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Five Days

    Africa & The Middle East Travel

    Five Days Fes to Marakesh

    Chapter Eleven Comes to an End

    Location: Morocco

    One month in Morocco has been marvelous.  We have seen so very much, and still there is much to see – so we will return one day.  But for now, I am so happy to have experienced this magical and friendly country – especially the past five days as we have traversed the diverse geography from Fes to Marrakesh.

    We hired a guide to show us parts of Morocco we

    With our guide Abdul

    would find difficult to reach on our own – and I am so glad we did.  Our fantastic guide Abdul from Your Morocco Tours was amazing(5 days only $250 per person).  He safely drove us for five days and was funny, interesting and proud of his country and his heritage.

    Have I mentioned how friendly everyone is?  

    Ziz Valley

    With our friends Steve and Sarah we left Fes on a Saturday morning for the long but beautiful drive.  We began to climb into the mountains only a few hours out of Fes.  Eventually we made it to the beautiful Ziz Valley.  Here we began to see the red rocks and reddish pink buildings I had always imagined when I thought of Morocco.  Although the white and blue and green and grey we had seen up to this time was beautiful in its own way – this red color of the desert against the green of

    Desert sunset

    the date palm trees made me feel I was part of a movie set.

    Have I mentioned how great all the roads are?

    After a long day of driving we arrived in the desert, just in time for a spectacular sunset over the Sahara.  It was breathtaking.  I didn’t want it to end.  Awash in orange from sand to sky it was spectacular.

    We then continued a short distance into the dunes to our spectacular hotel called Kasbah Azalay.  Stunning.  How can this be our hotel when we paid so little for this tour?  Not only was it pretty in a very Moroccan way but the service and hospitality was perfect.  We enjoyed a lovely tagine for dinner

    On the camels

    and a good nights sleep.

    A more leisurely day was on hand for Sunday and after breakfast we climbed the dunes and shopped for scarfs in the town of Merzouga.  We then enjoyed a visit to the village of Kamila where we sipped mint tea and listened to the authentic Gnaoua music of the region performed by the ancestors of the original Sudanese slaves who were brought here five hundred years ago.  Their efforts to preserve their culture and music are commendable and we danced and had a great time with them.

    Have I mentioned that this country, more than any other, is where I want to buy things – pottery, rugs, leather? I am restraining myself.

    Late in the afternoon we arrived at the staging area for our camel trek into the desert.  To be completely accurate it’s actually a dromedary trek.  Camels are the beasts with two humps.  The animals with one hump are technically dromedaries, but everyone calls them camels so, hey, whatever!

    On the camel trek with arne

    I wasn’t really sure how this was going to go – was it scary? Painful? Smelly?  Actually, it was a teeny bit painful – but mostly just fun.   The dromedaries were not smelly, they didn’t spit or bite, but once you are sitting up on one, you realize this ain’t no horse.  Wow.  They lumber along and your leg muscles feel the movement, but honestly the next day it was my arms that were sore, from trying to hold on when the camel goes down a hill, or sits down.

    There were ten of us riding and after an hour and half on the camel, including a stop to watch another spectacular Sahara sunset, we arrived at the nomad camp.  We were assigned tents with beds and served tea while we waited for another group of 18 to arrive.  When they did we all had dinner together (tagine) and then a bonfire and music around the fire.  By this time the temperature had plummeted and we put all our clothes on including wool socks and hats and snuggled under the covers for the night.

    Have I mentioned there are more stars in the sky in Morocco?  Billions.

    Wake up at 6am and you immediately feel the pain in your legs (and crotch) and arms.  Yikes.  But back on the camel we go, even before I get a cup of coffee.  Ugh.  I was hoping my camel knew the way to the nearest Starbucks, but instead he took us out of camp into the dunes to watch the sunrise.  Surreal.  And way better than Starbucks.

    Dunes

    After the sunrise and a thousand more photos we were back in the saddle and headed back to town, where we were served a nice breakfast (with plenty of coffee) and had a hot shower before we reconnected with our guide Abdul and began day three of our tour.

    We drove away from the dunes and into the amazing Moroccan red rock canyons and gorges.  A

    Todgha Gorge

    truly surprising area of Morocco I had never even heard of.  The Todgha Gorge was stunning and we enjoyed it late in the afternoon where the 1000 foot walls had sunlight on the tops, but the river was in the shadow of the mountains.  We also visited a remarkable fossil museum where we learned about

    Fossils

    the 500 million year old ocean fossils found in this area and another place where we learned about the ingenious well and aqueduct system the Berber people built to access and save water from the

    Ancient wells

    Atlas mountains 300 years ago.

    Have I mentioned  how diverse the geography is? From ocean to desert to mountains to rivers to lakes.

    Finally we arrived in the Dades Gorge, another amazing marvel of Mother Nature, where our hotel for the night was perched on a cliff overlooking the valley below.  We enjoyed an authentic Moroccan couscous meal and met a nice couple from Seattle and swapped stories before a good nights sleep.

    Up and on our way in the morning we drove to see

    Monkey Feet

    more ancient Kasbahs perched in the Dades Gorge and throughout the red rock region and stopped to view the geological wonder called Monkey’s Feet.  A geology uplift of rock that is unique to this area and impossible to describe.  And yes, it did look a bit like the bottom of a monkey’s foot.

    Midday we visited one of the best preserved Kasbahs in Morocco, the Amerhidil – built-in the 17th century and in remarkable condition.  Given that most of this construction is made from mud and straw bricks, finding well-preserved ones of this age is unusual.  We toured the building, ate a delicious lunch of grilled turkey kebab and then headed on our way to our hotel.

    This night we stayed in another very beautiful boutique hotel with exceptional customer service.  Everywhere we go the people are so kind and helpful and that is the case at Riad Tama.  Big rooms, and a beautiful garden and a lovely restaurant where we enjoyed a a French inspired dinner.

    Have I mentioned a Dar is a house, a Riad means garden but is often used to refer to a hotel or house with a garden?

    Day five- our final day began early at 8:30 with our fabulous guide Abdul as we headed off to the

    Kasar Air Ben Haddou

    famous and well-preserved Kasar of Air Ben Haddou where we spent a couple of hours walking with an incredible guide who had been raised in this village. Morocco has a big film industry and this place is one that is often featured in many films including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, and Jewel of the Nile.

    Have I mentioned a kasbah is a house of a rich family usually with four towers while a kasar is a fortified village with more than one kasbah?

    Our final day continued with another spectacular

    All together and a wonderful time.

    drive with surprising scenery and geography over the Tizi Tichka Pass to the famous city of Marrakesh – our final stop of our Morocco adventure.  We will be in Marrakesh for three days.

    We loved our tour!  An inspiring experience in a magical place.

    In the future when I think of Morocco I will certainly remember the cities we have visited (Casablanca, Chefchaouen, Tangier, Asilah, Fes and Marrakesh) but I think it will be the rural areas I will remember most fondly.  The desert is such a special place to be, and to be able to sleep there and see the stars at night and ride the camels – unforgettable.  The gorges and red rocks and Kasbahs of old are like something out of a movie set (and some are) but they are real.  And beautiful.  And cherished by the wonderful Moroccan people.

    Five Days from Fes to Marrakesh.  What an experience.  What a lucky girl.  What a life.

    Fabulous!

     

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

    Reading Wednesday

    I have never read Harris’ more well-known novel Chocolat, but I think I should now because I truly loved this book. Here is my book review Five Quarters of the Orange by JoAnne Harris.

    France During the War

    The place is a tiny village on the Loire River in France during the German occupation in World War II. This is a place where a terrible tragedy occurs. Who is responsible for this terrible tragedy and how does it change the lives of so many people? This will unfold in the pages of Five Quarters of the Orange.

    Framboise is nine years old the summer of the tragedy. A precocious but naive young girl, whose disdain for her mother leads her to create often cruel ways that put her sensitive mother to bed for days – allowing Framboise and her older siblings to run about the village unsupervised. Framboise summer goal is to catch the mysterious giant Loire River pike called Old Mother, but she unexpectedly finds herself developing a crush on a German soldier.

    The Tragedy

    Framboise mother, Mirabelle Dartigen, is looked on by the villagers as “unusual” and perhaps even a witch for her odd behavior. Mirabelle keeps a scrapbook of recipes that also serves as somewhat of a journal and will play an important role in unraveling the events of that fateful summer.

    The family is run out of the village at the end of the summer, but decades later Framboise returns. She hopes to lead a quiet life and not be recognized as the daughter of Mirabelle Dartigen. But her secret begins to unravel as she runs a small local creperie and her nephew and his wife go to great lengths to get their hands on the infamous recipe book.

    Redemption

    This is a dark story about mothers and daughters. It is a book about being young and naive and living with our mistakes. This is a novel about food, family, and facing the past to have peace in the present. I enjoyed it very much. I hope you enjoyed my book review Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris.

    *****Five stars for Five Quarters of the Orange

    Read last week’s review of The Music of Bees

    My current read About Grace

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews.

    Inspire

    Message From Cyprus Edition Five

    Blessings, Grief and Goals

    Location: Argaka Cyprus

    The Numbers

    Day 34 on Cyprus – Day 30 in Quarantine/Lockdown

    April 11 th marked seven months since we left the USA

    Cyprus Virus Cases as of today 620 – Deaths 13

    See below for latest news and developments from the island under lockdown.

    Blessings

    It’s Easter Sunday and I’m determined to count my blessings all day…and especially in this message before I move on to the other details of our lockdown life. There are many blessings and I remind myself this when I am falling down the rabbit hole of too much news, too much worry and too much social media. I am blessed;

    • I’m healthy and safe
    • Although I know some people with the virus, they are all acquaintances of acquaintances and so far none of my family or close circle of friends have been afflicted. That I know of.
    • My husband is with me
    • I can talk to my family and friends regularly
    • Cyprus is beautiful
    • Our villa and hosts have been exceptional
    • I have been to 110 countries and if I never get to travel again, well I have been to 110 countries and I am blessed.

    It may be Easter in most of the world, but it’s not Easter here in Cyprus. We actually get to celebrate Easter twice. Small blessing. Today we celebrate on the day most of the Christian world celebrates and next Sunday the Orthodox Easter is celebrated. It’s something to look forward to, although we won’t leave the house for either of these holidays. Blessings.

    Easter Blessings
    Easter Blessings

    Grief Becomes Goals

    Like a big heavy wet blanket, grief is oppressive as it lays on our lives. I’m aware how many people have been feeling this way, and I have too. We are grieving for our past lives and for things familiar. Recognizing what this emotion is is definitely the healthiest step we can make, and recognizing the chapters and long road we face ahead is important.

    On my run this morning I was remembering my personal battle of grief when my brother died. I was highly functioning for months following his death, handling all the gruesome details of my brother’s sudden death, pushing my grief away. There was a very poignant moment for me, when, feeling sorry for myself I was thinking how much I wanted things to just go back to normal. Normal.

    What is normal after a loss, tragedy, crisis? It was that moment that I instinctively knew the answer to one of life’s most difficult questions. There never will be a normal of old. It’s gone, just like yesterday and two minutes ago. Can’t get it back. A new normal develops…and we gradually accept and live in it.

    I think I’m making positive steps towards the new normal, as I have found myself much more engaged in trying to keep busy and definitely looking at what life will look like going forward. Blessings.

    Goals
    Keepimg Busy

    Healthy Body and Mind

    The movie Wall-E keeps running through my mind, where the human race needs to leave planet earth to let it heal. Remember? And they all live on some kind of Starship Enterprise, getting fat, and lazy and stupid.

    Oh dear.

    I am still finding it difficult to focus on reading…of all things. I should be devouring books, but I’m not. But I have found something else to take my mind off of the bad news. I’ve never allowed myself the time to listen to podcasts, take webinars, or sign up for classes on line. This past week I have done all of those things. And I have learned so much and it feels great.

    Most of the learning I’m doing online is geared towards this blog (although I snuk in a cooking class)…how might this blog look in the months and years ahead with the changes in travel? How can I keep it viable and interesting, inspiring and fun? I took a class about Pinterest and Tailwind and am considering doing an online Tailwind consulting. Tailwind has always baffled me so I kind of ignore it. I also took a wonderful webinar about Instagram and learned some fun new things. Additionally I took a live online class with other bloggers about search engine optimization and affiliate options for bloggers. BTW check out my new and improved Pinterest account here. It’s pretty.

    These are all things I never paid much attention to…but now I am learning and finding it really fascinating. Keeping my mind open to learning. I’m doing yoga and have a new app for that too and I’ve begun training for a half marathon. No Wall-E for this girl. Blessings.

    Hiking on Mauritius
    Keeping Positive

    Latest Cyprus News

    A lot of things happened this week on the island. First, the stay home lockdown has been extended to April 30 th, same as the USA. Easter has been “postponed” until May, as the government tries to get the Church to agree to not hold Easter services. A big task in this very religious country.

    We still need to ask permission to leave the house, which we do via text. We went to the grocery store this week, and were stopped by the police at a road block. We had to show our “permission” to be out, and then we were flagged through. If we didn’t have that authorization, we would each be fined $300. Thousands of citations have been given over the past few weeks and one man has been arrested for some kind of fake SMS scheme he was running.

    There was a flight that left Cyprus this week to Stockholm. We considered taking it, but decided against it. We would have needed to stay the night in Stockholm, take a second flight to London, stay the night in London and then take a third flight to Seattle. This did not seem like a healthy or safe scenario so we decided to wait.

    We received a phone call from the Embassy checking on us. They were trying to determine the level of “need” each American has. This is good, the most interest they have shown in our welfare. We are aware that there are many people who have much more urgent reasons to get back to the USA (jobs, kids etc) than we do. We are also aware of some cases where people are running out of money and need to get out. We do not fall into those categories. We continue to be safe and comfortable. Blessings.

    You may have seen the interview that I did with Q13 News in Seattle this week. It was fun to tell our story, even if they did pronounce my name wrong. It’s okay – not the first time I’ve been called Loud. 🙂

    In our original itinerary we would have been touring the Caucasus right now; Armenia. Georgia and Azerbaijan. But we aren’t so no point in dwelling on it. It’s the new normal.

    Still waiting for Airbnb to make it right by us. Flights we had in May have now all been canceled. Unfortunately they are giving credit not cash. Ugh.

    My gut tells me we will be here until May…assuming the airport opens in early May. At that time we will determine a plan of action. But until then, we will certainly consider any possible flight that comes available, but more likely we will spend our days here, waiting like the rest of the world. Blessings.

    Stay safe my friends. Be good to each other. Happy Easter.

    Cyprus Lockdown
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Five Presidents by Clint Hill

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This story is truly incredible.  But so is the way I stumbled onto this book.

    I follow Mike Rowe on Facebook…you know the funny “Dirty Jobs” guy in the baseball hat.  A month or more ago I saw a post from Mike Rowe about meeting a guy in a bar.  An older gentleman who ordered a drink called a “Clint”.  When the bartender was puzzled, the man pulled a card from his pocket, on one side was his name and information and on the other, the recipe for his favorite and personal drink the “Clint”.

    Of course Mike Rowe was intrigued and they struck up a conversation.  I don’t know how long the spoke but I do know Rowe was flabbergasted to find that he was sitting next to a man who had first hand experience at some of our countries most poignant and sorrowful moments.  Mr. Clint Hill, who served five Presidents in the Secret Service.  Mr. Clint Hill, who infamously is the agent clinging to the back of the convertible while Jackie Kennedy reaches across the trunk of that car to collect pieces of her husbands brain.

    Yes that man.  He ordered a “Clint”.

    Rowe later writes about his meeting Hill on his Facebook page, and suddenly sales of his book “Five Presidents” rockets on Amazon.  I am one of those people who purchased the book for my Kindle and I learn that Hill has also written two other best sellers “Five Days in November” and “Me and Mrs.Kennedy”.

    So that is how I came to find this book.  And once I started it I couldn’t put it down.  Writing with the help of author Lisa McCubbin, Hill describes his incredible life as a secret service agent, beginning with President Eisenhower and ending with President Ford…through some of this nations most turbulent times; assasinations, civil rights, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Watergate and so much more – Clint Hill had a front row seat to it all.

    It’s funny because I never really thought that much about what these men (and now women) sacrifice in the line of duty.  Hill admittedly left the service when the unnamed (at the time) post traumatic stress disorder drove him to alcohol.  He sacrificed seeing his children grow as he traveled all over the world.  He slept little and gave 110% every day of his long career.

    And it all is spelled-out in the fascinating book about a fascinating man and his fascinating journey.

    Five stars for Five Presidents.  A remarkable read.

    Read last week’s review of Nectar in a Sieve

    Asia Travel

    Seven Boats, Three Days, One Rare Bangladesh

    One for the record books – our visit to Bangladesh

    Location: Bangladesh

    Throw back Monday! Enjoy this one from a year ago once again. One of my favorite experiences.

    We would not have normally come to Bangladesh, except the opportunity was here because our friend Natalie is a teacher in Dhaka.  I preach frequently the need to visit less tourism developed places – and yet am guilty of wanting to see places like the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Table Mountain.

    One rare Bangladesh

    Beautiful Bangladeshi dancer

    And so our decision to visit Bangladesh helped us make the leap to a place no one goes, except our friend Natalie.

    We connected with Deshghuri Tours – one of a handful of tour companies catering to the few Westerners who come here, mostly Canadians, Germans and

    One rare Bangladesh

    Fort Lalbagh

    Americans.  Because our time was short we booked a three-day tour with Deshghuri.  It’s difficult to see Bangladesh without a guide.  The cities are crowded and Dhaka is plagued with air pollution.  Driving here is, shall we say, daunting.  So a tour is a must.

    Our first day was to see the densely packed city of Dhaka – home to 20 million people.  Bangladesh is the 8th most populous country in the world and

    One rare bangladesh

    At the beautiful mosaic mosque

    Dhaka has a density of 23,234 people per square kilometer within a total area of 300 square kilometers.  We spent the day weaving in and out of traffic, but also enjoying getting in and out of the car to see some remarkable sites; mosques, temples, university, and the 600-year-old Lalbagh Fort that serves as a lovely oasis in the city.  It was here we really began to feel how unusual it is to have a westerner walking around Dhaka.  Bangladeshi

    One rare bangladesh

    From on board the Rocket Steamer looking at the busy port

    stopped and gaped at us, some asking for selfies, others discreetly taking our photo without asking.  Very strange.

    At the end of the day we arrived in Shadarghat, the steamer terminal and one of the busiest places in Dhaka (which is saying something).  Here we

    One rare Bangladesh

    Rocket Steamer

    boarded our first of seven boats: the 100-year-old “Rocket” paddle wheeler that plies the waters of the Buriganga River.  These boats were, in their time, the fastest thing to ever hit these waters (thus the name), but today faster and more upgraded ferries provide service.  The Rocket continues to work however, and tours often include a night aboard these vessels for the “experience”.  It was definitely an experience as we were on one of the oldest and most worn down vessels.

    On arrival in Barisal early the morning of day two of

    One rare banhladesh

    Nine dome mosque

    our tour we were met by our new guide Ontu.  After breakfast we went by car three hours to Bagherhat, a UNESCO world heritage city and one of the most historic cities in Bangladesh. On the way to Bagherhat we rode a very small and crowded car ferry which is boat number two.   On reaching Bagerhat we toured three remarkable mosques, built in the 15th century!  All still in use today. Two of these mosques were a

    One rare Bangladesh

    80 dome mosque

    remarkable architecture design of domes rather than minarets.  The first was a nine dome and the second was an 80 dome mosque.  Truly fascinating for the time period and in wonderful condition considering the climate and the years.

    We continued by car to Mongla, where we boarded

    One rare bangladesh

    Crossing the river

    boat number three:  a small wooden pirogue which we stood in to cross the very busy river.  On the other side we boarded boat number four, known as a country boat.  It was just the two of us with our guide and we sat back and enjoyed cruising the river on this small 20-foot boat.  We enjoyed a

    One rare Bangladesh

    The country boat

    traditional Bangla lunch onboard, then went ashore at the Sundarban’s breeding sanctuary where we saw deer and crocodiles and walked the mangrove forest.

    Back on the boat and back to Mongla where we

    One are bangladesh

    On the river

    met the car, returned to Barisal (including car ferry-boat number five) and to our hotel in Barisal.  It had been a very amazing day.

    Day three we were up early, and instead of car we were in a Tuk Tuk before the sun had risen, driving an hour from Barisal to the banks of the Shondha River. Here we would board boat number six, a long deep river dwelling vessel,  for what would turn out to be my favorite part of our

    One rare Bangladesh

    Floating vegetable market

    tour.  Cruising through the backwater region of the Shondha we enjoyed the floating vegetable market as well as seeing the river people going about their daily life – scratching out an existence on and in

    One rare Bangladesh

    Meeting the friendly locals

    the river.  The river is both highway and washing machine, bathtub and food source.  We got off the boat several times, including a visit to an ancient and scrabbled together Hindu village where the people were so kind and generous and interested in us.  When we tell them we are from

    One rare Bangladesh

    Meeting the locals

    the United States they say it is their honor to have us in their country.  This is the Bangladeshi way – welcoming, kind and generous; even if they have nothing to give, they will offer you a cup of tea.

    It was particularly interesting to me how astonished everyone – men, women and children – were with my white hair.  They found it fascinating and we felt like celebrities.  Very

    One rare Bangladesh

    Laundry

    humbling experience.

    We learned a lot about river life, about the kindness of strangers, about how important community is to this ancient way of life.  We learned about religion (Islam is the largest religion of Bangladesh; Muslims constitute over 90% of the population, while Hindus constitute 8.5% and Buddhists 0.6% are the most significant minorities of the country. Christians, Sikhs, animists and atheists form 1%), we learned about food, we learned about education.

    One rare Bangladesh

    River life

    But mostly we learned about how much we take for granted.

    Saying farewell to our boat driver we were back in the Tuk Tuk for the hour ride back to Barisal where

    One rare Bangladesh

    Iron workers at the market. They asked us to stay for tea.

    we had time to tour the market before our departure.  The market was remarkable to me mostly because not a single tourist item was there.  This was perhaps the most authentic market I have been to (except for Ethiopia and Burkina Faso).  In fact I have not even been able to find a postcard in this country – a sign of how small the tourism

    One rare Bangladesh

    Beautiful Bangladesh

    industry is here.

    We said goodbye to our wonderful guide and boarded a river ferry, faster and more modern than the Rocket, for the overnight return to Dhaka. Boat number seven.

    Seven boats, three days, one rare Bangladesh.  I’ll not forget my time here.  Unique, remarkable, rewarding and above all, humbling.

     

    Inspire

    Capsule Wardrobe for Three Week Trip

    Carry On Luggage Only for Three Weeks

    Airline travel is stressful these days. Lost luggage, canceled flights, delays. It’s a tough time in the travel industry. Up until this year, our six years of the Grand Adventure has been relatively stress free with limited luggage or flight issues, six years and 161 flights, we only lost luggage twice (see last week’s blog about this Around the World Nine Times Lost Luggage Twice). But it’s a different beast now, and so I’ve put together a capsule wardrobe for three week trip we are embarking on.

    Travel is hard (Canva)

    We booked this trip last spring, before so much airline trouble began. I’m hopeful we might be past the worst of the summer travel nightmare, but still am not going to take a chance checking my bags. This trip is tight between flights, and I have enough to worry about with connections and potential cancellations I don’t want to worry about luggage too. So for the first time I am doing carry on only, so needed a capsule wardrobe for three week trip.

    Although I consider myself a really good packer, when we go for months at a time I never do carry on only because I need to bring so many things like months worth of contact lenses, or months worth of prescription meds. I also carry our French press, the mug, laundry supplies, first aid and toiletries for extended travel.

    Carry on to avoid loosing luggage (canva)

    All that said it’s time to tighten up the bags, and this trip, just under three weeks, gives me a good opportunity to give it a try with a capsule wardrobe for three week trip. I’ve learned a lot from my friend Katherine who writes a blog called The 5kilo Traveller. Her information and instagram posts are helpful and inspirational. Check her out on Instagram and her blog here.

    What is a Capsule Wardrobe

    With just a little bit of planning, it was easy to pull together a capsule wardrobe for travel from my pieces I already have. A capsule wardrobe is a small wardrobe with multiple pieces that you can mix and match and layer and use in various ways. A capsule wardrobe starts with a simple color pallet. I chose black and white for my pants. Then added in pieces that I can mix and match.

    Capsule Wardrobe (Canva)

    Of course your capsule wardrobe will vary depending on your travel destination and the weather. But you should be able to bring the same number of items for five days as you might for five weeks. It’s all in the planning.

    My Trip

    I’m headed to the English Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, followed by a few days in France. Then I return to the USA via Boston and head immediately to Acadia National Park in Maine for five days of camping. So my capsule wardrobe needs to consist of comfortable and versatile clothes for fall weather that could be in the 70’s or the 40’s, sunshine or rain, as well as both city strolling or rugged hiking.

    Guernsey (Canva)

    Layers on the Plane

    It’s rare you get blankets on the plane anymore so I like to have a coat handy to use as a blanket. This is my airplane outfit in this photo. It consists of layers that should keep me comfortable no matter the temperature of the plane…and you never know what that will be. Also by layering I’m able to wear several items instead of squeezing them into my bag.

    Airplane layers in Capsule Wardrobe colors

    My airplane outfit is a tshirt, long sleeve cotton button up blouse and a cotton long sleeve sweatshirt paired with black leggings and my running shoes. The leggins will be handy for the camping portion of our trip and will likely serve as pajamas while camping too.

    Black and White

    Black and White bottoms with mix and match tops for various weather and activities

    I am packing one pair of black slacks, one pair of white slacks and one pair of black shorts. These staple bottoms will carry me through most days. To mix and match with these three bottoms (and also the leggings) I have another short sleeve tshirt in a bright pink, one yellow tank top, one blue linen lightweight blouse, one blue linen long sleeve blouse, a sweater set (polka dot and black) and a black and white pullover cotton sweater. These all mix and match with the airplane outfit items.

    Dresses

    Just in case dresses, easy to pack and care for and easy to layer too

    If we get fine weather in the Channel Island and France I have packed two cotton dresses. My green TravelSmith dress has been a workhorse in my travel wardrobe for years. And this orange cotton dress I added this year from Talbots. I can layer both of these with the black sweater or checked blouse. I’ve thrown in one scarf.

    Camping

    For Camping and Hiking

    In addition to the leggings and the tshirts already mentioned I have packed my long hiking pants, my hiking shorts, my short sleeve hiking shirt, a long sleeve tshirt and a lightweight quick dry hiking sweatshirt. Camping could be wet, my Gortex jacket with hood will serve for both rain and warmth.

    Shoes

    Just two this time

    It’s always hard for me not to bring too many shoes, so the fact that I’ve decided to only bring two pairs is kind of amazing. I am wearing my black running shoes on the plane and though I don’t plan to run during this trip, these shoes can be walking and hiking shoes as well. In addition I am bringing my new white leather sneakers from Soludos. These work with everything including dresses.

    And Everything Else

    Additional essentials.

    Beyond my wardrobe I will be bringing underwear, first aid, one towel, a paired down toiletries bag, travel alarm and a small travel umbrella. We also have purchased two collapsible water bottles and we will try those out for the first time as well as a new collapsible hot water heater. I’m curious to see how I like that. I always carry my laptop, kindle, cords and chargers too. I have a new over the shoulder travel purse for my documents, passport, cash and credit cards as well as a few essentials for the airplane like my noise canceling headphones, lip balm, Tylenol and tiny toothbrush and toothpaste for the plane.

    And one more thing – if you aren’t using packing cubes go buy some now! Game changer.

    And That’s It

    So that is my capsule wardrobe for three week trip. I feel good about my choices. It won’t surprise me if I end up not using something, but that said I still don’t think I have over packed. It’s actually a fun challenge for me. If it goes well, we will see if I can compress when we leave for seven months in October.

    Be sure to check with YOUR airline as there are some differences as far as carry on size allowed. A little planning and you should be good to go.

    Thanks for reading my post Capsule Wardrobe Three Week Trip. Be sure to see last week’s post about our data from six years of world travel and airports and airlines around the world Nine Times Around the World Only Lost Luggage Twice.

    See this week’s top performing pin here Coastal Grandma Does That Make Me Cool?

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    Europe Travel  --  Island Life

    Cyprus In My Heart Forever

    This island. It will always hold a very special place in my heart. I truly love it for so many reasons. Cyprus in my heart forever.

    How do I love thee? Let’s count the ways…

    1.)Lockdown 2020

    The day before lockdown…we had no idea what was coming in March 2020

    In March 2020 after fleeing lockdown in Israel we landed in Cyprus. Our thoughts at the time were that we would sit tight for two or three weeks and wait out this crazy Corona thing. Five days later, we went into total lockdown which I always describe as house arrest. We could only leave our house once a day with permission from local Cyprus authorities, which we obtained through an app on our phones. What initially was presented as a ten-day lockdown became two months for us…and even longer for the Cypriot people.

    Empty Cyprus airport Spring 2020

    The airport shut down with no flights in or out, and so we hunkered down for a long stay. It was March, still cool in the Mediterranean, but dry and sunny most days. All archeological sites and museums, all beaches, trails and recreational facilities were closed. As well as all shops and restaurants except for a handful of grocery stores and pharmacies.

    My friend Patience who helped me stay sane during lockdown

    Lockdown 2020 on Cyprus was definitely not something we had on our travel itinerary, but it became one of the most unique and memorable experiences of our life – putting Cyprus in my heart forever.

    2.)Lemon Grove Villas, Argaka

    Lemon Grove Villa in the middle of a citrus grove

    Lucky for us, we were in an Airbnb called Lemon Grove Villas in the tiny village of Argaka. Argaka is on the far northwest corner of the island, about as far as you can get from the international airport city of Larnaca.

    Lemon Grove Villas

    Not only was Lemon Grove Villa comfortable and spacious, but it also had one of the absolute best hosts we have had in all of our travels. Maria and Fytos were outstanding and made such an effort to make our unexpectedly long stay, unexpectedly comfortable.

    3.)We Shall Return

    Lemon Grove swimming pool

    When we finally left Cyprus after two months, we vowed to return – and we kept that vow, returning 26 months later this past June. We only had a week this time, but we spent the entire week back at our beloved Lemon Grove Villa, getting to see our sweet hosts Maria and Fytos. And this time, thanks to fabulous weather, enjoying the beautiful pool.

    4.)Sunshine and Sand

    Sandy beaches

    If you have been to Greece, Cyprus feels just like that. But without the crowds or the price tag. Sunny skies, turquoise water, beautiful beaches. It’s surprising Cyprus is not one of the Greek islands, but most Cypriots consider themselves Greek and you will see the Greek flag everywhere. At least on the Greek Cypriot side (south side) of this island.

    5.)Ancient History, Recent History

    Aphrodite’s Rock

    This island is said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love. The island has been occupied by many civilizations dating back as far as far as the 12th century BC. Given its strategic position in the Mediterranean it’s no wonder so many wanted a piece of it over the millennia. Throughout the 140 mile long by 60 miles wide island you will find a fascinating array of ancient ruins and archeological sites all worth a visit.

    Paphos Archeological Site (UNESCO)

    More recent history has included a civil war in 1974 when Turkey invaded northern Cyprus, occupying and taking over entire cities including property and homes. Greek Cypriots fled south and Turkish Cypriots fled north, leaving everything behind. Still today Turkey has control of the northern part of the island but it is not recognized by the United Nations. It wasn’t until 2003 that a border crossing was opened. Today you can still see the sad remains of people’s homes and businesses abandoned and bullet ridden along the UN Buffer Zone.

    Looking towards the former resort town of Famagusta, now a ghost town on the Turkish side of the occupied North

    6.)Hiking and Running

    Beautiful slot canyon hike

    We love to run and hike and Cyprus offered beautiful and safe places to do both. In Argaka we ran nearly every day, both during lockdown and in our recent visit. And we also enjoyed several hikes along the ocean, in the mountains and through some glorious slot canyons.

    Early morning beach run

    7.)Food Glorious Food

    Kleftiko one of the island’s famous dishes made with lamb

    Very similar to Greek food, Cypriot food is abundant with fresh and locally grown produce. Throughout the island and especially in Argaka you will find citrus, olives, nuts, and berries growing next to wheat, barley, watermelons, zucchini and tomatoes. Honey and breads are abundant as are candies and amazing coffee. You can find local wine that is cheap and delicious and recently a surge of craft beer. It is a breadbasket of the Mediterranean. The cuisine includes a lot of fish, lamb, beef and chicken as well as yogurt, feta and amazing halloumi cheese. Oh my goodness. I was in heaven. Learn more about Cypriot foods and cooking in this post In the Cyprus Test Kitchen.

    Grilled Octopus

    8.) Kind and Hardworking People

    Cyprus Cooking Class

    And then there are the quiet and kind Cypriots. Some of the hardest working people I have ever met, yet always ready with a shy smile and a welcome.

    Cyprus in My Heart Forever

    Orthodox Church in Argaka

    What more could anyone want in a destination? It’s inexpensive, beautiful, delicious and great weather. There is interesting history and architecture, nature and views. Each city offers a wide variety of accommodations and restaurants. If I compare it to Maui it is half the price or less, with fewer tourists and traffic. For Americans it’s a bit difficult to get to, but there are lots of direct flights from London, so that’s typically the best way to get here. But however you get here, just get here.

    The UN Border crossing between Cyprus and the occupied north

    I am already working on a plan to get back to Cyprus for a long extended visit in 2024. Cyprus, in my heart forever.

    Learn more about the Civil War and unrest in Cyprus through this beautiful book The Island of Missing Trees.

    Read our post the Cyprus Test Kitchen here.

    See last week’s blog post about our trip to Israel, Visiting Israel – We Finally Made it Back.

    See this week’s top performing pin Authentic Moroccan Food Tour

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