I did not share any images from my trip for a long time, because, well, I didn’t know a global pandemic was coming. I had been planning a trip to Morocco and southern Spain for several months, and had only heard a few stories about “this virus” over in Asia. Surely we didn’t need to worry about it! After waiting four years, I was finally embarking on a ten-day trip with my Good Best Girl, Hannah, and we made the most of it! We hit Rabat, Morocco first for four days staying with friends. We toured the Chellah, site of Roman ruins, and then strolled through the Udaya, a white citadel in Rabat on the Atlantic Ocean. Hannah loved the stark whitewashed walls and vivid blue doors. The smell of orange blossoms was always in the air. Early Saturday morning we took the bullet train to Tangier to catch a ferry to Tarifa, Spain. We spent one night in a cute little hostel a stone’s throw from the water, where the concierge handed us each a set of ear plugs and said in halting English, “You know there’s a Carnival tonight….right? Until 4:00am?” We said we’d be fine. And it was so much fun!! The whole town came out en masse in costume, holding a parade and then breaking up into singing acts in every little square. There’s nothing like it back in the States.
The next day, trains were shut down for International Women’s day. Undeterred, we caught a ride to Algeciras and rented a car to drive to Granada. We stopped for lunch and to stretch our legs in Marbella. Every person should rent a car and drive along the coast of southern Spain once in his life. It was unforgettable. The Rock of Gibraltar loomed in the distance as we wound along the highway. The countryside, was vast and mountainous, and every hill covered in olive groves. Occasionally we’d spy a castle perched on a hill and wish we could knock on its door. We made it to Granada by the afternoon and in the spirit of economy, our friend Zach said we’d just walk and roll our suitcases to our Airbnb apartment. “It’s only a couple of blocks!” he insisted. It was a mile. Fortunately we were not the only tourists rolling huge suitcases down sidewalks in the middle of the day. We chose the flamingo room, and Hannah promptly passed out on the bed.
Granada! My favorite place. Home of the Alhambra, of storied fame. Washington Irving, famous author of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow wrote Tales of the Alhambra in 1832. It was crazy to read of his descriptions, having been in the same place myself nearly two hundred years later. Granada was our favorite, because 1. we hadn’t quite started battling upset stomachs from the rich, fatty Spanish tapas yet, and 2. the pandemic hadn’t begun shutting Spain down. We witnessed a gorgeous flamenco performance our first night, then visited the Alhambra the next day. Our final day we toured the Catedral de Granada, nearly breaking our necks looking up at the ceiling so high above. I felt as if I was walking in the Mines of Moria.
For our final three days, we took a train to Madrid. There, we shared a gorgeous apartment with four others a block from the Four Seasons. Hannah was battling tummy trouble on and off so she missed most of Madrid, and sadly, I didn’t want to visit the Prado without her, so I never saw it. By the time she felt better, the museum and every other public space had closed due to the virus. We did not have to alter our flights home, and couldn’t have anyway, but we did feel a sense of escaping a trap right as the door closed. We enjoyed our time tremendously, and it was absolutely marvelous being in north Africa and Europe with my daughter. I would go back in a heartbeat; there was still so much to see and do!
So, here are a few photos I took with my point-and-shoot Canon EOS M. I didn’t want to lug around my regular camera, and I would definitely take something better than what I had next time. Hopefully life will get back to normal, or at least to the point where we can control this virus through vaccines and conscientious hygiene practices. I was amazed at how much Spanish I knew, and how much highschool French came back when I needed to exchange money in Rabat. Seeing the bar where Ernest Hemingway loved to sit and drink beer was such a thrill. Walking the gardens of the Alhambra, hearing the doves cooing in the canopy above, the incessant tinkling of fountains and inhaling the perfumed air of orange blossoms is to be in paradise. This is why we work and save and strive–to go and see and taste! To experience and to meet others. So I repeat, I cannot wait until I can go again.