Travels With Myself

A Personalized Periodic Update, just for my family and friends, of the Ongoing Adventures of Your Favorite World Traveler

Location: Budapest, Hungary

After nearly 30 years in the financial industry in the US (mostly California and New Mexico), I decided it was time for my second life. I sold my house, sold my car, sold all my furniture, took a TEFL course and moved to Budapest to teach Business English to the business people of Hungary. Amazing mid-life change! I taught for about eight years, then pretty much retired. Since then I have traveled extensively, and have been to nearly 75 countries. I have had six books published, mostly about my travels - see my author's page on I have made friends all over the world. Becoming an expat is the best move I ever made and I plan to continue my travels indefinitely. Come join me on this blog and enjoy the places I've been and the people I've met in the past and present and hopefully will meet in the future.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spanish Interlude, Weeks 2 and 3

Vamos a la Playa! On Monday, May 4, I bussed to Cadiz, just over 90 minutes south of Seville and right on the Mediterranean coast. I did the bus tour of the town, then walked around checking out the cathedral and beaches, which were extremely nice and clean and not crowded at all. Powder sand, soft and fluffy. After a lunchtime snack, I bussed down to the Playa Victoria beach and rested for a couple of hours in the sun and surf. A pretty town, but not a lot to see, so I came back to Seville around six, waited until 8 when the restaurants re-opened, had some sushi at a nearby Japanese place.
The next two days I spent setting up my Tangier hotel and Gibraltar tour, checking the Tangier ferry schedules and walking a lot. I also did a couple of museum visits: the Archivos de las Indias, a museum dedicated to Spain’s activities in the New World, which was actually fairly interesting; and the Belles Artes museum. I pre-purchased my bus tickets for Cordoba and checked out the local shopping streets. And guess what? I finally found my navy blue Blazer! After nearly four years of searching, El Corte Ingles actually had one in my exact size. No alterations needed. Finally! I even found an English-language bookstore, so I was able to replenish my stock. I had a pretty good Tex-Mex burgers and fries at the Texas Lone Star Bar near the Giralda, where I also met a nice young couple from Sydney with whom I watched an exciting Chelsea-Barcelona football match, which Barceloina won with a tying goal in the 93rd minute of penalty time. Wow!
On May 7 it was back on the bus again, this time to Cordoba. Did another 90-minute tour of the city and walked along the river, but there is really not a lot to see in this isolated city in otherwise beautiful country. For the remainder of the week I did my relaxing walks and ate and drank too much down by the riverside.

On Monday, May 11,the beginning of Week Number Three, I took the 9:30 AM bus to Granada, arriving there around 1:15 PM. As we pulled into sight of the city, I was very surprised to see snow on the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains. I taxied to my hotel, since this time it was a long walk from the bus station. My hotel room was not quite as big as my bathroom in Budapest, but adequate for all that. Granada gives the impression of a busier city than Seville, but at least the tapas were served free with your meals. And there was a lot of graffiti around, which is a shame for the city which boasts the Alhambra, another World Heritage site. Anyway, after checking in, I caught another local bus to the Alhambra, which is perched on a hill overlooking the city. I got there before the official time for my tour, so I was able to do my own unguided tour of the gardens and palaces left by the Moors.
Lonely Planet says, “The Alhambra is simply breathtaking.” Well, Faithful Readers, I gotta tell you, I had no trouble retaining my breath. The gardens are well-trimmed and pretty (although the pools were scummy and green with algae), the flowers were sweet-smelling, several of the fountains were turned off or just plain didn’t work and the decorations, as previously commented upon re: Arabic “art,” were just repetitive squiggles. In short, it was okay, but nothing to write home about. I guess once you’ve seen the pyramids and Sphinx at sunset, and the Taj Mahal at sunrise, most other sights pale into insignificance.
I spent the night in Granada, and did another bus tour the next day, but there wasn’t really anything of interest to keep me there, so I headed back to Seville in the early afternoon. Again, I spent my time in Seville walking around the city, absorbing the sights and smells and sounds. I had snacks of chocolate and churros (plain fried dough, not the sugar-covered wonders I was used to in New Mexico) at the Café Duque, and even managed to do another karaoke evening at Flaherty’s. That night the pub held its Miss Flaherty contest, and I cheered on the lovely and pleasingly busty contestants along with the other testosterone-filled and slightly inebriated males. After six Guinnesses, it was time to head off.
(Ed. Note: by this time, I had been phoneless for two weeks, and until my hotel in Granada, I hadn’t seen an English-language newscast in all that time. No newspapers, either. And you know what? The world just kept right on spinning, even without me to help it along.) So now, one more week to go - let's drag it out as much as possible.


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