domingo, 27 de enero de 2019

Skiing in Switzerland and the Magic Pass

"Ski is to Switzerland what soccer is to Spain"

Views from Evolène

I love skiing. We don't get to see much snow in Alicante, and that's why going to ski during Christmas holidays is so special for those of us who love winter sports. 

Now you can imagine how happy I got when I knew I was coming to Switzerland, a country in the heart of the Alps. 
That's not all though, because not only am I in Switzerland, but I'm also in Sion, a city SURROUNDED by ski stations. It doesn't matter where you look, you'll always see some ski facilities, it's fantastic!

I was lucky to borrow the material from my host family, and to buy a season pass that gives me access to more than 10 different ski stations for a very reasonable price, the Magic Pass, probably one of the best purchases I've ever done, and that I'll ever do. 

18-1-2019, Crans Montana

Since I came back from my holidays in Spain I have been skiing at least once per week. Just imagine going on a Friday, when everybody is working or in school, and having all the slopes for you and maybe a few other tourists, there are no words to describe that, I swear.

What's more, it's hard to get bored by a certain station, because you can always to a different one the next day. 

Something cool about Switzerland is that it is very common for people to have this season pass I'm talking about or to start doing winter sports at a very young age. For instance, I take care of two kids, and the older one is 4 years old and has just started ski lessons.
Moreover, I've been several times to the ice skating rink with my friends and there are babies that are learning to skate and I don't know if they even speak! I find it so cool.

A sign warning about the danger of avalanche, Evolve

If I hadn't decided to take a gap year, this is something I would definitely not be able to live, and it sure is one of the many things that make this decision being worth it. So, again, if anyone who reads this knows of something who is thinking about taking a gap year or are considering it themselves, do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have and just know it is a once in a lifetime experience.

Thanks for reading!! 

P.S.: If you see any grammar mistake or misspelling let me know in the comments please ;)

miércoles, 16 de enero de 2019

DiscoverEU InterRail Experience (Part 2)

THIRD STOP: Zagreb, Croatia (17/10/2018-20/10/2018)

Wednesday night, after coming back from Bled lake and saying bye to my Slovenian host, I took a train to Zagreb, where I would meet my new, Spanish host.

I took that first night easily. I stayed at home with my host and a friend of his watching TV, playing PS4 and eating some of the jamón serrano I had brought him (he really missed it ;) ).

The following day we both went to the main square, where I'd join the group of people I'd later on did a guided visit through the city with.

St Mark's Church, Zagreb

It is very helpful to do these kind of tours and visits the first day since they help you a lot to get to know some places, where to go and were not to go, and also to understand better the story behind the buildings and monuments you are looking at.
As a European capital, Zagreb is quite small and a I'd say that a day is enough to visit it, two if you want.

Something exciting about my stay in Zagreb is that I got to experience a bit what the nightlife there is like. So the second night I went out with my host and the same friend from the night before to a couple of really cool pubs where we chatted, had a couple of drinks and a good time.

Dolac Market, Zagreb

On my second day in Croatia I decided to take a bus and go to the Plitvice Lakes, 2 hours far from Zagreb. All I have to say about that place is that it's beautiful. Green forests reflected over the crystalline waters of the lakes, really nice trails with a view over them or right by their shore.

Like lake Bled, it was breathtaking, and i was lucky to go on such a sunny, nice day. If you're planning a trip to the Balkans, the Plitvice lakes and lake Bled are a must.

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

FOURTH STOP: Appenzell & St Gallen, Switzerland (27/10/2018)

Once my holidays were over, I still had two travel days left and on weekend before the utility of pass finished, so the week after I came back I went to the places in Switzerland that are the furthest from Sion.
On Saturday I went to Appenzell, a little town in North-Eastern Switzerland, where a quite well-known beer is from, the Appenzeller. I'm not a big beer lover, but that one is all right. When it comes to the town, it's very little and easy to visit too, so when I finished wandering around I took a train to St Gallen, the closest big city to Appenzell, and visited it in the afternoon-evening.

This is an example of the kind of decorations you could see on the building's walls around St Gallen.

FIFTH STOP: Schaffhausen, Switzerland (28/10/2018)

Rhine falls with the Laufen Castle on the back

Even though I got home a bit late on Saturday, I couldn't allow myself to not use a travel day of my InterRail pass, so I made the effort and got up early on Sunday morning.
This time, the SBB train took me to Schaffhausen, on the opposite side of the country, in the border between Switzerland and Germany.

What is special about the Rhine waterfalls, which are beautiful, are the different views of them are from the village, from the castle or from a tour boat.

The Rhine waterfalls with the town of Neuhausen am Rheinfall on the background

Fun fact: The river acts as a natural border between the Canton of Schaffhausen and the Canton of Zurich, so if you've been on both shores, you've been on both cantons.

Rhine falls with the Laufen Castle on the back


To conclude this chapter of my travels, I'd like to thank the Discover EU organization and the European Commission for helping this project financially.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH to everyone who made this possible, the EU, my Couchsurfing hosts, and my friend Maria and her family for hosting me.

P.S.: If you see any grammar mistake or misspelling let me know in the comments please ;)

domingo, 2 de diciembre de 2018

DiscoverEU InterRail Experience (Part 1)

So, back in June, while I was in Mallorca for my Senior trip, my mom texted me telling me about an InterRail Pass give away for those who were 18 by July the first sponsored by the European Commission. There were only 15000 tickets, and any 18-year-old from any EU country could apply.
Even though I thought it was impossible, I applied for it, I had nothing to lose anyway.

Unfortunately, I didn't win the prize in the first round, but I was "in line", just as a bunch of other people, just in case someone who won it couldn't use it, and luckily... I ended up getting one of those free InterRail Passes!!

When I was told so I was about to leave for my gap year in Switzerland, which made me kinda mad because I thought I couldn't use it, BUT they extended the dates of the pass until October the 31st, and I had holidays from the 11th to the 21st that same month, and I went ahead with the plan.

FIST STOP: Udine, Italy (12/10/2018-15/10/2018)

One of the conditions was to start the trip in an EU country, so I had to take a bus from Geneva to Udine, where I'd stay three days with Maria. I met her in June 2017 during the west coast tour, and I saw her city was in between Geneva and Ljubljana so we arranged some plans for the weekend. I stayed at her place, went out with her and her friends and visited her city.
All I have to say is that Udine is beautiful, I really liked it

On Sunday we went to spend the day in Venice. I had been there before, when I was nine, and it was amazing to be back. That visit brought back so many memories and made some new ones.

It was nice to see Maria again and to meet her family. I'm very grateful for our friendship and for being hosted at their house.

I owe you one Maria, love you and see you soon! ;)

Visiting Venice with Maria

SECOND STOP: Ljubljana, Slovenia (15/10/2018-17/10/2018)

On Monday the 15th I went to Ljubljana, which was only 4 hours away from Udine. My first impressions from Slovenia were that it is a very green country. All I could see from the train and buses were green, massive forests, it's difficult not to love it.

A fun fact about the rest of the trip is that I didn't spend a penny in hotels, I sated at people's houses thanks to Couchsurfing. I posted my schedule a couple of weeks before leaving and those who could host me the days I'd be in there city messaged me in order to arrange my stay. I really liked the experience, it's a good way to meet new people, their culture and their city, and they host you for free!

Anyway, I love Slovenia. Ljubljana is a Balcan jewel, and thanks to the Ljubljana Free Tour I went on, and thanks to Ina, the guide, I got to understand and know a lot more about the country and its culture.
It took me a day to visit the Ljubljana. The city is not that big and they are VERY helpful at the tourism offices.
The second day I went to Bled Lake, up north from the capital. and it was breathtaking.

Going there by myself in a cloudy, cold, rainy day turned into such an amazing experience. II had no one to talk to, and it didn't take me long to talk to myself.

Some people told me about how sad it is to travel alone, saying it's better to have someone with you all the time and stuff but, I disagree. I learned a lot about myself while being alone. It was an introspective trip, and the best of all is that I could enjoy every view and every place the way I wanted to enjoy them, without anyone telling me when to leave or where to go. I followed my instinct and everything turned out pretty well.

The Dragon Bridge and the Ljubljana Castle on top of the hill

This is one of my favorite views ever. It's from the Ojstrica peak, by Bled Lake. I stayed up there for almost an hour, looking around and just thinking how good of a decision I had made taking a gap year, traveling by myself and how I how I ended up there.

If anyone who reads this is thinking or knows about someone who is thinking about taking a gap year just go ahead and do it, all it'll do to you is good.

Bled Lake, and Bled on the background

Thanks for reading!! 

To be continued...

P.S.: If you see any grammar mistake or misspelling let me know in the comments please ;)

miércoles, 24 de octubre de 2018

A day in Geneva ft. Rubenico

Hi everyone!

So last Wednesday my uncle called me to tell me he'd be coming to Geneva on Friday that same week (last Friday). He's a bus driver and has been several times abroad thanks to his job, and this time he came to closest big Swiss city to Sion. 
As soon as my family knew he was coming, my parents started preparing a mountain backpack filled with Spanish food: Fuet, jamón, olive oil (¡¡¡3 LITERS!!!)... I must say they did a great job ;)

Something really good about Switzerland is that it is VERY easy to move around the country by train. And train stations are usually very well located within the city. That's the reason why it didn't take me long to find the spot where I was on the map and get to the meeting point.

It's always cool to see a relative after being abroad for a while, and I think it's even cooler when it's them who come visit you in your host country.
Even though he came for a few hours, we had enough time to have fun together around Geneva.

Him and the second bus driver (they can only drive for a certain amount of hours per day, that's why they switch every now and then) told me about their experiences traveling with many different groups and people during dinner. I really liked getting a closer insight into their profession, I don't know why I hadn't asked any questions about it before.

After that, I drove with then to the United Nations Headquarters, where the travel group in the bus had booked a guided visit.
In the meantime we visited the surrounding area, where there wasn't really much to see since in that area all there was were embassies and other organizations' headquarters as well.

Then, we didn't have much time to mess around for a bit, so we just went to the closest café and had a good time talking to each other.

When you're abroad you always miss your relatives and friends, and when you have the chance to see them in your host country, the feeling you get, it's incredible.

Lastly, for my fam and friends in Spain, I miss y'all a lot, see you in Xmas!!

Le Jet d'Eau à Genève

 Views from Terrasse Agrippa-d'Aubigné
The backpack was too heavy to be carried around for a few hours... But I did it anyways
Thanks for reading!! 

P.S.: If you see any grammar mistake or misspelling let me know in the comments please ;)

domingo, 23 de septiembre de 2018

I'm back!!


I started this blog in August 2016, when I went to Texas as a Rotary Exchange Student, but I quit writing because I was convinced that I needed to post entries weekly, in both Spanish and English, and that was quite a lot of work to do. The blog became a duty instead of what I wanted it to be, a hobby.

However, I've now taken a gap year and I've got a lot of free time, so why not start this all over again?

I won't just talk about my current experiences as an au pair in Switzerland, but I'll also remember some of the memories I made as an exchanger or the ones I made later on, as a Rotex.

Lastly, I'll just say I have a bunch of stuff to talk about from the last two years, don't say I didn't warn y'all!

For now, I'll leave a pic of the littest Rotexers in the Gala Dinner of the 2018 International Rotex Convention in Taiwan.

This is just the beginning...

domingo, 22 de enero de 2017

Thanksgiving break

Viernes 18 de Noviembre - Domingo 27 de Noviembre
Friday November the 18th - Sunday November the 27th

On Friday the 18th, right after school, Larry, Chris, Taylor and I left  and headed south on a five hour road trip until our destination, San Antonio. After 4-5 hours on the road we got to our destination, the Lake Medina RV (recreational vehicle) site. It was beautiful. We parked right by the lake, and were in the middle of the woods surrounded by tall trees and deer, a lot of deer. The RV was a ranch that has belonged to the current owner´s family for more than 100 years. 

El viernes 18 de noviembre justo ala acabar las clases Larry, Chris, Taylor y yo nos fuimos a San Antonio. Tras 4-5 horas en el coche llegamos a nuestro destino, el camping Lake Medina. Era precioso. Habíamos aparcado en una parcela que daba al lago y estábamos en medio del bosque rodeados por altos árboles y por ciervos, muchos ciervos. El camping forma parte de un rancho que ha pertenecido a la familia que lo dirige por más de 100 años.

That first night, after settling in the RV we went on a ghost tour in San Antonio. There was a guide telling us about some creepy and mysterious stories that took place in that city which either have no explanation or made those places to be haunted. She also gave us some sort of gadget that could get the ghots´ electromagnetic signals (or something like that) so when we were near one the light turned red and we had to took pictures with any camera we had in order to see it and have prove of it. We had a blast that night.

La primera noche, tras instalarnos nos fuimos a San Antonio a hacer un Ghost Tour en el que la guía nos contaba historias de miedo o de eventos paranormales que habían tenido lugar en la ciudad y que hacían que algunos lugares estuviesen encantados. También nos dio unos aparatos que captaban las señales electromagnéticas (o algo así) de los fantasmas de tal forma que cuando se iluminaba la luz roja tomásemos fotos para poder tener pruebas de los fantasmas. Nos lo pasamos genial aquella noche.

The next morning the owner of the ranch took us on a trip all around it, telling us about the characteristics and history of the place, how one of his ancestors was killed there by the indians, and also showed us a cave where Larry, Molly (the owner´s dog) and I  got in through the tiny entrance, and after making a couple videos the dog found a porcupine and we had to get out of there as fast as we could. Low-key a highlight of the trip. 

A la mañana siguiente el dueño del rancho nos llevó de excursion y nos enseñó su terreno y nos contó historias y anécdotas, como que a uno de sus antepasados lo mataron los indios; y también nos enseñó una cueva en la que guardaban alcohol durante la ley seca y en la que Larry, Molly (la perra del dueño) y yo reptamos para poder meternos y tras hacer un par de videos y mirar qué había, la perra encontró un puercoespín, se llevó unas cuantas de sus púas en el hocico y salimos de ahí lo más rápido que pudimos. En verdad fue una de las mejores experiencias del viaje.

El Álamo
One morning we visited the Alamo and learned about the independence of Texas and David Crockett. We also went on a tour through the river that flows through San Antonio and saw all the city. Afterwards, went to the river walk too.

Un día visitamos el Álamo y aprendí sobre la independencia de Texas y David Crockett. También fuimos en un tour por el río (artificial) que cruza la ciudad y por el paseo que hay a lo largo de él. 

Other day we went horseback riding. I had ridden horses before when I was a kid, but never myself without anyone taking care of it. I liked it, it took me a while to get used to it and to get to control it a little though. 

Otro día fuimos a cabalgar. Había montado en caballo antes pero no sin alguien que lo dirigiera por mí. Me llevó un poco acostumbrarme a él pero al final lo manejaba un poco mejor.
The cave with no name

During our stay there we visited the city of Bandera too, ``Cowboy capital of the world´´. It looked like the typical town of western movies. That same day we went to ``The cave with no name´´, where we saw some geological formations found by a group of kids last century. It was awesome, there are no words to describe it, but we took some pictures that can illustrate it.

Durante nuestra estancia allí visitamos la ciudad de Bandera, conocida como la capital mundial de cowboys. Parecía la típica ciudad de película del oeste y de no ser por el airecito que había nos habríamos muerto de calor. Ese mismo día fuimos a ``La cueva sin nombre´´, una cueva descubierta en el siglo veinte por un grupo de niños en la que puedes encontrar unas formaciones geológicas increíbles. Aquí os dejo una foto de ella porque describirla con palabras no sería suficiente.  

Turkey Trot with Chely, Cheche and Antoni
Back to Athens right in time for Thanksgiving, Larry and I woke up at 7 am to be at the Cain Center at 7:45 so i could have enough time to warm up ad get ready for the Turkey Trot. It is a 5 km race that takes place every year on Thanksgiving day. Many people I know were there so it was cool to run with all of them. I got the fifth place over all and the second place in my category with a time of 18 minutes 50 seconds. After the race the organization was giving away some stuff, and we got a turkey which we ate later. 

Volvimos a Athens justo para acción de gracias. Ese jueves Larry y yo nos levantamos a las 7 para poder estar en el Cain Center a tiempo para calentar y prepararme para el Turkey Trot, una carrera de 5 km que tiene lugar todos los años el día de acción de gracias. Allí me encontré a bastante gente que conocía del instituto. Al final acabé quinto en la general y segundo de mi categoría con un tiempo de 18 minutos 50 segundos. Tras la carrera hubo un sorteo y nos tocó un pavo que horas después nos comeríamos.

One of the highlights of that day with no doubt was the thanksgiving dinner, there was so much food, so much... After eating Larry and I had a food coma and passed out on the couch for a while, when I woke up everybody had left and I didn't even know what was going on.
The day after Thanksgiving was the Black Friday, which I was looking forward a lot, and we woke up like at 5:30-6 in the morning to spend the day in Dallas. 
It was such a great experience for me, awesome first Thanksgiving but not the last one.

De lo más destacable de ese día sin lugar a dudas fue la cena, había tanta comida... Después de comer a Larry y a mí nos dio un coma de comida y nos dormimos nada más tocar el sofá. Tres horas más tarde me desperté y todos se habían ido y nos me enteraba de nada.
El dia de después era el Black Friday y nos despertamos sobre las 5:30-6 para ir a Dallas a pasar el día allí.
Fue una primera accción de gracias increíble y espero que no sea la última.  

jueves, 29 de diciembre de 2016

NASCAR y Elecciones Presidenciales/ NASCAR and Presidential Election


El viernes 4 de noviembre justo al acabar el último partido de fútbol americano Larry y yo nos dirigimos a a Fort Worth, donde pasaríamos el fin de semana en las carreras Nascar. 


Friday November the fourth, right after my last football game Larry and I left to Fort Worth, where we would spend the weekend at the Nascar races.

Dormimos en una zona habilitada para caravanas a las afueras del circuito. Levantaba la cabeza y no veía otra cosa que no fueran caravanas enormes, gente con la tele de plasma y todo, era increíble, eso es lo que me gusta de sitios así, el ambiente que hay.
We slept at the camp there was around the stadium the races were at. Every time I looked in front of me all I could see were huge campers, some of them even with plasma TV and stuff like that, it was amazing. The atmosphere there is, that´s what I love of these kind of places.

El sábado después de la carrera pasamos el resto del día con la gente con la que estábamos acampados y pasamos un rato súper agradable cenando y jugando washers.

On Saturday, after the race we spent the rest of the day with the people we were camping with and had such a nice time with them during supper time and playing washers all night.

Por otro lado, las carreras fueron otro rollo. Menos mal que alquilamos unos cascos y una radio y podíamos sintonizar los canales de los pilotos y oír lo que sus equipos les decían durante la carrera, porque si no llevabas protección para los oídos volvías con los tímpanos rotos. Los motores hacían un ruido ensordecedor. 

On the other hand, the races were insane. We had scanners and we could listen to all the pilots´channels and hear what they said to each other, and we were lucky for that because if we wouldn't have used them we would have ended up deaf, the engines made so much noise.

A las puertas del estadio  había tantos puestos de merchandising de la carrera y patrocinadores que le daban la vuelta.

And out the circuit there were so many sponsors and merchandising shops that they went all around it.

Había una carrera el sábado y otra el domingo, para la cual conseguimos un pase para poder ir a la zona de boxes antes de la carrera y vimos todo el material de los equipos por la mañana, pero luego el tiempo empeoró, se puso a llover y la carrera tuvo que cancelarse, por lo que volvimos a casa antes de lo previsto.
There were two races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday and we had passes for boxes for the last one and before the race and saw all the material and equipment they use, but later on it started raining, the race was cancelled and we had to leave before we were supposed to.

-Elecciones de los Estados Unidos de América:

El martes 8 de noviembre tuvo lugar un hecho que sería histórico para la política de Estados Unidos ganase quien ganase: la primera mujer de su historia que ejerce de Presidenta o la primera persona que sin haber ejercido un puesto público antes es elegido Presidente.

-US Presidential elections:

A historical fact for the US politics would be made on Tuesday November the eighth: it didn't matter who had won, there would be the first woman as President of the USA or the first President who hasn't worked at any public office before. 

Personalmente, era un momento que quería que llegase con muchas ganas. Estoy en clase de Gobierno de US y todo lo que había aprendido hasta el momento me encantaba. El día de las elecciones fui con mis amigos a una casa y allí cenamos y vimos en la tele las estadísticas de las votaciones y todo. 

That was a moment I had been looking forward so long. I´m in US Government class and as far as I liked all I had learned until then. On Election day some friends and I met ata a house and watched the news, statistics, voting and everything on TV. 

Una ligera idea de como funciona el sistema electoral aquí es que cada estado tiene un número de votos electorales dependiendo del número de habitantes (P.e.:Texas tiene 38, California 55), y el que más porcentaje de votos tenga en un estado se lleva todos esos votos electorales, eso obliga a los candidatos a visitar durante la campaña electoral aquellos estados en los que su partido tiene más votantes para asegurarlos o aquellos estados en los que el electorado está 50%-50%, llamados ``swing states´´, como Ohio (18 votos electorales) o Florida (29 votos electorales), cuya decantación a un lado u otro puede ser decisiva a la hora de elegir Presidente.

A little summary of how electoral system works here is that each state has a number of electoral votes depending on the population they have (P.Ex.: Texas has 38, California has 55), and the candidate who has more percentage of votes in a state wins that state´s electoral votes, which makes them visit  states during their political campaign where their party has more influence (California for Democrats and Texas for Republicans, p.ex.) or visit swing states where voters are 505-50% (Ohio or Florida), whose leaning towards one party or the other can be decisive.

Aquí, en Texas, la verdad es que se vivió con intensidad, hay más partidarios de Trump que de Hillary, si hasta un día en el parking del instituto había unos alumnos dando vueltas con el coche ondeando una bandera de Trump.

Here in Texas it was lived with intensity, there are more people in favor of Trump. One day, at the high school parking lot there were some people driving around waving big Trump flags.

Fue una experiencia increíble. También me encantó hablarlo por un grupo de chat que tenemos los estudiantes de intercambio españoles, ver cómo se vivía  la situación en otros estados y las distintas opiniones de cada uno. Esa es la razón por la que estamos aquí, intercambiar opiniones y aprender de otros.

It was such a great experience, get to live that moment in the history of the US. I also loved to talk about it with the Spanish exchange student group chat, and get to know how it is like in other states and also different opinions that each of us has. And that´s why we are here, exchange opinions and learn from others.

 Pero mi experiencia electoral empezó hace ya unas cuantas semanas atrás con los debates, las distintas noticias y, algo que fue muy chocante fue la manera de hacer propaganda política a través de los anuncios, y luego los carteles del partido al que apoyan en los jardines de la gente, no sé, es diferente, pero es lo que hemos venido a buscar como estudiantes de intercambio, algo que no veríamos en nuestro país de origen.

My electoral experience began some weeks before though, with the debates, news and something I found very interesting was their propaganda through commercials, and then people putting signs of the party they support in front of their houses, I don´t know, it was just different, but that is, as well, something I as an exchange student have come here looking for, something we wouldn't see in our home country.