Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Salam...Morocco!

I took a weekend trip to Marrakesh, Morocco. A completely different place from anywhere else I have been to. The culture, the people, the language...I think this is the first country I've been to that I could not understand a single word. They speak mostly Arabic and French. The people are very generous and love to try to sell you things...its the bargaining city! You have to bargain hard...it's a lot of fun actually.

Leaving Barcelona

I arrived to Marrakesh on Thursday night. My friends and I booked the whole trip through bus2alps which is a great company if anyone is interested in finding trips all over Europe that include accommodation, tour guides, and other fun activities. That night, our hostel (Equity Point) served us a nice Moroccan dinner. They usually eat vegetables and some type of meat. They like to use a lot of saffron and usually add a hint of cinnamon to their dishes as well.
Hostel
Veggies with Chicken

The next morning we took a tour around the city (Medina). The whole city is surrounded by great walls. We walked a whole bunch, passing by the street vendors.
Typical alley
Kaley, Katie, Andrea and I at one of Morocco's
finest University 
Some nice shoes out for sale
Fruit Stand
A group of us with our tour guide Ali
The largest Mosque in Africa

Later in the afternoon, we went Canyoning. We basically hike up for about 30-40min and then hike down, or canyon down the waterfalls. Since it's techinacally winter-time, the water was about 35 degrees...freezing!!! I wore a wet suit but that did not do anything!! I have never been so cold in my entire life! The first waterfall we went down was small, but the second was about 110ft high. It's basically like rock climbing, however you have water splashing down on you the entire time. Your feet also don't get a good grip because the waterfall is covered entirely with wet moss. Even though I almost went through hypothermia, I'd have to say it was an amazing experience. 
All suited up!
The guide has actual pictures of us going down, but
he has not posted them up yet, but once he does I'll
make sure to post it up here too!

The next day we went camel riding which was amazing!!! I love camels...there really friendly too!
Afterwards, we stopped by at an old lady's home where she served us some homemade tea with bread with homemade, olive oil, butter, and honey! Delicious! She was the sweetest person ever!
Tea: Mint, Sage, Lemongrass, Sugar
Bread with butter, honey and oil
Later on, we toured the main and also the largest market in Morocco...the market is called the Souk. We even took a carriage ride around the Medina.
The lovely carriage ride we took
KFC!
My Kabob dinner


I had an amazing time in Morocco. It's definitely a wonderful place to visit. You learn so much when you are there and you also learn to appreciate what you have. The food is different, but worth trying and the people are just great! They are all generous and always trying to talk to you. Hopefully I will be able to visit again!
I hjst need to go to Antarctica and Australia and then I will have gone to all seven continents!

Besitos, Lilly Goti


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bienvenido a Madrid!

Hola!!! I have finally went on my first official trip....to Madrid! My friends and I took a train, taking us about 3hrs. We left early in the morning on Friday and had arrived by 12 in the afternoon.
 Nika and Katie: ready to get going!
High speed train

We checked into our hotel: Hotel Catalonia on Gran Via, which is one of the main streets in the city. Right afterwards, we took a walk to Puerta Del Sol, the central square in Madrid. We found a lovely place to have lunch and had ourselves a delicious meal.
Puerta Del Sol

After lunch, we headed towards one of the most famous parks called, Parque Del Retiro. It is the largest and most beautiful park in Madrid. There is a large artificial lake in the middle, where we rowed around. It was absolutely gorgeous and extremely relaxing. There were so many couples on the boats together...so romantic!

I will say that I am not the best rower in the world!! We ended up drifting for a while, taking in the sun.
After rowing, we walked back to our hotel and took a nap. Later that evening, we went out to a bar called "El Tigre" where if you buy a drink they give you plates of tapas...best deal ever! The drinks were extremely large in size too so that was a plus! We tried getting into a club known as Pacha, but it was expensive and extremely crazy, so we decided to head home and rest up since we had a scheduled tour in the morning.

The next morning, we had a 3hr tour, where our guide took us to numerous places. 
First stop: outside the Real Madrid Stadium, which 
seats about 90,000
By the Don Quixote Statue

Next Stop: Palacio Real
It is no longer used as a residence; more as a tourist
attraction. They said this palace was built thanks to 
tobacco smokers, whose taxes went to this.

Cute, little area we walked by

Lovely

Oldest Restaurant in the world! It 
opened in 1725 and sis still run by the 
same family! 

Plaza Mayor: a public gathering place with lots
of cafes; but on the expensive side.
 
 After, we took a trip to the famous San Miguel
market, where we had a taste of practically everything!
I was in heaven, going from section to section trying different foods.

Jamon!!!

My absolute favorite = Croquetas 

Savory wine

Super crowded; everyone wanted 
to try everything

Olives!

A salted caramel macaroon for dessert :)

By the time we got to the paella, I was stuffed...
but it definitely looked good

Later on, Katie and I went to El Prado Museum which is considered to be one of the most important art galleries in the world. It houses masterpieces by Goya, El Greco, Ribera, Velazquez, among many others. The paintings were very interesting, with many gory and intense painting; sometimes I wonder how these artists come up with these strange ideas.

Definitely worth visiting: open for free from 6-8pm too!

Madrid at night

Katie and I ate dinner at a restaurant called Lateral. It was packed, but luckily since it was only the two of us, we got seated immediately. We had a healthy meal compared to our usual dinner:
Bread with Jamon and Manchego cheese
Vegetable Tempura
Its a bit blurry, but its a baked potato that's stuffed with
Jamon Iberico and cheese with a fried egg on top
Apple Crumble

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and literally passed out. It was such a long day.
We woke up this morning, had breakfast and checked out. We went to the flea market, which consumed about 3 entire streets. The vendors sell everything from jewelry to gas masks...I'm not sure why.
Busy, busy, busy
Gas Masks Anyone??

The flea market was fun, I think once is good enough. we had a small lunch and headed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head home. I must say that by the end of the day, I was missing Barcelona...I missed home. Madrid was gorgeous and I hope to visit again one day. I recommend everyone to go to the San Miguel Market!!!! 

I hope everyone has a wonderful 
upcoming week! I have to get working
on my wonderful 10pg paper for History class...
Have a good day!
Besitos, Lilly Goti