Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chafchaouen - Chaouen, Morocco



Chafcaouen or Chaouen is probably on my list of top 5 places I have ever visited.  With the color of blue blanketing this city, you get this feeling you are in a different world all together.  Situated about 2 hours inland from Tangier (the northern coast of Morocco), Chaouen is a place of tranquility and peace.   Most of the people I saw reminded me of Ferdinand The Bull (1938 Disney film and story book).  Along the two hour drive to Chaouen, I saw a handful of people just sitting by a tree, or a bush, in the middle of no where, enjoying their scenery and "smelling the flowers", just like Ferdinand.  Men wore dishdashas or hooded thobes, while the woman wore Al karam robes and scarfs.  There were a few men and woman dressed in western style clothes, especially the younger generation, showing off their high end jeans and Gucci sunglasses.
Local men enjoying their Saturday reading the paper, and talking.
The minute we arrived at our hotel, we were offered drugs.  What customer service!  Of course we kindly said no, but this man wasn't giving up.  He offered us drugs two more times during the time we stayed there, as well as tours around the city.  We found on other travel blogs, that we should avoid these kind of "tours".  They end up taking you on a tour, and then demand you pay them a sum of money. Then you pay, and then they demand more.  I explain this because, even though we avoided "tour guides", Marcos and I were swindled out of our money by little boys!  They were "helping us get to the square", in which we had already been to multiple times, but they felt the need to just come along anyway.  After 20 minutes or so with the boys, we couldn't get rid of them, and had to pay them off!  Swindlers, I tell ya.
Boys that got some Euros out of me!
We only had one day to see all of Chaouen, but one day is all you need. The old town is uniquely charming, blue and the most different old town I have come across.  Founded in 1471, Chaouen has about 35,000 residents, though it doesn't feel that big at all.  Roaming the little blue pathways of the old town, we came across schools, bath houses, and lots of locally owned shops.  Everything was blue, the walls, the doors, the stairs and pathways.  In my head, I was singing "Blue Lips" by Regina Spektor the entire time we were walking.
"Blue lips, blue veins

Blue, the color of our planet

From far, far away"


After walking up and toward the right of the old town, we came across a river, where the woman did their laundry.  They didn't like us taking pictures, and if you got too close, they screamed at you and waved for you to leave.  I stood my distance, but I had to take some pictures.  It wasn't warm in Chaouen, in fact, it was quite cold, and these woman were barefoot in the river washing giant size rugs, and carrying these rugs and clothes on their back to their homes.





Returning back to Cadiz was a huge deal.  A storm came in and our ferry was cancelled.  We were driven to another ferry, in which we waited for hours to get on and even more hours to actually get the boat going.  We didn't go back to the city we started at in Spain, so we had to get a hotel for the night and take a bus in the morning!  It was a crazy Sunday.  But what a trip!  There are more pictures here, which I encourage you to 
look through, because as I said before, Chaouen is so very charming, and the most different place I have ever visited.

Most of you already know, but I am returning back to Spain tomorrow morning for two weeks.  I will be staying in Cadiz the entire time, returning to school, and participating in the Carnival celebrations!  Stay tuned.... xo.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Granada

Helllooooooooo,

So as most of you know I am back in the USA and happy to be home.  3 months in Spain went by so quick, too quick actually, so fast that I decided I needed a little more and will be returning on Feb. 27th until March 14th!  I mean, who doesn't want to go celebrate Carnival and study two more weeks of Spanish!?  :)

I didn't get a chance to blog a few trips while I was there and since I have been home I have been iNsAnEly busy.... so this blog comes to you a little late.

GRANADA

Marcos was so excited to go to Granada.  He had lived there for two years and studied Graphic Design, so it was his home away from home.  The minute we got off he was practically jumping up and down with excitement.  We quickly got to our hostel, and set out in the town. We hiked up the old town (it's on a mountain) and enjoyed the view of the city and the Alhambra at night.

Granada is, to me, one of the most different cities I had visited in Spain.  It has tons of mountains, trees, and pretty landscapes.  The old town is gorgeous, up along side the mountain and walking around in the old town was one of my favorites.  It's amazing how old these homes are and the roads that surround them.  Just walking on them, hurt your feet because the rocks were so big and round.  The bars in Granada are also super cheap.  You can go and get a drink, beer or diet coke and you get free tapas.  FREE TAPAS!!!  And good tapas too!
Marcos and I visited the markets the first day.  We roamed the streets, buying teas and souvenirs.  There is a very Moroccan feel in Granada.  Lots of hippy shops, and Moorish style art.  There is something very entertaining about just simply walking the streets of a new town.  I think that is my favorite thing to do when I travel.  You see so much, and everything is a surprise because you really don't know where you are going!
On Sunday we visited the Alhambra.  It is a days event.  This place is huge!  Palace after palace and the gardens were gorgeous, along with the views!!  There is so much history packed all on one mountain.  What a site.  I can only imagine what the gardens would look like in the summer time in full bloom!



Here is the link to the web album if you want to see more pictures.  
ENJOY!