Page 7 of MaRs BaRs Travel Blog Posts

North America » Canada » Ontario » Toronto November 9th 2015

Today, was an interesting and chaotic travel day as we head back home to Toronto. Early in the morning we took the train from Atocha Station to the Madrid Airport. However, when we reached the airport, we did not realize our flight Terminal was located a fair distance away from the airport train station. We had to take an airport transfer bus that took almost 20 minutes to get to our terminal. It even had to take the highway to get there. We were starting to freak out a bit but we did leave 3 hours early to account for unexpected challenges. We finally arrived at the right terminal where we proceeded to the long queue to check in our luggage. When our luggage was checked in we found out that Renata was randomly chosen to ... read more

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid November 8th 2015

I have to admit that I did very limited research into Cuenca before the start of our trip. I only knew that it was a beautiful little town known for its picturesque Hanging Houses. So when we arrived in Cuenca, I was caught off guard when the train dropped us off literally in the middle of nowhere. I had no idea that the train station was so far away from the city center. We had to take a cab into the city center, costing us around 15 euro. At this point we were running low on funds and only had enough money for the cab ride back to the train station. In the city center we were unable to locate an ATM machines. However, we contemplated about withdrawing more money because we didn’t want to pay ... read more

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid November 7th 2015

Today marked the official end of our Contiki tour to Spain, Morocco and Portugal. We said goodbye to our fellow travelers at breakfast as Renata and I set off for our Segovia and Avila tour with Julia Travel. We arrived at the Julia Travel agency only to discover that the agency had moved to another location in Madrid. Luckily, we found two Julia Travel representatives whom connected us to our bus going to Segovia and Avila. We arrived in Avila first, known for its amazing castle-like walls surrounding the city. We visited the basilica of San Vicente where the interior houses a beautiful altarpiece and tomb. We also visited the convent and museum of Teresa de Jesus. It is here where you can find many relics including the room where St. Teresa slept and the finger ... read more

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid November 6th 2015

The next morning we said goodbye to Lisbon as we headed off to Madrid. We reached our hotel in Madrid in the late afternoon. We had our final sit down optional dinner with the group at a restaurant in the main square. Then it was off to the various clubs around Madrid. We partied on into the night as we said goodbye to a great group of people and new friends.... read more

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Lisbon November 5th 2015

Today the group headed out to the Belem district of Lisbon. Our first stop was the Belem Tower. Rising out of the Tagus River, the Belem Tower is one of the greatest symbols of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Apparently there is a statue of a rhinoceros coming out of the Belem tower, commemorating the Rhinoceros given as a gift to the King of Portugal. The rhinoceros was used for entertainment and when the King got bored with it he tried to ship it to Pope Leo X as a gift. Unfortunately, the ship carrying the rhinoceros sunk off the coast of northern Italy. The rhinoceros and crew died in the wreckage. After the Belem tower, we headed over to the nearby Discoveries Monument. The monument romanticizes the Portuguese exploration movement. On either side of the ramp ... read more
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Europe » Portugal » Lisboa » Almada November 4th 2015

After breakfast we headed out on our bus ride to Lisbon, Portugal. We stopped at a pretty little Portuguese port town on our way to Lisbon, recommended by our bus driver, Mario. After a little walk around the town and a quick lunch it was time to head back on the bus. We reached Lisbon in early afternoon. It was too early for us to check into our hotel, so went to see the Christ the King statue. The Christ the King statue was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. It was erected to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II. You can apparently climb to the top of the statue to get a great view of Lisbon city. However, we decided to stay ... read more
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Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Seville November 3rd 2015

Today, we headed out to explore the great Andalusian city of Seville. Our first stop was the Plaza de Espana. The Plaza de Espana, a semicircular plaza with a large central fountain was built as the central office for the Ibero-American Exposition, a world fair held in Seville in 1929. Designed by the Spanish architect Anibal Gonzalez, the complex is decorated with azulejos, painted ceramic tiles that are popular in Seville. The most interesting artwork is the series of fifty-eight benches that line the façade of the main structure. The benches represent each of the provinces of Spain The plaza is surrounded by a canal and beautiful bridges decorated with ceramic tiles. It was used as an important film location, including scenes from Lawrence of Arabia, and Star Wars Episode II –Attack of the Clones as ... read more
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Europe » Gibraltar November 2nd 2015

We were awoken abruptly that morning by a dog constantly barking on the streets. We later discovered that the dog belonged to the hotel and was warding off Moroccans from entering the coach during the night. Apparently, many Moroccans want to illegally cross the border into Spain. I sadly had my last cup of mint tea before heading onto the bus. A sudden stop by our bus driver, Mario, had us all startled for a moment. I first thought that Mario hit something but actually he had to stop because a kid was holding onto the back of the bus. Wow! Crazy Moroccans! When we reached the ferry, we said our goodbyes to our Morocco tour guide, Mohammed. Then it was off to Spain. The ferry ride was a lot bumpier than the ferry ride from ... read more
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Africa » Morocco » Tangier-Tétouan » Tangier November 1st 2015

We woke early that morning to continue our journey to Tangier. The day was perfect for a bus journey as it was rainy and cold. Unfortunately, one of our group members woke up late and did not make the bus. She had to come by train and meet us later at the hotel in Tangier. We made a quick stopover in Casablanca, where we had an early lunch at McDonalds. It was the only restaurant open at that time on Sunday. Then we stopped at the Hassan 2nd Mosque, where we took some pictures of the Mosque from across the street before boarding back on the bus. Then it was off to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. When we arrived in Rabat we headed to the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech October 31st 2015

After a long drive, the group arrived in Marrakesh in the early evening. Dinner was served at the hotel and afterwards we hung out at hotel bar for a couple of drinks before we called it a night. The next day we headed out with Mohammed, our Moroccan tour leader, to explore the many treasures of Marrakesh. Our first stop was a Berber Pharmacy. The Berbers use traditional remedies including Moroccan herbs and spices to combat various sicknesses and improve health and beauty. We were enticed by the well-spoken Berber saleswoman into buying some well-known Moroccan exports including argon oil, Saffron, and Green tea with fresh mint for our family back home. Then we were off to the Bahai Palace. The Bahai Palace incorporates beautiful eastern architecture and was once intended to house the grand vizier ... read more
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