Friday, July 17, 2009

More sights, less toilets

Or, a somewhat complete repudiation of the proceeding posts with some
mild agreement and perhaps repitition in our memories of the past

So while my blog posts are not as funny as D. 's I'm told that some of
our readers would like to hear a bit more detail about what we saw
with less detail about our bathroom facilities. So I thought I would
try to fill in some holes in our blog. First, a bit of detail about
some of the cities we visited:
Cadiz- Our guidebook tells us this city is the oldest city in the
west. It was also where 75 percent of colonial trade went, so it was
once a very rich city in the 1700s when most of the city was built. It
is also on the coast, so all of this comes together into a beautiful
city-my favorite so far of the trip. It had a lot of old world charm
and was a lot cleaner than the old cities of Italy. We also had the
best tapas of the trip here at "the fat lady who makes you eat" Of
course with a name like that, how could it be bad?

Marabella- This was my 2nd favorite city and we hadn't even planned on
going here. While in Cadiz, Dana and I spent a good deal of our time
at an Internet cafe trying to find someplace to stay in Tarifa- the
port city in Spain where you take the ferry to Morocco. the closest
place we could find a hostel with a vacancy, however, was Marabella an
hour and a half away from Tarifa. This turned out to be a blessing in
disguise, though, as Tarifa
a turned out to not be much to look at unless you were a windsurfer
(at least a dozen shops expressly for that with most of them next to
each other). Marabella is a small coastal city in the mountains with
amazing views, adorable shops, and a mouth watering bakery. Plus, our
hostel owner spoke wonderful English and had a sweet Portuguese water
dog and cute basset hound puppy that kept things lively.

Granada- This is where we saw the Alhambra, so Granada has thousands
of tourists every year. Because of this, the town had a much more
touristy feel and less charm. Plus, it was much dirtier than the
other Spanish cities we visited. On the up side, Dana found us an
amazing hotel for hostel rates here, and the Alhambra had beautiful
gardens I wasn't even aware they had in addition to the impressive
Moorish palace they are known for. The Sierra Nevada mountain range
that Granada sits on top of was also stunning and reminded me of the
Rockies- we even saw snow on some of the peaks. The city also brought
us our worst tapas but was saved foodwise by the amazing 2 €
superburger I happened upon at a kabob place. It also had a great
bakery. D. has developed a particular fondness for a pastry here that
is like a chocolate filled croissant with sprinkles called a
neoplanita, so we are on the lookout for them now (also 1 €).

Malaga- this City didn't leave too much of an impression on me. Okay
tapas. Kind of touristy but not overly so, and cleaner than Granada.
It was most note worthy for its clever use of white fabric suspended
across the entire width of their main shopping street to provide much
needed shade. Andalucia, the southern-most part of Spain where we
have done all of our traveling, is essentially a desert in summer.
Unless you are near the ocean where there are some nice breezes, the
region generally has temperatures in the 9Os and even to 100 degrees
in some of the cities. So any shade can be a welcome relief.

Which brings us to D.'s hellhole- Sevilla.
Sevilla is famous for being the hottest city in Spain and they also
used the same fabric shade technique. However, it wasn't quite enough
to make up for the 100 degree heat. For us girls the city had other
charms. It had a lot of the same pluses that Cadiz had scenery wise
and the best shopping we'd seen yet. Plus, their bakery had this
chocolate roulade dessert that was to die for and refreshing lemon
ices. It was also the first Starbucks sighting I'd had since we left
the U. S. It was 5 € for my usual drink or about $7, so needless to
say, I did not get my toffee nut mocha frappicuno fix. So, hellhole
might have been a bit harsh, but it was very hot and I think D. is
getting a little tired of our shopping excursions.

Madrid- Jenny was going to get a better deal if she flew out of
Madrid, and Andrea told us it was his favorite city in Europe, so we
told Jenny we would take her to the airport and see Madrid. I could
see why Andrea liked it- it had an active nightlife and a bustling
feel. He had said he had liked the atmosphere, but had kept saying
that wasn't quite the English word he was looking for. I think he
meant "energy." It was my least favorite Spanish city. It just felt
like many other big cities like NYC. It was crowded,the traffic was
awful, and the people were rude. Plus, they are a candidate for an
upcoming Olympics, so everywhere you went, something was under
construction. Graffiti seems to just be a fact of life in Europe- D.
suggested there must not be some of the U. S. laws that require
property owners to paint over graffiti. It was especially bad in
Italy, but I had noticed less of it in Spanish cities so far. Madrid
was covered in it, however. There were lots of city workers picking up
trash, so an effort is being made to keep the city clean. It was the
most modern downtown we had seen. It had a couple of old plazas that
the guidebook said were the highlight of the city. Puerta del Sol was
under construction and Plaza Mayor was full of tourists, beggars, and
freak show acts. You know how occasionally in a city you will see a
"silver" man pretending to be a statute? We'll this plaza had him, a
juggler, 2 accordion players, a sub-par flamenco dancer, a trumpet
player, some sort of ghoul all in white, a goat head whose coat was a
cape of metallic streamers, and a table of three severed heads with
the middle one winking at you. It made dining alfresco a bit
unnerving at times. Plus, our waiter skewered himself on part of our
umbrella, causing blood and what I'm sure was cussing (Senora
Rusch-Mills did not cover those words). Jenny offered him a band-aid,
but he assured us it was nothing. He went on to gesture/say that if
his whole hand had been chopped off, then he would accept the
band-aid. Dinner was good, though, with a chopped vegetable salad,
calamari, and ham and cheese croquettes. We also had some of the
city's famous chocolate churros on the way back to the hostel. They
were good, but not near as soft and fresh as a Costco churro. Costco
really knows their churros.
The next day Jenny and I took a tour of the royal palace. It was
amazing. Silk and crystal and stucco and inlaid wood - Oh my! The
chandielers alone were worth the admission price. The two of us might
tarried a bit too long dreaming of place settings and balls because we
got a late start to the airport. Then we got lost, stuck in
construction and traffic, and what the GPS said was a 15 minute drive
took us an hour and 45 minutes. Jenny got to the airport just an hour
before her flight, which not enough time to make her flight. Luckily,
she got on standby a flight 2 hours later. She had a 4 hour layover
at JFK so hopefully she still made her connection to Raleigh.

No comments:

Post a Comment