This trip was amazing. I had such a great time exploring Morocco. The country is so diverse, and we covered so much ground in such a short amount of time. It will take me a while to really reflect back on everything that I saw, but it’s definitely one of my most memorable trips ever. I think it was a combination of the changing landscape, the people I met… and of course the delicious food that I ate that made it so great.
Speaking of food, I was pleasantly surprised at how many pescetarian food choices there were. I had assumed I would have to eat meat, but that just wasn’t the case. And granted, some of the dishes I ate were prepared with chicken stock (our guide said it was unavoidable, especially in the small villages)… but I did my best. And I had some amazing vegetable tagines (with couscous), Berber omelettes, beautiful salads, and when we were at the coast… so.much.good.fish. Seriously. I would go back to Morocco just for the cheap, amazing seafood. :)
Many friends told me that they hated Morocco because of all the harassment they received. One woman even told me she traveled with bodyguards the entire time. Yes, it’s true. I did get harassed a lot. Not only was I traveling solo for the first two days of my trip, but being Asian, I got a lot of comments and stares. Some of then acceptable, but most of them offensive. It was fine though, and I just ignored it all and focused on taking in all that Morocco had to offer.
I’ll post some photos here, but I also shared a bunch of photos I took on the GMBMFB Facebook page, so make sure to check it out if you have the time! :)
Tour vs. Independent Travel
This was the first tour I’ve ever been on before. It was small (12 people), but I was still hesitant that being part of a group would hinder how I like to travel. I also wondered how I would get along with the other people on the tour – if I didn’t get along with anyone, would I feel incredibly alone and isolated?
I was pleasantly surprised with the kind of people I met on the tour, and ended up hanging out with 4 of them on a regular basis while traveling. They were all single females, and it was nice to hang out with other people who were quite similar to myself. I ended up spending most of my time with one other girl (hi, Lizzie!), and it was like hanging out with a younger Australian version of myself. It was really weird. She has the same hopes and dreams and personality that I had 6 years ago when I started this blog, so it was really interesting to travel and interact with someone like that. Hopefully we will see each other again in the future. :)
The positives of a tour are:
- The ability to access remote places
- The confidence to be where there are no other tourists
- A guide who can speak the local language
- Built-in friends
- It is a hassle-free way to travel
The negatives of a tour are:
- You don’t get to travel at your own pace
- 95% of the time, you eat at restaurants picked out by the tour leader
- Not enough free time to explore
- Some of the tour you might not find interesting
- It’s more expensive than going solo
While I’m glad that I went on this trip as part of Intrepid, I probably wouldn’t travel with a tour group again. I think I’m too independent, and too fussy to deal with a set schedule. I want to feel free, and I want to do what I want, when I want. :) I would just have to do a lot more research and trust my instincts a lot more. This tour was great because we had access to remote villages that I otherwise would have never gone to myself. Plus, spending the night in the Sahara was just amazing… but those are things I could do on my own (or with a partner or a friend) if I had taken the time to really, really do my research.
I bought a beautiful leather jacket, ballet flats, a weekend bag, plus gobs of argan oil products (so cheap compared to prices here in Canada!) … 4 bowls, a silver necklace, and a silver ring… and some spices. That all adds up!
Well, I had intended to spend $2,150 based on this budget I had come up with before my trip. What I ended up spending was $2,501 – meaning I was over budget by $351. Not bad! I mean, it’s not good. I hadn’t really intended on spending money on any souvenirs for myself… but with all of the beautiful things to buy, I couldn’t resist. :) And I didn’t exactly break the bank, so I’m okay with this.
I also made a few errors and last-minute changes. My intention was to stay for 2 nights in hostels, but ended up staying for 3 nights in hotels. I did this for the convenience of having my own room, wifi connection, and feeling a bit more comfortable. In retrospect, I feel like I should have stayed in hostels for 2 of the nights. I also decided to fly roundtrip from Lyon, which made my airfare more expensive… and for some reason I didn’t even factor in transportation while traveling. I guess I figured I’d walk everywhere… but I still needed to take the train to and from the airports, there were miscellaneous taxi expenses (granted, they were very cheap), and I took the bus. :|