WHY MOROCCO & PORTUGAL?
After returning from a group tour to Cuba the previous December, I had a good enough time that I was ready to book another Intrepid trip to another one of my undiscovered parts of the world: Africa.
Morocco seemed like the perfect introduction to the continent, and the tour promised to hit all the highlights: the mosques and markets of Fes and Marrakech, the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen, the casbahs of the high Atlas Mountains, ancient Roman ruins, and a camel ride with a night of camping in the Sahara Desert.
And besides, I always liked the movie 'Casablanca'.
Seriously, though, Morocco is a beautiful country with a wide array of history, culture, scenery and flavors. The people are warm and welcoming. Over a span of two weeks, we got a small taste of much of it without worrying over about the details of transportation and accommodation. From the ancient Medina of Fes to the chaotic public square in Marrakech to the sight of the Milky Way over the Sahara, Morocco has a lot to offer any visitor, and this tour was a great way to explore it.
Then, while I was booking the flights for the tour, I noticed that the flights from Marrakech to the US all made layovers in either Madrid or Lisbon. Having fallen in love with Portugal on a trip in 2015, I decided to check how much it would cost to spend a few days on the way home exploring more of the country beyond Lisbon. For less than $100 more, I was able to spend three days exploring Portugal's beautiful second city, Porto.
It was a great way to combine the safety and camaraderie of a group tour in a new place, and the relaxing pace of exploring on my own for a few days.