On to Portugal and Spain.
Portugal--Faro, Lisbon. 12/16-12/21
My parents met me and Maylin at the airport, it really was great to see them, i don't think you ever realize how much you miss somebody until you see them again in person. Well, supposedly you're not supposed to realize how much you miss somebody until you can't see them again . . . but that usually isn't the case for me. They had rented a car which turned out to be quite handy as the place we were staying was quite far from everything else, but it was a beautiful little place that we had for the days that we were there. My dad and i went horseback riding one of the afternoons (my mom really hates horses, and Maylin wasn't to keen on getting on a horse for 4 hours, so it was just me and my dad, which was nice). The lady that was in charge of the stable was more than a little crazy. She gave me this fairly aggressive young male horse that didn't want to be behind anyone, so I had to lead! (which is probably what we get for saying that we had riding experience) and the horse would not listen to me, and didn't want to move faster then a slow walk, which was very frustrating. fast forward to 2 hours later when we trot over the sand dunes and arrive at the beach. My horse went crazy, and i got scared. just imagine galloping down the beach on top of a horse that won't listen to you when you try to get it to slow down. I eventually was able to coerce the horse into slowing down . . . but it may have officially ruined "romantic horseback rides on the beach" for me. The rest of the time in Faro was really relaxing, I did some studying and read some books for fun, which is always nice. We made a day trip to Lisbon and Maylin and I just basically walked around town since we couldn't be bothered to take the tour bus around. Portugal was nice and relaxing.
Spain--Malaga, Morocco--Tanger, 12/22-12/27
Spain was another relaxing place, there was a British store close to the place we were staying, apparently there are a bunch of Brits that go to Spain for vacation . . . Maylin and I took advantage of the close beach and sunshine and went down for some sunbathing a couple of times, I wish we had done that while in portugal as well! We took a day to go to Morocco which was really cool--though, i didn't really enjoy being part of a huge group of tourists going down the streets of Morocco. It was a really interesting experience, the country was like no place I had been before, we saw a communal stone bakery where people would bring their bread to be baked, and then come back like 2 hours later when they were done! We were also introduced to a snake charmer and traditional Moroccan lunch. It was pretty sweet. My parents had brought some canned things from home for Christmas dinner--so we had an almost traditional Christmas with stockings and green bean casserole and cranberries and such. Maylin and i were actually not very good at planning ahead, in fact after we made our plans to go to Amsterdam we kind of stopped planning (which is why we ended up getting to Portugal by going from Amsterdam to Belgium to Dublin to Portugal) since we knew that we had almost two weeks with my parents where we didn't need to plan for anything at all! anyway, once it came time to leave my parents and journey to the next part of our break we needed a way to get to Paris, since we had plans to meet up with friends for a couple days around New Years . . . but we still had a couple of days so we decided to go to Madrid! Madrid doesn't get it's own paragraph because we really didn't do much there . . . we tried Tapas and made some friends at the hostel we stayed at, we also bought a day long metro ticket and rode the metro around to different stops, like . . . Isles de Filipas! (but once we got back on the street at the stop there was literally nothing there--so we travelled on to more metro stops). Hmmmm yea .... we became very proficient at having fun without doing touristy things or spending much money. Although, the 2nd to the last day we were there we went to the Prado Museum which was amazing!!! ( and since we are students of the EU we got in for free!) Tip for traveling to Spain: they do not speak English. but we're pretty sure that they understood us, thank goodness I vaguely remembered some of the things I learned in high school spanish class.
Then, it was on to Paris. . .