Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Mediterranean | Day 53-54 | Spain | Pyrenees

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You know how sometimes you throw yourself into a time-consuming, distracting project to avoid dealing with other issues in life? I’m not sure if this blog is the distraction or the other issue.

DAY 53: RIBES DE FRESER

We weren’t scheduled to leave Barcelona until 2pm, so I wandered around town in the morning, hoping to get in some last minute shopping, but it was Sunday, so all the shops were closed. This is quite surprising since it is a tourist town. Hey, Spain, I think I may have the solution to your economy troubles. But there were several artisan markets open that day, so that was a good way to support the small business owner and get some really cool things. I bought an ink drawing, a headband, and some olive wood utensils.

At 2:30, we hopped on a train to Ribes de Freser which is a small town at the base of the Pyrenees. That evening we walked around town, which didn’t take very long, and then we stopped in a park for drinks and snacks, and I bought churros with chocolate dipping sauce.

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Mediterranean | Day 50-52 | Spain | Barcelona

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DAY 50

We took the high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona which is about 2 hour and 40 minutes. In the afternoon we had the introductory walking tour, where we saw some cathedrals, walked down the Rambla to the main port. That evening, I skipped the group dinner and instead ate a Subway sandwich in my room, because by day 50, this introvert was more than tired of all-day forced socialization (remember my melt-down on Day 60?), and I just wanted some familiar American food. (I never ate McDonald’s on this trip, but that’s no challenge for me because I don’t eat it at home either. Never liked it even as a kid.)

DAY 51

In the morning, we braved the rain and went to Barcelona’s pride and joy, Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Família cathedral. I didn’t know much about this church; I had seen photos on the internet and thought it was really weird and creepy and intimidating, so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this excursion, but did it because it’s so Barcelona. But, once I got there, I was awestruck by the beauty of the cathedral and Gaudi’s unfathomable creative vision.

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Mediterranean | Day 48-49 | Spain | Madrid

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We are past the half-way point in the journey, folks! You know, since it’s only 6 weeks after I got back to the States, and 12 weeks since I was actually in Madrid. But, nevermind! Let the recaps continue! This will not be another one of my many unfinished projects! Even though you’ve all probably given up on hearing about my journey since I am back and who gives a recrap! I give a recrap! Power on!!

DAY 48

Anywhoooo, Madrid, parte dos. I’ve got this city down, since after all, I was here for one day a mere 11 days earlier. We left Granada in the morning on a super POSH bus. Like classy. With a TV at each person’s leather chair and free snacks and coffee galore. And this was the most beautiful ride of Spain. I was on the wrong side of the bus to take photos, and taking them through a dirty window with motion blur wouldn’t have done the scene justice anyway. So you will have to trust me that the groves of olive trees cascading over hills and mountains bathed in beams of light pushing through the morning clouds was absolutely stunning. I wish I could have stopped the bus and gotten out and taken photos. If I ever return to Spain, I will have to rent a car and do this drive myself. And pray that I do it on a morning with as perfect God-breathed lighting as that day.

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Mediterranean | Day 46-47 | Spain | Granada

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DAY 46

We arrived in Granada in the afternoon after a 3-hour train from Sevilla. We had tappas in the afternoon and then had the city walking tour which the tour leader gives the first afternoon/ evening of every new city. After dinner, we cam across a huge crowd of people all focused on something way down at the end of the street. Apparently it was the Festival de Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, which is the last Sunday of September, and it is a procession that celebrates the Virgin Mary.

DAY 47

We had free time in the morning which I used to go mail my paintings I had been carrying around since Santorini and Madrid. I bumbled around the post office, getting a little more confident with my broken Spanish, but by no means any more proficient. Then I met up with my tour group and we hiked up to a church on a hill opposite the Alhambra to have a picnic and see how massive the palace is.

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Mediterranean | Day 43-45 | Spain | Sevilla

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It was really three cities in three days, but I didn’t take any photos in Tangier, Morocco, because it was so bleh. And the photos of our afternoon in Tarfia, which is the Spanish city across the Gibraltar straight from Tangier, were so meh. And THEN, I spent most of Sevilla in my hotel room in bed, or my hotel bathroom. So I have only a few photos of Sevilla.

DAY 43: TANGIER

We left Moulay Idriss in the morning, this time carrying our own luggage instead of paying for donkeys. We traveled for about 5 hours, via cab and two trains, to get to Tangier, where we ended up staying in a super posh hotel because the normal very-NOT-posh Intrepid hotel was full. Thank you to whichever Intrepid personnel procrastinated on that booking.

There’s not much to Tangier. It is essentially a pit stop for people traveling in Spain who just want to cross the straight to say they went to Morocco. The town was very commercialized. It was mostly run down with a handful of swanky hotels and a few empty night clubs on the boardwalk. It’s trying to turn itself in to Miami Beach, but I’m not sure the hijab-wearing women begging on the street got that memo.

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Mediterranean | Day 37 | Spain | Madrid

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Wow, it’s been three weeks since my last post. It’s strange resuming the recaps in the trip’s aftermath. During the last couple weeks of my 3-month journeymoon, I was so exhausted from the trip and wretchedly sick from a sinus infection that I couldn’t wait to get back home. Now that I’ve rested and gotten better, I have the post-trip blues. Waxing nostalgia all over this U. S. of A.

Continuing where I left off (which in real time was two months ago, yikes!), we pick up the adventurama in Mykonos at 5:45 a.m. which was when I left my beach-front hotel and headed to the airport. I flew to Athens at 7 a.m., landed at 7:35, then jumped on my next flight to Madrid, where I stayed one day before flying to my next tour in Marrakech, Morocco, because it was cheaper to take three different flights and spend the night in a hotel than to book a [not-so] direct flight from Athens to Marrakech.

There are actually quite a few good stories in this one short day in Madrid, most of them involve me bumbling around town with my español terrible [“ter-REE-blay”] in the one country in Europe that doesn’t speak much English. But in effort to shorten these recaps,  because I’ve heard that most of you aren’t reading them and only looking at photos, I’ll only cover one story and clump the rest together in one paragraph paella.

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