Sunday, 31 May 2015

End of our epic Journey, highlights recapped.

The YWith a few days rest in ultimate luxury, it is has given me some time to reflect on how fortunate I am, I feel that with all our  hard work and dedication all, that we have strived and achieved has paid off. DH and I Feel blessed, we have a wonderful marriage, two gorgeous sons, a wonderful daughter in-law and are 
soon to be grandparents. With the end of our seven week sojourn, it is time to step back into reality and get on with everyday life. In reflection of our holiday, a friend asked me to do the highlights of our trip. So with a few hours to spare, what I mention below is what has been most important to me on our trip.
What was so wonderful about travelling to our destinations, was to meet up with old and new friends, met either through travelling or friendships developed when living close and then friends migrate.
So the highlight for me was to meet and greet two friends in particular we met 2 years ago whilst travelling in South America.
In London, Allan Hymers and Jill, loved catching up with you both, a great evening, thank you Allan and Jill for a wonderful evening and your wonderful company.
The Churchill arms, a great night.
The V & A museum. London, Kensington South.
In Lisboa, Portugal, Teresa, great to see you and have you show us Lisboa from your perspective, thank you for a wonderful evening and your hospitality, very much appreciated.
Santini  ice cream.
This was an unfinished embroidery work, with beads and stump work, I could not stop looking at it.
Sintra Royal Palace. I just loved visiting this palace and Sintra is well worth a visit.
Gorgeous tiles in Portugal.
In between our UK tour, Spain, Portugal and Morrocco, we spent a couple of days with our dear friends from Australia, who migrated to Wales in 2010, we had a wonderful few days catching up on old times, sightseeing and washing. Joana knows me very well and tailored what exploring we were going to do, so I felt quite privileged to be taken to a flea market, quaint villages and world heritage sights.

Our enjoyable day in Llangollen.
Bridge with aqueduct.
Jo feeding the geese and chickens, faithful dogs following.
Thanks Jo and Allan for an enjoyable few days your generous hospitality and allowing me to do three loads of washing forever grateful. Next when we visit, we are now aware of a few travelling tips.

When in Spain, we visited the Sevilla cathedral with Christopher Columbus coffin, so ornate.
Cathedral Sevilla
Esplasa, Sevilla, amazing tiles and coat of arms for every city in Spain, well worth a visit.
The Scottish highlands was a great place to visit all being cold. just loved the highland cows.
The English countryside. the Cotswold, Bath and Chester in Wales.
Bath, Jane Austin country.

Bath and shops over footbridge.
France, visiting Nantes and Paris was enjoyable, using the rail system was excellent 
Meeting authors of quilting books published by Quiltmania was pretty special, also seeing Di Fords Mountmellick quilt in the flesh was wonderful. it is being hand quilted..
Hand quilting Mountmellick.
Overall we had a wonderful time. Morrocco, was a disappointment, I am pleased that I visited, but also pleased to leave. Fez had a little more culture, but again, not a wow factor, my trip to Egypt was way better and more enjoyable. DH and I both enjoyed our cosmos tours, but felt that they were quite large, we had thirty people on our UK trip and fourtyfive on our Spain trip, everyone was punctual and the trips went generally well, but we are both used to doing a smaller group and will continue to do so in the future.
With our stay for three days in Abu Dhabi, we made the decision to rest up and enjoy our six star accomadation, did a little shopping and enjoyed some R & R.
My Surf and Turf meal at Jummeirah.
Some buffalo wings for starters and a ginger mock tail.
Our breakfast room.
Pool area.
Fountain, pool in foyer of hotel.
We finished off our holiday in Abu Dhabi with a little luxury and R & R, we chose not to do any more sightseeing as we were over it,  we took this time to chill,  last day of our holiday, our flight home Is tonight, home to family and friends.  We  finished off with a bit of decadence, high tea on the observation deck of Jumeriah at Etihad Towers.
Until next time....

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Malaga, Granada and end of tour.

Our morroccan adventure ended in Fez. Tuesday we arose at 0500 hrs to drive 6 hours back to Tangier to catch our ferry at 1300hrs to cross the straight of Gilbraltar and land in Tarifa. We arrived in Tarifa at 12md  with a police escort, to get through customs and board the ferry. The tour group witnessed a  bit of excitement, just before we were getting of the coach, a morroccan youth tried to get under the bus to try to defect to Spain,that is the reason why we had a police escort to the ferry. On arrival into Taifa, we all disembarked, boarded the coach and drove another 2 1/2 hrs to Malaga, south of Spain, on the way we saw the island of Gilbratar.
Gilbraltar is an island shaped like a woman lying down and is under British rule, much to the disgust of Spain. Gilbratar is a well known tourist destination. Apparently only has one street of duty free shopping and not much else.
On arrival into Malagar in the south of Spain, we booked into hotel and went for a walk to the local shopping mall, after a bite to eat, time to shop.
Bought a couple of cushions, removed the stuffing to debulk, just loved this little shop.
Wednesday, we had a short drive to Granada and the Alhambra Palace, a few tour members opted to stay and go to the hotel, feeling unwell due to morroccan belly.
We spent 31/2 hrs in the Alhambra palace, the design was moorish and quite elaborate, apparently they get 7,000 people visiting daily.
Front entry to the great hall.
Inside the great hall.
Moorish tile design
Reflection pool
Lion fountain in the harem quarters.
Great gardens 
Fantastic view
The Alhambra place was one of the nicest that we have visited on this trip.
In the afternoon we went up to the top of the hill, quite an adventure catching the little minibus and jamming in 30 tourists, the view was amazing and we could see the Alhambra Palce from the top.
We also visited the St Nicholas church.
After our visit we all walked down the hill to the Main Street and perused the shops
Did some morroccan shopping at morroccan stores in Spain. Still could bargain...
More flamenco from street performers.
Icon...donkey and farmer.
Thursday we drove back to Madrid arrived early afternoon and had a farewell tapas dinner in the Plazsa Mayor
This ends our epic journey will be flying to Abu Dhabi for three days then homeward bound, back to reality. Our bucket  list has been shortened after this holiday, now to plan for our next. I cannot believe how time has flown, six months ago I had three trips being planned at once, now all completed.
Feeling grateful. Adios!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Fez and an end to our Morrocan visit

Sunday we departed Marrakech to drive 421 kms to Fez, we did not arrive until late afternoon 1830 hrs, dinner in hotel and then settled for the night. Monday we did the city tour of Fez. I feel Fez has a little charm. Fez is known as the textile capital of Morrocco what is interesting about Fez is the medina.
The medina is situated in the centre of Fez and is a maze of narrow streets, shops, alley ways, schools and homes. Apparently there is over 12,000 little streets and alleyways, very easy to get lost in the labyrinth of pathways, due to this, we all had a guided tour throughout the medina. No cars are allowed, only donkeys and mules. When a donkey is coming everyone calls,  Belack," Belack"to warn people to move to the side.

Overlooking Fez from the hill top.

The foyer of our hotel, where we were served mint tea.

Walking through the medina.

Back of Jenny and Neiks heads in the medina.
Dark alleyways
Men making copper pots.
Inside the medina, every now and then you come out into a small square.
A mule transporting goods.
The loads the mules carry look very heavy. At least the mules and donkeys in Fez are better cared for. 
Apparently an American woman saw the plight of the donkeys and mules and donated a large amount of money to build a vetinary clinic for sick mules and donkeys. The service is free and run by volunteers 
Walking through the medina is beautiful sculptured Morrish inspired artwork.
Gorgeous tiles
More donkeys
Gorgeous plates, hand painted with metal work.
Carpets on display and for sale
More art and craft.
Decorative carvings in the prayer area.
During our visit in the medina we went to a leather shop and seen where the leather skins were prepared on entry we were given a Moroccan gas mask......a piece of mint due to the stench of dead skins. A very interesting process, but what harsh working conditions.
The Moroccan leather is one of the softest that I have felt.
The grey coloured vat pots for the skins is actually pigeon poo, that is what the smell is.
The different coloured dyes.
The skins that have been dyed, drying in the sun.
Finished products, leather bags etc.
Next we visited a silk shop and witnessed women working on the looms.
What would a tour be like without a visit to the gates of a royal palace.
This concludes our Moroccan adventure, I feel that it was an experience, but wondering why Morrocco is becoming number one in a tourist destination. My expectations of Morrocco was bright colours, exotic spices, traditional dress and amazing fabrics and handicrafts. What we saw was decadence in shrines, mosques and palaces and then extreme poverty with people living in mud huts, tending their few meager sheep and goats. Even the city dwellers struggle, the slums are hidden from the public eye behind high walls. Many comments from our tour group were, once visited twice never. I am pleased that we visited Morrocco to cross it off our bucket list, but also feel that it is not a country that I would return too.