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My Arrival

Twenty six hours later, after saying my farewells, leaving behind family and friends. I have finally arrived to the country I had been waiting so long to be in… Spain… more specifically Madrid.

Now the first thing I do when I get to the land of the toros and siestas was not to eat tapas or drink sangria but to eat at Burger King (for Australians this is known as Hungry Jacks). I know this is somewhat shameful but before you judge, I was at the airport and I am on a tight budget.

Once I demolished my onion rings and my abnormally large sized coke, I decided it was time to spread my wings and leave the airport.

With my 50kgs of luggage almost weighing as much as me, I decided against catching the metro and took a taxi.

Embarrassing moment number 1, as the taxi driver kindly puts my luggage in the boot, I go to sit in the passengers side. I’d like to blame my lack of sleep ( which was only 4hrs in the 26hrs of travelling) but I accidentally sat in the drivers seat not realising that they do not drive on the left hand side in Spain. Taxi driver clearly thinks I’m a freak at this point but my embarrassment dissipates as I hear Enrique Iglesias on the radio. Subeme la Radio por favor!

I arrive to my Air BnB 1 hour before check in. So I decide to have a tea and chill for a bit until its time. Mistake number 2, I ask for te con leche, direct translation is tea with milk and what do I get a cup of cold milk and a tea bag. Now for all my fellow tea lovers out there, tea isn’t as widely drank in Spain as it is in countries like Australia where they basically have aisles in the Supermarket dedicated to tea but here is my first tip for you guys wanting to travel to Spain and drink tea. They call is infunsion, this took me a good week to realise.

Now I think I should probably give a quick back story as to why I am here in Madrid, Spain. I am here to be a language assistant in a bilingual Primary to Secondary school in Madrid. No, I did not study to become a teacher, I actually studied Tourism Management at WSU but I wanted to try something new and live and work overseas. The reason why I choose Spain was essentially because my parents are from Argentina and I wanted to learn more about where my great grand parents came from (which if you haven’t guessed already is Spain) as well as trying out teaching to see if it is the right fit for me. It is also a great advantage that I can understand Spanish and can speak it quite well.

As soon as I drop off my luggage I decide since it is a Sunday I should go to El Rastro Markets located in La Latina. This is literally one big massive flee market and  according to every travel website, this is a heavily targeted pickpocket area and with the amount of people you are bumping into to get through you can see how this can be achieved without you realising. As my friend would always say “Walk with eyes wide open and pockets shut”, although it sounds a lot nicer when she says it in Spanish.

 

 

El Rastro goes on until 3pm so after I decide head back to my Air BnB and as it is 4pm and midnight in Australia, I fall asleep watching TV.

 

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Half way point

Today marks my half way point of living and teaching in Spain. It is crazy to think I arrived 5 months ago, travelling 26 hours to get here. Nervous that I wasn’t going to make any friends, worried I would’t be able to find a house, worry about my financial situation, learning to live on my own.

However, I seemed to manage quite well I believe. That isn’t to say I haven’t had any hiccups along the way but I feel very grateful that I made really good friends early on into this experience that have helped me along the way. I didn’t think I would have travelled as much as I already have. I am now up to 15 countries in my goal to reach 30 by 30. Grateful that my family were able to visit me during my Christmas break.

I have learned to take siestas in the afternoon, eat dinner at 10 and slowly learning to stay awake to dance the night away.

I am learning to sympathise with the teenagers at the school. Thinking back to when I was their age. Teaching my students my Aussie way with Waltzing Matilda and making the try Tim Tams.  I am learning to be more organised with my daily routine so I don’t feel burnt out by the weekend.

I would say my biggest struggles have been saying goodbye to friends that have left, extending my visa and then realising my name had been spelt wrong, finding a house here in Madrid, looking after myself when I have been sick and for some reason the banks here are difficult to deal with.

I would have to say my main highlights thus far were making friends that will last a life time, living in Spain where my great-grandparents were from, improving my Spanish, travelling through Europe, visiting Africa, seeing a Real Madrid game (even if they lost), visiting La Sagrada Familia, riding a bike in Amsterdam (even though I was terrified), staying in the cutest boat with a view of a windmill in Amsterdam, joining a soccer team, having one of the best birthday’s celebrating with good friends, going from living with a family to living on my own in centre of Madrid, my family came and we all wore cheesy Christmas jumpers, we visited places where my great-grandparents were born, ate the best croissant in Toulouse, attended mass with the Pope in the Vatican, got to live out my Lizzy McGurie dreams travelling to Rome, eating all the pizza, pasta and gelato in Italy and not feeling guilty. I know there are many more but these are the most memorable so far and I know there will be plenty more to come during the second half of my experience.

I miss my family and friends back home in Australia but I would have never given up this experience.

My family came to visit!

For the longest time I had been umming and ahhing what to do during the Christmas break. I had 2 weeks off but all of my friends that I had made here had made plans and I was thinking of doing some solo travel. It wasn’t until about a month before Christmas that my father messages me that he got tickets for the three of them (mum, dad and brother) to come over on Christmas day and spend two weeks in Europe. Problem solved.

They arrived early Christmas morning, looking completely jet-lagged from their 36 hour journey to the other side of the world.

I tried to keep them as awake as I could throughout the day and it wasn’t until about 8pm that they all crashed and were in bed. The next day I began to feel sick and sat this one out whilst they explored Madrid.

Their idea coming to Spain was to travel throughout Spain especially the towns of importance where my great-grandparents were born and grew up in. Our first stop was Barcelona. By this point I was feeling worse with a fever but my dad was on a mission to get to Barcelona as soon as possible as one of his university friends who lives in Brazil was going to be there a couple of hours before flying back home. Our airbnb in Barcelona was a tiny yacht, big enough for only two people but there were 4 adults. We only lasted here 1 night out of the 3 intended nights. Although we ended up changing airbnb for Barcelona the morning view was beautiful in the marina.

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Our first full day in Barcelona began with us visiting La Sagrada Familia. This time I was able to get tickets in advance to enter inside. It was absolutely beautiful inside, nothing like another other religious structure I have ever visited. You can definitely see Gaudi’s style which truly makes La Sagrada Familia unique and well worth the visit.  Most of the interior photos attached are from the Apse which was mostly neo-gothic style which are capped by pinnacles. The Nativity Facade is also attached which displays the Nativity scene and also the Passion Facade which displays Christ’s final days from the last supper to his crucifixion. In the Passion Facade there is also a cryptogram which always adds up to 33, which is the age of when Christ died. The aim is to have the church completed by 2026, 100 years after Gaudi’s death, however it looks like this won’t be completed until the 2040’s.

 

As we started the day with Gaudi we thought to end it with Gaudi too by visiting Park Guell and were able to stay to see a beautiful sunset. Park Guell is where Gaudi turned to landscape gardening. This park originated in 1900 for Count Guell who then abandoned the project in 1914 but it didn’t become a public park until 1922.

 

The next day we spent walking around and discovering Barcelona at a more relaxed pace strolling through Las Ramblas, visiting Barcelona Cathedral, walking through the Gothic quarter, drinking buckets of sangria as a family and visiting the mercat de la llibertat.

 

The next place on our tour around Spain with the fambam was to Burgos where my father’s grandfather was born and raised up until he moved to Argentina. We got there New Years Eve but sadly it wasn’t a crazy one as the whole family had gotten sick by this point and I also had conjunctivitis, but we did participate in eating 12 grapes at midnight. This is a tradition done by Spaniards, once the clock hits midnight you have 12 seconds to eat 12 grapes, each grape symbolising a month. I made sure to get the canned grapes that come seedless because I heard these were the easiest to down once the clock strikes midnight. It is quite intense and I did choke a little on the grapes which made me laugh which in turn delayed me in my grape eating process but nevertheless it was a fun tradition. On New Years Day we went to the Burgos Cathedral as my father said my great grandfather used to play on the steps of the Cathedral and it was really sweet to visit as we are learning more about our ancestors.

 

 

On our way to our next stop to Santiago de Compostela, Galicia we stopped at a tiny town where my great-grandmother from my fathers side was born in Santa Maria de la Isla in Castilla y Leon. There were literally no shops and I have never seen such a small town before but it was a very sweet little town. And to think my great-grandmother came from something so small to a big city like Buenos Aires would have been such a scary and overwhelming but exciting experience.

 

We then reached Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. There we attended mass in the Cathedral where the apostle James has been laid to rest. At the end of the mass the big incense swung from one side of the Cathedral to the other. Such a great experience and such a sacred sight.

In Galicia, we were able to visit another place of familiar importance, the town Orense where my great-grandfather from my mother’s side was born and raised before immigrating to Argentina. Orense is known for it’s natural hot springs and it would have been great to take a dip if I was brave enough withstand the cold before entering the hot-spring.

 

We decided last minute to head over to Oporto, Portugal for a couple of nights. Oporto is famous for its Port wine and Francesinha (sandwich from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, fresh sausage, steak dried sausage and covered in melted cheese with a hot thick tomato/beer sauce). Although it sounds sickening, it was delicious but not something you could eat everyday without having a heart attack. Porto is also known for its beautifully tiled buildings. We did a cheesy bus tour around the city and visited Livaria Lello which is a bookstore which the staircase inside this bookstore is featured in the Harry Potter films. To top off Porto our airbnb had the most amazing view.

 

 

 

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As we were returning to Madrid, we made a brief stop in Salamanca and driving through the A6 it began to snow. At first this was exciting, we are Australians and this rarely happens. It isn’t until we can barely see outside, we have no chains on the tires and are driving at 10km/hr we start to realise that this isn’t as exciting as we initially thought. We were about 85km from Madrid in Villacastin when we decide we should get off the highway and find an alternative route back. The lady at the toll booth was extremely unhelpful and it wasn’t until my father spotted a truck driver, who told us that the best thing for us to do is to park the car and spend to night there. We park the car in front of a cafe but of course it was closed because it was the 6th of January the day of the Tres Reyes (The three wise men). Another truck driver tells us that there is a hostel about a 5 minute walk and that we should see if there were any rooms available. My father goes out as he actually brought snow clothes to Spain. We see him return with a bag of food which in-turn meant no accommodation for us. However, we weren’t going to starve!  We tried to get all the clothes out of our bags and layer up. Mum and dad huddled together and my brother and I tried to huddle. This really was the definition of family bonding. I don’t think any of us really slept that night, we were all cold and uncomfortable. We couldn’t turn on the heating very often as we didn’t want to waste the car’s battery but luckily the next day the cafe opened and we were able to eat and drink a hot beverage. As we got out of the car there were about 10 other cars surrounding ours in the same situation as us. The police arrived and along with some shovels and the car was eventually freed. The amount of snow on top of our car was incredible, I don’t think I have ever seen that much snow in my life. We finally got moving and made it back to Madrid safely. This was definitely an experience I will never forget.

Andalucia

Hello all, I apologise that I am very delayed with keeping my blog in check.

From December 6th to 10th we were fortunate to have a puente (long weekend) of 5 days. I was super keen to see more of Europe but as my Italian friend only had a couple weeks of Spain left, we decided this was a great time to conquer the south of Spain, Andalucia.

Room 18 left Madrid and our first stop would be Seville. Of course we made a few stops before getting there as it is a 6 hour drive. Our first stop was not scheduled but we saw castle ruins in the distance in a pueblo (village), Almonacid de Toledo, so we decided to check it out. This place was really cool and you could only imagine what used to be there. It was unfortunate that there was no information regarding this castle.

 

Our next stop on our way to Seville was to have a late lunch in Cordoba. Although we were only here for a couple of hours it was beautiful and I would definitely need to visit again. The highlight in Cordoba is the Mezquita, the beautiful mosque designed with Islamic architecture.

 

We finally arrived in Seville, to find parking was horrendous and must have taken us an hour to find and it was 30 minutes away from our airbnb. We had an early night as we were all extremely tired. We were in Seville for 2 nights, so the next day we walked around the centre to see what Seville had to offer. This was when we started to realise that travelling through Spain during a puente was not the best idea. Lines to visit the Cathedral were enormous and if you hadn’t pre-purchased tickets beforehand, don’t even bother.

We noticed both in Cordoba and Seville that there were hundreds of orange trees lining up the streets. My Italian friend decided to pick one and eat it, I was thinking it was some sort of an Adam and Eve situation so I let him be the first to try it. It ended up being super sour and bitter that I didn’t even bother to try it. We later learned from a local that those oranges are used to make marmalade, not for just eating straight from the tree but that it was not forbidden to eat it.

Seville was definitely one of my favourite cities that I had visited in Spain. The plaza de Espana might very well be the most beautiful thing I have seen in Spain. There we hired a row boat for half an hour to row through the canal and then we hired a 4 person bike riding through the park and the plaza. I would definitely recommend as they were fun and inexpensive activities. There are bikes for up the 6 people.

The Christmas decorations were beautiful. Europe definitely knows how to do Christmas, all the lights are so classy. My favourite in Seville were the baubles. I forgot to mention it was my birthday eve, so as midnight was approaching we decided to find a bar and ask for any shot they had available to ching ching. We were a minute late but we still got our cheers. Of course when your friends start to sing happy birthday to you, you get attention from people in the bar. However, one of the men that spoke to us actually worked in the tourism industry for Andalucia and he gave us a lot of  tips on where to go and what to do whilst we were here. We then left the bar and ran into a group of men in medieval clothes playing Medieval instruments which we later found out they were from the university and one of the men was carrying a drink in his hand and offered to us to take a sip, we hesitated but decided why not. I then came across another fellow birthday person and then  found another bar and as it was my birthday we got free chocolate shots.  It was definitely a great start to my 23rd birthday.

 

The next day, still my birthday, we were off to Malaga. Malaga has both mountains and sea. For being winter it was about 20 degrees Celsius, which is what I prefer as I have been missing summer and have always been used to having a summer birthday. We got to Malaga late in the afternoon, eating a late lunch and then we strolled through the Christmas markets leading our way to the Gibralfaro lookout to see one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, definitely a great way to close my birthday.  We then walked along the pier and I decided to express my inner child and jump on the harnessed trampoline, as it was my birthday I got 2 minutes for free. We returned to the airbnb where my lovely friends surprised me with birthday cake with 23 candles and a balloon. The cake was one of the best cakes I have ever consumed containing dulce de leche and was apparently from an Argentinian resturant (which my parents are Argentinian). We then went to see the Christmas light show in the city centre and then we got ready to finish off my birthday celebrations with a delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant and then to finish it off to dancing to some reggaeton with a gorilla in a club 8 steps away from our airbnb which was extremely convenient. It was super lovely that the Italian restaurant gave us cake and champagne for free for my birthday.

 

Super tired but not hung over we left Malaga to go to Granada. It was a shame has it was a rainy day and a lot colder than Seville and Granada. Again it took more than an hour to find parking and it was 20 minutes away from the airbnb. The thing I noticed about Granada is that the food was super expensive and free wifi isn’t a popular thing. We resorted to cooking our our meals which was great anyway because out of the 4 of us the Italian (of course) was the best cook. We walked around the city centre but we were all super exhausted and had an early night. The next day we went to visit the Alhambra which comes from the arabic word Al-qala’a Al-hambra meaning the red castle. The Alhambra is what Granada is best known for. It was a shame that although we bought tickets in advance. tickets were sold out to visit the interior of the fortress- palace. We were able to get tickets  to see the gardens, which were beautiful all the same.

 

After visiting the gardens of the Alhambra we went on our way home. There was a lot of traffic jams but we eventually made it back in time for dinner and ready to start the next working day.

Amsterdammm

Finally venturing off to another country in Europe… The Netherlands! Of course where would we go with our spare three days off… Amsterdam!

We left on a Thursday night after finishing work, I went with my work college but most importantly my friend. We trained it to the airport and boarded our flight on Iberia Express to Amsterdam.

Our Airbnb was the cutest houseboat by a windmill. It was love at first sight and definitely a romantic, cosy spot for couples. It is located in a cute Dutch town called Haarlem, about 20 minutes by train to the centre and it is very picturesque.

 

The next morning we set off to Amsterdam centre and it first thing we saw getting off the train were thousands of bicycles stationed. Honestly if I parked my bike there I would definitely loose it in the sea of bicycles.

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Our first port of call was to eat, since we hadn’t eaten since arriving from the night before and we were beginning to get hangry. After eating and feeling like normal human beings again we decided that to look like locals we needed to rent a bike. Although our main goal was to rent a bike we made various pit stops along the way. We did some shopping, fed some pigeons with rice, which I’m certain I may have caught a disease from and eventually made our way to the bikes. 20171124_150653.jpg

 

We were given a map and we decided to ride around, as light was escaping us we decided to ride through Vondelpark before nightfall. I did not get any photos because as my friend would tell you, I am terrible at riding a bike. Let alone trying to ride one handed and take photos at the same time. I just don’t have that coordination. The locals either laughed at me or would tell me to go faster. I felt so bad for my friend who had to keep stopping for me because I was always so far behind. I’m just not used to riding without a helmet and riding on the right side of the road. It was all very confusing for me, but it was an experience.

We them made our way to the famous I amsterdam letters to take our touristy photos because if you don’t take a picture with the letters did you really go to Amsterdam? Even though its not the greatest quality it is proof!

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We then made our way to Amsterdam Central Station and parked our bikes among the sea of bikes hoping that we wouldn’t lose it or it would be taken away (as we kind of parked them not where they were supposed to be as it was so full) and headed back to our cosy houseboat for an early night so we can continue to explore the next day.

Thank goodness our bikes were where we left them and we remembered where they were! We were set to ride around a town called De Pijp that was recommended to us but along the way we found some markets and decided to stop by. I tried a Stroopwafel which is a thin waffle with caramel in the middle and it changed my life. Extremely delicious! We bought some souvenirs and did some of our Christmas shopping. It began to rain so we decided to have some lunch before returning our bikes and heading to the Van Gogh museum.

After lunch we rode to the Van Gogh museum which houses the world’s largest collection of artworks by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) is one of the Netherlands’ most famous artists who decided to become an artist at the age of 27, famously known for cutting off his left ear and died of suicide at the age of 37. Van Gogh’s art was not made famous until after his death. We were able to see many of his widely known pieces like Sunflowers, Almond Blossom, The Potato Eaters and his Self – Portrait with Straw Hat. We were able to gain an insight into the artist’s life through the 4 levels of his artwork displayed in the museum.

Our next port of call was a night canal ride through the beautiful canals that Amsterdam has to offer. Right before this ride it began to hail. The weather had been rainy the whole weekend and very cold. So it was lovely that the canal ride was covered with heaters, however photos did not come out very well. It was beautiful to ride through the canals at night seeing all the lights. Our driver hit the bridge twice, once forward and then when he went to reverse he hit the bridge again. The first hit was so hard that I was certain damage must have been done to the boat and the sinking of the Titanic was replaying in my head, I was not prepared to float in that freezing water. But that just made the canal ride even more exciting!

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 We were then excited to end our night with some Dutch pancakes called Poffertjes. As we were walking to the pancake place I saw some red lights and realised we were around the redlight district. As we walked past the streets we could see the females behind a glass door dressed in lingerie. I didn’t realise how open it is.
We eventually got to the pancake place and the poffertjes were amazing we ordered the Dutch poffertjes which has a cherry liquor with cherries and I could have had seconds if the restaurant wasn’t closing.

 

We then headed home to begin to pack as the next day we were going home.

The next morning we decided to walk around the quaint little town of Haarlem to find a cute cafe to have breakfast at before heading out to the airport.

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As we get to the airport we realise we forgot to leave the keys at the Airbnb. After a few moments of debating what we should do (as we were cutting it close to our flight time). We decided to leave the keys at the information desk where the owner would go to collect them. Luckily the owner was so lovely about the situation and still gave us an amazing review! We were almost worried we could never stay there again! The Dutch are one of the most friendly people I have come across, even the lady in security was having a laugh with me because I was nervous about missing our flight.

Amsterdam is definitely a city I could live in (during the warmer months). The people were lovely, the city is beautiful and the food is to die for. I am definitely coming back here!

I joined a soccer (football) team!

So as of about a month ago I joined a soccer team, or as most countries call it, football.

I know those who know me would laugh and ask if its to give water to the team or just to cheer them on but no I am actually playing. One of the girls from work told me that they have 1 euro beers after the game, so how could I not join! But honestly I joined for more than just cheep drinks. Number one was to get to know more people living in Madrid. It is a mixed team and most players are teaching English here as well. My second reason for joining was literally to get fit. It is true I am walking a lot more since arriving to Spain but I thought I needed more exercise.

So far I have played 2 games and we have lost both times, this has no correlation with me playing those days. Our team just needs a little more work, but it’s great we don’t take things too seriously and are having fun with it. Each team is a colour and I am apart of the purple team. This isn’t a serious competition, and wearing kleets are optional. However, I do hesitate when someone runs towards me and are wearing kleeted shoes. In my last game I got stepped on and my big toe was a little swollen but I have seen worse injuries playing so I can’t complain. I also flinch every time the ball comes near me but little by little I’m improving. I’m still learning how it works but at least I understand the aim is to get it into the goal and don’t use hands!

Hopefully this Sunday’s game goes better than our previous matches. I shall keep you all updated on how well we continue to do.

Morocco!!!

I had finally organised my first trip out of Spain since I’d been here and you guessed it we went to Morocco. Choosing to go to Morocco was a easy choice. First I wanted to tick another country off my list, second I wanted to claim that I had been to Africa and third I found a tour for 200 euros so how could I pass that up. I went with one of the girls’ I work with and we did a tour of the Blue Cities.

For our tour to start we had to make our way to Malaga where we would be picked up to be taken to the ferry terminal. The bus ride to Malaga was about 6 hours. Luckily, each seat had a mini screen like you would see on a  plane, so the time went by quickly. Once we got to Malaga, we checked into our hostel for the night as we were leaving for Morocco the next day. The hostel made a slight slip up with our room only having one bed avaliable instead of two but we were upgraded to a room with less people and a private bathroom. For dinner we ate samorejo, which is a typical dish from the south of Spain which consists of a tomato soup with ham and a boiled egg on top with of course a tinto de Verano (wine and lemonade).

At 10am the next day the coach picked us up from the Townhall in Malaga. It was then an hour and a half bus ride to Algeciras where we would take the ferry from to get to Ceuta which is apart of Africa but still apart of Spain. The ferry ride was about 45 minutes, and once in Ceuta we had to cross through the Spain border and then the Moroccan border in our coach and we were finally in Morocco!

Fun fact: From 1912 to 1956, Morocco was ruled by Spain in the North and by France in the South. Ceuta and Melilla are two cities still ruled by Spain.

Our first blue city that we were visiting in Morocco was Asilah. In Asilah we started off with a guided tour around the Medina, Asilah is filled with painted murals around the Medina, it was very beautiful always a new street to admire. The tour then ended with some free time to shop around and try some Moroccan mint tea. I always seem to become obsessed with tea’s assosciated with different countries that I visit. In India it was the masala chai, in Japan it was the matcha and in Morocco it is the Moroccan mint tea. We then settled in our hotel for the night with an incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Fun fact: In 2004 the law decided to make Polygamy illegal with the exception that if your first wife allows you to have a second wife then you can have a second wife. Before men were able to have up to 4 wives.

Our second day in Morocco was jam packed. We started with a camel ride by the beach in Tangier. I was fortunate to ride on the camels twice. However, I didn’t get great vibes from these camels. The first camel I rode on tried to bite me when I tried to take a selfie with it and then the second camel tried to fling me off. I then realised they must have a sixth sense because I remembered that I was wearing my camel leather handbag that I bought in India. Oops…

We then had a quick toilet break in Cape Espartel where on the left side of the lighthouse was the Atlantic Ocean and on the right you could see the Mediterranean Sea. Of course we also had another Moroccan tea during this break.

It was then another 2.5 hr bus journey to our next blue city of Chefchauen. Of course with all that tea drinking we needed to pee half an hour into our journey, so it wasn’t a fun ride. Once we got there we had a buffet lunch, which was delicious and with our tummys full we set off for a guided tour with one of the locals in Chefchauen. Our tour guide was a funny old man whose family had lived in Chefchauen for centuries. Apparently the houses are painted blue either due to an influence of the Jews or to repel mosquitoes. We then had free time to roam around. I ended up buying a hand-made blanket, had an artist paint us a picture of the city of Chefchauen and of course more Moroccan tea! We then checked into our hotel, it took us a little longer to get there as Morocco qualified for the World Cup and people were literally blocking the streets and standing on top of cars and trucks, it was quite exciting. BTW my two countries Australia and Argentina have made it!!!

 

Fun fact: Islam is the national religion with 98.7%, followed by 1.1% Christian and 0.2% Jewish.

Our final day we arrived into the city of Tetuan where we had another guided city of the city centre. We then visited a Berber Pharmacy, this is where an assortment of oils, spices, teas are available to be purchased. I am all about natural remedies so this was the place for me. I ended up buying Moroccan oil for my frizzy untamed hair and Jasmine oil which I was told was to help me relax, but I was also told 2 drops of that in milk would cure a hangover in the matter of minutes. I was sold!

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Our last activity in Morocco was to have lunch in an Arabic Palace in Tetuan where there was live music and magic shows. I also got henna done here, with my name in Arabic written on my arm. I also finally got to eat couscous in Morocco, which was definitely the best I have ever had and the best dish I had had in Morocco.

Fun fact: Green tea with mint is the national drink in Morocco. Cous Cous is their most famous dish

We then had to head back to Ceuta to catch the ferry terminal back to Algeciras. From there another bus back to Malaga and then the 6 hour night bus to Madrid. We arrived back in Madrid about 5am and we went to work with about 2 hours sleep, but with the amazing weekend we had had, it was totally worth it.

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Toledo

One sunny Saturday morning, Room 18 tackled to town of Toledo. Toledo is about a 45 minute bus ride from Madrid. Toledo is situated on-top of a gorge that is looking over the Rio Tajo. It is termed as the “city of three cultures” as Christians, Muslims and the Jewish harmoniously co-existed in the middle ages together.

As we got off the bus you look up in awe at the city above and wonder, how the hell do I get up there? Lucky for living in this day in age, there is google maps to advise us of the best route, but of course the locals were the best help. Once you reach the top, you can’t help but notice the views.

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We then had a walk around the town and decided to have a look inside the Cathedral as we had read it was ranked in the top 10 Cathedrals in Spain. It was beautiful with its medieval Gothic architecture, definitely worth a visit. I must say that 11 euros is expensive to visit the Cathedral. I am not a fan of charging to enter places of worship. I know this may not be agreed with but I believe that a donation is a reasonable fee to maintain the Cathedral, instead of commercialising it.

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We then ate lunch, I tried a traditional dish from Toledo called Carcamusa, which is a stew made from pork and vegetables in a tomato sauce with bay leaves. It was delicious and perfect for the autumn weather. Although I didn’t take a photo as it wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing.

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After lunch we continued to walk along the cobble streets of Toledo, entering gift shops and getting to know the town a little better. We decided to take one of those little trains  around the city and this was definitely worth our money. We were able to get city views and going at twilight was magical. Photos don’t do it justice, if only eyes could take photos of what we actually saw. If you don’t have much time in Toledo, I 100% advise you to take this mini train for 5 euro.

The train ride was our last activity in Toledo and it was time to head home. I couldn’t get a photo but leaving Toledo on the bus and seeing the city lit up was extremely beautiful. Toledo is worth the visit, all you need is a free day to soak up the medieval architecture and take a step back in time.