Page 8 of MaRs BaRs Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes October 29th 2015

Today started off with our guide, Momo, taking us to Dar el-Makhzen, the Royal Palace of Fez. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed inside the palace but we did get to admire the colourful outer brass doors and blue décor. The next stop was the Jewish cemetery. The Jewish cemetery is a reminder of the once thriving Jewish community in Fez. It was interesting to see the difference between this cemetery and the ones we have back home. The Jewish cemetery unlike anything I have ever seen was all in white with round tombstones and Jewish inscriptions on the graves. After paying our respects, we headed off to the old medina of Fez. The medina of Fez is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and is believed to be one of the world’s largest car-free urban ... read more
Fez, Royal Palace 5
Fez, Jewish Cemetary 1
Fez, Jewish Cemetary 3

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes October 28th 2015

We were joined by the rest of the Contiki group as we left Granada early that morning to catch the ferry from Tarifa, Spain to Tangier, Morocco. Unfortunately, the bumpy and turbulent ferry ride made me queasy and I was happy when we finally reached land. For the return journey back into Spain, I will be definitely be more prepared with Gravel, given courtesy of Erin. Thanks Erin! In Tangier, the first thing we noticed when we got off the ferry were the several stray cats. We all got to hang out with the local cats at the ferry cafeteria while we waited for the bus which was inconveniently put on a later ferry. When the bus finally arrived, we met our local guide for Morocco, Mohammed. The first thing he said was this is Africa! ... read more

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Granada October 27th 2015

After breakfast, we headed out for our morning tour of the Albaicin and the La Cartuja Monastery with an official guide from Granada. The Albaicin, is the old Moorish quarter of Granada. We visited the church of San Nicolas, where we got a great view of the Alhambra from the top of the hill. Then we headed off to La Cartuja monastery. The monastery once housed Carthusian monks. It is one of the most decorated monasteries in Spain. There was an entire room full of paintings painted by one of the monks that stayed at the monastery. After the tour, we had a little free time before we headed off to the Alhambra. We had a quick bite to eat at a nearby shawarma place near the hotel. We also had time to go to a ... read more
Granada, Albaicin 4
Granada, Albaicin 7
Granada, Alhambra 2

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Granada October 26th 2015

After breakfast, we started our bus journey from Madrid to Granada. A surprise stopover in Toledo, allowed us to once again visit the picturesque city. In Toledo, we headed to the Mercado de San Agustin food market, recommended by our tour leader, Nihar, for a quick brunch before the continued journey to Granada. In Granada, we settled into our room at the Hotel Los Angeles, a charming colourful hotel found near the city center. It was probably one of the better hotels we stayed at during our trip. Then we headed out to the city center for dinner where we devoured a delicious paella at a local restaurant. As we left the restaurant, we got lost trying to find our way back to the hotel. Luckily, we had help from Erin’s phone GPS. We finally reached ... read more
Toledo 3
Toledo 4
Granada Dinner

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid October 25th 2015

Today was our first official day on our Contiki Spain, Morocco and Portugal Trip. Our trip leader, Nihar, gave us a quick orientation tour of the central tourist area of Madrid including the Royal Palace and the Plaza Mayor. Then, we separated into groups to discover Madrid on our own. The first place we decided to visit was the Royal Palace. We joined fellow Contiki travelers Erin, Caitlin, Tezlyn, and Edwin. On the way to the Royal Palace from Plaza Mayor we discovered a random sheep parade on the main street. With a bit of research, I discovered that the parade is a protest from neighboring shepherds in defense of ancient grazing, migration and droving rights that are being threatened by urbanization and modern agricultural practices. It was very interesting seeing rural culture on the streets ... read more
Madrid 2
Madrid 3
Madrid 4

Europe » Spain » Castile-La Mancha » Toledo October 24th 2015

The morning started off with us exploring the nearby Mosque of Cristo de la Luz. The mosque built during the 10thcentury, was turned into a Christian church after the taking of Toledo by Alphonse VI in 1085. The small mosque consists of pillars and horseshoe arches emblematic of Islamic architecture. Outside the mosque is a small peaceful garden with a fountain to sit down and relax. After visiting the mosque, we had a quick breakfast of croissants and churrios con chocolate before heading over to the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes. The Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes was founded by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to commemorate their triumph over Portugal at Toro in 1476. The cloister has a small, tranquil garden. It was used from the beginning by Franciscan friars and ... read more
Day 2 Toledo 3
Day 2 Toledo 4
Day 2 Toledo 6

Europe » Spain » Castile-La Mancha » Toledo October 23rd 2015

With its cobblestone streets and medieval walls it is no wonder that the entire city of Toledo is declared a UNESCO world heritage site. For centuries, Christians, Muslims and Jews flourished in this city of three cultures and built an incredible display of churches, monasteries, mosques and fortresses. In addition, Toledo is known for its traditional crafts, including damascene metalwork antique swords and handmade marzipan (sweet almond pastries). With so much to see in Toledo, it feels ironic that our first stop was the bus station. We were thinking about taking day trip to Consuegra, Spain, to see the windmills and the Saffron festival. However, realizing that we would not have much time in Consuegra, we decided to skip the trip. Instead, we headed to Zocodover, the main square. With nothing planned, we decided to take ... read more
Day 1 Toledo 3
Day 1 Toledo 5
Day 1 Toledo 7

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Córdoba » A Mezquita October 22nd 2015

We arrived in Cordoba around 12:00 pm after a two hour train ride from Ronda. Cordoba, founded by the Romans, was a port city used to ship olive oil, wine and wheat back to Rome. The Romans built the Roman Bridge but Cordoba’s greatest glory was when it became the capital of the Moorish kingdom of El-Andalus. This was when work began on the Great Mosque or Mezquita. The Mezquita is known for the numerous alternating red and white horseshoe arches inside. When the city was reconquered by the Christians, the new rulers of the city were so awed by its beauty that they left the Mezquita standing, building their cathedral in the midst of its rows of arches and columns and creating the extraordinary church-mosque we see today. After visiting the Mezquita, we walking along ... read more

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Ronda October 21st 2015

Today we journey from Barcelona in the north to Ronda in the south. We woke up early in the morning around 4:00am to catch the N17 bus from Barcelona city centre to the airport. Then after our Vueling flight from Barcelona to Malaga, and a bus ride from Malaga to Ronda, we finally reach Ronda at around 12:00pm. After settling into our hotel, Hotel Arunda II, we had lunch which included some delicious Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup. Then it was off to see the Ronda bullring! The Ronda bullring or the Plaza de Toros, is one of the oldest and most revered bullrings in Spain. Although I don’t condone bullfighting, it was interesting to learn about the history of bullfighting and explore a typical bullring. After the bullring, we wandered the many streets and alleyways ... read more
Ronda 2
Ronda 10

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Girona » Girona October 20th 2015

Today we are off to Girona Spain. Girona, a city found in the northeastern part of Catalonia, Spain is known for its old town medieval architecture and Jewish ghetto. It was also used as a set location for the television show, Game of Thrones, season 6. When we first arrived in Girona, we were told to try the pastry xuixo, at a nearby pastry shop near the bus station. Xuixo, is viennoiserie pastry produced in Girona, Spain. It is a cylindrical pastry filled with crema catalana that is deep fried and covered with crystallized sugar. According to a legend, there was a young acrobat that fell in love with a pastry chef’s daughter. One day, while sneaking into the pastry shop to visit his beloved, the pastry chef appeared and he had to hide in a ... read more

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