Thursday 18 January 2018

A New Year

This isn't going to be the most academic of my posts, but I feel like the break over Christmas and the New Year almost counts as part of the school year because it is sandwiched between the two semesters. This year Wade and I enjoyed celebrating Christmas with both of our families here in Madison, and then we took a wonderful trip over the new year! We traveled to Spain and then took a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit to other Spanish ports and Morocco! We had a really great time. I have included a few pictures here from our time abroad.

We started the trip in Malaga, Spain. We stayed there for four days, and we celebrated New Years Eve and New Years Day there. We stayed in an Airbnb that was less than ideal, but we really enjoyed the city. It was historic and really, really charming. I loved it. We spent most of our time walking the streets and eating at outdoor cafes. We visited the Malaga Cathedral, which is affectionally nicknamed "La Manquita" or "The One-Armed Lady" because one of the towers was left unbuilt. We also visited The Alcazaba of Malaga, which means "citadel" in Arabic. It is a palatial fortification built in the early 11th century, and it is stunningly large and well-maintained. We visited the Picasso Museum one day, and my favorite part was a special exhibition called "We Are Completely Free: Women Artists & Surrealism." I really enjoyed seeing that work. We spent New Years Eve wandering the city, and then we went to the Plaza de la Constitucion for the countdown. It was packed with people and surrounded by Christmas lights. It was a really exciting way to bring in the new year!

The Malaga Cathedral

Visiting the beach near the Port of Malaga
On January 2nd, after our four days in Malaga, we boarded our cruise ship, where we stayed for ten lovely days! The cruise was really great. We hit some choppy waters that didn't make us or our fellow passengers feel the best, but the staff was really wonderful and accommodating, our cabin was very comfortable, the food was good, and we really enjoyed the ship's hot tubs, lounges, and shows. We visited four Spanish ports on the cruise, and we liked them all. First, we stopped in Barcelona, and we basically did our own Antoni Gaudi tour from a hop on/ hop off bus and learned more about him than I ever knew before! My favorite spot was the outside of Casa Battlo. It was so beautiful and unique. I really liked Barcelona, although with all the gothic architecture it reminded me much more of Paris than any other Spanish city that I have been to. We also toured three of the seven Spanish Canary Islands on our ports of call. We visited Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Arrecife, Lanzarote. They were all very interesting and quaint, but we enjoyed Las Palmas the most. It had the best mix of downtown, history, and beach.

Our cruise ship

Enjoying dinner & a show onboard
One of very favorite portions of the cruise, though, was our stop in Morocco. We couldn't go to our original port of call, Casablanca, because of rocky waves and weather, so we docked in Tangier, Morocco instead. I was initially disappointed because I had been looking forward to going to Casablanca (mostly because of the movie), but our day turned out to be pretty great. We booked a full day excursion from the ship, and I'm glad we did. I think we saw the most we could in the safest way. We got on bus #5 straight from the ship, and we visited Cap Spartel, the Caves of Hercules, and then spent the rest of the day in Tetouan, Morocco. We got back to the ship at 5:45PM and it left port at 6:00PM, so that part was a little stressful, but the rest of the day was pretty great. Cap Spartel is a lighthouse located at the entrance of the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Caves of Hercules have a cut out in the rock in the shape of Northern Africa. Both were really beautiful. In Tetouan, our wonderful guide Ahmed took as all around the medina (old city), to visit mosques, an art school, a homemade goods and rugs shop, and took us for a delicious, authentic lunch complete with musicians and a dancer with burning candles on a tray on his head. Africa was Wade's fourth continent to visit, and we enjoyed our time in the historic and beautiful African cities that we were able to visit.

Nuts and spices on the street

Outside of the art school
Our trip was in turns informational, exciting, and relaxing. We were ready to come home and see our pups, but we really enjoyed our time away. We were really appreciative our travel agent, Shay Shull at Mix and Match Mama, for her help, and to the cruise staff who did a really great job hosting us. We came back ready to jump into the new year and back into our work.

Speaking of which, my spring semester has started! This semester I am teaching Technical Reporting and English 2. Both start pretty early in the morning, but I seem to have a good group of students in both classes as well. I am interested to see how the semester will play out, as I am also going to be tutoring a few hours a week in the Writing Center, which is new for me. I will be sure to report back on the progress of my classes and the tutoring this semester.

For this year, I am focusing on the word "simplicity." I am trying to figure out what that will mean in all aspects of my life, and I plan to read and mediate on the word and idea. I have some ideas of what it will look like, but I am excited for the new start and the new focus for year.

I hope that however your year started it will be a year of joy, growth, and peace. Here's to 2018!

No comments:

Post a Comment