Eurotrip

April - September 2019
Jumping around Europe for 5 months leading up to our wedding and honeymoon.
  • May17

    Erg Chigaga - Sahara desert

    May 17 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 39 °C

    The only way to approach the campsite in the desert was by 4 by 4. Our host/guide, the cook, the driver and the two of us got in the car at 4pm when the sun wasn't that strong anymore (well the temperature was still 40+). 2 hours later we arrived at our campsite which could have held many more people in some big tents and mud houses but as it turns out May is already out of season in the desert so it was just the two of us, fantastic and romantic! While our dinner was cooked we walked around the dunes, watched the sunset, had some tea and nuts and watched some youtube videos of video clips which were shot at the dunes with one of the guy's phone, well it was a bit random but funny. After some lovely tajin (suprise, suprise) we watched the stars and the moon which gave so much light that we could see our shadows. The sand cooled down on the surface but if you dig with your fingers a bit further down you can still feel how hot it was.
    The next morning we woke up at 6:15 as we were advised that the sunset is at 6:40 well as it turns out it was probably around 1,5hours earlier but the the colours and shadows were still beautiful on the sand. On the way back we checked out a tiny school built for nomadic families in the middle of the desert to educate their children. As only a couple of families still follow this lifestyle the school doesn't operate anymore. Another stop later was at an oasis with camels and donkies, Tom started to feel a bit sick which carried on all day not sure if it was some food or the heat, luckily we didn't plan anything further so we just stayed at Mhamid to relax.
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  • May16

    Mhamid

    May 16 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 38 °C

    After hours of research for a desert tour we decided to stay at an airbnb in Mhamid where the host, Mohamed, helps you to see the desert at a more reasonable price than big tour offices. This small desert village is mostly lived in by nomad families who have decided to settle down by the edge of the Saharah. Mohamed's family was one of them and he told us a lot about nomadic lifestyle and interesting facts like even if there is a hard border between Morocco and Algeria it is not impossible to cross it, those who want to come over just need to wait for a sandstorm which makes it impossible for the soldiers to see from their towers or CCTV. On the other hand you need to watch out for your camels and make sure they don't cross the border as you'll then just have to hope that someone sends them back!
    Sand and the wind made it rather difficult for us to dry our laundry which all ended up in the sand so we'll be bringing some desert home in our bags.
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  • May15

    Aït Ben Haddou

    May 15 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    After a few attempts we managed to negotiate with one of the many many taxi drivers outside the bus station in Ouarzazate to take us to Ait Ben Haddou where he would wait for an hour before bringing us back.
    We'd heard a lot about this place, an 11th century stopover for caravans along the trade route. It is included on pretty much every tour which goes through or close to the region so we thought we'd better check it out.
    It is hard to tell how much is original after Unesco and hollywood have each done restorations but the place is suprisingly undeveloped with little tourist information and only the usual few souvenir stalls in the alleys, not necessarily a bad thing. It is a maze of mud brick buildings which has been used in the filming of a long list of movies.
    After this short visit we headed south towards the Sahara, just short of the Algerian border.
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  • May14

    Ouarzazate

    May 14 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    6 hours of bus journey through mountains and rocky desert brought us to Ouarzazate, a small city famous for being the filming location for dozens of Hollywood movies, including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator and Game of Thrones. It also gets referred to as the gateway to the Sahara which we certainly felt by the temperature, up to 40°c at some times. The area is also famous as an old caravan trading route which brought wealth and led to the building of lots of Kasbahs (a bit like the Moroccan version of a manor house or private palace). After a little walk we checked out the Taourirt Kasbah which is right in the centre of town. It has lots of little rooms with tiny doors and windows to explore and get lost in.
    In the evening we ended up in a funny little roadside cafe for some drinks and moroccan cakes.
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  • May12

    Agadir

    May 12 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 36 °C

    A heatwave has reached us with up to 38° so we were really looking forward to our bargain deal 3 star hotel in Agadir with swimming pool.
    In the morning we got on the local bus and an hour later we were in our "private pool", as the hotel was pretty much empty. No sunbathing tho, we are in big pain from yesterday!
    The most important task was to buy our bus ticket for the next day so once we cooled down we headed off and also to see a bit of Agadir. At the main market we got a bit ripped off by paying a lot for some unwanted tea and henna but we knew it was coming at one point.
    We had a look at the beach and surrounding hotel complexes and restaurants but it's all kind of fake and plastic and completely separated from the rest of the city.
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  • May11

    Taghazout

    May 11 in Morocco ⋅ 🌫 20 °C

    Taghazout is a small fishing village which develops a lot year by year to keep up with the surf tourism (there wasn't even sewage system 5 years ago). The panoramic beach is a top surf spot in Morocco so we also couldn't miss out on renting a board and discovering how much we remembered from our one and only surf lesson 4 years ago in Ecuador. Well as it seems not a lot :D but we decided to blame it on the waves. The beach was windy but the sun was extremely strong so we both got painfully sunburnt. After a little siesta we went out to grab some food and mint tea by the ocean before sunset. Some places don't serve food from 7:25pm to 8pm as they break their fast, some others do so we try to remember not to order close to sunset because it's a little bit uncomfortable if the call comes from the mosque and everyone can start eating but some poor guy is stuck serving us.
    We had a lovely, relaxing time in Taghazout, ready to leave for Agadir tomorrow.
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  • May10

    Paradise Valley

    May 10 in Morocco ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We'd read about this place before we decided to come to Taghazout and luckily in the morning, after a little bit of calling around other hostels, Yasim from our hostel managed to sort out a tour for us.
    We jumped in his car and quickly picked up a German couple to complete our group and headed off towards the mountains.
    First, we stopped off for a look around an argan oil producer. The place is entirely staffed by women and acts as an opportunity for them to have some financial indepence while producing a speciality product of this part of Morocco. The argan tree has a little fruit like a cross between an olive and an almond which they use to make the oil. The oil is then used for food and making cosmetics.
    Next we drove to the end of the valley and started a bit of a hike along the river, stopping at a little cafe shack to order our lunch for later.
    Eventually, after climbing over some slippery rocks we arrived at paradise. It's a pool created by water running down from the mountains surrounded by palm trees in the middle of the dry landscape all around. We swam in the surprisingly cold water, sunbathed and watched braver people than us jump off the rocks.
    The route is circular so to come back we had to climb around the side of the pool, which was pretty terrifying but we managed to swear our way through it. After stopping back at the cafe to eat our tagine and drink mint tea we got back in the car and drove around the mountain to a hot spring. It wasn't quite as beautiful as the paradise valley but it was interesting to see local people enyoing the hot water. As it was rather full we decided to enjoy it only from distance.
    We had our dinner by the ocean in a romantic little local restaurant with an amazing view.
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  • May9

    Essaouira - Port and City wall

    May 9 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    In our last morning in Essaouira we spent some time at the Port, checking out the local fish market where (for a change) no one tried to sell anything to us. Extremely strong fish smell and lots and lots of seagulls. Then we headed up to the city wall built by the Portugese for some great views before going back to the riad to pick up our bags.
    Our bus was to Agadir but we were told to ask the driver whether he can drop us of at Tagazhout to save some time. (It is around 40 minutes north of Agadir.) He agreed to it so 2,5hrs later we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere by the main road to walk the last bit off to Taghazout. We had a couple of hours before sunset to go to the beach so Tom could dip in for the first time.
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  • May8

    Essaouira - Khadija's home

    May 8 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We decided to do a special activity which we haven't done before on our travels; a cooking class. We used airbnb, where you can book experiences with local people as well as accomodation, and arranged to go to Khadija's house for a tagine lesson. It was a surreal experence to be in someone's home who doesn't really speak English but extremily nice and enthusiastic. She talked us through how to make a chicken tagine and while it was cooking we were watching her husband's sister wedding video (non edited version) in their traditionally decorated living room/dining room. Her husband came home a bit later who spoke better English, he is a primary school teacher in a Berber village closeby. Some days he teaches in the morning other days in the afternoon as these children also need to have time to help around the house. He also told us that he studied sociology and did his thesis on the main square in Marrakesh and interviewed people there every day for 3 months.
    After a couple of hours cooking it was finally time to try the tagine, it was amazing and we can't wait to see if we can repeat it at home.
    On the way home we bought our bus tickets for the next day to Tagazout and walked home by the beach.
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  • May7

    Essaouira Beach

    May 7 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Spent most of the morning and early afternoon walking on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean. The breakfeast at the riad was plenty and varied which gave us energy. It was sunny but really windy. The beach was beautiful and mostly sandy with some people walking, many kitesurfing, a few more driving quads. Hourse and camel rides are also available, those who are selling them really are persistant. A guy even had passports for all his camels (Tarzan, Jimi Hendrix Cappucino and the rest). After the walk we found a beach bar which was obviously for tourists only, at the really far end of the beach where they sell alcohol so we had our first Moroccon beer and wine.
    Later we had our best dinner so far. A set menu with Moroccon soup, tajin (with sardin or a vegetables) and chococlate cake or homemade yoghurt, all amazing!
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