Top 9 Things to Do in Granada, Spain

Located in the south of Spain in the region of Andalusia, the city of Granada has become an icon of Spanish culture. Due to its sunny weather, open plazas, and "traditionally Spanish" ambiance, it has become a favorite for many traveling through Europe. If this isn't reason enough to peak your curiosity, here are the top 9 things to do when in Granada that may have you researching flights (or trains) sooner than you thought.

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Why I Travel: A Few Thoughts on Recent World Events (or, Love from Andalucia)

Last weekend, a few friends and I traveled to the south of Spain where five days were spent falling in love with the city of Seville and then Córdoba. Both cities are located in Andalucia, a region just north of Africa, giving it a heavy Moroccan influence in the local art, food, and architecture. Needless to say, the place is a beautiful hodge-podge of culture that gives it a certain life and energy unlike any other in Europe. 

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From Island Girl to City Girl: The Art of Going Outside My Comfort Zone

Every once in a while, I think it’s beneficial to throw ourselves into something that is so out-of-the-ordinary for us. To push ourselves, to do something that scares us (obviously within reason). Because the thing is, it’s always at the edge of our comfort zone that we begin to define, to mold ourselves into who we are. How would we ever grow if we stuck with what we were comfortable with? 

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One for the Record Books: From the Spanish Mainland to Croatia

There are certain trips that go down in the memory bank as “that one trip.” The kind that when you hear a particular song or catch a smell or taste something vaguely familiar, the memories come rolling out of you like a wave, an echo of images and thoughts and feelings reincarnated from another place and time. Where moments come pouring out of you in one long string of images, as if they were sewn together, washing you in all of those good memories.

This past trip was one of those.

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Hiking Mallorca's Epic Torrent de Pareis

I’m a little late on this post, but better late than never. Especially for a hike as worthy as Torrent de Pareis. If you live on Mallorca, you’ve probably heard the name thrown around once or twice. The Gem of Mallorca, I’ve been told on more than one occassion, as if it’s a second name.

I’ve been on my fair share of hikes on the island, and I’ve never seen anything quite like the Torrent de Pareis. Running along the northwest side of the island, beginning in the mountains of Escorca and ending at the beach of Sa Calobra, it’s nothing short of epic. For an average person, it takes around six hours to do and consists of a mix between walking and bouldering down the riverbed (meaning this isn’t a hike to do after or during a heavy rain).

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Peter Pan Syndrome

In my fifth grade class this week, all of the students went around the room and said what they wanted to be when they grow up. When all of the students had given their answer, one of the girls raised her hand and said, Kristine, what do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m not going to lie, the whole growing up thing is a little scary (okay a LOT scary). I mean, honestly, does anyone really, fully understand how taxes work, or what exactly a high dividend stock is, or just what exactly makes up your credit score?

Where is the textbook, the college class, the How-to-Be-An-Adult for Dummies book?

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Exploring Caves, a Live Concert in an Underground Lake, Jellies, and More...

From caves created by ancient Genoese sailors to live music concerts in caves, this weekend was one for the record books. Swarms of jellyfish, hikes through pine forests overlooking clear blue Mediterranean water, and boat rides in underground lakes surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites.

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How to Do Mallorca in Three Days: The Winter Edition

As a small island in the Mediterranean, Mallorca has some of the most beautiful beaches and clearest water in all of Europe—perfect in the summer when you can go from scuba diving to cave swimming to cliff jumping in a matter of hours. But even Mediterranean islands get cold, and winter here is no exception. 

So what do you do on an island in the middle of winter? You adventure by land. And lo and behold, you come to find out that Mallorca is not too shabby of a winter destination—especially during the holidays.

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The FOMO Chronicles: Why No Plan Is Sometimes the Best Plan

On an island that boasts of amazing hiking and canyoning and kayaking and cave swimming and honey and olive and wine fairs, it’s not too far off from the truth to say that I want to do all the activities. All the time.

But I got to thinking how funny it is. How you have something so planned out in your head, the way something should be, or how you should experience something. How much you want to do and how determined you are to pack it all in.

But it rarely turns out the way you expect it to. What you experience and how you experience it.

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Mallorca: The Land of "A Good Place to Eat a Sandwich"

After quite a few excursiones on the island so far, I've begun to acquire a very important skill: How to find a good sandwich spot.

I mean, let's be real. You can't just eat your sandwich in any old place. You have to find the "it" spot--that vista that you will think back on in three years and think, Wow, that was such an amazing hike.

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Casual Wednesdays in Spain: Dancing with Demons at Dijous Bo

This week was Dijous Bo (meaning “Good Thursday” in Mallorquín), one of the largest fairs of winter in Mallorca held in the town of Inca. The festivities on Wednesday night (called Dimecres Bo, or “Good Wednesday,” in Mallorquín) is the event you won’t want to miss. Here, you will see the Correfoc, or Fire Run. People dress up as demons and everyone—young and old—come out to dance with the demons well into the night. A large band of drummers set the beat of the night with dramatic music and the demons light fireworks and dance, ride bikes, and even ride around in shopping carts with a trail of fire streaming around them. 

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Pollença Farmer's Market Treasures

Every Sunday Pollença has a big farmers market, and as should come as no surprise, I've been waiting *all week* to go. So you can imagine that I went a little overboard on the produce purchases come Sunday. 

Farmers markets in Mallorca are a little different than they are back home. While in Santa Barbara all the produce is locally grown/made and 90% is organic, a lot of the produce here isn't local (you have to specifically ask which is and which isn't) and the whole "organic" movement really hasn't made it's way here yet. I've heard you can find organic fruits and vegetables, but I'm told you would have to travel to Palma or another larger city to find a store or market that sells it.

Regardless, you gotta work with what you have, so I bought all the fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and even meat and cheese that I could find.

 My spread of farmers market goodies. So many possibilities...!

My spread of farmers market goodies. So many possibilities...!

Another aspect of the farmers market that I wasn't expecting - how much meat and cheese they sell (and since most of the meat is cured, it's all kept unrefrigerated). Any kind of cow or goat cheese you want - name it, they probably have it (and yes, this is as dangerous as it sounds). And while I've never been much of a huge meat-eater, it's hard to pass by the stand and not get anything, especially when they're passing out slices of perfectly salted and spiced ham or their specialty here - jamón sobrasada, a cured red sausage.

 Meat and cheese assortment.

Meat and cheese assortment.

 Slightly spicy peppers.

Slightly spicy peppers.

 Veggies galore!

Veggies galore!

 Olives on olives on olives...

Olives on olives on olives...

Another surprise (and I'm hoping someone reading this can shed some light on this...): I asked two women at two different dried fruit booths what the purple dried fruit in the picture below was, and they both answered pineapple. I asked if it was colored or natural, and they answered that it was natural and that it was a variety that was purple when it was young. I tried to research this mysterious purple pineapple online but unfortunately came up with nothing. I'm still curious as to whether this magical purple pineapple exists, so if any of you reading this have any insight, please click the "Contact" page and let us know!

 Mysterious dried "purple pineapple."

Mysterious dried "purple pineapple."

After lugging my spoils of fresh produce back to the apartment, I naturally wanted to get started on some goodies in kitchen. Homemade vegan almond pesto, beet hummus, and vegan veggie lettuce wraps stuffed with hummus and millet recipes to come soon! Stay tuned... 

Swimming in Caves at Caló Des Moro

Today we drove to the other side of the island for a little salt and sand at one of Mallorca's most beautiful beaches, Caló Des Moro, near the city of Santanyí. We had to park on the bluffs above the beach, and there are trails that are surrounded by pine trees and thick green vegetation that took us down to the beach.

It is absolutely gorgeous.

The first glimpse of the ocean from the trail is an expanse of brilliant blues and some of the clearest water that I've ever seen. Cliffs tower on either side of the narrow stretch of water, and a few caves can be seen on either side. 

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The beach itself is very small and scattered with large rocks so it can get crowded easily (there is not much "sand space"). If you go, I would recommend getting there early to make sure you have a spot to lay your towels down and set up camp for the day.

The beach is pristine and mellow, making it a great place to swim or snorkel. There isn't much reef near the beach but the farther you venture out the more you'll find. There were a few people that climbed up the rocks on the left side of the water and were jumping off into the ocean (although I'm not sure how much the tide can change here/how shallow it can get).

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If you swim out about 100 yards on the right, there's a big cave that you can swim into. We swam in, and at the very back we climbed up on some low rocks and jumped off (the water was about three meters deep here). There is more reef in and around the cave which can make for a fun place to snorkel.

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I also heard that the beach can get crowded during the height of tourist season in Mallorca, but since we are nearing the end of the season, there didn't seem to be too many people.

After we had our fair share of swimming, we decided to stop at the town of Portopetro, a very small port town to the East of Santanyí. The town is quiet and quaint, and while small, harbors some beautiful boats and some decent restaurants. We stopped at a place overlooking the water for a café con leche and chatted as the sun went down. It was a perfect way to end the day and a nice stopping point before the drive back up north. 

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These are the kinds of days that allow you to savor, rather than just see. The moments that make you think about how many beautiful gems there are out there and how many corners of the world that you have yet to see. And to think that in this moment in time, you somehow got to this place, to see this. You start to appreciate the timing of your life, regardless of whether it may seem right or not, and you begin to trust in the path that you've taken, regardless of how chaotic or directionless it may seem at times.

You begin to realize just how lucky you are to be right here, at this point in time. To see this beautiful beach and to feel how awesome life is. And you begin, poco a poco, to savor. To enjoy the adventure of each day. Live happy, live it up, and enjoy the little moments.

Crystal Clear Waters of Cala Sant Vicenç

Less than five miles away from my new apartment in Pollença is Cala Sant Vicenç, a small town consisting of three beautiful, calm beaches and white boutique resorts set on the surrounding cliffs. The water is crystal clear blue and the beaches are tucked away in small, protected coves (cala translated means cove).

While the reef doesn't vary too much, it can make for some fun snorkeling since there are some small fish, and the bay makes for a good swim with the water being as calm (and clear) as a pool. I swam out a ways and lay on my back, the sun beating down on me. It was nice, just laying out there in the sea, letting everything go in the sunshine. All the colors at San Vincenç are so vibrant, it's a good place to get back to center, to remind yourself to breathe. To take it all in, smile, and let it all get washed away by the water.

October is at the end of tourist season in Mallorca and I went midday on a Thursday, so there were not too many people. It turned out to be a quiet spot to read and lay in the sun and snack on some dates. As it got to around 4pm, after everyone got off of work, the beach got a bit more crowded but everyone cleared out pretty much by 6:30pm as the sun was setting.

While you can't see the sunset from the beach, it's a beautiful spot to sit as the shade comes over the water and the cliffs on either side of the bay are lit up in that setting-sun golden orange. Everything was quiet and there was hardly anyone on the beach.

Every once in a while you need to find your happy place and reset. Recharge. After a few weeks of being on the go from traveling, it was refreshing to get back to the ocean, to swim, and to refuel with some mellow "me" time. Sometimes something as simple as a swim in the ocean, reading in the sunshine, or making tea and sitting in the tub can reboot you for a whole week.

Take some time today or in the next few days to recharge. Find your happy place - your favorite beach, a great trail, the hammock in the backyard - and take some time for you. Breathe, smile, and let it all go.