Holiday Cheer in Brussels

We’re flying home today…all day.  Our route is Brussels –> Stockholm –> Oakland.  This last pass through Brussels has been such a fun way to wrap up our trip.  Brussels is quiet since its lockdown, but the city is full of good tidings and Christmas cheer.  It is très charmant.

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Scene from the holiday lights and music show at the Grand Place.

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Even the Manneken Pis got in on the action:

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Happy holidays, dear readers.  Thanks for following along and for all the love and comments.  See you in the States.

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Madrid

Madrid is exceedingly hip.  We spent a few days there with our friends Pam and Josh before our week in Morocco, and we returned for a few more days on our own.  We stayed near the Malasaña and Chueca neighborhoods, which are full of vintage shops and great restaurants.

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Volubilis

We hired a driver to take us to Volubilis, a partially excavated Roman city about an hour outside of Fez.  For us, the main attraction was getting out into the countryside, but Volubilis is very old and Roman and notable so we thought we should go see it.

Mohammed, the driver who took us to Volubilis, was really friendly and very excited to talk with us because he will be moving to San Francisco next year to start an internship at Goldman Sachs.

The landscapes outside of Fez are beautiful and we stopped a couple of times to take photos.

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Supermarket Fun

The Carrefour in Fez is much more fun than any other Carrefour we’ve been to in Europe.  For one thing, look at all these beautiful bulk spices:

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Also, there is lots of loose pasta that really calls to you to rake your hands through it:

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But the thing we loved the most was the idea that someone could take home this whole shark:

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Imagine that fish tail peeking out of your shopping bag!

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Moroccan Cooking Class

Our riad has consistently served the best food we’ve had in Fez, so we were excited to have the opportunity to take a cooking class here.  We started the day by going to the market to shop for ingredients, although the staff didn’t really need anything so they mostly just showed us around.

Buying cilantro

Buying cilantro

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First Days in Fez

All of a sudden it’s December and we have less than two weeks of our trip left.  We thought we’d finish out the remainder of our vacation in Spain, but a cheap weekly Ryan Air flight to Fez caught my eye.  So, here we are in Morocco!

I hear the drums echoing tonight....

I hear the drums echoing tonight….

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Rainy Basque Country

We took some day trips from San Sebastián to see more of the countryside.  It rained everywhere we went, but the towns we visited were all really picturesque and once we gave in and purchased umbrellas we were up for exploring.  The northern countryside is dramatic and home to lots of cute fishing villages.

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San Sebastián

After a few days in Barcelona, we rented a car and drove up to San Sebastián with Pam and Josh and with a plan of eating all the pintxos (that region’s tapas) we could find.  Along the way, we stopped in Zaragoza to stretch our legs and have some lunch.  Zaragoza had a nice waterfront and some pretty shops and cathedrals in the old quarter.  It also had a shopping mall with a two-story tall Augustus statue in the middle.  We’re not sure why.

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Barcelona

It was wonderful to come back to Barcelona after seven years.  We really enjoyed the city the last time we were here, but this time we did it even better.  We had our good friends from San Francisco, Pam and Josh, visiting us and together we explored cute neighborhoods and fully embraced la hora de vermut.

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Cutest hat shop

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Porto

Porto was our last destination in Portugal and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.  Our first evening, we stumbled upon a local favorite for caldo verde, pork sandwiches, and white wine.  Apparently “carafe” in Porto means “bottle:”

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