Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Madrid for the World Federation of Deaf Congress

We caught a bus to Madrid from Malaga, it was a 6 hours bus ride and we arrived at Madrid around dinner time. We checked into Cats Hostel where other deaf people were also staying, caught up with old friends, met new friends.

Our stay in Madrid was enjoyable but it was not very touristic, we walked around the Sol shopping district and went to the pub every night with other deaf people and chatted the night away. I only went inside the congress once to see what it was like but we had to pay to go inside to chat to our friends, that was a ripper.
We visited the Palace de Real, the Royal Palace, I wouldn't say that it's beautiful on the exterior but where it is situated is breathtaking, you can see the hills and the houses from the courts of the palace. We went inside and saw different themed rooms from each ruler and read a bit of the history about Madrid and the palace.

Palace de Real

Overlooking the hills from the courtyard

One day we went to Toledo, it was a very nice small town. If I am correct, it was actually the first capital city of Spain before it was moved to Madrid. I went with friends and we mucked about, walking all over the town and catching a buggy ride to the outer skirts where you can see into Toledo and it was fun.

The only mar in Madrid was that there were so much thefts happening, even to our close friends which was hard on us. Passports, wallets and even a backpack got stolen, it pays to be extra careful but to enjoy your stay you shouldn't have to need worry about your things getting pinched.

Our travelling group

Onto Spanish soil

We caught the ferry from Tangier to Tarifa in Spain. We had intended to go to Algeciras but somehow we had tickets for a different city! But neverthless we made our way to Malaga and got to see how beautiful Tarifa is. I would describe it as a small surfing town, everything is so white and the streets were tiny! Bugge stopped by at a lolly shop and bought a variety of lollies and we immediately loved them, I never knew what they were called but everytime we'd see them in Spain we'd get enough to share amongst us, but then by the ending stage of our Spanish trip we were sick of them.

When we arrived at the seaport in Tarifa, we walked to the city centre and waited a while for the bus to Algeciras where we changed for another bus to Malaga, this process took pretty much all day but we got to see a lot of the Spanish land this way.

We stayed in Malaga for two nights, spent our days walking around the city, seeing places and just enjoying the atmosphere. Swimming at the beach was an experience we'll never forget. There were hundreds if not a thousand people sunning on the beach but about 5 or 10 brave souls swimming in the sea.

Beach at Malaga

Men cooking fishes on a boat and then selling them at the beach

On the train to Fes and Tangier

We caught a ride with Marie, the French owner of Dar Atif to Marrakech and we see a posher and more developed side of the city we hadn't seen yesterday. We caught the train to Rabat but we decided to continue onto Fes so we could stay there for 2 nights instead of 1. Train touts came to us, sat down in our compartment and started chatting about how they're educated, teaching at universities, married with a kid, then they would ask us where we're headed for and say 'oh I've got a cousin/uncle who owns a hotel in Fes' or 'my uncle's cousin is a tour guide and can show you around for a reasonable price'. We just brushed them off, we had agreed on a couple of pretty cheap hotels that we were going to try and get beds with but once we got to Fes, we were very hot (it was over 40c) and felt too buggered to walk around looking for beds with our backpacks so we just stopped by the first hotel we saw which was very nice and had a 'piscine' (swimming pool).

We had a look around Fes for a couple of days, saw the mosque, walked around the city centre, went shopping in the markets where we bought a couple of stuff, but our stay in Fes pretty much consisted of swimming and relaxing in the sun.
Then we caught another train to Tangier, the port of Morocco from Spain. The air conditioner didn't work on the train and so we were stuck in the sweltering heat for more than two hours. We would walk from our compartment to the middle carriage and pry the doors open and hot air blasted inside and it was much better than sitting down in stuffy air with 5 other people's stinky hot breath!

Tangier, Morocco

Tangier turned out to be a beautiful beachside city, it's very modern compared with Marrakech. We spent the only night there exploring the beachside shops, markets and people were selling things on footpaths. Melissa had a henna done on her foot, (the henna lasted for two weeks!).

Melissa's henna

After a week of travelling, our time in Morocco was over and it was time to move onto Spain.