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T-Minus 16…15…14…

May 29, 2011

The days are ticking away as Minooka TAP’s 5th trip gets closer and closer.  This year we’re headed to four different countries, a definite first for TAP.

Our travels will take us through Portugal first.  We’ll be in Lisbon on June 14th, and we can’t wait to see the castles and cathedrals in Europe’s hilliest capital city.  Our second night in Lisbon we’ll head out to see a traditional form of Portuguese music called Fado.  If this is anything like the music nights we experienced in Germany, Greece, and Ireland this will be a night the kids will never forget.

Sintra, the home of kings, is our second stop.  In Sintra we’ll see the spot where British and Portuguese forces signed a treaty with Napoleon to end Portugal’s part in the Peninsular Wars.  Finally, we’ll stop in Evora and see the oldest man made creations TAP will have ever seen – cave paintings that go back 25,000 years!!!  On top of that we’ll see all sorts of structures from prehistoric man outside of Evora, then, once we’re in the city we’ll see a real Roman Temple from the time of Emperor Augustus.

Finally, on day four, we’ll cross into Spain.  Seville is our first stop there, and I’m so excited about standing inside of Spain’s most famous bullfighting ring.  I’m not sure if we’ll see a fight, but it might be incredible just to see some bulls close up.

Next we’ll head into Gibraltar, a tiny little country that is a British Commonwealth.  While exploring the Rock of Gibraltar we’ll walk through caves that were once home to Neanderthal man, and more recently housed a military hospital during WWII.  The Rock is also home to the only monkeys on the European continent.  We’ll get up close and personal with the apes before heading across the Straits of Gibraltar for another TAP first.

TAP is going to Africa!!!  No, there won’t be any lions or giraffes or Hakuna Matata for us, we’ll be in the far north western corner of Africa visiting the city of Tetouan, Morocco.  Our guides have some cool stuff in store for us in Morocco – a visit to the medina (marketplace), the kasbah (an ancient fortress), a spice shop, and the royal palace.

Once we’re back across the Mediterranean we’ll visit a few Spanish cities that were once a part of the Moorish Kingdon of Al-Andalus – Cordoba and Granada where we’ll visit the Alhambra, a fantastic palace, and the Great Mosque of Cordoba – an ancient Moorish temple converted into a Catholic cathedral.  We’ll then step in to literature, visiting the very windmills and the same inn that Don Quixote saw in the classic novel that bears his name.

In Toledo we’ll see one of the biggest cathedrals in Europe as well as a fortress that played a critical role in the Spanish Civil War.  Finally, we’ll end our tour in the capital city Madrid where we’ll see another music performance, this time watching the hypnotic dancers and amazing guitarists of Flamenco.  In Madrid we’ll also get to see artwork from Dali and Picasso, stroll through the shopping district, and see an Egyptian temple moved to Madrid as a thank you from the Egyptian government.

After twelve action packed days we’ll be heading back to Minooka, our camera’s full of cool pictures and our minds filled with unbelievable memories.  Along the way we’ll blog here about our adventures, upload pictures to our Facebook page, and try to (digitally) take everyone back home with us to Spain.

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