Saturday, August 29, 2015

Europe and Africa (Part One)

This summer my partner, Louisa, and I spent just under a month traversing Europe and northern Africa.  I decided to highlight some of our experiences here on my blog!  We are pictured above on a famous bridge in Frankfurt, Germany - the city where we began our adventure.

While staying in Frankfurt, we decided to make a day trip to Amsterdam.  Pictured above in one of the tens of thousands of the city's cruiser-style bicycles. Unlike in the bicycle scene in Milwaukee, we spotted only a handful of road bikes.

A random art installation in a store window, tucked inside an alley way we happened to cut through. Not the most subtle of messages in this piece...

Another random art installation in Amsterdam...

Our next destination was Marrakesh, Morocco - a fortified trade city tucked between the Atlas Mountains in the Northwest part of Africa. We spent our first day there traversing its seemingly endless markets...

In Marrakesh, it is hard to walk five steps without running into street cats...

Most of the cats we met seemed relatively happy and healthy. The people who live and work in this area believe them to be good luck - and we saw many feeding and petting them as we traversed the city.

On day two, we embarked on a group excursion through the atlas mountains to the Sahara desert.  Pictured above is the van in which we spent over 24 hours as we traversed the stunning landscape of northern Africa.

I've been to various mountainous regions of the united states, but none compare to the majesty of the Atlas mountains - with its winding roads, Berber villages and rich, colorful geological formations.

A typical desert excursion snack.

Pictured above is a slice of granite from a nearby quarry - the stone here is famous for the vast number of fossils inside.

We stopped for a few hours at Aït Benhaddou - a fortified city along the former caravan route between Marakech and the Sahara Desert. 

We were particularly excited about this, as it was a shooting location for the HBO series Game of Thrones.  That's right, I've been to Yuncai.

Pictured above is the group we traveled with - ten of the friendliest Europeans, Canadians, Mexicans and Chileans I've ever met!

We stopped at a Berber village that was settled along a large oasis - where a small water spring has been irrigated to accommodate a population of farmers and artisans.

Just as we approached the Sahara, the van suddenly came to a stop as a Shepard guided his flock across the road.  Here, Louisa managed to snap one of the best photos of our entire trip:

And as we reached the desert, we saw, in the distance, Berbers bringing our next mode of transportation.

We'd spend the next two hours traveling, by camel, deep into the desert dunes.  There, we'd stay the night in a traditional Berber desert camp.

Photos courtesy of Loushanti

Continued in Part Two...

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