Spain, Portugal, and Morocco

Rick and I are back from a wonderful vacation (bus tour) of Spain, Portugal (Lisbon) and Morocco (Tanger).  We arrived in Madrid two days before the tour group gathered and toured the Palacio Real. Highlights:  the Porcelain Room, Charles II’s Antechamber with its frescoes and treasures, Alfonso XII’s Japanese (smoking) Room, the Royal Chapel and Royal Armory filled with horse and manly armor.  How did the men manage to move around in these suits?  I kept picturing one falling from his horse and lying sprawled and helpless as an overturned turtle – or beetle.  El Prado held a treasury of Goya and El Greco paintings.   

We moved fast, as we always do on these “overview” trips we enjoy.  We headed out to El Escorial, the 16th century monastery and palace, and the Valley of the Fallen where a Basilica has been build into a mountain and the enormous cross on the mount above.

On to Segovia with its ancient Roman aquaduct, Avila with its Roman bridge and old city walls and Salamanca.  We traveled through Portugal to Fatima and Lisbon where we spent a wonderful evening dining while enjoying “fado” music unique to Lisbon.  El Divo has competition!   We wandered around Sintra, a lovely little town where the royalty escaped the heat of summer, and managed a little shopping (one little painted rooster, a symbol of Portugal).

We traveled south and east into Spain again, spent two nights in Seville.  Oh, my.  A month wouldn’t have been enough time.   We walked the narrow alleys (packed with shops) of the old city, visited the spectacular cathedral, had dinner and were awed by the skills of the flamenco dancers with their fiery attitudes and costuming.

From Seville, we headed south to Algeciras, crossed the Straits of Gibraltor, had a walking tour of the seaport town of Asilah and spent a day and a night in Tanger.  More than enough considering the police car parked near our hotel, the armed guards inside and outside, and staff blocking anyone from going out.   Men showed up at 3 a.m. shouting about “America”.   The staff wouldn’t translate what was shouted the next morning.  It didn’t stop us from taking out walking tour of the old city where we found ourselves swarmed by (overly) friendly street vendors.

Once back in Spain, we settled in Torremolinos where women sunbathing topless.  A few men on the bus got whiplash.  We backtracked for a day at Gibraltor, explored St. Michael’s Cave, and met the Barbary Apes.  Churchill said as long as there are apes on Gibraltar, the rock will remain in British hands – which lead to some Spaniards trying to eliminate the rock apes.  Churchill sent more to repopulate, and there are now more than 300! 

Granada (means “pomegranate”) with La Alhambra was magnificent.  The parador where Mom Edith and Dad Bill stayed years ago (for very low rates) now goes for 600 EUROS a night.  Ouch-y-waw-wa!  Needless to say, we had other digs. 

We walked until we almost dropped in Toledo, saw El Greco’s “Burial of Count Orgaz” and a thousand year old synagogue.  On the long drive back to Madrid, we passed the windmills of La Mancha (and Don Quixote).

Now, all I have to do is hole punch a hundred postcards, tie them together with a shoe string and I have my memory “book” ready to enjoy.  Albums are beyond my capability. Photos on computer for a “slide show”.   I snapped a more doors – lots and lots of doors.  Each different, each opening to a unique story.