Joined July 2018 Message
  • Day15

    Madrid

    July 24, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    It’s time for us to head home. We slept in a bit, packed up, and make one last trip to Mercado Central. I am really going to miss that place. We spend an hour or so picking up some last minute souvenirs, eating sweet croissants, drinking fresh squeezed orange juice, and just looking around. Our plane wasn’t until late afternoon and checkout was at eleven. We could leave our suitcases at the bike shop below our apartment but we would have no access to the apartment. The thought of walking in around in that high humidity and not being able to take a shower, was just not appealing so Georgia and I decide to head to the airport early.

    Since we got to the airport so early, we were able to eat lunch. I wanted to eat at Burger King. Georgia thought I was crazy. Burger King is very popular here in Valencia and the restaurant was packed. I started to feel guilty that I wasn’t eating food from Valencia so we found a restaurant and had vegetable paella. You would think the airport paella would be bad, but it was really tasty.

    I know this will be shocking but our next flight was late but only by about 20 minutes. What we learned is that if you travel on these discount airlines, you are often walking out to the airplane or riding a bus. Riding the bus to the plane is awful. It’s hot and crowded and really uncomfortable. Actually this was the worst bus. We were one of the last people on the bus and we were packed in like sardines. About 1/4 of the customers were still inside when they realized there wasn’t enough room on the bus for everyone. There was a 20 minute conversation between the gate agent and the bus driver. The bus doors were open to the heat and we barely had room to stand. Finally they decided to take us to the plane and return for the rest of the people. It was a bit scary thinking that the airlines didn’t know ahead of time that we wouldn’t all fit on the bus.

    The flight went smoothly. When I booked this trip, I thought we would check into the hotel and then take the subway into Madrid. We were just too tired to do that so we ate in the hotel restaurant. Our waiters were identical twins and it took me a while to figure that out - thanks Georgia for letting me know. We had a good meal and an early evening.

    Tomorrow we head home and I can’t wait.
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  • Day13

    Last Full Day in Valencia

    July 22, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Today was our last full day in Valencia and we planned to spend it at the beach and visiting a couple of sights we had missed. Valencia has two original gates. Earlier in the trip we had visited Torres de Serrano, Serrano Tower. I also wanted to see Torres de Quart, Quart Tower. Fortunately it’s near the Jardín Botanico and I wanted to visit the gardens there. Last year I was required to teach a month long lesson on deserts and I knew very little about the subject. I did as much research as possible and I learn a great deal. When I heard this garden had a collection of cactus, I knew I needed to go and take pictures. The cactuses we amazing and I have so many pictures that I can put together a slide show for my students. Perhaps I can write off the trip on our taxes? After visiting the tower and garden, Georgia directed me to some street art that she wanted to see. I personally don’t like graffiti but she patiently explained that most of the good street art was done with permission. Some of the street art is amazing.

    After our sightseeing morning we headed to the beach. Many people told us that the beaches further to the north were better so we took a different subway to get as far as possible. I couldn’t really see much of a difference though we were surrounded by older people. We were close to a part of the beach where handicapped and elderly people had access. They even had wheelchairs that floated in the water and first aid workers to accompany them safely into the water. I also saw canes and walkers that worked on sand and in the water. Very cool.

    Georgia and I spent a couple of hours in the sun and swimming. It was really relaxing. Then, we went to find a restaurant for lunch. Valencians eat their biggest meal of the day for lunch, usually between 2 and 4. Many restaurants have something called Menu del Día, or menu of the day. Usually for between 10 and 15 euros you get a three course lunch, along with bread, a drink, and coffee. Usually you select an appetizer, main dish, and dessert from a list. Since Paella is attributed to Valencia, several varieties of paella are usually on the Menu del Día. We decided to get seafood fideuá, which is paella made with noodles instead of rice. It was very good. We also had calamari, mussels, panna cotta, and cheesecake. Talk about a filling meal.

    After lunch we went back to the apartment to get ready for the evening. On our walk around earlier in the day we found a new restaurant that looked really good. We went there about 10 o’clock for tapas and drinks. Since the Valencians don’t eat lunch until late, dinner is also late. Our restaurant was packed at 10:00. After enjoying some wonderful tapas, we headed back to the apartment for our last night.
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  • Day13

    Relaxing

    July 22, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Today is Sunday and many shops and museums are closed today We finally got to sleep in though for me that was about 7. When I looked out the window it looked cloudy and there was a good chance for thundershowers in the forecast. We spend the next two hours getting packed for our departure on Tuesday.

    Once we finished, we noticed people setting up stands in the square in front of us. Apparently, every Sunday people sell things in the street and both tourists and locals walk around and buy things. The prices are very reasonable and there are stalls all over, not just in the square near our apartment. It was really fun to wander around and shop. We even got a couple of things.

    This morning I sat down and made a list of sights I still wanted to see. Somehow when we were being tourists, I missed this amazing archeological museum located right next to the cathedral. Valencia was founded over 2000 years ago as a Roman and Roman ruins have been found, especially where this museum is. It reminded me so much of the museum in Athens with the plexiglass walkways looking down on a dig. Here, you walk over the dig site mainly on plexiglass. You could see cobblestone streets and brick walls. The museum also had a 3-D model of what they thought each building would look like. I especially loved the area over the original Roman baths. Instead of just plexiglass, there is a shallow pool outside so from underneath, you get the illusion of water. It is amazing to me how much of the original Roman city was still in tact and had been excavated. So glad we found this great museum and it as free using our Valencian travel card.

    It never did rain. The clouds parted about noon and the sun beat down again. Georgia and I wandered around all day. We found a outdoor restaurant to eat at and I had an amazing mushroom and artichoke pizza for less than $5. Georgia ordered gnocchi but didn’t like it. We walked around and shopped until late. Tomorrow we want to get an early start to the botanical garden.

    Tomorrow is our last full day. I think we very much need to spend much of it at the beach. We also have a few more things to look at in the city before we say goodbye.
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  • Day12

    Javea

    July 21, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    I am exhausted! It was a long and very tiring day. Javea is about 71 miles from Valencia. The area is known as a small seaside resort with many coves and rocky cliffs. We went there to paddle board.

    For those of you who don’t know us well, Georgia and I love paddle boarding. We frequently do it up at our family cabin on the Hood Canal. The bay our family cabin is on is quite sheltered and filled with sea life such a seals and porpoises. This paddle board trip was anything but sheltered. We should have known there was going to be problems when the tour we went on had so many people that some had to ride with the instructors. There were about 18 of us. When we got there they said it was windy so we were going to be in two different groups. Unfortunately, we were put in group number two. We needed to wait our turn to go on the boards.

    The wait turned out to be 2 1/2 hours. The beach was rocky but there was a pretty cove to swim in. Unfortunately it was cold and breezy. Georgia and I tried to snorkel to keep busy but Georgia was cold so she went to shore to wait. I swam around for a bit, snorkeled, and sat on a float out in the water. Eventually I went back in and asked Georgia to bring me my shoes. That’s when she lifted up her flipflops, the only shoes she had, and showed me one was broken. On a sandy beach, that’s not much of a problem but when it’s a rocky beach, it’s a problem. I asked the lifeguards if anyone sold shoes nearby and he said only in the village, which was quite a distance away, so no luck. Poor Georgia.

    Eventually, group one made it back. Nobody was smiling when they returned but I still had high hopes. We had to go through a mandatory training where one of the instructors got a bit snippy with me. Apparently he did not like my paddling technique. Too bad for him! I just ignored his ranting and paddled the way I feel most comfortable with. Then we set off. It was obvious that Georgia’s paddle board was too small for her so that made it difficult for her to paddle. My board was fine but once we got around the corner, all I could see was large swells heading in all directions and I had no idea where we were going or what we would be seeing. This was going to be a challenge. Georgia was really struggling and I felt so bad for her. We were paddling on our knees for a long time when the instructor who got snippy with me challenged me to stand up. Since I have paddle boarded many times, it wasn’t a problem. I did not stay up too long because I had my shoes, underwater camera, and 2 sets of masks and snorkels on my board. Though I wouldn’t have minded falling in, I didn’t want to lose anything. After a while, we made it to a cove. I had to laugh because at one point, one of the instructors tethered himself to Georgia and pulled her there. Thank goodness we made it since we had been paddling against the current the whole way.

    The cove was interesting. There were many large boards parked near it. There is also a small cave you can swim into which of course Georgia and I did. Fortunately, she enjoyed snorkeling around the cove. Unfortunately, there was nowhere comfortable to sit since it was rocky and big swells would throw you around if you sat in the shallows. When it was time to go back, I was really excited until I heard a girl from Great Britain say we were heading to another cave. Actually, getting there wasn’t a huge problem because it was more sheltered so I split my time standing and sitting. This new cave was very large and really cool to paddle into. Georgia hopped off her board and again snorkeled. She told me that the little fish inside the cave just swam right up to her. Very cool!

    The paddle back was not too bad. This time we had the current with us. We had to dodge boats, a person trolling, and jet skis but it was much easier than going out. As soon as we got back to shore, we had to hurry back because we were about 3 hours later than the usual time - probably due to taking us in two groups. We laughed because the bus driver didn’t want anyone with wet clothes on his bus but there was nowhere to change.

    I did meet some very interesting people on this tour. There was a guy from Boise and a girl from New York on the trip. They were part of a group of 4 people that are digital nomads. What this means is that they have jobs that can be done remotely so they travel the world. They pay a fee to a company. This company can make all or some of their travel arrangements for them. Apparently they also organize tours such as this. They said the most important thing this company does is to arrange a work space for them so they can continue to work. Wow! If this existed when I had gone to school, I would have definitely chosen a career that can be done remotely and then traveled the world.

    The bus ride back to Valencia was quick. Since we were so tired and Georgia had a broken shoe, I splurged on a taxi. We went back to our favorite restaurant, Escalones de la Lonja, for tapas and then back to our apartment for an early night. Tomorrow there are supposed to be thunderstorms so I’m not sure what we’re going to do.

    I do want to add that Georgia is an amazing problem solver. Fairly often, kids will break their flip-flops at school. As a teacher, I thought the only solution was to tape them to the shoe. Georgia was able to use a comb and some bobby pins to temporarily fix her flip-flops. They lasted long enough for us to get back to the apartment - even up the 66 steps. When I asked her how she knew what to do, she said it was due to being a stage manager for plays. Actors will have things like costumes or props break 2 minutes before they need to go on and it’s her job to make sure they are ready to go on. Wow!
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  • Day11

    Biopark

    July 20, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Today we headed over to Bioparc. This park is a new concept zoo where there are very few visible boundaries between the people and the animals. This zoo mostly has animals from Africa. What I liked best was that animals who peacefully coexist in nature were grouped together. For example, there was one large enclosure with giraffes, several antelope type animals, rhinoceros, and zebras all in one area.

    The first place we went to once we got in was the lemurs, We were there for something called, “Good Morning Lemurs.” Georgia and I were let into an area of the zoo closed off by double doors and a river. All the lemurs were then released from their night area. All of a sudden, a bunch of lemurs came flying through the trees around us. We were not allowed to touch the lemurs and they mostly leave the people alone. But, having them so close to me was amazing.

    I loved the lemurs but I also really loved the gorillas (safely behind glass), hippos, and the giraffes. There was a chimpanzee born on Tuesday that I was able to see. Often, babies are born within public viewing at Bioparc. Here’s an interesting website I found about the babies there: http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/bioparc-valencia/ . What a wonderful place to visit. We were lucky enough to see this 3 day old baby.

    After our trip to Bioparc, I took a short siesta and we went to the beach for a quick swim. We just can’t resist that warm Mediterranean water. Afterwards, we went out for dinner and shopped for a bit. Most stores here are open until nine or ten o’clock night.

    Tomorrow we go for a paddle board trip to Javea.
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  • Day10

    Scuba and Biking

    July 19, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Georgia recently got certified in scuba diving back home and really wanted to scuba in the Mediterranean, so today was her opportunity. She chose the scuba company and made all the arrangements herself. She had such a good time diving at a shipwreck about 10 meters or so deep. She said it was like diving with friends. To me, that would be the best recommendation possible. If you are interested, the company is called Diving Valencia.

    Meanwhile, I needed something to occupy my time. Georgia didn’t want to miss out on anything so I chose to go bike riding because I knew she wouldn’t
    like that. I had a blast. Valencia is a very flat town with a wonderful park surrounding the old city. Formerly, the Turia River ran through here but in the 1950’s there was a devastating flood. Some homes were under 17 feet of water. Many people died and many lost there homes. The city decided to divert the Turia River to avoid the problem. The government’s plan was to build a road but the people fought back to make the old riverbed into a green space. Fortunately the people won. So, in the 1980’s the park was built over the old riverbed.

    At one end of the park is the city of arts and sciences. The other end is Bioparc, a modern zoo which we’ll be going to tomorrow. In between are many playgrounds, exercise equipment, ponds, trees, and sports practice areas. I saw basketball, baseball, ping pong, soccer, and even American football practice fields. The whole park is filled with biking, walking, and jogging trails that parallel the park on both sides as well as cross-cross the whole thing.

    One of the most interesting things in the park is the Gulliver’s Travels playground. This is a statue of Gulliver tied down to the ground. All throughout the play structure are things to slide on and climb around. I know my pictures won’t do it justice but it is 67 meters long and 9 meters tall. I didn’t play on it though adults are allowed.

    I also managed to sneak in a trip to McDonalds. There was no way Georgia would go with me but I always find it fun to try McDonalds in different countries. I should have done my research before I went because apparently you can get a free beer at McDonald’s in Spain with each order. This is a great marketing plan to get parents to bring their kids in. The food was fairly typical for a McDonalds but I especially enjoyed the fries. They also served croquettes and fish bites at this restaurant.

    I spent several hours biking around the park and the local neighborhoods. Valencia has amazing bike trails not only in the park but also throughout the city. The bike lane is mostly separate from the street so it felt safe.

    In the evening, Georgia and I went to a tapas restaurant that she found online before our trip. I had a vegetable casserole and Georgia had blueberry cheesecake. I thought the food was delicious. It was a fun but tiring day.
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  • Day9

    Tourists

    July 18, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    We really wanted to go to Bioparc today but I just couldn’t get going early enough so we’re playing tourist today. I found the great app called GPSmyCity. It has self guided tours of many cities around the world. In fact, there are 8 different tours just for Valencia. I made my own tour selecting places we’d be interested in and then organizing the walk to be the most efficient. I loved how I could use the gps to figure out if we were going the correct direction. It also gave some brief information about each stop. I highly recommend it.

    We had 9 stops on today’s route.

    1. We started at Mercat Central, which we visit just about every day, to eat breakfast. I had fruit, fresh squeezed orange juice, a tortilla española, and an empanadadilla. It was all very good.

    2. Then, we walked over to the silk exchange, right next door. The silk exchange is the chief tourist spot for Valencia and was the hub for trade in the 15th century. The building is absolutely beautiful and the court yard was a very relaxing place.

    3. Our third stop was Plaza Redonda. It’s a round, plaza (square) with a fountain in the center. We visited this before but wanted to see what it was like in the daytime. The last time we were there, a large dog on a leash jumped into the fountain.

    4. Iglesia y Torre de Santa Catalina or Santa Catalina church was our next stop. This is a church that was built over a mosque in the early 1200’s. The interior has been redone several times thought. The tower on my first post is from this church and Georgia and I climbed all 136 twisting stone steps. It was very scary at the top because you had to walk this narrow ledge to get past the staircase.

    5. Our next stop was the Plaza de la Reina. We have been here many times and it was the start of our hop on, hop off tour.

    6. On the other side of the plaza is La Catedral (cathedral). Georgia and I did not go in because we felt we weren’t dressed modestly enough though we saw many tourists go in wearing what we felt was inappropriate for a church. We plan to return because the holy grail is said to be inside. It is only a couple of blocks from our apartment.

    7. Next to the cathedral is Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, which is a church. Again we decided not to go in but we will return because the interior is supposed to be beautiful.

    8. The basilica is adjacent to our next stop, the Plaza de la Virgen. We’re we’re not convinced we were in the correct spot because the is a fountain depicts a Neptune surrounded by 8 naked women. The plaza dates back to Roman times and was the original location for the Valencian forum. This is an area with many outdoor restaurants.

    9. Our last stop was one I was really looking forward to, Torres de Serranos. Theses are on of the two sets of towers that were gateways to the old city section. They were built in the 1300’s and are the largest in Europe. You are allowed to walk all around it and up to the top. There were a few areas where the floor had squares cut out of the concrete and it was replaced with plexiglass so you could see straight down to the ground. Georgia and I definitely got a workout here.

    After playing tourist, we decided to try a menu de día, which is a common lunch offering. Since lunch is the big meal of the day, you get to choose an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Though our food was just OK, you couldn’t beat the 11 euro price tag. We’re going to find a better place and try it again.

    We completed our day by heading to the beach for a swim. The water is amazingly warm and we just like to sit and float our where we can barely stand. What a treat to have warm ocean water so close.

    Tomorrow Georgia is going scuba diving and I’m renting a bike to ride through the 9 kilometer Turia Park.

    I've numbered the pictures to correspond to the above numbers.
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  • Day8

    Marrakech

    July 17, 2018 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Today we used a local guide to walk around the souks and square of Marrakech. I’ve read that women are often hassled in the shopping areas and tourists are often ripped off. I decided that the safest way to see this was to hire a guide. I found Khalid through a website called Tours by Locals. He speaks several languages, has a degree in literature, and has lived in Marrakech most of his life. By the way, my mom calls Khalid our “bodyguard” but he really is just a tour guide. For those of you concerned about our safety, the US state department considers Morocco a safer place than Spain.

    In the morning, Khalid came to our Riad to pick us up. The first location we saw was close to our Riad. It was the former mayor’s residence and is currently used as a guest palace for the king. Khalid mentioned that Michelle Obama stayed there last year. He gave us a brief history lesson of Marrakech and Morocco.

    We then entered the souks. The first one we saw was part of the trade routes from Timbuktu. Merchants would come to Marrakech to trade and they stayed in these buildings. The rooms were small but it had a large center area for the camels and live stock to stay. Currently, artisans rent the area to sell their items.

    We walked deeper and deeper into the winding streets of the souks. Each type of artisan used to have their own area. For example, leather artisans all worked in the same place. This is still mostly true but they are getting more diverse. We saw many souks including leather, metal, wood, carpets, and pottery. Khalid mentioned that people were responsible for one part of the manufacturing process. For example, a pair of shoes may have a separate person to cut the leather, several different people sewing in different places of the shoes, someone conditioning the leather, someone who put the soles on, and so on. If there is a dispute, they have a mediator who is elected to resolve problems. Often times when a big order comes in, someone arranges all these craftsmen to make the order.

    We had a fun time in the souks. We even tried some bartering but Khalid often times stepped in and helped us. After we finished in the area that makes the goods, we moved onto a more retail area. Here the prices doubled and even tripled. I wished I understood that earlier I would have bought more things at the beginning. I also have to mention that the cobblestone streets were very narrow. Apparently the more narrow, the older the area. Often scooters and motorcycles came barreling through where we were walking so we had to watch out.

    After the souks, we went to the square. Khalid usually does this tour in the afternoon because it is more crowded, typical of the square. We’re leaving tonight for Valencia so he had kindly changed the times to morning for us. I was actually happy because I wouldn’t have liked the chaos. Also, it was cooler in the morning.

    The square was interesting. There were monkeys on leashes and snake charmers. We stayed away from there because we all believed it was unkind to the animals. I asked Khalid about the square’s dentist who was not there at the time. He said that when he was a kid (he’s around my age) people often went there to get their teeth pulled. He said now it’s just for photos because people know it’s not clean. He also pointed out these people in red outfits. They were the watermen of Marrakech and they sell water out of lambskin containers. He said when he was a child, they were quite common and people often got their water from them. Now they are there for the tourists to take pictures of.

    While we were walking around, Khalid did some shopping for his family. He first bought a whole bunch of olives. Since there were many people selling olives, I asked how he chose the stand. He said they knew each other well enough that if he didn’t have money, he could come back later and pay. No problem. Second, Khalid bought some fresh mint. He said his mom is in town visiting and she loves fresh mint. It was very interesting to see his interactions with the venders.

    Our tour was over so Khalid walked us back to our Riad. If you are ever in Marrakech and need a good tour guide, look up Khalid on Tours by Locals. He is a wonderful guide,

    After we finished the tour, we waited for our transfer to the Marrakech airport. I started to get real nervous reading reviews for the airport. Apparently, the employees can be cruel, especially to tourists. Often people are hassled at security, miss their flights, and have to buy new tickets. We managed to get safely through security after having to show our Passports to 6 different people. One interesting thing that we noticed was the full body scanner used at the airports was only for women, no men were sent through. I caused a problem with my money belt and so the female security guard made me pull it out and open it up. She seemed surprised I would have something like that.

    Not surprising the airport was chaotic, filled with people and not enough seats. Every single flight, including ours was late. Eventually, we made it safely back to Valencia. Morocco was interesting, We we’re both glad we had done it, but it was very difficult and stressful. Someday I might go back but only to see the Sahara. I think that would be a fun trip.
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  • Day7

    Monkeys

    July 16, 2018 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We had to be up early for our trip to Ouzoud Falls to see wild monkeys. After we had a delicious breakfast at our Riad, we started out for the place where our tour van was picking us up. Of course I got lost because I thought the tiny lanes were sidewalks, not streets. We were lucky to find a police officer who spoke English and he helped us out. There was a tour van there so we hopped on. Fortunately I asked if they were going to Ouzoud and everyone said no so we hopped back off. Soon another tour bus picked us up. I was so excited because we were the first ones on so we had our pick of seats. Unfortunately, the driver had just picked us up to be deliver to another van almost full. Oh well. Georgia and I we not able to sit together but we had individual seats.

    It is a three hour drive to Ouzoud Falls from Marrakech. I saw so many interesting things and I really wished I had someone to ask questions of. What was disappointing was the amount of trash all over the place. There was even trash by restaurants and in olive groves. The last hour or so was really curvy and I started to get car sick and I rarely get carsick. I was really worried about Georgia because she often gets car sick, but she was fine.

    When we got to the falls, a local Berber guide took two vans full of people through the falls. He was a 20 something local who had gone to college in England. He had a very British accent that occasionally sounded Australian. Amazingly, he spoke 9 languages. When asked about this, he said that the King insist kids learn 4 languages in primary school but must then choose a fifth language in high school. Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the Berber life from our guide. We went into a Berber house. Here are some of the interesting things I learned. First, Berber boys never leave the house. When a male child is born, they add onto the house for his future family. Female children will go live at their husband’s family home. In addition, there are many olive trees around Ouzoud Falls and they live to about a 1000 years. Each tree is marked with colored paint and numbers. The colors correspond with families. The numbers indicate the individual people. So red 4 might be the fourth child in the red family. He said it got confusing when people got married and then there might be two colors and numbers to split individual trees.

    The falls were beautiful. They somewhat had safety fencing but not like we would have. The guide says 4 or 5 tourists fall of each year but I really think he was exaggerating because he loses his license for two years if anyone dies on his tour. Anyways, we walked all the way to the bottom of the falls and then we needed to cross the river. We chose to take a boat that brings you up to the edge of the falls. This option costs 2 euros each but I think it was worth it. Kids were cliff diving and swimming next to the boats, it was really crowded and Georgia actually saw a boy get caught under a boat. The person who was paddling the boat reached down and saved the boy. Often it felt like bumper boats. After the ride, we started back up. The path down was dirt and a bit difficult to walk. The way back up was steps but it was frustrating to follow the guide who was trying to get us quickly up the steps. There were vendors all along but I never had a chance to look because we were being hurried along. After seeing the falls from many vantage points, I just wanted to see a monkey. We saw one but were told to hurry along. I was truly at my breaking point when we went to another viewpoint and I glanced over and there was a monkey. A young boy was selling cookies to give it and a man was selling peanuts. Georgia and I took turns feeding and snapping pictures. The monkey preferred the cookie but would eat the peanuts when the cookies were gone. The older gentleman asked if we wanted to have the monkey climb on our backs. I was scared but I decided to do it. It was such a strange feeling. The monkey on Georgia grabbed hold of her hair. I was so glad I had a hat on because it couldn’t grab my hair. When I ran out of food, the monkey jumped off. The whole thing was so fun. It made the trip worth it.

    Once we got to the top, we were offered lunch. Georgia and I both declined. Since I had gotten a bit carsick, I was worried about eating. When lunch was done, we hopped back on the bus and headed back to Marrakech. That’s when the real fun started. I have never had such a bad case of motion sickness. I had to keep spraying myself with water and the fanning it away. That’s the only way I could feel halfway decent. I tried everything but the second I looked anywhere but straight ahead, the bus felt like it was spinning. I have to say it might have been the worst 3 hours of my life. Fortunately Georgia was okay. Once we were dropped off, she managed to find our way back to the riad. I took a shower and laid down for about 30 minutes and I started to feel better.

    After relaxing a bit, we decided to eat dinner. In the reviews for our riad, I had read the food was excellent. The reviews were not wrong. We had an eggplant salad and a pastry filled with vegetables for the appetizers, a chicken and potato tangine for main course and a dessert of orange gelatin with thick cream and fruit for dessert. It all tasted so good. Georgia thought the tangine was the best food she had eaten this whole trip. I did notice that they were extremely generous with portions and I felt bad about wasting but there wasn’t way we could eat it all. After dinner we relaxed on the roof top. What a great way to end our day.
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  • Day6

    On To Morocco

    July 15, 2018 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Today is another travel day. We’re off to Morroco so Georgia can see Monkeys. She took a primatology class last year and thought it would be so much fun to see them in the wild. I’m on a quest to see all seven continents so Africa makes number 5. I think the hardest and most expensive continent will be Antarctica so I better start saving up now.

    Since I don’t have a lot to write about today, I thought this might be a good opportunity to talk about our Airbnb. I’ve never actually stayed in an Airbnb but Georgia really wanted to try it so that’s what we’re doing. We spent a great deal of time trying to find the perfect one. There are lots of things I like about it. First, it is just steps away from the Mercat Central. Fresh ingredients are right there if we ever get around to cooking. I really appreciate the fresh squeezed Valencian orange juice and the glazed croissants for breakfast. Also, there are street restaurants and historical sights all within an easy walk for us. One of the reasons we chose this apartment was that it had two bathrooms. This makes for easy mornings. We also wanted air conditioning though it pretty much only keeps the upper level cool. The lower level, where Georgia sleeps, is quite a bit warmer and I would really struggle with sleeping there. Georgia doesn’t like it too cold though so we’re both happy.

    Now for the negatives. I expected someone to meet us at the apartment, go over the set up, and ask if we had any questions. At least that’s what I’ve read other people experience with Airbnb. Instead, the bike shop on the lower level had our keys, told us where to go, and talked about what key opens what door. That’s it. When we first got there, we couldn’t get the air conditioning to work so the nice man at the bike shop came and showed us what to do. I feel like there was something lost in not getting to meet the owner or at least the apartment manager.Second, I wish we were closer to the subway. Though it’s only a 10-15 minute walk, it feels much longer when you’ve been at the beech and sightseeing. Along with the walk to the metro are the stairs. 63 steep, winding steps to get to the apartment. As much as I need to be climbing stairs, sometimes I absolutely dread it. I know hauling the suitcases up was not fun so I’m not looking forward to hauling them down. Finally, I really like having maid service. With Airbnb there is nobody to make my bed, wash my sheets and towels, and clean up after me. I think that’s something I miss from an Airbnb.

    Update: We we’re flying on TAP Airlines from Valencia to Lisbon to Marrakesh. The flight out of Valencia was late. We probably could have made our flight in Lisbon except for passport control. The lines were long and they had very few people. To make it worse, people kept taking cuts so they wouldn’t miss their flight. We knew that most of the people in line were also missing flights so we didn’t try to take cuts. What we did have was a kind woman named Joann. She worked for TAP airlines and met us at the gate when we got off the plane. She was trying to get the passport officers to get us through the line quickly but the request was denied. Since she didn’t think we would make it, she had rebooked us on a different airlines. She was right and we’re now waiting for our new flight to Casablanca and then onto Marrakech.

    Update: This flight is delayed!

    We made it to Casablanca and I feel total culture shock. The airport waiting room is absolute chaos. This is a big but really old airport. We are in the commuter terminal which is one big room with about 5 gates. There is very little seating so people are sprawled out on the floor. Apparently they allow smoking because I can smell it. Babies are crying and people are talking loud. I got in the long line for the bathrooms and learned a valuable lesson the lines are merely suggestions and not necessarily the rule. This place was absolutely an assault on our senses. I had always wanted to see Casablanca because of the movie. I will never go back due to that craziness. PS: the song, As Time Goes By, keeps going through my head. I still love that movie,

    Update: I know this is a shocker but this flight is delayed!

    We finally made it to Marrakech about 6 hours late. Customs is a crazy, slow moving, long line. Fortunately, I had booked an airport transfer ahead of time because it’s close to midnight here. We were trying to never be outside our hotel after dark just for safety reasons. The streets to our Riad are so narrow that a car can’t pass but we are being escorted right to the door. Good thing we had arranged that because we would have never found the place on our own.
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