Blog update Cyprus #1
31 January 2018 | Paphos, Cyprus
overcast at times then sunny mid to high 60's occasional 70's
Blog Update Cyprus
We never planned to come here is something we often say. And some of our best adventures happen by accident. Cyprus is a large island in the mederateranian off the coast of Turkey and south of Greece. We decided to cut our time in Morocco from three months to one after we found out that we could stay in Cyprus as it does not count against our visa (we have to be out of Europe for three months before we can go back in for three months). We are glad we did as it is a really nice place to visit, English friendly (although they speak Greek), 340 days of sun a year, lots of stuff to go see, beautiful beaches, clean, safe and affordable. You can buy a 5 euro (about $6) hamburger and rental cars start at 25 euro ($30) a day. Who knew, so much history here. The island is cut in half. Half Turkey and half Greek. It was all Greek until Turkey invaded in 1974. Now there are boarder crossings into the Turkish side which we will go check out at some point. In the history of this island just about everybody has conquered and claimed it at some point, it truly is the dividing point of Christian Europe and the Muslim East. The Greek side is Orthodox Catholic and the Turkish side is Muslim. There are a few Muslims on the Greek side and a few Catholics on the Turkish side, but most were made to move after the invasion. So some on either side lost their homes, ain't war grand. The Goddess Aphrodite is said to have been born here, and has been the recipient of worship from the cult of Aphrodite, long before the Greeks ever got here. She is said to have been lifted up out of the sea on a rock (rock is still here), and was made from the testicles of another God Uranus who had them cut off by his son and thrown into the sea, quite a tale. Another myth says she was the daughter of the God Zeus and Dione but that would be Greek and Roman, the cult of Aphrodite goes back before Phoenician times, pre-written history. Enough of that. Let's see, we visited the "Tombs of the Kings" today, pretty amazing and again prior Greek, 300 plus BC, rooms cut from solid rock (see pictures). We visited a small castle/fort built in 11th century and the Turkish baths (Turkey had possession in the 1800's). Called the Turkish baths because they used them but were actually built back when the island was under Muslim rule. The Aposle Paul starting his journey carrying the message to Europe starting here in Cyprus and was said to have put curse on a sorcerer causing him to loose his sight, it's in the bible. We will be visiting many more sights but thought I would write this up before I forget as I am sure there will much more to write about here. We think that this might be a great place for expats to consider as it has a lot going for it: lots of history and things to see, beaches, sun, not a lot of rain, mountains if you prefer it cooler in the summer or sleepy little fishing villages if you want to get away from the crowds of tourists, lots of small stores and traditional restaurants or a modern mall if you want, clean and safe, reliable shipping and costs are pretty reasonable. OK there ya go, stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures.
25 January 2018 | Agadir
dry/ warm days cool nights
Blog Update Morocco
It is now the 23rd of January, 2018 and we have been in Morocco for only 23 days. We are leaving for Cyprus, a small semi independent country part Greek and part Turkish, but considered outside of the EU for visa purposes (we have to be out of the EU for 3 months). We got a little more comfortable in our new neighborhood in Agadir, daring to walk home in the dark, but not very late, 8pm max. We just give the homeless encampment (close to our apartment) a wide birth as we passed on the other side of the street, with good lighting. We just try to be smart about our surroundings and as I said in our last blog we understand that desperate people can and sometimes will do desperate things. We are reminded how blessed we are when we see people such as these refugees from troubled parts of Africa that are very poor, they have few choices as they are not allowed to work in this country, as is usually the situation for refugees. Our apartment here is roomy and everything we need for $650. however compared to our place in Costa Del Sol, Spain, right on the beach, it is a step down, our view here is of a half completed apartment building with graffiti on the walls of building around us, not to mention the homeless encampment. Agadir has been a little bit of a bust for us as there is not much to see here, the entire city was leveled by an earthquake so no historic architecture is left. There is a very nice tourist beach, but not much else. We did take a trip to a little town called Tiznit. It has an old Medina (old walled inner city) but in comparison with Tanjier it was not much to see. There is a very large souk (old community market) here, one of the biggest in Africa, we spent a few hours wandering around and getting lost there. A few notables about our time here in Morocco. The first thing that hits you is that this a 98% Muslim county so a majority of women, and to a lesser degree men, are wearing the typical Muslim dress (head scarfs, some times full face scarfs and long robes). We feel a little out of place, but also feel it gives us a little insight into how some people in the US may feel a little different being a minority. Tea culture is really big here. You see (mostly men) sitting around little tables drinking Moroccan tea, they call it Morocco whiskey (green tea mixed with mint leaves and lots of sugar) drinking their tea and watching the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. Along with the unmistakable call to prayer blasted via loud speaker across every city. Morocco is a little like Mexico an emerging 2nd world country, with lots of broken sidewalks, pollution and garbage strewn about, but like Mexico it has some cool history and remnants of it’s past still survive in the ancient Midina’s, along with camels, cobras, exotic spices, music definitely worth the visit. Cyprus in a very ancient place and has many ruins to visit. The apostle Paul was imprisoned there and the ancient Geeks and Romans had a continual presence. We will be learning more about the history when we get there. We have just cleared customs waiting for our plane here in Agadir, which was fairly intense. We will be flying to London and then we will spend the night in a hotel and then reboard for Cyprus in the morning. A little bit of a hassle but not a biggie with what we save on airfare, over $1,000 dollars. Gotta go catch the plane.
We made our way to London and were a little taken aback by the rain and cold, that’s why we go south for the winter. The next morning we boarded without issue. Today is day two here in Cyprus our apartment is nice, a bit of a step up from the one in Morocco with two bedrooms, 2 baths and a pool for $700! A taxi met us at the airport (nice) and dropped us off at our new digs. We tossed our gear on the bed and headed out to find something to eat (walking, at night, but looks safe with good lighting). We found a little Greek restaurant about half a mile away that served traditional fare for a great price of $20 for the two of us, with two drinks each! I had roasted pork skewers (not available in Morocco) and Leiann had chicken skewers with fries and salad. Next to the restaurant we found a little store and picked up the basics. Today we walked a mile or so to a large mall that also had a grocery store. We loaded up on food for the next couple weeks and got a taxi back to our place for $10. People said it was expensive here but so far seems about the same as Spain, cheaper than the U.S. We will get started exploring in the next couple days, lots to see since this place has ruins dating back to 6,000 B.C. Check out our photo's in the gallery section and stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
06 January 2018
Blog Update Africa
We found that it was less expensive for us to cross the Straits of Gibraltar via plane than ferry so we boarded our plane in Spain and headed to the African Continent. Boarding at the airport of Malaga, Spain looked much like any other modern airport terminal but when we landed in Morocco we knew we no longer in Kansas. We disembarked on the tarmac and walked into a rather tired old building with army personal very present and packing machine guns. The flight in gave us a little perspective to the lay of the land, with mostly dry hills and little clusters of flat top buildings of modest construction. As we approached the City of Tangiers we saw building after building of high rise apartments on the edge of the desert. Tangiers looks like any other large city from the air, you cannot see the ancient Medina among the tall buildings. We got a taxi easy enough and he delivered us to the edge of the Medina where our hostel was located. The word Medina is used to describe an old walled city. Inside the wall is referred to as the old Medina. The driver told us he could not drive into the Medina as the roads were to small, so he let us out at one the gates. As soon as our taxi came to a stop several men came to “help” us. We had already been warned about this situation and had seen it in Central America also. The game is: these men present themselves with big smiles and welcomes to our country with the insistence of helping you. If you allow them to carry your bag for you you are caught in the trap, as they then will lead you to where you are going or at least to where they think you are going and then the smiles are gone and the haggling for money begins and they have your bag! So with this in mind we started up the hill with all our gear on followed by men asking to help us. You don’t stop walking, eyes front, ignore all the pleas, keep saying no Shukran (thank you) and just keep going, because as soon as you so much as allow someone to point you in the right direction they will ask for money. We don’t mind helping out the poor and do so often but we try not to put ourselves in a position to be taken advantage of. We are very vulnerable with all our gear on as we could easily be shoved to the ground with the weight of our packs and then be defenseless. This in mind we try to get to our hostel or another safe place as quickly as possible when we have all our gear on. We got to our new home “The Maram Hotel” in one piece and rested up a bit before going out for our first little exploration attempt. The Maram Hotel is probably 50 years old so as one would expect a little “ethnic” so to speak, but it was clean safe and the desk man was at our disposal. We spent some time looking out over the old Medina from our rooftop patio. Our first profound experience with the Muslim world began with the mosque that was about 100 feet from our hotel. Each mosque, and they are everywhere, has a menaret (a tower) from which in days gone by a man would call the faithful to prayer five times a day, similar to the bells on the large Catholic Churches. Now days they all have loud speakers. So at five am we hear for the first time the call to payer at high volume in our room which faces the mosque. I’ll tell you it does wake you up, but just to be sure your awake they repeat it again in 30 minutes “Allah Akbar”. That first evening we ventured out a little but it was starting to get dark and the Medina is just crazy with people coming and going in the little streets, with lots of people still offering to help us or sell us something. With our gear off we feel less vulnerable but still try to be smart. We love new places and exploring, but we called it a night early after having dinner in a little restaurant near our hotel. Of course we tried to go back to sleep for a while after the call to prayer shocked us out of our slumber at 5am. We had a little breakfast, I forgot where we were and asked for a ham and cheese omelet. Dumb dumb me, the waiter just looked at me with the “are you kidding me look”. Pork of any kind is a no no for any practicing Muslim, they are not even allowed to touch it. This may sound extreme but if you check your old testament bible it will tell you in Leviticus to not eat the pig or touch it as it is unclean. If you think about it we all have learned to cook pork well because it could have worms in it. Pigs and some other animals are prone to tape worms as they tend to defecate where the eat. My wife looks at me and says I can’t believe you just did that. Spain prides itself on it’s Iberian ham and just 12 miles across the water you don’t even think about asking for it. Suffice it to say Morocco is a completely different culture from Spain. 98 percent of the population is Muslim where very little skin is shown. Women still where the full on burka, some with the entire face covered. This again may seem very strange to us westerners but if you think about it a nun with the complete habit and priest with full robe swinging incense is a pretty similar picture. This in mind we had purchased clothing so we could respect the culture we came to see. We spent the entire next two days wandering the inner city Medina. Little streets some only four of five feet wide were built for donkey and cart not cars. We visited the old palace and were amazed at the intricate lattice work carvings and exotic tile. Looking at some of this work one can imagine a man spending a month or more working on one door or ceiling piece. We strolled by streets of little shops selling exotic spices, clothing, bread, fruit, silver and copper artistically made tea pots, jewelry and an array of other things. Suffice it to say I don’t think there is anything you can’t find except a McDonald's but you can even find on of those in the newer part of town. Unlike many ancient cities surrounded by ruins of high walls to protect it against attack, Tangiers walls are all still intact. We walked the perimeter of the outside of the walls, explored the gun emplacements and stairs leading every which way. Like Gibraltar on the other side Tangiers was equally a strategic location to control the entrance to the entire Mediterranean and so has been fought over for a thousand years. Visiting Tangiers is like going back in time, more so then any place we have visited. I think many people still live in the Medina because they prefer to live in this time capsule insulating them from the outside world.
Our next stop heading south was the famous City of Marrakesh. We decided to take the overnight train (10 hours) rather than fly. We were in a semi-private car with four other people, which turned out nice as we were able to talk at length with some Moroccans and a Spanish couple who come here regularly as they have family in Marrakesh. We were able to get some good insight into the culture and also to explain to them that like ourselves the majority of America did not vote for our current president and that we do not agree with some of the things he has said that have angered many Muslims and other non-white people around the world. We arrived in Marrakesh the next morning and again got a taxi to our area of the old Medin (we like to stay in the historic areas). Again we had a guy wanting to “help” us. Neither our driver nor us knew exactly where our hostel was so we allowed this fellow to guide us, unfortunately I allowed him to take one of our small bags. We went around a corner and were at the door as it turns out, but our helper wanted the equivalent of $5 dollars for the one minute walk and had my bag. I did not have any change and he was not giving my bag back without money. We rang the bell and the manager of our hostel gave me some change so I could give the guy a couple dollars, quick easy money for him. Our hotel was really impressive and representative of the Moroccan home. Lots of pillows, tapestries, Moroccan seating around little tables, an inner courtyard with an overhead sky light and old black and while photos of the Marrakesh of the past. We dropped off our bags and again headed out to explore. The traffic was hectic to try to walk thru, don’t expect cars to stop at a crosswalk or even a light. People everywhere, crowding the sidewalks all going in opposite directions. Just crazy with lots and lots and lots of little shops everywhere with waiters coming out into the crowd to try and get you to come to their restaurant. It is a cultural shock even for us after all we have seen in Central America. But this is what we come for, to see the other side of the world. We finally made it to the famous square where you will find, snake charmers, acrobats, monkey handlers, story tellers, tattoo artists, musicians of all types, belly dancers, Berber dressed men (the Berber peoples were the first in this area. They speak a different language and wear a colorful hat and copper cups hanging on their chest as the used to sell a drink of water in the squares in the days past, now they pose for photos.) The square is about a ½ square so two miles to walk the entire perimeter. Food booths of every imaginable type. People pack into the square tightly making it a spectacle of humanity that one has to experience to imagine. Again it was starting to get dark and we were a little unsure about how to get back to our room and if the way would be lit, so we hired a Tuc Tuc (a three wheeled motorcycle with a back seat). It turned out our driver was a delight. He told us he was handicapped and so the government provides these tuc tuc taxis for people like him to make a living with. He got us right where we needed to go and we were happy to pay him for his service. That night we tried the traditional dish here called a Tajine. It is a ceramic pot with a steeple lid that is used similarly to our crock pot. You can get many different things in a Tajine with the exception of course, pork. Our first ones were, mine chicken and potatoes (a bit bland) and Leiann had one with lamb, potatoes and veggies which she said was good. Our room looked like something out of the Arabian nights with a copper sink, curtains around the bed, an antique dresser thing, and lots of pretty pillows in Moroccan style. The next day we headed out early to see what we could see. As we often do we took a tour bus around the city to get our bearing and to target sites we wanted to visit. We got off at a large olive garden and strolled around a the large man made lake that was it’s center piece. Back in the day to have water features was an extravagance that wealthy people liked to display. In the desert places where water is a matter of life and death bubbling fountains and pools were decadent displays. We found some camels for Leiann to get her picture taken on as she had wanted to do this for some time. Considering that she is deathly afraid of horses she was very courageous to give this a try. She had no inclination to ride though it was offered several times, “we just want the picture we told them”. We got back on the bus and continued to tour finding ourselves back in the square later that night feeling a little braver to stay out after dark. I got my picture with a cobra and then had to haggle the price for the privilege (this should be done before the photo). He started out at $50, I gave him $10. To watch these guys handle these deadly snakes is amazing. Leiann got her picture taken with the Berber “Water Man”. Later we walked home a new way through a two mile long gantlet of trinket shops. There were a few very little alleyways leading off this “road” but other than that it was like a dark tunnel with crowds of people going both ways, pot holes, boards to walk over larger holes and water, motorcycles and just craziness! Sometimes we get a little more adventure than we planned on, but hey it’s all part of the deal. The next day found us out of town visiting the original gathering place in the desert that became Marrakesh, the huge date palm grove. This little oasis began small but over the years traveling vagabonds would stop by, eat the dates and throw the seeds on the ground spreading the grove out until today it encompasses hundreds of trees. It was around this oasis grove that Marrakesh grew over the last thousand years to become the city it is today. Like Tangiers Marrakesh still has its Medina walls in tact. Their are several palaces inside these city walls, each having it’s own walls, so as one walks through the Medina you are surrounded by walls some 30 feet tall. Our GPS phone comes in pretty handy in these situations. (Thanks Thomas!) The dichotomy of these old Medina cities is hard to explain, imagine a little old man loading concrete blockss onto an old wooden cart pulled by a poor little old donkey being passed by a modern car with women wearing the same burkas that have been worn for a thousand years being past by tourists wearing tight jeans talking on smart phones? Marrakesh is nearly a million people strong and for us a little much. We were glad to visit both cities but now are looking forward to a little less crowds. We have just arrived in the coastal City of Agadir last night. We were a little dismayed to find our new home to be in a part of town with a large population of homeless refugees from southern Africa. We will not be going out much at night here or at least if we do it will be in a taxi. We feel for these people who we know are probably fleeing desperate situations, but we know that desperate people do desperate things and we realize that we look like wealthy defenseless old people to them so we take appropriate precautions. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
The "ROCK" of Gibraltar
25 December 2017 | Gibraltar
warm afternoon's chilly nights
Blog Update Nerja Caves and “The Rock of Gibraltar”
We have been quite busy in the last week so thought I had better write an update before there is too much info to write. We met Jan a Canadian from our neck of the woods, who had immigrated from Britian and invited her come with us on our trip up to the Nerja caves. We also met Karen from Switzerland and took her hostage with us also, the more the better. The caves were beyond our expectations and are hard to describe so that our readers can appreciate their dimensions. Suffice it to say that every time we came around a corner and got another viewpoint we said Holy Shit. The roof must has been over one hundred feet high and had stalactites coming all the way to the ground and some were 10 feet in diameter! One is called the waterfall because that is what it looks like, another called the organ because it looks like a giant pipe organ and can be played by tapping the huge stalactites of various lengths creating musical tones. After the caves we had a drink on the deck overlooking the blue Mediterranean Sea. Jan had taken another gal hostage during our excursion to add to our little group. Elayne was also from Canada but from the French speaking east. We invited them all to come to our little apartment the next night for a little dinner party of traveling strangers. It is always fun to exchange stories of our travels with people from other parts of the world. We had a great time and plan to stay in touch via face book.
Two days later we headed down the coast to The Rock of Gibraltar. We had been told not to expect to much and that it could all be seen in a day “You just go up on the cable car to the top of the rock, see the monkeys and that’s it.” We were happily surprised to find many secret treasures and lost history of the “Rock”. Leiann found us a deal for staying two days on a boat in the marina. Our state room had two single “narrow” berths with a shared bathroom. For the price it was fine but it did have some issues. First was that if you wanted go number 2 or take shower you had to walk down the dock. Next no food or drinks were allowed in our room. The bars in the marina were booming out loud music and singing till the wee hours. Our heater was on or off and we could not leave it on all night so it was cold. But in the morning waking up on the water in the center of town made it worth it and it was only for two nights. The first day we walked the water front and down to the southern point where the old light house has guided mariners for many years. As we walked we found the old WWII ship graveyards, which are still being used today. Lots of evidence of fortification along the coast. The town is very small and home to some 30,000 people so housing is packed in tight. We walked through two tunnels through the rock to get to the point. At the end of the island is a beautiful mosque, along with old WWII gun emplacements. It was cold and overcast the first afternoon there and was getting dark so we took a bus back to downtown and had dinner of traditional English fish and chips. Gibraltar or Gib (Jib) as the local Gibraltarians call it, is like a little England. English is the official language but many people are bilingual in Spanish. To understand Gibraltar it is necessary to understand a little of it’s history. Beginning in BC times many peoples have visited or tried to make “The Rock” home. Starting with the Neanderthals then indigenous tribal people, the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, Spanish and finally the English. The rock was used by pirates in the 1500’s with trade ships as all traffic has to come through the straight of only 12 miles across to the African Continent. Whoever controlled the Rock controlled trade in the Med, and it has been heavily fought over for a couple thousand years. The British ended up with it as a war prize after the Spanish war on independence. Spain signed it over to England in a treaty and for the last 300 years the English have defended it as Spain has tried to take it back many times along with France, Italy and Germany. It has become the emblem of British fighting tenacity. It was surprising for us to find out that “The Rock” is to some extent hollow. There are two hundred caves, some of which Neanderthals used in addition to the Brits fortifications digging tunnels running throughout it. There are 36 miles of tunnels on a rock of 2 1/2 squared miles. Two of the “roads” under the rock are 60 feet wide. 1600 soldiers were able to live inside the “Rock” during attacks by the Germans, with a hospital, a power generator, a water distillery, a freezer and multi level cannons facing out from every crevice. It’s no wonder no one has been able to pry it loose from the Brits. Today England would just as soon be rid of it and Spain still wants it back. But the people of Gibraltar have fought against the Spanish for three hundred years and consider themselves an independent state yet somehow still a part of the common wealth of England. They are a very independent lot. We learned not to make the mistake of calling them Spanish, although most of the workers in the town live in Spain, as Gibraltar real estate is very expensive. The monkeys on the top of the rock are called Barbary Apes because they love to steal whatever the can from tourist just like their Barbary Pirate namesake’s did 500 years ago. They are the only remaining primates left in all of Europe. It is said “As long as there are still apes on the rock the British will continue to hold it”. We were also surprised to learn of the existence of a Moorish castle built back in the 1100’s, which we visited. We were amazed exploring “St. Michael’s Cave” with it’s huge caverns, fascinating stalactite forms and deep passage ways that perforate through the rock like Swiss Cheese. All in all we really enjoyed our visit as we love learning of the history and culture of the places we visit. We will heading up to the last strong hold of the Moors (Moroccans) in Spain, Granada, after Christmas before heading across the straights for ancient Tangier in North Africa. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
The Coast of the Sun "Coasta Del Sol"
14 December 2017 | Coasta Del Sol, Span
low 60's in the day , cool low 50's at night
Blog Update December 12th
We left off in our last update with our first two weeks in Seville, Spain. We spent another two weeks after that exploring Seville and just doing some chilling. The weather is finally turning colder with a couple of days of light rain. We took in a couple Flamenco shows and learned a little about this dance. I call it a dance but it is as much a part of Spain as is bull fighting, wine and Iberian ham (prosciutto to us). We learned that the dance started in the Triana district of Seville, where we just happened to live. It first started out with the Gypsy women dancing to music on the poor side of the river. They say that the song is the heart of the dance, like an opera the dancer responds to the story being told, whether it be a sad, angry or joyous part. So dances vary greatly depending on the song or story being told. Also clapping is a big part of the dance as family members and neighbors would participate in the dance and encourage the dancers to really turn it on and tap and stomp her feet as fast and as loud as she could. Then at other points in the song a soft clapping with slow graceful movement followed by a soft spoken "Ole" by the group. The dance is customarily done by one guitarist, a singer and one or two dancers. Leiann loved this stuff and I always enjoy learning about history and culture. This dance really speaks to what was happening in Spain's golden years, the 1500's. This was at the height of the Spanish Inquisition so showing a little leg and bare arms was forbidden by the church, but this was the expression of the working people and some of the only entertainment they had. So the Flamenco was a rather underground thing in the beginning, until it became accepted as an art form and crossed over the river to the wealthier side of Seville. As the years have gone by elements of many cultures have added elements to the dance, Moroccan and Gypsy mix to make up the Spanish custom. So if you ever come to Spain you have to go to a Flamenco show. We loaded up the packs and headed out for our next stop Benalmadena, next to the town of Malaga or known to Europeans as Costa del Sol. We had planned to stay in Malaga but this place became available and was not as big a town. Overlooking the marina and the blue Mediterranean. We can spit on the beach from our balcony, life is good. So far we have done a little beach strolling, made a visit to the little tourist town of Miijas. At Miijas they have donkeys pulling little carts of tourists around town with lots of leather work for sale in the square. There was a famous little chapel known as the "Virgin La Pena" (Madonna) of the rock. Apparently a monk spent many years hollowing out a large rock to make a chapel for the little doll (a Madonna, statue of Mother Mary). The story goes that the Madonna (Virgin of La Pena or Virgin of The Rock) was found buried in an old church ruins hundreds of years old by a couple of goat herders who were led to the location by a dove. This was considered a miracle so the Catholic church took the statue to Madrid after the find. This monk who apparently had a vision of Mary above the rock pleading for it's return and worked many years to build a place for her, so they gave it back. Now many reports of the image of the Virgin over the rock have been sighted over the years and it has become a place of pilgrimage by the faithful. An interesting place to visit and yet there was another castle there also, they are everywhere here. We have spent a few days up in Malaga site seeing. Yet another huge castle, this one is supposed to be the largest "intact" castle in Spain. Again many beautiful churches and we visited the Picasso Museum (he was a strange guy and an acquired taste) he was born here in Malaga. We went down the coast a few miles to the town of the rich and famous, Marabella. It is the off season, thank God, so not too busy but we have been told that during the summer it gets crazy with lots of Ferrari's and Bentley's. We were just strolling through the town and happened upon the historic district with lots of little narrow alley ways and the remains of the old city walls in Moorish times. We have a couple more weeks left here and we plan to head up to the old town of Granada. This was the last city that the Moors held until they were finally concurred by the Catholic King Ferdinand and the famous Queen Isabella in the mid 1500's. After that the Moors headed back across the straights of Gibraltar never to recapture Spain again after a 700 hundred year occupation. We will be heading that way ourselves in a couple weeks. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
Seville, Spain 1
18 November 2017
We have now been in Seville for a couple of weeks, thought I had better update the blog before I forget all the stuff we have already seen and done. After a short two hours on the bus we arrived at the bus station in Seville. Our host was waiting for us and took us to our new little home. Rooie (our host) is British, he has been very helpful and welcoming. The next day we headed out, lost as always (as we prefer). We figured out how to use the subway and took it into the center of town and proceeded to walk around exploring. The first thing that hits you in Seville is the cathedral, it is massive, starting out as a mosque in the 10th century, then turned into a Catholic church in the 1500’s, and Columbus’s tomb is kept there. The architecture is breath taking (please check out the pictures as it cannot be described). We walked to the top of the Tower of Gold, dating back to the 1400’s, standing guard at the rivers edge. It is called that because at one time it was covered in gold colored tiles. The sailing ships that discovered the New World all sailed out of Seville which is 30 miles up a river. The slow river current allowed the big ships to glide in with the tide and flow out with the current, while giving protection for storms and pirates. Tons and tons of gold, silver and spice flowed into Spain this way and made it very rich, in the day. You can see that they spared no expense building huge churches and palaces here. Everywhere we walked we found ourselves looking up and gawking at the beauty of the buildings around us. We didn’t walk another block before running into a10th century castle with walls that used to surround the entire city (166 towers!). The next day we thought, as we often do, that we would grab a tour bus to get the lay of the land and target places we wanted to visit. So much to say about Seville, where do I start. To sum up Seville in as few words as possible: Bull fighting as a religion, Orange tree’s along the streets, World exploring seafarers, Iberian pork (prosciutto), tile art, wine, Flamenco dancing, Columbus had the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria built here, Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Moorish, Spanish, Catholic, Home of the Spanish Inquisition, castles, palaces and Gothic architecture, Arid, inexpensive and very beautiful. (Phew...) So we try to go slow and visit one or two places a day at most. Spending time just sitting at sidewalk cafes reading and watching the world pass by or just exploring our own little (ethnic non-tourist area) neighborhood. So in two weeks we have so far visited: Santa Ana church (the oldest in Seville, built in 1250), the Royal Castle aka Alcazar, the Plaza De Espana Palace, Maria Louisa Park (huge), the bull fighting museum and ring, the Macarena basilica (home of the city patron saint “Macarena” another version of Mother Mary), went aboard working replicas of Spanish wooden sailing ships, visited the tower of gold, the ancient pottery kilns and museum, San Jorge Castle (home of the Spanish Inquisition), the Jewish quarter (dating back to roman times), an art museum of 14th through 17th century painters and sculptors and just general exploring around town. Lots of walking which is good for us. We feel very safe out at night here, streets are well lit and very clean. One thing we have had to get used to in Spain is that many businesses close at 4pm and open again at 6 or 8, most people here don’t go out to eat until 8pm, so restaurants all stay open to midnight. We have tried to find some restaurant to feed us at 4 or 5, forget it unless you are in the tourist district. We have a friend (Thomas) coming to visit us for a few days. He shared a hostel with us in Medellin, Colombia and again in Ecuador. Thomas is from Norway and travels the world working online for a living. He is currently in Malta (in the Mediterranean) so we told him to come visit us as he was close. It has been really cool to catch back up with people we have met traveling as you expect with 7 billion people out there you most likely will never see each other again. We have been able to do this several times and it’s always amazing to run into them. The climate here has been warm for this time of the year in Spain (70’s during the day 60’s at night) chalk that up to global warming. We still have much to see here before we continue our trek south. We plan on staying on the south coast of Spain in a town called Malaga for a month. We will be right on the north shore of the Mediterranean. We plan on visiting a few historic places there (Granada and Gibraltar) and then we will take a ferry across the straits into North Africa. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures and be sure to check out out pics in the photo gallery.