This weekend I was reunited with three very important things: my Mum, my Dad and access to a car.
I have been without all three of these things throughout my year abroad and it has, at times, been tough. The three entities are mutually compatible, of course there’s always the odd moment when my Dad gets annoyed with the car, or my Mum gets frustrated with my Dad, but all in all it was a lovely treat for us to spend four days together here in Spain.
We explored the city of Plasencia first of all. We stayed in the beautiful Parador hotel where I enjoyed the luxury of a suite all to myself. After a year of hostel trips I happily slept like a starfish and maximised every corner of the double bed in all its crisp white sheet and plump pillow glory…
We then ventured to the Jerte Valley in search of cherry blossom. Unfortunately we were about a week too early to see the valley in full bloom so we had to settle for photographing the same tree multiple times.The landscape was still wonderful though and waterfalls happen to be beautiful all year round so we enjoyed our day of adventuring anyway.
The Jerte Valley is famous for the cherries it produces and so the nearby towns were full of cherry-related products like jams and liqueurs, there’s also the Jerte river which runs through the centre and pretty bridges all the way a long. I’d love to go back at some point in the future to see the blossoms and the cherries at their peak. It’s a lot closer to home than Japan and the airfare is definitely significantly less…
So it was another busy travelling weekend and now I’m looking forward to my Easter break for some relaxing. The hot weather is supposedly on it’s way and I am 100% ready. I’m also intruiged to see some of the Semana Santa celebrations here in my town, I have a feeling its going to be VERY different from the chocolate eggs and bunnies I usually witness – I’ll keep you posted!
Three o’clock is the perfect time to explore the streets. It’s siesta time and most shops are closed so it’s lovely and peaceful. Not that Zafra is ever jam-packed, I should add, but it can get busy when the occasional tour group hits the town en masse. It was sunny today, so as usual I got snap-happy with my camera and the photographic evidence is below…
El Parador (above) is an impressive 15th century castle in the centre of Zafra. It now exists as a swanky four-star hotel with an equally glamorous restaurant and bar. The castle used to be the residence of the Dukes of Feria and is still equipped with nine battlement towers, original ceilings, ironwork, handrails and many other remnants of the former palace.I mainly use the castle as a large object to aim towards when I get lost wandering through the confusing streets. However, if anyone fancies visiting me then the hotel provides a luxury alternative to the sofa-bed in my apartment.
Zafra is full of palm trees. We may be 200km from the nearest beach but at least the palm trees create a holiday vibe. There are lots of parks scattered around the place too and this pretty purple blossom makes regular appearances throughout the town.
Tonight I am off to the cinema to see El corredor del laberinto (The maze runner) with my flatmates. Let’s hope the storyline isn’t too complicated as I struggle enough with convoluted plots in English.
I have completed my first two shifts! I have been waitressing non-stop so far, apparently I will be working in reception eventually but new ‘stagiaires’ usually start in the restaurant. I am actually pretty relieved, I’d rather not deal with a French booking system just yet and I am doubtful that I could provide any useful tourism information having just arrived myself.
I worked last night 6pm until 10pm, this morning 10am until 2pm and I have another evening shift tonight. My day off tomorrow will be much needed that’s for sure. It is surprisingly tiring work: setting tables, clearing tables, cleaning tables, serving food, and repeating all of the above. The instructions from my boss have been limited so I am mostly using my initiative or copying others. There have been some frustrating moments; I painstakingly set all the lunch tables only to be told AFTERWARDS that I had used the knives that were ‘pour le petit déjeuner’ because they had a slightly blunter edge. Brilliant.
I am learning quickly though and I enjoy serving the food because the guests are really friendly. They are on their holidays so are generally relaxed, patient and chatty. One of the highlights is serving the ice cream, I get to use the scooper and explain what each flavour is. I think I need improve my pronunciation of ‘menthe’ though, that’s the one that seems to produce a look of confusion followed by ‘ah menthe !’
My main coping strategy is smiling and nodding, which seems to work quite well. A few times I have understood someone’s comment or question about 3 minutes after I gave them a wrong answer. Very frustrating. It seems that I understand the vocabulary deep down but it sometimes takes a while to process it. Some simple mistakes include enthusiastically producing a spoon (cuillère) when a guest asked for more cherries (cerises). I can assure you that I know the word for cherry, but the cutlery had been running low and it must have been on my mind…
All in all, I am definitely surviving and it can only get easier. Plus, the weather tomorrow is meant to be 28 degrees of pure sunshine – pool anyone?