Page 9 of MaRs BaRs Travel Blog Posts

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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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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