YHA (England and Wales) is part of Hostelling International, the worldwide hostelling charity. YHA works with HI partners to develop international placements for staff and volunteers – YHA has sent people to Spain, France, Germany… and more! James, a recent exchange volunteers, has written about his first few days in Altamar, in Spain.
It’s already been my first day here in Spain and the weather and city are already gorgeous and shining. After arriving by a coastal train that gave me a view of the sunny Galician coast, I met the staff and director of the Vigo-based Altamar Youth Hostel.
The staff have less English than the director but I still manage to make small conversation with them with my beginner Spanish which is a pleasant surprise! The director is the very kind Estela, who gives me plenty of information about the local area and beaches where we visit the next day after I’m introduced to a few of the tasks around the hostel to do as a volunteer.
These were for a few hours each week-day to help clean the hostels window blinds as the hostel is almost at its holiday time since it hosts University students for most of the year, and they are now leaving for their holidays. Estela shows me the local beaches and parks, driving us around the city pointing out all the city has to offer astutely. We visit one of the several town centres in Vigo, as the independent culture of the city means each neighbourhood has a city centre with its own unique taste.
After this we visit the Quinones de Leon estate – a former regal house and grounds that are now both a museum and public park. The park is beautiful in the Spanish sunshine, we even saw a wedding photo shoot on the grounds happening. We finished the day off with some delicious ice cream and dinner back at the hostel. I was appropriately tired from the day and hit the hay ready for the next day’s volunteering!