Florence Photo Dump

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Florence Photo Dump

Lots of great art, and some of the best food in Italy

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Pisa & Lucca Daytrip

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Pisa & Lucca Daytrip (a.k.a. “How many silly/dumb photos can we take at the Leaning Tower?”)

Pisa & Lucca are neighboring towns about an hour away from Florence by train. Pisa is well-known for its tower (we didn’t climb up), but there are several buildings in the area with beautiful medieval & gothic architecture. Lucca is a cute little walled-in medieval town swarmed by local tourists doing their Christmas shopping.

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Rome Photo Dump

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Photo dump!

Rome is an awesome city, there is just so much history packed into one place. We’ve felt like our entire trip (the history of all the places we’ve been to) has been based around the rise and fall of the Roman empire. It’s surreal and feels like a completely separate dimension, but nope, it actually happened here!

This past week we’ve been to ruins, catacombs, more churches (I don’t think I can get sick of those), museums, and walked through medieval streets. Bernini is everywhere! We watched an opera rehearsal and a Baroque concert. And we found our favorite gelato place.

We’ll try and write more blog posts when we can!

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Dubrovnik, Croatia (a.k.a. King’s Landing)

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Dubrovnik Photo Dump – This pretty little town sits on the edge of the Adriatic in Croatia. Do the buildings look familiar? It’s actually the set/model for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. And they have really good ice cream!

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Ciao, Venezia!

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Venice was a great little vacation, we loved “getting lost” (though comparatively, it was much easier to get lost in Fez or Marrakech), strolling around the canals, and finding little hidden pockets of history. The whole island is a beautiful museum!

Now, off to the Mediterranean for a few days!

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Buongiorno, Venezia!

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Morocco was an incredibly memorable trip, but alas, we must venture onward. After spending an entire month immersed in the French language, it’s time to unravel what we’ve learned and dive headfirst into Italian. 🙂

Venice is cold and rainy right now, but we’re glad for this, otherwise we wouldn’t have sought shelter at a church and discovered a chamber music concert next door. Also, the public transport system is unique, and bidets are pretty cool.

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Ourika Valley, High Atlas Mountains

by Karen
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Ourika Valley is nestled within the heart of the High Atlas Mountains, about 45 mins east-ish of Marrakech. Most people usually visit as a day trip, then return to the city. It’s mostly hiking trails, beautiful (lush!) scenery, picturesque villages, and waterfalls that draw tourists to the area.
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We pretty much spent our 1.5 days hiking up mountains and enjoying the scenery. The afternoon we arrived at our hotel, we decided to check out the waterfall. It was a bit underwhelming (and overcrowded), having already seen magnificent waterfalls in Iceland.
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The hiking was strenuous, but good, it was about a 3hr hike roundtrip. Our guide from the hotel, Ahmed, didn’t speak any English at all, but we managed to be able to understand each other.
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To get to the trail, we had to catch a local “bus”, which was essentially a van with as many people squeezed in as possible. It was a fun adventurous ride, albeit watching your driver take sharp turns along cliffsides and driving onto oncoming traffic can cause quite an adrenaline rush.
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At the bottom of these cliffs was a large riverbed, which at the moment is quite dry. The river usually fills up during the winter rains. But for now, the dry river provides for nice cafe seating.
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Our second day was the big hike. The hotel owner recommended us to take this trail, which would give us excellent views of the valley, and allow us to visit a Berber village. He was right; despite the altitude sickness and heat, the valley was gorgeous, and not something we’d expected to see in Morocco, land of deserts and dried-up rivers.

It took us approximately 4 hours to reach the village. We took many breaks along the way, and I was quite embarrassed about how out of shape I was (our guide was 60, and he was running up the mountain!)
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The owner of the hotel had even arranged a cooking lesson for me from one of his chefs, since I mentioned that I loved to cook. I was able to eat the result, a tasty tagine of kefta meatballs.
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In all, we enjoyed our stay in Ourika Valley. It was a nice mixture of relaxation and hiking, and wish we could’ve stayed an extra day.
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