For each of the trips I’ve taken recently, I would conclude with a separate detailed summary post, mostly because I had only had the time to upload photos and briefly write while still on the trip.
But this time, having traveled to six cities in one trip, I felt the need to update before embarking on the next trip within the trip—and for the most part, I did. By now, I’m feeling quite travelogued-out. Similar to my previous travel posts, there are things (i.e., negative experiences) I don’t share from the trip but probably require more of a need to air out.
Instead, I’ll make what I consider a compromise and reflect more generally upon a very real question for which I expect I will need a very real answer: How was your trip?
Of course, I expect what I’m about to write will be more than anyone ever will hear from me in person. How easy it would be to just tell them to read this post—or, if they dare, through all the posts! But that also reminds me: Don’t have this be your excuse not to ask me about the trip. As I said before, there’s plenty I don’t share on here, despite how it may seem like I spill my heart out (actually, though).
So since describing the trip chronologically, especially having already done so, is boring, let’s organize this by superlatives.
Favorite City: Munich
Munich exuded the epitome of a vacation for us. Especially having come from a nonstop few days in London, the opportunity to enjoy a slower (but not too slow…) pace in a beautiful, relatively clean, and calm city made for an experience that has me telling my parents that they need to visit ASAP. Save for a tourist insulting my friend during a beer tour she didn’t enjoy and Museum Brandhorst, the attractions in Munich are plentiful and actually interesting! I would love to return to Munich and explore the rest of its many cultural activities and lovely gardens (which may contain naked old men, but just ignore them like everyone else, I suppose). I would even consider living there. Yes, those four nights really painted a perfect picture of what couldn’t be that perfect of a place, but the fact that it felt that way for us for those few days is all that matters.
BUT WAIT! If you’ve read my posts about Paris, you’re probably wondering how I possibly could not choose it. I’ll explain a bit more later.
Biggest Regret/Most Unexpected Challenge: Packing Too Much
I’ve already detailed my surprise at my struggle to lug more than 50 pounds of crap through several countries. No need to say more.
Most Unpleasant Experience: Being a Shitty Friend
Unfortunately, something tops the negative experience I had in Luton Airport about which I even wrote a long rant. It was letting my stupidity take over when facing certain situations, resulting in actions that anyone would classify under bad friend. In Marrakech, for example, I basically led my friend not only through the dangerously chaotic streets of a strange neighborhood, but also into what ended up being a trap that scammed us out of 110 dirhams. And knowing how sensitive (I use this term in the least offensive way possible) my friend is only adds to what a dick I was for not doing what I should have done: talk with and listen to her. But as the ridiculously understanding (sometimes almost upsettingly so) friend that she is, she never put the blame entirely on me or held a grudge. Trust me, there are many times I deserved her anger, whether spoken or not.
And this is partly why I can’t say Paris was my favorite city because, to say the least, it wasn’t hers. When we can’t share that sentiment, I’ve failed somewhere, and that’s why I choose Munich, a city where we both felt our happiest.
Most Relaxing Experience: Blue Lagoon
Despite being unprepared by forgetting to bring a damn swimsuit to the Blue Lagoon thermal spa in Iceland, I had such a great time with the little time we had in the soothing waters of the Blue Lagoon. Sure, I would never visit Iceland again just because of the midnight hailstorm we got ourselves caught in, but that’s part of why it makes this experience at the Blue Lagoon the best. In the middle of a country that people claim isn’t icy (IT IS), we found a haven. Without the random hailstorms, it’s also quite romantic, so I would suggest going with your partner if you ever find yourself with a long layover in Iceland 😉
Most Picturesque City: Marrakech
Do NOT forget to bring a nice camera that can capture the beauty that Marrakech has to offer. Sure, Antoni Gaudi’s funky architecture in Barcelona and even Paris’ cliché Eiffel Tower views mean tons of Instagram-worthy moments, but the courtyards of Marrakech’s riads and—for God’s sake—sunset camel riding in the palm tree oasis simply don’t compare.
Need-to-Know Lessons Learned
So what should you learn from my mistakes? Some are more obvious than others but some notes:
- Pack as little as possible. I don’t know how many times I can repeat this to get it through my own stubborn head.
- Cheap flights are not always worth the potential headache. But let me just be more specific, avoid London Luton Airport.
- Actually do your research. Sure, it’s fun to act spontaneously, but spontaneity can also lead to costly and unhappy mistakes (like missing out on visiting Gaudi’s magnum opus—that would be my second biggest regret).
- If you need cash, don’t use exchange shops near touristy places (friend paid more than $100 for this mistake). Find an ATM to withdraw cash from your debit card in the needed currency instead, or exchange in advance at the airport. If these are not possible, try negotiating. My friend literally got about $50 more after refusing to accept the amount she didn’t think was right, offering one that was closer to the actual rate.
- Know that traveling, especially long term, won’t always be all fun and adventure, but take those valleys as opportunities to appreciate the peaks.
- Have fun. Trips are vacations, after all. Everyone will tell you this, but it’s easy to forget when you try to cram as many things to do and see as possible. If you miss something or things don’t go as planned, as our wonderful Airbnb host in Barcelona would say: RELAX! This is obvious, but I think it’s important to consistently remind yourself so you can remember even in the toughest situations.
All in all, there was a lot of love and a lot to not like, but I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do what many dream of and travel Europe and even Morocco with an unbelievably patient and great friend.