Monday, April 30, 2012

Home again....sans a jiggety jig and jet lag‏

Curled up with a less than European coffee, the standard by which all coffee should be measured, and nibbling on a bowl of chocolate chips found in my grocery-less pantry, I'm making notes to self (like have groceries in the freezer next time), contemplating looking up a good coffee supplier, and pondering where am I ever going to put this Moroccan rug?! Or should I say Zeek's new Moroccan rug that mummy was kind enough to bring home for her? She's been camped out on it ever since I unfolded it. If I can't separate them she may be deciding where it goes for me. Giggle.

Did I tell you about Ronda? It's the oldest city in Spain, predating Jesus by about 900 years. Still in what is considered the Andalucia area but inland and up a very picturesque mountain you can climb by car or very comfortable train. There are two parts to Ronda: old and new, divided by a gorge. It has a romantic feel with the cobblestone streets, panoramic views over orchards and farm land, and soft spanish guitar playing in the background. My traveling companion that day was a gal from Belgium who has convinced me to add the mountains in France to my list of must see places.

The rest of my time was spent soaking up as much relaxing, sun, and tapas I could before returning to that thing you do between vacations.

It took about 38 hours to get home once the traveling began. It's a good thing that I enjoy my own company. Lots of fun and giggles were had. Giggle.

Traveling people are entertaining but none like once you get on that flight heading to the Maritimes. A different breed comes this way. As I was getting on the plane the flight attendant asked me if I was on the right plane, apparently my goose down vest, heavy sweater and scarf were more suited for the winnipeg flight boarding next to us. 

One guy in front of me was humming to the arias he was listening to, a low baritone sound...kinda like how I imagine caramel would sound like. The guy beside me was the quiet but slightly dramatic guy just wanting to be noticed. On the other side me was this expensively dressed guy from Montreal who no matter how much he tried to keep his nose in his book kept being drawn into conversation with the country girl sharing his seat who was returning from seeing the Oprah show (yep...she's still filming something). There was a lady ahead of them who felt you had to push with all of her might whenever using the touchscreen monitor on the seat ahead of her. And that guy was the guy who would glance over his shoulder to show disdain but never say anything. And then behind me were two ladies who were so enthralled by what the other had to say that their voices rose as the safety presentation started to drown them out. Giggle.

Well, I'm home. Have escaped the jet lag beast. And now must attend to the things you do in between vacations.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Luckiest Girl

I feel so blessed waking up to this view every morning: a sun hovering low over the horizon, a fishing boat or two taking in their nets, birds flying playfully around the courtyards and chimneys below me. All this with the sound of waves crashing. I can't imagine anything better.

The past couple days have been a nice mix of adventure and relaxation. Like enjoying the Sunday market. A mass of leather, cotton, jewelry, and anything else you can imagine. Our favorite tapas bar was the perfect perch to watch those shopping while drinking aqua con gas or cafe solo. We've visited this place often enough that they have adopted us as temporary family. ;)
Over time we have explored more of Estepona. Enjoying it's cobble stoned streets lined with shops that end in a courtyard full of the aroma of orange blossoms and the best ice cream one can imagine. The boardwalk along the coast was entertaining as well as you watch the few expats swim in the water (we figure they must be Canadian...giggle) and locals roller blading, biking or jogging and some bundled up in leather coats and sweaters. The weather has been in the high 20s the past couple days and as is typical with myself I'm finding a balance of wearing my bikinis one moment to bundling up in jeans and a scarf the next. Shrug. 
Yesterday we went to Gilbratar and like the local expats (a contradiction in terms?) we went for the shopping and not the monkies. Getting to the rocks was easy and as warned, the queue was long. After an hour wait we passed through passport control on both the spanish and Gilbratar sides. Within meters of each other. Shortly after passport control is a stretch of highway that crosses an air strip. We timed our visit just so that for a few minutes the highway and side walk were closed and we witnessed a plane taking off. 
The city center of Gilbratar was beautiful. You emerge from a tunnel that enters the old fort into a square with fish and chips signs displayed boldly. A mix of spanish and english is predominant here. The pedestrian only street, again lined with shops like Ray Ban, BHS, and Marks and Spenser, was fun to explore. Hundreds of heads of people filled the street. A small number compared to their summer hours. I ended up with another unexpected souviner as it was madly cold and I was dressed for Estepona (a mere hour away). I love love love my crocheted sweater from Gilbratar.
Well, time to get back to the relaxation. Ciao ciao.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

More than a Happy Place...It's a Book

This vacation has been exactly what I have needed. Each and every morning I wake up to my happy place realized. Each and every night I go to sleep to the same thing. What more could a girl want? Giggle.

My first couple days here have been luxuriantly lazy. I sit on my perch soaking in the sun and the sound of the waves. I watch life unfold on the mediterrenean accented with white limestone buildings with angled chimneys, terra cotta shingles and a cafe colored beach. Cats, dogs, and birds make up the bulk of my neighbors so far. Gradually the other human tennants of this complex are moving in. Mostly I feel indulgent in my selecusion on my optionally glassed in oasis. Truly I could live here and have often wished for the power to stop time.
We've had a couple adventures. Not the least of which was me getting a bit of a jolt one morning from one of the outlets. Whoops. Another day we drove towards Malaga exploring the coast line and getting turned around more than we had hoped but that's when you find the true treasures of travel.
Yesterday was my much anticipated trip into Morocco. We took a ferry from south of Gilbratar into Tangier. Morocco was both more and less than I hoped it 
would be. Unique and yet familiar.
Mom and Dad were very on task and efficient when it came to finding our bus etc. It's reduces the stress when you are traveling with others who have the same neurosis you do. Having said that, we were uncharacteristicly seperated from our group in the old city where mom sealed the deal on two fabulous carpets with her seemingly bold move of walking away. Truth was, she was done. Her way or the highway and to her they bowed. I am excited to say that I am now a proud owner of a fireproof, individual work of art (that you can walk on) for a 1/4 of the original price.
I loved Morocco. The old city was my favorite with it's narrow streets, colorful produce and people. I would have loved to have spent more time there exploring. But one thing that stood out to me like a sore thumb, was the absence of the random backpacker or two exploring at their own pace. I'm not a fan of tours in general, but I do wonder if if it is the only option here.
I shared my seat on the bus with my boyfriend for the day, Liam Neeson...I mean Leo. A Russian from Austria who is working in London and traveling with his daughter and grandson. When Leo smiled (which was often) he lit up just like his nine year old grandson. We saw the cave of Hercules where the opening onto the spraying Atlantic was a naturally formed map of Africa. We drove around the outskirts of the rapidly growing city. We were treated to a traditonal moroccan meal meant to be eaten with your hands. Although they provided utinsels some of us wore our saffron stained fingers with pride.

This little taste of Morocco makes me want to go back and see the rest of Africa. Wonderful.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spain, Day 1

After about 30 hours of traveling I have arrived in Estepona. 
The transatlantic flight was fairly uneventful, just full of the jumps, twitches, head bobs, and snorts of the nearly but never quite sleeping. Add a hello kitty sleeping mask and I was something to behold. Giggle. 
The airport in Zurich reminded me a lot of Frankfurt. Easy to navigate and plenty to entertain me during my 7.5 hour stop over. And I do mean plenty. There was lunch with the Auzzies who were either coming or going on a skiing trip. Admitedly I only listened to half of the conversation. Whoops. There was the woman who was waving madly to get the attention of her husband...whose back was turned to her. The american looking crowd who buttered their croisants. What do they think gives croisants the flaky texture and, yes buttery flavor anyway? The only person I didn't see who I truly missed was the older woman in her velor tracksuit. That breed is getting harder to spot.
I do feel decidedly unfashionable on travel days in my yoga pants and hoodie. Especially when traveling to Europe. I do worry that maybe I am one plush away from becoming that rare species that I enjoy spotting. Truthfully, I'm drawing the line at birkenstocks.
The highlight of the people watching were the Valley Girls who surprisingly had like gone to the like red sea and like rode camels with like bombs going off in the background and like yeah. They were also like coaching one of their like girlfriends that it's like ok to be like weirded out by the rest of the team like crossing inappropriate boundaries. Like sure. Legally blonde in real life, and although my tone is mocking, I left with a great deal of respect for these young gals who seem to have it together much sooner than I ever did. Never judge a book by the cover, or a girl by her quantity of likes.

I finally landed in Estepona to a very warm greeting of homemade spaghetti and delicious local red wine. Mom and dad have this place cased. Dad was driving like a local...almost the same as loco. Giggle. I'm here, I'm happy, I'm on vacation! 
Like yeah!