Tag Archives: Spain

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. Wonderful week behind but 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.

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

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

Week 3..

..done! My week started with two free days so I headed to the beach of Tarifa. Loved it and it’s 10 km long beach, so there is space enough for everybody. The place is perfect for kitesurfers, because there is quite windy and big waves so there were lot’s of them on that day. Sometimes if you are lucky enough you might see dolphins and even whales at the sea, but I’m never lucky so I just saw my inner eyelids, cause I focused on relaxing.

Views to Africa

Days have gone so fast and again I have learned lot’s of new spanish words and new things about my job. There has been quiet days and very busy days and sometimes I wish I could be a octopus, because my hands can’t carry so much stuff than needed. Now I’ve told immediately to our Spanish customers that I don’t speak well spanish, I’m from Finland and student, so they have been very understanding and helpful and I try to speak spanish as much I can. Many little mistakes have happend, but nothing serious..yet! And I learn from those everytime, so I won’t repeat them. One day the Hoteles Globales “big boss” was visiting here and we had to be even more precise and look professional. Of course I was even more frightened that I was dropping something or doing something stupid, but it went well I guess.

Last week couple Finnish groups came to the hotel and were very surprised at what I did there and said that I looked like a Spanish. My coworkers call me “rubia”=blond so my Spanish camouflage colour is not quite finished.

Lobby area

Me and lovely Mariangeles. It was her last night at the hotel. We tried to look stylish but it did not succeed!

Till next time…

Sanna

Week 2

After the first week culture shock and the beginnings constriction, I have already settled here fine. Of course I still miss the people at home, but I have a good feelings and doing pretty good to be only with your own thoughts. Fortunately, nowadays there are good communication tools so everyday video call to home helps solitude.

On Monday me and the hotel asistant manager Julie went to a local police station to get me my NIE number, what you need to have in Spain if you are going to work here.

My work days were between 9-13/ 12:30-16:30 and 19:30-23:30. The days go by the same routine almost everyday. Clean up tables, chat and help customers, pour drinks etc. And after every dinner you set all ready for the next dinner. After work we eat together and it is still quite weird to eat decent food at twelve o’clock in the evening and then try to go sleep after a huge dinner. I try to eat just a little bit, but sometimes it’s hard to resist those delicious looking cakes and other goodies.

Starters

Main courses: there is always options of fish, chicken and meat, rice, pasta, potatoes and vegetables

Every day I have learned something more and some new spanish words stick in to my head. It is still hard to make correct sentences and I’m shamed if I don’t know how to pronounce the words correctly. Maybe I just have to start using it bravely and my co workers are always helping with pronouncement and teach me new words. I’m still 0happy that the are so many English customers who I can speak with and it’s now much easier than first week.

The Weather has been warm, not so many sunny days but the temperature is still +26 and moist. My body begins to get used to this heat and it’s not so suffocating to work here anymore. Hotel is so near the harbour that you can hear many noises coming from there. Lot’s of police/coast guard helicopters, ships honks etc. At the beginning it was quite annoying sometimes, but now i’m used to it either.

I had couple day offs and I headed to Tarifa, which is only 45 minutes bus ride away from Algeciras. Tarifa is a bridge between Europe and Africa and divides the Mediterranean from the Atlantic. Lovely little beach town, surffers paradise and the southernmost city of Europe. There were lots of little boutiques, restaurants and cafes in the small, charming alleys. I definately come back with beachwear and lots of money, because there were so much unusual stuff what you can’t find at shopping centers. I also visit at the Castle of Guzmán el Bueno, which was built in 960. Really old castle and great history, but most of it was renovated too modern looking, so only old things which were left were the walls.

Tarifa

I’ve noticed a lot of differencies between spanish and finnish peoples behaviours and habits. They are very straightforward so it is not possible to avoid controversy, but once the air is cleaned everything is back well. When you meet someone, everyone is always asking how are you doing or is everything ok. Friends usually give a cheek kiss when meeting and otherwise touching and standing near each others when you talk is somewhat different to the Finnish character. We have been laughing here about our different eating habits. Especially younger people don’t eat here much vegetables and salads, so their plates were full of chips, pasta etc. and I had many green things. In Spain it is common to eat something sweet for breakfast so even here my workmates may have just churros or cakes and juice or milkshake to drink. And no coffee!! I have to get my daily coffee with breakfast or it’s going to be a really bad day!

Till next time…

Sanna

Week number one..

..completed! I’m still alive and ok. I didn’t broke anything, I didn’t do any big mistakes and I have learned something so let’s continue that way for next seven weeks. My work shifts were most of the days between 8:30 – 12:30 and 19:30 – 23:30 so I did breakfast and dinner settings. At breakfasts my job is to collect used plates off the tables, change dirty tablecloths to new ones, set new cutlerys on tables and of course, be nice to customers, answer their questions and so on.. At dinners my job is pretty much same as in mornings, but then we serve drinks to our customers and also in the lunch time too. After every setting, we set the tables ready for next dinner, polish all cutlerys and glasses, take tablecloths to laundry, pick up empty bottles and glasses from the hotels floors which cleaners have collect from rooms.

Only problem is still that I don’t understand everything what our Spanish customers or my collagues are saying. And it’s hard to get answers to my million questions, because there is only couple workmates, who speak english and they are not always there when I needed. I still don’t know everything what I should know, but I guess I’ve learned before my last day at October 26th. I’ve been studying Spanish since last autumn and I know some basics and understand words here and there, so I can answer some questions made by our spanish customers. Fortunately there are now lots of customers from England and Germany, so I can easily communicate with them. I have to say that I have never had so many praise in my life than this week. Those lovely english customers are so polite and every night they praise how good the customer service representative I am, and how well I can speak English, (which I’m not) but I always try to do my best to make them happy. There are also a couple of Finnish customers here, so it’s nice to switch a few words in Finnish too.

My workmates are awesome, even we don’t all the time understand each other, but they have been so nice to me and teach me Spanish words.

Natalie, Victor, Maria, Esther and Belen

My freetimes and days off I’ve been on the beach and just wandering around the city and shops and stopped by cafes and of course read my Spanish book. Weather here has been very hot, even when it’s raining the weather is warm and feels almost tropical.

That temperature may be a bit of a lie.. 😊

Sanna

So here I am…

..in the big world all alone. Or actually I’m in Algeciras where is about 119000 people living here so I won’t quite be all alone here.

My name is Sanna, i’m 33 years old and I study second year at Tourism Industy in Gradia Jämsä and I do my work placement in Hotel Reina Cristina in Algeciras. Here has been couple students before and they liked working here and teacher recommended me this place so I said yes.

Last couple days before leaving were awful. I didn’t undertand why on earth did I wanted to do this and didn’t want to leave, but like some wise guys said that sometimes you just have to do something out of your comfort zone to experinence new things and learn a bit more of yourself. Of course I wanted to go because I love Spain. I’ve been travelling here, mostly in Canary Islands, but I wanted to try what it would be like working in this country. I also wanted to learn spanish language more and improve my english skills. But beeing away from my loving boyfriend, family and friends is hard but I can do this!

I came here two days ago and I have been exploring the city and also met some of the workers of the hotel. I read somewhere about Algeciras, that it is just an ugly port town in the south of spain and there is nothing to see. Well maybe it is not the idyllic spanish town with white houses and red brickroofs, but there are some beautyful parts and yes it is a port town where there are lots of shippingindustry and big steel and metalbuildings in harbour and also many old buildings because it’s quite old city.

Tomorrow I start my work at the hotels restaurant as a waitress. I don’t know yet exactly what i’m going to do, maybe cleaning tables and pouring drinks or something. I’m little bit worried cause I might be a little clumsy person sometimes, like dropping things or even stumble with my own legs. I’ll try my best not to break everything!

I’ll get back next week and tell something what have I done,learn or destroyed 😬

Hasta luego amigos!

Sanna