Goodbyes are never easy and I had my family there to bid me farewell, I had a two-year visa but no real idea of when I would be back.
After a mammoth flight, I landed in Lisbon, Portugal (Adelaide-Melbourne-Hong Kong-Istanbul-Lisbon). It was a solid 25 hours on a plane.
I was doing a ‘Top Deck’ through Spain and Portugal for two weeks as a ‘welcome to Europe’ for myself.
What I saw of Portugal was beautiful. We went from Lisbon to Porto which was stunning. A boat ride down the Douro River was ideal and a great way to see the sights.
First stop in Spain was Madrid which I had highly underestimated. I thought it would be just another city. I was wrong, it was beautiful. Apparently it is no more than a 10 minute walk to a park wherever you were in the city and the food markets (which we conveniently stayed opposite to) was a highlight of the city as well as the frozen yoghurt place we found!
From Madrid we went to San Sebastian which had some great food. A ‘pintxos crawl’ here was a highlight as you walked along the cobbled laneways and drinking plenty of sangria.
The La Boqueria Market in Barcelona were amazing – even more so than the food market in Madrid. So much colour and happy energy from this place, and of course amazing food.
From Barcelona I flew over to Ibiza for a few nights by myself. I stayed Figueretas Beach near Ibiza Town and went out to Pacha for the Swedish House Mafia closing party with a couple of guys I had just met at a restaurant – epic night.
After a couple of days back in Barcelona after Ibiza I flew to Marrakesh in Morocco where I was to start another two-week Top Deck tour. This was completely different.
The group of people on this tour was a lot more intimate and I got along well with two kiwi boys who I eventually become really good mates with – they probably know this (the cheeky buggers) but they made that trip for me and I had so much fun in Morocco.
We started in Marrakesh (checking out the Jamaa el Fna night markets for our first night together) and then to Rabat via Casablanca to see the Hassan II Mosque which was huge and apparently only took six years to build.
The Kasbah of the Udayas is a stunning spot to watch the sun setting and the winding streets to get there are picturesque – blue and white walls make a stunning backdrop.
From Rabat it was onto Fes which I loved. Such a cool city and you could tell the different between the new and old part. Weaving through the medina was magical here and you can easily get lost. Check out tanneries here and see the view below where the men are dying the leather the different colours.
We were lucky enough to spend a night in a Berber camp in the Sahara desert. Now this was a highlight. We rode camels out to our camp and slept in tents which you could look up and see the bright stars through. Early rise to climb as far as we could manage up a sand dune to watch the sun come up over the Saharan desert.
The winding and narrows road in the Atlas Mountains were interesting and such a contrast compared to the Sahara.
We eventually made our way back to Marrakesh where I was lucky enough to experience some football fever as there was a game being held (Morocco playing) for the African World Cup. My mum could hear the cheers down the phone line when I called her for a chat. The fans were crazy.
Morocco marked the end of my little tour but it also marked the start of my adventures in London.
My first time Africa and it would definitely not be my last…
Some fun facts and info about Portugal can be found here.
Some fun facts and info about Spain can be found here.
Some fun facts and info about Morocco can be found here.