Travels in Southern Europe with Rucksack
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In the summer of 2014 Maxene and Craig took off for Spain. They got married in Gibraltar (you can read more here) and then spent 11 days traveling around Southern Europe accompanied by their sense of adventure and their Drawstring Rucksack. You can also follow Maxenes’s travels on her blog, Maxene’s Trail of Crumbs or on Instagram (@maxenestrail). Both chronicle her adventures in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Her mantra is: “surf, eat, climb, bake, drink, repeat.” Words to live by, if you ask us.
After our wedding in Gibraltar we spent much of the following 11 days driving and getting very lost, missing flights, and realizing we might have severely over packed. We also quickly realized that I wasn’t as versed in Spanish as I had believed and that Craig’s Spanish was down to two words: yes and thank you (very useful, but still rather limited).
Our first stop was Sevilla. We quickly fell in love with city. We encountered our first language barrier in ordering breakfast; I chose items that were familiar words. But to my surprise I had ordered an array of Spanish charcuterie and fried potatoes. So we decided to go all-in Spanish-style, ordered beers accompany our 10am breakfast of meat and potatoes, and introduced the Catalonian lisp into our Spanish conversations. While in Seville we encountered the first of many cathedrals, including the world’s largest gothic cathedral, the Seville cathedral, which is also the burial site for Christopher Columbus. Among the many other sites the one that truly left us amazed was the Alcazar, a stunning palace rich in Moorish influence and design. It’s the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. The Alcazar also happens to be where a portion of the fifth season of the popular novel turned HBO series Game of Thrones was filmed.
Next we stopped in Malaga, where we arrived with just enough time to shower and grab a dinner of rosé and tapas (yum!). The next morning we visited the hill top fortress Alhambra in Granada. Alhambra is a feast for the eyes; to put this into perspective I offer the words of poet Francisco de Icaza: “there is nothing worse in this life than to be blind in Granada.” We toured the palace grounds and were in awe over the sprawling Moorish architecture. After our road stop in Granada we arrived in Valencia, for an overnight stay in the birthplace of paella (a savory rice dish typically made with seafood and saffron). Our little road trip up the southern coast of Spain was almost over.
Next was in Tarragona, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea. We made our way to the 2nd century seaside amphitheater. This Roman amphitheater was the site of many gladiatorial contest, but after the fall of the Roman Empire it was extensively quarried. The remains are still quite spectacular but they made us try hard to imagine how breathtaking it must have been in its day. Standing in the ruins at this place where the sea, the sky, and the earth all meet was truly astonishing. And the depth of its history is astounding.
Our last stop in Spain was Barcelona. While in Barcelona we explored the city by foot, drank espresso all day as the locals do, reached a new level of day drinking, and ate our way through this busy and beautiful city. We managed to see the famous Antonio Gaudi cathedral, the Sagrada Familia, and the Magic Fountains of Mountjuic, a massive Las Vegas scaled fountain that was built for constructed for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. Both were stunning.
After Barcelona we flew to Santorini, Greece where we stayed in a traditional cave home. We spent hours reading, lounging on our deck, and staring across the Aegean Sea. We then visited the birthplace of democracy, in Athens, Greece. There we visited many historic sites and caught up on much needed sleep (many early morning departures, lots of running around, and late nights).
Finally, we had an even shorter stopover in Rome, this time only 20 hours. With Rome our last stop before heading stateside we hit the city hard, visiting every major landmark accessible by public transportation. The following morning, on only 4 hours of rest, we started our journey back to Portland, Oregon. Yes, we arrived home exhausted. But we also arrived home with memories to last a lifetime and a truly stellar beginning to our married life (long may it be). It was an amazing trip!
Lastly, a word or two about how we ended up owning and loving our Drawstring Rucksack. Craig and I both love the look and durability of leather. Walking by a leather shop and not going inside is a challenge for us. We both see purchasing high quality leather goods as an investment. One day Craig walked by the Orox shop. Already in the market to purchase a sturdy travel bag for our upcoming trip to Spain, he was immediately drawn to the drawstring rucksack. The rucksack fit all of his needs: a bag large enough to use as a carry-on, one that offered protection from environmental elements, and something durable to last us through all of our adventures and years.
We’ve owned the bag for over a year and been complimented on it numerous times. We’ve taken the bag on hikes, quick business trips, and many expeditions to the Oregon coast. It’s holding up extremely well and we expect it to keep right on doing so.