Category Archives: Learning Diaries

Back to Finland!

Hi! This week we have been at work three days, Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday was reformation day (religious holiday selebrated on 31.10 along side halloween’s Eve). And also Thursday was work free day because it was day of remembrance of the dead. on Tuesday we had a evaluation and that went very well. On Tuesday we saw our contact person Irena for the last time here and we talked about our time here and we gave her a votive, desinged by Alvar Aalto.  On Wednesday we went to the Italian side to Gorizia. We visited Castello Di Gorizia, it’s old castle of Gorizia. It was really beautiful. We walked to the castle trough a nature trail. On Thursday we didn’t do nothing. The day was really rainy and all the shops were closed. Friday was our last day at work. We said goodbyes to our co-workers and they gave both of us one 1kg chocolate. On Wednesday weather was really good and sunny, but other days has been really rainy and windy. On Saturday we packed and we made check-in for our flights. We cleaned the room. On Sunday  we packed the rest of our things and we left our room clean. We left to dormitory at 12:30 and that was the start of our trip back to finland. First we went by car to Venice airport. We flew from Venice to Germany. In Germany we waited for the next flight for about four hours. After that we flight to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

Week full of happiness!

Ciao!

My second last week here was pretty awesome. I had so much fun with Henna, finnish boys and new friends from here. I had chance to be broud of being Finnish, good opportunity to spend awesome days with lovely people and to see the world on my own eyes. This week was full of smiling and laughing, sometimes just because I was too tired. In a good way.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were really warm, 20°c. And so sunny, felt like summer. Work days were mostly the same. We did some decorations for winter, because Christmas is coming and lot of gift boxes and christmas edition chocolate came to store.

The weather forecast promised bad weather during the weekend, so I changed my working day Wednesday to Saturday. And on Wednesday I went to Venice, once more. From Gorizia to Venice took 2 hours by train. That day was so beautiful and I loved it, I enjoyed good food and just walked around the old city and of course did some shopping.

At Thursday we went to the Economy school of Nova Gorica. We had the chance to get to know the educationsystem and go to couple of lessons. In first lesson one of the students kept a presentation about Slovenia and after that we showed some videos about Finland and talked the differences of our countries. They were really curious about Finnish language and they even wanted us to introduce ourselves in finnish. They also wanted to learn some finnish words. We had so much fun on that lesson. Also made some new friends. One of the students asked me that what is the biggest difference I’ve noticed here and the answer was pretty clear. People, they are so open minded, kind and curious persons and it shows where ever you go here. Second class was English. We talked also about Finland and Slovenia and watched videos. Third class was about business and they kept presentations about Slovenian deserts, music, companies, places to visit etc. It was interesting to listen. In that class I would’ve wanted to talk more, because students were so nice but time run out unfortunately.

Later in that day I went to Ljubljana with my friend Neža. Ljubljana was so amazing city to visit that I’m for sure coming back sometime! My other friend Mat is studying there so he joined us when we got there. It was nice to have my own mentors with me to tell and show me the city. We went to see Ljubljana castle, The Dragon bridge, Tivoli park and all the must see in the city. It was perfect time of the year, because there were no that much of tourist anymore and the weather was colder but not cold. Here in Slovenia the weather changes so quickly. Nova gorica to Ljubljana is one hour by car and in that time the weather gets more than 5°c colder, because of the mountains, hills and the sea side.

Rest of the week was more of chilling and resting, because the weather wasn’t that nice at the end of the week. Saturday I was at work and I noticed that it was so much more hectic at the weekends. But that’s about it. These two months were really excited, every day was different. I did lot of things I thought I would never do and I exceeded myself in so many ways that I can say that I’m broud of myself. Next week is our last week here and I have to say that I’m really going to miss this place and hopefully someday I see this city and my friends here again, but till then it’s goodbye.

Loves, Julia ❤️✨

Week 8 and final report

My working days were like the same as they used to. Some were really quiet and some were busier. Customer were lovely as they always were and many of them said that they will miss my smile and jokes when I’m gone. Luckily the last day was busy so I didn’t have a time to think that it is the last one.

The weather was better than last week, so I spent my “siesta time” at the city and tried to find some souvenirs for everybody at home..and myself.

Streets of Algeciras. The city wasn’t so bad what i expected at the beginning.

On wednesday I had my only day off and I had been waiting for this day over a month, because I had booked a trip to Caminito del Rey. It is a beautiful and a little bit scary (for the person who is afraid of high places..like me) 7,7 km path in the village of El Chorro. You can watch a video about it here

Picture: http://www.caminitodelrey.info

But the trip there didn’t quite go as I expected. I wondered when this whole journey had so far gone so well and nothing big mishaps had happened, but now it was that time.. I jumped to the train on Wednesday morning at 6:15, the train left from Algeciras and the conductor came to check the tickets, looked my ticket and announced, that there is no trains going to El Chorro, because the rains damaged the railroads after the city of Ronda…Great!!! So I started to search other options to get there, but there wasn’t other alternative, but to rent a car from Ronda. It wasn’t an option for me in that point, because I would not dare to rent a car alone or even drive by myself and since my phones battery started to be low already and I would need a navigator. So my option was to go back “home”. I spent 1.5 hours in the cool Ronda morning while waiting for the train back to Algeciras. I was already on the train waiting for to leave, and still I was thinking that what if I just could jump off and rent that car, but I did not dare to get up. The train did not go on schedule and the conductor came to say that the train waits for another 40 minutes for passengers who come by bus from Madrid, so at that moment I decided that, OK now I’m going and rent the car and go to the Caminto del Rey and so I was at the car-rental and there was still one car available for me. A friendly vendor gave the car charger, so now it was no longer a problem for the phone to turn off. First it was a bit scary but I have missed my car and driving, so it was amazing to be behind the wheel again and the views were incredible. There was lot’s of mud and dirt on the road when I approach to El Chorro, so there have been really rainy last days. When I reached the parking area at the beginning of the path, there were only a few cars, which was odd, because the path is so popular. At that point I started thinking about if the route is also closed because of rains and that was what it was!! I had visited the website the previous morning and there was no announcement that it would be closed (it came later that day) and I did not receive any notice to my phone, though that should have come if the route has to be shut down due to weather-related reasons. Yes in that minute I was really pissed-off, because I had been waiting for this so long. But since the “Spanish relaxed me” didn’t worry about it long enough, I went on a few nature trails that I found in the neighborhood and after that I did not want to drive back to Ronda right away, so I made a longer ride in the absolutely beautiful Andalusian scenery.. Olive trees along the road and in the background are the towering mountain walls, small white villages, the sun shines and the latin rhythms sound in the radio, what’s the better!!! I was really proud of myself at that moment that I had the courage to go to this trip. Not a big thing, but for me it is! And one day I will be back and walk the path of Caminito del Rey!

On last day I gave my coworkers some souvenirs from Finland. Fazer’s blue chocolate (of course), bags of Dumle and salmiakki and a bottle of tar liqueur. They liked those very much and what was very suprising, salmiakki was first empty!

Last words I want to say that if you have this kind of an opportunity and wonder whether or not want to go or not… GO!!!

I want to send my love and kisses to all of the workers of Hotel Reina Cristina!! They were truly awesome and I will not forget this experience!

¡Adios y nos vemos chicos!

Sanna

Week 7

Back to work.. On monday I came back from Torremolinos and went almost straight to work when I arrived to Algeciras and hotel. It was nice to be back and see my funny coworkers, but otherwise the day was not a good day for me. I felt like I don’t know how to speak english anymore and waded all the day. But rest of the week went really well and again it was nice to see how much progress had been made in these weeks in many cases.

The high season is now over here and it brought some changes for our lunch. There is not anymore buffet table on lunchtime, because there are not so many all inclusive- customers, that it would be worth to serve, but there is now everyday changing a’ la carte menu and our job is now little bit different. Some days have been so quiet that I almost miss the crazy hassle what we had one month earlier. I like to do something all the time, not just stand and wait something to be happening. The work here is pretty much same day after day, but it don’t get boring because here has been so wonderful customers. Some of them are here for a longer time and some of them just a day or couple.

The weather here has changend too. Hot and sunny days are now over and my warmer clothes came to need, what I did not expect to need one month ago. Almost every day it was raining and many days I woke up with the sound of a thunderstorm. There is not so much to do when it is raining, so I’m happy that I had to be whole week at work.

Next week will be my last here and I would not want to leave yet. Of course it is nice to go home and see all my loved ones there, but I feel that the time is running out too soon. Just this month I’ve been able to relax and be totally myself (a little crazy and silly) and boldly tried to speak Spanish to the others and learned it really a lot more that way. But I’m going to enjoy my last week here and there is also one last challenge to become on next Wednesday, but I’ll get back to it in my next and last post.

Chefs focused on setting beautiful portions for the wedding..

..And here is lovely Maria Jose serving those

I am not tell anything about the hotel yet so here is some facts about Hotel Reina Cristina:

Hotel has a long history and you can read about it from below..

  • Opened in 1901
  • 168 rooms in three floors
  • Services: indoor and outdoor pool with a pool bar, mini gym, sauna, library, inside bar, TV-lounge, library, billiards, mini-golf, ping pong, petanque
  • Total amount of employees is 70
  • High season is from July to September
  • The most customers come from Spain, Marocco and England
  • Restaurant have approx. 120 seats inside and the terrace about 60 seats
  • There is 4-5 special events per month. Mostly weddings and dew events.
The front of the hotel

A’la Carte restaurant
Bar
Reception area

Week 6

This week was full of beautiful places, good food and relaxing. My only working day was on Monday and rest of the week I spend in Torremolinos and nearby areas with my boyfriend. When I left from the hotel I was feeling of course happines, but also little bit sad, because I was thinking about that when I next time leave from the hotel with my bag, I’m never coming back.. Well never say never.. But there is still two weeks to go so I have to enjoy it as much as I can!

Here is some places we visited this week:

Nerja & Nerja Caves

Nerja is a small city eastside of Malaga. The main attraction in the area is the stalagmite cave which was amazing. Even there were lot’s of tourists and you have to walk with the group, but it was definately worth to visit. Pictures can’t tell the size and the beauty of the cave.

Frigliana:

Small village near Nerja. This is one of the Spanish “Pueblos Blancos” villages and what a beautiful and peaceful place it was. Here I could spend my retired days when I’m old.

Local traffic..

Gibraltar:
Quick visit to british territory. They even have their own money and really colourful history. When you go up on the Rock, you can find wild monkeys (Macaques) from there. You should not touch them or carry any food with you, because they definately are the kings of this mountain and will steal your food!

There is Algeciras

Also quick visit to the center of Malaga and some other places, but now we didn’t have a time and energy to discover Andalusia any larger. Torremolinos was ok, but not a place for me to come back again. The hotel was great and there were good restaurants in the area, but too many tourists and nothing to see.

Malaga
Views from our balcony

Weather here is now cooling down a bit and here has been couple rainy and windy days, so autumn is finally here too.

The coming week will be hard work and painful legs, but now I’ve charged my batteries so I can keep going for the last weeks.

Till next time..

Sanna

3 weeks left to go!

I’m not sure am I excited or more stressed about going home after 3 weeks, already. It’s been nice here, I’ve really liked this country and also the weather, it’s been all week close to 25°c. Time flies by so fast and I know it’s going every day even faster. Work has been mostly same as earlier and I think that just now we’re starting to remember where in the store everything is and how it’s done. We’ve also seen and getting to know lot of different foods what there isn’t in Finland. One day we get to try traditional Slovenian desert called Potica. I liked the taste but Henna wasn’t that satisfied. One co-worker who had baby just while ago baked those to us when she stayed on maternity leave. It’s been really nice to have chat with Slovene people, about our cultures and everything. People here are so sweet. This week we are mostly chilled at our dorm and done other school work. But the walking paths here are so pretty, especially if you go to Italian side of the border.

Loves, Julia❤️✨

Greetings from Slovenia

Hello!

This week here have been a few rainy days. Two boys from jyväskylä arrived here on tuesday, they also live in a dormitory and work in the same building as we do. At work we met nice customers. One old genteman also speak little finnish. We went to a grocery store on a friday night and came across a finnish family. We talked with them and they shared their own experiences in Slovenia. The told that they lived in Italy in Gorizia, which is just off the Slovenian-Italian border. They have moved to Gorizia in 2015 and in between they lived in Finland one year when their child was born, and then they went back to Gorizia.

On saturday we went to Venice. The weather was bad, because it was raining all day. We went by train to Venice. The trip lasted for about 2 hours. We walked around and watched the views.

Week 5

At the last post I said that I’m going to spend my free days by resting…Well it quite didn’t happend, because at the first day I woke up at 7 am and decided to go for a morning walk for the first time here and the rest of the day I spend at wandering around the city. I went to see a local market, which are held every Tuesdays here in Algeciras. Lot’s of cheap stuff and lot’s of people. Not my place to be! That day I walked about 16,8 km. Next day I hopped on a bus and went to Estepona, which is about 30 km from here. Lovely small city, where were also these narrow lanes with white houses, cobblestone streets and lot’s of flowers, real Spanish feeling. When I arrived there, first thing I decided to search some place where I can eat breakfast and I came across the traditional Spanish Churreria which was full of locals. So I decided to start my day in a local way with these delicious fritters called Churros and coffee. And those were really delicious! There should be a cup of hot chocolate in which the Churros could be dipped, but I chose to leave it there that I could still walk that day. That day my phones pedometer showed a total of 17,6 km walking so the total of two free days of walking was about 34 km.

Sunrise next to Gibraltar

The Bull Ring of Algeciras

Streets of Estepona

Café con leche y Churros 😋

At work I walk approx + 10 km per day, so there have to wear good shoes or your workdays will be killing your feets.

Last week I got some new workmates. One was Paco, who came back for a four months sick leave. What an amazing guy he is, every day he makes me laugh by he’s jokes and stories and he is so good with customers. Then there were two new trainee girls from Jyväskylä, also students of Tourism Industry, Sonja and Minja. Again nice to have a chance to talk Finnish and I tried to help them as much as I can, because I know the begining is difficult if you don’t understand the language. There were also two new hotel workers to come, so many new faces around.

I have said this before, but I can’t stop thanking these wonderful workers here. Sometimes even on bad days they always make me smile and make my day much better.

Paco, Maria and Abian

I’ve noticed that my English language skills are getting better every day, of course I still don’t speak perfect, but now It’s easier to talk without struggling. The British accent is also quite catching and I noticed one night to speak the same way, but now it’s back to normal Finnish rally-english. Also my Spanish language skills have proven better and I don’t need so much help with them than before. Just need to study, speak and practise.

Next week my boyfriend is coming to see me and we are going to Torremolinos for 6 days. I asked just couple more extra free days which I can compensate these days next week, but they said it’s ok that you can be whole 6 days free. Then Hotel manager said that I have to compensate all days, so I think I’m going to be at work for next and the coming week every day till morning to night, but it is ok to me.

Till next time…

Sanna

Halfway there

Four weeks behind, four weeks to go. Time has gone so fast, but it feels like forever when I came here. One employee asked me that aren’t you bored to be alone here, but there has not been a dull moment because there has always been something to do or see.

Again this week started with two days off. This time I headed to Ronda, which is about 1,5 hours train ride away from Algeciras. On the way to Ronda, there were beautiful landscapes everywhere and when I stepped out of the train the air was so fresh compared to the air on coastline. Almost like at home. And the city itself and surrounding areas were so beautiful that I can’t even explain. If you are travelling somewhere in Andalusia, this is the place you have to see. There is a long a pedestrian street with shops, restaurants and cafés. Also and old style pretty narrow lanes with white buildings, flowers,cobbled streets and wrought-iron balconies..So amazing! The main sight is the 18th-century stone bridge which cross the El Tajo gorge and it is more than 100 m tall. The only downside was that because the place is so popular visit site, there were a lot of big groups of tourists that I tried to dodge.

Working days have been really busy this week. Sometimes it’s hard to remember where I was going and what anyone wanted but the clients have been wonderful and understanding and I have received good feedback from customers so as an employee, even if some mistakes have occurred almost every day.
My waitress skills have been improving considerably this month. The tray stays better in my hands and the opening of wine bottles in front of the customer is no longer so horrible as it was in the beginning. This week there were big group of Germans and usually I was serving them at dinner time and I tried to speak German for them, at least a few words and they were well taken up.

Acorn fed Iberico ham, local cheese and 1,5 € beer..Heavenly!😋

The biggest challenge this week was one night with a horrible sized spider that appeared on a restaurant terrace. I’m not a spider friend so it wasn’t nice at all. I did not dare to kill it, so I tried to wipe it off with my shoe but the spider tried to attack against me, but finally I got rid of it at the foot of the chair. Well at least that was some entertainment for the customers.

This week was also the last week for my three co-workers who were working here for summer season. Maybe they will come back, but not when I’m still here so it was sad, because they were so nice and funny persons.

In the coming free days I’m just going to rest because my legs and wrists are pretty sore after this week. Till next time…

Sanna

Back on the track!

Hi again!

This week was pretty good, finally got back to work and become feeling a lot better. Last week was indeed nothing special. My week started at Monday, 1pm by going to work. The reason why I get there later than normally was because me, my boss and other stuff went to another city, Tolmin. Henna couldn’t come because she was still sick unfortunately. We went to Tolmin do inventory to another Mercator. (Mercator is a Slovenian retail corporation. a.k.a our working place here in Nova Gorica) Tolmin was really small but beautiful place to visit. On our way there I saw Alps and the Soča river! Here in Nova Gorica Soča river is more green than it was in Tolmin. There it was more clear and blue, almost like crystal! There is no rivers like that in Finland.

Soča river in Tolmin

Wensday Finnish teacher AP came to Slovenia and he came to meet us to our workplace. After we got back from work we decided to visit Sveta Gora with AP and Irena. In English Sveta Gora means Holy Mountain. At top of the hill there is a beautiful church and amazing view. You can see the Alps there as well as the Italian side all the way to the sea!

In the church there is a wall where people leave their crosses symboling their worries.

Driving down from the hill we had great view of the Nova Gorica.

Week at work went past really quickly and I learned couple of new things about their work system and I also learned to use scanner!
I’ve also helped out some customers. (who knows some English words) Customers are really curious when I told them that i don’t speak Slovenian. They usually ask where I’m from and what I’m going here and surprisingly many knows Finland or have even visited there!

Friday we went to Italian side of the border to Gorizia. This weekend there was a big international street food festival, which was amazing opportunity to get to know not just local food but food from other side of the world too! And the atmosphere there was amazing! We loved it so much that we went there also on Saturday night!

Saturday we went to Solkan, to see the Soča closer and to walk along the river.

As you can see the river here is more green.

Hope you had great week, I did!

Loves, Julia ❤️✨