Finally, a chance to catch my breath! At 2 AM, but I will take it. I’ve now been in Europe for nine days, yet I think I’ve crammed in three weeks worth of emotions into that short time. It’s been a jammed-packed week at full-speed ahead, but it’s been fantastic. I’ve only had four negative emotional breakdowns! Yes!
So to do a little recap of the madness thus far, let’s all travel to a magical, cold, rainy place called Berlin . . .
It was in Berlin that I discovered I took something besides a spoon and blanket from my otherwise completely delightful Lufthansa flight (window seat in the bulkhead, hello!): pink eye! Yes! I don’t know about you, but I LOVE starting my vacations off with a disgusting, crusty-eyed bang. That was breakdown one. I went to the doctor, he reprimanded me for wearing my glasses on the flight (I know, I know), and gave me some drops that I had to take for EIGHT DAYS. So, no contacts or eye makeup until today: the makings of blurry vision and fabulous pictures. Ho hum. Besides the eye crap, it also poured and was FREEZING the entire stay in Berlin, so not the best for doing much of anything.
We then flew to Madrid and immediately got on the road towards Lisbon, stopping for the night in a city called Talavera de la Reina, where we were introduced to the beloved and very popular Spanish custom of unmarked roads that resemble a bowl of spaghetti.
The drive to Lisbon was great: beautiful scenery, nice roads, high speed limits, but we soon realized that the beloved Spanish custom was also practiced in Portugal. Roads that were built for one horse 500 years ago should not allow cars to traverse them. Just a thought. Emotional breakdown two. But as soon as we found our hotel and dumped our car in a garage, everything changed. We absolutely loved Lisbon and from there moved south to the coast, to the Algarve, as I mentioned in my previous post.
From there we headed back into Spain to Sevilla and yet another clusterwordthatrhymeswithduck. Mental breakdown number three. But, again, once we got to the hotel (and by hotel I of course don’t mean the one I reserved online, nooo. I mean the one we had to move to because the first one cancelled our reservation. Something about me entering ONE number of my credit card wrong, blah blah blah. Needless to say, I’m not allowed to make hotel reservations anymore. HA, jokes on you, John!) . . . uh, where was I? Oh yes, everything was great! No, seriously, it was. Sevilla is magical, and at every turn there is something that makes you go “oh my god, I’m in Spain”. There are guitar players on corners, tapas being eaten everywhere, incredible buildings, narrow streets that open to grand plazas, and beautiful women. Seriously. All of them. If you are into Spanish women, go to Sevilla. There is an endless supply of stunningly beautiful girls. Shockingly, this did not cause mental breakdown number four.
From Sevilla we drove to Tarifa, which is Spain’s southernmost port. We were pleasantly surprised by how cool this little Spanish surf town was. Chic restaurants, lots of young people, and a laid-back atmosphere. In the morning we took the ferry to Tangier, Morocco. Here I had a mini-breakdown because I forgot how stressful it can be to travel in the Middle East. The second we stepped off the boat, we were surrounded by people trying to sell us things, give us tours, all of them with their specially crafted story. I’ll get into this in greater detail at another time, but I’m not going to lie, I really wanted to just get back on the boat to Spain. I really was not in the mood to deal with a pushy dwarf with a fake New York accent chasing me around Morocco at 8 AM. No. Really. But we stuck it out, figured our way around, and ended up having a great time. Puts finger to chin and tilts head upward. So close to Europe, such a world away in so many ways. Audience rolls eyes.
And speaking of a world away, we soon found ourselves in Britain: Gibraltar. Gibraltar is obviously geographically Spain, but you go through customs (no stamp – whatever!) and, whoa, everything is in English, and I don’t mean just the language. Bobby’s on the beat, the red telephone booths, pubs, fish & chips, the Arsenal/Chelsea match . . . it was like being in some sort of even more surreal Epcot . . . with monkeys! Gibraltar is home to Barbary Macaques and they are maybe my favorite animal. So unfazed by the stream of humans making way through the park, they have no problem jumping onto your car, or even you. So much fun.
Next was the Costa del Sol. Marbella and Malaga were the two main destinations on our list, but we ended up kind of hating them so we moved on. I’ll get into it later, but that was last breakdown, number four. Well, for now of course. We found two far less sprawling and far more idyllic places, Torre del Mar and Nerja and fell in love with them, particularly Nerja. Absolute paradise. I only wish we had skipped Malaga and Marbella all together and spent more time there. But no matter, because who has time anyway?
This brings us to today where we spent the day in Valencia wandering around the City of Arts and Sciences, which is a feast for the senses to say the least. We had a very relaxing day just strolling through the futuristic compound and the aquarium there, which is astonishing. So well done. The animals look healthy, are active, and everything is just so gorgeously put together. We weren’t going to go because the admission is pretty pricey, but it was well worth it.
In the early evening we drove to Barcelona (about 3.5 hours) and I’m now writing this in our chic little hotel room very near the Sagrada Familia. From here on, things should be a bit more relaxing. We’re finally spending more than one night at the same hotel (ahhhh) and are ready to finally experience some of this laid-back, siesta-loving way of life we’ve been hearing so much about. On Friday night we’ll head to Avignon for our friends’ wedding on Saturday, and then it’s through the Cote d’Azur, which should be less break-neck.
We are clearly insane, but I look forward to sharing more details and actual stories, because hoooo boy, there have been some doozies! Good ones, crazy ones, bizarre ones (hello, did I mention the MOROCCAN DWARF WITH THE FAKE NEW YORK ACCENT?), and sentimental ones all in just a little over a week! And we still have like TEN days left! I hope you don’t get sick of trip talk because I have enough material to last through the end of the year.
Oh, and a word about the terrorism threats: we live in New York City. Our life is a terrorism threat. Kill me here or kill me there, just let me eat some dates wrapped in bacon first, please.