Archive for October, 2009

City of Gaudi

Barcelona

After leaving Marbella, we headed straight for Barcelona. We spent three nights there, and right away we knew that it wasn’t enough. As Meg touched on in her last post, we’ve booked a major journey from Athens to Signapore which leaves at the end of November. As a result, we are limited in how much time we spend in each place we visit, so Barcelona got three days. We tried to make the most of them.

Priority number one for anyone visiting Barcelona, especially with a background in architecture, has to be Gaudi. Not that this is hard — in fact, it’s nearly impossible to turn your head and not see Gaudi’s influence or name in the city. I’ve never seen a city that has so completely adopted an architect as their pride and joy. Our hostel was just down the street from Casa Batll√≥, and a few blocks away from Casa Mila. Unfortunately, the price of entry to each was rather steep, and since we’re on a tight budget, we had to enjoy them from the street. We were saving our euros for entry into the true Gaudi masterpiece…

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After Europe

Over the last couple of weeks Mark and I have been doing a lot of research into the next big legs of our journey. It has not been a walk in the park. There aren’t many people doing what we’re doing and aren’t a lot of helpful of resources (except for the man in seat 61 whose site has been invaluable). There are oceans to cross, visas to obtain and countries to avoid. There are costs, non-existent timetables and websites in unfamiliar languages. The world is not open to us as it would be if we were to fly and we are struggling with coming to terms with the fact that we may have to miss out on some places we desperately want to visit, like Nepal. We are at the mercy of what mode of transport is A) available to us in a general direction of favour, B) leaves when we want to leave (+/- a couple weeks), and C) costs the least. With these factors in mind we have booked our next big leg: Europe to Asia aboard…(drumroll)…

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Thoughts:
Travel fitness

working out

Travel is good for our mental health, but bad for our physical health.

On Eating
Everything is a novelty to us. Another bottle of Rioja? Croissants with butter for breakfast? Brie? Blue cheese? Camembert? French fries with mayonnaise? Bacon sandwich? Olives? Anchovies? Meat with that meat? Duck fat fried duck fat? But of course. When in Rome.

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Gorge-ous Ronda

View from Ronda

We’ve spent the last week near Marbella, Spain, which is on the Costa del Sol. We are staying in an apartment resort which was booked for us as a birthday gift to Meghan by her parents. It’s been like a vacation from our travels, and a great chance for us to recharge and take care of some much-needed planning that we’ve been putting off. But even though we have spent most of the week sleeping in and cooking our own meals, we couldn’t resist the urge to take a day trip to Ronda.

We drove from the coast up into the heart of the mountains in only an hour and a half, and were treated to some great panoramic views from the windy road as we climbed. It’s really hard to take a drive to a town called Ronda without singing “help me Ronda, help, help me Ronda” the whole way up. We did this. I don’t even like that song. Meg does.

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Marrakesh:
the calm

Riad Carina

Now that I’ve written about the chaos, let me write about the calm. The other side of Marrakesh is a hidden, quiet side, tucked away and protected by the thick walls of the city’s buildings. What a difference is discovered there! Without these balancing spaces and moments, Marrakesh would simply overwhelm and exhaust. But with them, the city transforms and takes on the character that we found so seductive.

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Photos:
Rabat and Marrakesh

Check out the photos page for new pictures from Rabat and Marrakesh, Morocco.

Marrakesh:
the chaos

Venturing out

After spending time in Chefchaouen and Rabat, we felt ready for Marrakesh. This turned out to be both true and false. On arrival at the train station, we successfully by-passed the tourist-poaching expensive taxis and haggled a good price from a smaller one. We managed to direct our taxi to the neighbourhood of our riad, and after disembarking, managed to find the riad without too much trouble. Our time in Morocco up until then had prepared us for hassling shop-keepers, foreign languages, and culinary adventures. Our culture shock had receded. We were going to be fine.

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Best birthday ever

Feeling stork-y

Warning: I gush in this post, which may inspire wanderlust in some…

My 29th birthday will never be forgotten and goes down in my books as one of the most memorable days ever. If I live to be 99 it will be hard to top this.

Marrakesh was magic.

It’s a city of ridiculous contrasts, elevating each experience above and beyond expectation. It’s an oasis in the middle of a desert with intense colours, smells, flavours, people, animals, frenzy and tranquility all rolled into one. I’ve never felt dirtier and I’ve never felt cleaner. You could have the best time of your life here or the worst. It’s a place where if you weren’t already in love, you would fall in love. It’s an unforgettable place. Having Mark to share this with me was priceless.

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Happy Birthday Meg!

Happy Birthday Meg!

Today is Meghan’s birthday, and we’re celebrating in Marrakesh! Happy birthday Meg — I hope it’s one of your most memorable birthdays ever!

Photos: Chefchaouen

We’ve posted our photos from Chefchaouen on the photos page, and they are some of our favourites so far. Enjoy!

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