How I Quit my Job and Found Freedom

Last year I decided to apply for a job abroad in the tourism industry after finally giving up on my PhD project. 2018 had been a turbulent year working on a project that did not work out. I became sick mentally and physically. In December 2018 I quit my job in Belgium (and project work in Cuba) after a long and painful period of trying to make it work. I felt completely blocked. Instead, I took the time to find my inner peace again.

I gave myself some time and wanted to do something fun without so much work pressure. And so, I signed up for a job at Thomas Cook (a tour operator in Europe) only to start in March. Why I did not start directly and waited until then? March is the beginning of the Summer Season and it allowed me to take some time off for myself. I am not a big fan of jumping fast from one project to another (although it might look sometimes like that with my busy lifestyle).

Sometimes it is important to take time to do nothing and reflect.

From Julie with Love
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Mallorca Day Trips: How to Spend the Perfect Day in Cala d’Or

Mallorca has a crazy amount of fascinating places and experiences to offer for holidaymakers from all generations and all backgrounds. There is really something for everyone! One thing that everyone probably likes is a beautiful bay, good food, a wonderful sunset and a boat trip. Have you heard anyone ever say no to that!? Me neither….

So, today we’re exploring the East side of Mallorca. Whereas last time we visited Santanyi (see my other blog post) and the picturesque Cala Santanyi, today we’re visiting Cala Figuera and Cala d’Or. I want to show you how you can spend a perfect day in this part of the island, so that you are 100% holiday proof for your next trip!

In this post you will find out:

  • The top spots to visit near Cala d’Or
  • The best place to eat and have a drink in Cala d’Or
  • Why you should not miss out on Cala Figuera
  • Which is the best sunset boat trip in the area
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Romantic Sailing in Mallorca (Even If You Don’t Have A Boyfriend)

There’s nothing more romantic than a sailing boat trip on the ocean with a privately chartered yacht. Well, there’s nothing more romantic than a romance, of course. Unless you don’t have a romantic partner, then there’s nothing more romantic than a boat trip with friends (and even strangers).

Joern from Romantic Sailing Mallorca, an adventurous German captain with a big heart for the ocean, invited me to come and see it myself: Romantic Sailing can be fun, even if you don’t have a boyfriend (or girlfriend)! Check out my little boat travelogue here…

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The 10 Most Instagrammable Places in Mallorca

Mallorca is filled with the most beautiful Instagram places and photographic opportunities. Just take a look at my Instagram profile and you’ll immediately see that I can continue to take photos FOREVER on this amazing island. From small villages to rocky bays and fancy restaurants…. Mallorca has it all!

This blog post is all about the best places to Instagram in Mallorca. I will show you my favorite shot spots on the island: some are popular places, others are off the beaten track. Up to you to discover them yourself now. And Psssss….. let me know what your Top 10 looks like (in a comment below)!

Pin it on Pinterest!
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Fridamania: The Influence of Frida Kahlo Today

Frida Kahlo is one of the most celebrated artists in the world nowadays. She is literally everywhere: in musea, iPhone covers, restaurants, bags, decorations and yes, even in underwear. Like many of her fans, I admire Frida Kahlo, but – to be honest – I sometimes feel like I am one of the happy few who really knows who she is.

Almost everyone admires the looks and appearance of Frida Kahlo, as well as her paintings and her ideology, but who is she really and why did she become so popular? Let me figure it out for you.

Keep on reading if you want to know more about…

  • Frida Kahlo and the dramatic story of her life
  • the popularity of Frida Kahlo today in fashion, food and fun
  • and what we can learn from Frida Kahlo today
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7 Reasons Why Enotourism is the New Travel Trend for Wine Lovers

Admit it. You like to drink a good glass of wine, especially when you are on a holiday, on a day off, or after work. With fish, with desert, with BBQ, … There is always an appropriate wine and an appropriate occasion to drink wine, unless you are pregnant, religious, or a member of the AA.

This blog post is for the wine lovers who want to indulge even more in their obsession with wine. Imagine that you could not only taste wines, but also learn about its consumption and purchase wine while you travel at or near its source. Imagine that you could visit wineries, make vineyard walks or even participate in harvesting the grapes. Well, imagine that is nowadays called enotourism, or wine tourism.

Keep reading to find out WHY enotourism is the new travel trend!

“I’ve never owned a vineyard, but I’m pretty sure I’ve drunk one”.

– From Julie With Love

This week I tried out Enotourism in Mallorca, because, you know… I am getting a bit spoilt… When you spend a lot of time on an island, you kind of want something else than beaches, hikes, city trips and boat rides all the time. I was looking for a different experience on the island, and that’s how I bumped into this wine experience! Here follow 7 reasons why it is the new travel trend!

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Mallorca Day Trips: How to Spend the Perfect Day in Santanyí

The good thing about working abroad is that you can spend your days off as a tourist: you can make day trips from where you live to discover the most beautiful and fun places around you.

This week I decided to visit Santanyi. It is a small but authentic and interesting historic place in the South East of Mallorca. A bit further eastwards from the village lies Cala Santanyi, the beach resort town near the ‘cala’ (or the bay). The perfect combination for a day trip, I would say!

Santanyi: Mallorca’s Most Quiet & Charming Town

This time I went with my colleague Annick, who promoted herself for the occasion to my photography assistant 😉 , on a day trip in Mallorca. As she is an early bird, she suggested to leave early. I did not mind, because the earlier you wake up, the more you can enjoy the day.

‘One key to success is to have lunch at the time of day most people have breakfast.’

– Robert Brault

The funny thing was that by the time we arrived at 9.30h to Santanyi, the village was still sleeping. I guess that Mallorca does not have the same mindset as we do. Anyway… Out of a not-so-bad-idea-anyway necessity we decided to go for breakfast first.

In the middle of town, right by the church, we found Sa Botiga, a restaurant and street cafe with a lovely patio in a beautifully decorated Mediterranean styled setting. Of course, I decided to sit down in the patio, where Annick and I had a delicious croissant and fruit bowl. I also had a giant iced coffee. Perfect to wake up!

By the time we finished Santanyi was finally awake! The shops started to open and the villagers started to walk around. We found out that Santanyi is full of beautiful shops selling clothes and other fashion items in a typical Ibiza-bohemian style and also more traditional shops selling artisanal products and handicrafts.

Just behind the corner of the church we found this beautiful patio in the town hall. It was absolutely the most beautiful place in the whole city. Go and look for it yourself! (Tip: it’s somewhere near the church).

You won’t be surprised if I tell you that this village in the South East part of the island is called ‘the golden-stone village‘. Just take a look around and you’ll see why…

The unexpected thing about Santanyí is that it is not only pretty, rural and authentically Mallorcan, it is also home to many art galleries and handicraft shops, of which most of them are owned by foreigners (read: Germans).

One of my favorite discoveries of the day was Galery Beate Angela Pohl . From the outside it looks like a combination of a hippie fashion store and an art gallery but once you enter it is an oasis of tranquility, especially in the zen-themed garden. Make sure to pass it on the way to the bus stop!

Cala Santanyi: the beach

In the afternoon we took a bus to Cala Santanyi, which is the beach side of Santanyi located in a beautiful bay. It only took us like 10 minutes to get there. What an easy ride!

Once in Cala Santanyi, the bus dropped off literally at the beach. Paradise… Check! This is such a pretty bay, unfortunately it is small and therefore easily crowded.

We ran up the hill on the left side of the bay to look for some food and good views. There we found Cafe Drac, a place that makes you believe that things can get better, even if you thought they were already at the top!

You know… There are these little moments in life that I feel so blessed with the life I am leading. A good cocktail, food, sun, an awesome view and an even more awesome colleague who makes you smile. What more do we need in life?!

Enjoy the little things in life for one day they will be the big things

Julie

If you make it one day to Cala Santanyi, you have to go to Cafe Drac, and order the White Sangria (with Cava!), Shrimp-Mango Salad, and White Tiramisu (yes, you’ve heard that right: with white chocolate). Hmmm! Make sure you get the best table for that view. ❤

Hidden Gem: Es Pontàs

If you still have some energy left after an amazing lunch, you can walk around. If not, you can lay down at the beach. This place has its attraction for everyone.

Guess what… Julie is always full of energy! I went first down to this idyllic green-door harbor side of the bay for some Instagrammable-pics, and then I hiked up the cliff, realizing it was leading to a dead end. LOL.

I walked all the way back and had to take the stairs, like normal people would do. For some reason, I thought I could walk around the bay to go to this special cliff…

Es Pontàs, is like a big natural rock rising from the ocean. It has the shape of a bridge, or an arch, depending on your angle. It takes about 10 minutes walking from the bay of Cala Santanyi to get there, and it is an oasis of peacefulness. Here is where you can sit down and literally meditate.

Be thankful for what you have. Be fearless for what you want.

Julie

At Es Pontas I met other Flemish people (from the Dutch speaking side of Belgium, where I am from). It was a couple on their honeymoon. The woman was sitting there filming her husband. He was swimming to the rock and climbed all the way to the top through a very difficult (and dangerous) parcours.

It’s called “DEEP WATER SOLOING“. I’ve learnt something new today. Apparently, this is a trend amongst the more adventurous amongst us. The Es Pontas rock is one of the more challenging climbs for those bouldering it. So, don’t try this just like this!

Enough adventure for today… For me, watching Es Pontas was satisfactory enough… and my friend and colleague, Annick, she got enough adrenaline pumped into her veins by taking me this optical illusion shot near the cliff. Haha, wish I recorded her voice when she said: “don’t go closer to the cliff, come back!”.

Okay, I am a good girl and sometimes I listen. We walked back to the beach where we had a last coffee before heading back to Palma de Mallorca. Read below how to get to Santanyi by public transportation.

More day trips in Mallorca coming soon!

Santanyi: How to get there

From Palma de Mallorca, it is very easy to get to Santanyi, even without a car! It takes about 1 hour with bus 501 (Palma – Cala d’Or). At the time of writing there was a bus leaving at 8.25 AM from Plaza de Espana (from where most buses leave in Palma) to Santanyi with arrival 9.25 AM. A bus later is also possible: 10.30 with arrival 11.30. 6.65 euro one way.

From Santanyi to Cala Santanyi you can take bus 503. It is like a fancy tourist bus. You will like it, and it is only 1,50 euro one way. I recommend to take it at 13.05 – 13.15. It is the perfect time to arrive for lunch in the bay. You can take the bus back at 17.20 and then you are back at 17.30 in Santanyi.

There you have a direct connection to Palma de Mallorca at 17.35 with arrival 19.00. Unless you want to stay longer at the beach: there are also buses at 19h00, 20h05, and even 21.40h. Check actual bus times at www.tib.org.

If you prefer to go by car, it’s 50 minutes and 50 kilometers from Palma.

Santanyi: When to visit

There is a market in Santanyi on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8.00h until 13.00h. I haven’t been on the market day, but it is supposed to be very nice. Unless you like it quiet, then you can go another day, and have the city for yourself. 😉

When are you visiting Santanyi? Feel free to comment below.

Disclaimer: This blog post has been created in collaboration with Sa Botiga (Santanyi) and Cafe Drac (Cala Santanyi). Special thanks go to them! ❤

10 of My Favorite Hot Spots in Palma de Mallorca (For Foodies)

Time flies when you’re having fun! I’m already one month in Palma de Mallorca and it feels like I’ve arrived here yesterday. It’s a good sign, I guess! I also realized I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the city before and after work, which is good news. Even better: I’ve made a list of my 10 favorite spots in Palma de Mallorca so far (for eating, drinking and chilling out).

Prepare yourself for the 10 best bars and restaurants in Palma de Mallorca, according to my one-month foodie experience here! Oh My God… This city is amazing and has so much to offer! Heaven for food lovers and foodstagrammers!

Continue to read if you want to know where to eat, drink and chill out in Palma de Mallorca!
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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.
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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!