Travel plans: Morocco, December 2011

Tomorrow morning (Thursday, Dec. 7th) at the wee hour of 6 am, Michelle and I are headed to Morocco for the first time. We’re taking a bus to Madrid, and a 2 pm flight (EasyJet 7869) to Tangier. I’m writing these notes up as I research places to stay, things to do, etc. Yes, I am aware I’m planning extremely last minute.

Based on recommendations from friends, we’d like to see Chefchaouen and Fez. Ideally, we’ll bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen tomorrow evening. I’ve read mixed things about how often the buses are, so it might be Friday morning instead. We’ll spend a day or so in Chefchaouen (unless it’s absolutely stunning), and then bus onward to Fez, where we’ll stay until Monday. Monday morning, we’d like to get an early train back to Tangier to catch our 3:05 pm flight (EasyJet 7870) to Madrid.

Chefchaouen notes:

  • Transportation will be on a thru bus to Fez.
  • Hiking sounds like a must, either Rif Mountains or Jebel al-Kalaa (9 hours round trip).
  • Lots of cheap lodging near the medina, especially considering it’s the off-season (Lonely Planet search). Casa Hassan, Dar Meziana, Hostal Gernika, and Mahaliya sound like good choices.
  • Shopping and such in the medina.
  • According to Michelle, if we get arrested, we have the right to contact the nearest US Embassy (Rabat).

Fez notes:

  • Walking around and exploring the sights/sounds of the medina is the highlight of the city.
  • The main street is the Talaa Kbira, which runs from Bab Boujloud to the Karaouiyne mosque in the heart of the medina.
  • “Don’t eat the seed-pod like things the proprietor offers you. Although he’s eating them also, they are very high in estrogen and can cause a man’s nipples to be sore for several days afterwards.”
  • Check out the view from the hills surrounding the city.
  • For lodging, I found a few hotels across the entire price spectrum (Lonely Planet search): Riad Jean Claude (10 bis Derb El Miter), Dar El Hana (22 Ferrane Couicha), and Dar Drissi (24 Derb el Menia Kbira)
  • There are several trains a day to Tangier that take 4.5 hours.

A final note: No laptop this trip, although I have an international data/SMS plan for my phone. I’ll try to check my personal email account a couple times per day, and will be available by SMS whenever.

Last weekend of October in Budapest

After the Automattic company meetup, Michelle came out to Budapest for a few days and we explored the city. Thursday evening, we had a wonderful, multi-course meal including escargot (my first time), Hungarian goulash, plum-stuffed duck, and a thirty year-old aperitif. Friday, Michelle and I walked around the city, went to the Terror House, and saw the opera with a philharmonic orchestra. On Saturday, we went back to an excellent nearby cafe for second rounds on a delicious breakfast, then checked out the castle up behind our hotel, and finished up by hitting the bathes.

Before I arrived, I heard Budapest described as “Little Paris.” Now we both know why.

Spain, first evening: Walk along the river and through old town Zamora

I wouldn’t mind spending half the year in Zamora, and the other half skiing in the Alps. Uneventful flight, but hacked Edit Flow for the majority of 12 hours in the air instead of sleeping. Exhaustion will hit soon.

Status

Flying to Madrid on Delta today via JFK to spend ten days with Michelle in Zamora and then ten days with Automattic in Budapest. Rented three movies on iTunes (Forest Gump, The Jackal, and 180 South) to accompany Edit Flow hacking.

Best thing I’ve ever done was go to bed at 8 pm last night to get a full night sleep before travel.

Destination: Dominican Republic

A very last minute vacation, Michelle and I are headed to the Dominican Republic this evening on JetBlue 821. We’ll spend tonight in Santo Domingo and then (hopefully) rent a car tomorrow morning to drive inland.

Our intent is to stay in Jarabacoa for Thursday and Friday night. During the day on Friday, we’d like to do something active; this looks like hiking or canyoneering at the moment.

Saturday, we plan to head to the beach for a couple of days. This may mean taking the rental car back to Santo Domingo and a bus to Punta Cana, or keeping the rental car and driving further to Samana and Playa Bonita. Sunday, I’d like to get a few dives in.

On Monday, we’re headed back to Santo Domingo for an evening of music and food, and sightseeing the following day. We fly back to NYC Tuesday evening.

That’s the rough itinerary; changes obviously tk. I don’t plan to have any access to email while I’m down there, so the best way to reach me is by text: (971) 998-5407.