Category Archives: Europe

Loving Southern Spain

Greetings from Seville, Spain! We’re arrived here from Granada two days ago, and are having a blast! The weather is nice and toasty at 34 degrees, with clear blue skies!

We wandered around the Maria Luisa park yesterday, and found the amazing Plaza de Espana – see pictures below. This plaza has beautiful tile art of Spain’s military victories, and a fantastic fountain. They even had a Zumba rally going on (a type of exercise based on dance moves). They sure are dedicated – as the weather was 34 degrees!

Checked out the Alcazar today, which was the Moorish palace when the Muslim Empire ruled this area. It was taken over again during the Spanish re-conquest many centuries ago. It has a great mix of Muslim and Christian architecture and art. The gardens around the palace are quite amazing – I got lost and wandered for hours!

We’ll be in Seville until June 5, so we can take our time to enjoy the sites. A few events we have lined up include Flamenco music/dancing, and bullfighting. Should be quite the experience!

On June 5 we’re headed to Morocco! We take the bus to Tariffa, and hop a ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar. Onward and forward to Africa! Until then!

wpid-wp-1433179281091.jpgView during my afternoon siesta

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Gardens in Seville’s Alcazar

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Ceiling dome in Seville’s palace – nice digs

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Catching up on Game of Thrones – backpacker style

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Plaza de Espana in Seville – Massive!

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Sandles giving me some weird tans lines!

Belated Portugal post

We arrived on bus to Granada, Spain and checked into White Nest Hostel. Covering the rolling hills were smaller tree’s stretching out as far as the eye could see, pretty sure they’re olive trees. Keeping the whole bus company was the comical elderly Spanish couple, who transended the language barrier by their refined routine together. But Granada will be another post, I want to share a place called Sintra (20min bus ride from Lisbon).

We were made aware lots of walking/hiking awaited us to reach the sites. So upon recommendation we found a local spot a fueled up on some bacalhau fish with rice, which was needless to say delicious. Oh and beer. Tip: Super Bock over Segres any day.

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First up was Quinta de Regaleira a honest and true fantasy land, easily a day trip on its own. Going uphill are pathways weaving throughout vast lush gardens with the odd narrow trail tempting you to explore. Along the way to getting lost are well maintained buildings, towers and of course a private chapel for the big cheese living here.

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As if ment to be hid was a well going down 27m called the initiatic well. Carved out is a pathway winding around down the well where its delightfully colder. The bottem view up was cool, even better were the interconnected caves we stumbled around in. This place is filled with continuous surprises, like a commercial reminding you “BUT WAIT THERES MORE.”

Accompanying the epic gardens was the palace, worth taking the time to admire. Exquisite to say the least.

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Second stop was the Moorish castle ruins a journey in its self getting to them. The pathway up hill took its toll on our conversation, from talking to joking about “it never ending” to silence until we arrived. The castle walls hugged the outskirts of the hill and on each corner a tower to look out from providing spectacular views.

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Burnt out and out of time we decided to skip the colorful palace perched independently at the highest top. Other travelers recommend visiting the palace giving great feedback. Maybe next time.

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Madrid et al.

Greetings from Madrid! The journey continues to the capital of Spain! We caught a cheap flight from Porto, Portugal, to Madrid, Spain for $60 Can, about 45 Euros. Even though it was an economy airline, we still received food and drinks! I tip my hat to the airline TAP Portugal!

I apologize in advance for the lack of my own photos in this post. The last two hostels have had rather sketchy WIFI connection, so I can’t connect via my tablet that has all my pictures. We’re heading to Granada (southern Spain) tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll have WIFI to beautify the blog!

We’ve been having a blast out here, checking out some amazing museums and cathedrals. Two highlights are the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the Cathedral in Toledo (50 min outside of Madrid). The Prado museum has a vast array of paintings, including the “Garden of Earthly Delights,” by Bosch. Google it! Fantastic piece.

We just got back from Toledo, which was a day trip from Madrid. This used to be the capital of Spain, and has the most spectacular Cathedral I’ve ever seen. The architecture, artwork, and sheer magnitude of the Cathedral is facinating.

I’ve attached a few pics from Google of the Cathedral and the Garden of Earthly Delights. Hopefully I don’t get in trouble for copyright violations… but I suppose it’s tough to catch a vagabond always on the move!

Due to popular demand, we’ve made a Facebook page for the website. I’m told that this means you can like the Facebook page and get automatic updates when Jon or I make  posting. I’ve added a link for this on the site. Until the next posting!

The Wandering Shawn

800px-The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_by_Bosch_High_ResolutionGarden of Earthly Delights

1280px-Catedral_de_Toledo.Altar_Mayor_(huge)Toledo Cathedral – altar

Toledo_Cathedral,_from_Plaza_del_AyuntamientoToledo Cathedral

Fantastic times!

Greetings from Porto, Portugal! Ten days in, and the trip is going strong! Our arrival to Europe was very smooth – one nod and stamp from the immigration official, and we’d arrived!

During our first night in Lisbon we met many amazing travellers, many of whom we plan to meet up once we reach their home countries. The atmosphere of Lisbon was a perfect balance of energy and relaxation. The city is pretty well built on a hill, so we’re starting to get into great shape.

We’ve been enjoying the rich history in Lisbon, including the beautiful winding streets of Alfama, a historic district of Lisbon. You can see the National Pantheon of Lisbon below in the pictures. The market outside the pantheon had all kinds of nic-nacs. Even though I am not known to be an avid shopper, I quite enjoyed the experience.

From Lisbon we ventured onto the university town of Coimbra, a two hour train ride north of Lisbon. We caught the tail end of the graduation celebrations for the students. Man – Portugese students know how to party! We arrived for the festival at midnight, which started with a grande fireworks display! Four different bands and local musicians (including Coimbra’s students) played music until 6am. There may also have been copius amounts of alcohol drank – good times!

By now we’ve been in Porto for two days – which was another 2 hour train ride north. A picturesque city on the ocean that is famous for its Port Wine – a sweeter dessert style of wine. We just finished a Port Wine tasting tour – which was fantastic! I blame any spelling mistakes in this posting on the wine. Note that real Port wine only comes from the Duoro River region in northern Portugal. If you’re ever here, I recommend the train ride from Porto along the Duoro River. The scenery and vinyards are quite the sight!

I’d love to hear your comments and feedback! Don’t be shy! Until next week!

The Wandering Shawn

wpid-p1330688-edit.jpgOur first friends of the trip – Alisha and Winnie

wpid-p1330727-edit.jpgNational Pantheon in Lisbon – right next to a fantastic market

wpid-p1330747-edit.jpgTired of climbing – let’s take a tram

wpid-p1330714-edit.jpgVery deep – and with some of my favorite characters!

Flight to Lisbon

Wonder what to bring on a trip around the world? I do to. Here is what I left with summed up in a picture.

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Lisbon;

A kind of surreal experience traversing around the world in aluminum cylinders, felt almost like a bad magic trick. Some hours in rattling turbulent cylinders a dash of uniformed flight attendants and bam you have arrived sweaty and mildly confused in another land.

We had some hesitation when the time came to cross customs. Trip itinerary in hand and even a plane ticket receipt booked for Madrid, just in case right? Our bags most certainly would get checked, right? Approaching the counter with new glossy Canadian passports, *stamp stamp* and a nod each and off we went slighty more confused. Grabbed our bags and found the exit. Sweet.

We stayed at the Travellers House which ended up setting my standards pretty high, for I’ve not stayed in a hostel before. Great knowledgeable staff who receive you as one of the family. Here is a shot just outside to the right of the hostel door:

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Here are a random assortment of pictures from Lisbon:

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