19 DICIEMBRE 2016
3 weeks, 4 cities and 2 horrific creatures
Palma EVS - Part 13
November 21th – December 11th
3 weeks have passed since my last post and tons of stuff happened during that time. If you decide to stick around you can read about: life in the apartment without the girls, visiting Manchester and having a family meeting there, going to my mid-term training, visiting Granada & Málaga, getting sick by the end of the vacation and not one, but two evil creatures that caused nightmares to a lot of Hungarian children.
After Pier came back from his vacation in Tenerife we were 6 in the piso once again, but only for a very short time, because all 4 of the girls had their on-arrival training the following week. Since the arrival of the first 2 girls (Steffie and Malin) in the middle of September we got used to sharing the apartment with others, so living there only with Pier was sort of unusual. It was also very different from our first weeks in Palma, because back in July and August we were out in the city, discovering the place basically every day and that was not the case this time, when we spent our days in a very boring way. At least we had a good reason for it. And that reason: we were working a lot in the office to be ready with Acción Balear's brand new newsletter in time. I was creating some folders about EVS projects for it and Pier's job was to put the whole thing together and prepare it to be sent. At the end we finished in time, so our trip to Manchester was sort of a celebration.
We arrived there late in the evening of Thursday (24th of November). While for me the English end of fall weather was kind of refreshing and brought back some memories that wasn't really the case for Pier who clearly prefers the kind of fall/winter temperatures that we have in Palma.
On our first full day in the city we prepared ourselves for the day with an English breakfast before we headed to Old Trafford, the stadium of Manchester United. While we were waiting for the stadium tour we had some time to go and see the Christmas market in front of The Lowry. After we did that we also had a pint in a nearby pub and after spending there more time than we should have we managed to miss the start of our stadium tour, so the 2 of us were escorted through the hidden paths inside Old Trafford by a staff member to catch our group. Probably a lot more memorable start to a tour, where the best part is usually towards the end. By the way the tour was really cool as it was an opportunity to see a stadium that I'm seeing quite often when I watch football on TV. It's interesting that in reality the stadium feels a lot smaller than you would think when you picture a stadium with more than 75.000 seats. It also makes me really want to go London to see the stadium (White Hart Lane) of my favorite team before it gets knocked down.
After finishing with the tour we had enough time to visit the famous John Rylands Library, the People's History Museum and most of the Manchester Art Gallery as well. After it got dark we went to check out the Christmas market on Albert Square, then I tried my first proper fish & chips. After all that Pier and me improvised and went for a pub crawl, because that's obviously what you should do when you go to the UK and have some free time at night. We got beer, company and some advice from 3 girls on what places we should (London, Bristol) and should not (Blackpool) visit in the country next time. Let me know if you agree/disagree with all that.
The next day we met with my sister and her boyfriend, who are living near Wigan, but traveled to Manchester for a quick visit in the city and to have a mini family meeting. We spent some time shopping, I got a much needed new traveling bag and some early Christmas presents from my sis. Then we visited the National Football Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry. Saturday went by quickly and after saying goodbye to them, me and Pier rushed to the airport to end our short British trip and travel back to Palma.
Back in Spain we had a little time to rest, but due to the upcoming mid-term training that started on the 28th of November it was more about preparing for those days.
On Monday Pier and me left Palma in the morning and flew to Málaga in the company of our mentor, Xavi, who also participated in the training that was held in Mollina. Our meeting time was in the afternoon, when we finally met some familiar faces from the on-arrival training and some new people, who are also doing their EVS in Spain. After actually arriving to Mollina we were welcomed by the people who got there earlier, including some more friends.
The training itself was once again not really my cup of tea. I'm sure that discussing every single detail of our EVS process and analyzing how we can make the most of it is useful for some people but for me it's just too much talk about things that I don't feel I need to discuss. Maybe I'm just lucky not to have any problems with my voluntary service... To be fair there were some fun activities, our trainer María was great at her job and if I turn up well-rested and not having hangovers, then I might have enjoyed the whole thing more. Just like with the on-arrival training the best part of it all was the chance to get to know more volunteers and having fun together with others. So we did exactly that. We had 2 awesome nights in a local pub called Pepe Johns and we also had a nice time during the excursion to Antequera, that was part of the training.
The training lasted from Monday to Friday with the first and last days mainly used for traveling, so time flew by quickly and it was time to say goodbye to old and new friends. Luckily though we had some days to discover Granada and Málaga before we returned to continue our EVS in Palma. So we did that with our group of volunteers.
First we traveled to Granada, which is mainly famous for Alhambra, a beautiful fortress and palace. Being there was an interesting experience. Due to the hippie vibe of the city and all the tourists I had the feeling that I'm not even in Spain any more. And there was a major difference compared to Palma: the prices. If there is a problem with Mallorca, it's the relatively high prices for almost everything, so when you are a volunteer and you get to a place that's cheaper you will definitely notice it.
After 2 days in Granada we moved to Málaga, where amongst other things we witnessed the crazy Christmas lights show, we spent some time on the beach and went for a walk in the smaller part of the castle.
In general Málaga seemed like an okay place, but there is no way I would ever pick it over Palma and I fell I will be fine, if I never return there. Unfortunately by the end of the first day there I started to feel sick. Maybe I would have a more positive memory of Málaga if I manage to avoid fever, coughing and some other “good” stuff while I was there. But I didn't, so as much as I loved being around my EVS friends during the mid-term training and our short vacation after that, I didn't mind to return to Mallorca on Tuesday (December 6th).
But that day wasn't just another day. In Hungary - and a few other countries – it's the day of Santa Claus/Mikulás/Saint Nicholas. On this day – mainly kids – get a present from Mikulás if they have been good that year, or a rod/virgács from the Krampusz (the evil helper of Santa), if they have been naughty. Because every kid needs something to be terrified of. And if the Krampusz is not scary enough you can still try to scare them with the Mumus, which is described as a malicious ghost creature connected to darkness that represents your fears. Lovely, right? In Hungary we try to make sure that every child is emotionally scarred by the time they learn that the Eastern bunny doesn't exist.
Despite the threat of the Krampusz everybody loves Saint Nicholas Day. (Obviously, because everybody loves presents.) So to celebrate this holiday, I made sure to travel in style. As a reindeer. Surprisingly I didn't really notice people staring at me in the city, on the train, in the airport, on the plane, or on the bus back in Palma. But I guess wearing reindeer antlers makes you look more approachable, because first a girl asked me and Pier if she is taking the right train to the airport then continued to keep chatting with us, then later a British lady asked me to lift her bag on the conveyor belt during the security screening while she was telling us about London and her vacation in Spain. So if you want strangers to start talking to you, put on reindeer antlers, I guess. They are quite uncomfortable to wear on a plane though.
Back in Palma I spent all my time drinking tea, eating soup and sleeping before it was time to get back to work. Luckily I quickly recovered and I'm prefectly fine by now, but to find out how the story continues you will have to come back and read part 14, because this is where I end it now.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!
If you have any tips, comments or questions, you can reach me on Facebook, Twitter or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Instagram to see more of my EVS experience.