I have been pretty MIA from this blog in the last month, mostly because things have been crazy hectic here in Barcelona. I spent last weekend in Mallorca (or Majorca for all of you Americans), but other than that, I have been in Barcelona since my trip to Madrid. However, by no means have I been bored, as this city continues to surprise me all the time. Also, basically 4 out of the next 6 weekends I am planning on traveling out of the country, so I’m glad I was able to get some time here to continue exploring the city.
Since my last post, a lot has changed with my work. “Full time work” for a teacher here is more or less 20 hours per week, as each lesson needs to be planned and that takes time. Some academies provide teachers with materials and lesson plans for their classes, but (I’m not sure whether this is lucky or unlucky) I have been on my own since the beginning with all of my students. While it is a lot more responsibility and time-consuming to design a full and personalized curriculum consisting of reading, writing, listening and speaking components for each student, it does make the lessons more engaging and fun for me to teach.
The small academy that I had been working for since January told me two weeks ago that they were closing permanently. As is typical in Spain, I was given one day’s notice and was basically unemployed. This caused me to absolutely panic and stress. That feeling was foreign to me, as I have felt more relaxed here in the last few months than I ever have in my life. However, being jobless and penniless in March (also one of the worst times to find work here) was not my idea of “living it up” in Barcelona. Of course, all this worrying was not worth it, because I have been able to find more hours than before, at better pay, and on the ideal teaching schedule. Everything worked out wonderfully, and I am so thankful.
In the last month, I’ve been able to meet and catch up with family and friends from the USA who traveled to Barcelona. My cousin and her husband were in town for the Mobile World Congress and I was able to meet them and spend a night hanging out with them in Barcelona. I had not seen them since my uncle’s wedding that was over 8 years ago, so we had a lot of catching up to do. They are so fun and it was a wonderful night! Also, my friend Jen and her fiancé also came to town for Mobile World Congress, and I was able to spend some time with them during their visit. Even though they have the worst luck in the world and came down with a stomach bug during the trip, I had a great time showing them the city that I adore.
While all winter it varied between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit, it finally has gotten colder here (average temperature this month was around 50). I have been so cold and have been so jealous of the 75-degree weather that is happening now in the states. I am aware that I lucked out with awesome weather all winter, but I am so ready for Spring/Summer weather (aka HOT) here. I cannot wait to go sit by the Mediterranean and not be cold. I am crossing my fingers that I will be able to do that in the next month.
Last weekend, Taylor, Amanda and I decided to take a jaunt to Mallorca in the Balearic Islands off of the mainland of Spain for a few days. I was PRAYING for warm weather, but, alas, it was not to be. I am telling you, I am terrible luck. Every single time I have left Barcelona, the weather has been either freezing cold, cloudy, or rainy. Berlin and Amsterdam were freezing and raining, Nice was very cold, Paris was rainy and cold, Madrid was cold and cloudy, and Mallorca was really cold with varying amounts of clouds during the day. It could have been worse this time, but it was pretty disappointing.
We arrived Saturday morning at our AirBNB, and had planned on doing some research about where to go on the island. Our AIRBNB didn’t have WIFI, so we were essentially stranded and cut off from all communication. We decided to wing it and take the bus into Palma de Mallorca, the largest city on the island, and explore. The city was beautiful and we felt like it was what we had imagined a typical “Spanish” city looked like before arriving in Barcelona. Barcelona is gorgeous obviously, but many parts of it seem much more modern and cosmopolitan in comparison to the rustic, ancient feel of Palma.
The cathedral of Mallorca is a large Gothic, Roman Catholic church located really close to the Port of Palma. It is very beautiful, but feels a little like a fortress, as it is surrounded by really high walls and is completely made of golden limestone. It took almost 400 years to build, and is one of the most iconic buildings in Mallorca and in Spain as a whole. It was difficult to get a good picture of it because it is so large and we did not walk far enough away from it to capture the building in all of its’ glory, but I did my best.
Our next stop was Bellver Castle, one of the only circular castles in Europe. It is located a few kilometers away from the city center It was used as a residence for the kings of Mallorca, and also as a military prison. It is the first castle I’ve seen with an actual moat! The castle is located on the top of what seems like a mountain but was actually just over 550 steps to get to the castle entrance from the gate at the outside. From the top of the castle, you can see the Mediterranean Sea and the port on one side, and beautiful mountains and trees to the other.
While the view from the castle was impressive, the best part was just hanging out with the girls at the top. It’s strange to think that I have only known these two weirdos for 5 months. These have been the craziest, most spontaneous, eye-opening, life-changing 5 months of my life, and I feel lucky to have met friends that understand me, make me laugh, and support me even though I’m what feels like a million miles from home.
After the hike down from the castle, we were starving and decided to stop in a random place to get food because we were getting hangry. Eating at a random place (from my experience in Barcelona) is 95% of the time super dicey, but we seriously lucked out at the Art Café. It was ADORABLE. We ate outside in a peaceful,quiet oasis. There were vines all over the walls, beautiful tile work, and a lemon tree in bloom right in the middle of the outdoor seating area. We enjoyed some awesome vino and apps. It was the perfect end to our day of exploring.
We napped and planned to go out that night, but it turns out that during the off season NOTHING is open on the part of the island where out AIRBNB was, so that was an epic fail.
The next morning, we woke up, got coffee (obvi) and went back into the city to walk around. Again, the weather was cold and pretty dreary, and I forgot my camera, so I didn’t get any pics of Sunday, but it wasn’t too exciting. I watched my first full rugby match which was certainly an experience, and walked through the windy, old streets of the city for the rest of the day.
We flew back to Barcelona on Monday and arrived by mid afternoon and went off to begin teaching our classes.
This week is normally one of my favorite weeks to party in Philadelphia. The Erin Express and St Patrick’s Day festivities are so much fun. It was a little sad to see pictures of everyone out celebrating last weekend, but I’m excited for the experience of celebrating another holiday in Barcelona.
My bestie Muggle is coming to visit next week and we are heading to Italy for Semana Santa (Easter Week). Easter week is a huge deal in Spain, and all schools are off for the entire week. So, I could not think of any better way to spend 5 days than explore the country that I have dreamed about seeing since I was young with my partner-in-crime. We are going to Rome and Florence EEEK! I am planning on taking tons of pictures, eating tons of amazing food, drinking tons of wine, and causing lots of trouble 🙂 I am so so so so so excited and cannot wait to see Jenna as it has been WAY too long since I’ve seen her face. We already conquered Mardi Gras, next stop on the bucket list is Italy.
I will update the blog with our Italian shenanigans when I recover from what is sure to be an amazing, exhausting, super fun adventure. Until then… adios amigos!