Guide to Mallorca, Spain

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Now that the weather has started to warm up, I packed up some bathing suits and made my way to the islands of Spain. My first stop: Mallorca. I flew out of Barcelona, so it was a quick 40-minute flight and cost me about 40 euro… roundtrip. Yes, you read that right. Because I decided to travel here in March, a lot of the island was still closed for winter. This also meant not a lot of tourists. We were still able to find amazing restaurants, great beaches and a ton of good outdoor terraces for cocktails. What I didn’t know before my trip was that the island is pretty spread out, so I recommend renting a car! We spent way too much money on taxis.

This being said, do not consolidate yourself to one city. Here is a list of places in Mallorca that are worth seeing.

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Towns 

1. Palma – The heart of Mallorca and the biggest city on the island. Here you will find a bunch of hotels, shopping spots and places to eat. From experience, this area does not have the most beautiful beaches but it is a convenient area to be close to.

2. Port de Sóller – Hands down, my favorite part of Mallorca. Talk about a cute little town filled with amazing stores, great vibes and really yummy food. It is picturesque and totally worth the trip. Make sure you give yourself a few hours in this little town because it is definitely worth it.

3. Soller – This area is about 40 minutes outside of Palma, but they offer cheap trains that will take you across the island for really cheap.

4. Cala Figuera – Tiny little town with the most amazing beaches. Not much to do other than explore and layout but it’s so beautiful.

Restaurants

We spent most of the trip laying out and eating snacks, so we did not attend that many sit down meals. Two of these restaurants we went to and were awesome, and the rest I was highly recommended.

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  • Max Garden
  • Il Paradiso
  • Ola Del Mar
  • Sakana Sushi
  • Nola
  •  Temple Natura

Beaches

All across the island, there are beautiful beaches. Some offer crystal clear water, while others are better for tanning and relaxing. Although I obviously could not get to them all, these are a few that you should definitely see.

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  1. Playa de Cala Pi
  2. Illetas
  3. Cala d’Or Cala Llamp
  4. Port de Pollença
  5. Cala Mondragó

Activities

To be totally honest, we came into the weekend strictly wanting to relax. It was still a bit cold so many of these things weren’t available yet. But here is a list of activities that are offered on the island, for those of you seeking adventure.

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  1. Hiking
  2. Rock Climbing
  3. Stand-up paddleboarding
  4. Exploring Cuevas del Drach ( caves )
  5. ATV
  6. Boat Tour

Shopping

I was honestly a bit unimpressed with the shopping in Mallorca. If you want big chain stores they have a strip of them in downtown Palma, but there were not as many cute boutiques as I had imagined. However, if you do make it down to Port Soller, then are a ton of great stores with woven bags, hats, and other beach necessities. Here is a list of the few stores I was able to find that have really cute stuff!

 

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Beach Boutiques 

  • Kidama, Puerto Portals
  • Vell Marí
  • Pink Flamingo Urban Spa & Boutique, Palma
  • KOS Beach Boutique, Illetas
  • Mimbreria Vidal* – really cute bag store!

 

If there is one thing I can emphasize it is to really try to see as much of the island as you can. Rent a car and go explore because each town is so different.

Hope you enjoy!

European Budget Airline Review

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As a college student, I find myself frequently using cheap, budget airlines while traveling abroad in Europe. Studying abroad is filled with constant weekend getaways, exploring new cities and really embracing the culture you are immersed in. However, these cheap flights do tend to cause a lot of stress. Now that I have studied abroad twice, I have spent a good amount of time and energy dealing with these companies. Here is a breakdown of the positive and negatives that come with Budget airlines.

 

Ryanair

This is one of the most popular airlines to use while in Europe. It generally has the cheapest flights, but it comes with a lot of traps. If you book in advance, you can get a flight for as low as 14 euros. This airline, although it is not the best, does have a wide range of flights for a very good cost. However, they are very strict on bag policy and will frequently stop you at the gate and charge you a 25-40 euro fee. Flights are almost always delayed, and I have had multiple flights canceled. Be prepared for some issues.

Bag Policy 

Free: One Personal Item: 40cm x 20cm x 25cm – 10kg  (strict)

Available for Purchase:

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Vueling

Hands down my favorite budget airline. Their hub is located in Barcelona, so they have a wide variety of flights offered in and out of Spain. An airline ticket comes with a free personal bag, as well as one carry on. The planes are generally in good, clean condition and they are not typically delayed as much as other airlines. If you are flying in Europe, I would recommend this airline over others.

Bag Policy

Free:

  • One Personal Item: 35x20x20 cm
  • One Carry-on: 10 kg and no larger than 55x40x20 cm

Available for Purchase:

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Norwegian

Norwegian offers very cheap airline tickets to and from the US. They also offer cheapish flights between the EU, but they are generally a bit more expensive than other airlines. Norwegian provides the option for one free carry on bag and one small personal item. If you are traveling a bit further, with multiple checked bags, I would recommend buying their economy plus ticket. It comes with two free checked bags, super comfortable seats and two meals (depending on the flight time).

Bag Policy

Free:

  • One Personal Item: 25 x 33 x 20 cm
  • One Carry-on: 55 x 40 x 23 cm

Available for Purchase:

  • Checked bags: 1st bag from $12 – $47, 2nd bag from $20 – $86
Norwegian airlines bag policy differs from other airlines regarding the weight of bags, so make sure you check before your trip!

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EasyJet

Easyjet is another very inexpensive airline that is popular for study abroad students and backpackers. This airline flys to over 30 countries and offers trips all over Europe. It is very convenient if you want to get somewhere for cheap. This airline, much like Ryanair, does come with a lot of extra hidden charges. Bag policy is taken very seriously and will cost you. Expect frequent delays and bad customer service. I have had multiple flights canceled, and have had to deal with the inconvenience of airport/airline employee strikes. Not my favorite airline, but for the cost, it is okay.

Bag Policy

Free:

  • One Personal Item: 56 x 45 x 25 cm (including handles and wheels)

Available for Purchase:

  • 15kg bag
  • 23kg bag
  • 32kg bag

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Wizz Air

This Hungarian airline is quite possibly the worst budget airline you could fly. I tried this airline while studying in Prague, since most of the flights are within eastern Europe, and it was a disaster. The bag policy is insanely strict, so be prepared to pay up to 40 euro for a cabin bag. The airline is low budget, so the seats are not very comfortable. Flights are frequently delayed and the customer service is poor. I wouldn’t recommend.

Bag Policy

Free:

  • One Personal Item: 40 x 30 x 20 cm

Available for Purchase:

  • Checked bags: 20 kg bag from €14-€60, 32 kg from €19 – €120

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There are pros and cons with every airline you chose to fly. Make sure you give yourself enough time and try to pay close attention to their guidelines, to avoid getting charged extra fees.

One day in Bruges, Belgium

 

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Bruges, Belgium… this place is unlike any other city in Europe. It’s like walking through an ancient fairytale. The small town is filled with endless chocolate shops, cobbled streets, horse carriages, and cute canals. As one of the biggest tourist locations in Europe, it can get a bit crowded at times, so going in off months is suggested. Either way, the experience is worth it.

How to get there

Every 20 minutes or so a train runs from Brussels city center to Bruges. It only takes about an hour to get there and is a beautiful ride. The train station in Bruges is an easy 20-minute walk from the city center.

  • They also offer direct buses and trains from the Brussels South Charleroi airport. This takes about two hours.
  • Many other cities in Europe have transportation services that can be taken into Bruges.
Processed with VSCO with aga2 presetMy 6th waffle of the weekend.

Where to stay

Because I was only in Brussels for three shorts days, I decided I only had enough time to take a day trip to Bruges. At first, I was a little bummed but with the right planning, it was totally possible to see everything in one day.

If you have decided to stay overnight, here is a list of recommended hotels and Airbnbs that will not break the bank.

  • Hotel Academie
  • Hotel Aragon
  • Flanders Hotel
  • Hotel De Goezeput
  • St Christopher’s Inn at the Bauhaus (Hostel)

 

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What to Do in Bruges

  • Attend local chocolatiers
    • It seems like every other shop is Bruges is a local chocolate shop. Each shop offers different variations of amazing chocolate. The shops smell delicious and the chocolates taste even better.

 

  • Take a canal tour
    • All through the city, beautiful canals stream through the streets. Depending on what time of year you go, they offer 30-minute canals tours. I didn’t get the chance to take one, but in the summertime, it is highly recommended.

 

  • Explore Museums, Art Galleries, and Cathedrals
    • Although this is a small town, it is filled with things to see. They offer specialty Museums which are very fun to walk through, as well as beautiful cathedrals filled with breathtaking artwork.

Some of these include:

  • Bruges Beer Experience
  • Choco-Story (Chocolate Museum)
  • Bierpaleis
  • Frietmuseum (Fry Museum)
  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter Potterie
  • Anne’s Church

 

  • Drink Beer at a local Pub
    • Bruges really has a different feel than most cities I have traveled to. The bars are very authentic and offer unreal beer. Make sure you visit Delaney’s Irish Pub.

 

  • Walk through the beautiful Grote Markt
    • This is the main square in Bruges and is filled with colorful stores, restaurants and beautiful churches.

 

  • Belfry Tower
    • The Belfry Tower offers one of the most beautiful views in the city (maybe even in all of Europe.)

 

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Food in Bruges

  • Old Chocolate House*
    • This place is a must. Hands down the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my life. The tiny little chocolate shop sells chocolate and other goods on the first floor and has a sit-down restaurant on top. The place offers 27 types of hot chocolate you can choose from, but the best is the simple classic hot chocolate. They bring over a tray of chocolate and cookies, as well as a soup bowl mug of steaming milk. You then stir in as much chocolate as you want until it is melted and ready to drink.

 

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0-5Un. Fucking. Real.

  • Delaney’s Irish Pub
    • Not only is this place a fun pub, but they also have a huge variety of really good food. The portions are huge and not as expensive as most restaurants in Bruges.

 

  • Bones
    • If you love ribs as much as I do, this is the place for you. They offer great ribs as well as traditional Belgium food. This place is a bit pricier but has really good food.

 

  • Chez Albert
    • This is one of the most popular Belgium waffle shops in Bruges. You can get waffles for as low as 2 euros and they are super gooey and delicious. They weren’t the best waffles I had all weekend, but definitely tasty.

 

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Capturing the Culture

This past summer I studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. My whole life I have wanted to travel, but never had time due to athletics. The night that all the UT study abroad applications were due, I decided to last minute apply to a photography program. After a few months of anticipation, I finally got the news. I freaking got it. Right away I began saving up, and a week before I headed to Europe I bought myself a new Sony mirrorless camera.

Since I had splurged on such an expensive camera, I wanted to get my money’s worth. So I brought it with me everywhere I went. Literally everywhere. I took pictures of whatever was around me. Sunsets, babies, dancers, tourist…you name it, I took it. The greatest part of this trip was that I was able to see and experience the little things that people miss out on, on a daily basis.

 

My homework assignment every night was to pick my favorite photo of the day and write a blog post about it. Now looking back, I am able to relive all the intimate details about each day.

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If there is one thing I recommend to students going abroad is to write about every single one of your experiences. Each day goes by so fast and you want to be able to share these memories. Be aware of the small things around you because there are constantly moments happening that you will miss out on. Although you want to fully experience things, don’t be afraid to stop for a moment and take a photo. These will be with you forever.

 

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photos all by me 🙂