Just came back from one of the longest trips I have ever taken. Well, not actually the longest in duration but more the number of things we were able to do in 16 days. Let me tell you about it!
So we took a red-eye flight Friday night May 5, 2016, out of NYC. In the midst of settling into the unease of knowing that I will no longer have a full-time job when I get back and trying to do some clean cleaning, with trying to submit pre-registration new student forms, its safe to say that the day was pretty hectic. You see, anesthesia school starts the week after I get back and I opted out of working full-time and going to school as well. This would be my last hurrah!
May 6, 2017 Casablanca to Marrakesh
Landed in Casablanca, Morocco. Luckily we landed in the morning so it was easy to maneuver through the city. What we didn’t know was that our T-mobile phones notorious for having worldwide LTE exempted Morroco from the list. So, we were stuck with no wifi but luckily had offline downloaded maps where we starred the places we wanted to see on Google Maps. We took their version of an air train out of Casablanca airport into the city center. Oasis. From here, we were connected to a fast train going to Marrakesh. Mind you, when you buy this ticket please please please mark first class and pay extra. We were cramped, extremely hot, fatigued and the smell of BO did not help.
Finally arrived in Marrakesh to find out the Bahia Palace was closed. They closed at 4 pm. Also, pro-tip: ladies do not travel without a man by your side. My girlfriend and I were literally covered from head to toe but still catcalled and harassed to buying things and trying to lead us to wandering allies.
We explored the Koutoubia Mosque and ended up walking through the souks during sunset.
Must go to restaurants: Cafe Arabe, and Nomad (try their Amylou icecream!).
May 7-9 Marrakesh to Merzouga Tour
We were picked up by a tour bus that accommodated 17 people. We bought tickets online in the Merzouga Tour website, don’t get ripped off! We paid about ~80euros for the 3 -day, 2 nights deal. We stopped in multiple towns along the way. Including a Berber village. Berber meaning the natives who lives in Morroco before the Arabs came.Here we were cajoled into buying a Berber blanket and drank some tea with the locals.
On Sunday we explored kasbahs on our way to the desert and slept at a kasbah hotel. There they fed us dinner which was of course tagine and couscous!
Monday we drove further in and made it in time for the sunset in the Sahara desert. They arranged a camel for each of us to ride into the sunset. The ride was about 1.5 hours. Our guide also gave us a complimentary ride through the sand dunes. I thought I was going to die. Then, we laid out in the desert and looked at stars and told stories around a fireplace. We slept in the tents they set up for us.
On the morning of May 9, we woke up at 4 am to ride into the sunrise. Not as thrilling as the sunset. We arranged for a grand taxi to Fes, Morocco. Luckily we had 4 other Americans that also wanted to go to Fez instead of Marrakesh. We paid about ~25USD for an 8hr ride. On our way we were greeted by a sandstorm. Unreal. We arrived in Fes at about ~4pm.
May 9-10 Fes, Morroco
We only spent less than 24 hours here. Mainly because there wasn’t much to do in the old Arab city and we wanted to hurry up and get to Spain. The markets all close at 6pm. Fez is known for their leather tanneries where they hand make their leather goods. We went and bought leather jackets and literally, bounced the next morning!
May 11 Chefchouen, Morroco to Tangier Port, Morroco; Tangier Port- Tarifa, Spain
From Fes we luckily found a grand taxi that was charging us 1000 dirhams (~100USD) to Chefchouen. This is a steal from taking the CTM bus (which gets booked days in advanced apparently ~14USD) as you pay 16USD if split between 6 people. CHefchouen is known for its aesthetically pleasing town thats literally painted blue. We took some snaps here and then carried on.
From Chef, we took a local bus which cost us about 3euro to take us to the port of Tangier. This took about 3hours. From Tangier, we took a fast ferry FRS or intershipping ~35min to get into Spain. I recommend taking the 6 or 7pm to catch the sunset!We took their free shuttle bus to Algeciras and spent a night in Algeciras as there was no late night transportation to Seville.
May 12 Algeciras, Spain – Seville, Spain
We used the app called blabla car sharing ride feature to go to Seville. It took ~2hrs and paid 10euros. The ride was pleasant and our driver was a girl our age. We are in Plaza de Espana above. Must go to the Alcazaar! This is where Dorne in Game of Thrones takes place.
May 12-14 Seville, Spain – Pisa, Italy; Pisa, Italy – Florence, Italy
May 14 On our way to Florence, we took a flight out of Seville into Pisa with Ryanair. Print your boarding passes ahead of time! 50euro charge at the counter FYI. This was the cheapest option as direct flights from Seville to Florence was hundreds of dollars more. In Pisa, we ran to take pics with the tower, grabbed some pizza, and ran to catch a fast train that took about an hour to come into Firenze SMN.
May 14-19 Florence, Italy — Duomo! Gelato! Hot chocolate! Oh and panini toscani and Ali’s kebabs.
May 17 Chianti Tuscan Wine Tour 6 hrs. We were taken to 3 vineyards. Got our deal from groupon for about ~70USD.
May 18 Cinque Terre (The Five Towns in Italian). Caught a train from SMN to La Spezia (train outside of Cinque Terre). Bought an all day train pass to ride from town to town. There is a hike from Town 3 to 5 which is apparently beautiful but we opted out for the sake of time.
May 19 Florence, Italy – Bologna, Italy; Bologna Italy – Ibiza, Spain
We took a train out of Firenze SMN into Bologna. From Bologna train station we took an airport bus to Bologna airport. You have to buy your ticket to the airport bus with the guy that sells magazines! Be careful of the gypsies, they will try to rob you. We have videos!! we caught a cheap flight to Ibiza.
May 20 Ibiza- Barcelona, Spain
As our returning flight was leaving from Barcelona. WE left Ibiza Saturday evening and spent a night in Barcelona in time for our flight back home the next day. Also, who doesn’t love Barcelona and it’s nightlife. Opium and Shoko for the win! Get there before 130am to avoid lines and 20euro cover. Other must dos: Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Magic Fountain of Montjuic (light show on Friday and Saturday nights)
May 21 Barcelona, Spain – Casablanca, Morroco; Casablanca – New York City
We were able to check our luggage and only have a small purse. We had an 8-hour layover in Casablanca and decided to use the time to check out Hassan II mosque. Once again, took an airport train out to the city center and took a cab there. Must do! It’s a mosque on the beach. Apparently, it’s helpful to just hire a guide while you are there. But, in our case we planned everything on a whim so did not have that luxury.
My roundtrip flight was ~375USD. Luckily, with Chase Sapphire Reserved I booked it with my points. Overall, I would describe my trip to be rushed, unreal, and amazing!!!!