03 July 2009

En route to Barcelona

Our flight out of Morocco was at 2 pm, “finally, a decent time!” we said. We took our time in the morning, eating breakfast, reading and packing. We left the riad at 12 and had no issues getting to the airport.

When it was time to board our flight we had the typical RyanAir fun of trying to jockey for position to get the best seats. Running across the tarmac always works, and we had seats in the 2nd row.

Since Turkey I have started drinking coffee again…not such a great idea when you also have strong Moroccan mint tea in the morning and have to finish a bottle of Diet Coke before you get to the airport! Having only a piece of bread in my stomach from breakfast I felt pretty nauseas the flight and the bus ride from Girona to Barcelona. Thankfully, we did not have any H1N1 questionnaires when we got there, otherwise they may have quarantined me!

We got to the city around 6:30, found our pension and checked in. Having found it at the absolute last minute we got an awesome location (everything else was already booked up or was way outside our price range or nowhere near Barcelona) Although there are more rules here than I have ever seen (7 minute showers, c’mon!) you can’t the 46 euro price tag.

Since we already have reservations for the Madrid to Lisbon night train we figured we would best to get reservations from Barcelona to Madrid so we don’t miss our train. We walked to the train station and took a number and waited. And waited and waited. The ticket staff ended up working overtime to clear the queue. We left at 9:45, after having received one ticket for 7 am and having to wait again to have him change it for an evening train.

Then we set out looking for food. We hoped that La Boqueria would still be open and we could get something at one of the restaurants in the market. We hightailed it across the Barri Gothic and down La Rambla to see the last stalls close up. Knowing everything would be super expensive on La Rambla we walked back to our hotel and got some food at a restaurant near the train station (tortilla for me, Catalan sausage for Charlton) Then we walked to the convenience store and picked up snacks and hustled back to the hotel to take showers before quiet hours (both of us in 15 minutes, has to be a new record!) And then we attempted to get some sleep even though our room has no AC and just a fan to circulate the warm Barcelona air.

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Relaxing in the Riad

While sitting on Café Clock’s rooftop our first evening in Fez, we saw a sign for all the events being held at the café during the week: belly dancing, yoga, calligraphy, movie showing and a concert. Both our eyes fell onto the calligraphy posting. The Arabic calligraphy is so beautiful here it would be fun to take a class, and it was being held on our last evening in Fez…perfect!

We got up at our leisure and had breakfast in the riad’s courtyard. After examining the guidebook we decided to try to find the Jewish quarter on our own or at least get lost in the medina in the process. We ended up doing the latter, walking for what seemed like forever on streets that were next to where we started and not on the opposite end of the medina like we had hoped. We took a break at a café lining one of the main streets near the blue gate for a Coke and some people watching.

Since we still had some time to kill before our class at 3, we came back to the riad and read some and packed up the laptop to make use of the wi-fi at Café Clock. Once we got there we announced to the manager that we there for the calligraphy class, he had asked if we had signed up…signed up?! He said they had the class scheduled but unless there was interest they didn’t call the teacher in, but he would call him now to see if he was available. Charlton and I settled into a booth and started working on our hotel reservation for Barcelona while we waited. The manager came back and told us the teacher would be in at 3 for the class, “so he will be here in 3 minutes?” Charlton asked. The manager laughed and said “it’s almost 2, not 3!” We looked at each other and started laughing, we have been off an hour the whole time we have been here! Guess that shows we have really been on vacation here in Morocco! After an hour, the teacher arrived, but before the lesson could begin we asked the manager the price (we have learned our lesson after assuming costs elsewhere). We figured the class would be 50 dirhams per person like the yoga class offered, but were told that it was a private lesson not a group session so the cost was 250 per person (about $63 for the 2 of us!) We apologized to the instructor but said that was a little too rich for our blood and we would be unable to participate. We stuck around in the café a little longer making sure we caught up on the blog, and high tailed it out of there as soon as we were done.

We planned on trying another restaurant near the blue gate for dinner as we had tried all of the Moroccan dishes that Café Clock had to offer, and there was no way we were going to be able to show our faces there again. But when we got back to the riad, the staff invited us to have a couscous dinner here with them. We hung around the riad playing backgammon and reading until sunset when we all headed up to the roof. There we were treated to one of the most magnificent dinners of the trip: couscous with caramelized onions, raisins, chickpeas, and lamb. It was amazing! For dessert we had delicious melon and some mint tea. The view of the medina was spectacular and made for a truly memorable evening, a great way to say to goodbye to Fez.

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