As told to Chris O’Connell. All illustrations by Melissa Reese.
A group of Flying Longhorns recently cruised around the Western Mediterranean aboard the Marina, departing from Lisbon, ending in Rome, and hitting nearly every major city along the route. Texas Exes associate creative director Melissa Reese hosted the trip and carried her trusty pen and paper with her as she made her way across Europe, documenting her adventures in Cannes, Tangier, Monte Carlo, and most of Spain.
Burnt-orange and bushy-tailed, I deplane in Portugal with a dozen other ship-bound travelers.
In Lisbon, I eat the delicious, eponymous pastry at Pastéis de Belém—think crispy filo dough filled with creme brulee—and I’m spotted by a gang of peckish pigeons and one conspicuous sea gull.
After 50 minutes, five rugs, and two cups of mint tea, I am sprinting through the medina in Tangier to catch up with my group. Word has spread that I’m an easy sales target.
The bad part about arriving early to the Nerja Caves? Waiting in the rain for it to open. The good part? Free WiFi!
I decide to climb to the top of the 600-year-old Miguelete Bell Tower in Valencia. Fifty steps in: This is a great idea! Think of the view! 120 steps in: Is it me, or is the stairwell getting narrower? 207 steps in: Can we—GASP—wait. Are we almost … hey, look at that view!
In Cannes, I befriend a produce vendor who agrees to help me “practiqer le français” over coffee. Naturally, he falls in love with me. I pretend not to understand.
I hear a story about how David’s arm fell off once, supposedly killing an innocent bystander. Note to self: Don’t stand too close.
Happy, tired, and feeling like a pack mule, I say goodbye to all my new friends from the trip. (I miss you already!)
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