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Andalusia Part 1: Ronda, Cadiz and Seville

Ronda

From Algeciras I got the train to Ronda, a little town I’d decided to visit after seeing some incredible pictures. I had booked a hostel that was supposed to be a bit of a hike from the centre of town but which apparently had an amazing view. Ronda is built on this high cliff top surrounding a gorge that basically splits the town in half with a river running through it. My hostel, Los Molinos, was located down in the valley looking up towards the cliffs, the town, the gorge and the bridge that crosses it.

Ronda in all it’s glory.

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Fez and Chefchaouen: Heading North, Up Up and Away

Fez kind of flew by in a blur of food poisoning, fever, and flu symptoms. At 6.30am I woke up in Marrakech, threw up my dinner from the night before, and then got on an eight hour bus to Fez. Not exactly the best farewell from Marrakech. When I eventually arrived in Fez it took a further hour and a half to get from the bus station to my hostel because, just like when I was in Agadir, the King was in town. Unlike in Agadir, however, this caused serious disruption to my already unpleasant day. All the streets around the medina were closed and it took a mammoth effort just to convince a taxi driver to take me close-ish to the medina. From there I had to walk, which took me 45 minutes in the ridiculous heat because the medina in Fez is like a giant maze and it’s so easy to get lost and my GPS got confused. Finally I arrived at my hostel and collapsed on a couch for half an hour before I could even move to check in.  
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Climbing Mount Toubkal

About an hour and a half outside of Marrakech is a little village nestled in the Atlas Mountains called Imlil. The trip from Marrakech is relatively easy by Moroccan standards, the hardest part is squishing into the normal sized taxi with 6 other full grown adults. The price is 50 dirhams per seat, if you want a bit of extra comfort you can pay for extra seats, but the ride is an adventure in itself, just maybe not a comfortable one. Four people across the back seat, two in the passenger seat, plus the driver. Don’t bring your personal bubble along for the ride.
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Sahara Desert: Sand, Sun, and Camel Spiders

The ten hour bus journey from Marrakech to Mhamid was long but the views while driving through the Atlas Mountains were incredible. The bus left Marrakech at 11am and before I knew it I was at the end of the line. Mhamid is the last town on the sealed road to the Sahara, 25km from the boarder with Algeria. After Mhamid there is only desert. You can travel further by 4×4 or camel only. It was 9pm and I was waiting in the dark at the bus stop in this unfamiliar town to be picked up by a guy I’d never met before who was going to take me into the desert to stay in a camp for a week. Probably one of the most bizarre-sounding things I’ve ever done.  
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Lisbon – Custard Tarts, English Grammar, and Unconventional Tourism

Arriving in Lisbon was complicated, there seemed to be several different transport options to get from the bus terminal to the city, and we couldn’t figure out how to use any of them. Eventually we got some train and then had to hike about two kilometres UP and DOWN (just like everywhere else in Portugal) the city streets to get to the Brickoven Palace Hostel. But when we got there… Wow. It was one of the most expensive hostels I’ve ever stayed in (€16 a night but the cheapest available during the Easter break), but it was also by far the nicest. The furniture was really cool, the vibe was chill, and the wifi actually worked, I was so impressed.
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The Algarve – Faro and Lagos

My flight from Porto to Faro arrived just after 11pm, and by the time I walked through the airport, got a bus into the city, and found my hostel, it was nearly midnight. I didn’t even get changed, I just threw my things on the floor and went to bed. The wifi didn’t work in the room, seemed to be a common trait.

Ria Formosa: beautiful waterways and interesting birdlife, right next to the landing strip.

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Porto – The Gateway To Portugal

As soon as I stepped out of the airport to wait for the metro tram (not train!) I was in love with Porto and more excited for Portugal than I ever thought I would be. I don’t really have expectations when I travel, I would rather be pleasantly surprised than let down. And Portugal has definitely given me a pleasant surprise.  

Porto in all its magnificence. A view from the bell tower.

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