TILES AND TRAMS
As I stepped off the plane and into the warm embrace of Portugal, I knew I was in for an unforgettable journey. My adventure began in Lisbon, the capital city that effortlessly blends tradition with modernity. The first thing that struck me was the city's captivating skyline, dominated by terracotta rooftops and the imposing São Jorge Castle. The old world meets the new as historic buildings with colorful azulejo tiles lined the narrow cobblestone streets.
Wandering through Alfama, the city's oldest neighborhood, felt like stepping into a time capsule. I lost myself in a maze of winding alleys, where laundry hung from wrought-iron balconies, and Fado music echoed from cozy taverns. The sense of history was palpable.
One Lisbon experience that's a must-do is riding the iconic yellow trams. I hopped on Tram 28, which wound its way through the city's hills, offering panoramic views of Lisbon's beauty. It was the perfect way to take in the city's architectural wonders, from the Jerónimos Monastery to the Belém Tower.
I then hopped on a train to Porto, a city renowned for its port wine and picturesque riverfront. The moment I arrived, I was greeted by the magnificent Dom Luís I Bridge, a double-decker iron bridge that spans the Douro River. As the sun set, I watched the city come alive with the golden hues reflecting off the water.
The Ribeira district, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was a highlight of my time in Porto. Its colourful buildings seemed to spill down the hillside toward the river, and I strolled along its cobblestone streets, stopping for a meal at a riverside restaurant to indulge in fresh seafood ( they have an obsession with cod, namely bacalhau) and a glass of local wine.
In the end, my journey through Lisbon and Porto left me with a deep appreciation for Portugal's rich history, culture, and warmth. From the traditional Fado music in Lisbon to the romantic sunsets in Porto, this adventure was truly a tapestry of experiences that will remain etched in my memory forever. Portugal cast its spell on me, and I can't wait to return for more discoveries in this enchanting corner of Europe.
My Spanish odyssey commenced in Barcelona, a city that effortlessly marries art, architecture, and style. Antoni Gaudí's whimsical creations, such as the awe-inspiring Sagrada Família and the enchanting Park Güell, transported me into a realm of surreal beauty. I spent hours admiring the intricate details of these iconic landmarks, marveling at Gaudí's genius, and capturing their essence through my lens.
Wandering the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona was a stark contrast, with its labyrinthine alleys, medieval streets, and hidden squares. Here, I savored the thrill of getting lost in the meandering pathways, stumbling upon charming tapas bars and quaint boutiques along the way. The vibrant beachfront offered a refreshing escape, where I indulged in fresh seafood by the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.
One of the highlights of my time in La Zenia was exploring the picturesque seaside promenade. It offered leisurely strolls, opportunities to savor gelato from local shops, and the chance to revel in breathtaking sunsets over the tranquil Balearic Sea.
Alicante's historic Santa Bárbara Castle stands sentinel, offering panoramic views of the city and sea. Wandering through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, vibrant hues of bougainvillea adorn charming buildings. Indulge your taste buds with tapas at bustling Mercado Central or sip Sangria overlooking the marina. Golden beaches like Playa del Postiguet invite you to bask in the Spanish sun. Alicante's blend of history, culture, and coastal allure makes it an irresistible gem on Spain's eastern coast.
My voyage through Madrid, Barcelona, and La Zenia was a harmonious blend of Spanish culture, history, and natural beauty. From Madrid's bustling streets to Barcelona's artistic wonders and La Zenia's coastal serenity, Spain unveiled its multifaceted charm at every turn. Each destination offered a distinct flavor of Spain, leaving me with a profound appreciation for the country's diverse and captivating experiences.
My Moroccan voyage began in Casablanca, the country's economic and cultural hub. As I stepped onto Moroccan soil, I was immediately struck by the city's unique blend of tradition and modernity. The Hassan II Mosque, with its towering minaret overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, was my first awe-inspiring stop. Its intricate tilework and grandeur left me breathless.
The city's bustling Medina, or old town, was a delightful maze of narrow alleys and vibrant market stalls. I couldn't resist savoring traditional Moroccan street food like freshly grilled kebabs and flaky pastries. The fragrance of spices hung in the air, tempting me to explore the souks and haggle for colorful carpets and exquisite handicrafts.
Over New Years a friend and I spent an evening at the iconic Rick's Café, an homage to the classic film "Casablanca." Sipping a cocktail amidst the evocative ambiance of the café, I felt like I was living a scene from the movie.
From Casablanca, we took a train to Marrakesh, a city that seemed to exist in a time of its own. The moment I entered the medina's ancient walls, I was transported to a realm of intricate palaces, serene gardens, and bustling souks. The Bahia Palace, with its ornate courtyards and mesmerizing tilework, was a testament to Moroccan craftsmanship. At the Saadian Tombs, I marveled at the intricate stucco work and the serene atmosphere of these centuries-old burial chambers.
Marrakesh's vibrant main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, was an ever-changing spectacle. Snake charmers, street performers, and food vendors transformed the square into a mesmerizing circus of colors and sounds as the sun set.
My Moroccan adventure was a fusion of old-world charm and contemporary vibrancy. From the modern allure of Casablanca to the timeless enchantment of Marrakesh, Morocco unveiled its diverse facets and left an indelible mark on my soul. The country's warm hospitality, rich culture, and flavorful cuisine were a constant source of delight. As I bid farewell to these two remarkable cities, I couldn't help but reflect on the captivating journey that had allowed me to experience Morocco's magic firsthand.
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Thank you for joining me again on my worldwide journey. My next newsletter will be about my year so far in Southeast Asia! I know the world is full of choices so thank you for supporting my small business and I'm so pleased that my art continues to brighten up your life.
All the best,