As Kate wrote on her blog, we were pretty unimpressed with a trip over to Morocco yesterday, despite being warned by others ahead of time. It was worth the quick "daytrip to Africa" just because it was only 2 hours by boat from southern Spain, but Tangier´s buildings and neighborhoods were really grimey and not maintained at all. The people were nice, though.
We had a very typical tourist experience of seeing several "presentations" in a carpet store, and a spice store, bargaining like crazy to get souvenirs down to 1/2 or 2/3rd´s the original price, and then a very simple lunch of vegetables, couscous and mint tea with flies buzzing about, and the chef smoking cigarettes while preparing our food (lovely!). Kate even saw the chef carrying a recently-dead chicken through the restaurant to the kitchen (ew!). But we both came home with some beautiful silver jewelry and some cheap Moroccan spices.
Now that I have a good internet connection, and a relaxing day at a friend´s house, I´m posting here - NOT Morocco, but some pictures of The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, the famous Moorish palace from thousands of years ago, that I visited about a week ago before Kate got here.
I was so impressed with the condition of The Alhambra, it hasn´t had to rely on too much modern restoration because thankfully, Spain appreciates, and even admires their Moorish history enough that they have protected the buildings of that period as monuments.
Nearby Cordoba, while it was my favorite city in Spain, their Moorish-era mosque does have a lot of Catholic overtones which to me was "taking sides" too much - for example, the brochure about the mosque is labeled "Mezquita Cathedral (Former Mosque)" and inside the mosque, lots of the Catholic monuments are displayed predominantly. It almost was like saying "Catholicism triumphed in the end, and that´s all that matters." I appreciated much more how the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul which was tired of everyone fighting over which religion it should be for thousands of years, became neutral by becoming a monument to its own history, and it no longer functions as a church or a mosque. But of course not everyone is happy with that, you can never make everyone happy.