats, kayakers and in the summer time swimmers occupying the waters. There are Sauna`s on docks surrounding the lake, as well as resturants and benches for picnics (which is how we spent a bit of our afternoon).

Flea Market

Flea Market

We stumbled upon a flea market where I found post cards from the 1920`s! There were all sorts of trinkets from pins, to jewlery, strange boxes and dolls. Think of a yard sale on some serious steroids. We had some lunch we brought by the lake and than ran into some really funny men that were having a day time bachelor party. They were collecting money for the groom and his brides honeymoon. Giving out beer and the groom was to perform tricks for tips. It was a pretty creative way to make a buc for the post wedding festivites. Surrounding Lake Zurich is tons of grass and parks, the city is bursting with spring time.

 

oJl3WtQbLEw1HfYmgZiZ2rxzoUi0GZhs_4E55kxdT3Q,7PSMhbudamlm0WUJ1q9whU1kg2YghXxUvIn3YQyLRGo Flowers of every color hung in the trees, blossomed from the ground and borded the picture perfect green grass. My friend Simson told me about free bike rentals in Zurich, so we made our way to the train station near glais 18 and rented bikes (20 franc deposit that you get back). We rode along side the lake and made our way to get another park. Kristi was headed to meet her friend in Lucerne, so I went with her to the train station, where a dance festival was going on… in the station, Zurch tanzt. It was pretty interesting and was the night got later the music got crazier. I headed back to Hana’s and had dinner with some of her friends. I decided to go home that night since it would be free with the glais 7.

The Seealpsee See = Lake in German

The Seealpsee
See = Lake in German

IMG_2860So I headed back and Sunday went on a hike to the Seealpsee. A lake about 4,000 feet high in the middle of the Alps. The water was pretty cold still so only one brave soul was in there, but come summer I am excited to finally swim, my inner fish is craving the water. Since the snow is melting right now, there were several water falls on the way up and surrounding the mountains that circuled the Seealpsee. The water was a breathetaking blue that held the reflection of the mountain perfectly.

 

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After exploring, I pulled out some sandwiches and had lunch next to the lake. Day 1, lunch next to a lake in the middle of the city. Day 2, lunch next to a lake in the middle of the alps; this is something I can certainly get used to. A few feet away from the lake was a tiny village that was built around rocks. The houses had rocks on the outside of them but were built in an extremely beautiful way that allowed the rocks to compliment the houses. So far, I am in love with this country and the ability to be in the mountains and city in the same weekend, same day if I really wanted.

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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. 

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