SPRING BREAK! Pt. 1: Brussels, Belgium & Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. March 16-21, 2017.

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After a long winter and a busy but exciting first half of the semester abroad, I cannot believe that spring break has already gone and passed. I never imagined that I would be going to the places I did for spring break even in the beginning of the semester, and I am so happy that I got to experience the things that I did. The only thing I had in mind was that I desperately wanted to go somewhere warm and sunny for break, because I personally do not do well in the cold! I definitely made a good choice to go to the Canary Islands for break, and as soon as I planned this trip in February I could not wait to lay out in the sun and to be by the beach, and definitely not at your typical vacation spot. I wish I could completely describe how magical Tenerife was through this post and pictures and I hope maybe you guys can just imagine the sun and breeze just by reading this for a bit!

To get to Tenerife (inexpensively) we had to book a flight to Brussels and have an overnight layover to catch our flight to Tenerife Sur early the next morning. We were more than 100% okay with this, because we could also say we managed to go to another place during spring break even if it was just for the night, and we could eat some amazing Belgian food. We booked an Airbnb pretty close to the airport so we could sleep and dash as quickly as possible, in a place called Evere. There was a restaurant near by that our host recommended called Cafe Dupont, which looked like a traditional Belgian restaurant and pub. We sat down for some food after our long flight and ordered some food and beers. Although I’m not the biggest beer fan, I knew I had to order beer in Belgium because I could not miss out on this opportunity! Along with that, I ordered some salmon with a Belgian cherry sauce and potatoes. After having pasta and pizza for quite some time, it was a pretty extravagant meal! My time in Brussels was short but I’m glad I got to have a small taste of their culture.

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The next morning we woke up at 3:30 AM to catch our flight to Tenerife (it was very difficult to get up…). Thankfully at this time the airport was no where near busy and we were able to pass through security in no time and grab some Starbucks (which Rome does not have!). I slept through pretty much the whole flight which is rare for me since I do not sleep comfortably sitting upright, but since I woke up early and was still so tired it was easy to just pass out. Finally when we were landing into Tenerife I was already stunned with the view. As soon as you descended into the airport, you could immediately see land surrounded by clear, blue water, with a giant snow-covered volcano smack in the middle of the island, called the Tiede. I had never seen something so absolutely beautiful before, and the sun reflecting off the water added an extra touch of something magical to the island.

After getting through the airport we made our way to our Airbnb which was located on the south tip of Tenerife, called Costa del Silencio. We had an apartment to ourselves with a kitchen and a balcony facing the sea. At our Airbnb we were also walking distance to an alcove called Amarillo Bay, where you could sit and tan on the rocks while enjoying a nice drink at the tiny bar located at the top, or go down the slippery ladder and have a nice swim when the current was not too strong. We spent much of our time here since it was so close to where we were, managing to also get those quality spring break Instagram’s and working on our tans! On our first day we relaxed the whole day here taking in what spring break had in store for us.

At night we went into a town nearby called Los Cristianos, which was the biggest city in the southern part of Tenerife. Los Cristianos had some of the cutest shops I had ever seen, and wide range of different restaurants. We did a little window shopping and exploring of the town, and then decided to have some seafood at a restaurant by the beach and enjoy some sangria, celebrating our first night on the islands. We had a traditional Spanish dish called paella, which is essentially a seasoned rice in a pan that is filled with different types of seafood such as shrimp, muscles, clams, squid, and more. It was so delicious but I had to split one with my friend because the pan it came is was well big enough for two people. I had not liked muscles before this because I thought it was kind of strange, but they were actually really good and now I really enjoy them (can’t wait till my parents hear that!). The paella was so fresh that the shrimp still had the eyes on them which kind of freaked us out… still good though! After dinner, we happened to come across Carnivale of the town, which is a celebration of the end of winter that everyone in the town seemed to take part in. There were different groups performing ranging from school children to professional dance teams to put on the show. I thought that it was very special to be here at this time and we did not even plan it that way, we just got lucky and spent our night celebrating with the rest of the town.

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The next day we had booked a catamaran boat cruise starting in Playa Las Americas close to Los Cristianos, which was a half-a-day cruise that included food and drinks. We were a little worried about the weather because it was predicted that there was going to be rain the whole day, but thankfully it held up and was completely sunny during our tour. This cruise also happened to go far into the Atlantic, so we were hoping to possibly see some whales and dolphins! In fact, pretty early on in our tour we saw a group of dolphins swimming in the distance and we happened to catch up to them, so we saw them really up close! The craziest thing about Tenerife is that the water is so clear, so we could see the dolphins so perfectly and close up. Later on in our tour we also managed to see whales which was also really amazing. The type of whales we saw were called Pilot whales, which interestingly had a lump on their head and were all black. Although we could not get as up close to them as we did the Common Dolphins, I felt extremely lucky to be able to see a whale as close as I did, in the wild, with my own eyes. We could lay on the boat on the comfort of the nets at the front of the boat, and also had the option of swimming in the (cold) water at a certain point. This cruise was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and being able to see these creatures is a memory I certainly will never forget. The company we traveled with was called Freebird if you are ever in Tenerife and want to experience something like this!

Since the cruise was all morning, we decided to head back to our apartment for the afternoon since the rain was beginning to come down. On our way we stopped at this tea room, which unfortunately I do not remember the name to but it was in Las Galletas, where I managed to find amazing pancakes! Yes, I know, eating pancakes on a Spanish Island… but I had not had pancakes at all since being abroad and ordering them with a side of English Breakfast tea was so tempting. The place was actually so cute because your tea came in a little red tea pot that you could brew yourself, and it was perfect for rainy weather.

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On our last full day on the islands we decided to climb the mountain in Amarillo Bay. This hill overlooked the alcove that we had laid out in earlier before and there was certainly a jaw-dropping view at the top. I thought that climbing this mountain would be extremely difficult, but I persevered and managed to climb all the way up tripping only once! The view of the sun coming up over the ocean is something that I will never forget, despite it being very windy at the top. It was so windy that while my friend was trying to take a cute picture her hat flew away! Although it was upsetting we laughed about it, and if there is anywhere for a hat to be lost I’m glad it’s in Tenerife. For the rest of the day we took in the sun on the alcove and again went into Los Cristianos to do some souvenir shopping and do dinner at the only restaurant right on the beach.

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Before we knew it three days had gone by and our time in Tenerife was over. This was the destination I had been looking forward too basically all semester, and I was a little sad to fly away from this beautiful island. It was definitely once in a lifetime to be here, but I really hope I can make it my goal someday to return back here and see some of the extraordinary things I had seen again one day. Luckily I managed to get a little bit of the tan I wanted and I got to see a place completely new to me, so I’m glad I jumped at the opportunity to explore this place.

I’m doing my spring break posts in three different parts since I went to three different places, and I felt like putting it all in one would be too much, so hopefully parts two and three of my spring break adventures will be up shortly! Can you guess where I went next? I’ll give you a hint, it’s still in the same country as Tenerife! Hasta pronto 🙂

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