Time flies! I can’t believe it’s been 4 months since I left Germany! And also, that I haven’t written any updates about what’s going on in my life and my travels since the first week in Morocco.
So, if you are not already following me on Instagram, where I post almost daily stories, head over there and follow me!
But, if you don’t use Instagram, read on, I will tell you the short version of what I’ve been doing the last 15 weeks.
During the first couple of weeks, Hassan took me for a night in the dunes with a nice morning climb onto the biggest dune of Erg Chebbi, the dune field next to Merzouga. We walked to the lake to see flamingoes, to Khamlia, a little town 7 km away to have tea and to Hassi Labied (5 km away) to have lunch with one of his sisters and her family. She spoke some French so we could even communicate a little without help.
I tried to learn some Berber, but with so many new things around me, I didn’t get very far with it. Maybe I was just too lazy.
After a few weeks in Merzouga I really started to feel at home there, I had my regular places for coffee and orange juice, got the “local” prices in the shops and people greeted me in the streets.
Then my friend Dina came to visit for a week, we went to Ouzina for 2 days to go hiking in the dunes without other tourists around, hung out in Merzouga and went to Rissani for the market. It was really nice to have someone from home around for a while, someone who new both worlds and the people inside them.
When we dropped Dina off in Errashidia to catch her plane home, Hassan and I went to rent a car for 9 days to go on a road trip.
Originally, we had wanted to go to the Nomad festival in M’Hamid and from there to the Dades Gorge and back to Errashidia. But as it turned out, there was a big sandstorm in M’Hamid and we decided to leave after one night. Instead we headed west, to Tiout and Taroudant.
Taroudant is a very beautiful town with big walls all around and is less busy than Marrakech. On the way back we stopped in Bou Thrarar and the Dades and Todra Gorges.
The gorges are unfortunately very overcrowded with tourists as they became insta-famous a few years ago. But the surrounding area is really beautiful, and I want to go back to the area and spend some time exploring and hiking.
When we got back I was invited to the wedding of Hassans cousin, or at least to the first day of the festivities. Very interesting, and because I had my camera with me, they made me the official wedding photographer!
After our trip it was time to think about where to head next, as Morocco gets too hot in summer and also Ramadan was starting in early May. I was planning to leave around May 10th, but then my friend Jasmin from Nuremberg booked tickets to go to Marrakech from May 19th-22nd and I decided to stay until then and meet up with her.
As I knew Merzouga would be too hot for me in the weeks before and also too boring during Ramadan (pretty much everything shuts down during the day) I decided to spend the week before meeting Jasmin on the coast, potentially doing a surf course.
Hassan wanted to come along and we ended up staying in Essaouira, a beautiful little town on the coast, my new favourite place in Morocco. I went surfing only once, first the weather was too bad and then it was so exhausting I couldn’t do it again before it was time to leave. But I went for walks and explored Essaouira during the days, and in the evenings, after fast breaking, Hassan would join me.
We bought fresh fish at the market every night and went to a little restaurant where they would fry it for us and serve us some bread and tea to go with it.
The 3 days in Marrakech with Jasmin were nice and relaxed, during Ramadan everything touristy closes at 3pm. So we were chilling on the roof top terrace of our Riad in the afternoons before heading out to Jmaa El Fna for dinner and some people watching.
Riad Bijoux is run by one of Hassan’s friends and we got invited to join the daily fast breaking at sunset, which was really great to experience.
Somewhere along the way I had decided to head to Italy next, to meet up with Janet, who I had met 10 years ago on a couchsurfing meet-up in Ireland and we had been facebook friends ever since. She had posted on FB looking for someone to join her in Venice and Verona and it was a great opportunity to meet up with her after all this time.
The only cheap direct flight to Italy out of Marrakech was to Bergamo, so I decided to explore this little town for 2 days, then headed to Bologna, where I mostly ate all the pasta, gelato and tiramisu I could find. And of course, drank
Then 2 days in Venice and 4 in Verona with Janet, eating and drinking even more and meeting lots of nice people along the way. As I had been to both cities before and it was hot and busy, sightseeing time ended up taking a back seat and we, again, mostly ate and drank.
I had no idea where to go next and ended up booking a bus to Ljubljana for the next day and on to Split 3 days later. Ljubljana and what little I saw of Slovenia really surprised me and I should’ve stayed longer. But, I can always go back.
Split on the other hand was too touristy, the beaches too crowded. But it was nice to stay in an Airbnb and be alone for a few days, something that became very rare on this solo travel adventure!
Next, I headed to the Island of Korcula, a very cute and quiet place. I stayed in a hostel and made friends immediately with Annika from Germany and Michael from the US. We spend most of the 4 days there together and Michael and I decided to travel on together for a week or two to go to Montenegro and Albania.
Again, both countries surprised me with their natural beauty, Montenegro mostly in the mountains, Albania with the beaches in the south. I really liked Kotor, much more than Dubrovnik, which is just full of Game of Thrones tourists and everything is majorly overpriced.
From Kotor, we went on a full day tour into the mountains of Montenegro, hiked around the Black Lake and zip-lined across the Tara river gorge.
In Albania we rented a car for 5 days and went beach hopping in the Albanian Rivera in the south. Most beaches are pebble, not sand, which I started to really appreciate, no sand in your shoes or your bag… And the water must be the clearest I have ever seen!
So if you don’t have plans for next summer, head to Albania!!
Now I am sitting in my little Airbnb apartment in Pogradec on Lake Ohrid. The town is tiny, nothing to do, the lake unfortunately a little dirty and too warm. But it is nice to be alone again for a few days.
On Friday I will head to Athens and on Monday night I will catch a flight to Kuala Lumpur to meet up with my friend Gesa. After a few days in