Spain, UK, and Morocco all in one day!

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
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Trip End Dec 21, 2010


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Friday, November 19, 2010

The combinations are getting crazier!!  So this post is going to cover several trips, a couple of weeks, and lots of pictures in one since I am behind and must catch up before everyone comes to see me this week!  I have less than one month left in Spain, 1 week of which I will officially be spending in Egypt!! and only 4 days after that left in Europe, aka England.  I can't believe how fast time is going... September made it seem like this experience was going to last forever, but as soon as Colombus day/National Day hit (Oct 12) my time has flown by and each time I check the date it seems like another half a month has disappeared in the blink of an eye, because it was suddenly the beginning of November, and now it's November 19??? I can't believe it. 

Two weeks ago I did more touristy things around Sevilla, trying to round out my knowledge before my dad and friends come.  I went to the Triana market, which is mostly just a food market, walked around the Triana area (the gypsy quarter), which is full of ceramic shops, then visited the Iquisition museum, which is below the market in the old castle.  The Inquisition officially started in Seville and they had their headquarters there.  Turns out one of the plazas that I walk though occasionally is where they read the autos de fe (the sentences of the guilty) and just down the road from where I live is where they had the quemaderos, the burnings.  After the mini museum we stopped by the Torre de Oro, which was built during the Arabic rule.  It now has a small maritime museum with scale models of Colombus' ships, since the Guadalquivir and Seville had a monopoly on all trade with the Americas for the longest time.  You can climb to the top of the tower and have a great view of Seville and the Cathedral.  Later we checked out the museums which are in Parque Maria Luisa.  There is a small arqueological museum that has a lot of older pieces of art from the roman times and artifacts from the ancient cultures of the Iberian peninsula.  The other museum is the 'Popular Customs' museum that had random bits and pieces like old looms and black smith benches.  We also stopped by the University of Seville which used to be a Tobacco Factory for a while.  On Saturday Jayme and I decided to try out a popular place called Cien Montaditos (or 100 small sandwiches).  They have 100 different kinds of small sandwiches, many of which have classic Spanish toppings like jamon iberico (iberian ham), salmorejo (a thicker gazpacho), tortilla de patatas (Spanish tortilla which is a potato and egg omlett), and one of my new favorites salmon and cream cheese (but it's also good with brie cheese)

Sunday Jayme and I took a day trip up to Granada.  This is one of the biggest tourist points in Spain, famous for the Alhambra.  The Alhambra was a fortress and palace built during the Moorish rule.  Granada was the last city under their rule before the kingdom finally fell in 1492, which ended the Christian Reconquest. The Alhambra is on the top of a mountain in the Sierra Nevadas (or at least at the top of a really steep hill in the foothills of the mountain range).  The views from towers of the fortress were absolutely stunning!  The Sierra Nevadas were capped with snow and the surrounding trees were all changing colors (my favorite).  It was a perfect day as well, not too cold, which is lucky since it is often much colder in Granada at this time of the year.  We also saw the Nazarid Palaces which is part of the Alhambra.  They were amazing.  I really love Arabic architecture with all of the patterns, geometric design, their artistic written language, and all of the ponds and reflecting pools.  It's something that I have seen so much of in southern Spain (Sevilla, Cadiz, and now Granada) but never get tired of.  There was also a garden part to the Alhambra.  I will let the pictures do most of the talking since I don't know too much of the history and I'm running out of good adjectives to describe the atmosphere and the things I see. 

Happy birthday to my dad for Nov 9th ;)

This past weekend is when I went to three countries in one day :).  I did this trip with a tour group, so there were about 50 people who went, including a large group from UPO.  Our first stop on the trip was Gibraltar, a small territory in the south of Spain that belongs to the United Kingdom. It's basically just a huge rock with monkeys on it :).  Once you cross the border into Gibraltar it feels like you've stepped into a mini Britain.  There are fish and chip shops, pubs, red telephone boxes (mostly for the tourists), english signs, english speakers... the only difference is is that they drive on the right side of the road here to make it more convenient for the Europeans who drive there.  We went to one of the coast lines where we could see Spain and Morocco, and thus the Strait of Gibraltar.  Then we went up the big rock to see the monkeys.  There are wild monkeys and semi wild/semi domesticated monkeys on Gibraltar... we saw the calmer ones.  These creatures are really clever, and if they see a plastic bag they will grab it and run because 9 times out of 10 plastic bags have food and tourists aren't allowed to feed the monkeys.  The tourguides had peanuts that they used to get the monkeys to come over... and jump up onto people!  I was going to get a smaller monkey on me, but there happens to be a heirarchy system among monkeys, so a bigger one got jealous of the peanut and plopped itself on my head to get the reward! Needless to say, it was heavy and I couldn't see a thing because it had its hands all over my face haha. 

After Gibraltar we drove to Algecirs (in Spain) to catch the ferry across the strait.  It's about a 2 hour ride and we landed in Ceuta, one of two small Spanish possessions in northern Africa (the other is Melilla).  By the time we landed it was night, so we went to the border of Morocco and passed through customs.  It was strange because one minute if feels like you are still in Europe with the buildings and the Spanish signs, and the next minute you are in a completely different world where you can't even read because everything is in Arabic.  But I was officially in an Africa country... and therefore have officially been to Africa!  Morocco in Arabic is called Al-magrib, which translates to Where the Sun Sets, or the Land in the West.  Our tour around Morocco started the next day.   First we went to Chefchaouen which is a Moroccan town where all of the walls and doors are painted a light blue.  They say that the light blue color keeps mosquitoes away.  We walked though the streets (with a tour guide) until we came to a traditional weavers shop.  There we saw a many beautiful blankets made from camel hair and some from silk.  While we were there we heard the call to prayer from the mosque tower.  It was surreal to be in a country where just about every tradition is so different from your own.  On our way to Tetuan we passed by many people herding sheep.  Turns out that right now there is an Islamic holiday and on one of the days each family sacrifices a ram.  A few facts abou Morocco:  Morocco used to be controlled by Spain and France until the 1950s.  Now there are two official languages- Arabic and French.  It also has the third largest city in northern Africa- Casablanca, third to Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt.  In Tetuan we had a traditional Moroccan meal of beef kebabs and cous cous.  Then we went to a spice market where we learned about spices as a form of aromatherapy and spices used in cooking.  In the evening we went to Tangiers (in Spanish Tanger).  We took a night tour around the city and walked through the market streets where Bourne Ultimatum was filmed (remember the scene where Bourne jumps though the windows across the street? Thats in Tangiers).  We looked around a arts and crafts market and had a bit of free time before we went to our hotel.  For dinner we ate in a tent and a show was put on.  There were horses, belly dancers, children acrobats, a magician, and Arabic music.  The next day we had a tight schedule since we had to get back to Sevilla.  In the morning we went to some caves, then went to see the official point where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean.  The last thing we got to do, which I had been looking forward to all weekend, was get to ride camels!  They were dromadary camels, so only one hump, but they live in southeren Morocco.  We got a short ride on them, and when the stand up and sit down so you can get off and on its so strange... it feels like you might fall off haha.  After this we had to drive back to Ceuta, cross the border, take the ferry, then drive all the way bak to Seville.  It was a lot of traveling for one day.  Overall I really liked Morocco.  The culture is so different and there was so much to see!  I really only scratched the surface, so I am really excited to go to Egypt and see more of the Islamic/Arabic culture and even see what differences there are between the two countries. 

So lots of stories, and even more pictures... the blogs can only show you so much.  I can't wait to tell you all about it when I get home, so be ready for endless references to random places ;)

Paz y amor,

Alice
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Comments

caroline on

Alice this is a great blog, I am so glad you are getting to experience so many new and different cultures. I can see we are going to have lots of wiwie moments again when you come home. Love you and miss you xxxxxxxxx

Mr. Davidyak on

How wonderful Alice. What an amazing adventure you are having. It is so great that you are out in the world and experiencing the many cultures it has to offer first hand. What a way to open your mind and see things from a different perspective. I love reading about your adventures and the pictures of the monkey are priceless. I am going to share these with my students. I want them to see a real Startown student who has gotten out into the world and explored it's many gifts. Stay Safe.... Mr. D

aliceparish
aliceparish on

@Mr. D- I'm so glad you all are following my blog! It's nice to know that people read them and look at the pics :). I hope this inspires some of you students to get out there and travel while they are in college... this has been such an amazing experience! Hope the family is doing well and say hi to Mrs D for me :)

@Mum- daddy just got a crash course wiwiee moment (when i was in eurpe etc) since i just showed him every single blog post with all of the pics haha

lacynoel
lacynoel on

I can't wait for you to come visit Egypt (even though I am currently in Spain!). We are going to have a blast and I can't wait to show you all of the cool places. Do they really slaughter a ram in Morocco for Eid? In Egypt it's usually a lamb or I think sometimes a goat...

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