Guess who finally had a weekend in Spain? I did. This was our first official trip booked and what a trip it was. 35 euros round trip flights with our wonderful friend Ryan air and we were off. We went to Mallorca, another part of Spanish paradise. It was an interesting island as it’s the off peak season since it has cooled down a lot over this side of the world. This made it a great time to go but even then you could tell it was a very tourist island. I had heard of this island before because of German friends, a lot of them holiday there every year. It was a beautiful Island, but again you had to question where we were as every sign was in 4 language and you don’t know what language to actually talk in the shops as the menus are in different languages as well. The next level of unknown about this island is that you think everyone is a tourist but they are actually locals from all around the world.
We spent the first day going around the main city where we stayed, Palma, surrounded by the beautiful beach. We could still sit on the beach and get sunburnt, although the wind did make it very fresh when the sun went behind the clouds. With endless delish food, none of us wanted to return back to Madrid. I think it is safe to say Mallorca was the least expected trip. When travel every weekend, you have this degree of excitement constantly building up throughout the week prior to arrival. It is kind of sad but for me this was my least exciting trip. I didn’t know what to expect but I just didn’t think it would be as magical, but of course once again the world of travelling won again and it was wonderful!
Our second day we decided to do a tour that allowed us to travel to the very northern point of the island, which we traveled by bus, train, tram and boat to reach this point. A day of meeting locals and seeing the different beauties of Spain opened our eyes and heart even more for this island but also Spain. As we went past endless olive trees and local vineyards, seeing just saw how content the locals were showed the other side of living with not too much just enough to make a living.
The weekend after Mallorca resulted in an 8 hour bus ride down to the bottom of Spain, to then jump on a ferry to end up no where else but AFRICA! Well Tangier, Morocco to be precise.
Our first day and night was spent in the town of Tangier. With special escorts around the city, our first sights and feelings of Africa were very interesting and once again beyond eye opening. Once off the ferry we went through security that was like a normal security entry like in an airport- bag on a belt, you walk through a machine. Only thing with this there only one man standing in the corner not actually reading the computer showing what was in our bag and the detector going off as every person walked through, again no one checked and no one cared. – Welcome to morocco!
This city was what everyone told us to prepare for: smelly, dirty and lots of men – Unfortunately this warning correct. Along the beach front and close to the port is where the foreign money is and it is clearly set up for tourists. With nice hotels and restaurants – it was the cleanest part of the city. As you start to head inland into the city and particularly the markets it’s a little bit of different story. Despite many dirty streets and seedy shopkeepers there is this unexpected beauty.
As our local tour guide led us through the lost streets, no one could concentrate on where we were but just what was in front of us. Stalls everywhere – filled with everything. A guy selling old Nokia phones, another selling chicken – cutting the heads off in front of you and to the other side of you is a fresh fruit and nut store with endless olives and dates although with so many bugs all over them. The shopkeepers would tell in many languages “you want, you need, come here“ and then smile with a lot missing teeth. As we kept weaving our way through the stalls we stopped at a natural medicine shop where they had a cure for everything with herbs all from Morocco. I ended up buying some soap made of olive oil and argon oil, which is meant to clear your pores and restrict pimples. Still to actually see if it works. We then headed further in and went to a stall where they made the most beautiful fabric items. Many of us watched them make blankets and scarfs, after hearing it takes over 5 hours to make a basic scarf – we all did our part and bought several. The scary reality of it all, is you are expect to barter with each shopkeeper, but we were already paying under 10 euros (15 dollars) a scarf. If you do the maths you start to question the wages and wonder how one can live off such a small wage yet they do.
Our final moments of daylight included a camel ride on the beach and visiting the caves of Hercules. The camel riding was fun and a little bit frightening, I now have a wish to ride in the desert for a day or two somewhere in the world. The caves had the most interesting opening to the sea; if you looked carefully enough it was shaped like Africa.
Day two we headed to the north west part of Morocco to the blue city or otherwise known as Chefchaouen or Chaouen. There is a reason why it is called the blue city, everything is a shade of blue and it is beautiful. (Blue is my favourite colour, so I found my paradise). We were told on our tour that it was to keep out the mozzies, but there are many other theories, one being that Jews introduced the blue when they took refuge from Hitler in the 1930s. The city was the most unique and even though it is a very popular tourist destination I felt completely safe and like there was our tour and another and the locals. It was like the complete opposite to Tangier. By the end of the day we almost missed the bus, but I could secretly admit I wish we missed it and could of stayed longer. Everyone was so welcoming and the bartering became a constant game. The stalls were full of very unique local produced or made goods. One of my favourite moments was sitting on the edge of town watching all these kids kicking around the soccer ball on this dirt field. It reminds you the beauty of life can come from the simplist things. Just around the corner was this man just sitting there, painting with all different shades of blue, he captured me. He painted all the wonderful sights of the Blue city, my friends and I of course had to buy a couple of paintings. He sold them for absolutely nothing; you couldn’t even buy the plain canvas in Australia for the price we paid. Seeing him smile and paint away, it made my heart bleed a little. How can someone be so happy with sitting on a corner painting all-day and lucky to make $20.
Visiting a country like Morocco opens your heart and eyes, exposing you to the other part of the world we live that we all try and ignore. There is so many places in the world to visit and we are so fortunate that we lived in the best country in the world, but one day if you feel that your life wont be compromised I encourage you to take a trip to where they are less fortunate.