Sunday, March 08, 2009

Karen and Peter's Adventures in Spain

I'm really late in writing this... but oh well. I've likely forgotten a few things, and any entertaining anecdotes as well. Alas, my story begins. A few weeks ago was our first "winter holiday." There are more holidays coming up with time off... seriously, nobody does any work in this country. Karen and I had planned to do Spain, her current country of residence, and Morocco, an exotic locale I have wanted to see ever since being a wee little lad at Epcot. True. Our fabulous language skills came in handy, as I speak not a work of Spanish, but got us around with French (and limited Arabic) in Morocco. The hardest part of the trip was planning through Skype... so many bad connections, so little time.

View of Granada from the top of Alhambra

We had planned our escapade to take us through Barcelona, Granada, and Cádiz in Spain and through Tangier, Marrakech, Rabat, and Casablanca in Morocco... and that's just what we did, with a few minor mishaps. All in all tho, the trip of a lifetime.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Although Barcelona is often considered one of those must-go places for American tourists, I thoroughly did not enjoy it. The company was great (Karen and I are expert explorers in unknown lands) and the massive amount of Gaudí architecture around the city is astounding. However, seeing that the massive amount of Gaudí architecture is the ONLY thing that city has to offer to its visitors, it leaves much to be desired. I should add that many friends were there at the same time, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. I think that the reason I was rather annoyed is that I heard little to no Spanish my entire time there, the city is at all times overrun with Americans on study-abroad and spring breaks, and the clubs and bars are filled it JAPs of all shapes and sizes (no no, not Japanese lol). 

In Park Guell, Barcelona

Also, I suppose that if it was warmer and the beaches would open I would have had a totally different perspective of the city. Oh well, the trip for me increased exponentially afterwards and Karen and I stayed at maximum content level (a common theme) for the rest of our vacation. One saving grace actually was a friend told us about a must-see bar called "Chupitos" (literally "shots" in Spanish apparently) where they had the most amazing and long-ass list of shots... everything came on fire, in some weird contraption, or in a large black dildo... yea... you haven't seen a shot until you've seen the "Monica Lewinsky"... oh yea! Sadly, Lisa wasn't in town, which would have likely helped to make our time there much easier. Before leaving Barcelona, I have to note the extra, unnecessary language requirement of living in Barcelona.. Catalan. So unnecessary, and so infuriated. It looks like Spanish, sound like French, and is as useful as piglatin or Luxemburgian. All the signs are in Spanish and this alien language. Odd.

Alhambra, Granada, at sunset

Next up was Granada... well, sort of. This part of the story need not be told, lets just say that our one our flight because a 10 hour busride... thanks to... ahem.. someone. I forgive easily. When we did get to Granada, we had a fab time. Karen is an excellent tour guide of her city (she is studying abroad there this semester). Ok.. so.. TAPAS! I guess its a law in Granada that with EVERY drink, you get free TAPAS! Thats right, a glass of wine, TAPAS! A beer.. TAPAS! A soda...? TAPAS!! This city is great, especially since drinks only costs about 2 euro.. thats adds up to a good buzz and a full stomach for like 6 euro. Oh how I hate Paris... that will get you about HALF a drink, more or less, here. We did all the touristy things the city has to offer, including the Alhambra, a giant palace built during the Moorish rule of the country. We then ventured to the old Arab quarters of the city, and smoked sheesha at a hookah bar. A mini Morocco right in Spain, and still so much more to come. Oh, when we were leaving the hookah bar, I said goodbye in Arabic, and the man was so overjoyed he stopped me and wanted more... so I attempted the usual: my name, where I'm from, how I speak only a little Arabic, etc... and he was so impressed that he shook my hand and invited us to find his friends in Morocco and tell them we know him, and to make sure to write my name in Arabic for them when I meet them so they know I'm legit. Hmm, I wish people in Paris were that impressed with my French. At night, we had a real Spaniard take us out! Carlos was a kind host and payed for a few tapas even. Karen and I practiced rolling our "R"s after some booze.... which always helps Karen, for about 10 minutes. I think she got it and lost it within the same city block. I can only imagine how entertaining it must have been for a native Spanish speaker to hear two stupid Americans attempt something that he has known how to do since before he can remember. Annoying? Likely. Thoroughly amusing? Most def.

The happy couple in Cadiz

Our last city in Spain was Cadiz, a small coastal town in the west of the country. The week we were in Spain was Carnaval, the giant, nation-wide festival to celebrate partying. Karen and I headed to this little port on a Monday, thinking we may have missed the big partying of the weekend. Little did we know... Monday is the LOCAL's actual holiday, where everyone has off work and the entire town celebrates and gets RAGING drunk. Literally, the entire town was a shitshow, and I mean parents, teenagers, OLD people, and everybody in between. Every store was closed and converted themselves into a stand to sell giant bottles of beer for 2 euro a pop. Safe to say, we stocked up. Cadiz is known for its large bands of locals dressing up and riding around the town on trucks and singing their hearts out. The combination of this and the rest of the partiers in costume, and, of course, the booze everywhere made it feel just like a good old Madison Halloween. Oh, I failed to mention that we had no accommodations for our night in Cadiz. Nooowhere to go. So, we literally carried our backpacks and raged (Day-raged to be exact... the best kind of raging) until the wee hours. We arrived at 3pm, and about 1am we were getting a little tired. Luckily, we found some friends. Three girls, one American, one German, and one Belgian, who took us with them to a club. There are no open container laws during Carnaval, so our new friends took the opportunity to load us up on rum and cokes on the walk there. After a very, very eventful 20 minute walk (I'm gunna spare the details there) we arrived at a gigantic tent-turned-club, big enough to fit a thousand people... like, really big. We danced until about 5 when we decided to turn in... oh wait, we have nowhere to turn in. 

Raging/Singing in the streets
So, we said goodbye to new friends and headed to the bus station, where we were to wait until the 6:45 bus to Tarifa to catch the ferry that would take us to Africa! (It's weird that Morocco is in Africa I think).

More of the same

Spain: Check!