2019 Trips Make Much-Needed 2020 Memories: PART ONE: Portugal and Morocco

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Kim, Traci, and I at The Majorelle Garden.

Last year I traveled to 12 different countries! This year? Not even close. Quarantining hasn’t been an issue — instead of traveling the world, I’ve been chauffeured around to two different orthopedic specialists for left achilles and right meniscus surgery a few months apart. Instead of tasting wine around the world, I’ve cruised on my Pride REVO electric scooter, mask on, to the front door to receive countless Instacart orders. Instead of tasting delightful bites at Michelin star quality restaurants, I’ve been counting calories on Nutrisystem.

It hasn’t been all bad. My sweet parents traveled across Florida on three occasions to help my husband Nick and I. My mom amazed all of Tampa with her three minute planks nightly. Not bad for an 83 year old! Even more amazing, she’s stepped up and made more than 750 masks to donate!

Recently I scrolled through my iphone XR, looking at last year’s gorgeous photos. I reminded myself, ‘When these surgeries fully heal and the pandemic is a thing of the past, I will travel again’. Both of these will actually happen right? Please say yes.

Just in case traveling doesn’t happen as soon as we’d like, let’s live vicariously through my 2019 jaunts. In 15 days, I boarded 14 different flights, hit three new countries, including four continents (USA, Europe, Africa, and South America). Can you even imagine trying that now during the pandemic!?

The first trip (part one) happened after my friend Traci read, via my Christmas newsletter, Morocco and Portugal were two of my bucket list destinations. She texted to ask if I had time to join a girl’s trip in early May to said country’s. Before even talking to my husband, sitting in bed late one night, I quickly texted back ‘YES’.

I flew to Atlanta in late April to join Traci and make our way across the Atlantic Ocean via New York City. Traci and I would join her gal pal, Kim, a PR partner during the day and aspiring travel planner by night, in Marrakesh (her Insta for Twelver12Travel). Prior to flying to Marrakech, the cool kids’ new Instagram selfie spot, Traci and I scored an overnight stay in Lisbon, Portugal. Kim thought it would be a nice break from traveling across the pond (you have to connect somewhere and Traci and I both wanted to notch a new country in our travel belt).

The Solar de Castelo proved to be a perfect location for an overnight stay in the Alfama district. The peacocks were interesting and the courtyard we ate snacks, chilled, and enjoyed breakfast in the next morning was gorgeous.

After a moment in the tiny room, we changed quickly and started exploring. PRO TIP ONE: Ninety-five percent of the rooms in Europe are the size of a small bedroom closet in the US. Learn to pack lightly.

On our first afternoon, we toured the City of Seven Hills as part of an Airbnb experience electric bike trip (PRO TIP TWO: key word was electric – those hills!).

A delish bottle of Rose was our reward at dinner, which included the best olive oil on that side of the Atlantic!

The next morning we planned to visit Castelo de S. Jorge, but it was closed due to the national holiday. Basically it was their Labor Day and most tourist spots were closed. PRO TIP THREE: learn Portuguese so you understand the million signs around Lisbon the day before saying your spot was closed!

We quickly punted and went for option two. We toured Lisbon on our own, using Uber along with riding the famed No. 28 Tram. I could have spent another month in Portugal – I truly loved its chill vibe and delish wines and olives.

What an amazing city! Everyone was so friendly.

In a matter of hours, with Lisbon in our rearview mirror, we headed to south. It was a quick one hour flight, but what a whole new world to explore. It was also my first time on this continent: Welcome to Africa.

Morocco didn’t disappoint. Kim selected our stunning Airbnb in Marrakech with much care. I’m still obsessed with the Instagram! Check out the photos on the Perfect Hideaway. It’s been routinely featured on The Perfect Hideway insta — that would tell you something! The Riad was gorgeous and my photos don’t do it justice!

After exploring the area, we were served an amazing authentic Moroccan meal on the rooftop of our Riad. The staff at Riad 42 was so kind and let us have our fun, but there were also there at a moment’s notice to serve us and make us feel super welcome.

I can’t begin to explain the flavor of the lemons or olives. The food was amazing. I’ll never forget that meal.

Before we even go any further, KIM – I WANT TO GO ON ANOTHER ONE OF YOUR TRIPS! Kim really knows how to show her travel mates a good time!

The next morning, we headed out to see more of Marrakesh. PRO TIP FOUR: If you haven’t gathered this yet, Kim is a MASTER planner — book one of her trips when this pandemic is over. YOU WON’T BE SORRY!

Our first stop was the Yves Saint Laurent museum.

The Majorelle Garden was magnificent. The Moroccan blue was breathtaking!

A plant lover, I couldn’t stop taking photos and videos of everything! Keep scrolling, you won’t blame me.

Later we went for lunch and did some more shopping.

We had plans for dinner locally, but decided to order out instead. We wanted to spend more time at our gorgeous Riad. Every corner was stunning.

Why not spend more time on the rooftop!? We sipped some wine and swam in the pool, munching on snacks as we chatted about life as the sun began to set. We ordered pizza and salad — what could go wrong there? Just wait!

The next morning we ate a light breakfast served by the Riad staff (loved them!) and headed out for a spa day. Kim hit the mark again, selecting the Beldi Country Club.

I took about 10,000,000 pictures I’m sure. We were signed up for massages — I’ll save most of the details of how those were done (all of us in a VERY hot room naked with two other women, laying on marble tables, getting massaged with hot oil, buckets of hot water, etc.). Once clean and dressed, we lounged around the pool, later eating lunch with wine. I’d love to back there for a week or a month of R and R.

Things started to go a bit south around lunchtime. Kim started to feel punky so we headed back to the Riad. She decided to skip dinner after she got sick. Traci and I ventured out to an Australian restaurant, barely missing this massive rain storm. I started to go green around the gills with my first sip of wine. Something was off.

The final few hours, we all came down with the Norovirus. Was it the pizza or the salad or the water? We’ll never know. PRO TIP FIVE: Don’t eat take out salad in Morocco and PRO TIP SIX: Sprite and French Fries proved to hit the spot.

We came to Morocco to shop and after a morning in bed, we rallied and did just that! I can’t explain the souks — I only wish I’d brought 10 suitcases. I should have dumped out my clothes and left them there. I wanted so many things — regrets or a chance to go back?

Only Kim would have a guy in Morocco! We shopped some more and we met Kim’s rug guy. After a couple of hours, sipping just water, we each dropped some dirhams on rugs (me WAY MORE than the other two!). Such a nice “token” from an amazing trip!

Saturday’s bedtime came too soon and the next morning we ate a very light breakfast and said our goodbyes. Regardless of the bug that stayed with us a couple of more days: what an amazing trip. Traci was a dream to travel with and Kim — my new friend — made the trip so special. The memories made on this trip will last a lifetime, well, at least until our next trip together. And there will be a next trip!


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