Sunday, May 15, 2016


Egypt was our last international stop on our adventure. It took us a long time to decide that we were going, for some reason we were hesitant to make the commitment to this iconic and historically significant country. It was also the first and only place that we booked our entire trip through a company. It proved to be a wise decision as navigating independently through Egypt would have required more time than we had and we wanted to be able to see as much as possible. We flew into Cairo late in the evening and had an early morning flight the next day to Luxor where we would transition to a boat and then cruise up the Nile. Unfortunately, our bags did not make it to Cairo from Casablanca and therefore did not make it on our next flight to Luxor. As a result, we ended up buying some new threads on the road and decided to go all out cheesy tourist. So, that explains why we are dressed the way we are in some of the pictures. As a result of recent events in Egypt tourism is very depressed. On one of our day tours off the Nile, our tour guide explained that before the revolution, he wouldn't waste his time coming in to work for tour groups of less than ten people. We were the only two on his tour that day. Also, our boat was equipped to carry around 150 passengers and there were, at most, 30 on board. It was sad to see the highly tourism dependent country in such a state, especially since we never felt unsafe while we were there. Yes, there are more armed guards and safety check points than some of the other places we visited but we never once felt in danger. While that state was awful to see for Egypt, it actually made for some really great experiences for the tourists that were there. At some of the major sites we were among maybe 20 other people where pre-revolution there could have been hundreds. Jared also got sick for the first time at the very end of our trip. He missed our last Nile day tour so I was solo for that day.

I'm not even going to try and explain the history of Egypt and of all the places we saw. My blog post doesn't even have the chance to do the facts justice so I'll post the pictures and some descriptions. One of the places we got to visit but were not allowed to photograph is the Valley of Kings. This is the place where Tutankhamen's tomb was discovered which led to the discover of the rest of the King's tombs interred there. The tombs (we were allowed to see) were impressive and we were able to see King Tut's mummy before getting to see his sarcophagi in the National Museum. We did miss out on seeing the famous King Tut's mask and I was a bit disappointed about that but now we have another reason to return to Egypt.

Karnak Temple




Ram headed sphinxes

Luxor Temple at night

Queen Hatshepsut's Tomb

Queen Hatshepsut's Tomb

Colossi of Memnon

Edfu Temple

The lush Nile valley

More hieroglyphs


On the cruise boat

The greatest of the Great Pyramids

It's all about perspective

The three great pyramids


Sphinx and pyramid

Giving the sphinx a smooch
From Cairo we flew to Orlando! We finished up our almost year away with Disney World and Universal Studios, of course!


We fared the wild sea and left European comforts to explore Africa for the first time. Or, as Bill Murray described it, we went to ‘Africa Lite.’ This is how he described Morocco while on the Late Night show and his explanation for the term, I suppose, makes sense. He said that since Morocco is so close to Spain and is connected enough with Europe that it still has some of the comforts that other parts of Africa might lack. Since we did not go anywhere else in Africa (Egypt doesn’t count) then I can’t really agree or disagree with him but we definitely enjoyed our 12 days in this North African gem. We spent only one night in the coastal city of Tangier. We arrived after dark and walked almost a mile to our hostel. The walk served as a reintroduction to hustlers as we had several people ‘offer’ to show us to our lodgings. The hostel was nice and we had some interesting conversation with the night manager before we hit the hay. We had some breakfast and then took a taxi to take a bus to go to Chefchauen.
At the bus station
Chefchauen is the “blue” city and blue it was. Almost all of the buildings around the city center were painted blue from at least half way up the façade to the ground. Then you add the twisting, maze-like streets common to a Moroccan medina and it is easy to become lost. Unless you have a Jared GPS. Then, he keeps you on track. The first afternoon we were there, it was raining so we hid in a café and drank some mint tea and had some food while we waited for it to clear. The next day we wandered around the city, explored some more shops and really did get a little lost in the blue maze.

Jared's in blue in the blue city!

It really is a lot of blue...

The city from the top of a nearby hill

After Chefchaouen, we went to the bustling city of Fes. When we walked to our hostel, through the medina, I thought “this is Morocco.” There are shops selling all sorts of wares and merchandise and the streets are narrow and full of people. We got to see several examples of Moorish architecture as well as visit a leather tannery. This was super stinky, interesting, but stinky.
Idyllic landscape from the bus

A street in the Fez Medina

I am obsessed

Stinky tannery

We walked into this man's restaurant and he grabbed us by the hands and took us into the kitchen to sample all the dishes before we ordered which one we wanted.

Following Fez, we went to Rabat and then on to Casablanca. These two cities are the main commercial cities in Morocco. Rabat is the capital and, Casablanca is the movie. Neither city yielded too much excitement, although our hotel room in Casablanca overlooked one of the only bars we saw while we were in the country and we witnessed some interesting nights.

In front of Hassan Mosque

Street art in Rabat

King Hassan II Mosque (third largest in the world)
Our last city in Morocco was Marrakech. This is the place that people think of when they think of Morocco. There were street performers charming snakes, training monkeys, doing random chants, a huge variety of activities could be witnessed in the main square. The streets are perfectly narrow and maze like and the shop owners haggle like you would hope. We did not make any major purchases from any of the street shops (neither of us has the knack to haggle), but we did find a beautiful rug at one of the fixed price stores and we had a leather maker create a collar for Sammie and Sinatra (aren’t we good pet parents?).
Beautiful inlaid doors

Somehow this little fella got dyed pink
Merrakech at night 
Morocco was truly stunning and I wish we had had more time there to explore even more of the country. From Morocco we flew to our last international destination, Egypt!

Spain: Seville

We were sad to leave Malaga but Seville was waiting. We cashed in some of our Marriott points and stayed at an affiliated hotel in this historical city. The first afternoon we were there we beelined for the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the third largest church in the world and the largest Gothic cathedral. For almost 1000 years it was the largest church in the world. This ‘little’ gem is also the burial place of Christopher Columbus. We also walked around the town and explored some of the city. The Plaza de Espana is a large open space with a nice little bridge and some lovely benches situated in alcoves with painted tile decor.
Entering the Cathedral

Gorgeous stained glass

Amazing architecture 

The chorus has innately carved wood accents
Plaza de Espana

Our second day we visited the Alcazar of Seville. This place was phenomenal. In its heyday it was the home of royals. More recently, it is the setting for Dorne in the Game of Thrones television series. Not only is the building massive but the gardens are extensive as well. Walking through the buildings and gardens I felt, for a moment, like Spanish royalty. Do you think that Spanish royals ate tapas? I sure hope so because there were some divine tapas spots.
In the garden

Looking Up

So beautifully detailed

Dorne scene!

We finished our Spanish tour the next day by busing it down to the port to take a ferry, Morocco is next!

Spain: Malaga

Initially, I wanted to spend close to a month in Spain and I wanted to spend that time primarily in one city. We move pretty frequently and the most time we have spent in any one city is 5 days. I thought it would be something different for us to be able to ‘settle’ down a bit and spend some quality time in one spot. Unfortunately, there is the Schengen zone. While this makes travelling between EU countries quite easy, it also limits our time in some of the prime tourist spots. I know I have lamented the Schengen restrictions before so I won’t repeat the tirade here but it really messed up what I had planned for Spain. Anyway, if my month in Spain dream had come true, Malaga is where I would have wanted to stay. This town is the birthplace of Picasso, on the sea and calm but festive. We both really enjoyed the city and we rented a room right in the center (next to a café that served nice, thick hot chocolate and churros (we may have gone twice)).
During a run to the beach I couldn't resist this shot

A view of the city from somewhere high

Chocolate and churros
While in Malaga, we visited an alternative but intriguing museum. It is called the Museum of Glass and Crystal and it is the home of a glass collector which he has opened up to share with the public. In addition to all sorts of fun details about glass and glass making he shared snippets of the history of his noble heritage. Despite the embarrassment of Jared claiming that I played the piano when he asked if anyone wanted to play his beautiful antique piano, it was an engaging tour and offered a different type of diversion for the day.
The museum of glass sure was intriguing

We finished Malaga with an aimless walk through the city where we happened upon a small muscatel distributor. Muscatel is a type of wine that originated in Malaga and is super sweet and meant to be drank in small quantities. We had a little glass and then continued to stumble upon a delicious organic restaurant.
Barrels of moscatel

Malaga at night

Our time in Malaga was spontaneous, unique and very Spanish. We loved it!