Bruce Willis ‘Die Hard’

Well Spain was excellent and we walked many streets and explored every plaza we encountered, and let’s not forget all the cathedrals, and gardens.  When Travis and I travel, one of us will plan a loose itinerary and the other will map read and “navigate”.  We had planned to visit a couple of gardens, and while I would start to direct us, “ok we will leave here and go left until we come to Calle”, Travis, “yippie Kaye mother …….”.   Without fail every time I would give a street name and they all are called ‘calle’ because we are in Spain, and the word for street is Calle, Travis pies in and interrupts my directions with the Bruce Willis line above.  It never got old.

 

Well we sure hit the cities with all out Dora the Explorer attitude.  The streets are very old and cobblestones or moorish stone patterns, which although beautiful, not so easy on the feet.  We made a point of exploring neighborhoods rather than touristy areas much of the time.  In doing so we would find interesting ‘Paseos’, or walking paths where parks and cafés would not be busy.  

 

We did enjoy finding the small markets near our flats, where we would buy cream for coffee, veggies with our rice, beer, and chat a little Spanish with the owners.  They got to know us and that seemed to make it even more enjoyable being in their neighborhood.

we did have a great time in Granada, Madrid, Nerja, Torremolinos, and Seville.  Becky joined us in Seville and took the role of navigator and was spectacular at finding fun.  We toured the museum of the Inquisition, way old building and not so fun a history for the “church” or the non Catholics…..  We all had the same ideas of what to do and explore so we got along great together.  We took the fast train to Cordoba for the day, and great there, becky toured the cathedral, Travis and I soaked in warm Hamamm bath, the we walked the “patio tour”. That was great, and we stumbled onto the royal horse arena and stables.

Well we were able to get back to Sevilla and enjoy PlaZa Hercules, the Macarena with her diamond tears, the Bodega Carbonaria Flamenco bar, and pre Carnaval festivities in a local neighborhood .

 

 

imageimageimageimage

Fez, Morocco the land of me getting lost a lot and honey.

 

 

We we flew into Fez, and it was green and lush, trees were in bloom and fields were full of crops, I leaned over to Kim and said ” I was expecting sand dunes and camels”, sorry to all the people that live in Moroc, I did not do my research.  My cousin Jan is probably weeping right now, along with her husband, Jaser.  So, for you all who have never been here or at least watch PBS, Morocco, has all kinds of surprises.  And yes later in our trip we do get to a bunch of sand and even camels.  

But, lets stick to Fez, since that was our first stop.  We arrived and as we cleared customs, I was on high alert.  Never had I seen so many sights that I have never seen before, and every one was talking to each other as if they were mad.  Later, as my ear started to pick up on the sound of the Arabic dialect I realized it is a very vocal language.  

So, we meet our host inside the walls of the medina.  And by the way, this city is old.  So the streets are really only big enough for donkeys to carry what ever needs to be carried.  And they will bump into if you do not see them coming.  Our host, Khalid was sent to meet us by the owner of the AirBnB that we rented.  Khalid spoke Morocco French, which was a little bit off base from Kim’s High School French.  But we made it work.  That is sort of the fun of the travel, even though we seem to order things that we did not even realize that we wanted.  The order thing is a whole different travel topic, that one day I will cover.  As Khalid led us to what I could only assume was our death, but turned out to be our lodging.  I was so confused on where I was located, I only thought of the advice that my cousin Jan had given me, HIRE A GUIDE, well as much as it pains me to say, Jan you were right.  I will not try to explain or describe how the streets work in a medina, all I will say is one wrong left and your looking down an alley with camel heads hanging on the hook, or you take right and all you see are olives piled up five feet high and women yelling at the dude selling them.

So, we hired a guide, Rachid.  His language skills went way past mine, and he doesn’t get lost!  We got to explore Fez, I did buy the magic flying carpet that has been on my list of life time wants, and I was able to see a part of the world, that must be experienced, because no way could I described it to you.

Our host Khalid wife, Fouzia fixed three meals for us that were great.  And we got to have the famous mint tea, which was really tasty.  I am glad we started out in Fez, the city was overwhelming for me, but I think it was probably better that way.  

Next stop is boarding the Marrakech Express, no kidding, we really did.

imageimage

Seville, Tapas, Carnival, and a beer drinking dog.

Well Kim and I made it to Seville.  What a neat city.  We stayed in an apartment off of Calle Amor de Dios.  Which means in Spanish, let’s go get some Tapas and CruzCampos!  We could of no way have been any better located.  So the first day there our friend Becky stopped by to visit for a week.  I had no idea she was showing up.  Either did Kim, you know how some neighbors are, always getting involved with everyone’s business.

Image

As you can see, she is quite pushy.  Anyway, we did have a good time together, and we three traveled well as a triad.

The daily plan was to wander a different barrio, with a few sites picked out.  And if anyone saw anything that they wanted to try, shout it out!  After three taverna shout outs, I was vetoed on further stops.  Only historic important places, I was told. Historic walks only, like the one trip that Ms Rebecca led us through, a gypsy camp on the way to some old Spanish stuff. I was almost killed. Luckily, I was able to duck in a taverna, and ditch the bandits.

On the beginning of Carnival, we struck out to see some famous church. By the way in Spain, there is a church on every other corner, and the other corner has a taverna. That is why the country is known as the 50/50 nation. You will have a fifty percent chance of getting to where you need to go at every corner. True fact! As I was saying, we went to this church, I didn’t go in for fear of bursting into flames, but the girls said it was great. Then we walked some more and ended up in this street party. It was great, they had this band all dressed up in funny cloths and they sang and must of cracked jokes, because everyone would start laughing. Except me, I could not keep up with their Spanish. Luckily, they had beer, and nothing, but nothing increases my ability to speak in another language like free flowing beer.

Another night the girls wanted to go see a Flamingo bar. I was thinking who has a bar with a bunch of big pink birds in it. I was sure it was a gay dance club, but it was a bar and I am always in to stop in to the old local drinking establishment. And as my friends all know, I am a great dancer, so I was all in. Guess what, no big pink birds, guys wearing frilly shirts and girls wearing tight crazy dresses. I could not dance as good as them though. I was not even allowed on the table to try. I am sure the girls took us to the wrong bar, it was the gypsy camp all over again.

Spain was great, if they would only talk in closed caption I would been sure they all were not talking about me. Africa is on the horizon. Until then adios…

Travel days

Well we have been traveling with ease most of our time here in Espana.  I say most of our, time because once we are to our destinacion, we do the fun things, like walking down streets we don’t know, ordering food in a different language, sitting in sunbeams at an outdoor cafe, and relax a bit.  The times we are not so relaxed, (to put it mildly), are the travel days , like going from Madrid to bus estacion, earlier than we are used to, to catch our autobus to get to Granada.  Or leaving Granada by city bus to get to the ALSA bus to Nerja the coastal resort town.  Or schlepping a 20# backpack! up the hill to bus stop to buy the ticket for the next town,  and then hanging out waiting for bus.  Now add waiting in line at the train stacion to buy tickets for next journey to Sevilla, two lines but only one available due to one customer buying multiple tickets for an entire year, taking up all the time literally an hour he was there, while the line grew in size and emotional instability.   I know poor us , you’re thinking, well we try to stay even keeled with each other but inevitably we find ways to blame each other for things like, “there was no toilet paper in the bus estacion bathroom, and I had to use a page out of my journal!” Angry look #532.  “

faImage

Or the favorite, “I thought you heard what they said, or I would have asked to clarify or speak more slowly” angry look # 613.

so when we finally get somewhere we are truly aware of how to relax, because we have been uneasy for the past 1/2 day and ready for dropping our guards and barbs and take in the surrounding fun to be had.  The best things are walking around exploring and hearing the lovely Spanish language, and seeing buildings older than my country of origin.

Image

 

Costa del Sol

 Image

So we got to the Mediterranean Sea after a few hour bus ride.  On the walk to the hostel, I got lost.  No big surprise, it seems to be happening a lot lately.  Kim, I think is starting to just plan on us getting upside down at least one daily.  The weather as you can see has changed, and we are getting plenty of sunshine.

My friend, Bob and his wife Kari, flew down from Stockholm and spent three days with us.  The photo is of us at the AirBnB that we rented.  Enjoying a meal that Kari cooked, and as Bob pointed out every ten minutes, he cut up the vegetables.

 

Image

So the coast was fun, and seeing my old Army buddy was awesome.  Meeting Kari, clinched a visit for us to Sweden, one day soon.  Well we are off to the city of Seville, to eat at all the restaurants that our friends, Daniel and Lindsey recommended from the days when they lived here.  And meet up with our friend and neighbor Becky, from Portland.

 

 

Granada Snow, Malaga Sun

Image

We have been busy travelers. We left Madrid, with an arm full of vaccines, smiles and a lot of confusion. By confusion, I mean what did he say? Our Spanish skills are not what they speak in Spain. Or as I was talking with Ignaso, my bartender in my taverna, “what Spanish is it that you speak?” My reply, ” I learned my tongue in Mexico,” his reply, “that is not Spanish!” Well, I am not saying it is, but I am defiantly not saying it is at this point. So, I am going to have to give our good old community college a few euros when I return home and sign up for night school. Mostly because I do not want to ever get a big plate of I have no idea what this is, when I clearly ordered a beer and olives!
Chetco Brewing in Granada Spain

So, we had a great time in Granada, seeing the sights and Kim even was called a woodpecker by this group of women. Great story, just ask her about it some time. The best was going to a Arabic Bath. I got to soak in this cavern like place in hot mineral water, then get scrubbed down with salt, then messages with oil. Followed up with a steam, then out the door to my taverna, for beer and tapas.
Alambra

The photo was the view from our roof top. We had booked through AirBnB and you should check them out if you are traveling. So far for us, they have been working out really well.

Ok, it is time for my nap, I will give you more from the Mediterranean when I write again.

Spain update

Tomorrow we leave Granada. What, the last time you heard from us was Madrid. I know, but the truth is, we are having to much fun ruining a perfectly good language like Spanish. If it wasn’t for Kim hanging in there and doing a great job, I would of got an hernia operation in Madrid Medical Clinic. We were getting our vaccines for Senegal, and the next thing I know, is I am being prepped for surgery. Kim my hero, enclosed photo is her calling for lodging to our next town. Speaking French, because the person on the other end of the call Spanish was so heavy that, French was easier?

Kim will tell you more when she writes, the bottom line is we are having a blast, and are healthy. Heading to the south coast in the a.m., by bus. To keep cost down I have volunteered to ride on the roof, but I was informed, that I was on the wrong continent? Oh yeah today we went to an Arab bath house and soaked, got salt scrub and a message with lavender oil. This was of course after I had my Campo Cervas with Tapas. After all I am trying to keep this trip civilized.