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Photo TR: Julie and Kevin go to Spain! The Non-Coastery bits

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I'll be honest...I gave Kevin crap for years about wanting to go to Spain. I never quite understood what the fascination was, despite the fact that I had studied Spanish for 7 years in high school and college.


But somehow last December, he convinced me to go. And as I looked at guidebooks, looked for hotels online, and researched the amusement parks, the idea of this trip to Spain really grew on me! Everything looked so fascinating and fun, and soon I was very glad that I had agreed to go wth him!


As the time grew closer for the trip, I'm sure I annoyed everyone at work to death with my countdown, and I actually packed and unpacked my backpack twice because I was so excited! I ended up taking the greatest pleasures out of the most mundane of trip preparations, like refilling my portable Q-tip box, and seeing how many Advil I could fit into my travel pill container.


Finally it was time for the trip. The plan was for Kevin to arrive a few days before me, and I would meet him in Madrid on the morning of May 10th. We had a Segway tour booked for that afternoon, and Parque de Atracciones was on the plan for the next morning. Then we'd take a bullet train to Sevilla and spend two nights there touring their historical sites and visiting Isla Magica. From there, we'd head to Tarifa for a couple of days of relaxation and a day tour to Morocco. Granada was next, then an overnight train would put us at PortAventura for opening one morning. That evening would be finished out in Barcelona, and I would head for home the next morning, while Kev finished out his trip in Paris.


I believe that that's really all the back story that's needed for this trip. On to the trip report!



Wednesday, May 10th, 2006



My trip started with lunch at Waffle House with my mom, then being dropped off at the Nashville airport. My flight to Philadelphia left on time, and was the first time I'd ever had to walk out onto the tarmac to board a plane. Luckily, once I got to Philadelphia, my departure gate was relatively close to where I had arrived, so I didn't have to trek a million miles with my backpack to get to my next flight. While in Philly, I decided to try my first cheesesteak...bad move! I don't usually eat much meat, so my intestines didn't have kind things to say about that sandwich! The service in the restaurant was really slow too...took me 45 minutes to get my sandwich...almost making me miss boarding my flight!


The flight across the ocean was so hot! The seats had very little leg room, plus there was some sort of box under the seat in front of me, so my personal bag had to sit at my feet the whole time. I kept turning my air vent on, and the lady next to me (who was cuddled up in a blanket!) kept turning it off, until one time I finally told her that I was burning up even with the vent on, and to stop turning it off. The meal was also really bad. I'd requested a veggie meal, and I got a tofu and steamed veggie meal...might as well have been O-cel-o sponge with kindergarten paste, it was so tasteless. I slept some, listened to my iPod some, and watched an episode of the Simpsons, and soon I was catching my first glimpse of the Spanish countryside.


Needless to say that it wasn't the most pleasant flight ever, and by the time I was on the ground, I was wanting a shower badly! But somehow, despite being about 8 hours long, the flight didn't feel insanely long. I found Kevin in the Madrid airport somewhere around 8:00am, we took the Metro to the Sol station, then walked to our hotel, the Hotel Plaza Mayor. Kevin had aleady been there for three nights, but was moving to a room with two beds the morning I got there. The first thing I did was to head up to his current room for a shower. The housekeeper was already in there cleaning, but luckily she let me back in to take my shower. There have only been a few showers in my life that have felt that good!


After my shower, I realized that the power converter I'd purchased wouldn't fit into the Spanish outlets since they are recessed, not flush with the wall. With my hair still wet, I went back down to the lobby where Kevin was chatting with some American friends he'd met in the hotel. They were leaving that day, but we made tentative plans to meet up with them in Sevilla over the next couple of days. Kevin had eaten breakfast while I was in the shower, so when he was done, we headed out for my first bit of sight-seeing in Madrid.


Pretty much the first comment I had made about Madrid was that it looked like Epcot! Everything was completely unlike anything I'd seen in the States, and it really looked like all the pictures you see of the major cities in Europe! The areas we were in were nice areas, and everything was so pretty and picturesque. The first place we went was to the Plaza Mayor, which was only about two blocks away from our hotel. From there, we headed on a bit further to purchase all the train tickets for our trip from the RENFE office in the El Corte Ingles.


Before we got the train tickets, we did something that I had been looking forward to an inordinate amount...we went to the grocery store! For whatever reason, I find stuff like grocery stores, drug stores, candy stores and stuff like that really interesting when I'm away from home, because I like to see what other areas have that my area doesn't and vice versa. There was very little in the Spanish supermarket that I recognized from home aside from a lot of the drinks and snack foods. And anything that had the word "American" on it was oversized! There was regular bread, then there were the huge loaves of "American bread." There were regular donuts, then packs of huge "American donuts" hahaha


When we were done in the supermarket, we went to the RENFE office, which was located next to the womens underwear department! We got almost all the tickets for the rest of our trip, with the exception of a couple towards the end that we were going to play by ear. With train tickets in hand, we left and walked down the Calle Mayor and ended up going into the main cathedral of the city. As we approached it, the new X-Car coaster at Parque de Atracciones caught my eye from WAY off in the distance. So I say "Kev! I see the X-car!" which caused him to make fun of me for spotting something probably over a mile away on the horizon instead of seeing the massive cathedral 100 feet in front of me! hahaha


I actually thought the cathedral was very nice, though they are not my thing as far as tourist attractions go. It was architecturally very beautiful, and was well decorated but didn't seem overly gaudy to me. After a quick stroll through, we left and walked past the Palacio Real. That day was a day when tourists could get in for free, but the line to get in was huge, and I didn't feel like waiting to go in (Kevin had gone in earlier in the week and didn't seem to be saying "Yes, it's worth the huge wait!" either).


From there, we walked up to the Plaza de España to check out the statues and do a bit of people watching. Afterwards, we decided to find the Teleferico sky ride and ride it over to the area near Parque. Well, it seemed like we walked and walked and walked, and it all seemed up hill, and once we got to the top of the hill, there were stairs to climb. By the time we finally found the entrance, I was completely exhausted. I had worked all night the night before, only gotten about 3 hours of sleep on the plane, and had easily walked at least 5 miles already before finding the sky ride. Our round trip ticket was in the neighborhood of 4E which I thought was very reasonable.


The view of the city from the Teleferico was really awesome! It was quiet (ok, except for the crackly Spanish narration) and you could see for miles. I also noticed that all the trees in the parks were planted in lines! Weird! I had noticed that from the airplane, but had wondered if maybe they were groves of some kind. Nope...just ordinary trees planted in lines.


When we got to the park on the other side, we decided to take a breather and enjoy the nice weather, so we both laid down in the grass and relaxed for a bit. At times I had to struggle to stay awake because it was so relaxing. We took the oppotunity to catch up a bit, and we had some good laughs while relaxing there. We stayed there for well over an hour just chatting and laughing, and at one point, I got a great view of a guy in a Speedo! It was the perfect way to decompress from regular life and slow down to vacation speed.


The ride was closed for siesta while we were lounging, but when it opened back up, we rode it back across and headed back up to the Plaza de España to meet up with the guide for our Segway tour. His name was Antony, and he was Scottish by way of South Africa. I felt very uneasy when I first started learning how to ride my Segway, but both he and Kevin assured me that it was easy to catch onto, and assured me that no on had ever fallen off of one during a tour. It took quite a while before I was comfortable leaving the immediate area and going out onto the sidewalks with pedestrians.


I'd like to say that I remember everything about the Segway tour, but I was almost too exhausted to enjoy it. Not to mention that the tour itsself went on for four hours, which was just too long in my opinion. By the end, my legs had fallen asleep below the knees and my calves and legs hurt very badly. And of course, at one point we were slaloming through some poles in the sidewalk, and I clipped one of them with the side of one of the wheels and went flying off of my Segway, landing square on my lower back on the pavement. So much for no one falling off of Segways!


We also stopped for dinner as we passed through Plaza Mayor, but they ended up ordering three dishes that either I wouldn't eat, or that I tried and disliked. When Antony handed me the menu and asked what I wanted, I basically just sat it back down because there wasn't a single thing on the menu that sounded appetizing to me. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a week-long trend! We ended up with tortilla española (*cold* egg and potato omlette...edible, but not enjoyable in the slightest), potato salad (yucky) and some potato and meat dish that I didn't try. So at this point, not only was my back and left arm in pain from falling off the Segway, I was starving!


We stopped for ice cream one time, and while Antony and Kevin were content to drive their Segways one handed while they ate, I insisted that I had to stop because not holding on was throwing me off balance. We stopped in a park, and I was in pretty rough shape by the time we stopped. I really just wanted the tour to be over at that point because I was exhausted, starving, and in pain from my fall. All that on top of the fact that I had been getting familiar with bathrooms all over Madrid all day because of the cheesesteak I had eaten in Philadelphia! I tried to stretch out my legs while I was stopped since I knew they were going to be inoperatively sore the next day from all the walking and the Segway.


Eventually the tour was over, but not without first having to climb up into some monument in town, which was nearly excruciating. We rode back to the tour guide's office, finished paying for our tour, then walked back to the Metro. On the way back to the hotel, I spotted a KFC and decided to grab a meal that I knew was going to be something I'd eat! I got a chicken sandwich and fries, but the fries were cold by the time I got them back to the hotel so I didn't eat many of them. We watched a bit of Pasapalabra, and as soon as I was done eating, I collapsed into bed and must have been asleep within seconds because almost as soon as I laid down, Kevin was waking me up because I was snoring so loudly!


Kevin ponders the meaning of life with one of the locals.


Kevin visits the ham museum. Yep...the ham museum.


A street branching off from the Plaza Mayor


And another building. This TR really isn't going for the humorous captions like most of mine do :-)


A street in Madrid


A building in Madrid


And their restaurant. This hotel (as well as one other) also made you put your key into a slot in the wall to get power. Odd, but makes a lot of sense, really.


Here's Kevin in the hotel's lobby. It was quite a nice hotel, with motion sensors to turn on the lights in the halls.


Just in case you wake up and forget where you are.


This was our home for the next two days, the Hotel Plaza Mayor.


We saw lots of these posters all over Madrid too. Obviously, we were quite upset that we missed this glorious expo by a day.


Please do the monkey when entering or exiting the metro. Thank you.


The first of many, many metro rides. I found the majority of Spain's subways to be quite nice, unlike a few other cities I've been in *cough*Boston*cough*


When I arrived, I found Kevin fairly easily, then we took the metro to our hotel. This is him buying a metro pass.


This was my first view of Europe! Looked beautiful from the air, and even more beautiful from the ground!


My veggie dinner on the flight. Ugh. At least the salad, fruit and roll were good.


Ok, lets go!!!


Me eating my first cheesesteak. Too bad it wreaked havoc on my intestines for two days.


This creepy piece of art in the Philly airport reminded me of SharkTums, though I don't think she makes it a habit to eat babies!


Not the greatest picture of me ever, but you can tell just how excited I was to be leaving Nashville for a bit!


Oh boy oh boy oh boy I get to go to Spain! But first, a pit stop in Philly.

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More Madrid photos


After our lovely siesta, we headed back over to Plaza de Espana for our Segway tour!


Parque de Atracciones...a world of fantasy. I didn't know at the time just how right this sign was!


A nice normal picture of Kevin...nothing funny here at all.


And this was my view while resting...a lovely view, no?


Once on the other side, we laid in the grass and relaxed...a perfect break in the middle of the day.


Some lovely Madrid buildings as seen from the sky ride.


After wandering for a bit, we took a ride on the Teleferico sky ride!


This was in front of the royal palace. I love that they are all stoic and formal while standing behind GIANT PILES OF HORSE POOP.


I also like this picture...I think the glass photographed very well.


Though I'm not into religious art, this cathedral was quite nice. Can you spot Woody Woodpecker in this picture?


What was my reaction when I saw this? Was it "Wow, what a nice cathedral"? Of course not! It was "Kev! I see the X-Car!!!"


As though the chocolate thingy wasn't enough, Kevin tries to eat the ice cream man's ice cream!


As we leave El Corte Ingles, we both pick up a huge flaky pastry covered in chocolate...*drool*


Kevin easily finds the Canadian beer in the Spanish supermarket.


Eww!!! I'd also never been in a place that sold whole dead fish! This isn't something you see at Walmarts in Tennessee!


I believe that Kevin drank his body weight in lemon Fanta by the end of the trip.


Being a real dork, a highlight of the day was getting to visit the Corte Ingles supermarket!

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I love reading your trip reports. Even though you said there was not going to be any funny captions, you still deliver. My daughter is going to Spain next year on a school trip, so she will be interested in this report. I am glad you had a good time and enjoyed yourself.

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Nice.. Trees.... SPEEDO


Madrid looks a really beautiful city. Ah the cultured life. I'm glad that your trip wasn't just all rollercoasters. I don't see the point in going somewhere without experiencing the country.

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^ I agree.

Great PTR! Madrid looks nice. It's good that you got 'proper' big flight meals, well I haven't had vegetarian, but sometimes someone beside me have, and they've only got like, 2 slices of lettuce plus a carrot, lol!


Anyway, it's good that you enjoyed your visit to Spain. I would like to try a Segway some day.

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Last of the Madrid pics


After the mall, we went back to Parque de Atracciones, and when we were done, we picked up our bags from our hotel and boarded our AVE bullet train to Sevilla!


Kevin enjoys the world's smallest Coke in the Principe Pio mall.


I am also surprised to be finding American baseball merchandise in Spain!


Here, Kevin tries out his best elderly golfer look.


Fast forward to the next morning. We ended up at Parque de Atracciones two hours early (we thought it opened at 10, when it was noon) so we took the metro to the Principe Pio mall.


You can even control Segways when you aren't standing on them by putting pressure on the front of back of the platform! They really are incredible machines.


Us on our Segways in front of some monument in Madrid. I really should look up what this thing was...unfortunately at the time, I was too tired to appreciate it.


Us on our Segways in front of the Palacio Real...and of course Kevin stopped pretending to attack me just as the guy took the picture!


Both of us, ready to see even more of Madrid


At 4:00, we met up with Antony, our Madsegs.com tour guide. Kevin already had some experience riding Segways, but it was a new experience for me!

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See, Julie, you are smart! I've been to Spain three times and all I've seen is the amusement parks and a small town on the border with France.


I was actually quite surprised at how much I enjoyed everything in Spain! I thought the highlights would be the parks...and they *were* highlights...but some of the other stuff was just gorgeous, and stuff that you'd never see in the US. After this trip, I don't think I'd ever take a trip somewhere that was exclusively amusement parks...there is too much other fun and beautiful stuff to see and do! If you make it back, try to make it to Sevilla if you haven't been there...it was a thoroughly enjyable and very very beautiful city, plus there are a couple of credits there!



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Thursday, May 11th



By about 3:00, we were bidding a sad farewell to Parque de Atracciones, but I was promising myself that I would most definitey be back for another visit at some point. We took the metro back to our hotel, where we retrieved our bags, then headed to the Atocha RENFE station on the metro. We found our train easily, and were seated just a few coaches from the back of the train. This was quite the posh train in my opinion...plenty of leg room, nice tables that folded out in front of you, complimentary headphones to watch the Corpse Bride in Spanish if you so chose (I didn't)...would have been nice had my transatlantic airplane been this nice!


The dining car was two coaches in front of us, so we both grabbed a snack there as we watched the countryside speed past us. For a brief moment...probably less than a minute...it started to rain, but then quickly stopped again. So I guess you could say that the rain in Spain fell mainly when we were on a train, since that was the only rain we saw for the entire trip!


Once in Sevilla, we grabbed a cab and got a ride to the Hostal Arias. we found our hotel easily since it was very near the main cathedral and alcazar, and got checked in with no delay. The hotel was very nice...on a superbly picturesque street within earshot of the center of the old town. Having made no real plans for that evening, we decided to head out and just wander around. As we approached the cathedral, there were tons of people in the streets, making noise, waving around flags and scarves...turns out that the Sevillian futbol team had just won the Spanish championship a day or so before, and the city was celebrating! We hung around for a bit, but with everyone just standing around having fun, it was hard to tell if anything was actually happening, or if it was just a big party. Soon we moved on to exploring the old Jewish area of the city.


There was a well planned out walking tour of Sevilla's Jewish quarter in the Rick Steves guidebook Kevin was using, so we walked through it step by step. It pointed out how the buildings are close together to keep the city cooler and maximize shade, and how the Spaniards planted orange trees everywhere becuase they never lose their leaves and can provide shade year round. As we walked, I was struck by just how beautiful the city was, and as night fell, it came even more alive with locals out for an evening paseo. Parts of the city felt fabricated...like they were designed that way just so tourists could get good photos...but they weren't! One area we came to was this small courtyard with an outdoor restaurant, with only these tiny little alleyways leading to and from it, and the ambience was just so incredible that you could never duplicate it!


After a while, we found an outdoor cafe that looked appealing so we sat down for dinner. I decided to make it another one of those meals of completely new foods, so Kevin and I split a bowl of gazpacho, a plate of paella, and I had a sangria, while he had a red wine. Honestly, it was just about the best meal of the trip. I pondered out loud numerous times how I had made it to 26 years old without ever trying gazpacho! It was fabulous! And the paella was really great also...it was a dish I had heard about for years in my Spanish classes, but had never tried. I also found a pea that bore a striking resemblance to Mike Wyzowski in my paella!


We finished out the night by continuing to wander, stopping in shops here and there, and wandering around the cathedral. As bedtime approached, the streets got louder with all the locals because the futbol team was arriving back home at midnight. Everyone was singing, blowing air horns, waving flags...yet everyone was completely behaving! No one was drunk, no one was acting a fool in public...there were police everywhere just standing around doing nothing because no one was misbehaving!


When we got back to the hotel, we watched some of the news coverage of the party, and as midnight approached, the streets in our area were overrun with people making all sorts of noise. We went on to bed and tried to sleep, and when I woke up briefly at 2:00am, everything was quiet outside.




There were even live broadcasts reporting about the huge party! Luckily we slept through most of it!


As midnight approached, the futbol celebration was in full swing, yet this is what most of the cops appeared to be doing. Standing around doing nothing because there was no one misbehaving!!


It's the Mike Wyzowski pea in my paella!!


As we wandered through the city center, we came across the Calle de la Muerte, and were reminded of the great times we had at WDW last December!


Giralda Tower


The cathedral seems to glow at night...another favorite photo!


A street in Sevilla. A favorite photo from the trip!


After we checked into the hotel, we got caught in the middle of the big futbol celebration. This is just a tiny bit of what was a huge party!


This was the beautiful light fixture in our room. What a pleasant sight to relax to while laying on the bed.


Our room. The artwork on the walls is a picture of the cathedral in Sevilla, and it is tiled directly into the walls...wow, so pretty.


This is the quaint and inviting street the hotel was on.


Our hotel in Sevilla, Hostal Arias.

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Friday, May 12



We both woke up around 8:00am on Friday morning, surprised at the sound sleep we'd gotten despite the party the night before. I noticed that one of the plugs in the bathroom was flush with the wall, so I decided to try out the power converter that I'd brought from home, just to see if it would work there. I plugged in my hair dryer, and it seemed to not be sending enough power to it for it to work right. I messed with the power buttons on the dryer, and within a few seconds, the converter sparked and started smoking! Almost in a panic, I told Kevin to open the window, and I sat the smoking and horribly unpleasant smelling converter outside. Well, so much for that.


We popped our heads into a Starbucks for breakfast, and I ended up with a sundried tomato and mozzarella sandwich on focaccia and a drink that equated to a chocolate milkshake. Kevin got a muffin and some sort of frozen coffee drink. We grabbed a table and people watched for a bit, then decided to use a computer in the print shop next door.


Soon it was time for the Alcazar to be opening, so we were there at 11:30. There was a big line of people waiting to get in, but the line moved fairly quickly. We only rented one audio guide for the two of us, but two would have been nice so we could have wandered around at our leisure. After a while, we started using headphones so both of us could listen at the same time.


Our entire tour took about 3 hours from start to finish. We took as must time as we wanted to wander through the rooms, gardens and courtyards, including walking through the hedge maze for a bit. Though the history behind it got a bit dry at times, the alcazar itsself was gorgeous, and I got dozens of beautiful pictures of it. It also seemed so much bigger from the inside than it looked from the outside. All you could really see of it from the outside was the entrance, but if you knew where to look, you could actually make out other walls of it all through the Jewish area of town. Overall, I enjoyed my alcazar tour more than I thought I would!


When we left, Kevin wanted to do a tour of the cathedral also. I agreed, but wasn't too keen on spending forever in there. Once inside, I didn't like it at all for a variety of reasons, the main one of which is how prominently they display their Guinness Book of World Records certificate for being the largest cathedral in the world or something like that. I found the whole thing extremely tacky and disresepctful, and was very glad to leave.


The next thing on the agenda was to visit Isla Magica for a bit. Leaving the cathedral, we found this tiny little restaurant that served fresh potato chips. We stopped in and orders the fried shrimp, which was served in a paper cone, and a medium bag of fresh chips. Aside from being very greasy, lunch was very good, and it was enough for both of us! The place was set up like fast food, where you order, wait for it to be cooked, then pick it up at the counter and sit and eat. But this place wanted us to wait until after we ate to pay. Not something I'd seen before, but ok!


When we were done with lunch, we walked down to the edge of river and caught a tourist bus that circles the city. It took quite a while to reach the park, but we passed some interesting stuff along the way. The bus stop was almost directly in front of the park, which was very convenient! Since it was about 4:00 by the time we arrived, our admission was half price.


To read my Isla Magica TR, click here!


On the way out, we stopped in a gift shop, where we perused the interesting merchandise, and I bought a little bag that looked like I could find a good use for it. We went back to the bus stop, and had to wait at least 15 minutes for the next bus to come by, then we rode it all the way back around to the river.


Since I had an extra bag, and we'd accumulated park maps and stuff, we stopped by our hotel to drop off the extra stuff we had. I browsed in a shop across the street, and asked if the shopkeeper knew where I could get one of the Sevilla futbol scarves that every peson in the city seemed to have. She said that El Corte Ingles sold them, as well as the futbol stadium.


Since we both wanted a scarf as a souvenir of the awesome time we'd had in Sevilla, we decided to walk over to El Corte Ingles. Well, we walked and walked and walked, then discovered that the store is actually in three different "pieces" in different places, which meant that we coudn't figure out which "piece" of the store had the clothing in it. Of course, when we finally found it, they said that they didn't sell the futbol scarves, so all our walking had been for nothing!


I was really hungry by then, and so was Kevin, so we stopped at an old stand-by for dinner, McDonalds. I had felt dehydrated pretty much all day, so it was nice to have a nice cold bottle of water to drink. When I ordered, in Spanish, I said that I wanted a cup completely full of ice. When I got my order, I had just an empty cup, so again in Spanish, I said "Can I please have it completely full of ice?" The girl turns around, puts maybe an inch worth of ice in the bottom and hands it back. So in a very frustrated tone, I said "No, I need a LOT more ice than this!" Reluctantly she filled the cup about halfway up...I just don't understand what the problem is with giving me a full glass of ice when I ask for it three times??? Luckily half a glass of ice was enough to keep my whole bottle icy cold.


After dinner, we walked back to the hotel, tired from the day. A sign in the bathroom said that the front desk sold bottles of water, so since I was still feeling dehydrated, I bought a bottle. Turns out it was a liter and a half of the coldest water I'd had in three days! I drank about half of it, and was feeling much better by the time I went to bed.




Oh yes...food of the gods. I felt like such a TPR stereotype as I ate!


Later that night, I discovered that in Spain, ACE has it's own ice cream!


Before leaving for Isla Magica, we make sure to get our dialy intake of fat and grease by eating these tasty shrimp and chips.


The crown jewels of Spain. Aside from being slightly blurry, this photo makes it look like I am about to sell this on eBay!


Just about the only interesting thing to me was the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Sorry for the dark photo, but we weren't allowed to use flashes.


Next we toured the main cathedral.


A large waterfall into a pool. The last area on the tour.


An interesting wall in the alcazar, with evidence of Kevin's destructive rampage on the right.


Kevin gently touched one wall of the alcazar, and this huge flake of paint came off!!


Kevin and I get lost in the hedge maze. No, Kevin is not peeing in the hedge maze!!


I thought these flowers were so pretty...red, orange, yellow and pink all on the same flowers.


Intricate moorish tiles in the alcazar floor


This is one of my top three favorite photos from the trip.


Kevin in the alcazar









This is the entrance to the Royal Alcazar in Sevilla. The following photographs are all from inside the Alcazar, so I'm not putting captions on all of them. Enjoy.


Mmm...an awesome Starbucks breakfast. I must remember to check Starbucks in the States for this type of sandwich!


One last picture of our hotel

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Is the ACE ice cream carrot ice cream! Ewwwww... No wonder no one has touched that one ice cream.


Anyway, I want to try paella sometime, but, being stuck here in Iowa won't get me any. Hopefully I'll go to Spain after high school... I'll have five years of Spanish by then.


What's funny is that we had a chapter in our Spanish books called ¿Cómo se hace la paella?- How does one make paella. It never actually told you a recipie for it.

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May 13, 2006



We were up and out of Hostal Arias early on Saturday morning so we could catch the 9:00am bus to Tarifa, the southernmost city in Europe. We got all of our stuff packed up, and walked to the bus stop since it wasn't too far from the hotel. We were hoping that the Starbucks would be open for breakfast, but it was still closed. Once at the bus stop, I snacked on some Frosted Mini Wheats and Gardettos that I'd brought so I could free up some space in my bag as well as get a quasi-meal. We met a man in the bus station who said he owned a house on the beach in Tarifa, and tried to give us as many tips as he could in his broken English.


Our bus left right at 9:00am, and we were seated in the row of five seats at the back of the bus, so we must have gotten two of the last five seats on the bus. A man in the row in front of us had horrible, piquant body odor, but luckily he got off well before we reached Tarifa!


During a stretch of road just north of Tarifa, we started to see wind power generating windmills! When I worked at Universe of Energy at Epcot, the wind power segment was one of my favorites since I thought they were so pretty, and I thought it was so cool to see them in person! I really wish we'd had a minute to get out of the bus and get closer to them because, for whatever reason, they strike me as so beautiful...like kinetic art.


We arrived in Tarifa around 12:30, and made our way to our hotel. As we walked, we passed surf shop after surf shop...you can tell what the main tourist draw is in Tarifa! The walk got pretty tiring with my big backpack (next time, I am packing even lighter than I did this time!!) but soon we found the city center, with it's majestic archway entrance.


Our hotel was La Casa Amarilla, the Yellow House. It was pretty easy to spot as you approached it since it's the only building in the area that's yellow! The interior of the hotel was gorgeous...this was by far my favorite of the hotels we stayed in. The lobby was covered in gray marble and ironwork, and all the walls were a happy, bright yellow (the same yellow that I have in my bathroom at home!). The room was opposite the front desk, and had two balconies, a small but full kitchen, marble floors, and probably the prettiest bathroom door I've ever seen! Plus, it was located pretty much in the center of the old area of the city, so it was central to everything...nothing in the area was more than a 10 minute walk.


Our room wasn't ready when we checked in, so they stored our luggage in the laundry room, and we headed out for a bite to eat. Cafe Central was right across the street, so we stopped for a bite. Luckily for me, the menu was full of Julie friendly food choices! I was nearly extatic to find pasta on the menu since I hadn't seen it on any other menu in the last four days! I promptly ordered the tortelini with herb sauce, and Kevin got a plate of four tapas. I guess since both things we ordered were "fill you up" sized meals, we confused the waitress when we ordered two! She was like "One for both?" and we're like "No, one meal each please!" haha North American overconsumption rears it's ugly head! Needless to say, my pasta was awesome, and I think I made yummy noises through the whole meal. Kevin got tortilla de patatas, a meatball dish with fries, a dish that he said he thought as pig knuckles, and a dish that was apparently fish, but didn't look remotely like any fish I'd ever seen! He said they were all great though!


After lunch, we walked down to the port to get our tickets for the ferry to Morocco the following day. When we first walked down there, it seemed like a long walk, but over the course of two days, I bet we walked that same way five times or more, and each time the walk seemed to get shorter and shorter. On the way, I popped a Euro into a vending machine with these huge balls with toys in them, but instead of giving me one toy for a Euro, it insisted on two Euros, then gave me two toys. They were interesting little junk, and probably stuff I will hang onto since they were the only non-useful souvenirs I got during the trip!


Once at th FRS Iberia office, I got some confusion regarding my reservation straightened out, and we were headed off with our tickets fairly quickly. As we walked, we spotted this two lane causeway that led out to a little island named Isla de las Palomas, so we decided to walk out to the end of it. We'd already noticed that Tarifa was quite breezy, but as we walked, the breeze turned to wind, then to howling wind! As we passed the beach on the Mediterranean side of the causeway, we were basically sandblasted by the wind picking up the sand! It was quite painful, but really really funny at the same time! My sunblock had not quite soaked in yet, so not only was I getting sandblasted, but the sand was sticking to me!


We kept walking, trying to protect ourselves however we could from the wind. The view was really beautiful...too bad I could barely keep my eyes open to enjoy it! When we finally reached the end, we found the signs that pointed out that the Atlantic was to our right, and the Mediterranean was to our left. Having never seen the Mediterranean, I thought it was pretty cool, despite the fact that the water looked just like the water off the beaches in the Bahamas. We also found the sign telling us that we were in the "southest" city in Europe, which was a nice photo op. There was also a wall enclosing the whole area, so we got a brief break from the howling wind.


After taking a few moments to enjoy the island and chat with some folks from Miami that we spotted along the way, we walked back to the city. Really, it was so windy that it was hilarious, including a second sandblasting as we passed the beach a second time. Just as we got past the beach, the wind caught Kevin's hat and blew it into a construction zone behind a fence! After pondering for a moment the best way to retrieve the hat, he took the brute approach and pulled up one of the poles holding up the fencing and ran in to get it. He was glad to have it back since it was the only hat he'd brought with him, and it was also an Epcot souvenir!


Arriving back in the city, we stopped in the main plaza area near the tourist info center and each got a Frigo popsicle...I got a Twister and he got a lime calippo. It was really good, and a nice way to slow down and take in the beautiful city we were in. We browsed the tourist info center, then headed back to our hotel for a bit, purchasing a Coke along the way.


Once at the hotel, we decided to do a bit of laundry since we were in Tarifa for two days and the wind would effectively dry any laundry left hanging out. When Kevin was done, he laid down and napped while I did mine, then I laid down for a bit as well. We whiled away another two hours or so just laughing, watching tv, looking at our pictures, eating M&Ms and resting. At one point, Kevin dropped a glass and it broke everywhere. The lady at the desk was very nice about it though...I guess you can expect that kind of thing when your hotel has real marble floors!


When our break was over, we headed out to explore the city a bit. We stopped in a little place next to our hotel that sold sandwiches and such, and we each got a "panini" which was pretty much just pizza toppings on french bread. They over-warmed it a little bit, but it was still good! As we continued walking, we realized that the walled part of the town had tons of small restaurants and shops that just oozed character, and for watever reason, I fell in love with this city! It was much smaller than Sevilla, so we could just wander and wander and not really worry about getting truly lost. Kevin said he was gonna follow me, so I walked and walked, turning into every alley I found. Twice, I paused and said "Well, are we completely lost now?" then looked up only to see our hotel a little ways down the road! Even trying to get lost, I couldn't! I also found a fantastic t-shirt in one shop that said "Tarifa blows" with a cloud on it. They only had one in my size, so I bought it immediately. I'd hoped to find some really random shirt in Spain, and I thought it was perfect!


After a bit, we were both hungry again, so we set off in search of dinner. While wandering around earlier, I'd spotted an Italian restaurant that looked like a safe bet for having Julie friendly food, so we ended up stopping there. We got a bottle of blush wine, and started off with a tomato and mozzarella salad. It was very, very good, and I liked it even more with a touch of vinegar. For the entree, I got a pizza Margherita, and Kevin got a pizza with a soft white cheese and some type of meat, but I don't remember exactly what it was. My pizza was very nice, and too large to finish. We both ended up leaving some on our plates, but of course we finished the wine!


Having had a really awesome day, we wandered back to our hotel. Upon arrival, we realized that there was a night club just outside our window on the first floor, and they were quite loud. I rearranged a bit of my laundry, and when I went to push open one of the windows on the balcony, the entire pane of glass I was touching fell out and shattered on the ground! My initial reaction was that I was very glad no one got hurt, since someone from the night club could have easily gotten hit by it. Second was that I hoped I didnt get charged for it since I didn't *break* the window...the entire pane fell out along with the little strip of wood that is supposed to hold it onto the window. With the desk already closed for the night, and since no on was hurt, we went on to bed. That night was the most pleasant we'd had thus far I thought because of the cool breezes all night. And despite the loud noise downstairs, I slept really well.


After all the hard work of trying to stand upright on Isla de las Palomas, we indulge in a frozen treat.


At last, Kevin claims victory over the hat eating Tarifa wind.


Kevin says "Take that, wind! You can't have that hat! That's an Epcot souvenir! I'll just enter this prohibido area and show you who's boss."


Uh oh! The wind tries to claim it's first victim...Kevin's Canada hat.


Kevin points out that we are in the "southest" city in Europe, while giving me a "I can barely keep my eyes open for all the horribly gusty wind" face.


And the Atlantic ocean to the right!


The Mediterranean Sea to the left...


And this was the view from the island looking back at Tarifa.


But despite the wind, there was a great view! You'd never know that the wind was blowing so hard that I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to frame this shot, huh?


Here's Kevin headed out to Isla de las Palomas. You can't really tell from the picture, but the wind is probably at least sustaining 50mph on this road! It felt like we were about to get blown into the water!


And Kevin greatly enjoyed his tapas. See the dish on the right with those yellow things? That is supposedly the fish dish. I'm still not sold on that.


Nummy tortellini and herb sauce for lunch


Cafe Central, home of Julie friendly food, located just steps away from our hotel. Funny, but anyone I've show my pics to seem to love this picture for some reason!


Here was the view out of our window. Not bad during the day, but it turns into a bustling, loud nightclub at night. I'd say that's the only down side to this hotel.


Stained glass on a bathroom door...who puts stained glass in a bathroom door in a hotel?? It was so pretty!!!


Our Casa Amarilla room...the nicest of the trip.


La Casa Amarilla lobby


La Casa Amarilla lobby


The beautiful Casa Amarilla lobby


Our hotel, La Casa Amarilla


Tarifa's archway entrance


Windmills on the way to Tarifa

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More Tarifa pics


One last shot of the city center as we headed in for the night.


Dinner was very nice, as was the wine, the weather, the atmosphere and the company!


Luckily, next door, they served real food! So I wasn't stuck eating anything that was jumbled or sucking.


Now, for the second course. Lets see, I could have some fresh salts...maybe some nice clams to the seafaring one...I think I will just go with a big plate of jumbled of the house!


Ok, time for dinner. What do I want? Hmm, maybe some Mustard to the Antigua? Or lamb leg to the honey? Nah, I think I'll have some nice chops of sucking lamb.


A statue of Guzman El Bueno guards the port


A church in Tarifa


While wandering around, I found this bad ass dude spray painted onto one of the walls...awesome.


More buildings in Tarifa (uh oh, I am falling into that area of unfunny captions again)


Buildings in Tarifa


Here's a shot of our clothes hanging out to dry on our balconies. I guess this photo proves that I am now officially a world traveller!


Mmm...panini...and again, just steps away from our hotel!


Heading out for the evening, we couldn't help but have a bit of fun with the lobby mirror.


Back at the hotel, Kevin has a spill with a glass. I'm sure that's not the first time that's happened in this hotel!


This is the one of the main plazas in Tarifa, with lots of restaurants, and the tourist info center.

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Great pix!! Looks like you guys had an awesome time! One of my friends just got back from Barcelona and loved it, I'm really hoping I'll get there (until then I just watch a lot of Pedro Almadovar movies!).


Just wondering, how did you guys choose your hotels? Rick Steves recommendations?

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Just wondering, how did you guys choose your hotels? Rick Steves recommendations?


I guess I can jump in here.


Yes, we did use Rick Steve's guide extensively, and all of the hotels we in his Spain 2006 book. But we did check them all out online before booking them, and those that didn't have online reservations, I faxed.



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May 14, 2006



We got up for the day around 8:00 after getting surprisingly restful sleep, despite the noise from the club downstairs. I’d braided my hair the night before in hopes that that would make it less fuzzy and uncontrollable, since I was going without my hair dryer. I left it braided for the moment, since it was so windy outside.


We stopped for breakfast at Cafe Central. I asked if they served potatoes any way other than in the tortilla de patatas, and the waitress said yes, so I ordered that with eggs. Turned out to be french fries with eggs! But that was ok, as they were pretty tasty. It also came with what seemed like fried rye bread...and of all the things I ate on the trip, that is the thing that I remember the taste of the most distinctly! Strange!


After breakfast, we walked over to the Port of Tarifa to wait for our ferry to Morocco. Today was also Mothers Day, and before leaving home, I’d joked with my mom that my present to her was for me to be the farthest away from her that I had ever been on Mothers Day! I also ended up getting her a card written in Spanish, and I wrote the English translation under it. She thought that was pretty funny. Anyway, we were about an hour early for our ferry, so we just sat down and waited as everyone scurried around us. It was an odd cross section of society...everyone from little American kids to elderly Moroccan women with tattoos on their chins to western adventurer’s like Kevin and myself.


When it was time to board at about 11:00am, we had to all go through a single x-ray machine and metal detector, which caused a huge bottleneck. After that, we were free to board the ferry, though most people went directly for the customs line. Kevin and I opted to find seats first, then we’d go one at a time to get through customs. We sat at the very front of the ferry, which was hot because of the sun, but afforded the best view on the boat. A little ways into the trip, I got in the line, which moved agonizingly slow! The agent stamped the entry and exit stamps on my tour ticket, but I wasn’t about to ask questions! Everyone around me seemed to be Moroccan, and they were all getting their passports stamped, so I assumed it was an American thing! They also asked me more questions than anyone around me, and had taken both my going and returning tickets.


Kevin went after I did, and when he returned, his passport had been stamped, which further made me think they did something different to me because I was American. He also said that he’d met two folks in the line that were from the same city he lived in! Turns out that the girl of the couple had gone to the same high school Kevin had, only about 10 years after he was there. Orillia isn’t a big city, so to meet two people...not in Toronto, not in Disney World, not even in London...but on a freaking ferry to Tangiers was incredible to me!


After about an hour and 15 minutes, we were docking in Tangiers (the ferry was advertised as a 30 minute ferry, but all told, it was about 2 hours including boarding, the cruise, and disembarking). We got the Canadian couple to take our “Look at us, we’re in AFRICA!” picture, then proceeded off the boat and onto a bus for our tour. We ended up sticking by the couple for most of the tour (y’know, I never learned their names! Kevin knew them, but I forget what he told me they were). They were in Europe for 2 ½ months after graduating from college...*sigh* what I wouldn’t give to take a trip like that...


The first part of the tour was on the bus, and we drove up the side of a hill to get some nice views of Tangiers and of the coast. The city looked relatively modern, but not quite as modern or well kept as the cities we’d been seeing in Spain. I spotted lots of conveniences from home...Shell gas stations, Pizza Hut and McDonalds to name a few! There was some interesting architecture, but most seemed pretty average for big cities anywhere.


So after the bus ride came the “interesting” part of the tour. We parked the bus on the side of what seemed like a fairly busy street, and were told that we could leave any packages or luggage on the bus if we wanted. Yeah right, had I had anything with me, I would have carried it all day long before leaving it on the bus! There was also a little desk set up with a person selling postcards, stamps and film, so a few people got those there instead of trying to find them later.


Our first stop was to watch a snake charmer. Beforehand, we were warned about not giving money to children who beg, and wouldn’t you know that no sooner than the guide got it out of his mouth, a kid started begging for money from us. There was also a man following up around trying to sell us bracelets and wouldn’t leave us alone...little did we know that he was the nicest and least aggressive one we’d find all day! A bunch of people paid a Euro to have a snake put around their neck for a photo, then we moved on.


We went around a corner, and there were these two men there playing instruments, dancing around and generally making fools of themselves, and that was supposedly the next stop on the tour. It was so cheesy and contrived that I didn’t even dignify it with a picture! As we entered the medina, the guide started pointing out things and telling little bits about their history, follow with “Now, take picture!” hahaha That soon ended though, and the medina got dirty, foul smelling, crumbling, and borderline scary! The street sales people would surround us, trying to sell us jewelry, bags, boxes and little drums. The little kids were the one hawking the drums, walking around saying “Tambores one euro fifty!” And had I not had to carry it around with me the rest of the time, I’d have certainly bought one of those sets of drums...they were cool, and cheap!


After a little bit, we ducked into a restaurant for lunch. We’d passed a bunch of small restaurants and markets, all of which looked either scary or unsanitary, so I was really worried about what was in store for lunch! But our restaurant turned out to be very nice...as nice as any low to mid-range restaurant you’d find.


Our first course was a vegetable soup...unidentifiable at first, but after I took a few bites, it was pretty good! If nothing else, I could eat the soup, and not starve to death before getting back to Spain! The second course was meat on skewers, and since I didn’t know what kind of meat it was, I quickly passed it on to Kevin. The waiter saw me do it, and asked if I would prefer a salad to go with the meal instead of the meat, so I took him up on that offer. Whew...two things I can eat in Morocco! The third course was chicken couscous, and once again...it was really good! I couldn’t even finish it all, I was so full by that point. Dessert was a ribbon shaped pastry covered in honey that was sort of like baklava, and mint tea. Being such a picky eater, I was really glad that I was able to eat lunch...I was afraid it would be all lamb and beef with onions, or other such stuff I wouldn’t eat.


We had a nice conversation with the Canadian couple over lunch, and it was so fun hearing about all their adventures all over Europe. There was also a Swiss couple at our table, as well as a very quiet couple that didn’t seem to speak much English. Soon they announced that it was time to go, and I realized that I should have used the bathroom while one was convenient to use! So I scurried to use it, and was the last person out, so Kevin and I had to do a bit of catching up with the tour.


Well, we walked and walked, with the street vendors surrounding us, and impeding our progress at times. No matter how many times we said no, they kept the same level of aggression, following us for blocks and blocks at a time. At first, they were doing it to Kevin worse, with many of them telling him to buy something for his lovely wife! hehe But once, a man had a bracelet that caught my eye, and once they saw that I had paid attention to one person’s merchandise, everyone surrounded me! Imagine a scene from a movie where you are a patient laying on an operating table with dozens of hands all reaching for your face...now imagine that with smelly, scary men all shoving bracelets and drums in your face! That moment was probably the moment when I was the most glad that I wasn’t traveling alone!


For a brief respite from the sales people, we stopped in a carpet shop for a little presentation on how they make the handcrafted rugs. It was decently interesting, and the rugs were very pretty, but very expensive! After the presentation, when they are supposed to go around giving you the hard sell to buy a rug, a man asked me which rug I liked the best. I pointed one out, knowing good and well that however much it cost, it was going to be too expensive. But instead of telling me the price, he motioned for me to go into this little room with him and another man! So very loudly I said “No! No!” over and over as he followed me back over towards Kevin. Once I reached Kevin, the man backed off, and I warned Kevin and the Canadian couple about them! Even if I wanted to buy his rug, no way in hell was I gonna be alone in a room with two men I didn’t know! Common sense should tell every woman to do exactly what I did.


After the presentation, we shopped downstairs for a bit without being hassled by the employees. I actually stumped one employee when I asked him to find me a short (as opposed to knee length) red shirt in size XL. He just kinda shook his head like he didn’t have any, and moved onto the next person! hahaha I was surprised he didn’t say “Well, I don’t have that, but look at the scarves! Look at the jewelry!” Felt nice to not be hassled!


After a few minutes, we headed back out into the streets, where a crowd of the salespeople were waiting for us. I spotted a bracelet that one man had that I liked, and he said it was 15 Euros. I said I’d give him 5 euros for it, and eventually he said he’d sell me two for 10 euros. Thinking that a second one would make a nice gift for my mom (who’d been overly insistent on a gift from Morocco!) I said I’d take them if he had change for my 20 euro note. He didn’t, but when he stopped to get change, the tour guide shuffled us into a spice shop. I dropped the bracelets on a nearby pile of shoes, telling the other sales people there to give them back to him.


The spice shop was actually very interesting. I’m not sure how much of it I believe, but all of the herbal remedies the man was selling were fairly inexpensive, so it would be no harm no foul if the stuff didn’t work. He had about 15 or 20 products, and he explained what each did, where it came from, what it was made of and how much it cost. We sampled a few hand creams (one of which Kevin had a mild allergic reaction to the next day), smelled some scented things, and sniffed a big bag of menthol somethingorother that was supposed to clear your sinuses. When the presentation ended, we opted to buy a few things...we got three blocks of musk (to combat some gamey luggage smells!), Kevin got some muscle relaxer oil, I got a little tin of stuff that is supposed to clear up acne and soften your lips (I dunno about acne, but it actually does really well on my lips!) and I also got a small bag of saffron for my mom. The bag was packed tight, weighing a few ounces at least, and I only gave 7 euros for it! It would have easily sold for $50 or more in the States. Thinking back, I should have bought a few more and resold them hehehe Since she watches Food Network a lot, I knew she’d appreciate a bag of saffron a lot more than a bracelet.


When we left, of course, the same group of salespeople were there waiting for us, including the man wanting to sell me the bracelets! Since I’d already gotten the saffron for my mom, I was really only wanting one bracelet for myself now. So as we walked, I kept saying I wanted one bracelet for 5 euros, and when we got to our next stopping point (which was on private property, and the last stop in that area of town) he agreed to sell me the one I wanted for 5 euros. Nice. When we entered the hotel for the next stop, all the salespeople stopped right at the edge of the property, so we could wander around inside freely without being hassled.


The hotel was quite nice, and is one that is mentioned in the Rick Steves guidebook as one of the only reputable places to stay in Tangiers! When I saw that they offered overnight tours to Morocco, I thought that would be an interesting experience. But by about halfway through the tour, we were very glad that we’d opted for only the day trip! Had I stayed overnight, I’d have stayed in my room, too scared to go out and possibly get lost! The guy who ran the hotel was very nice, and didn’t pressure us to buy anything. I thought he was being charming when he made a flattering comment about my freckles, but it turns out that he said the exact same line to the Canadian girl too! hahaha I found two nice silver boxes in his shop, and since he was so nice, I paid the 3 euros a piece for two of them without haggling because I thought that was a fair price. My plan was to split the saffron in half, and keep half in a box for myself, and give the other box to mom.


During our break, a henna artist was there, and for 5 euros, I got a henna tattoo that covered most of my left forearm. It was really pretty! Little did I know that it was the crappiest henna ever. After it dried and I flaked it off, you couldn’t really make out any detail in the tattoo. The next day, it just looked like a big patch of my arm was discolored, and within three days, there was no trace of it left. Had it lasted the three weeks to a month like I was told, it would have been a great value, but as it was, I felt ripped off. Kevin also took the chance to enjoy another lemon Fanta during our break.


For the final part of the tour, we were taken back out through the medina, past the absolutely relentless vendors one last time, and back onto our bus to finish the tour. On the way, some kids selling bracelets were following us out. They kept lowering their prices and lowering their prices, until one kids said we could have 5 bracelets for 5 euros. We got back on the bus and pondered the offer, figuring that those could be souvenirs for all our female family members for a euro a piece! So I went back out and talked to one kid, but he only had three bracelets left. I offered him 2 euros for 3, and when he said 2 and a half euros, I took them for that price. An even better deal than 5 for 5! I kept two of them for myself, and Kevin took one for his mom.


Once on the bus, more than one of us commented that we had never been so happy to see a bus in our entire lives! We drove around a bit, then made the obligatory “Ride a camel for a euro!” photo op stop. I didn’t ride, but Kevin did! It was pretty funny, and while it only lasted about a minute, it was definitely an interesting way to spend a euro! We snaked back through the city a bit more, and eventually ended up back at the port, with our ferry waiting there.


The guide went around checking everyone’s tickets, and it turned out that everyone in the tour had had their tickets stamped instead of their passport except Kevin! So the guide whisked Kevin away to handle he situation, and I was left by myself. Of course, every doomsday idea went through my mind...”Oh my god, Kevin’s gonna be stuck in Morocco”...”I’m gonna have to cut the trip short because they’re not gonna let him back into Spain”...etcetera. It was also a bit unnerving being separated from my travel partner, even for just a little bit. When I boarded the ferry, I sat where I logically thought he would look for me, and after about 5 more minutes, I was in the first place he looked! Do I know him or what? He didn’t really know what the tour guide had done, but somehow his passport was stamped and he was ready to head back to Spain.


The trip over had been relatively smooth, with a little turbulence, but not too much. But on the way back, the boat was rocking really heavily...so much that warnings came on the TVs about staying in your seats. It was fun to watch people try to walk around because they were just falling all over the place. And the wind out on the desk was so hard that it was almost knocking people down! I don’t get motion sick very easily, so I was fine, but plenty of people all around us were throwing up into the seasickness bags! I thought the motion was relaxing at first, then fun the harder it got. Kevin wasn’t enjoying it quite as much, and was very happy when the boat came to a stop!


Needless to say, we were both pretty happy to be back in Spain. I’m sure that if you visit the bigger cities like Marrakesh, Fez or Rabat, they are very nice places to spend time, but not Tangiers! It was very dirty, very run down, it smelled very bad, a lot of the people smelled very bad, and it was the only place that I felt unsafe during the whole trip. I had this odd combo of pity and disgust over the street salespeople...I pity them because I know that they are just trying to support themselves and their families in the only way they know how, but I think it is disgusting how they exploit their children to prey on tourists. I’m sure it’s a vicious cycle of poverty, and during those tours, we either have to support it or we have no souvenirs of our visits. Needless to say, the little slice of Morocco that I saw was not all shiny and friendly like in Epcot! In short, it was definitely an experience I will remember forever, even if it’s not one that I ever care to repeat!


After doing a little happy dance because we were back in Spain, we dropped off our purchases in our hotel and went a couple of stores down to check our email. As Kevin checked his email, I sat outside on a stool and watched everyone pass by. I’m not sure when the last time was that I slowed down enough to watch a dog sniff the ground for about 10 minutes, but that’s exactly what I did that day, and I considered it a constructive use of my time. When Kevin was done, I checked my email, then purchased a postcard with a map of Spain on it from the shop the computers were in. I dropped off the postcard in the room, then we headed out to find some dinner.


I’d spotted a fish place in the main plaza the day before that looked pretty good, so I suggested that we go there. The menu looked pretty good, so I ordered the fried shrimp, while Kevin ordered the gazpacho and paella. The shrimp I got was whole shrimp cooked in oil, not the shelled and battered ones I was expecting, but that was fine. But the taste...oh god, they tasted horrible. I ate a few, but had to stop eventually because I thought they just tasted too bad. The best comparison I can make is that they tasted the way a very dirty fish tank smells. Of course, Kevin said he thought they tasted fine, and attributed it to my not having truly fresh fish that often. Nothing about that shrimp tasted fresh or even appetizing to me, so my expensive plate of shrimp sat uneaten. When the waiter asked why I hadn’t eaten them, I told him in Spanish that they tasted dirty, for lack of a better, more precise way to describe the flavor in Spanish.


We walked back to the hotel, and still hungry, I stopped in the bocadillo shop next door and got a chicken, cheese, tomato and egg bocadillo, which turned out to be great. I ate it while Kevin showered, then I showered, and we both retired for the evening.


YAY for being back in Spain!!!


The ride back to Spain was *very* rough. Please note the drink cooler in the back that has it's contents going everywhere! Needless to say, Kevin was very glad to see dry land.


CONSTRUCTION PHOTO! Why? Because everyone here at TPR loves contruction photos. Gotta love the obnoxious kid in the foregroud too, who's sole purpose that day was to ruin my construction photo.


Here is just one of the many, many men that followed, pestered, harassed, begged, annoyed and pissed off Kevin during our day.


Thinking of TPR


He looks like quite the sultan in this photo, no? :-)


I've tried to think of a witty caption for these photos for about 5 minutes now, and I've got nothing!


If you could see three related pictures, what would you want to see? A) Kevin in outer space, B) Kevin doing Calculus, or C) Kevin riding a camel? C? Ok then, Kevin riding a camel is it!


One of many, many lemon Fanta's for Kevin during the trip.


Here I am getting ripped off for 5 euros. The design was actually very pretty, and the lady did a good job with it. Too bad regular Kool Aid would stain your skin worse.


A window in the hotel in Tangiers. This is my favorite picture from Morocco.


The rug shop. They're nice, but are they worth going into a little room with two smelly, strange men? Nah, I think I'll pass.


Kevin really enjoyed the mystery meat served with lunch. That is the Canadian couple sitting behind him.


This Coke bottle written in Arabic ended up being just about my favorite souvenir from the trip!


Ok, the soup looks really nasty in the picture, but it was very good! So was that bread behind me.


Restaurant Hammadi, where we had our fyabulous lunch.


Crazy man: "Wanna give me a euro and I'll put the snake around your neck?"

Me: "No thanks, I'd rather buy more Frigo."


This man should get an award for being braver than Kevin or I will ever be!


An elderly beggar we encountered in the medina


Ok, let the "Grime and Hassle" portion of the tour commence.


A funky building in Tangiers


Yep, they even have Elissa friendly food in Morocco!


Me and Kevin in Africa. Yes, Africa. A place I never assumed I'd visit so young. It was also my first non-North American Epcot country credit!


Kevin says "Oh my god, I see AFRICA!!!" as the ferry approaches Morocco.


My french fry, egg and fried rye bead breakfast at Cafe Central. I am quite fond of this photo...I think the lighting is perfect, and I can almost feel the breeze when I look at it.

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Many great photos! It's good that you're having (/had) a good time there .

Spain looks very nice, Morocco looks... quite nice, shame about the annoying beggers everywhere. The food you ate did also look yummy! and Lanjaron is one of the best bottled waters I've had.

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Wow, it looks like you guys had an amazing time. You did/saw so much and there's still more to come! I love going on trips just to parks [so far have only done that in the US/Canada though], but it's nice to see the sites and culture of the countries you're visiting too. These TRs must be taking you such a long time, thanks for posting them. I'm looking forward to more.


Also, that airport art with the shark eating the baby...

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