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YHA From Mallorca with love
    20/08/2015 02:34

From Mallorca with love

From Mallorca with love

For the last couple of weeks I have been the luckiest volunteer in the world. Placed in Alberg de La Victoria Youth Hostel, 5km outside of Alcúdia, I was surrounded by mountains, beaches and goats. Here are 5 things I learned while I was in Majorca:

1. Goats smell bad

...and I mean really bad.

In spite of being a country girl, I can't say I have ever spent much time around goats. But I'm sure that as a child I fed those funny pellets you get out of a machine at the farm to a fair few. I don't remember them having a particular smell though.

Mallorca has wild mountain goats (the Balearean Boc) which wander up and down the mountains, occasionally trit-trotting down to the beach to nick food from the bags of unsuspecting sunbathers.

And they smell truly awful.

A goat on the beach

2. 'Dieting' is a dirty word

As part of the volunteering agreement, in exchange for working we got breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hostel. Before I went I had been trying to lose some weight for a wedding (not mine) and I had images of me lying elegantly on the beach, the weight melting off me in the heat.

Not so.

I think I was better fed in the last two weeks than in my entire life. Breakfast was simple; cereals, bread and jam, coffee. Lunch and dinner though were full three course meals. The chefs at the hostel were fantastic, each dish was made from scratch (I know because I helped once or twice) and every one was good Spanish food. We had seafood soups, chickpea salads, crispy calamari and on Sundays the most enormous dish of Paella I have ever seen.

Dish of paella

3. Mallorquinos complain about the weather too

Just like back home, the weather was a topic which came up a lot. Almost every time I said hello to my colleagues and asked how they were they would reply with something along the lines of 'que calor!' (isn't it hot!).

And at 36 degrees during the day I could confidently agree that, yes, it certainly was hot.

4. Mallorca is much more than merely Magaluf.

We've all seen the photos, most of us have probably been in them, of barely dressed people spilling out of clubs and stumbling about the streets. Don't get me wrong, people that I know who have been loved it there; it just isn't really for me these days.

Luckily there is a whole island to explore. We had no car, so it was tricky to get further than Alcúdia. But I did my best on foot and by bike. The hostel was surrounded by mountains, so I indulged in a lot of walking; paths tended to lead up through forest covered valleys to craggy summits the views from the top were stunning.

I spent one morning on the bike cycling around the Parc Natural de s'Albufera. Great for twitchers as there is a whole load of different wild birds living there. Even if you're not a bird lover it is well worth a visit.

5. Talk to strange men*

A favourite saying of my Nana's when I go travelling is 'don't talk to any strange men'. While I appreciate the wisdom in her words, I can't deny that speaking to new people helped me to see some parts of Majorca that i wouldn't have otherwise.

We made friends with two Argentinians who were staying at the hostel, and who invited us to come on a trip to a beach on another part of the island. Aside from the main beaches there are hundreds of tiny, hidden coves with beaches and the crystal clear blue water that is typical of Majorca.

We also stopped off at the Mirador de Formentor which gives gorgeous views of the sea and the mountains. I found some little padlocks there at then end of the path.

*An obvious note of caution: when travelling anywhere I would not advise anyone to meet up with strangers alone. Also, trust your instincts, if something feels off, best not to risk it.

All in all it was a brilliant experience, one that I could not have had without YHA's help. I met some great people, practiced my Spanish and learned a lot about an Island which I know nothing about before.

It's wonderful to know that European hostel staff are taking the same opportunity to come to England and get to know some of our less travelled places.

If you are interested in volunteering with YHA, check out the volunteering website or email the Volunteering Teamto see what opportunities are available.

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