SPAIN, PORTUGAL AND MOROCCO
Day 1: 29 August: Barcelona
i didnt really get to see any of Barca this day as i arrived in Spain at 2am, and made it to my hostel (the one the top deck people use) at roughly around 3am. my cab driver was very nice though :)...wouldnt really rate the hostel (Urbany Hostel, Barcelona) that much but...the only thing it had going for itself is that every bed had a powerpoint. simple pleasures people hahaha! XD...the things you take for granted when at home: powerpoints hahaha! XD...so, it was nice to not have to scramble and bargain for the use of the outlet to charge my phone, camera, laptop, etc :)
Day 2: 30 August: Barcelona to Valencia
i was up pretty early because i didnt know what time we were supposed to be meeting as i missed the first day of the tour due to the Reading Music Festival...so...i was seriously, 'le tired'...the previous month to this was pretty full on in terms of replacing food with alcohol, and having less than 4 hours sleep a night, but...i will survive (i will survive!...whoooah, as long as i know how to love, i knnow i'll stay aliiive!...) ahhem, ahhem...sorry about that, dont mind me going off on a singing tangent! ;) ...
I met (properly) for the first time (she talked to me in her sleep when i first arrived, but, doesnt remember a word of it! heehee! ^.^) Ruth (a roomie) and the amaaaaaaazing Mel-anarchy (another roomie), and the cute as a button Bek (roomie #3) :). they filled me in on what i missed (thank goodness!!! :D) went down for breakfast (which was amongst the most terrible hostel breakfasts ive had on this trip! hahaha!...how can you fuck up Nutella???!!! honestly! XD heehee!) met a whole crapload of other people who were on tour at breaky...i remember thinking...Daaang! its a huge group!...and only a handful of boys lol!...they had the ratio right! haha!
anywhoo, had a free morning, so, a bunch of us tottled off to Parc Guell...for those who dont know, this park was created by Gaudi. it was pretty cool actually! Mosaic benches, funny eccentric looking wee buildings...it was a bit like a children's themepark or faerietale playground really! it was mad! :)
soon enough, it was time to head back and to hit the road running...first stop: Freixenet Caves...
my mum and dad, and so i (and anyone else who's ever been over for a new years party! haha! :D)) discovered Freixenet the Black Bottle champaigne years and years ago...its awesum because it doesnt give you a hangover - even if you drink several bottles!!! :)... it was a really quaint little facility...where they had cars made in the shape of a cork, and the black bottle etc just out the front! not like your usual "we want you to spend your money here and thats the only real reason why youre here...because the tour organisation gets a cut of the revenue raised if you buy something, so, buy, buy, buy!" like it is with Contiki...it was actually really fun! :)...they had a little train!!! :D it was like The Polar Express!!! :D...im so juvenile XD heehee! XD...
the rest of the day, was a driving day...our final destination being Valencia. saw some pretty coastline on the way :)...
Day 3: 31 August: Valencia
alrightyyy!!! today, we were going to La Tomatina - the tomato pegging festival! i drew little tomatoes on my eyes in honour of the occasion! heehee! ^.^ ...not that you could see them at the end of the day...FUKATYLIT! i got soooo dirty!!! hahaha! XD i wore my wellies from The Reading Fest and my PJ's (hahaha! XD...well...i didnt bring much clothes with me, so... ummm...dont judge me hahaha! XD) and was squelching around until we got back to the bus, where, i took the boots off (with MUCH effort!!!)...no, seriously, i had to peel them off, with the help of some of my new top deck fweeeeends! XD...and the juice that poured out of them...OH my GOD!... G. R. O. S. S!!! i managed to get away relatively unscathed injury-wise, but...the tour leader (Rich) got tomatina-ed in dah eye!!! XD...ouch! =P...couldnt get over the smell hey - poooohey! stinky stinky... needless to say, i couldnt stomach even LOOKING at a tomato for a few days! hahaha! XD
i meant to meet up with the crazy munchin that is Lizzie Melville for La Tomatina, but...who would have thought that one could get so lost?! lol!... ditzy Sine moment number 1000! XD
Day 4: 1 September: Valencia to Granada
"on the road, again!..." pretty much, a driving day today... listened to peoples 'life lists' (cool idea actually!...everyone has to make a playlist, one song for each of the following categories: pump up song, childhood song, love song, a defining/ about me song, end credits/ funeral song, and a stripper song)...
Day 5: 2 September: Granada
Granada was great! :) went to see the Alhambra, which, according to our guide, was once a fortress with palaces, gardens and a tiny city all at once...and Mel-anarchy andi went shopping!!! Mel found a jacket, which will forever be known as my "WOW!" jacket...eeer, trust me...when you see it, you will think the same! hahha!...and also, a pair of black boots that, i seriously have lived in since their purchasing! :D...this wonderful lady knew me for a whopping 4 days, and she knew my style and 'got me' straight off!!!...how amazement! :) feel like ive known Mel for years and years and years! :)
Day 6: 3 September: Granada to Tangier, Morocco
we drove to the pier so we could catch the ferry to Morocco on this day. i was quite possibly the most excited for Morocco out of this whole trip!... i've wanted to go to Morocco since i was a little girl, and i was just hoping it would be all and more that i hoped it would be like - and a complete culture shock...which, indeed it was! :)
the ferry trip only took an hour and a half...and the whole time, we were waiting in line to get our passports stamped!...it went pretty fast really...but...that could have been because i was THAT excited :)
really, all i did was have a wander around in Tangier. it was a nice place, but...eh...not so much out of this world.
Day 7: 4 September: Tangier to Fes
today, we traveled to Fes. the countryside from Tangier to Fes is soooo different from 5 minutes to the next 5 minutes!...very unique :)...i enjoyed the run. by this stage i had contracted the dredded lurgy/ black lung/ plague (ie: asthma)...heh...e.v.e.r.y. time i do a tour longer than a week, i seem to get it. it always starts off with a cold or a chesty cough...which is caught from wherever you catch it from...and in not so long, its asthma. absolutely gives me the irrates! so, i was kind of thankful for a chill day today, so i could catch some 40 winks since i dont seem to sleep at night time =P...
Day 8: 5 September: Fes
started the day off with a tour from a local guide...who was such a cutie pa-tootie!!! :) just wanted to give him a big cuddle! XD then, it was shopping in the medina :D...so many colours and smells and wonderfulness!!! i had a little bit of sensory overload, but, in a good way! :D there was donkeys and camels and tiny little narrow streets, and fruit to die for, and gorgeous little children - some of them wanting to sell us stuff, but, others just being friendly :) we went to a leather making joint...oh GOD!...now THAT was a smell, that...if i never smell that again, it will be too soon!!! faaaaark!!! ...to say it smelled like shit is a TOTAL underestimation, although...that IS what we were smelling!!! XD at least we had mint leaves to sniff to save us from passing out hahaha! XD
bit by bit, people drifted off on their own, i decided to hang with the guide though, because he was interesting to talk to. i like to pick the brains for an hour or two, of someone who lives where im visiting to see how life really is like :) at the end of the night, when we were really all a bit shopping-ed out, and were about to head back, the guide took us (there was maybe 6 of us?) to his actual house, where himself, his wife and family, his parents, and his sister and her family all lived. quite frankly, i think this was the best experience of ALL my travels. full stop. what i came away feeling was, that, although the people of Morocco have such a hard life, its also a very simple life, and they all seem so happy and hospitable, and super friendly, and completely beautiful :) makes me wonder if maybe they have the right way - or a better way of doing things, or at least looking at things; for at least most of the time. if im honest with myself, i dont think i could live in that almost completely sexist kind of an environment, but...i certainly did find it interesting and intriguing and would love to know more.
Day 9: 6 September: Fes (day trip to Meknes and Volubilis)
went to Volubilis where they have some Roman ruins there. i, however, do not deal with the heat very well...like...at all!!!...and this place was soooooo so hot...that i guess i fainted, passed out, whatever haha! XD...i dunno...one minute, i was standing up, talking to people, feeling a little bit faint, but, you know...nothing to worry about...then...SMACK!...when i opened my eyes and came to, i was on the floor! XD...well, jeez! how did i get here??!! hahhaha! XD...so, needless to say, i went and sat in the shade and had a cold coke...Gareth THE most AWESUM BUS DRIVER IN THE UNIVERSE! and the wonderful Mel-anarchy were nice enough to come and stay and keep me company :)...i love you guaaaays! :-*
hopped into the bus again, and went off to Meknes...which was once Morocco's capital city. really pretty cityscape :)
then, back to Fes...as we went out to this Moroccan restaurant that had bellydancers...though... they were kind of crappy belly dancers =P... seen better in Auburn, Sydney O_o...food was pretty yum though! :) i might also mention, that...our accomodation in Fes was THE BEST!!!... we had a swimming pool, and...even a harem room!!! :D after dinner, a bunch of us girls got our hands or feet painted with henna :D...i have retarded dancers feet, so, i opted for the 2 hands :D...its so hard to sit still for 2 hours!...i came out, and went to go out to the pool area where there was some more people, and i forgot, and swiped my hand on my skirt and messed up a part of it, but, in the end, you couldnt really see where i'd wrecked it :)
Day 10: 7 September: Fes to Seville, Spain
said cheerio to Africa and came back into Spain, via the Strait of Gibraltar :) while we were driving, some cheeky Moroccan kids were hitchin themselves on to the back of the bus to hitch a ride with us. i think the kids thought it was a game, but...it was actually pretty dangerous as in...they coulda killed themselves kind of dangerous! Rich told us that they do that and go underneath the bus, to try and get onto the boat OUT of Morocco by hiding there. that the people here would put their lives in so much danger just to pass the border/ water and get out of Morocco, just made me really really sad =P. anywhoo...
pretty much a driving day today. even from the bus, i knew i was going to love Seville :). it just has a really lovely atmosphere and vibe that i really liked :)
Day 11: 8 September: Seville
Rich was supposed to give us a tour of Seville, but, i think he was still feeling pretty off colour from catching some sickness whilst in Morocco, poor thing =P... so a bunch of us set off to find the Plaza de Espan, the Cathedral of Seville, the Real Alcazar, and Barrio de Santa Cruz (best known as the old Jewish quarter). after that, i just wandered around for a bit taking it in, before oing back to the hostel...i was feeling like mould, and a little bit cranky because of it hahaha! XD
Day 12: 9 September: Seville to Lisbon, Portugal
Driving today to Portugal :) went to see Jeronimo's Monastery, and also the Belem Tower...which was pretty cool! :)...and then, i got an ice-cream (coz im an addict for them haha! XD), whilst some of the others got some lunch :)
later in the evening, we went to Barrio Alto, which is where all the cool people o at night *nods* ;D
Day 13: 10 September: Lisbon
i didnt really get up to much today...i felt the worst i had on this tour in Lisbon. i would love to come back and see the place more, when im feeling well and healthy :)
Day 14: 11 September: Lisbon to Porto
On our way to Porto, we stopped at Sintra...where...people have been reported saying that its the most beautiful city in Europe. i dont know if i would really go that far, but...i guess it was fairly pretty.
went to see Benfica VS Vittoria Football (soccer for the ozzies) game, and got to experience the passion of the Portugese people. what can i say, it rocked my world! :)
Day 15: 12 September: Porto
did a tour of Porto with Rich today, and had a wander around. i started to feel slightly better today, so, later in the evening, i went out for a bit...Porto is awesum!!!...people were just dancing in the streets for no real reason at all!!!...i wanna go back one day - like i said - when im healthy. it sucks that i was sick in Portugal, because, i was really looking forward to it, and, then, in the end...i just didnt have the energy =P...they had this great clock in the middle of the street that had little people come out and do a little dance when it hit the hour...that was pretty cool :) the markets along the water were wonderful too!...they had a stall where a lady was selling a bag which had a shoe on it!!!...and other quirky little things :)
Day 16: 13 September: Porto to Madrid
we stopped in at Salamanca which was on our way to Madrid, and...actually, i kinda liked it :) had a nice quirky, artzy feel to it :)...visited the famous library there, and had a walk around the square. again, bought an ice-cream...yummy! :) then, drive, drive, drive onwards and forwards to Madrid :)
Day 17: 14 September: Madrid
all i can say, is, that Madrid really intrigues me, and i quite love it! :D...there is no way in hell you could ever be bored in this city!...i know everyone goes on and on about Barcelona, but, personally, i would take Madrid over Barca. the stereotypical image i had in my head of Spain...of men sitting at tables playing chess or cards with each other drinking coffee...is what i found here... but, that was only one side of Madrid. i think i could grow to love Madrid as much as i love Paris and Berlin...i am going to go back and spend more time there, because, 1.5 days in Madrid really isnt enough. they have an alternative area, which, i never made it to, but, i VOW to go to when im in town again :)
did a free walking tour which was very interesting, and visited a bullring, where i got to use the only spanish i can really remember: Guidado! El toro! (look out, there's a bull!) haha! XD. next time i come (because im gonna stay for a while), i might venture to the Reina Sofia to see Guernica, and i want to see the football stadium next time too. Real Madrid is my team :)
Day 18: 15 September: Madrid to San Sebastian
stopped in at Segovia, which had this AMAZING looking aqueduct!!!...pretty much, just wandered around, and then stopped for something for lunch, then, it was time to head back and hit the road again...
for dinner tonight, we went to a 'Gastronomical Society' place thingy...pretty nice food!!! =]...
Day 19: 16 September: San Sebastian
San Sebastian is known for its surf, and for its awesum food/ tapas. unfortunately for us, it was really crappy weather, so...*i* didnt actually get into the water! hahaha! however, i did end up going to 2 different beaches...feeling optimistic i suppose hahaha! XD...and i tried these baguette things...oh mah god...*drool* ...and... had chocolate pancakes...*double drool*...the pancakes were simply divine!!! ... later that evening, a few of us decided to go to the san sebastian movie festival that was on that night. we ended up watching some movie that was reaally reaaaally depressing hahaha! XD...so...we went to McDonalds...and i got a happy meal...and it made me happy...because...they gave me a cute little fake passport thing...i still have it hahaha! XD...actually, when i was on my way back to Australia, the spanish border patrol people asked me for my passport, and, for a joke, i produced this happy meal passport with a big smile on my face...and the uy just looked at me blankly till he saw what it was, and doubled over laughing hahaha! XD...i then ave him my actual passport :D...after this, when we were on our way back, we noticed there was a live band playing...w were too late to hear the band play, but, we danced to the last few songs that were being played :)...it was a fun night :)
Day 20: 17 September: San Sebastian to Barcelona
stopped at Zaragosa, had a look around... then, onwards back to Barcelona. it was on this night that we (4 or 5 girls) got distracted by a very handsome pirate looking guy called Jack...who we then sold our soul to for a night out. he told us the last place on the crawl was an indi club...im afraid his idea of indi and mine are quite different really, but, all the same, it ended up being a pretty fun night out :)...and we got to fit in a nice perv and a cuddle from the one named Jack :)
i couldnt believe how fast it all went. it was so much fun, with such wonderful people on the tour...some who i think will end up being life-long friends :) had a ball :)
Day 21: 18 September: Barcelona
last day on tour, and it all ended after breakfast...with some people already saying adios at ridiculous o'clock in the morning. pretty much, i was tired and stuff as we got in late, so, had breakfast, then, went back to bed haha! XD
19 September: Barcelona
so, on my last day in Barcelona, Ilhana and i decided to go to the Sagrada Famiglia...WOW! is all i have to say!!!...i DO NOT need to see another church for as long as i live, because the Sagrada is simply breathtaking and spectacular! ...in every corner, nook and cranny of the place, its symbolic of something...and, inside, all the pillars look like trees in a forest, and in the part that represents the darkest parts of the stations of the cross, it almost lookes like a fist and knuckles as the join on the trees! amazing! and all the stone work...actually, all the work involved with it - period - is so precise and intricate and delicate and such workmanship involved that it adds to the spectacularness! its still not finished either!...Ilhana and i made a pinky swear promise to come back when its all finished (supposedly 2030), and we are all old and decrepid, to see the place in its full glory. Gaudi was an effing genius! :)
i kind of fancied going to the Salvadore Dali Museum while i was in Barcelona, but...it was going to cost something like $40EU each to get there!...PLUS entry and all the extras, so...decided to pass. go there another time, and stay closer to the Museum :)
so, we decided to hit a beach, so, we looked at the map, closed our eyes and pointedto someplace on the coast, and decided to go there :)...it was here, we decided to splurge, and get a meal by the beach...and, who should we meet?...of course! yet another irish guy! hahaha! XD...the 3 of us had lunch together, then, hit the beach which was nearby (Barcelonetta)...and there happened to be a movie being filmed there!...it looked kinda boring tho haha! XD... and just bummed about for a while before heading back.
haaah...i really loved Spain, Portugal and Morocco :)