Morocco and Spain Trip Recap

"Travel Loot" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: SONY SLT-A77V, 35mm, f/4, 1/20 sec, ISO640
“Travel Loot” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Well, I finally finished up with all my back posts of our trip! The photo above shows a few pieces of the loot haul, and in the dish is a small stone that I picked up from the water at Barceloneta beach. I don’t even know if it is imported or not, but the authenticity isn’t important. It’s the memory that it represents that gives it value. One of my favorite movie scenes explains what I mean.

Anyways, here are a couple lists I made about the trip.

Total miles traveled: 12,905

  • Plane: 11,273
  • Train: 921
  • Boat: 29
  • Bus/Taxi: 682

Highlights/Bucket List

  • First trip to Africa – That makes it four continents for me!
  • Crossing from Africa to Europe by ferry – The so-called Strait of Gibraltar have been one of those mythical things since I was a little kid
  • Touching the Mediterranean – Again, like something out of a dream. Isn’t this where the Greek gods/heroes used to play?

Top Food

  • Boquerones tapas (fried sardines)
  • Tagine
  • Papas bravas
  • Almejas tapas (clams)
  • Jamón bocadillos

Post Index

Since I posted my trip entries after-the-fact, here’s a list you can use to easily access each one:

Casablanca

"Hassan II Mosque" Casablanca, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/950 sec, ISO200
“Hassan II Mosque” Casablanca, 2017

Today was another travel day. Since we booked cheap tickets, our flight plan took us back to Casablanca from Barcelona, then overnight at a hotel, and then fly out the next day… so, another long day with long miles!

We started the day with a nice breakfast at Hotel Constanza, then took a taxi to the Barcelona airport. The security and customs process in that airport is pretty crazy, and almost everyone who finished customs took off running to their gate. It would have been kind of funny to see had we not been in a similar situation. But we made it to our flight with a few minutes to spare, and after a short hop over Spain and the strait, we were back in Morocco!

"Casa Port" Casablanca, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/1250 sec, ISO200
“Casa Port” Casablanca, 2017

After an hour train ride and short taxi right, we reached our hotel, the Melliber Appart Hotel in the afternoon and settled in. We were pleasantly surprised that our room had an amazing view of the Hassan II Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Morocco. It’s pretty impressive. There’s even a laser on top which shines straight to Mecca. Wow.

After a brief rest, Mariko and I took a walk to look for a market for some last-minute goodies, but we got kind of spooked when we saw a man threaten another man on a scooter with a huge kitchen knife. It was a bit unnerving! We were told that people were cranky in the afternoons because of the fasting, but this was a bit extreme. So we gave up the search for the market and headed to the mosque for a closer look. As you can imagine, it’s huge. As the day was ending, and Ramadan was nearing its close, hundreds of people were coming to pray. It was quite a sight to see.

"Cool Car" Casablanca, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/340 sec, ISO200
“Cool Car” Casablanca, 2017
"Soccer" Casablanca, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO200
“Soccer” Casablanca, 2017
"Mosque at Dusk" Casablanca, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2, 1/140 sec, ISO200
“Mosque at Dusk” Casablanca, 2017

Dinner was had at the hotel restaurant where we enjoyed beef steak, fish tagine, fried eggs with shredded beef, and a variety of salads. Plus mint tea! I missed the Moroccan mint tea!

Belly full once again, it was time for bed. 😴

"Mosque at Night" Casablanca, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/20 sec, ISO800
“Mosque at Night” Casablanca, 2017

Night in Granada

"Gran Taberna" Granada, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Gran Taberna” Granada, 2017

We departed the ferry and took our first steps in Spain! 🇪🇸 It was the first trip to Europe for Mariko and the kids, so it was pretty special. And getting our passports stamped was cool! 😄

"Train to Granada" Algeciras, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/8, 1/350 sec, ISO200
“Train to Granada” Algeciras, 2017

It was a short walk to the train station, where we bought tickets to Granada. How fun and novel to be able to communicate well with the person behind the ticket counter! Anyways, the train wound its way through some stunning Spanish countryside and mountains, stopping in some truly picturesque towns. It would have been nice to stay for a night! Honestly, that part of Spain reminded me a lot of California.

The train station in Granada is currently under renovation, so no trains can leave/arrive there at this time. Everyone who had a ticket to Granada had to exit the train at Antequera and transfer to buses that drove us to the station. It was all seamless and there were train staff and signs directing everyone to the buses.

After an hour or two on the road, we arrived in Granada and walked to our hotel, the Five Senses Hotel and Spa. I can’t say enough about how helpful the hotel staff was at the Five Senses. They secured tickets and tour of The Alhambra for us on short notice (totally my fault), were able to recommend some great tapas restaurants, helped arrange our bus transportation to Barcelona, and printed out our tickets for our upcoming museum tours. So helpful and friendly!

"Los Diamantes" Granada, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO3200
“Los Diamantes” Granada, 2017

So, now that we were settled in Granada, it was time for tapas! Our first stop was Los Diamantes, which is known for their seafood. Along with beer and sangria, we enjoyed almejas (clams), pulpo (octopus), and boquerones (fried anchovies). It was all delicious!

"Almejas" Granada, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO1600
“Almejas” Granada, 2017
"Pulpo" Granada, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO2000
“Pulpo” Granada, 2017

After that, we went next door to La Gran Taberna for some jamon tapas and beer. The food here seemed to be old-school authentic and I was completely satisfied.

"Gran Taberna" Granada, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/20 sec, ISO3200
“Gran Taberna” Granada, 2017
"Gran Taberna" Granada, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Gran Taberna” Granada, 2017

The streets in Granada are so fun. There’s a ton to see, and just people-watching is interesting. I really loved it.

"Misty" Granada, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/90 sec, ISO3200
“Misty” Granada, 2017
"Scootering" Granada, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2, 1/100 sec, ISO3200
“Scootering” Granada, 2017

After some gelato, it was back to the hotel for some well-deserved rest. What a long day! Waking up in Morocco, traveling by car, ferry, train, and bus, then finishing the day at tapas bars in Granada. Certainly one of the most memorable of my life. 😀 🇲🇦 🚖  🚆 🚌 🇪🇸