Wanderlust

 Originally posted February 7, 2017.

It has been two weeks since my last post but Jeff and I have been on vacation. Jeff and I both love to travel and do it every chance we can.  For this trip we decided to visit Southern Spain and Morocco.

We flew into Madrid and on our first day visited the Prado Museum.  I was able to see the work of an artist I was not familiar with prior to this trip, Hieronymus Bosch.  His most notable work is the Garden of Earthly Delights.  I would have loved to take a picture of it for the post, but pictures were not allowed. However, if you are not familiar with it I encourage you to look it up and study it. I plan on doing so.

The next day in Madrid,  we visited the Royal Palace.  This was my first visit to a royal palace but apparently Jeff has been to many!

After Madrid we took a train and a bus to Granada.  I loved Granada!

One of my favorite things that we did was visit the Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel.  It is a beautiful church.  I took tons of photos. We did an audio tour, but it wasn’t really necessary.

After we took a scenic walk along the river to the the Albayzin which is a village known for its moorish architecture.

 

Before leaving Granada, we visited the Alhambra. It is an Islamic palace and fortress originally built by the Moors that was conquered by Ferdinand and Isabella.  I again got some beautiful photos!

After leaving the Alhambra we stopped for some Tapas and then headed for Seville.

First stop in Seville, which I absolutely loved, was the Real Alcázar.  It is another palace that was originally built by the Moors and is still used to this day.  The gardens are very beautiful as well as the details in the architecture.  I spent much of my time here and this whole trip really, taking pictures of different design elements that I hope to use in my art.

The Real Alcázar is right next to the Seville Cathedral so we headed there next.  I did like this cathedral but was not as in love with it as the one in Granada.

This cathedral had many impressive pieces of art in its many chapels, but it was hard to see behind the tall gates.  This cathedral is famous for its polychrome scenes depicting the life of Jesus but again a very tall gate in front of it.  Yes the gate is beautiful, but c’mon!

By far the best thing to see in Seville is the Plaza de Espana.  Jeff and I had seen pictures of this before going to it and our chins still dropped!  After trying some paella for dinner we went back again to see it at night.

The next couple of days during the trip got a bit stressful.  First we had to take a bus to Tarifa to catch the ferry to Morocco.  The taxi driver who took us to the bus station tried to rip us off.  Jeff was not having it and got the police involved.  We did make it to Talifa and took the ferry to Tangier, Morocco.

We only had a day to spend in Tangier and took a taxi to the medina to see the Casbah and the Casbah museum.  Outside the museum a man came up to us wanting to show us around and be our guide.  He wanted money and we didn’t want to give him any.

The museum was closed so we tried to walk around. The man kept following us and making us extremely uncomfortable. We turned around and walked back to the museum and this man finally after 5-10 minutes gave up.  So his friend decides to give it a shot and follows us for about fifteen minutes.  We became extremely annoyed with him and threatened to get the police.  He stopped and went back to where his friends sat watching us.  They started chanting at us, “There are the bad tourists! Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!”

After that we found another tourist covered head-to-toe in North Face apparel and asked for directions back to the main streets. We got a taxi and went back to the hotel.

The next stop was Chechaouen known as the “blue city.”

We got there late in the day and got a delicious dinner. The best dinner of the trip.

The next morning before doing anything we had to get bus tickets to our next destination Fez.

After we got that taken care of we went back to our place for breakfast.  We had our first cups of Morrocan mint tea! We would have had more but another resident who was staying there came over to our table with her own glass, and poured from our teapot! I was quite furious with her but left speechless.  My man rarely has that problem and says to her, “Yes help yourself to our tea!”

In Chechaouen we took a hike to a hilltop that overlooks the city.  Chechaouen has only recently become a huge tourist attraction.  Many of the locals are down with it. One man happens to stand at the foot of the hill charging tourists to take pictures with his ostrich! We took him up on this!

Some of the locals are not so crazy about all the tourists coming in.  One man started ranting out loud, “Take 1 picture not 1,000 pictures.  Shit tourists 2016!”  The wrong year made it extra special.  Jeff and I are discussing getting t-shirts made.

The view from the top was amazing and nothing else mattered.

After that we had to take a terrible 4 hour bus ride to Fez. We hit up some sketchy  rest stops along the way that reminded me of my time living in Nairobi. But we made it to Fez and our hotel hooked us up with a guide.

First we visited the Jewish quarter and its two remaining synagogues.

We also visited a madrasa which were at one point educations centers for students to study Islam and the Koran.  Many of them are no longer being used for this and are open to the public, even non muslims like us! We went to three madrasas during the trip but this one was my favorite.

The next day we travelled from Fez to Rabat and stopped at the archaeological site of Volubilis built by the Romans.  Those Romans went everywhere!

Rabat is the capital of Morocco and my least favorite place we visited on this trip after Tangier.

Our accommodations at the riad we stayed at featured some red mattresses, which stressed out my bed bug fearing boyfriend quite a bit. In addition to that it was difficult to get around especially after the owner of the riad refused to get us a guide.

If you do go there, go to Chellah.  It is another Roman ruin site but the best part are the birds there.  A ton of large noisy birds have made this site there home building huge nests on top of the ruins. It had an Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds feel to it.

The next day we took a long train ride to our last destination Marrakesh.  We bought first class tickets but it didn’t really feel like first class.  We shared an old school looking cabin with four other passengers.  It was pretty cramped.  The toilets were a disaster.  If you looked in the toilet you saw the train tracks underneath you!

Sitting on this toilet I could not do.  Jeff also added he would never touch me again if I did.  I couldn’t hold it any longer so I assumed a squat position.  Peeing took much longer than anticipated of course, and my legs grew quite tired. I ended up having to take a break in between to give them a rest.

We eventually made it to Marrakesh and were quite happy there.  We were able to get around easily without a guide and without being harassed. Plus we found delicious food close to  our riad.  We saw the Great mosque as well as another madrasa and synagogue, but the highlight was their botanical gardens.

The botanical gardens were started by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and included a gallery of collages he did, which I of course loved.

We went back to the riad after the gardens and I went up on the roof to draw.  I did an illustration of Jeff and I at the gardens. I then got an idea to start a comic book series of our adventures together! Another project in the works!

Our trip had some unexpected rough patches, mostly during our time in Morocco but we had a great time and saw really beautiful art and architecture.

Thanks for reading and have a happy Tuesday!