What a wonderful time I have had in Spain! So great working place, nice work mates, many new friends from the staff and the customers. I can never forget last month in Algeciras! The manager of the hotel wished me to come there for a holiday with my family, perhaps we´ll go there some day.
The work as a waitress in Reina Cristina was so pleasing for me; somehow very well-known from my working years in Finland, somehow very different from the Finnish style. The hotel and the staff took me well received and I felt more like home straight from the beginning of my practising.
My last working evening I arranged a little moment for them who were working with me. And believe or not I made a speech in Spanish!! The English guide Liz helped me to write it.
This evening was my last here in my training period. I wanna thank you, all my working mates of a immemorial time. This is not a good bye, this is “see you later”!
Esta noche es mi ultimo noche trabajando con vosotros. Quiero decir gracias a todos. No es adios, es hasta luego!
Today it`s raining here in the sunny Spain so we can take a look to the history of the Hotel Reina Cristina.
The Hotel Reina Cristina was founded due to the construction of the railway between Bobadilla and Algeciras in 1890. It was named after Queen Maria Cristina, mother of Alfonso XIII. It is the oldest hotel on the Costa del Sol and it is one of the most reknown in Spain.
The Government comissioned the construction of the railway by the British company “Henderson Administration”. Sir Alexander Henderson, a wellknown philanthropist who was later granted the title of Lord Faringdon by Edward VII stayed in Algeciras and liked the region so much that he decided to build a hotel next to the railway station. The British architect followed the British style with some Spanish details similar to the Hotel Reina Victoria in Ronda.
The Hotel was inaugurated in 1901 and subsequently started a long history of distinguished clientele including Spanish and international aristocracy and personalities. In 1928 the Hotel Reina Cristina was almost entirely burnt down. Two years later it was reopened with more rooms and with an interior patio enclosed with glass. In those days it had four suites all named after the illustrious visitors who stayed in them: “Maria Cristina”, “Alfonso XIII”, “Juan Carlos” and “Reina Sofia”. Nowadays it has two suites.
During the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War the hotel remained open and housed many German and Italian spies who controlled the movement in the Straits of Gibraltar. Many bathrooms were converted into dark rooms to develop films brought from Gibraltar.
Among many historical events which have taken place at the Hotel Reina Cristina was the International Conference of Morroco 1906, attended by representatives from France, Germany, USA, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, Spain and Morocco to negotiate the division of the latter into Spanish and French Protectorates. This Conference was atended by a young journalist called Winston Churchill!
Today ,the signatures of the famous guests are reproduced from the Golden Book on two plaques, one of either side of the reception. The King Alfonso XIII, the Sultan of Johore, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Mariscal Petain, the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, Maria Jose of Italy, Orson Wells, Lord Halifax, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rock Hudson, Ava Gardner, these are some of the famous guests who stayed in the Hotel Reina Cristina.
What a hotel! But now it`s time for me to start working again.
Another trip for me invited from The Saga Group. This time to the beach of Atlantic Ocean. There we also visited an old Roman town. Most interesting was the repaired Roman Theater where they use to keep concerts during The Full Moon. The guide said they are always fully booked. It would be dazzling to sit there at the theatre, listen to music in the dark night with The Full Moon shining. In front of your eyes only the beach and the Atlantic Ocean! At that same beach there can also be a possibility to see wild horses running! I haven`t even known there were wild horses in Spain any more. What amazing!
When we drove back to the hotel, we stopped at a place you can see Africa if it´s not cloudy. And we saw, Morocco, so near!
Today, before working, my daily walk took me to the market. There is so much to wonder and enjoy the atmosphere! Huge strawberries they have here, 1,50 / kg. But I must say, they are big and they look very tasty but they are not nearly as sweet as the Finnish ones!
One little shop was very interesting and it has a very clever business idea; in the same shop they sold paints and other building supplies and on the other wall perfumes and other cosmetics! If a man works hard and too long days it helps him not to forget her wife`s or girlfriend`s birthday. He can also save his time when he can buy the present from the same shop where he maybe has to go during his working day, clever, isn`t it!
More to see here in Spain. An English tour operator, Saga Group makes voyages to Reina Cristina. Their group leader invited me to their trip to Tarifa last saturday when I had my second day off.
It was an interesting half day tour, where we followed the coastline of the “Costa de La Luz”to reach the enchanting town of Tarifa. Situated on the southernmost tip of the Spanish peninsula it is the only place in Spain where you can enjoy both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the most attractive destinations for historians and windsurfers alike.
Tarifa was founded by the Arabs who converted the city into a giant fortress in the year 710, and, being in a strategic position of defense, from there they controlled the Strait of Gibraltar. In 1295, Alonso Perez de Guzman, the mayor of the fortress city, built a castle and strolling around the historical part of the town. There you could see the Arab influence of fortress walls and towers.
Very interesting place and a very warm and nice Spanish day!
Maybe the greatest thing in Ronda was Puente Nuevo, an old bridge over a little river, 150 meters down makes an incredible sight! Look yourself and notice that the foto can´t show it as you can see it there yourself. I recommend this place to everybody who visits this area of Spain. I also found there a nice restaurant where I could admire the fantastic landscape!
Today was my first day off and I made a train journey to Ronda.
First little history: In the 1890`s, a railway was built by the Algeciras Railway Company Ltd between Algeciras and Ronda. It was masterminded by British engineer John Morrison and his friend Alexander Henderson. The line connected with the main network to Madrid and acted as a gateway to the rest of Europe. The train journey was very interesting. It tooks you through stunning scenery and historic sites to Ronda. The route runs on a single track down the Guadiaro valley and passes the beautiful Genal valley too, a place where there is limited road access, pretty villages and quaint railway stations that cannot be seen from the road.
There was really a lot to see in Ronda. I had a map with me and there were nearly 30 tourist attraction to see in this small town. I had good luck, i found CRISTOVAL and his horse PAVAROTI. They gave me a lift around the town, he told me what places we saw and give me time to take fotos.
“Ronda is, indeed, one of those places which stands alone. I know of nothing to which it can be compared” Lady Tenison (1850)
After that I spent some more time in Palacio de Congresos, beautiful paintings are from there..
Casa Palacio museo Lara was also very interesting place. There were many halls and rooms with different themes: Hall of clocks, Weapon Hall, Sala Romantica and The Inquisition Exposition! Here some fotos of them.
Today I got to know when will be my first day off, next friday and saturday. Them I`m going to use precisely because I`m gonna see something of this interesting , historical Cadiz. Before that my working days consist of working at the lunch and the dinner buffet. During the working day I polish cutlery, set tables, serve drinks to the customers; wines, beer, water, lemonade. Then I clean tables and carry dishes to the kitchen. The work is well known for me. Some working styles are sometimes very different from which I am used to. For example I have used to the system in finnish restaurants that every waiter has his / hers tables. Of course others help you if you have more things to do. Here in this restaurant everybody take care of every table. That`s my opinion but I think we loose much time when we all are walking around the restaurant all the time. I think also that the best service is possible only when the customer knows who is your waiter. But anyway it`s interesting to see different styles for doing the same things. I am able to speak a lot of English because of many english speaking customers. And because they are very pleased of my service it`s a great pleasure to work here. Always in the morning before working and at the break in the afternoon I use to go little around. The world is full of things to see.
Three working days done! If I hadn`t been working my whole career at restaurants and cafeterias this would probably be much more difficult. The staff in the restaurant don`t speak English, some little, some not a word! The biggest part of the customers are wonderful, polite, friendly tourists from England. They are all very interested to talk with me. Everybody wants to know my name, where I`m from and why I am here. And they are also pleased for my english. Great, sounds good for me!
This week my all workindg days are the same time 12.30 – 16 and 19-23.30. So if i want to do something else than work, I must do it in the morning or between the working times. I have been walking once to the right of the hotel . Today I walked to the left. There I found a Saturday-market.
Only few days ago in Lahti, at The Skiing World Championship. Yesterday the flight from Helsinki-Vantaa took me to Malaga. There were only two whole days between these two internships. Maybe it was good, so I didn`t have time for retracting this. The flight was almost two hours late but I still found two Spanish gyus waiting for me at Malaga airport. They had a big white paper with my name…TIINA MARIA POUTANEN. That was the only thing we all understood. Me – no Spanish, the gyus – no English. After one hour drive we were at the hotel. The man in the reception spoke good English, yeah!! He gave me my room and told me to be at the reception the next day at twelve o`clock and ask for Juli.
Juli didn`t come but a very friendly director came. He introduced me to the staff and leave me with the waitresses. One lady spoke a little English and from that begun my practising. My first day was 12.30 – 16 and 19-23.30. During these times I was working at the lunch and the dinner. Most of the customers were at all inclusive holidays so they can come to eat all meals during the whole day. I was one of the waitresses; served drinks, wine, beer, water. Cleaning the tables and chatting with the customers. I noticed that many of them wanted to talk with me; that`s why like they said, they noticed that I`m not Spanish and wanted first to know, where I come from.
When I was at my break in the afternoon, I searched the nearest market and a bank. At my little walk I also saw the hotel and the area first time.Beautiful, old building, inside and outside very clean and comfortable.
Amazing, how the whole day went so fast and it was really interesting. Few Spanish words from my work mates…Hola! Buenas dias! Buenas tardes! If you order wine, dry is seco and sweet is dulce.