Back in the states

We kept a pretty low profile while in London. Lots of Judge Judy and gas station food.

The day finally came and we boarded our very empty plane back to the states.

A quick, not really, ten hours later we had made it to Miami. After a few basic checks we were officially on the other side of immigration and had made it back “home”. Whew!

It was pretty exciting to be back on US soil. Just something about the comforts of the known.

While in London the kiddos and Dad had convinced me to book a house in Orlando with a pool and  spa while we awaited our flight back to the cold white North.

Oh man am I happy I humored them! Ha!

Not only did we get a deal because, well, Airbnb’s aren’t exactly thriving at the moment but it has given us a chance to “self isolate”.  And of course it’s been pretty awesome to soak up some sun and enjoy the water.

We’ve got a few more days here and then we head north. We’ll face a 14 day mandatory quarantine up there, but it sounds like there’s still a ridiculous amount of snow on the ground so what else are you going to do, right?!?

Today we made a video recapping our European Adventure.

I’m so grateful we got this experience. Even with a health crisis at our heels. I mean would the Cunningham’s do it any other way?!?


Check out my new page “Europe with Teens”

Europe with Teens

We’ve dreamed of visiting Europe for years, I mean, who hasn’t? And for 2020, we finally made it happen. The countries on our list:

England

Greece

Italy

Morocco (Yes, I understand this is part of Africa)

Spain

France

More specifically, we will be spending:

7 nights in London

7 nights in Athens

7 nights in Rome

7 nights just outside of Pompeii

6 nights in Marrakesch

6 nights on a road trip through Spain and France

3 nights at Disneyland Paris

and

7 nights in Paris

Obviously, Europe is a big place. But I think we are hitting the touristy highlights. Some would say that getting off the beaten path is a truer way to soak up the culture and have a meaningful trip, but when it comes to Europe, I think I’ll save that for my second tour. For now, I want to see what has made Europe famous, the Louvre, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. All the greats!

You also may be wondering how Morocco got put on the list. To be honest, I did want a little bit of an authentic experience, and I felt that Marrakesch may offer that, but mostly it came down to cheap flights. You’ll find plenty of budget specific information on each countries page.

As for the kiddos, they are now 15 and 13 and have really matured quite a bit since that first trek to Central America. They’ve been exposed to so much world history over the years, and we really hit the books and You Tube hard prior to our trip just trying to soak in all the history and prepare for actually being here.

During the summer of 2019, I really began to realize that my kiddos were starting to become their own little people. Actually big people. At 13 and 15 I just don’t have much time left with these guys, and quite honestly I wanted to do a big trip to capture this moment in time. Of course, we will continue to travel and vacation and spend time with each other, but you never again have what you’ve got right now, so you might as well do something with it!

Plus, Europe was the only general destination that I could get the kids to agree on, moreover they were both really excited about Europe. So away we went!

Morocco Days 5 and 6

Our first day out and about in Marrakesch was a short one. Quite honestly, other than doing a little browsing around the Jemaa El Fna market, we didn’t have much left on the to-do list in the city. There is so much to see in this area, but our big highlight was our desert tour. We did manage to have a wonderful, fancy for us, meal at M Rooftop. After our quick trek out, we made our way back to the riad, surprisingly with little help from Google maps. I’m not kidding though, it’s like a maze through here. You can easily get lost in the narrow alleys that make up the medina.

We did manage to get out again for dinner, with a little protest from me and the kiddos, sometimes finding food is a lot of effort in a new place, ha! However, Chez Yassmine is absolutely our new favorite place, mostly because of Zora, the owner, who is adorable and feisty and awesome!

The next day was much of the same, lunch at Chez Yassmine, and then a tour around the souk. We managed to pick up al the items we set out for. A couple of shirts, a bracelet for me, and some traditional incense.

And here’s a little glimpse of the winding alleys of the medina.

It’s a lot easier than it looks, as long as you pay real close attention the first time you head out.

We attempted to eat at Chez Yassmine again for dinner, but as it happened, we spent all of our Dirham earlier in the day, and we needed more cash from the ATM, but we just couldn’t find one that would cooperate. So no money means no dinner. It happens. We had just enough Dirham leftover for one bottle of water and a bag of chips, ha! Wouldn’t be the first time this happened, and hopefully not our last. It’s just one of those things that you sign up for when you travel internationally. All part of the experience.

Next up France… I guess!?!

 

 

Morocco Day 4

After a quick rest we were up and at it again. A wonderful breakfast and back on the camels. Just in time for sunrise.

Back to the bus our adventure had come to a close. And now it was time for the long drive back to Marrakesh.

I am so grateful that we had this experience. Can’t even believe I considered not doing it. Even though we’ll be feeling that camel ride for days, seriously how did they cross the Sahara on those things? Ha! It was such a cool tour and has definitely opened me up to doing more tours. I seriously felt like I was living the life of luxury!

After several stops and a few mint teas we arrived back in Marrakesh.

Our driver hooked us up with Amin who graciously took our bags and walked us to our riad. We were staying at the heart of the Medina, the old City, it’s seriously like a maze in here.

After he dropped us off and asked for Liv’s hand in marriage, we were wiped out. Showers all around and straight to bed.

Morocco Day 3

Yalla, yalla!Hurry up, let’s go!We woke up crazy early and enjoyed a delicious traditional Moroccan breakfast. We had those amazing little tortilla pancake things again, except this time they were sweet and you could add preserves or Nutella. We also had olives, cheese, eggs, and with every meal you are offered a traditional mint tea. It’s really tasty and refreshing.With little time to spare we headed for the bus and met up with our group.We continued deeper into the desert as we awaited our sunset camel ride to camp.

By the end of the day we would be just on this side of the border of Algeria!

We made it to a little Berber village and met up with our guide Ali. Ali not only speaks French, Arabic, and Berber, the main languages here on Morocco but he speaks about a dozen other languages. That’s amazing! In fact most people here speak at least a few languages.Here we are checking out the local brick building yard. Still just water, hay, and dirt. It’s kind of amazing!

Ali took us to the local family Berber rug shop. We sat with the family and drank tea and learned about how the rugs were made. They make the rugs out of sheep’s wool as well as camel. And most of the rugs tell a story.

The rugs are adorned with symbols of spiders, farms, the tattoo art the women receive when they are engaged and married, the merging of tribes, and so on. I also learned that the spider is a sacred animal for the Berber women because of it’s web spinning abilities relating to the women who make the rugs. Passed down from grandmother to mother to child.

The colors are all natural derived from things like saffron, indigo, alfalfa, and natural black and white from the sheep. After viewing the rugs Ali took us for a walk around the village.

Then we went to the gorge where the natural spring is located.

Driving through the Desert

It was definitely a long drive out to the camp, but it was beautiful and so different. I loved the fact that all of the sudden you were in this amazing town out in the middle of nothing. I was hesitant to book the trip because of all the driving but the guides keep you engaged and they stop often. And by the time the tour was done I had absolutely no questions bas to wether or not it was worth it. This has been one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done.Last stop before we meet our camels. Another incredible overlook.

You can see some dunes back there now.The moment we’ve been waiting for.

Liv’s was trying hard to keep her shit together and I must say she did a great job. Me on the other hand I kind of don’t see new/scary things through sometimes, otherwise I probably wouldn’t do them, so for me the camel thing was like holy shit I’m 50 feet in the air and on a camel. Yikes!

For those of you who have never been on a camel let me tell you that it’s not as majestic as one might think. Ha! They never spit but man do they stink!

I was definitely white knuckling it to our first stop. They don’t go fast or anything but they’re a bit wobbly and when you’re on the ridge of a dune it can make you feel a bit uneasy.

But if you just focus on that view it was pretty awesome. After about 45 minutes we stopped at a big dune so we could catch the sunset and do some sand boarding.

SunsetYalla, yalla little camel we’ve got to ride into camp!

We arrived at camp and had our bags waiting for us. They brought us in the dining tent and we all enjoyed some traditional tea. Then it was off to our tent to get ready for dinner.

After a wonderful dinner of Chicken Tagine, rice, and fruit it was time for music around the campfire.

And look we made it to the border!

The perfect end to a perfect day. And now back up at 6 am for our sunrise camel ride back to the bus. At this point it felt like we had been trekking along in the Sahara for weeks, and I live for that feeling when I travel. It was absolutely the best!

Morocco Day 2

Our guides picked us up bright and early in a fancy shuttle bus. It was only 6:45 am and I was already impressed.

We drove around scooping up passengers here and there and we were ready to roll.

First stop High Atlas.

Traditional Moroccan Village

Bus fun!

Our first Tagine on our lunch stop. It was pretty delicious!

After lunch we got hooked up with a local tour guide and he showed us around Ben Ait Haddou.

It is one of the original Kasbahs in Morocco and they’ve used the site to film many movies.

A Kasbah is essentially a castle or palace. And to be considered a Kasbah it must have “the four towers”.

We also learned that a traditional home is made of three ingredients. Water, hay, and dirt. The roof consists of palm leaves, and wood or bamboo. It’s amazing that these houses are so durable. And it gives you a lot of insight to how little rain this area receives because obviously the homes wouldn’t fair very well.

We wanted to get geared up for the desert so our guide brought us to the official Saharan scarf shop.

The tour was going great. So much more than I expected. Before arriving at the hotel for the night we stopped at an awesome lookout.

Happy to be off the bus we got settled into our room before dinner. We had to be up by 6 am for breakfast to continue our trek into the Sahara.

By the end of our day we had seen and done so much. The country is absolutely beautiful. And the people are so gracious and friendly.

Maybe it’s just the tour talking. I absolutely love having someone else figuring it all out. I know most people wouldn’t consider this luxury travel but I’m hooked. This is about as fancy as we get but I couldn’t be happier with our adventure so far!

Morocco Day 1

Ciao Italia. It’s been real!

Wow. This whole corona virus thing has take over the entire globe. I have to admit I was quite anxious about getting out of Italy. We’ve been checking travel advisories and continuing to ensure that Morocco would still take us in.

Definitely had some butterflies today!

We made the short drive from Pompeii to Naples airport and dropped off the rental car, unscathed. Whew!

Next we had to head to the Ryanair desk and inquire about an ominous email I received. Turns out it was absolutely nothing but thank you for taking up an hour of my day airline!

Next we headed to our gate, grabbed some rather delicious airport food, seriously it was so good! And waited to board our flight, hopefully out of Italy 🙂

People were on high alert that’s for sure. And it didn’t get any better once we landed.

But I appreciate the diligence with the health questionnaires, temperature scanning, and health checkpoints.

We were prepared for long waits upon arrival in Marrakesh so we were all good. But I definitely felt a sigh of relief after passing our health screen and getting through immigration.

Hooray. We actually made it! Africa here we come!

Our guide was waiting for us at the exit and we began our walk to the riad.

Wow. We certainly weren’t in Kansas anymore. It was kind of surreal. In such an awesome way.

Everyone was so friendly. Smiling. And as we were walking into the main square the prayer came over the speaker. It was just so special!

We checked into our room and headed out in search of food.

We found something totally delicious. And we got 4 of them for $1.20. This is my kinda of place!

They’re kind of like a crepe, tortilla, flat bread, cheesey, spice thing. Whatever it is they’re fantastic!

Back at the room. We needed to head off to bed. We were headed to the desert at 6:45 the next morning.

Off to the Sahara we go!