Saturday, March 29, 2014

3/25/14 Day 68 Granada

We woke up to a beautiful blue sky over our tent, within the olive orchard. Within a few hours we were packed up and trekking back down the gravel path towards Santa Fe so we could catch our bus to Granada. The bus dropped us off in the city just a short 15 minute walk to the apartment of Laura and Marcus, located in the center of the city, the Albayzin. She is from Austria, working as a teacher and he is from New Mexico working on various projects including coin cutting and various of his own inventive crafts. After a relaxing morning getting to know our hosts we ventured out into the cold city of Grenada, even though it is in the South of Spain it is wedged along the Sierra Nevada mountain range and seriously cold in the mornings. Our intention was to get to the ticket office of the Alhambra and buy tickets for the next day, is a 15 minute walk uphill and we were too lazy to ascend the hill an extra time, so here we are at 9:00 hoping that there are tickets available. To our amazement some of the tickets in the 10:30 slot are available. The Alhambra is one of the monuments with the highest number of visitors in all of Spain and people flock from all over the world to see this beautiful mosque, unloading in hordes directly from all of the surrounding cities hours away, driving straight to the top not even stopping to give the city a glance. Well they are certainly proud of their Unesco site charging 14 euros a person to each of the thousands of people who visit everyday. They allow 400 visitors to visit the palaces every hour and even with that volume you have to book weeks ahead in summer and on weekends, luckily for us it is a Tuesday and it is March. Admission to the grounds is either an A.M. slot, until 14:00 or a P.M. slot but for the three palaces you have a specific 1 hour viewing and if you are late you lose your chance. We spend the 90 minutes before our palace time slot wandering through the Alcazaba with its beautiful walls overlooking Granada. 
We follow the class of children and their excessive decibel scream-talking out to the gardens before we can finally get some quiet to enjoy the rest of the 90 minutes left of our tickets. 
After lunch we meet up with Laura and Marcus for a hike up the hills overlooking the city and the entire complex of the Alhambra. A fantastic view followed closely by falafel and an ice cream. Grenada is a beautiful city with amazing outdoor opportunities for hiking, skiing and biking especially. There is a huge influence of Morocco in the entire city with stores filled with spices and harem pants in every pattern. We spent a total of three days wandering the streets of Grenada, enjoying their huge free tapas with beers and spending as much time with Laura and Marcus as possible, they even let Kevin try his hand at coin cutting with their tools, he cut out a Gibraltar 20 pence and it looks pretty good!

Beautiful cut outs in the hammam bath house of the complex

The patterns are so intricate and beautiful 

This lion fountain is amazing, before the Spanish got ahold of it. Originally the fountain mechanism was determined by the hour of day, but it was taken apart to understand and they didn't figure out how the fountain worked, or how to properly put it back together. 
My camera does not do this depth justice, this is some incredible fine detailing. 

Our view from our hike, overlooking some of the cave houses built into the hills that Granada is famous for. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

3/23/14 Day 66 Santa Fe Dragon Festival

Before we left Gibraltar Nicky invited us to go to a camping festival in the National Park just outside of Grenada where some of his friends would be djing. 15 minutes from Grenada lies Santa Fe, and a 90 minute hike up into the hills from there awaited Dragon Festival. What a beautiful area to camp in under the olive trees and among the spring blossoms. Within the grounds a hot spring is hidden, and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains are visible. The festival lasts an entire 10 days but two was all we had time for before our next host was expecting us. Just what we needed though, sunshine a tent and bass. 

3/22/14 Day 65 Gibraltar

It is our third night back in Gibraltar, we are still relaxing and regaining our composure after our crazy 12 days in Morocco. Our internet was intermittent, coming back from. Morocco we have no couch hosts lined up we do not even really know what cities are next on the itinerary or how we would get to them. We really needed some days to sleep in past sunrise, spend some hours on the internet, oh yeah and wine&beer! We spent the entire first day back enjoying the beach and working on darkening our pale skin that caused all the Moroccans to mistake us for Norwegians. We also enjoyed some more Gibraltar hiking, but instead of monkeys and military caves we were dealing with cacti, Nicky's solution involved a swift wine bottle chop. To end our stay in British territory we watched the sunset from a beautiful vantage point overlooking the Spanish city of La Linea de la Concepcion and barbecuing. Summer is almost here and we are so ready for it. 
Just above the edge of the trees is the airport, beyond that is the town of La Linea and the Spanish Costa Del Sol awaits. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3/19/14 Day 62 Chefchauen to Tangier

After falling asleep early last night, waking up at 8:00 feels refreshing. After  our typical egg and bread breakfast we pack up our things to get ready for a hike. We head up and around the hillside climbing up the beautiful national park for a stunning look over Chefchauoen's blue imagery.  Our hike is cut short because today we are going back to Spain and there are a lot of connections we need in order to make it happen, first things first our bus from Chefchauen to Tangier leaves at 3:15. Saying goodbye to the hostel manager he informs us that we owe another 60 dirhams because there are two of us. A complete misunderstanding, Kevin had bargained for a bed not per person but apparently it was per person, worst part we have no extra money, just enough to get us to the ferry terminal and food. So after some pleading and sorry we give them 20 dirhams and book it to our bus, just in time to catch it. Alright a two hour ride and we will be on our way. Four hours later we are pulling into Tangier, of course the bus would take double the amount of time and now 7:10, the ferry we were trying to catch should be pulling away from the dock as we step off the bus. Okay I guess we will be catching the 23:00 ferry. We head up to the port and after a mile or so of walking we find the Acciona office, the company we bought our round trip ferry ticket from and the man behind the counter explains to us in a broken English fragmented Spanish conversation that there is no bus from the port and the last bus of the night from the bus station (that we just walked a mile away from) leaves at 20:00. Looking up at the clock reading 20:10 was pretty heart shattering I must say. The other option would be to take a taxi, minimum 100 dirhams surely more like 200 or more. Feeling so defeated we decide to stay the night in Tangier. Looking for a 50-60 dirham proves to be difficult but makes more sense when we find out the King is in town tonight...really tonight of all nights?! OF COURSE HE IS! Moroccans looooove their king and talk about him all the time so of course everything is booked. We finally find a place for 100 dirhams and give up and give in. It has been the hardest day of all the hard days we have had in Morocco, but when we wake up in the morning we get to go back to Spain, inshallah (if god wills it) as they always say when we refuse to buy this or that today, maybe tomorrow inshallah.  
Doing laundry by the riverside
Never too many goats
Here it is Chefchauen in all of its glory
We also found the best oranges here, they must be a cross with blood oranges because their color is fantastic, almost as good as the flavor.