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  • After catching our 10 AM bus in Granada, we landed in Valencia around supper time and checked into our Airbnb. The location was much better than what we initially thought, with the apartment in the very middle of Valencia’s biggest and well known Plaza. Exhausted from our long bus ride, we settled for supper with continuing our trend of trying McDonald's in every country. It was better than back home but nothing compared to Portuguese Mcdicks.

    On our second morning we started the day off by heading to the Valencia Central Market, located nearby our apartment. After browsing through the insane amount of prosciutto and fresh seafood, we got some quick breakfast then headed out to rent some bicycles. After searching around Valencia without any luck, we located a bike repair shop where they pointed out a rental spot down the road. There was a long bike path that ran alongside a winding stretch of the city, and we spent two hours cruising along only stopping for a quick beer at a bar on the way.

    After returning our bikes, we headed back to our apartment to cook up some chicken and veggies we had bought earlier in the day at the market. Later on we powerhoured some beers and headed out to a nearby bar popular with exchange students. We didn't realize it was exam time for university students in Valencia, so the bar wasn't packed, but we met a few Americans there. One of the girls we met took us to another bar with 50 cent shots, and after that we headed to the last bar of the night. It was the most packed bar we had been to that night, full of Florida and Georgia State Exchange students. Unfortunately we had an 10 AM flight the next day so we had to leave the bar early. After a rough wake up we bused to the airport and headed out for a crazy couple days in Ibiza.
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  • This one is long but hopefully worth the read, once again I am way behind on updating the blog but I'm just having way too much fun on the trip. Will be working harder to update more frequently but no promises.

    After taking an afternoon bus leaving Seville,  we arrived in Granada at supper time. During our stay in Granada, we airbnd'ed with a lovely Spanish family.  This was the first time I had used airbnb so I didn't know what to expect, but it was a great first exprience.

    The son, José (a huge Toronto Raptos fan), was the one who organized the airbnb and gave us tons of great local food and drink recommendations.  His mother was incredibly nice and a great cook who spent hours in the kitchen everyday cooking up delicious meals.  Her apple cake she served us for breakfast on the day we were leaving was incredible.

    When we arrived we were craving tapas, and José directed us to his #1 spot located on a street opposite the university. Popular with students for the cheap beer and food, it did not disappoint. $2 for a beer and two big plate of tapas, it was the cheapest meal so far on the trip.  After getting back to the house we did a bit of trip planning and got some sleep for day two.

    Our second day in Granada we explored the old Muslim neighbourhood,  a colourful and vibrant part of the city that stuck out with the narrow winding streets that seemed to be neverending. After making our way out of the neighbourhood we arrived at the river beside the famous Alahambra muslim castle to admire the view. That night we headed to a famous spot at the top of the city that overlooked the entire town. The view was incredible, we went right at sunset and the sun hitting the town and surrounding area was amazing.

    The most unbelievable part of the trip so far (and I'm finishing writing this almost two weeks later), was hiking Los Cahorros. Los Cahorros is a hiking trail in the Sierra Nevada National Park in Spain, taking roughly 4 hours to complete. Accessed from Granada by taking a bus to the nearby village of Monachil, nestled at the edge of the mountains of the national park. We arrived at the village and followed the colourful graffiti signs to the start or the hike.

    I'm glad I was able to record most of the hike on my gopro as it was breathtaking. Following a river most of the hike, you are surrounded by heavy forest with rare breaks of sunny skies. Waterfalls and swinging bridges covering ravines 50 ft below. The path was steep, and some areas you had to grasp iron handles attached to the rock face to shimmy your way across as the path disappeared into the rock wall for multiple sections. Our problems started the signage of the trail, there was none.

    There were signs early on with the name of the hike, but on three different occasions we came to an area with two separate paths to take. With dense forest everywhere, it was hard to tell which way to go. We spent way too much time walking down a path and then hitting a dead end 15 minutes later. At one point "the path" lead to the side of the gate of a hydroelectric dam building. This was one of the scariest parts of the hike as the path was just a rock face to the right and two feet to the left was a 100 ft drop to a raging river. No railings, nothing. After once again hitting a dead end we turned around and ended up at what we thought was the only option at the time (it wasnt), climbing a mountain.

    We met another couple at the base of the path leading up the mountain, they had tried another path opposite the dam one we tried and it was also a dead end. So not wanting to turn back and with no other clear way to go (we thought), we started climbing up the mountain, thinking that it would lead across it and not over it. This unfortunately wasn't the case. We spent roughly two and a half hour climbing this mountain in 30+ degree heat with not nearly enough water. Having to take multiple breaks in shade provided by overbearing rocks, it was a very rough climb up. The path we were on was very wide, enough for a truck to fit on, and as we later discovered this was because the "path" was a service road for the hydroelectric company we saw earlier.

    So our four hour hike through a beautiful national park turned into a seven hour trek up a mountain. When we finally reached the top however I realized it was all worth it. A 360 view of the surrounding area for about 100 miles. The most amazing view I have ever seen. Ben used his phone to calculate that we were at an elevation of 1600m at the top, and we had started the climb at 700m. After taking some pictures and video from the top of the mountain we started our climb down. Unfortunately the path down went over and to the side which took us in the opposite direction of Monachil. We finally reached the end of the service road to a gate reading, "Prohibited area, dangerous", and then the name of the electric company. We had a good laugh when we realized that we were not supposed to climb the mountain at all.

    We started walking down the highway back to town and were lucky to hitchhike a ride back to Monachil with a German couple on vacation. After grabbing some celebratory beers in town we bused back to Granada, showered and went downtown to grab some amazing seafood tapas at Los Diamontes. In the morning Ben and I had breakfast with José's parents, and then took a 10 AM bus to Valencia.

    About a week and half later in Barcelona, I got a tattoo on my arm of the Sierra Nevada mountain range to commemorate the scariest and funnest day of my life.
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  • After leaving Lisbon and making a brief stop in Lagos overnight to split up the long journey, we left Portugal and headed to Spain. 

    Our first stop was in Seville,  a beautiful historical town set in the upper left corner of Spain.  We stayed in The Black Swan Hostel, a new but highly rated hostel located right in downtown Seville. 

    Still tired from our 6 AM bus ride from Lagos, we didn't do too much on our first day in Seville. We explored some of the historical areas of the city, ate our first tapas of the trip, and at night took some bottles of wine to a nearby Plaza to people watch.

    Our second day we got up early, grabbed some breakfast and then headed on our hostel's historical walking tour of Seville. Our guide was great, had an incredible knowledge of the city, and took us to places like (fill in here from Google doc). We headed back to our hostel, where there was free supper and sangria later that night. We met lots of interesting travelors there, including a couple from Texas, a guy from Puerto Rico, and a brother and sister from Kelowna, B.C.

    That night we grabbed everyone we met at supper and headed down to a local pub to watch Seville vs. Liverpool in the Europa League Final, a huge game watched by what seemed like the entire population of Seville. When Seville scored the celebration of the locals was like nothing I had ever seen. When Seville won the match, the town went wild and needless to say it was a great time to be out drinking in the city.

    The next day we checked out of our hostel, and got a bus headed to Granada, which would turn out to be our favourite part of the trip thus far. 
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  • After a week of back-to-back traveling with limited WiFi access, Ben and I have landed in Valencia, Spain and finally have some free time to do some updating.

    On our last day in Portugal we gathered our ragtag hostel family (an Irishman, two Brits, and 6 Canadians), and set out from Lisbon to hike the national park surrounding Sintra.

    The foreshadowing for the failure of the hike would have been the 1litre beers on the train there, followed by everyone buying 2-4 road beers for the trip up. After getting advice from multiple locals, as well as being lead by our google maps-guided leader Ben (himself being the only one knowing anything about the hike), we set off.

    After following a winding road from the town for a couple hours, dodging cars along the way, we never did find the entrance to the hike. We did however find a pub with beer and the very important Benfica - National soccer game on, the results of which we got to enjoy while partying later that night in Lisbon.

    So although we didn't get to do the actual hike, we did get to spend our last day in Portugal having fun with some absolutely incredible people. A random group who met in a hostel in Lisbon, bonded by an indescribable travel experience.

    "Mustard!"
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  • After 2 days of traveling we arrived in Lisbon at 1:00 AM last night. We slept in and missed breakfast (no regrets), and started exploring the city. We started off by straining our lungs climbing up the city to visit Sao Jorge Castle, a Moorish castle built in the 2nd century that overlooks the centre of Lisbon. Amazing views and even better wine. After that we spent the day just walking around downtown, consuming as much coffee, beer, and cigarettes as the body allows. We are back at our hostel now, and waiting for the group supper and pub crawl that follows later tonight.Read more

  • Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azore Islands, and is located on the island of Sao Miquel 3 hours off the coast of Portugal. Ben and I arrived here from Toronto overnight, and are exploring the city as we have a 12 hour layover until our next flight to Lisbon. Weather is amazing, everyone has been very nice, and the beer/food is cheap.