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Friday, September 11, 2009

Heading out again

In a few weeks time, I will be going abroad once again. Chris will be attending a conference in Madrid, and then we will travel together to Portugal. After I got laid off in February, I extended my travels on either side of his conference, which means I'll be out and about for a total of 21 days.

This time around, two "guest travelers" will join me on different legs of the trip. Lauren, a fellow Lake Erie Living alum, is coming for excursions to the North African coast and the Canary Islands. Jen, who is on my rowing team, will meet me in Portugal on the day Chris flies home.

The itinerary will include . . .

. . . Gibraltar. Spain wants a piece of this rock, but it's still in the hands of the British. The territory on the southern tip of Spain is home to the only population of wild primates in Europe, known as the Barbary Apes.

. . . Ceuta. Spain has two territories on the African mainland: Ceuta and Melilla. Ceuta is only a 30-minute ferry ride from Algeciras, Spain, and local bargain hunters head there for duty-free shopping. From here, it's possible to enter Morocco.

. . . The Canary Islands. Before starting to plan this trip, I knew very little about the archipelago, which is considered the "Hawaii of Europe." We are extremely fortunate to have a contact on the island of Tenerife who has kindly offered his services as tour guide. We're looking forward to exploring Mount Teide National Park (according to a tourism brochure it's the most-visited park in Spain), and the black sand beaches on the northern shore.

. . . Sintra, Portugal. According to Frommers: "Since the Moorish occupation, Portuguese kings and nobles have recognized this town's irresistible charm. You'll find a denser concentration of beautiful villas and gardens here than you'll find anywhere else in Portugal. At least five major palaces and convents are tucked amid the lush vegetation."

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