To Iberia and Beyond

That may not be exactly the famous Buzz Lightyear quote from Toy Story, but there just might be an infinite amount of interesting explorations on the Iberian Peninsula and beyond to Morocco. There is so much to uncover that the thought of managing a mission of discovery may seem daunting, if not impossible.

But don’t despair, Buzz would never let that stop him and neither should anybody else. There are specialists at Memphis Tours who plan these expeditions down to the last detail, so now Spain Morocco Portugal tours can be reality instead of a fantasy.

We have had the good fortune to visit Spain a few times, yet there remains a vast unknown space in the country awaiting our exploration.

Sure Barcelona and Madrid rank as two of our favorite European cities, and we would eagerly return for another look because we are fully convinced that we could never see Sagrada Família enough, or get tired of following in Hemingway’s footprints around the Spanish capital.

As explorers, we are even more thrilled at the prospect of seeing Seville. This is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus, and the port where both he and Ferdinand Magellan set sail in search of the East Indies five centuries ago.

But the history goes back much farther than that on the peninsula, as is evident when the tour stops at the ancient Roman ruins of Córdoba, or the amazing Alhambra palace and fortress in Granada.

Spain is not only historic; it is also gorgeous, as we can see by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, or the town of Cáceres, often called one of Spain’s most beautiful cities, or on the beautiful beaches of Marbella.

Another huge plus in our book for this trip is the chance to finally see something beyond the airport in Lisbon. Surprisingly, we didn’t get a good feel for the city while changing planes. I know, shocking!

The capital of Portugal has any number of impressive sights, including Cristo Rei, a three hundred feet tall statue of Jesus overlooking the city from across the bay. While it may not be as famous as Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, it stands about three times as high, with the caveat that two thirds of that is pedestal. That makes them about the same size.

We’ll also find another nod to the age of exploration at the Tower of Belem, built to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s successful expedition to India, a feat he accomplished by going in the opposite direction of his more famous predecessors.

In addition to Lisbon, while in Portugal there is a stop at Fatima, the world renowned site where millions of pilgrims come to see the place that the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1917.

With all of that, we still think that the most exciting leg of the journey happens after taking a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.

This is a part of the world that we have longed to explore for ages. Landing in Tangier, we can imagine the Carthaginians arriving to settle the city some twenty-five hundred years ago.

Due to its strategic location on the southern shore of the narrow entrance to the Mediterranean, they may have been the first but they were hardly the last.

The Romans, Byzantine Empire, Portuguese, English, and eventually the Moroccan sultans all claimed this valuable port at one time or another.

Even more fascinating is Fez, the medieval capital of Morocco. The historic medina is a mind boggling maze of passages, paths, alleys, and corridors considered the best-preserved old city in the Arab world. This open air shopping madhouse is also the world’s largest car-free urban zone.

After stops in the former capital of Meknes, and the currant title holder Rabat, it is time to head back across the strait to Spain for a day in Toledo, known as the “Imperial City,” before finishing back in Madrid.

For those who might be wondering about Morocco’s two most famous names from film and song missing from this trip, if the desire to take the Marrakech Express or say “Here’s looking at you, kid” in Casablanca is just too strong, they are available on other itineraries.

After all, we started this story with a movie reference, only seems right to end it with one as well.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

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3 thoughts on “To Iberia and Beyond”

  1. Great post. Making my first trip to southern Spain later this year and can’t wait to set my eyes on cities like Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada. Would love one day to do the passage from Spain to Africa.

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