Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Madrid

Cordoba is linked to Madrid via high speed train, which we purchased tickets on, through a big stroke of luck, using broken Spanish at the train station.

The speed was shown on a monitor at the front of our car and the fastest we noticed was 270km/hr, which is pretty impressive. We crossed our longest distance of the four-city stop in the shortest amount of time: just under 2 hrs.

Our Madrid hotel is spacious and has a kitchen with a fridge, sink and range...but no pots, pans, silverware, coffeemaker, plates...nothing. You have to request them from the front desk but they are clear that they are not responsible for washing them but also won't provide soap and sponges unless you fork over a fee. Strangest kitchen policy I've ever encountered. For two days we've attempted the least messy breakfast we can think of: soft boiled eggs with cheese and wee toasts. We had to make egg cups from wads of toilet paper. I have decided not to share photos. This morning I wandered down the street to the nearest Churreria so we could see what this early-morning Churros phenomenon is all about. Verdict: Salt and Fat. Nothing wrong with that.

Continuing on the subject of food: We've pretty much experienced the wonderful world of tapas and feeling a bit exhausted, have glommed on to this Mexican restaurant down the street. I am almost perplexed by how much like a hug this place felt like.


Our first full day we visited the Palacio Real de Madrid. You might think that after the palaces in Sevilla and Granada we would have had enough of royal residences, but this was unlike either of the others, and quite lovely. Photos weren't allowed and the ones I snuck weren't fun enough to post, but here is one of us in front of a random statue that means nothing to us, but it is where the couple who asked us to take their photo wanted to stand, so this is where we stood when they returned the favor. This is the only photo of us together in Spain.

This morning we took the metro to the Parque del Retiro while it was still relatively cool (another 90 degree day).

Afterwards we visited the Prado Museum, which was very nice.
We had a nice Indian meal and will now power nap in anticipation of staying up all night in anticipation of sleeping on our (separate) flights home.
It's been a vacation of the crazy and tiring variety, and we've loved every minute.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cordoba day 2

Still wholly unsuccessful at locating some kind of breakfast in Spain that does not consist of bread, toasted bread or sweet bread. Today we had toasted bread with some kind of meat spread which, to the horror of a person in posession of a long-expired foodhandler's card (me), was served right out of the container at our table.


We stopped by the grocery store for apples to eat on the way to the Mezquita (mosque)/Catedral de Cordoba that makes the city famous. It was built, conquered and re-conquered, resulting in a large array of architectural styles all under one roof.





After, we went to a restaurant we'd seen yesterday where the lady who stands outside to try to make people come in was really nice to us and the menu had photos, which is a huge plus when you really want more than meat paste on toast. As it turns out they also have a gorgeous patio. And the food was delicious!




The soup is Gazpacho, which I had no idea could be anything but a glorified version of Pico de Gallo. This was like a salty cream of almond - it was delicious! The garnish was chopped apples and currants.

On the way home we had to flatten ourselves against the wall as you do in the narrow windy streets of Cordoba when you don't want to get brained by the mirrors on the sides of buses.


Finally timing our meals correctly, we're in the second half of our siesta back at the hotel room. Tomorrow morning we take the high speed train to Madrid, the last stop on our high speed tour of Spain.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cordoba

We were treated to vast olive groves and whitewashed towns on our bus ride from Granada to Cordoba today.



We stopped at the train station across the street from the bus station to buy tickets on the AVE (high speed train) to Madrid on Sunday.

Our hotel is right across the street from what appears to be a nightclub (one word on the sign outside: GLAM) so we are a little scared of what the evening holds, sleep-wise.

Once again, we got hungry at 4pm, just as all the restaurants closed. Luckily we caught the grocery store before closing and had a little tapa party in the hotel room (for 9 euro total!) with tuna pate, aged cheese, salami and wee toasts with oranges for dessert.


There is a fair going on the entire month of May to celebrate the weather (apparently after this month it gets ridiculously hot). We headed down to check it out. It was basically a makeshift town full of bars. Each had their own different music turned up to eleven and was full of swirling dancing people of all ages. It seems like this fair is enjoyed by every single person in Cordoba.



We had just enough time to check out the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos before it closed. It was a bit rushed but on the other hand so nice to explore with next to no other people around.



Afterwards, exhausted by hours of walking in the sun, we collapsed at a table at the first restaurant we saw and had some lovely tapas.



Tomorrow we explore the great Mezquita (mosque) which is now apparently a Cathedral.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Granada

Here are some things Granada has a lot of:
Dogs
Graffiti
Swifts
Bohemians
MC Hammer pants






The city is much larger than I expected. There is a lot of this:


But there is also a busy downtown area with all the modern urban shops you would expect.

But then there are groups of dreadlocked pot smoking hippie types playing spontaneous music in the park.

Granada is really interesting.

I kind of wish we had one more day here.

We spent the morning at the Alhambra, which was of course, stunning.


After a nap and some food, we wandered around town some more. Tomorrow we are on a bus to Cordoba

Sevilla




Sevilla was the first stop on our "Best of Southern Spain" whirlwind tour. The two top sights are the Cathedral and the Real Alcazar, both of which were completely breathtaking. It was no surprse that the city is crawling with tourists of all nationalities. We were mistaken for German more than once. This could possibly be related to the fact that I've spent so much time in Germany lately that I can't stop speaking my small arsenal of niceties in German rather than Spanish, which I've spent months trying to break myself of the habit of speaking while in Germany.

We managed to continually be hungry at the wrong times, wandering around in ever-widening circles to find restaurant after restaurant closed for this strange nightly dead time between four and eight or so. But you can pretty much always get ice cream, which is great since the weather was in the 80s and you know...ice cream!


Dag found a terrific hotel right in the heart of everything with a kitchen so we could cook breakfast.

It was only a couple of blocks away from the tram station that took us to the bus stop on Wednesday morning as we headed for Granada.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home at last

Dreaded middle seat
Food poisoning; up again
Sorry, nice lady

Speedy cab ride home
Pajamas; kitty mauling
Nausea passing

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Catchup

Internet has been down for a couple of days. Here is what's been happening:

Hot and lazy day
Panades and manatees
Ice cream for dessert

Breakfast time drama
Profane threats angry tirade
All about some bikes

Power and water
You can't take them for granted
It's stinky and dark

Boom creek canoe ride
New game: log or crocodile?
Birds fly overhead

Spiders in branches
Can't steer canoe from their path
Heebie jeebie dance

Town water pump broke
Refreshing baby wipe bath
Good time to go home

I love panades
A corn patty stole my heart
Come here, tasty love

No water this week
Chalkboard fish is out of words
What about my eggs?

It's been a while since
"One More Night" has floated through
Our open window

Conserving water
Dag rinsed my head with a cup
Clean hair at long last

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cockscomb basin wildlife sanctuary

Dusty jungle trail
Lizard dismembers spider
Tasty hairy snack

Inner tube: Let's go!
Get out when you reach the rope
Where the $&#%'s the rope?!

Upside down beetle
Dag flips him; he's on his way
I love Dag for this

Friday, March 12, 2010

84 degree night

I know I complain 
Always of Portland cold but
This sheet is too hot

Friday

Manatee watching
Entertaining us for hours
Sunburn on my scalp

"Come down to the pub!"
There we saw every whitey
In Hopkins Village

Morning

The biggest challenge
I am faced with every day
Speaking my first words

I hide in the room
While dag is outside chatting
Making up haiku

My little helpers
Coffee and milk in the room
Promise of breakfast 

Ever so slowly
My personality creeps
Back into my heart

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lizard eating grass
clothes drying out in the sun
I think it's naptime

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This is what it's like

Welcome to Belize
Butterflies and frigate birds
Breakfast in the sun

Hopkins village morn
Phil Collins song Island style
Swimming in the sea

Sent from my ipod

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Belize

We've arrived safe & sound in Hopkins Village, Belize. There was a
moment (a couple of hours worth) of self-flogging panic where we were
convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were going to miss our
5pm flight out of Belize city. Then somehow we were flying out on the
earlier flight and so were our bags. I love this country already!

Sent from my ipod