Mallorca Day Trips: Hiking at Parque Natural Sa Dragonera

Mallorca is an amazing island with countless day trip opportunities. For those who are interested in seeing a bit more of Mallorca than the typical tourist destinations, and for those who like some physical activity, this day trip to Sa Dragonera might be something for you!

Sa Dragonera is an island located in the South West of Mallorca, and geographically seen it is like an extension of the Sierra de Tramuntana, the mountain complex of Mallorca. Since 1995 it is declared as a Natural Park by the Balearic government.

I recently went on a day trip with my German friend, Stephanie, who lives on the island since a few years. I met her back in 2015 when I stayed at her beautiful AirBnB and ever since we stayed in touch. Now that I’m back, Stephanie invited me to go out and explore some more of the island.

With my friend Stephanie who has an amazing boat excursion website for those of you who understand German.
Continue reading

Working Abroad for Thomas Cook in Mallorca

A lot of people dream about working abroad in a sunny southern country like Spain. However, only few succeed. If you are able to speak a few foreign languages and if you have some experiences working in the tourism industry, you might have a step ahead. Then you can work for tour operators like Thomas Cook abroad, like me! So, how to do that? And what is it like to work in a Spanish island? Continue reading to find out!

In my last blog post I announced that I got a position as a Connected Service Consultant at Thomas Cook for the Summer Season 2019. Basically, this means that I am working in Destination Management abroad to support travelers who are on a holiday and need some assistance. 

My Placement for the Summer Season

What I did not know when I applied for the job is where I would end up working. I was either going to work in Crete (Greece), Palma de Mallorca (Spain) or Faro (Portugal). I was lucky to get my prefered destination and so I got to stay in Mallorca, a beautiful island that belongs to the Balearic island group in the Mediterranean sea. 

However, I found out that I will need to change destinations after being in Spain for 183 days. Apparently, this has to do with local tax duties: if you live somewhere more than 183 days under a foreign contract, you need to start paying local taxes. So, to avoid that Thomas Cook re-places its employers every 183 days to another destination. Next: Faro or Crete?!

I now live together with 2 amazing roommates in an apartment with seaview near the beach in the capital Palma de Mallorca. One of my roommates is German and the other one is Polish. Both are females. It is a beautiful modern apartment with a large kitchen, three spacious bedrooms, a balcony, three bathrooms, … everything I wished for!

I’m working and living in Palma de Mallorca for 183 days!

Finding Balance: One Month on the Job

I am almost one month here now, time flies! So it is time to make up a balance after having settled. How is it to be working here? Well, great so far! I must admit I was a bit worried to be living with colleagues (because who knows whether I like them or not!), and I was not sure if an office job (even if it were in a foreign country) was really what I wanted to do… but I am really feeling great so far here!

I am surrounded by professional and frienfly people and colleagues and my roommates are great (as in clean, quiet, fun and respectful). Also, I have 2 days off every week so there is enough time to have a break from work to explore the island. I have already done some trips during my off-days and after work there is always a few spare hours to go for drinks or tapas in the city. 

On my days off I can explore the island, or visit the beach (3 minutes from home).

At work I am finally (after a few weeks of intensive training) settled in my job role: I need to take phone calls, answer e-mails, Whatsapp and SMS messages of customers who are currently on a holiday and need assistance with pretty much everything you can imagine that can be categorized mainly as: 

  • A complaint
  • An incident
  • An enquiry 

I think the most frequent things that travelers ask assistance with so far is:

  • A transfer to the airport
  • A room change in the hotel
  • A hotel change in case they don’t like their hotel
  • Help with insurance matters when they are sick
  • Booking excursions 
  • Assistance to report lost or stolen items 
  • Going home early or later
  • Online check-in with their flights
  • … 

For all these issues, there are a lot of parties in a lot of countries involved: hotels, local agents, brokers, airlines, administrators, taxi drivers, travel agents, receptionists, … so a lot of the times I need to contact people who work in the tourism industry.

I am currently working at the Thomas Cook headquarters in Palma de Mallorca.

So Far, So Good! Why I Like the Job

I like a lot that I can use a lot of my language skills: I help customers in Dutch (or Flemish, my mother tongue) and French (the second official language of Belgium, my home country) and I when speaking to third parties I mostly speak English or Spanish. At the office, English is the main business language. This job is veryyyyyyy good to practice and improve your language skills!

What I like most about the job so far is that I really feel that you can make a difference in someone’s holiday, how simple or small the issue may be. And even though people are not always directly thanking you, you know that because of what you did, their holiday changed for the better. So if you are looking for a job that gives you satisfaction, working in Destination Management is definitely it!

Another nice thing is that I work with colleagues from all over Europe in the office so I live in a very international environment. I work of course more closely together with my Dutch and French speaking colleagues in my team, but there is also a German, Hungarian, Polish and British team. So, when we go out with colleagues, it is always an interesting mix!

The Biggest Challenge: Timing & Shifts

The fact that I work in a shift system is very new to me and is probably the biggest challenge. There are different shifts, more or less from 6.00-15.00, from 9.00-17.00, from 12.00-21.00, and a night shift from 21.00-6.00. Each time you work 5 days, and then you get 2 days off. For the night shift, you work 4 days and get 3 days off. The shift changes every week with a rotation system.

The good thing about this shift system is that you can do something different every week: going to markets in more a morning thing, going to concerts is more a night acvitity, and going to the beach might be better early in the morning or late in the afternoon (when it is not too hot yet). So, you can plan activities according to your schedule. But I still need to get used to developed a flexible biorythm. 

Also, the bus system on the island is not the most reliable and especially not from where I live in the city. I have been arriving late twice already at work, which is of course not giving the best impression as I am still in my trial period. I have to get better in timing… but I found a solution! I ordered a beautiful bicycle (which will hopefully arrive soon!) so I can drive myself to work and get some excercise on top of that. 

Living the Spanish Life, timing “mañaña mañana” included. I need to learn to arrive on time.

Conclusion: Better than I Expected…

Overall, I think that this job itself is maybe not that different from a job that you would do in your home country in a call center, for example, but there is nothing better in the world than being surrounded by an international like-minded team of people who are adventurous like you, who like to travel, who are flexible and open-minded. 

… And most of all, there is no better feeling in the world than to take a deep breathe after work and to step outside the office everyday, to breathe in sea breeze and put on your sunglasses. To go outside after work to explore a holiday destination. Realizing that you are so blessed to live here for months, because many people only have one or two weeks abroad to enjoy it. So, be grateful. 

Every day is a holiday in Spain!

Wanna Work For Thomas Cook?! 

Do you think this job is something for you? Well, then go for it! But before deciding whether you apply… Check out my check list whether it is really something for you. And please, do not hesitate to comment bellow with any question you have. I will be so happy to reply!

My Check List …

Working abroad for Thomas Cook is something for you if you like to :

  • travel a lot and live abroad
  • see many destinations
  • get an apartment and costs covered
  • live somewhere with a lower cost of living
  • be surrounded by an International team
  • get a lot of job training
  • work 5 days and get 2 days off
  • have a high salary for local standards
  • work for bonuses based on performance 

Maybe working abroad for Thomas Cook is NOT for you if you are looking for: 

  • a high salary
  • a fixed contract
  • a private apartment 
  • permanent residency abroad 
  • career growth possibilities
  • fixed working hours 
  • stability

If you are 100% sure that you want to go for it, then apply now to become my colleague: as a Dutch-French speaking agent, Polish and German speaking agent, or Czech and German speaking agent. Or take a look on the Career website of Thomas Cook for other currently available positions.

x x x From Julie With Love x x x

Please let me know in a comment if you like this post, or if you are interested in this job. Or maybe you have worked / currently work for Thomas Cook too? I’m curious if you have anything to add… Any personal experiences? Sharing is caring!

THE BIG TRIP – Day 6: Albufeira

TRAVELOGUE – Blogpost 9: Day 6 (02/4/13) – Albufeira

The beginning of a new day, the beginning of a new adventure, the beginning of a new country: PORTUGAL! It was Tuesday and we continued our journey: we would drive from Algeciras to Albufeira, via Sevilla, Huelva and Faro. A big trip for our driver, Christophe, and an excellent opportunity for us, the passengers, to sleep …

Het begin van een nieuwe dag, het begin van een nieuw avontuur, het begin van een nieuw land: PORTUGAL! Het was dinsdag en onze reis werd stevig verdergezet: we zouden van Algeciras richting Albufeira rijden, langs Sevilla, Huelva en Faro. Een stevige trip voor onze chauffeur van dienst, Christophe, en de uitgewezen kans voor ons, de passagiers, om even wat bij te slapen…

BIG TRIP (2) 239

Somewhere near Seville we took time for our picnic. We also drank a cup of coffee to wake us up.

Ergens in de buurt van Sevilla namen we tijd voor onze picknick. We dronken ook een opkikkerend tasje koffie.

BIG TRIP (2) 250And not much later, we were suddenly stopped by the Guardia Civil, totally not knowing why. We thought they would do a luggage check and that we had to unload all our luggage but that was not the case: apparently we had driven too fast! Oops! We drove 102 km per hour where you could only drive 80 km per hour, and unfortunately the excuse of “yes, but we are students” did not help here. Fortunately, the Guardia Civil could (more or less) laugh with it, and we only had to pay € 50. That is € 10 per person, so quite alright … And so we continued driving, slower this time!

En niet zoveel later werden we plots tegengehouden door de Guardia Civil, totaal onwetend waarom. We dachten dat ze een controle zouden doen en dat we al onze bagage moesten uitladen, maar dat was niet het geval: blijkbaar hadden we te snel gereden! Oeps! We reden 102 km per uur waar men 80 km per uur mocht rijden, en helaas hielp het excuus van “ja, maar wij zijn studenten” hier niet. De Guardia Civil kon er gelukkig wel (min of meer) om lachen, en met €50 kwamen we er nog goed vanaf. Dat is €10 per persoon, dus daar gingen we niet van dood… Verder rijden dus maar, en vanaf nu wat langzamer!!

BIG TRIP (2) 240

When we crossed the border Spain-Portugal, we were all so euphoric that we had not noticed that we had to get ourselves a kind of road license, and when we did noticed, it was already too late: we saw cameras all over the roads who register your license plate for the tolls. As a result we had an incredible amount of fear that afterwards we would get a serious penalty and exactly that, we wanted to avoid after the previous incident. But after informing ourselves at the tourist office, we were told: because we had a foreign license (French), the Portuguese government would not do that. Let’s hope for the best!

Toen we de grens Spanje-Portugal overstaken, waren we allemaal zo euforisch dat we het niet doorhadden dat we ergens een soort wegenkaart moesten gaan halen, en dat merkte we op door onderweg vervolgens superveel camera-flitsers te zien die je wagen signaleren en zo via je nummerplaat de tolgelden registreren. Daardoor hadden we ongelooflijk veel schrik dat we achteraf een serieuze boete zouden krijgen, en dat wilden we na het voorgaande incident wel echt vermijden. Maar na even te informeren bij de toeristische dienst, werden we gerustgesteld: doordat we een buitenlandse nummerplaat hadden (Franse), zou de Portugese overheid dat niet doen. Op hoop van zegen dan maar!

BIG TRIP (2) 255

Anyway … Around 2:30PM we arrived in Albufeira, a popular beach resort area for the mass tourism. It had been a hell of a ride, and we were all ready for a quiet day at the beach here. We also had won an hour, because the clock is exactly one hour earlier in Portugal than in Spain. Awesome, right?!

Enfin… Omstreeks 14.30u arriveerden we in Albufeira, een populaire badplaats bij het massatoerisme. Het was een helse rit geweest, en we waren allemaal klaar voor een rustigere dag aan het strand hier. We hadden ook een uurtje gewonnen, want de klok staat in Portugal exact 1 uur vroeger dan in Spanje. Heerlijk, toch!

BIG TRIP (2) 263

We checked in into our apartment, we – believe it or not believe it – only paid € 35 for all of us this time. Again thanks to the low season. About the price we could not complain, though it was a bit old-fashion and there hung a terrible smell of mouse exterminator, and the bed linen was so clammy that we’d better not sleep in it. But … we had a beautiful view, a terrace and a swimming pool available. All in all satisfied customers so!

We checkten in in ons appartement, dat we – geloof het of geloof het niet – dit keer amper €35 voor ons allen betaalden. Alweer dankzij het laagseizoen. Voor de prijs mochten we zeker niet klagen, al was het wel wat oubollig en hing er een vreselijke geur van muizen-verdelger, én het bedlinnen was zo klammig dat we er beter niet op zouden slapen. Maar… we hadden een fraai uitzicht, een terras en een zwembad ter beschikking. Al bij al tevreden klanten dus!

BIG TRIP (2) 269

The weather was lovely today, and I quickly put my pink dress on: “La vie en Rose” was the motto for today! 😉 And like that, we all went out in our beach outfits, towards… the beach.

Het weer was ook heerlijk vandaag, en ik trok snel mijn roze jurk aan: “La vie en Rose” was het motto voor vandaag! J En vervolgens trokken we erop uit, richting strand.

BIGtrip_04-02 1315

The short walk did us all good to stretch the legs and the views were beautiful again!

Het korte wandelingetje deed ons allen goed om de benen even te strekken, en de uitzichten waren wederom prachtig!

BIG TRIP (2) 288

On the beach we made a lot of fun and we decided spontaneously to take some crazy photos. This was the ideal location for a BIG TRIP – portfolio!

Op het strand maakten we heel wat lol en besloten we spontaan om wat gekke foto’s te nemen. Dit was dé ideale locatie voor een BIG TRIP – portfolio!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ula then came up with the great idea to make a “jumping picture”, in which the camera makes shots very quickly – the one after the other, through automatic control. So it registers the whole jumping process and you can choose which photo you like the most, or where everyone jumped the highest. This is the result:

Ula kwam vervolgens met het fantastische idee om een “jumping picture” te maken, waarbij de camera heel vlug achter mekaar, via automatische bediening heel veel foto’s maakt. Zo registreert die het hele spring-proces en kies je die foto waar ieders sprong het hoogst is. Dit is het resultaat ervan:

BIGtrip_04-02 1434

And although we had actually planned a “beach day”, after an hour or so we finished that part of the day.

En hoewel we eigenlijk een “beach day” hadden ingepland, waren we na een uurtje toch weer klaar met het strand.

BIGtrip_04-02 1466

We pit the sand off our shoes, and headed towards the touristic center of Albufeira …

We klopten het zand van onze schoenen, en trokken het toeristische centrum van Albufeira in…

BIG TRIP (2) 377

We walked around, bought post cards, souvenirs and sunglasses.

We wandelden wat rond, kochten postkaartjes, souvenirs en zonnebrillen.

BIGtrip_04-02 1472

And we made some funny and crazy shots.

En we maakten wat lol, en gekke kiekjes.

BIGtrip_04-02 1475

And because it was a real holiday-day today, it was time for an ice cream. Enjoy!

En omdat het vandaag een échte vakantie-dag was, was het tijd voor een ijsje. Genieten!

BIG TRIP (2) 391

We then decided to walk to the supermarket to do kind of a BBQ tonight. Although it was not really a BBQ, because we had to bake the meat in the pan, but you know: salads, bread, meats, … We had the perfect apartment for it!

We besloten om vervolgens naar de supermarkt te wandelen om vanavond een geïmproviseerde BBQ te doen. Weliswaar zonder BBQ, en het vlees gewoon gebakken in de pan, maar je weet wel: slaatjes, brood, vleesjes, … We hadden er het perfecte appartementje voor!

BIGtrip_04-02 1477

I had regret wearing my slippers at that time because our beach day again ended in a lot of walking and carrying groceries.

Ik had op dat moment al dikke spijt van mijn slippers aan te hebben gedaan, want onze stranddag eindigde wederom in heel wat gestap en gesleur met etenswaren.BIG TRIP (2) 403

Along the way a waiter called me: “This girl is on fire …” Yeah, that song describes indeed well how I felt today … Apparently I shined that out! 😉

Onderweg riep een ober me nog toe: “This girl is on fire…” Tsjah, dat liedje beschreef inderdaad wel goed hoe ik me vandaag voelde… Blijkbaar straalde ik dat ook uit! 😉

Again this became such a great day, and the evening was definitely as much fun as the day! It was a cozy and super relaxed evening in our apartment!

Het was dus weeral een superleuke dag geworden, en de avond was zeker even leuk als de dag! Het werd een rustige, gezellige en supergrappige avond in ons appartementje!

BIG TRIP (2) 271

We ate our BBQ and toasted to our successful journey so far …

We aten onze BBQ en toosten op onze tot dusver geslaagde rondreis…

BIG TRIP (2) 410

And we decided to see the movie BAMBI because we – in some stupid way – were wondering how that movie actually ended! You know, everybody knows that wonderful beginning with those lovely creatures and historic phrase: “Wake up, Wake up, there’s a new prince born”. So, we viewed it to expand “our general knowledge”!

En we besloten om de film BAMBI te zien, omdat we ons – om de één of andere onnozele manier – afvroegen hoe die nu eigenlijk eindigde?! Je weet wel, iedereen kent dat prachtige begin met die lieve beestjes en dat historische zinnetje: “Opstaan, Opstaan, er is een nieuwe prins geboren!”. Dus, wij bekeken het als ‘onze algemene kennis’ even verruimen!

BIG TRIP (2) 413

We watched the movie Bambi in the original version, in English. Very funny to see how the audiovisual techniques in the meantime have been developed!

We bekeken de Bambi-film trouwens in originele versie, in het Engels. Heel grappig om te zien hoe de audiovisuele technieken er ondertussen zijn op vooruit gegaan!

bambi

And that was the end of our super-successful and relaxing day in Albufeira. The next morning we had to wake up early, because the trip would be continued to the capital of Portugal: LISBON! So be alert for the next post … 😉

En dat was meteen het einde van onze super-geslaagde en ontspannende dag in Albufeira. De volgende ochtend moesten we vroeg uit de veren, want de trip zou vervolgd worden richting de hoofdstad van Portugal: LISSABON! Allen dus alert voor de volgende post… 😉

Travelogue structure / Reisverhaal structuur:

  • Blogpost 1: Introduction
  • Blogpost 2: Day 1 (28/3/13) – Altea
  • Blogpost 3: Day 1 (28/3/13) – Benidorm
  • Blogpost 4: Day 2 (29/3/13) – Alicante
  • Blogpost 5: Day 3 (30/3/13) – Granada
  • Blogpost 6: Day 4 (31/3/13) – Malaga
  • Blogpost 7: Day 4 (31/3/13) – Ronda
  • Blogpost 8: Day 5 (01/4/13) – Gibraltar
  • Blogpost 9: Day 6 (02/4/13) – Albufeira ==> you are now reading this blogpost!
  • Blogpost 10: Day 7 (03/4/13) – Lisbon
  • Blogpost 11: Day 8 (04/4/13) – Sintra & Lissabon
  • Blogpost 12: Day 9 (05/4/13) – Fatima & Porto
  • Blogpost 13: Day 10 (06/4/13) – Porto & Braga