Here and There

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Greece

Greece has been at the top of my bucket list since I was a young girl captivated by Greek mythology. Our trip to Greece was amazing and the beautiful country will always hold a special place in my heart because it is where my fiancé asked me to marry him.

We flew to Athens immediately following our time in Slovenia. In hindsight, because the countries are so close together, we wish we would have rented a car and driven down the coast of Slovenia, Croatia, and Greece. Maybe next time!

Athens

When asking other people what they thought of Greece, many people said that they weren’t very fond of Athens. However, when my fiancé and I arrived late in the evening, we were happily surprised to be greeted with a lively city square. We quickly checked into our hostel and went back into the city to grab a bite to eat.

We stayed at Students and Travellers Inn while in Athens. This hostel was not the best hostel we had stayed in, but it had a great location in the city. It was okay to stay in for the two nights we were there.

While in Athens, we had a lot of fun just walking around the city. There is so much to see and a lot of fun little shops. We also visited the Acropolis. However, on the day that we went it just happened to be “free museum day” or something in Athens, so there were A LOT of people. It was kind of stressful, but I would assume it isn’t normally like that.

BE CAREFUL!

I have been fairly lucky and have not had any major travel hiccups on any of my trips. However, in Athens I almost had my wallet stolen. My fiancé and I were approached by two women selling roses. We politely declined, but the women were getting very forceful and getting very close to us. This is when my fiancé noticed one of the women reaching into my purse. Luckily he called her out and she quickly ran away. Lesson learned to not use an open satchel-like purse while traveling. It is much too easy for someone to reach in, especially when you are not paying attention taking in a new city.

Santorini

We flew via Volotea from Athens to Santorini. We considered taking the ferry, as it was slightly cheaper, but finally decided to save time by flying. Upon landing, we were picked up by our hostel, Villa Manos. This hostel was really more like a hotel and probably the nicest “hostel” I have ever stayed in. The prices were very reasonable, probably because it was so new and it was kind of in the middle of nowhere.

We arrived at 9 am, so we couldn’t check into our hostel quite yet. So, we ended up doing a day tour organized by our hostel. I think the bus tour was around $50 per person and it brought us to many worthwhile sites. The first stop was Akrotiri, an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek city destroyed by a volcanic eruption. We stopped at a few viewpoints and then went lunch at the black sand beach. After lunch we went to a winery where we did a tasting. Our last stop was the city of Oia. This is the more high end part of the island, probably because it has the best view. Everyone flocks here are the end the day to catch the sunset, which was truly breathtaking. However, I must say that I am glad that we weren’t staying in Oia as the vast number of people and small alleys were quite stressful.


As you may have been able to tell, we normally stay in hostels while traveling. This is because they are usually much cheaper and we normally are so busy we pretty much only sleep there. However, because it was Greece, we decided to splurge a little while in Santorini. Using our credit card rewards, we booked three nights at the Avant Garde hotel (pictured above). This was a very small, luxury hotel with incredible views. It is located on a quieter part of the island which we really enjoyed.

Last Thoughts on Greece

Greece definitely lived up to my expectations. However, I do wish we would have been able to explore some of the other islands.

RATINGS

OVERALL: 8

FOOD: 6

FRIENDLINESS: 7

LODGINGS: 8

SCENERY: 8

ACTIVITIES: 4

Featured

Slovenia

I’m going to be totally honest and admit that I didn’t really know anything about Slovenia prior to my travels there. I’m not even entirely sure why my fiancé and I had decided to go, but we did and it far exceeded my expectations. 

LAKE BLED

We flew into Ljubljana, the country’s capital city, late at night and took about a 40 minute cab to our hostel near the city of Bled, as there is no Uber in Slovenia. When booking our trip, I was surprised at how few hostels there were in this town as it is a popular tourist destination. However, we found a quaint hostel called Garden House Bled. The workers here were very kind and helpful and allowed us to check in late using a code. 

The main reason we went to Lake Bled was because we were going to climb Mt. Triglav. Unfortunately, when we arrived to Slovenia it was uncharacteristically cold and Triglav had poor weather conditions, so our guide ended up cancelling on us. This left us with a few extra days in Bled that we had to fill. 

The first day we rented bikes and biked a few miles to Vintgar Gorge. This is a park and does have a small entrance fee. Upon entrance you walk around the beautiful turquoise gorge on a  wooden walkway. 

We also hiked up to Bled Castle one evening. The Castle is perched up on a cliff overlooking Lake Bled. Besides the amazing view from the top, there is also a museum, restaurant, and honey shop to check out.  

The final activity we did while in Bled was a day tour of some of the most popular natural attractions in northern Slovenia. This tour was called the 7 Alpine Wonders and we booked it through Altitude Activities. Our guide was very knowledgeable and passionate about Slovenian history and culture. Due to the surprisingly cold weather, most of our stops didn’t have a lot of tourists and there was a dusting of snow which made the experience much more private and magical. I would imagine that in the summertime it gets much busier. Our stops included two waterfalls, the Soca River, two lakes and a short trip to Italy. I truly did not expect these beautiful water features surrounded by majestic mountains. 

Ljubliana

Following our time in Bled, we took the bus back to Ljubljana. This was obviously much cheaper than taking a car back. In Ljubljana, we stayed at AdHoc Hostel. This hostel had a great location, but was unfortunately under some pretty major construction during our stay. They gave us a discounted rate, but it would have been nice to have been informed of this prior to our booking. Ljubliana is a beautiful city with a canal running through the middle. We only had one day in Ljubljana, and we pretty much just walked around without a plan and had a great time. We visited the Ljubljana Castle, shopped, and ate a lot of food. We indulged in pizza, ice cream, and some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had. 

Last Thoughts on Slovenia

If Slovenia isn’t on your bucket list, it should be, especially if you love to hike. This small country has a lot of pride and beautiful scenery to take in. 

RATINGS

OVERALL: 7

FOOD: 4

FRIENDLINESS: 7

LODGINGS: 7

SCENERY: 9

ACTIVITIES: 4

Solo Camp

I had a free few days this last week, so I decided I needed a change of scenery. I packed up the car and my dog and I set off for Governor Knowles State Forest in Wisconsin.

This was my first time camping by myself. I was a little nervous, but also excited to spend some alone time in nature. The state forest was about an hour drive from Minneapolis, so I got there around 3pm. I reserved campsite 123 on the St. Croix Family Campground, which I honestly think is the best site. It was the most secluded, which is personally my biggest requirement.

After setting up the tent, Koda and I went for a hike on the Raspberry Trail through the forest. We didn’t go too far, but the little bit we did explore was riddled with bridges and small waterfalls.

After hiking, I laid in the hammock for a bit reading Where the Crawdads Sing. I haven’t read too much, but so far it’s pretty good!

I was planning on making a black bean burger and potatoes for dinner, but I forgot my ketchup 😦 so I just made the potatoes. Then I started my fire. It was the first time I’ve started one by myself and it showed… It took me more than an hour to actually get it going.

S’mores are a must have while camping, but I’ve been trying to eat healthier, so I tried a different kind of marshmallow called Smash Mallow. They were pretty good, but I am curious to try the other flavors they have.

I just went for one night, but I think for my first time camping alone that was plenty. I hope everyone else is finding ways to fulfill their travel bug even if it’s not that far from home.

Looking Forward

It’s been 259 days since I’ve been on an airplane. I know I’m not the only one, but boy am I getting the itch to travel again.

So, today I thought it would be fun to share with you my top places I hope to travel in the near future. Top 3 states in the USA and the top 3 countries that I have never been to.

STATES

  1. Washington: I’m a very outdoorsy person, so most of my picks are based on wildlife or natural scenery. Washington state is no exception. With beautiful coastlines and magnificent mountains, it looks like a dream destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. I would love to do a kayak tour in search of orcas and hike in the mountains.
  2. Maine: Besides visiting New York last fall, I have never been to the east coast. Maine has always been somewhere I have wanted to go, ever since I was little. Whale watching has been my big attraction to this state.
  3. Alaska: I feel like this choice speaks for itself. Alaska is full of wildlife, but I feel like most people don’t take the time to get there. It is on my bucket list to see sea otters (one of my favorite animals) in their natural habitat.

COUNTRIES

  1. India: I am half Indian, but I have not been able to experience much of the culture. So, India has been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember. I feel like there are so many amazing places that I want to visit in this big country, so I have a feeling I will travel there more than once.
  2. Tanzania: An African Safari is another dream of mine, as I imagine it is for a lot of people. From talking to friends, it sounds like Tanzania has some of the best opportunities for this.
  3. New Zealand: Zack and I had talked about renting a camper and honeymooning in New Zealand. Unfortunately, I think this will have to wait for another occasion, but I do hope to get there one day as it has such unique wildlife and beautiful scenery.

So there you have it, my current list of places I hope to visit soon. The COVID-19 pandemic is still a major issue right now, so I’m not sure when these trips will happen. It was announced that the Kentucky Derby will still be going ahead in September, so we will be attending that and we are still planning to get married in Mexico in January. So, hopefully I will have some more travel stories and tips to share soon!

Please let me know if you have any destinations you think I should add to my list! Shoot me an email at hereandthere.travel.planning@gmail.com.

1 Year Ago…

During this time of uncertainty, I want to share one of my favorite travel stories and one thing that I am for sure certain about: marrying my best friend.

Zack and I have been together for almost five years now. Those five years have been filled with so much love and adventure. Together we have travelled to numerous states and eight different countries. I love exploring the world so much and I am so blessed to have found someone who will go anywhere with me.

One year ago (May 2019), I had just finished graduate school and Zack had some time before he started his new job, so we decided to take a 3-week long trip to Slovenia, Greece, and Morocco.

Zack’s initial proposal plan was to pop the question on the top of Mount Triglav in Slovenia. However, last year Slovenia saw some unusually cold weather in May and our guide to the mountain top cancelled on us. So, plan B was Greece! (Not a terrible back up option if you ask me).

We usually stay in hostels when traveling abroad, but we decided to splurge a little when in Santorini. Our hotel was absolutely stunning. We were at the Avant Garde Suites which was on a more quiet part of the island, an area we really enjoyed.

And in fact, it was on this balcony that Zack asked me to marry him. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect time or place for us to get engaged.

Immediately after, we set off on a catamaran cruise around the island. It was so fun celebrating with people from all over the world and watching the sun set over the ocean.

It’s truly mind boggling how different the world is a year later and I’m so grateful we were able to fit this moment and trip of a lifetime in before the world came to a halt. Staying true to our love for traveling, we are planning to get married in Mexico in January. We are hoping the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control by then and that our wedding as well as all other celebrations around the world can recommence without risking lives.

If you have any suggestions on planning a destination wedding or if you have any fun travel engagement stories, please comment below or shoot me an email: hereandthere.travel.planning@gmail.com.

Land of 10,000 Lakes & So Much More

I can honestly say that this period of time spent at home due to COVID-19 has been the longest I’ve gone without traveling in YEARS. In fact, this upcoming weekend we were supposed to be flying down to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. As bummed out as I am about not being able to explore new places (especially with all this time off of work and obviously there are very good reasons for not being able to travel), I think this is a great time to bring up how amazing my home state of Minnesota really is.

For those of you not from the states, Minnesota is located kind of in the middle of North America. There are rolling prairies and farmland in much of the southern part of the state and beautiful old growth forests in the north. We are blessed with 4 distinct seasons and each one brings with it different activities for us Minnesotans and those who choose to visit our little midwest haven.

Winter

Minnesota consistently tops the list of states with the worst winters. From snowstorms that dumb 2 feet of snow in a day to polar vortexes that bring brutal -60°F temperatures, we definitely put up with a lot when it comes to winter. But we have found ways to make it fun.

Ice Castles

The Minnesota ice castles are amazing. Located in New Brighton, you can sip hot chocolate while walking through literally castles made of ice. There are tunnels and caverns to explore that are all lit up with different color LED lights. This is a great date spot or adventure for little ones.

Skiing

Although skiing in Minnesota is nothing like Colorado, we still enjoy it. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper! We especially enjoy doing late night skiing. Lutsen in norther Minnesota probably has the best skiing in the state, but Afton Alps is closer to the cities.

There are obviously so many other fun winter activities we enjoy such as ice skating, building snowmen, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, or even just rolling around in the snow with your pup.

Spring/Summer

Spring can be messy in Minnesota and almost non existent at times. This year, it seems to have come early and we are enjoying summer-like days in April. However, in the past 2 years we have seen snowstorms in mid April.

However, late spring and early summer in Minnesota are amazing. I think the most defining feature of this time is our lakes. Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes which were created by glaciers moving across the state. Nothing beats hanging out on a boat on a hot summer day.

Scuba Diving

I am an avid scuba diver and although diving in lakes doesn’t bring as much excitement as diving in the ocean, I still enjoy it every now and then. Midwest School of Diving is a great shop near the cities if you are looking to rent gear or take a course. I actually got my Dive Master certification here. Square lake is a fun place to dive because there are concrete platforms on the bottom with lines connecting them. Each platform has fun objects such as a toilet or chainsaw. It’s a great place to practice your navigating skills or to connect with other divers.

DCIM\100GOPRO

State Fair

Perhaps my FAVORITE thing about Minnesota is our state fair. We have THE biggest state fair in the country and if you like food, you’ll be in heaven. My favorite foods at the fair are fries from one of the many Fresh French Fries booths, corn on the cob from the corn stand, an ice cream cone from the dairy building, a pronto pup, and of course, Sweet Marthas cookies.

I’m pretty worried that the fair will be cancelled this year due to the pandemic. But if it is, it will be for good reasons and we will be back next year in full force.

Fall

The changing leaves in Minnesota are definitely worth seeing in late September to early October. Especially along the Mississippi River or St. Croix.

Perhaps the most notable fall activity is visiting an apple orchard. There are literally hundreds in the state where you can pick your own apples. Many orchards also have pumpkin patches, petting zoos, hay rides corn mazes, and restaurants.

Stuck in Minny

Well, I guess I picked a heck of year to start a travel website… a time when literally NO ONE is traveling due to COVID-19. Even going up north to the cabin is frowned upon. Here in Minnesota, we are on day 17 of our stay at home order. In reality though, things have not been normal for even longer.

I think at this point, we all know the current situation and are hopefully rising to the challenge of social distancing in order to help save lives. We are lucky here in our state to not have been hit as hard as other areas, at least not yet. I personally do not know anyone who has been killed by the virus, but my heart is still heavy for the thousands of people around the world who have lost their lives because of it.

It’s been a long three weeks cooped up in our tiny one bedroom apartment. But there have been some really beautiful moments wrapped up in all of this strangeness. As someone who is always stressed and trying to cross off my to do list, it’s refreshing to be able to slow down. I’ve been able to be present and lay on the floor with my dog, nose to nose, looking into her big brown eyes or go on a long bike ride with my fiancé, not knowing our destination. I hope everyone who has the luxury of staying home is finding moments like these.

Our cat (Trixie) and dog (Koda) taking a midday nap during quarantine.

I’ve had so many feelings and thoughts throughout all of this this, but my mind seems to drift to traveling nearly everyday in some shape or form…

How lucky am I to have had the adventures I have had?

I think of all the people I have met during my trips abroad and wonder if they are okay during these times.

And of course, daydreaming about where I will go when this is all over. Now, more than ever I have an urge to explore new places and connect with people from all over this beautiful planet.

I’m not sure if anyone will even read this, but if you are I hope you are well and are thinking of brighter days and more adventures, too.

P.S. If you are reading this, feel free to shoot me an email with any updates/stories/rays of hope from your city, state, or country.

email: hereandthere.travel.planning@gmail.com

Colombia

Colombia was intimidating and challenging but oh so worth it all.

This was one of the only trips that I did not plan. I ended up going last minute with my boyfriend (now fiancé) and four other guys. Looking back, I can’t believe I thought it was okay to crash this boys trip, but I think they were all very glad I was with because I was the only one who spoke any Spanish. Colombia, or at least the are we were in, was not easy to navigate if you didn’t speak any Spanish. Although this would be potentially disastrous to some, I loved this! This is still one of my favorite countries because it challenged me so to use my Spanish skills and it was fun being somewhere that wasn’t so touristy.

We flew into Cartagena during the height of the Zika epidemic. So, our flights were insanely cheap at 0. We had grand plans of flying to Medellin or Bogota for a few days, but we really enjoyed the coast and ended up staying there for our nine day trip. Once we landed in Cartagena, we took the city bus to Santa Marta. From there, we found a guy to drive us the extra ways to Taganga, a small coastal village.

Taganga

Taganga was such a dream. This is probably one of my favorite little villages and will always hold a special place in my heart. We stayed at the most charming little hostel called Casa Morninga. I honestly can not find this hostel on Hostel World, but I really hope it is still in business. The rooftop terrace was truly one of a kind.

Besides our amazing hostel, there was just such a sense of peace in this town. We ate at a little restaurant on the beach for nearly every meal. Our whole group decided to go scuba diving, one of my favorite hobbies. I wish we had been able to spend more time here, but there was more to see.

Tayrona National Park

We made a stop at Tayrona national park one day on our way to Palomino. This is kind of like an eco-park. We were able to rent some horses to ride into the park and hung out at a little inlet all day. There were concessions and lots of families here. The views were stunning.

Palomino

Our next stop was the small surf town of Palomino. Unfortunately, the ocean was a little too ruff for us to actually surf, but we still had a great time. We met some random guys that drove us up into the rainforest and dropped us off near the river with some tubes. It was totally sketchy, but made for a great memory. We stayed at the Tiki Hut Hostel which was the most expensive place we stayed in in Colombia, but it was worth it.

Minca

We fully intended on staying the night in Minca, but we found that there wasn’t too much to do here. But please don’t skip it! There were beautiful views and it seemed to be a wonderful place to stay and really relax away from more touristy destinations. We watched the sunset here and then found someone to give us a ride back to Cartagena where we would finish our trip.

Cartagena

Certainly one of my favorite cities, Cartagena is an unexpectedly bright and vibrant colonial style city. There is a big wall that separates it from the ocean, carriages roaming the street, and a new burst of color around every corner. We stayed at Viajero Cartagena Hostel. This was an excellent hostel with great night life and dancing lessons!

While in Cartagena, we took a couple of day trips. One to Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. This is where you can bathe in a big mud bath. It was definitely a unique experience as you are guided into the mud baths by some local workers and they massage you as you float in the mud. Afterwards you are treated to a very thorough wash down.

Our other day trip was to Playa Blanca. The oceanfront right outside Cartagena isn’t the most ideal, so we sought out nicer beachfront. Playa Blanca has cabanas, restaurants, jet ski rentals, and much more. Definitely worth the trip!

The coast of Colombia was beautiful and full of adventure. I do hope to make it back one day and visit more of the country.

Peru

If I could pick one word to describe Peru, it would be diverse. Throughout our nine day journey we biked down mountains, trekked through the rainforest, visited a desert oasis, and tried our hand at surfing.

Cusco

The charming city of Cusco was our first stop in Peru. We arrived on what was Thanksgiving (here in the U.S.). After getting settled in our hostel, we quickly found a cute little restaurant and had a little Thanksgiving meal which featured Alpaca instead of Turkey. We only had one full day in Cusco before departing on our trek to Machu Picchu. I truly wished that we had allotted more time in Cusco as it is probably one of my favorite cities I’ve been to.

Machu Picchu Treck

Before setting off on our trip, we had booked a four day three night trek from Cusco to Machu Picchu. There are certainly longer treks that give you a more rugged hiking experience, but we were very pleased with the one we chose given our time constraints and activities it offered. You can also book these treks when you get there, often for cheaper pricing. Also, beware of the time of year you go. Going from May to October pretty much guarantees you access to the hiking trails, but outside of those months are fairly rainy and parts of the trail may close.

We booked the Jungle Inca Trail trek through Karikuy Tours. We paid around 0 per person for this. It included all meals, all lodging, transportation, and activities. Below I’ve broken down a more detailed itinerary then is found on their website.

Day 1

On the first day we were picked up in a van and started off into the mountains. This ride was a little sketchy as we were going very fast, zigzagging through the mountains. Once we got to the top, we were each given a mountain bike, helmet, and padding. Then they told us to start off down the mountain. I was a little scared, but oh my goodness this was probably one of the coolest things of my life. Zooming down the mountain, not able to talk to anyone or take any pictures was such a special experience. The view of the mountains and valley was breathtaking. After we reached the bottom, we packed up back in our van and headed for Santa Maria. Here we went white water rafting before heading to our hostel for dinner and bed. Our lodgings were less then ideal, but we didn’t care because we had such a beautiful day.

Day 2

This was the first day of hiking along part of the Inca trail. They gave us the option of keeping our bags in the van that would meet us at the end of our hike, but we chose to keep ours to get the full “backpacking” experience. But boy was I regretting that decision after the first half hour. We hiked up into the mountains for I don’t even know how long. We stopped at a little hut that had some animals we got to play with, but continued on. After a full day of hiking we finally arrived at the hot springs that our van was waiting for us at. We had to pay a bit extra if we wanted to go into the springs, but after a long day of vigorous activity we all treated ourselves. Afterwards, we drove to Santa Theresa, a small town where we ate dinner. Our group was really fun and we all decided to go out that night to the local discoteca.

Day 3

Our third day started off with our zip lining excursion, which was really fun. The lines ran from one side of the river to the over. After zip lining we began the final leg of our trek. We mostly walked along railroad tracks on our own into the town of Aguas Calientes where we would be staying the night before waking up very early to head up to Machu Picchu.

Day 4

Machu Picchu day!!! We got up very early, like 4 am I think to get started. Zack woke up early to start hiking with one of the other guys from our group. I unfortunately had severely swollen ankles from hiking with my backpack, so I opted to take the bus. When we finally got up to the ruins, it was unreal. It looked just like I had imagined it. We had a guided tour included with our tour and then time to explore afterwards. We were really glad that our tour guide told us to get there early because the place filled up very quickly and we were able to get some good photos without too many people crowding the ruins. We actually didn’t stay too long, and hiked back down the mountain.

We chose not to spend another night in Aguas Calientes, and instead we took the train back to Cusco. The next morning we flew back to Lima to explore the coast.

Lima

The capital of Peru has different districts that have their own personality. We chose two to visit: Barranco and Miraflores. We stayed at the Barranco’s Backpackers Inn and The Healing Dog Hostel. While in Lima we tried surfing for the first time! And we also did a day trip with Peru Hop. This was a very long day, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Our bus picked us up and first brought us to the Ballestas Islands, which is also known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”. This was a speed boat tour where we saw lots of sea birds and sea lions. After this, we drove to Huacachina, a desert oasis. Here we had lunch and then got to ride on the dune buggy and went sandboarding. I did not expect to be doing this in Peru, but it was so much fun!

Although each country we have visited has taught me so much and provided unforgettable experiences, Peru, as of now, has to be my favorite. It was such an unexpected surprise how diverse the landscapes we visited were and we really got out of our comfort zone with a lot of the activities we did. If you are looking for adventure and amazing sights, please make your next destination Peru!

Morocco

Morocco was definitely a culture shock. This was our last stop on our May 2019 trip after Greece. We flew into Marrakech and quickly found our driver who we had found through our hostel. We planned to visit the coastal town of Essaouira for a few days before returning to Marrakech and flying home to the states.

Essaouira

Our hostel, Hotel Riad Al Zahia, was at the center of the “old town” in the Medina. One of the workers was kind enough to come pick us up from where our driver dropped us off and led us through the maze that is the Medina to our hostel. We were caught a little bit off guard because the streets were pretty empty when we first arrived and even when we went out after checking into our hotel, it was difficult to find food and there was still nobody out and about. I’m not going to lie, we were a little spooked not to see many people in this town and we were contemplating leaving. However, the next morning we learned that we were visiting Morocco during Ramadan. I felt so dumb and selfish for not doing my research ahead of time. For those of you who aren’t aware, Ramadan is a month in which Muslims do not eat or drink (among other things) from dawn until sunset. This explained why there were few restaurants open, as the sun was still up. Several Moroccans that we spoke with told us that we should try to participate in Ramadan even if we weren’t Muslim as it is a very eye opening experience.

After learning more about Ramadan and the traditions of the Muslims in Essaouira, we opened our eyes to just how beautiful and different this ocean city is. It appears that most people take day trips to the city, but we really enjoyed staying here for multiple days. I think my favorite activity was riding horses on the beach. You will find horses and camels to ride if you just walk down to the beach, but we booked through our hostel to ensure safety and to make sure we were supporting people who took good care of their animals. The ranch that we booked through was called Ranch de Diabat. We did a two hour ride which included galloping on the beach and walking through some of the native scrubland.

One thing to note about Essaouira is that it is EXTREMELY windy. But, if you are into extreme sports this is a great feature. Kite surfing is very popular along the beach. My fiancé took lessons through Explora. One thing to note about kite surfing is that it takes time to be able to get out on the water on your own. I think my fiancé spent 3 hours learning how to direct his kite on land and then 3 hours practicing in the water. It was very physically demanding, but lots of fun!

Marrakech

After a few days on the coast, we arranged another ride back to Marrakech. Once we arrived, boy did we miss windy Essaouira. Marrakech is HOT. Very hot. I gained some real respect for the women who wear traditional Islamic clothing in 100°F, especially during Ramadan with no food or water.

While in Marrakech we stayed at Dar Rocmarra. This was a beautiful riad, but it was very difficult to find.

While in Marrakech we did a lot of walking. We explored the market and bought a lot of souvenirs for our family and friends. Although it is a beautiful city, I definitely wouldn’t spend more than a few days here.

One of my favorite things about Morocco was all of the cats. They are EVERYWHERE! These little guys lived in the alley on the way to our riad in Marrakech. The people of Morocco seem to enjoy them too, as many leave out scraps and milk for them.

Last Thoughts on Morocco

Morocco is probably the country where I have felt the most out of my element, but I loved it. Definitely do your research on the customs, especially if you will be visiting during Ramadan.

RATINGS

OVERALL: 7

FOOD: 5

FRIENDLINESS: 7

LODGINGS: 7

SCENERY: 7

ACTIVITIES: 4