On May 24, 2014, my fiancé, Andy, and I got married in New York City. A week later, we hopped on a plane with two carry-on suitcases and two one-way tickets to Paris. We had just pressed pause on our careers, sublet our apartment, and moved all of our things into storage. The only plan was to have no plans at all — and we ended up traveling for 394 days through 25 countries, stopping in nearly 100 destinations. Over the next few weeks, come along on this crazy journey to learn more about how we did it — packing, plotting, budgeting — and see some of the tens of thousands of photos we took along the way.
So where did we leave off? We had just made it to Sweden, our northernmost destination in Europe. Early in our trip, we learned that you can travel freely (meaning on one visa and without border checks) across the countries within the Schengen area in Europe. The only catch is that we had to be out of Europe in 90 days. Knowing that, we were able to book our transportation and accommodations in advance for Morocco, the first country we would visit outside of Europe. From Stockholm, we hopped on a flight back to France to meet my parents. After France, we decided to spent the last 10 of our 90 days in Spain.
As in Sweden, we lost our drive to be super-tourists and photograph our every waking moment in Spain. We the left the camera at home as we soaked up the energy in the streets of Madrid and went tapas bar hopping at night. We were floored by the beauty of Granada, nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, got lost in the lavish Alhambra palace, and watched authentic flamenco dancers perform at night. Our final stop in Spain was the southern, coastal town of Tarifa, where we could see a mountainous, never-ending mass of land across the ocean in the distance. It was hard to believe it was actually Africa. There’s only a short, hourlong ferry ride separating the two continents.
Within five minutes of stepping off the ferry boat in Tangier, our adventures in Morocco had officially begun. Friends of ours had told us about how aggressive the salesmen and hustlers could be in this country, and it proved to be true nearly immediately. We already had a guy following us to the parking lot, trying to grab our bags out of our hands, and absolutely insisting that he had the cheapest ride. After a showdown in the parking lot with four other cabbies, we landed on a price, which was no doubt 10 times the average fare. We had a full day to wander the streets of Tangier before we boarded an overnight train to Marrakesh, so we asked to be dropped off near the Medina. We couldn’t seem to find our seat belts in the back seat, and when we asked our cab driver he just cackled and said, "Seatbelts? No seatbelts here. Welcome to Africa!" Then, he floored it...
Tangier is a fascinating, gritty, cultural melting pot of a city — a mashup of Europe and Africa. We heard French, Arabic, and Spanish being spoken in the streets. We had just entered a whole new world of sights, smells, sounds, characters, religion, dress, food, and language. Rule #1? Don’t try on those fake Ray-Bans unless you intend to buy them...trust me.