Monday, February 20, 2012

No More Francais!

as i told you in my last post, we are in Spain. right now i'm writing from the hostel computer in Madrid, but here's a condensed version of what i've been up to since crossing the strait...

aka the Aspen of the Mediterranean.
after arriving on the coast of Spain, we took a bus to Gibraltar. our original intention was to take a ferry to Gibraltar and thus arrive there like so many in history, but we couldn't do that due to 2 major factors, the ferry being broken and the chance of S St J getting seasick again. so we took a bus to the closest Spanish town and walked to last .5k to the Gibraltar border, where they did not even check our passports. Gibraltar itself is pretty packed, since the rock takes up so much of the landmass they really have to economize space. what i mean is, it's impossible not to get a parking ticket. luckily we don't have a car.
we climbed the rock and hung out with the monkeys, who you are not supposed to feed, even though we saw the park staff and some tour guides feed them. they are pretty cute but exteremly sneaky. i have lots of pictures, don't worry. we also went into the tunnels they dug into the rock during WWII, which allowed us some pretty awesome views, especially of the airport landing strip, which starts in the water and is intersected by a road AND a pedestrian footpath. like i said, they really have to economize space. let me tell you, even though there's pretty much no chance of air traffic control making a mistake, you do tend to pick up your pace when crossing a commerical airstrip on foot.

for those of you who don't know much about Gibraltar-i didn't-it is techinically an overseas British territory. they even vote in parilimentary elections. they have their own currency, the Gibraltar pound sterling, which is exactly like the British pound sterling only you can't use it anywhere else in the world. about 40 or so years ago the people of Gibraltar were given a chance to decide to be either a British or a Spainsh territory...they voted for Britian with a majority of 94%. burn on Spain! they have the strangest dialect, a mix of British english and Spainsh-everyone has to learn both languages-and supposedly this combination is where the word "gibberish" comes from. they are kind of hard to understand when they get going.

and let me tell you, Gibraltar is the posh-est big rock in the world. they have their own fashion magazine, beauty contests, and way more high-end stores then souviener shops. it's amazing how much they crammed into such a small space. we did not stay very long, which is probably a very good thing for our pocketbooks. we did have the unique experience of accidently going to the high school hangout on a friday night...ooh. the drinking age is 18 there but i am not sure this place was carding. needless to say, 21 isn't such a bad drinking age. finding yourself in a bar full of drunk highschoolers is just about the last thing the weary traveller wants. the bar staff sympathised with us, but maybe we should have had sympathy for them.
so Gibraltar...yes. except don't go to the Tunnel on friday nights unless you want 16 year old boys to stumble on you while drunkenly yelling in your ear for a cigarette.

what a great city! i had a wonderful time here...our hostel was nice, we took some free walking tours that really gave us a different perspective, it was easy to naviagate...just really fun. we even went to a flamenco show. i think S St J is considering a new career path. Seville was where we really started to adjust to Spain, to stumbling in Spainsh and seeing Catherdrals that used to be mosques...apparently the Moors really knew what they were doing. i almost wish they'd colonized USA for awhile to leave some awesome architecture behind. but that's in the past. wayyy in the past. the present is all about looking at paintings from the past, and we did plenty of that. the highlight was the palace where Isabella and Philip lived, began by the Moors which gave it some pretty incredible ceilings and gardens. they sure know how to do the fountains in Spain.

like Seville, easy to navigate and goregous. they had an old Roman bridge, and that bridge had ducks. which we fed. we also explored the Mezquita, another mosque turned church. this one still has services, so we got to walk around in it while the organ was playing, which was pretty awesome. Cordoba also has some unique local cuisine which we tried one night. it pretty much tasted like cheese soup with ham to me, but my palate is very unsophisticated. unless you're talking about sangria. okay, even then it's pretty unsophisticated.

woooooooo. Granda was fun. we took the chance to go tapas hopping...most of the bars give you a free tapas with your drink, so you just bar hop and try what they have. some give you a choice, others just give you whatever they want. the best was a bar we found on wikitravel, and they are famous for having the best in Granada. we were not disappointed. that being said, none of the tapas we tried were bad. and Granada is a great place to wander around at night, they have no shortage of illuminated fountains.
we also went to the Alhambra, another palace with similar influences-though a very different look, and much larger-to the one in Seville. positioned on a hill overlooking the city, it had breath-taking views as well as beautiful temples, gardens, and an awesome-looking museum that was, of course, closed. ehhhh. highlight of Granda? the day spent at the SCIENCE PARK where we got to see their special exhibit on the almighty T-rex. they also had a really cool Escher exhibit, a butterfly house, a room for Andulasian culture, an endangered predatory bird rehabiliation program, a human body exhibit, and a whole plaza we barely had time to explore that featured an observatory, an astronomy museum, and a lot of touchable examples of water, wind, and solar energy. Spain has more then a few wind turbines lining their coast, they are obviously very forward-thinking in the alternatve energy category. i would have gladly spent another day there, but we lost our ticket-funny story-and we were never really clear on whether or not we got a 2-day pass anyways. so we decided to come on to Madrid, since we leave Friday, and there's lots to see here. This will probably be my last post for the trip-unless something amazing happens, but once i get home i'll make sure to put pictures up here for those of you who don't have facebook, and maybe i'll even throw up some tidbits about Panama and Costa Rica.
love you!

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