Sunday, October 21, 2012

Europe (PART I)

I apologize profusely for not posting much earlier.  It's been a crazy whirlwind since I've arrived here, and things are finally settling down.  I'll start at the very beginning.. a very good place to start.  So The night before my flight to Europe I could barely sleep.  I deliberately stayed up late so that I'd actually sleep on the plane over to Amsterdam.  So I went to sleep around 3:00 AM and woke up only 3 hours later in total excitement.  It was the big day! ( Luckily I was at my folks' house as were my brother and grandfather, so I got to spend a lot of good time with my family before I headed out.)  Before I knew it, it was time to head to DFW Airport.  The folks and I crawled in the car, and my looooong trip to Spain had started.

After shedding a few tears saying bye to everyone (especially during my last hug with my folks) I got myself checked in and ready for the flight.  It left Dallas at 3:45 PM on September 26, and was scheduled to land at 8:00 AM in Amsterdam for a 12 hour layover.  I've been on quite a few trans-Atlantic flights in my day, and I'm still not used to them.  They are ALWAYS miserable.  Luckily the flight was severely undersold so I had the whole middle section of 4 seats all to myself.  So I downed 3 melatonin tabs and decided I'd try to take a nap during the 9+ hour trip.  So why the heck did I not sleep a wink?!  I put on slow instrumental music.  I watched boring movies.  I laid down.  I stared at the seat in front of me.  I did everything I could possibly do to knock myself out.  Didn't work.

SO I arrived in Amsterdam at 8:00 local time (1:00 AM Central time in the U.S.) on the same 3 hours of sleep I had the night before.  I had grand plans for my long layover in Amsterdam.  It was a 12 hour break between my two flights so I had plenty of time to take the train from Schiphol Airport to the center of Amsterdam. 

Outside of the airport

So I set out to conquer Amsterdam.  I took a lengthy (and somewhat boring) train ride to the central station.  On my phone was a list of places to visit in the city:  Anne Frank's house, Stadsschouwburg Theatre, HomoMonument, the floating flower market etc.  Well when I got off the train it suddenly hit me how tired I was.  I was dragging my sad carcass all over that city with very little energy.  

 The beautiful canals

So I decided that I'd take a little break at the local Burger King (don't judge) because they had ample seating, easy selection and free wifi.  I got to text a little with my folks while I was there which made me feel so much better.  As homesick as one may get, a little contact with family and friends goes a long way.  I was so worn out that I decided to hit up one place on my list and head back to the airport.  So I headed to Stadsschouwburg Theatre just to check out the architecture.  It was absolutely beautiful.  They had a fun little shop downstairs that helped me pass a little time, but I was fading very quickly.

 Me upstairs at BK in Amsterdam

So headed back to the train station I felt like passing out.  With more than 6 hours to spare I crawled onto the train and headed back to the airport.  It was so relaxing to be checked in and sitting at my terminal.  I just passed the time until it was ready for the last little leg of my trip to Palma!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Well this blog is aptly named Las aventuras diarias de Tyler / Les aventures diàries de Tyler because I haven't even left for Spain, and it's been a roller coaster.  The application process has been long and arduous, the school placement definitely happened on "Spain time" and now they changed my school!  Mind you, I'm not complaining.  I was actually very excited to teach in Pollença at CEIP Costa i Llobera, but it was an hour's bus ride every morning.  My new school, Colegio San José de la Montaña, is actually just up the road from the apartment where I hope to live.  It's less than a mile's walk, and I won't have to spend as much money on transportation.
The school is actually a private Catholic school in the north part of Palma.  It looks to be in a reasonable area, and the students will be of similar age to the ones I would have taught in Pollença.  So now that the shock is wearing off regarding the school change, I'm getting very excited to teach in the capital of the Balearic Islands.  That's not to say I won't visit Pollença.  It looks like  perfect town, and I will certainly be making a few trips out there.  

The school has a large fence around it and is surrounded by trees so Google maps can't get a clear picture of the building, but it looks nice.  I can either take a bus in the morning or walk for about 20 minutes (according to the directions I was given). 

I sent out an e-mail to the school this morning and hope to hear back from them soon.  While I'm just a little bummed that I won't be spending time in a smaller town, I'm super-excited to remain in Palma for the majority of my stay in Spain.  It's such a beatiful city, and I'm looking forward to becoming an honorary palmesà

So I've decided to make a map of places to visit.  I have found out that I have varying interests.  I'm such a weirdo.  By the way, the numbers on this map are completely arbitrary.  Just did a Google search and listed some fun places.

1. My apartment
2. My school
3. Auditorium de Palma - theatre that brings in touring productions
4. El Corte Inglés  - my favorite Spanish department store
5. Catedral de Mallorca
6. Bellver Castle
7. Esglesia de San Nicolau
8. L'Estació Intermodal/Plaça d'Espanya
9. Son Sant Joan airport
10. Museum of Contemporary Spanish Art
11. Porto Pi Shopping Center
12. Plaza Mayor de Palma
13. Black Cat Disco - trashy gay bar with drag shows
14. Dark Bar - trashier gay bar
15. Pueblo Español
16. Banys Àrabs - the only standing structure surviving from the Arab rule in Palma
17. The bullring - not going for bullfights, just find it interesting
18. Tito's - famous night club once frequented by Marlene Dietrich and Ray Charles

That should keep me busy for 8 months.  Anyway just thought I'd update.
Un beso,
Tyler from Texas

Friday, August 31, 2012

Places to visit before I leave

The time is flying, and I won't be in Texas too much longer.  The month of my departure is coming tomorrow and I know the time will fly by.  I've been extremely busy with preparing for the trip, catching up with wonderful friends and rehearsing for the show.  Just so I don't forget anything, I've made a list of places that I would love to re-visit or visit for the first time before I go.

Let's start with food

1)  El Matador - Denton: Having my going away party here.  Nice cheap Tex-Mex and a chilled out atmosphere

2) Babe's - Granbury: I doubt Spain has any good fried chicken so I'll have to get it out of my system.

3) Chipotle - Denton:  We have a new Chipotle right across from campus on the grave of the old Tomato.  Will have to try it out before I go.
4) Crooked Crust - Denton:  I've grown to love this place.  Really cheap tasty pizza.  Can't ask for more.

5) Freebirds - Denton: Having spent lots of time in College Station, I'm addicted to Freebirds.  YUM!!!

6) Pappadeaux - Dallas: Gotta hit up my favorite restaurant ever.  Nothing like it.

7) Pappasito's - Fort Worth: This place has become a family tradition.  Hopefully it'll be my last meal in TX with my family before I leave.

Now to some places I'd like to say goodbye to:

1) Beth Marie's - Denton: I guess this could have gone under "food", but this place is so much more.  It's really one of the biggest symbols of Denton and it embodies all that is good in this lovely town.

2) Bruce Hall - UNT, Denton: My first home in Denton.  I had some great times here, and I certainly made some wonderful friends.

3) Campus Theatre - Denton:  This one will make me bawl.  I'm gonna miss my home-away-from-home and all the people that frequent it. ;(

4) Dallas Arts District - Dallas: The Arts District has several live performance venues as well as museums and a beautiful church.  Gotta see it all one last time.

5) Recycled Books/Opera House - Denton: The coolest book store ever!  Spent many an hour here.
6) The Square - Denton: Beautiful place to spend a summer day.  Nothing else like it.

There are also some places I need to visit that I haven't had the chance to experience yet

1) Brazos Drive-In - Granbury: I've never been to a drive-in.  It's about time.

2) Popo y Lupe - Denton: Always wanted to take a picture at the Popo y Lupe sign.  It's just so tacky!

Well that's all for now.  Just clearing a blockage and making lists.  More pointless lists to follow!

Un beso,
Tyler from TX

Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting antsy

I thought that the wait for placements was complete agony!  Now that I am absolutley certain of where I have been placed and what I will be doing for 8 months, I'm as anxious as ever.  As I posted recently my visa was approved and returned to me.  I also have my plane ticket purchased, and I have even packed my suitcase.  Now these last few weeks have been moving at a snail's pace.  I am fully aware that I will not be in the States much longer, but each day drags on.  That being said, my departure is in clear sight.
Over the last weekend I have had the honor of performing with the company of DCT's Hairspray.  We had three sold-out performances and will most likely continue the lucky streak this coming weekend.  I can't express what a wonderful experience this show has been.  It's great to work with established coleagues as well as new faces.  I did my first show at the Campus Theatre exactly 10 years ago, and it's really what got me hooked on acting.  Before I had only done theatre as a child.  I truly owe my identity as a person to the theatre scene here in Denton and the people who make it so vibrant.  I would not be the same Tyler without this community.  So it's been a bittersweet experience.  I know that after Hairspray I may not ever perform on this stage again, but I have 10 years of life-changing experiences to look back on.
The Campus Theatre in Downtown Denton

  Marquee for our production (Photo by Jessica Cope)

Publicity poster

Interior of the beautiful historic Campus Theatre, my home away from home

The Nicest Kids in Town (all Hairspray photos by Michael C. Foster)

Corny and the fun-loving, free-wheeling Brenda

The Madison

The newest addition to the team

The title number

Look at that beautiful jacket (designed by Marcus Lopez and constructed by Marsha Keffer)

So that's what I've been up to for the last few weeks.  I'm not ready to let go just yet, but I know that this weekend will fly by.  Gotta enjoy it while I can.  Next up is The Most Happy Fella at Lyric Stage.  This company is also near and dear to my heart as I have been doing shows with them for over 5 years.  They really do know how to put on a show with beautiful sets, large casts, skilled directors and an amazing musical director who always presents the shows with 35+ piece orchestras.  I have a feeling that the rehearsal for this show will once again be a very short 4 weeks.  I've gotta enjoy it while it's here.  

So now I just have to survive 19 more days of work, and I'm off!  My life is going to be turned upside down.  I've been at my current place of employment for the last 8 years (yes I had just turned 20), and this is bascially all I know.  Additionally Texas is all I know.  Granted I have been very lucky to travel quite a bit, but I have always lived in Texas.  I've been in Denton for 11 years now, and it's definitely my home.  Looking forward to this move to Palma, but it's definitely going to uproot my whole life.  I'm not complaining, mind you.  I'm just fully aware that my life as I know it will never exist again.  It's such a hard thing to grasp, but I'm sure I'll be ready for a change come the 26th of September.

Now for Spain!!!  I've obviously been doing more research on my living options and the surrounding areas over the past few weeks.  Could I be any luckier?  Mallorca is a beautiful island that has both beautiful landscapes and modern living side by side.  While researching Palma I found an attraction that I must visit.  Las Cuevas del drach (The Caves of the Dragon) have me so intrigued.  The caves are home to an underground lake that is simply otherwordly.  Musicians ride through the lake underground and play mini-concerts throughout the day.  How weird and fun!  I can't wait!

Las cuevas del drach

Also I think I will be in Spain for the premieres of two highly-anticipated moves: Pedro Almodóvar's Los amantes pasajeros and Paco Plaza's [REC]4 Apocalipsis.  Being a film nut I couldn't be happier to see these films in their country of origin.  YAY!  Well, now I guess I'm just spinning my wheels, but I felt like I had to write something to document the long wait.  Hopefully the 26th of September will be here before I know it. :)

Un beso,
Tyler from Texas

Friday, August 3, 2012

Got my visa today!

Just got a text from my mother that said I received my visa in the mail!  As you may have read earlier, I applied for my visa in Houston on July 9, and it took 3.5 weeks to be delivered in the mail.  So there it is!  It's official.  I've got 30 days of work left (well actually less considering Labor Day and the vacation time I need to use) and 55 days until I start my adventure.  There's not really much more to report other than I'm extremely happy that this has all been a (fairly) smooth process.  Still feeling so lucky to have this opportunity.  Again big thanks to all my Expat Cafe and Facebook friends for all the advice.  It's really paid off.  Well I guess that's all for now.  Just had to put the information out there for my own sake. :)
Un petó,
Tyler from Texas

Friday, July 20, 2012


I woke up this morning a bit cranky but very happy that Friday has finally arrived.  This summer has moved along at a snail's pace because I know a great adventure awaits me this year.  Still I remind myself how lucky I am to be gainfully employed and enjoying the time I have left in Denton.  So I roll out of bed, get ready and before leaving my apartment, decide to check my e-mail.  Lo and behold, I got an e-mail from the Conselleria d'Educació, Cultura i Universitats de les Illes Balears.  My jaw hit the ground!  It finally came!  Upon further reading I found that I will be teaching in a school named C.P. Costa i Llobera in a small town called Pollença ([poˈʎɛnsə] for those who are linguistically inclines or pol-YEN-suh for the others).  Seriously, check out their website.  There are pictures galore.  Now if you're like me, your Catalan is a little rusty, but that doesn't matter.  It looks phenomenal.  The little town is located in the Serra de Tramuntana range on the northeast side of the island (about an hour away from Palma, where I hope to live) and has a population of about 16,000.  Sounds tiny, huh?  Don't pity me.  Check out the pics below.
You can see Palma de Mallorca on the south-west side of the island.  The circle in the north is Pollença.  It's about an hour's bus ride from Palma.

Couldn't you die?

A typical street in town

An overview with the town cathedral and Plaça Maior

A flight of 365 steps in the middle of the city.  It gets cooler and cooler!

The bottom of the 365 steps.  I captured this one on Google maps

Google Maps shot of Plaça Maior, the main square 

And apparently it has snowed there before!!!

So those are a few shots of my future haunts.  I don't have any idea of what my schedule will look like, but I sure hope to have the chance to explore this amazing place.  Towns in Spain are much more concentrated than here in Texas (and a heck of a lot cleaner) so they look much larger than they really are.  Now I'll give y'all a bit more info on the school.  It's named after Miquel Costa i Llobera (many people of Spanish and Catalan origin have two last names, hence the "i" in Catalan or "y" in Spanish, between the last two names) who was a poet born in Pollença.  It really is an appropriate name for a school on the island, and it makes me feel as though I'll get a great history lesson along with this position.  All of the pictures of the school on the Internet are very impressive.  I thought a little K-6 school in a small town would be an ugly little place, but it's really a beautiful facility.  Check out the website linked in the first paragraph and click around.  Even if you don't understand a word of the verbage, they have some really great slideshows of what an average day is like.  Can't wait to get started!!!

Front view from Google Maps.  Looks great!
A look down the street from Google Maps.  The school is on the edge of town so there's a great view of the mountains.
This is the back side of the school.  They have an enclosed area out back for recreation.

Now what will I ever do with my free time around town?  There are three amazing beaches located nearby, and I can't wait to get a little color on my skin.  The water is crystal clear and the surroundings are spectacular.  I can't even express how lucky I feel.

The first beach area: Cala Figuera (Figuera Cove)

Cala Formentor - Are you kidding?

Cala Murta - OK, when's the ball gonna drop?  This place looks amazing!

Shot 2 of Cala Murta

As I mentioned earlier I hope to live in Palma and bus out to Pollença every day that I work.  I'll have to play this by ear.  If I love Pollença I may just find a more convenient (and cheaper) apartment in town.  Still I'm excited to live in Palma.  Getting around the island will be an adventure as I generally love exploring public transportation systems (unless I'm in Texas).  In Palma I will mostly be walking.  If it's too hot or the distance is too long, I can always make use of the wonderful public bike system, grab a taxi or take the metro.  The metro is what excites me the most.  Metro de Palma is a fairly new system built in 2007 to service the Palma area.  It is a single line that has 9 station, stretching from L'Estació Intermodal Plaça d'Espanya (The Palma Intermodal Station) to L'Estació d'UIB (University of the Balearic Islands Station).  Past the metro, trains also extend throughout the island to select locations.  Sadly the train doesn't go to Pollença (thus the bus trips), but I can't complain.  The train does reach some really cool places, and it will make it easy to explore the island and all its corners.  The bus service is fairly cheap.  From my calculation I will be spending less than $100 on transportation every month, and that's about the price of 2 tanks of gas here in TX.  I'd say that's a win!  The Transports de les Illes Balears offers una targeta intermodal (intermodal card) that will allow me to use trains, the metro and buses through one single system.  Sounds like a great deal to me.

My new ride

Inside a metro car

I think the more pics that I post, the more apparent it will become that Spanish is not widely used on Mallorca.  Of course most of the people on the island speak both Catalan and Spanish fluently, but Catalan is the preferred language, especially in the smaller towns.  Spanish will be more prominent in Palma while I assume that I'll mostly hear Catalan in Pollença.  I'm excited to learn a new language!  Actually, on Mallorca the inhabitants speak their own brand of Catalan called mallorquí so that'll be some added fun.  I'm thinking I may need to change the title of the blog to Les aventures diàries de Tyler!  No? OK ...

Un petó,
Tyler from Texas