London, Italy and Morocco September 2016

We began our trip by meeting in London; my parents and my cousins, Jen and Pat, arriving from Victoria and Reema and I from Manila. It was great having Pat and Jen with us on the trip and Reema was excited to introduce them to her family.

London, UK

Tower Bridge and the River Thames

We enjoyed our three days as we ticked off some London essentials: full english breakfasts, fish and chips, the food heaven of Borough Market and walking the streets and alleys of Camden town. We walked around London’s city center, down the Thames and took in London’s iconic sites.

It was a nice introduction to Jen and Pat to one of the world’s great cities and an excellent start to our trip.

Arriving in L

Puglia, Italy

After the fast-paced hustle and bustle of London, we shifted gears to laid-back Puglia in southern Italy, where for us it’s all about family, food and good times. As always we were welcomed with open arms by the Valenzano family. Each day we would set out from our beautiful farmhouse and explore the Puglia’s towns, beaches and sites.

Locorotondo, Puglia

Italy is a celebration.
Matera, Italy
The ancient city of Matera and the trulli houses of Alberobello

A day-trip to Positano and the Amalfi Coast

Positano is a place that I’ve always wanted to see, so we took a wonderful day trip to explore one of Italy’s most picturesque and iconic towns. We left Rutigliano early in the morning for the four-hour drive from Italy’s east coast to its west.

We arrived in Sorrento, parked the cars and hopped on the short ferry to Positano. Arriving by the water was a great way to be introduced to Positano’s beauty. Once we arrived we hiked up the hills to have lunch at a restaurant patio with a beautiful panoramic view of the Amalfi Coast.

For Nuccio, it was a return to a place he had once been long ago. For the rest of us, it was our first time and everyone enjoyed.
The Chanco girls
Arriving by sea to beautiful Positano
Restaurant with a view.

Although we been to southern Italy several times before, we always find new, amazing places. Aside from the Amalfi Coast, our Italian holiday was highlighted by visits to Matera, Locorotondo and the Ionian Sea.

Beautiful southern Italy

Leaving Italy is always hard. We enjoyed every moment of our week in Italy surrounded by family, world-class food and beautiful sights. On our last night in Puglia we had everyone over to our house where Pat and I prepared dinner. We set the table in the garden and ate al fresco. It was a memorable end to memorable week.

Moving on from Puglia, we stopped for a day in Milan on our way to Morocco. We spent the day walking around Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, Sforza Castle and Galleria Vittorio Emmanule (and eating veal milanese, of course!)

A day in Milan, en route to Morocco
Milan

Marrakech, Morocco

Leaving Italy behind, we touched down in Marrakech and immediately shifted gears from the bucolic, classical beauty and relaxed pace of southern Italy to the exotic bustle of Morocco’s cultural capital. Our riad was located in medina and only a short walk to famous Jemaa El Fna square (with it’s food stalls, henna tattoo artists, cobras and their snake charmers.)

Although we had been spoiled for food in Italy, Marrakech is a world-class food destination as well. Each night we would dine on tanginess, couscous and kebabs either in rooftop restaurants or picked up from the market stalls and eaten back at our beautiful riad.

Marrakech highlights were Bab Agnaou Palace, the arabesque designs and beautiful architecture of the Saadian Tombs and especially our day visiting Yves St. Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle.

Desert-ready
Cafe Arabe
The sights of Marrakech
Jemma El Fna Square
Yves Saint Laurent's Jardin Majorelle
Getting inked up in Jemma El Fna
Our beautiful riad in the heart of Marrakech

Our desert adventure

Leaving Marrakech behind, we set out for, what we intended to be, an overnight trip to a berber camp in the desert around Zagora (near the Algerian border.) Our trip started perfectly as we drove through the Atlas Mountains an made stops in Ouarzazate (known as the “Door to the Desert”) and nearby Ait Ben Haddou, the filming site of many movies.

A shop in the High Atlas Mountains
Our first stop along the road
Our ride

As we drove on for Zagora, the skies opened up and we experienced a rare desert rain and hail storm. The road was washed out and we were stuck for a few hours (during which time Pat went to work hauling boulders to patch the road.)

Hail in the Sahara
Our washed out road
It may not have been the desert adventure that we expected, but it was a desert adventure none the less.
Essaouira, Morocco
We left Marrakech and headed east to Essaouira, where the Sahara meets the Atlantic Ocean, which is every bit as beautiful and exotic as it sounds!
Camel riding where the Sahara gives way to the Atlantic

It didn't take long for as to recognize and appreciate what a special place Essaouira is. While the medina bustles and buzzes with activity, just outside of the ramparts the waves break soothingly on seemingly endless beach. Cafes and restaurants abound in which the Casablanca-brand beer perfectly compliments the North African sunset.

An evening at Taros rooftop restaurant. Our favorite place in town.
Horseback and camel riding on the beach
Bike ride to the Hendrix Cafe in nearby Diabat
Celebrating both my mom's and Pat's birthdays, Moroccan-style
Amazing Essaouira

After spending 4 days riding camels and horses on the beach, biking to the Jimi Hendrix cafe, wandering the alleys of the medina, cooking classes and celebrating Mom’s and Pat’s birthday at Taros, it was time to say goodbye to Essaouira, which had quickly become one of our favorite places. We flew back to London, had a fun last dinner the Ye Olde Six Bells pub and then went our separate ways (Mom and Dad back to Canada, Jen and Pat onwards to Scotland and Reema and me back to the Philippines.)

Over the 2 week trip, we enjoyed the distinctive differences of the 3 countries we visited. Each stood out as a highlight and our time spent in one seemed to compliment the next.

2 weeks of celebrating family, fun, food, culture and travel. We can’t wait for the next one!

Created By
Erik Waldie
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