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Adiós

Another adventure is over and we’re all pretty sad it is. This trip was exactly what we needed. Time together, a relaxing pace, cheap wine, sunshine, some beaches and a bit of exploring.

Portugal wowed us. Lisbon blew our expectations out of the water. We hesitated on booking 8 full days in a city but in the end I still feel like there was so much more to see , we could have spent at least another week there. The beaches on the south coast were spectacular. It wasn’t quite warm enough to lie out on the beach but it was great weather for roaming around, visiting parks, or sitting out in the sun.

Morocco was a fun little change from Portugal. Winding our way through the Médina and kasbah was exciting and something new for all of us. The kids took all of it in stride and it was a fun little adventure.

Seville, Madrid and Marbella were relaxing and warm and fun to wander around and explore.

The mark was pretty low after family vacation 2019 but 2020 more than made up for it. We’d go back in a flash and are already looking forward to next years adventure.

Short but sweet

Our final stop on our adventure is Seville. It comes highly recommended for m anyone who has visited so we were excited to see the city. We only had a day and a half before we had to drive back to Madrid and fly home but we made the most of it.

We arrived at our AirBnB, dropped our bags and then headed for the bus to take us downtown. First up was the Plaza de España and Parque Marie Luisa. We wandered around both impressive areas before we started our search for a restaurant. Apparently we either waited too long or not long enough and nothing was open. I mean nothing. We walked blocks and blocks to find restaurants either completely closed or just serving drinks. Eventually we gave up and headed back to the transportation hub near our AirBnB where we had McDonald’s. The kids were not disappointed.

Day two we spent wandering around the Real Alcazar de Seville, eating tapas and taking the very touristy and expensive but still worth it horse and carriage ride. We tried to see the bullring but were too late to get tickets. It was a jam packed day, the kids were exhausted by the end of it, but it was a great way to wrap up the trip.

Wii love the beach

Since we bailed a couple of days early on Morocco we needed to find a place in Spain so that we wouldn’t have to sleep in the car. Unfortunately our place in Seville wasn’t available any earlier than our original plan so we decided to book in to a nice looking apartment in the seaside town of Marbella. We really just wanted a place to relax. This place was a 5 minute walk to the beach and came with a Nintendo Wii and that’s exactly what we did for the day and a half we were there. I think everyone would agree it was perfect.

Tangier old and new

We are staying in a traditional house inside the kasbah for our time in Tangier. It doesn’t have an official address as it’s just in the alley way behind the public fountain. It’s set over 5 floors with essentially just a landing after each set of extremely narrow steep twisty steps. The first landing has one bedroom and a bathroom. The second has two bedrooms. The third has a sitting room and another bathroom. The fourth has a kitchen and then you can head up one more flight to the outdoor section. The kids are quite fascinated by the place but it’s not super kid friendly. Even Nora knows not to attempt the stairs on her own and that’s saying something.

This is our front door.

We headed out late this morning for our first full day in Morocco. Yesterday we were helped along by Abdul who took us to all of his friends shops so today we decided to explore on our own. We set out in search of some brunch and happened to pass by Cafe Baba en route.

In the 76 years Cafe Baba has perched above Tangier’s medina, the Rolling Stones have been just some of the cafe’s many high-profile clients. The cafe has served the kings of both Spain and Sweden; the Grand Duke of Luxembourg; former Secretary-General to the United Nations, Kofi Annan; punk rock legend Patti Smith; numerous actors and filmmakers, such as Daniel Auteuil and Jim Jarmusch; and dozens of mid-20th-century aristocrats.

Jacob and I enjoyed a wonderful coffee cooked over an open flame, the kids downed a juice. We all passed on the drugs. We left cafe baba and wound our way down to Petite Socco where we grabbed a bite to eat – omelettes and crepes (otherwise known as pancakes without baking powers, the d is silent in baking powder).

After lunch we hopped on the city tour bus to get a better feel for the place. We spent the majority of the day in the new city strolling on the beach and waiting for the bus to come back.

We eventually made our way back home for supper and to enjoy the views from our terrace. After the kids were in bed Jacob and I decided to rearrange our schedule for the next couple of days. The plan was to head to Chefchaouen tomorrow and then to Mnar Park (where we were staying) but the thought of a 5 hour round trip in the car tomorrow and then staying at a water park that was too cold to enjoy just didn’t seem like how we wanted to spend the precious remaining days of vacation. So we cancelled our current bookings quickly found an AirBnB on the coast of Spain just outside Malaga and we will set sail back to Europe tomorrow.

We really did enjoy our time here. Northern Africa is new for Jacob and I, not something we can say that often. We have never stayed in a kasbah or wandered through alleyways quite like this before. The kids really enjoyed all the sights and smells. The people here were super accommodating and excellent with the kids. We got a lot of smiles, hellos, high fives and a few more kisses than I would have liked. I wouldn’t say we are done with Morocco forever but for now we will say so long.

3 countries 2 continents 1 day

We left our place in Ferreiras uncharacteristically early. We woke the kids at 545, piled them in the car and set off for the Tarifa-Tangier ferry. The scenery was beautiful. I didn’t realize we were going to wind through hills and mountains on our way down to the Strait of Gibraltar. Nora didn’t either and since she wouldn’t give up her phone ended up getting carsick in the last fifteen minutes. It’s not a family road trip without a little carsickness!

We got to the ferry with some time to spare which was handy since the parking lot at the terminal was full. We eventually left our car in the city lot so we will just cross our fingers it’s still there in a few days. It wasn’t exactly tight security.

We polished off the rest of our snacks and boarded the hydro foil ferry. For probably the first time ever I didn’t get seasick – thanks Jo! And the hour long ferry ride was fairly enjoyable. When we disembarked Jacob explained to the kids that this was their third country of the day and second continent. Charlie responded quite excitedly “we are real world travellers.” I’m glad he’s catching on.

We left the essentially vacant terminal slightly unprepared for the rest of the adventure. We had wrongfully assumed that we would be able to access an ATM inside the building or maybe replace our Moroccan SIM cards. Incorrect. We eventually found some cash being dispensed from a van outside the terminal but had no phone access. That wouldn’t be a problem except that we needed to call our Airbnb host to meet us at the Kasbah gates. We eventually sorted it after declining several aggressive offers of help, a little yelling at the kids to stop launching themselves off of the parking barriers and convincing our new taxi driver to call Mustapha for us.

We wound our way through the streets until we were dropped to our waiting host. We shortchanged the driver at Mustapha’s insistence which I only feel bad about after he found Jacobs phone in the back seat. He wanted too much for the ride anyway.

The rest of the afternoon happened in a bit of a blur. We dropped our bags and then headed out with Abdul who apparently was our guide for the afternoon. We wandered through the kasbah occasionally being deposited in different shops – carpets, spices, fabrics. It’s been a long time since Jacob and I have travelled like this – haggling with “guides” but we eventually found our footing. The “tour” was not really my thing, we had no intention of buying anything and being delivered to these stores makes me feel very touristy but we made it through and it helped us get our bearings. We managed to shake off Abdul at the end of the day and will head out on our own tomorrow.

Carnaval, carna-carnaval!

It just so happens that we are in Portugal for Carnavale! We are staying about 20 minutes from Loulé which hosts one of the largest celebrations in the country. Carnavale celebrates the beginning of lent and summer and was so much fun! We ended up going two days the kids enjoyed it so much. The parade is fairly interactive, the kids were hauled into the action as often as they wanted. They throw out streamers and handfuls of confetti from all the floats and loaded up the kids hats so they could throw their own. They even had wine for the adults that they passed out! Gold cup might end up being a bit of a let down this year.

This is our last night in Portugal – we set sail for Tangier tomorrow. We are so sad to leave. This place has been good for us. We relaxed, had some sunshine, got some rest and made some fantastic memories. We will be back.

Settling in.

We are absolutely loving the south coast and Portugal. It has basically everything we had been looking for. Sunshine – check. Beaches – check. Cheap food and wine – check. Awesome people – check. Beautiful cities – check.

After we said goodbye to mom, Kayla and Evelyn we decided to slow down and really savour our last week here. We are over the half way mark of the vacation which is just so sad.

We spent a couple of days sitting around our house and pool. The kids love staying in and Jacob and I love sitting around. We did some beach exploring and stumbled across some real gems. We headed back to the local beach for some afternoon drinks and food. The days weren’t action packed or full of big stories but they’ve left us feeling very content.

We even managed to find an oyster farm to take a look at. Turns out it was more than closed so we wandered on the nature trail. It ended in an abandoned makeshift camp so we kept exploring. We ended up in a cute little town for a late lunch and a little walk before we called it a day.

Fisherman’s Beach

Mom and Kayla’s time was winding down in the sun so we thought it was best to get some more beach days in before they headed back to the cold and grey.

The first afternoon we thought was going to be too cold for the beach since it was quite windy at our place. We lazed around the house in the morning and finally decided we would just head into Albufeira for drinks near the beach. Turns out the wind tricked us and it was a gorgeous afternoon to be in the sand. We still had our drinks then blew some bubbles before heading home.

We decided to do the beach day right the second day. We headed to Praia de Armação de Pêra or Fisherman’s beach. Jacob and the kids and I wandered through the little seaside town and grabbed some lunch before meeting the others. It was a super cute little town that wound it’s way down to sea level. The cliffs to the west were beautiful. The kids were brave enough to run around in bathing suits and test out the water. The rest of us were happy to sit in the sand and enjoy the sunshine.