Things I learned after living in Mallorca for a month

Living in a Mediterranean island is truly a dream. Mallorca is one of the favorite destinations to people from all over the world and now that I’ve lived here I can tell why it is a favorite destination.

There is so much to do and so much to see even though the island is very small you can go around it in a day (if you have a car). If you’re planning to visit the island or stay there for a while, ere are some of the things I discovered after living there for a month that might help you.

  1. Stores will close at mid-day and on Sundays.
    I am used at seeing everything open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. but that is not the case with Spain in general. Most stores and several restaurants will be closed for about four hours at the middle of the day, starting at noon or at 2 p.m. regularly. They start reopening at about 4 p.m., or restaurants at about dinner time at 7 p.m.
    But many places are completely closed on Sundays. We arrived on a Sunday and were surprised at how quiet and deserted the city felt, but we later discovered everyone must’ve been at the beach or out in the country.
  2. Palma de Mallorca is a very walkable city
    Don’t worry about renting a car or a bike beforehand if you’re okay with walking. Distances in maps look longer than they actually are and the infinite streets have many secret stores and cafés that can only be discovered if you’re walking. If you have a car, parking can be a little bit of nightmare, since the streets are very small and everyone parallel parks. I was there during the summer, so there are also many more cars out in the streets.
  3. Car rentals
    There are many car rental companies offering you great prices on cars, but make sure you read all their terms and conditions before booking any. For example GoldCar offers very cheap prices, but then make you sign for insurance, tanks of gasoline at their price, etc. so the prices are actually higher in the end. We rented a car for one weekend in Alamo Rent a Car and were very pleased with the experience.
    NOTE: Remember that in Europe most people drive manual cars, so almost all rentals will be for manual vehicles. If you don’t know how to drive one of these, they will have automatics, but they’re always more expensive.
  4. Rent is cheap
    Seriously. You can get a nice shared apartment for $600 a month and a three bed, furnished apartment for about $1400. We found ours through Airbnb but there are many Real Estate agencies everywhere in the island.
  5. The people are great
    Don’t be shy to ask for help and to make new acquaintances. All the Majorcans I’ve spoken to have been great, with a really good sense of humor and willing to help you. Mallorca also has many immigrants and visitors from all over the world. It is not surprising to hear English, German or French in the streets. We’ve met Rumanians, Argentines, British and Swedish people, and they have all been friendly.
  6. You have to see all of the island
    The city is amazing, but the natural beauty in the rest of the island is simply breathtaking. Our favorite side of the island was the southwest where the Tramuntana moutain range starts. The towns of Valldemossa and Sóller are very charming, surrounded by tall rock mountains and the blue Mediterranean.
    But there are small towns and beaches all over the island that are worth visiting or living in.
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Hola Madrid

I wrote this from a lovely Airbnb room in Madrid. It was incredibly hot, as the news warned me it would be. I could hear the occasional shouts and laughter of Spaniards as they make their way back to work from a siesta (now I understand why they need to sleep in the middle of the day: the heat makes you tired!).

This was the second time I’ve been in Madrid, and I got to see it better, though now that the trip has ended, there are some things I wished I’d realized earlier about being in a different city.

The most important is that you don’t have to see everything. Enjoy what you have time to see and be in the moment. If you run to get to the next museum, next monument or next restaurant, you’ll just be too tired to really enjoy it when you really get there. My mind gets tired from all the map reading, stress of getting lost in a big city or of taking the wrong metro line. My body gets tired from all the walking at almost 40 degrees in the middle of the summer. The air is dry and your water will soon get too hot to refresh you.

Madrid from above.

If I didn’t get to see something, that is fine. There will be more trips, and if I never come back to this city, at least I enjoyed very much what I got to see.

Madrid is full of magic. I saw things that surprised me, like kids out playing at almost 2 in the morning. We ordered a delicious Paella at midnight and more people were coming to eat when we asked for the check. Maybe Europeans will laugh at my surprise, but I had never been in a city in which the stores stayed open until very, very late and on weekdays!

Madrid is full of history. It’s been around for longer than countries like the United States. Spain, in general, has seen all sorts of cultures and peoples like the celts, phoenicians, jews, romans, barbarians, arabs, latinamericans, and all of these have formed what they are today. Madrid is a living example of this beautiful mixture where also the contrast of old and new is very tangible.

There is tons to do in Madrid. On our third night we went to a Flamenco show at Cardamomo. You get unlimited sangrias and an amazing show in which you see the beauty of the music and dance that form one of Spain’s cultural icons.

We visited three museums. Famous Museo del Prado, where Goya’s, El Greco’s and of course Velasquez’s greatest paintings live. Tip: if you’re a student under 25, don’t forget your student ID since students have free admission!

We also visited the Museo Naval, a small but interesting naval museum. Here we saw the temporary exhibit Hombres de la mar, barcos de leyenda, an exhibit of nearly 30 centuries of naval history and literature: from Jason and the Argonauts, to Captain Nemo and from the Bounty to the Titanic.

But our favorite museum was the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, the National Archaeological Museum. The history of Spain since the prehistory is displayed in a beautiful and entertaining timeline. You learn from all the different peoples that inhabited the peninsula, it’s different ages and it’s explorations and discoveries. Definitely worth checking out (and it is only €3).

We had no idea there is an Ancient Egypt temple in the middle of the city. The Temple of Debod was given as a gift by the Egyptian government in 1968 and it was rebuilt in the city.

Walls of Temple of Debod

Madrid is a very walkable city. The distances might seem large on the maps, but once you walk them you realize they’re not. Of course, keep hydrated and walk wherever there’s shade.

Transport is excellent in Madrid, nonetheless. The metro lines are efficient and take you anywhere you, as a visitor, might want to go and the trains and stations are very clean and modern. I consider them cleaner and nicer than the ones in New York.

As digital nomads, Michael and I need fast internet speed so that was something we inquired before booking places to stay. You might be surprised at how fast the internet can be in Spain. All major companies seem to offer fiber internet and many people get really fast internet in their houses.

One week in Madrid was not enough but it was certainly enjoyable. It is not only a capital of a country, but a capital of delicious food, very happy and loud (in the good way) people, and rich culture and history.

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What they didn’t tell me about working remotely

It’s been 2 years since I decided to leave the 8 to 5 office life. I am a writer, but it was until June 2013 that I decided that I would write for a living, instead of as a hobby.

I lived just outside of Guatemala City, but worked there. That meant that to start my work at 8 a.m., I had to leave at 5:30 a.m. the latest, or risk arriving until 9 a.m. (yes, traffic can be that bad). I always got there early of course, so I had breakfast, read a little, and finally started working at 8.

Traffic was one of the main reasons I decided I wanted to work remotely. From my house on my PJs, I thought, waking up at whatever time I wanted. There were other main reasons, of course, like wanting to give it a shot at being a writer, but the commute odyssey every day ended up making the decision for me.

Two years later, I think of the things that I wish I’d known about working remotely. Some are good, some not so good. But I think everyone should know this.

  1. Waking up at whatever time you want will not necessarily mean you’re sleeping more. Not having a schedule is not always the same as resting more. You can wake up late, but you can also work more hours than before, go to sleep at different times every day and end up feeling more tired at the end of the week. Remote workers should remember to have a schedule, and stick to it, unless you want to lose your mind.
  2. You will have time to see your friends now. Great at times, difficult at most. Because everyone knows you “don’t have a schedule”, people will ask you out to lunch, brunch and breakfast. Specially if you have friends that are still in college or for some reason don’t work or can get away from it. Because you barely see anyone anymore, because you work from home, it’s great seeing your friends and family, but you have to remember that you still have to work. If you have a date at mid-morning, you will loose an entire morning of work. So plan ahead your week, and remember that working remotely is not the same as having all the time in the world.
  3. Find a coworking space or go to a library or café. Don’t stay in your house all day, if your budget permits it. Work from somewhere else, even a park. Going out will help your creativity and refresh your head and you will interact with other people. Staying in will turn your house into a place of work and not into a place of rest. Your house should be the place where you relax and enjoy.
  4. It is hard. Very, very hard. At the office someone else gave you work to do and you did it. But as a freelancer, nobody is giving you work unless you reach out to them and convince them you’re what they’re looking for. You will also get distracted, oh so many times, and you will not always see immediate results. Freelancing is a different kind of hard. You get the tiredness of a regular job but you also get the tiredness of spirit, never sure of what will come. If you think you cannot bear to know what will happen next month, don’t do it.
  5. It is awesome. Yes, I think it’s the best idea I’ve had. It has not been easy, I’ve had to learn discipline and not waste my time on Tumblr all day, but it has been worth it. I have learned to be more productive, I’ve learned decision making and not always having someone telling me what to do or someone telling me I did a good job. I’ve had frustrations, and I’ve wanted to go back to work like a normal person, and I have never started a month knowing exactly how much money I will have at the end of it. There have been rough months, but there have been really good ones, that make me see that my work is actually worth it. Another awesome thing is that I can work from anywhere. I will soon go to Europe and live there and work from there for a while. But the most awesome part is doing what I love to do. This alone is worth a try.

(Originally published on my blog

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