Morocco – English version

So here we are. Three friends from Germany, Paula, Lisann and me (Bahia), that haven’t seen each other for a long time; one of us is studying in Barcelona for the last half year and two of us still in Germany. And we miss each other and it’s time for a reunion. Since both the flights to and fro Barcelona or Germany are unexpectedly expensive for far too long, we get creative and decide to plan a trip to Morocco. This is a country that I at least have been very interested in visiting for a long time but didn’t want to travel there alone. Since all three of us are students, it should be an affordable trip to Morocco, so that we can enjoy it not being too concerned about the budget. Through Lisann, who is studying in Barcelona, we find a suitable offer for a student trip to Morocco from Barcelona! Actually it’s a student trip to Morocco from anywhere in Spain, but for only 10€ additional, Paula and I are allowed to fly in from Germany to join. This is a no-brainer for us and so we book the 5-day tour through Morocco for the beginning of March. In my opinion the best time to visit Morocco, because the days are warm but the nights are cold. I might regret this statement, but I would rather advise to take a second blanket than not being able to sleep at night because it is too warm.

Speaking of cold nights – here are a few things to know before going to Morocco:

  • At least in March, the nights are very cold. Especially in the desert this means that you should definitely pack a beanie, a warm head cover or a hoodie to keep warm. Spoiler Alert: All our mothers were right when they told us during our childhood: „Put on a beanie! Most of the body heat is lost through the head.“
  • Most people in Morocco are Muslims. This means that as guests in their country we must respect their customs and beliefs, but also their traditions. So when you are packing for such a trip, you should think about what to wear in Morocco in order to respect these customs, especially when you are leaving the big cities, as the more rural setting is traditionally more grounded. At least your shoulders and knees should be covered. Irrespective of whether this is the fashion in other countries, cropped or backless tops are also rather uncool. It’s best to always pack a scarf or cloth that you can wear around your shoulders or waist and over your head when visiting holy sites. However, it is not necessary to wear a hijab in public.
  • In Morocco you pay with Moroccan Dirham (MAD). The current exchange rate to the Euro is approximately 1:10, which makes the conversion really easy. ATMs can be found directly at the airport, in all bigger cities and some villages. Paying with credit card is possible almost everywhere.
  • Tips are not gladly accepted. Maybe a Moroccan who reads this can explain why? For this reason I quickly stopped it in order not to offend anyone. If you insist on tipping anyway, give it with your right hand, because the left hand is considered insulting in Arab countries. In cities it’s more forgivable but not so much in some villages.
  • I bought a SIM card with 5GB data at the airport for about 8 €. Telekom Morocco has an excellent network coverage throughout the country.

Morocco only gained independence from France in 1956 and is now a Kingdom. Everywhere in hotels, shops and markets you can find the portrait of King Mohammed VI, who is in power since 1999. The Kingdom of Morocco is located in the northwestern tip of Africa and only a few kilometers across the Mediterranean Sea from the Spanish mainland via the Strait of Gibraltar. With a population of 32.6 million inhabitants, which is less than half of Germany’s population, it is about 1.2 times as larger than Germany with an area of 447,000 square kilometers. Morocco’s capital is the coastal city of Rabat. Although Arabic is the most common language, French is widely spoken due to its colonial past. In touristic settings one can also find that a lot of Spanish is being spoken, which may be due to the proximity to the Spanish mainland.

As in all Arabic countries, bargaining is gladly accepted and becomes a real sport if one gets involved. The final price is usually 50% off the first offer, unless fixed prices are given.

Entering the country from Europe is relatively unproblematic. With a passport valid for at least six months, you can stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa. I forced Paula to meet me “Bahia-standard” three hours before departure at the gate. I have never been so badly prepared for a trip as I am for this one, because I am in the middle of my bachelor thesis, my head is overloaded, and I can hardly wait for this well-deserved five-day trip to Morocco. On route and shortly before approaching Marrakech we fill out the forms for the Ministry of Health, which we hand over to the customs officials together with our passport (tip: always pack a pen, because they are never handed out in the plane). Next to the stamp in our passports, the customs officials writes an individual arrival number by hand, which is cross referenced at every hotel booking, so that your whole trip can be traced and verified.

At the airport we withdraw cash, buy a SIM card for our phones and are picked up by a local driver, who takes us to our hotel in Marrakech for the first evening before our Moroccan adventure starts the next day. The ride from the airport to the city center takes only about 15 minutes. We quickly bring our luggage to our room and start strolling for some first impressions through the famous Jama El f’na Market, which is overflowing with handicrafts, clothes, beautiful materials – and of course, not to forget, all kinds of delicious foods and sweets. Marrakech is a beautiful combination of old, traditional and new Morocco. Its labyrinths of bazaars (so called “souqs”) are surrounded by the old town ruins. We eat our way through stands of various snacks and enjoy the delicious freshly squeezed juices. At sunset we make our way back to our hotel in order to rest for the coming days.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

People have asked me: “Is it safe to visit Morocco … as a European woman?” I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t necessarily do this trip alone, but that’s only me. We never felt uncomfortable at any time, not even as a group of four young women. During the journey we were often surrounded by other students, local drivers and tour guides and really never alone. As in other Arab countries, one is of course often dragged into the competition between passionate vendors at markets, but never touched or held onto. The Moroccans are much more charming and humorous to me as one might expect. It also struck me positively that there is a lot less littering that I observed in other countries.

       

       

The next morning at breakfast we finally meet Lisann, who brought her dear friend Sara from Spain along. At about 08:30 that morning we started our journey through the Atlas Mountains towards Dades valley. We covered approximately 300 km that day, with a first stop in the heart of the Atlas Mountains.

       

       

At lunchtime we arrive in the province and southern capital Ouarzazate. Here we have lunch in a trianquile little restaurant enjoying a traditional dish: a vegetable tajine with couscous on the side. A tajine is a round, clay stew pot with a pointed lid, in it vegetables and all kinds of meat are slow cooked to perfection.

       

       

With a stomach full of happiness, we walk strengthened to the UNSECO World Heritage Site Ksar Ait-Ben-Haddou. The fortified city at the foot of the High Altas mountain range, which by the way often serves as an international film set; i. e. for the film „Gladiator“ or the series „Game of Thrones“. (Not that it deserves a jugdement, I must confess that I might be one of the few people in the world who have never seen the „Game of Thrones“.) As a result of this visit we get to know the culture firsthand and hear related annecdotes, which are of grate significants. In addition we are introduced to the art of parchment paper burning. A local resident shows us how he artistically burns whole landscapes on parchment paper using tea and other natural materials, thus making it permanent and visible forever, very interesting! The climb to the plateau is exhausting, but worth every step, because of the incredible and breathtaking views that one is exposed to.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

We spend the second night in the Dades valley. We make it just in time to watch the stunning sunset behind these magnificient mountains. The dinner at the Hotel Vieux Chateau is so incredibly delicious and prepared with so much love – definitely an culinary event not be missed, even if you only passing by for this incredible dinner! For starters there is a delicious curry soup and for the main dish we were served again a suburb vegetable tajine with well marinated chicken, rice and couscous. We are in heaven!

       

       

       

At around 09:00 a.m., after an equally tasty breakfast we head back on the road towards the small village of Merzouga on the Sahara’s edge and close the border to Algeria, which is our final destination of the day. The distance to be covered today is about 280 km, which doesn’t sound like much, but took us about 6 hours. On the way there our first stop is the oasis town of Tinghir. This town is blessed with two palm tree oaseses, which are rich in dates, figs, olives and many other delicacies.

       

       

       

We stop shortly before the Todra Gorge and continue on foot through this breathtaking gorge with its steep rockfaces, which are up to 300 m high and attract numerous climbers. Respect – I would probably not dare to go up there. Millions of years ago the Oued (directly translated meaning “river”) Todra has cut an impressive path through the mountains towards the south of the country here. Today the river is only a mere stream.

       

        

At the end of the gorge we join our transport again and continue towards the Sahara Desert. We stop for lunch at a lovingly decorated small roadside restaurant along on the R702. While we wait for our meal – we again chose peppermint tea and a tajine. For fun Paula, Lisann and Sara get dressed in traditional clothes by the locals and have their hands decorated with henna, to highlight the occasion. Only a few more kilometers separate us now from the Sahara!

       

       

       

       

       

The third night we are sleeping in the middle of the Sahara Desert in Morocco a beautiful tent camp. Because I have already been in the Tunisian-Libyan part of the Sahara for 14 days in 2012 and I know what we are roughly in for, I am quite excited to share this upcoming experience with my friends. The starry sky, the sunset and sunrise are simply something out of this world that you will never forget. We finally arrive in the small village of Merzouga, which also served as backdrops in some movies.

Our desert tent camp, which I already mentioned previously, is located a few kilometers into the desert. In order to get there, camels were saddled up for us to ride through the desert. ”Woohooo! Morocco camel ride!“ However, Paula and I decide against riding and opted for walking barefoot through the warm Saharan desert sand … if you don’t start dreaming now, you have unfortunately never been allowed to do that before and cannot understand how beautiful it is to walk barefoot through warm sand. Apart from the fact that there is hardly a more effective foot peeling. While everyone else is stuck on their camels, we run like little children through the soft sand and are able to take great photos. After the long car ride, the workout is also a welcome change and really does us good!

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

(Sorry for all the photos. I just couldn’t decide which one I like the most. #sorrynotsorry)

       

       

Paula spontaneously decided to kidnap the caravan and run away with us to the end of the world.

We arrived at Sara Dune (you’ll find out in a moment why it carries that name) and anyone who wants to can go sandboarding or just enjoy the evening sun or both can do so. Here we stay until the sun sets – what a wonderful experience it was!

       

       

       

       

Two of the Berbers, one of which name was Moe, who live and grew up in this part of the Sahara join us and laughingly answer all our thousands of questions about their lifestyle, their everyday life and their aspirations. We talk in a mixture of English, Spanish and French, but it works. As it turns out, the two speak eight languages pretty much fluently! But there is one language in particular that Moe speaks fluently: the Language of Love. And not before long Sara gets a – admittedly not quite seriously meant (hopefully) – marriage proposal! As a token of Moe’s love – and because the dune at whose edge we sit is too small to be already named – he spontaneously names it after her: “Sara Dune”. After this auspicious occasion the chatting and laughing, we sit there for a few more hours, reminiscing about everyday life, listen to stories from our two friends and enjoying the setting sun. Shortly before darkness we leave and make our way to the tent camp for the last kilometers.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

This camp exceeds all our expectations by far! Really! We are welcomed with freshly made peppermint tea around a warm campfire, which was set up in the middle of the tent camp. The night is getting quite chilly, as soon as the sun goes down in the desert, the temperatures get close to freezing point. In our tents we first put on something warmer, warm ourselves at the campfire and wait for dinner, which is served in a big tent.

       

       

       

After dinner we all gather around the campfire, huddled up in thick woolen blankets. The Berbers, who led us through the desert today, organize a drumming session for us and let us participate in traditional dances, which later included more other traditional instrument. What started off more like a noise-jungle at the beginning quickly turns into „We will rock you“ and „Don’t worry be happy“; and so we sit together all evening until late at night, dancing, learning the different instruments and enjoying the small desert festivity.

       

       

       

       

       

We set the alarm clock for the next morning at 06:30, in order to enjoy the desert sunrise with its warming rays, coffee in hand. We are dog-tired from the very short night (it was freeeeeezing; I really advise to bring scarfs and hoodies), but even getting up early is of course rewarded by this magnificence sunrise, which leaves us speechless.

       

       

       

       

       

   

After we have found our words again, we pack our bags and make our way back to Marrakech. From here it is about 500 km and thanks to small food breaks the 11 hour drive is finally conquered.

Tired but happy and full of impressions we arrive late that evening at our hotel. In order to crown off this perfect trip, we decide to go into town and spend the last hours celebrating and reminiscing together in the tiny restaurant Café Des Épices with freshly squeezed juices and uber delicious food. We all agree, what a wonderful trip it was! The next morning Lisann and Sara have to leave early for the airport and so we say our goodbyes already that evening.

Thank you, girls, for the great time!

 

To get an overview here once again are our travel routes:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Morocco

Click here for the english version.

Hier sind wir also. Drei Freundinnen aus Deutschland, von denen eine seit ca. einem halben Jahr in Barcelona studiert und zwei weiterhin in Deutschland. Und wir vermissen uns. Da sowohl die Flüge nach Barcelona als auch die nach Deutschland seit viel zu langer Zeit unerwartet teuer sind und wir zusätzlich alle drei noch wahnsinnig neugierig auf die Welt sind, werden wir kreativ und entscheiden uns dafür einen Trip nach Marokko zu planen. Ein Land, das zumindest mich schon seit längerer Zeit sehr interessiert, ich aber nicht allein bereisen möchte. Zum Glück studiert Lisann in Barcelona, denn durch sie werden wir auf ein Angebot aufmerksam, das Studententrips nach Marokko anbietet! Eigentlich sind es Trips nach Marokko von Barcelona aus, aber für nur 10€ mehr dürfen Paula und ich auch von Deutschland aus mitfliegen. Das müssen wir uns nicht lange überlegen und so buchen wir die 5-Tages-Tour durch Marokko für Anfang März. Meiner Meinung nach die beste Zeit, um Marokko zu besuchen, da die Tage warm, aber die Nächte kalt. Lieber decke ich mich mit einer zweiten Decke zu als nachts nichts schlafen zu können, weil es zu warm.

Apropos kalte Nächte. Hier ein paar Dinge, die ihr wissen solltet, bevor ihr nach Marokko reist:

  • Zumindest im März sind die Nächte sehr kalt. Das bedeutet vor allem für die Nächte in der Wüste, dass ihr auf jeden Fall eine Mütze oder einen Hoodie einpacken solltet, damit der Kopf nachts warmgehalten wird. Spoiler Alert: Unsere Mütter hatten alle recht damit, als sie uns in unserer Kindheit sagten: „Zieh eine Mütze an! Die meiste Wärme verliert der Mensch über den Kopf.“
  • Die meisten Menschen in Marokko sind muslimischen Glaubens. Das bedeutet nicht nur, dass wir als Gast in ihrem Land ihre Gewohn- und Gepflogenheiten respektieren müssen, sondern auch ihre Umgangsformen. Du solltest Dir also beim Packen Gedanken darüber machen, was Du in Marokko anziehen möchtest, um diesen respektvollen Umgang einzuhalten (vor allem, wenn man sich aus den Großstädten raus begibt): Mindestens Deine Schultern und Knie sollten bedeckt sein. Unabhängig davon, ob das in anderen Ländern gerade modern ist, sind bauch- oder rückenfrei auch eher uncool. Pack am besten einen Schal oder ein Tuch mit ein, das Du Dir immer um die Schultern legen kannst oder bei Besichtigungen von heiligen Städten über den Kopf. Allerdings ist es nicht erforderlich in der Öffentlichkeit ein Kopftuch zu tragen.
  • In Marokko bezahlt man mit Marokkanischen Dirham (MAD). Der Wechselkurs zum Euro beträgt aktuell etwa 1:10, was das Umrechnen wirklich einfach macht. ATMs findet man direkt am Flughafen, in allen größeren Städten und Dörfern und auch das Bezahlen mit Kreditkarte ist nahezu überall möglich.
  • Trinkgelder wurden von mir nicht gerne angenommen. Vielleicht kann mir ein Marokkaner, der das liest, erklären warum? Aus diesem Grund habe ich es schnell wieder gelassen, um niemanden zu beleidigen. Besteht ihr trotzdem auf Trinkgeld, so gebt es mit der rechten Hand, da die linke Hand in arabischen Ländern als beleidigend gilt. In Städten wird euch das jeder verzeihen, aber vielleicht auf manchen Dörfern nicht.
  • Eine Sim Karte mit 5GB Daten habe ich am Flughafen direkt für umgerechnet 8 € gekauft. Telekom Morocco hat unter anderem die besten Netzabdeckung landesweit.

Marokko ist ein Königreich und überall in den Hotels, Läden und Märkten trifft man auf das Portrait des Königs. Das Königreich liegt im Nordwesten Afrikas und ist über die sogenannte Straße von Gibraltar nur wenige Kilometer über das Mittelmeer vom spanischen Festland entfernt. Mit einer Bevölkerung von 32,6 Millionen Einwohnern hat das Land weniger als die Hälfte von Deutschland, ist jedoch aufgrund 447.000 m² Fläche etwa 1,2 Mal so groß. Marokkos Hauptstadt ist die Küstenstadt Rabat. Als Landessprache gilt zwar Arabisch am verbreitetsten, jedoch wird aufgrund der Kolonialzeit weit verbreitet Französisch gesprochen und in touristisch geprägten Orten auch fließend Spanisch, aufgrund der Nähe zum spanischen Festland. Erst seit 1956 ist Marokko keine französische Kolonie mehr und unabhängig.

Wie in allen arabischen Ländern ist Handeln gerne gesehen und wird zu einer regelrechten Sportart, wenn man sich darauf einlässt. Der echte Preis liegt im Normalfall bei 50 % des zuerst genannten, außer es sind Festpreise ausgeschrieben.

Die Einreise von Deutschland aus ist relativ unproblematisch. Mit einem Reisepass von mindestens sechs Monaten Gültigkeit darf man sich bis zu 90 Tage visafrei im Land aufhalten. Und so treffe ich mich mit Paula Bahia-standardmäßig drei Stunden vor Abflug hinter der Sicherheitskontrolle am Stuttgarter Flughafen. Noch nie war ich so schlecht auf eine Reise vorbereitet wie auf diese. Ich stecke gerade mitten in meiner Bachelorarbeit, mein Kopf steht mir weiß-Gott-wo und ich kann diesen fünf-Tages Trip nach Marokko kaum noch erwarten, um endlich wieder klar denken zu können. Kurz vor dem Landeanflug auf Marrakech füllen wir noch fix die Unterlagen für das Gesundheitsministerium aus, die wir bei Einreise, zusammen mit unserem Pass, dem Zollbeamten aushändigen (Tipp: Packt immer einen Kugelschreiber ein, denn diese werden im Flugzeug zum Ausfüllen der Unterlagen nie mit ausgeteilt.). In unseren Pässen vermerkt der Zollbeamte neben dem Einreisestempel handschriftlich eine Einreisenummer, die im jeweiligen Hotel erneut überprüft und abgefragt wird.

Wir heben Bargeld ab, kaufen uns eine Sim Karte und da wartet auch schon der Abholservice auf uns, der uns für den ersten Abend in ein Hotel nach Marrakech bringt, bevor der Trip am nächsten Tag beginnen wird. Die Fahrt vom Flughafen in die Innenstadt dauert nur ca. 15 Minuten. Schnell bringen wir unser Gepäck aufs Zimmer und spazieren los, um die ersten Eindrücke auf dem berühmten Jama El f’na Market zu sammeln – und natürlich Essen. Marrakech ist die wunderschöne Kombination aus dem alten, traditionellen und dem neuen Marokko. Seine labyrinthartigen Basare (Souqs) werden umsäumt von den Ruinen der Altstadt. Wir kaufen uns hier und da was Kleines für auf die Hand, essen uns von Stand zu Stand und genießen die leckeren frisch gepressten Säfte. Mit Sonnenuntergang machen wir uns auf den Weg zurück ins Hotel, um für die kommenden Tage ausgeruht zu sein.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

Ich werde oft gefragt, ob es sicher sei nach Marokko zu reisen. Vor allem als europäisch aussehende Frau. Alleine – muss ich zugeben – würde ich jetzt nicht unbedingt einen Roadtrip durch das Land machen. Aber auch als Gruppe von nur vier jungen Frauen (und in unserem Fall noch anderen Studenten, lokalen Fahrern und Reiseleitern) haben wir uns zu keiner Zeit unwohl gefühlt. Wie in anderen arabischen Ländern wird man natürlich vor allem auf Märkten oft angesprochen, aber nie angefasst oder festgehalten. Die Marokkaner machen auf mich einen deutlich charmanteren und auch humorvolleren Eindruck als andere arabische Länder, die ich bereisen durfte. Was mir ebenfalls positiv aufgefallen ist, dass es deutlich weniger vermüllt ist als ich erwartet (und in anderen Ländern beobachtet) habe.

       

       

Am nächsten Morgen treffen wir beim Frühstück endlich auf Lisann, die ihre liebe Freundin Sara aus Spanien mitgebracht hat. Gegen 08:30 Uhr fahren wir nach dem Frühstück durch das Atlas Gebirge los, Richtung Dadestal. Die Wegstrecke an diesem Tag beträgt etwa 300 km. Den ersten kleinen Stopp machen wir mitten im Atlas Gebirge.

       

       

Zur Mittagessenszeit treffen wir in der Provinz und dortigen Hauptstadt des Südens Ouarzazate ein. Hier stärken wir uns in einem süßen kleinen Restaurant mit einem sehr traditionellen Gericht: Einer Gemüse-Tajine mit Couscous als Beilage. Eine Tajine ist ein rundes, aus Lehm gebranntes Schmorgefäß mit gewölbtem oder spitzem Deckel. Darin kann man nicht nur sehr gut Gemüse schmoren lassen, sondern auch alle möglichen Fleischarten. (Auf diesem Bild wurde der Inhalt der Tajine auf einem Teller angerichtet, aber weiter unten seht ihr die richtigen Bilder dazu.)

       

       

Mit vollem Magen und gestärkt laufen wir zu Fuß weiter zum UNSECO Weltkulturerbe Ksar Ait-Ben-Haddou. Die befestigte Stadt am Fuße des Hohen Altas dient häufig als internationale Filmkulisse – beispielsweise für den Film „Gladiator“ oder die Serie „Game of Thrones“. Wobei ich gestehen muss, dass ich zu den wenigen Menschen dieser Welt zähle, die „Game of Thrones“ nie gesehen haben. Please don‘t judge me! Wir lernen erstmals die Kultur kennen und hören kleine Geschichten. Unter anderem zeigt uns einer der Anwohner, wie er aus Tee und anderen Naturmaterialien ganze Landschaften kunstvoll auf Pergament brennt und es so für immer halt- und sichtbar macht. Der Aufstieg zur Plattform ist anstrengend, aber jeden Schritt wert, denn die Aussicht ist unglaublich schön!

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

Die zweite Nacht verbringen wir im Dadestal. Wir schaffen es gerade pünktlich, um noch den Sonnenuntergang im Gebirge bestaunen zu können. Das Abendessen im Hotel Vieux Chateau ist so unfassbar lecker und mit so viel Liebe zubereitet – falls ihr in der Gegend seid, dürft ihr euch das nicht entgehen lassen. Und wenn ihr nur zum Essen dort vorbeifahrt! Zur Vorspeise gibt es eine leckere Curry-Suppe und zur Hauptspeise wieder eine Gemüse-Tajine mit selbstmariniertem Hühnchen, Reis und Couscous. Wir sind im Himmel!

       

       

       

Nach einem ebenso leckeren Frühstück geht es gegen 09:00 Uhr morgens wieder auf die Straße. Unser heutiges Ziel ist das kleine Dorf Merzouga am Rande der Sahara und an der Grenze zu Algerien. Die Wegstrecke heute beträgt etwa 280 km. Auf dem Weg dorthin machen wir erst einmal Halt in der Oasenstadt Tinghir. Die Stadt ist mit zwei Palmenoasen gesegnet, aus denen man Datteln, Feigen, Oliven und viele weitere Leckereien ernten kann.

       

       

       

Kurz vor der Todra-Schlucht halten wir an und dürfen zu Fuß durch die atemberaubende Schlucht laufen. Die hohen Steilwände sind bis zu 300 m hoch und locken zahlreiche Klettersportler an. Respekt – ich würde mich da vermutlich nicht hoch trauen. Der Oued (Fluss) Todra hat sich hier einen eindrucksvollen Weg nach Süden eingeschnitten.

       

        

Am Ende der Schlucht werden wir wieder eingesammelt und halten zum Mittagessen in einem liebevoll eingerichteten kleinen Restaurant an der R702. Während wir auf unser Essen warten – wir entscheiden uns wieder für Pfefferminztee und eine Tajine – lassen sich Paula, Lisann und Sara von den Einheimischen in traditionelle Gewänder kleiden und ihre Hände mit Henna verschönern.

       

       

       

       

       

Nur noch wenige Kilometer trennen uns von der Sahara! Diese dritte Nacht dürfen wir nämlich im marokkanischen Teil der Sahara Wüste schlafen. Weil ich 2012 schon einmal für 14 Tage im tunesisch-lybischen Teil der Sahara war und in etwa weiß, was auf uns zukommen wird, freue ich mich wie verrückt. Der Sternenhimmel, der Sonnenunter- und Sonnenaufgang ist einfach etwas ganz Besonderes, das man nie wieder in seinem Leben vergessen wird oder so woanders sehen darf. So kommen wir im kleinen Dorf Merzouga an. Auch hier wurden tatsächlich schon einige Filme gedreht.

Unser Wüsten-Camp ist noch ein paar Kilometer tiefer in der Wüste gelegen. Um dort hinzugelangen, werden Kamele gesattelt, auf denen wir durch die Wüste reiten dürfen. Nur Paula und ich entscheiden uns gegen das Reiten und für das Laufen. Mit meinem Hintergrundwissen und Paula als Vegetarierin, können wir das mit unserem Gewissen nicht vereinbaren. Dies hat allerdings auch noch weitere positive Nebenwirkungen: Barfuß durch den warmen Sahara-Sand laufen … wer jetzt nicht zu träumen anfängt, durfte das leider noch nie machen und kann nicht nachvollziehen, wie schön es ist, barfuß durch warmen Sand zu laufen. Davon abgesehen, dass es kaum ein effektiveres Fuß-Peeling gibt. Während alle anderen auf ihren Kamelen festsitzen, rennen wir wie kleine Kinder durch den weichen Sand und können großartige Fotos machen. Nach den vielen Autofahrten ist das Workout auch eine willkommene Abwechslung und tut richtig gut!

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

(Sorry für den ganzen Foto-Spam, aber ich kann mich einfach nicht entscheiden, welches Bild ich am liebsten mag. #sorrynotsorry)

       

       

Paula entschied sich dann noch spontan dazu, die Karavane zu kidnappen und mit uns gemeinsam in die weite Welt durchzubrennen.

An der Sara-Düne angekommen (ihr erfahrt gleich noch, warum sie diesen Namen trägt) kann jeder, der möchte, sandboarden oder einfach nur in Ruhe die Abendsonne genießen – oder beides. Hier bleiben wir, bis die Sonne am Untergehen ist.

       

       

       

       

Zwei der Berber, die in diesem Teil der Sahara leben und aufwuchsen, setzen sich zu uns auf die Decke und lassen lachend all unsere tausend Fragen über ihren Lebenstil und Alltag über sich ergehen. Wir unterhalten uns in einer Mischung aus Englisch, Spanisch und Französisch. Wie sich herausstellt, sprechen die beiden acht Sprachen so ziemlich fließend! Aber vor allem eine Sprache spricht Moe fließend: Die Sprache der Liebe. Und so kriegt Sara einen – zugegebenermaßen nicht ganz ernst gemeinten – Heiratsantrag! Als Zeichen seiner Liebe – und weil die Düne zu dessen Füßen wir sitzen, zu klein ist, um bereits einen Namen zu haben – benennt er kurzerhand die Düne nach ihr: Die Sara-Düne. Lachend und quatschend sitzen wir so ein paar Stunden im Sand, erzählen aus unserem Alltag, hören Geschichten aus einem Berber-Alltag und genießen die untergehende Sonne. Kurz vor Dunkelheit brechen wir auf und machen uns auf den Weg, auf die letzten Kilometer ins Camp.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

Dieses Camp übertrifft bei weitem all unsere Erwartungen! Wirklich! Wir werden mit frisch aufgebrühtem Pfefferminztee und einem warmen Lagerfeuer in der Mitte des Camps empfangen. In unseren Zelten ziehen wir uns erst einmal etwas Wärmeres an (sobald die Sonne in der Wüste untergeht, herrschen hier Temperaturen um den Gefrierpunkt), wärmen uns am Lagerfeuer und warten auf das Abendessen, das wir in einem großen Zelt gemeinsam einnehmen.

       

       

       

Nach dem Abendessen versammeln wir uns alle in dicke Wolldecken gekuschelt um das Lagerfeuer. Die Berber, die uns heute durch die Wüste geführt haben, veranstalten ein Trommelkonzert für uns und lassen uns an traditionellen Tänzen ihrer Familien teilhaben. Im Anschluss daran, dürfen wir auch mal selbst ran. Was anfangs eher nach einem Geräuschjungle klingt, wird schnell zu „We will rock you“ oder „Don’t worry be happy“. Und so sitzen wir den ganzen Abend bis in die Nacht zusammen, tanzen, lernen die verschiedenen Instrumente und genießen die Wüste.

       

       

       

       

       

Den Wecker für den nächsten Morgen haben wir uns auf 06:30 Uhr gestellt, damit wir mit Kaffee in der Hand dem Sonnenaufgang mit seinen wärmenden Strahlen entgegenfiebern können. Wir sind zwar hundemüde von der doch sehr kurzen Nacht, aber auch das frühe Aufstehen wird selbstverständlich mit einem Morgen, der uns die Sprache verschlägt, belohnt.

       

       

       

       

       

   

Nachdem wir unsere Worte wiedergefunden haben, packen wir unsere Taschen und machen uns auf den Weg zurück nach Marrakech. Von hier aus sind das knapp 500 km und dank zwei kleinen Essenspausen etwa 11 Stunden Fahrt, die vor uns liegen.

Müde, aber glücklich und voller Eindrücke kommen wir spät abends im Hotel an. Um unseren letzten Abend noch so perfekt ausklingen zu lassen, wie diese Reise, entschließen wir uns dazu, trotzdem noch in die Stadt zu gehen und in dem kleinen Restaurant Café Des Épices die letzten gemeinsamen Stunden bei frisch gepressten Säften und leckerem Essen zu verbringen. Am nächsten Morgen müssen Lisann und Sara schon früh zum Flughafen und so verabschieden wir uns schon abends voneinander.

Danke, Mädels, für die tolle Zeit!

 

Zur Übersicht hier noch einmal unsere Reiserouten:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Travel Solo

Auf vielfachen Wunsch werde ich einmal versuchen zu erzählen und zu beschreiben, wie das Alleinreisen funktioniert und warum es alles andere als angsteinflößend ist. Wenn ihr darüber hinaus noch Fragen habt oder ich einzelne Punkte ausführlicher beleuchten soll, schreibt sie mir gerne in die Kommentare!

Meines Erachtens nach gibt es zwei Arten von Alleinreisenden:
1. Der/die Ruhe-Suchende
2. Der/die Abenteuer-Suchende
Machmal entdeckt man in sich auch eine hybride Form der beiden. Für mich allerdings gab es bisher nur diese beiden Reinformen.

1. Der/die Ruhe-Suchende
Das Herz schreit nach me-time! Das kann verschiedene Gründe haben und auch verschiedene Grade des Alleinreisens. Brauchst Du einfach dringend eine Auszeit von der Welt, möchtest Dich für ein paar Tage, vielleicht sogar mit Sonne im Gesicht und als Handtuchburrito oder einfach in einem Hotelzimmer als Deckenburrito einmummeln, das Handy aus machen und ein Buch nach dem anderen verschlingen, um in eine Welt abzutauchen, in der Deine Sorgen nicht existieren? (Das hat nichts mit „Weglaufen vor Problemen“ zu tun. Lass Dir das nicht einreden. Manchmal braucht man einfach ein wenig Abstand von der Welt, um danach klarer denken und sehen zu können. Und das ist gesund!) Für diese Art von Alleinreisen empfehle ich tatsächlich (und das aus meinem Mund) ein all-inclusive Hotel mit Abholservice und Restaurant. Du musst im Prinzip Dein Zimmer (oder den Strand) nicht verlassen, wenn Du nicht wirklich willst und das Hotelpersonal wird schnell merken, dass Du keine Animation brauchst und einfach nur Deine Ruhe haben willst. Da man solche Arten von Auszeiten selten lange im Voraus plant, findet man online auch einige Last-Minute-Pauschal-Reisen. Ich habe bisher mit Lufthansa Holidays super Erfahrungen gemacht (keine Werbung, ich kriege kein Geld oder sonstige Boni hierfür, das ist nur meine Erfahrung) und bin mit ihnen z.B. Ende 2018 nach Ägypten geflogen. In diesem Fall spielt das Land auch keine Rolle, sondern einfach nur der Preis. Ich wollte damals auf jeden Fall Sonne und deshalb ist meine Entscheidung auf Ägypten gefallen. Zwischen Weihnachten und Neujahr ist im Übrigen eine wahnsinnig günstige Zeit dorthin zu verreisen – aber, wie gesagt: Diese Art von Auszeit ist zeitlich nicht planbar. Aber gönn sie Dir!
Auf der anderen Seite gibt es noch die Art von Ruche-Suchend, bei der man einfach mal wieder raus möchte und vielleicht gerade keiner der Freunde Zeit oder Geld hat, Dich zu begleiten. Man möchte keine großen Abenteuer erleben, ob jemand dabei ist oder nicht, macht in diesem Moment keinen großen Unterschied, aber man hat einfach das Bedürfnis, mal wieder ein Stückchen mehr von der Welt kennenzulernen. Hierfür empfehle ich so ziemlich jede Städtereise innerhalb Europas. Innerhalb von Europa kann man – auch als Frau – sehr einfach, sicher und entspannt reisen. Wirklich schief gehen kann hier kaum etwas, oftmals benötigt man noch nicht einmal eine lokale Simkarte, seitdem die Roaminggebühren abgeschafft wurden, weil das Land vom Provider abgedeckt ist. Von Deutschland aus gibt es oftmals günstige Flüge in europäische Metropolen, so ziemlich jeder spricht Englisch (manchmal sogar Deutsch) und ein Airbnb ist schnell gebucht. Vom Flughafen aus in die Stadt gibt es immer und überall öffentliche Verkehrsmöglichkeiten oder (leider noch nicht überall, aber in vielen Städten) Uber. Auch gibt es innerhalb Europas kaum wesentlich kulturelle Unterschiede was z.B. Kleidervorschriften oder Essgewohnheiten angeht, was die Reisevorbereitung deutlich einfacher macht. Nichtsdestotrotz schadet es nicht, sich vorab ein wenig einzulesen und das ein oder andere Tuch oder Schal einzupacken, falls man bspw. eine religiöse Stätte besichtigen möchte. Auch empfehle ich in beiden Fällen mit Handgepäck zu reisen, da das meistens ausreicht. Wie Du das am besten packst, kannst Du hier nachlesen.

2. Der/die Abenteuer-Suchende
Auf der anderen Seite gibt’s dann noch den Abendteurer (genderneutral). Wenn das Deine erste Reise allein ist, lege ich Dir auf jeden Fall erstmal einen europäischen Städtetrip ans Herz. Du musst Dich nicht direkt überfordern. Außer Du bist ein sehr extrovertierter Mensch, aber dann ist das vermutlich nicht Deine erste Reise allein. Abenteuersuchende Alleinreiser sind oft nicht nur in extremeren Situationen auf sich allein gestellt, sondern auch in alltäglichen Situationen, in denen sie gerne unter Menschen wären. Du musst offen auf Fremde zugehen können, wenn Dir danach ist, Du musst selbstbewusst mit neuen Situationen und vor allem Kulturen umgehen können, Du musst weltoffen sein und Dich auf die neue Welt einlassen können – erwarte und verlange nicht, dass sich im Ausland alle auf Dich einstellen. Du hast Dich dafür entschieden dorthin zu gehen, also bist Du die Person, die sich auf Dinge einstellen und einlassen muss. Fang am besten klein an: Auch in Europa kann man Abenteuer erleben und neue Menschen kennenlernen. Du musst nicht direkt für ein ganzes Jahr allein in Südamerika sein, Du darfst auch erstmal mit einer oder wenigen Woche(n) anfangen, um zu gucken, ob das was für Dich ist. Einen Aspekt vergisst man oft, weil man ihn unterschätzt: Im Normalfall hast Du niemanden, mit dem Du all Deine neuen Eindrücke und Erfahrungen teilst. Es gibt keinen Partner, großen Bruder oder guten Freund an Deiner Seite, mit dem Du abends den Tag Revue passieren lassen kannst, der Deine Hand nimmt, wenn Du überfordert bist (Unterschätze fremde Kulturen und fremde Gepflogenheiten nicht!) oder Dir bei Planungen und Suchen hilft.
Wenn das alles okay für Dich ist, ich Dir jetzt nicht zu viel Angst gemacht habe und Du mutig genug bist, es zu versuchen, dann erwartet Dich eine Welt voller Möglichkeiten und neuen Erfahrungen, die Dich – so klischeehaft es klingt – für Dein Leben lang prägen werden. Du wirst neue Freundschaften knüpfen, Geschichten hören, Tellerränder verschwinden lassen und Blickwinkel erweitern … und doppelt so groß nach Hause kommen, wie Du losgezogen bist.
Versprich mir nur im Vorfeld eines: Romantisier das Abenteuer allein nicht zu sehr. Es wird – jedenfalls für mich – immer schöner sein, gemeinsam neue Welten zu erkunden und Abenteuer zu erleben als allein.

Gute Reise 🙂

World of mine

I’m often asked where I come from. And my answer always is: „I’m from all over the world.“

Well. I just can’t exactly tell where I’m from. To me, origin is a feeling combined with emotions and not just a place. I feel happiest the more I can learn about the world and its citizen. I consider it an incredible privilege to have been born and raised in Germany and to have my home base here, from where I start all my adventures, but I feel a part of the whole world.

Welcome to my world, welcome to my journey!

Travel on a Budget

Before and during a trip it is very easy to save a fortune. Which tricks I like to do, I’d like to present to you here. Since I will hopefully get to know many more valuable ideas, I promise to keep you up-dated. Feel free to comment on your experiences and as a comment below!

1. Book flights and overnight stays separately
If you book the flights separately from the overnight stay and not via a travel agency or tour operator, you can easily save several hundred euros in advance. Thanks to flight search engines, you get a good overview and compare all airlines with one single mouse-click. Also for open jaw flights, you should keep your eyes open if you want to fly to several destinations. For overnight stays there are also search engines with best price guarantee. However you should also compare search engines with each other. It’s not too unlikely that one hotel is cheaper at Booking.com and the other one on another website.

2. Compare, compare, compare!
Comparison is very time-consuming, but all the more effective and cost-reducing. Compare flights, compare accommodations, but also compare tours or restaurants. The more often you do this, the more fun you’ll find it – I promise 🙂

3. Travel season
Find out in advance about vacations and holidays – both locally and here in Germany. You often save up to half the amount if you book outside the holidays or main tourist season. The ocean is still warm in September, the sun is shining already in May, you not only save a lot of money, but have the whole country almost for yourself. Those who are flexible by a few days can also pick the cheapest flights.

4. Early booking
You already know you want to travel the world a few months from now? Then book as early as possible. Especially when it comes to intercontinental flights. The saying that flights are the cheapest six weeks before departure is no longer reality and if you take too much time with booking your accommodation, the best rooms will be gone and you will have to restepick.

5. Visa
Also, if you need to apply for a visa, you should do so as early as possible. Some countries like to take some time to get your visa approved and it can take several weeks to process. If you are under time pressure you can easily pay the double for an express visa.

6. Deleting cookies and booking via the computer
As in real life, cookies leave visible traces – not crumbs, but information. So after you’ve researched a country online or searched for flights, you should delete your cookies before actually booking. Search engines will be less able to track your plannings and you will see how many prices often drop a little. In general I recommend to book only via the computer. Smartphone purchases are often spontaneous purchases, which is why prices are often set higher than on the computer, which is only used when you have the time – and so also have time to compare prices. Another possibility is to open an incognito-tab. No information is collected here.

7. Light luggage
Find out in advance via the airline website how much hand luggage and luggage you can take with you free of charge and how big or heavy it can be. Nowadays there are many fluctuations and it actually happened that my hand luggage has been weighed and I had to pay extra. If you don’t have enough space in your hand luggage, book a suitcase in advance. You pay much less than at the check-in at the airport. If you are travelling in groups, maybe all of your clothes fit into one big and a smaller hand luggage suitcase, so you only have to book one check-in suitcase. In most countries and accommodations you can wash or have washed your clothes locally, which is often much cheaper than a second suitcase.

8. ISIC Card
The International Student Identity Card is the only globally accepted verification of student status. It currently costs € 15.00 per year or can be applied for free of charge via the DKB. Germany is lagging behind when it comes to student discounts, but worldwide you can save a lot of money on admission tickets and shopping.

9. Local SIM Card
In order to always be reachable on the road or to have the possibility to research something or have it translated, I buy a local SIM card in – almost – every country with mostly about 3 GB data volume. Within the EU this is fortunately no longer necessary since summer 2017, but outside of the EU you can now tell your mom in the deepest jungle that you are well. It is often best to not buy them directly at the airport, as they are much cheaper in the city centre. On arrival, you should have the seller directly put them to use to make sure that they work and are properly adjusted.

10. On-site travel
On holiday I like to rent a car in order to get to places that tourist coaches can’t reach. But you are not always allowed to drive yourself in foreign countries, sometimes you need an international driver’s license or rarely even a local one. Public and long-distance transportation often work even better abroad than in Germany and costs only a fraction of expensive taxi rides or domestic flights. They can almost always be booked online and paid for by credit card or PayPal. If you don’t want to travel by public transportation, you can also change to Uber. But be aware of your CO2 emissions.

11. Do your research!
Informing is half the battle. Travel guidebooks are unfortunately not always up to date and so it is also important to browse travel blogs or other websites. You will not only learn a lot about the country you are going to visit and the culture or manners you are supposed to follow, but you will also learn many clever tricks that will make your stay more pleasant and cheaper. Often there are combo tickets or specific time slots, in which you pay less.

12. The magic word: L-O-C-A-L
Eat locally, sleep locally, drive locally, shop locally, tour locally … local is not only more sustainable, but also cheaper. Local food is even more delicious so far! Especially when it comes to food, „flat rate“ and „all inclusive“ are well out. This gives you the opportunity to taste new restaurants every day, to eat your way across the country and not be forced to return to your hotel at lunchtime or evening. Sleeping locally allows you to experience a completely different perspective and opens up so many ways to really get to know the country and its inhabitants.

13. Additional flight fees
Why flights via search engines are often much cheaper than booking directly with an airline? Quite simple: Search engines earn their money with all the gimmicks they want to sell you shortly before the booking is completed. Travel cancellation insurance, additional luggage, hotels, seat reservations and much more. Additional luggage is the only thing I sometimes book in addition, because it is cheaper there than at the airport (you can check this on the homepage of the airline). The travel cancellation insurance, which is offered to you here, usually does not cover much and is not worthwhile in any case. If you are unsure about the beginning of your trip, it is better to conclude it privately and according to your requirements. A seat reservation is also superfluous. Check in online in time and you have the free choice between (almost) all seats.

Travel library

„Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished just to stay near it.“, Markus Zusak.

In my everyday life I always have a book in my handbag or backpack with me. For me, every trip preparation involves hours of browsing through travel blogs or books and even without researching you rarely see me without a book in my hand or in search of new artworks.

Here I present to you all my jewellery pieces, which I enjoy before, during, after or between my travels, in order to either increase my wanderlust or to gain new impressions. Of course this list will be updated regularly 🙂

I’m looking forward to your book suggestions in the comments!

1. 1.000 Places to see before you die (Patricia Schultz)
The not-so-small all-rounder always has the right answer to the question „What shouldn’t I miss?“ for (almost) every country. Before each trip I take a look inside to make sure I don’t miss anything I should see before I die.

2. Frühstück mit Elefanten (Gesa Neitzel)
To ignite your african Fernweh.

3. Licht und Schatten in Namibia (Anna Mandus)
To ignite your african Fernweh.

Sustainable travels

It is not always easy to simply leave your footprints while travelling, but in many countries it is even more important. Hardly any other country in the world has the privilege of offering such good educational opportunities in sustainability as we do in Germany can take advantage of.

It is so often said that travelling transforms people, that sometimes you just want to roll your eyes. Unfortunately I have to tell you that travelling really do transforms us. Travel reveals new perspectives, lets you immerse yourself in new worlds and get to know new emotions that you really didn’t know you had before. Travelling also creates new consciousness. Awareness for yourself, for your fellow human beings, for what is really important and also for the environment. Of all the places I have been allowed to visit and the cultures that have shown me their world, at one time or another I would like to be able not only to tell about and show photos to my future generations. I additionally want to give them a chance to see it with their own eyes!

It is only possible to preserve all the beautiful places and cultures of this earth if we all work together – and if it is only small things. For this reason I try to list all the tips & tricks that will make it easier for you to travel sustainable. Since the list will not be complete so quickly and there always are new little things that you can do, I am very happy about your ideas in the comments.

Before I forget: What is sustainable abroad is also at home 🙂

0. Compensating CO2 emissions
I know, I know, I know. Compensating your CO2 emissions is not the same as not flying at all. I knoooow. However, despite flying I have a very low Ecological Footprint (5,99 tons – still room for improvement), because I consciously ensure to take care of many things in my everyday life. Because I can’t hold back my curiosity for the world, I treat myself to the luxury of travelling. This makes it even more important for me to compensate every single one of my flights via websites such as ClimatePartner or Atmosfair. For a flight from Stuttgart to Hamburg this is about 10€ (a distance that I usually travel by train) and for a flight from Munich to Namibia round about 60€ – absolutely adequate in relation to the ticket price.

1. Very simple, very effective: (virgin) plastic sucks.
Most plastics are simply unnecessary. Why are bananas or oranges again individually packed in plastic? They already have a peel. Or why does the apple, already packed in plastic, have to be packed again in a plastic bag to go in the backpack? Well. You know what I’m trying to get at. Of course, plastic-madness cannot be avoided in many countries, but it can at least be limited. Take a Juuuute with you on holiday and at least leave out the plastic bags. Since there are often only 0.5L water bottles or 5L (and more) water canisters to buy in regions such as Southeast Asia and the tap water is absolutely not drinkable, I bought drinking bottles, which can be filled via the water canisters and thus save at least a little plastic. These bottles are also foldable (as I ususally like to travel with little luggage only), leak proof and of course BPA free.

2. Saving towels, water and electricity
Just act like you’re at home. You don’t wash your towels every day, do you? Hang towels and don’t place them on the floor, turn off the water while brushing your teeth or soaping your hands and pull the charging cable out of the socket as long as you no longer need it. Many countries have an acute water crisis and the water you are wasting is then missing in the daily lives of the local people. And the mains voltage abroad is rarely as stable as it is in Germany. So before the fuses blow and you have to replace them, it’s better to plug in your mobile phone after blow-drying your hair or simply let your hair air-dry – it’s better for them anyways. BTW: The air conditioning also works when you turn it on as soon as you get back. It doesn’t have to run empty all the hours.

3. Shopping locally and giving tips
Buying from local traders not only has the advantage of again saving a lot of plastic, as the fruits are not individually packaged on the market, but the inhabitants of the country are also supported so that they can secure their livelihood. In addition, the product does not come from the other side of the world, but has only a few metres of transport distance covered. Another important aspect in this context is tiping. This also helps the local peeps to secure a livelihood for themselves and their families. €1.00 does not hurt us in our travel budget, but in other countries it is often almost a daily wage. However, there are also countries in which the tip has already been added to the total amount as a service or tourist fee (e.g. Russia), or tip giving is even rude. At this point #10 comes into action 🙂

4. Avoid torturing animals and tourism activities
A topic that is really close to my heart is to avoid activities like elephant riding, tiger petting or taking selfies with koala bears. These are ALWAYS tied to torture and unbelievable cruelty to animals – no matter what you are told! You can find out more about these topics on countless web pages online. Learn to say no! Even if the little girl looks so cute and needy, who stands in front of you and lets the monkey dance. You alone decide about your actions and whether you want to support immoral and questionable attractions – especially for tourists founded and that have nothing to do with the true culture of the country. Do you love animals and spending time with them? Then why not visit an elephant recovery station rather than riding them?

5. Straws and plastic cutlery
In fact, disposable straws and plastic cutlery are among the most unnecessary inventions in the world. Okay, that was too hard. But they’re both really polluting. The lifespan is about 10 minutes, depending on the eating speed, and the level of pollution they cause to not only the oceans is certainly not to be outweighed. Therefore always in my hand luggage: Göffer. A combination of fork (Gabel), spoon (Löffel) and knife (Messer) that was originally intended to make camping easier. But it’s also the best – always reusable – companion on the road.

6. Quality instead of quantity
It really doesn’t have to be a 0.50ct T-shirt from Primemark or the overpriced „I ♥ Mallorca“ shirt from the cheap tourist-shed by the beach. After washing them twice they are both damaged anyways. Those who would like to have a lasting souvenir from their holiday should rather pay a visit to the tailor nearby. This is where the money stays with the one who does the work and doesn’t have to be passed on to junk-empires. So the hand-woven scarf from a Balinese aboriginal village not only has a future, but also tells a wonderful story that you can carry with you every day.

7. Local transport or the good old bicycle
It does not have to be the cab for each route, the scooter or an Uber. Often you are even faster with a tram or subway, and of course much cheaper, travelling in metropolises. If you have some time, it can also be very nice and relaxing to rent bicycles and explore the area with them. Of course, you can rarely do without the most ecologically harmful vehicle: the plane. But here, too, you can make a small contribution to the environment: You can now compensate your CO2 emissions. These are calculated by different organizations and can be compensated at least a little bit in donations to environmental organizations. By the way, many buses and other transportation facilities also offer this compensation.

8. Benefiting from the digital age
Nowadays we always carry one device with us: the smartphone. You really don’t have to print out all the boarding passes you get from the online check-in or hotel booking confirmations, you can just save the PDF on your smartphone. If you want to make sure to have access to your booking confirmations when- and wherever you are and are afraid that the e-mail could get lost or that the battery dies, you can also save it to your dropbox and access it from anywhere. Google Maps also offers the free of charge feature to save maps offline. If you safe the visited country offline in Germany in advance, you will not have to take a haptic map with you. All of this not only saves paper, but also luggage.

9. Set an example
I can hardly count how often I have been looked at crookedly abroad when I negated the plastic bag whilst shopping. In many places people simply don’t know what pollution means due to a lack of education. So your job is: Setting an example and educate as often as possible, hoping that even the smallest change can be accomplished.

10. Get informed!
When it comes to sustainability, too, the top priority is to keep yourself informed. Does the country currently have a water shortage? Should you avoid unnecessary use of electricity? What is the general situation? Answering all these questions helps you to support the country locally, to protect the environment and to not make everyday life unnecessarily difficult for the inhabitants.

11. Bring special waste back home with you
In very few countries waste is recycled as well as in Germany. Therefore you should simply take special waste, such as batteries, back home with you and dispose them there. Even packaging waste that you already have before your trip can be disposed in the Gelber Sack before your travels and don’t even taken with you.

Carry-on luggage packing list

Packing my suitcase and taking with me … I really wouldn’t call myself a „minimalist“, but I get along pretty well with little belongings. In everyday life I just feel more free, more relieved and therefore happier. I also enjoy spending money on good food and even better travel more than on the twentieth pair of shoes or the fifteenth sweater.

It’s the same on holiday: travelling only with hand luggage not only makes me a lot more flexible, but also – at least for me – happier. No endless waiting at the baggage claim, no luggage that gets lost, no five suitcases that I have to carry around the world with me and take care of. Travelling with light luggage is not only less stressful, but also cheaper! The € 30,00 and more for the additional luggage I prefer to put in the travel budget. Additionally: The lighter the luggage, the lower the CO2 emissions – both via airplane and car.

It really isn’t that difficult to travel with only hand luggage. Of course, one or two more thoughts about what to pack and put on have to be thought about beforehand, but here, too, routine comes in quickly.

Whether hand luggage is sufficient or not always depends on the country and the duration of the trip. I don’t want to do a five-week trip through Vietnam alone with hand luggage. Especially since it is sometimes much more practical to climb mountains or hike through caves with a big backpack than with a small trolley. But if I fly to Albania for a week or to Lisbon for a long weekend, hand luggage is really all you need.

The maximum dimensions for hand luggage are 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm, so it’s a good idea to buy a piece of luggage that matches these dimensions to make sure you don’t have to have five different ones, depending on the airline. In addition, the net weight of the luggage is very important. Depending on the airline, the hand luggage (loaded) may not weigh more than 6 – 10 kg. So it makes sense to make sure that the net weight of the bag or suitcase is as low as possible.

Are you rather the trolley or the backpack type? You have to answer this question yourself. Both types are allowed as hand luggage. A backpack has the advantage of always having your hands free, because you always carry it on your back, the net weight is often much lower and you are not affected by road conditions (cobble stones, mud, etc.). The advantages of a trolley are that you are not sweaty on your back, because you carry 10 kg on yourself, you can generally pack more clearly and neatly and you don’t look like a typical backpacker. Actually, I am the total backpack type (I own more backpacks than handbags (handbags I own exactly one)), but I bought a trolley now because the destinations I travel with hand luggage are absolutely suitable. Whether it was a wise investment will be seen.

Documents:

  • identity card or passport (visa if applicable)
  • (international) driving licence
  • health insurance card or international health insurance certificate
  • credit card to withdraw cash free of charge
  • ISIC (international student identification card)
  • flight ticket and booking confirmations (via airline app or as PDF)

In addition, I have scanned all documents and saved them as PDFs in my Dropbox to ensure access from anywhere at any time.

Liquids:
Since 2006, only small bottles with a capacity of 100 ml, packed in a resealable, transparent 1L bag, are allowed in hand luggage. In order to avoid unnecessary plastic waste, I don’t buy the travel sizes in the drugstore every time anew, but have leak-proof, refillable silicone bottles. I am also starting my first attempts with hard soap for (curly) hair and body. Let’s see how it works. I’ll keep you posted.

Should these run empty along the road, don’t panic! You can buy the common beauty brands in any small town worldwide, no matter how outlying. Also the mascara, liquid concealer or mousse must fit in the bag in <100 ml sizes. Only one 1L bag per passenger is permitted. These are scanned separately at the security checkpoint, which is why you should keep them handy so as not to delay things unnecessarily. If you don’t have a Ziplock bag at hand, you can buy it at the airport (way too expensive) or do it in advance at the drugstore or IKEA – of course a reusable bag made of more stable material is even better.

Electronics:

  • smartphone (+ charging cable)
  • powerbank (not in every country is the voltage high enough to recharge it)
  • headphones (+ splitter)

  • socket adapter, if required
  • eBook-Reader (Due to the battery life and the weight, I decided on the Tolino 2HD and was not disappointed so far.)
  • my beloved camera with my beloved lenses (+ charging cable and spare battery)
    • camera (with neoprene hand strap): Sony Alpha 58
    • standard lens: 18 – 55 mm
    • ultra wide-angle lens: 10 – 20 mm
    • telephoto lens: 70 – 300 mm
    • pancake lens: 35 mm / f 1.8

        

        

You should also keep the electronics handy, as they will also be scanned individually during the security check depending on the country.

Miscellaneous:

  • toilet bag / washing bag
    • What has to go in here, you have to know for yourself 🙂 My advice: Place everything you use in a pile on the morning before your departure, from which you can then choose what to take with you on the journey and what can stay at home. But you won’t forget anything.
    • handwash paste
  • (inflatable) neck pillow

        

  • Gorillapod

  • sunglasses
  • handbag / small backpack for day trips
  • reusable (foldable) water bottle

  • optional and depending on the destination: travel pharmacy (Especially in European countries, but also intercontinental, you can also buy them unproblematical locally in the pharmacies and often buy the same products as in Germany.)
  • optional: clothes bag or jute bag for dirty laundry
  • optional: silk sleeping bag

Clothes:
The motto here is: quality instead of quantity and no room for „just in case“. Think carefully about how many days you are on the road and what you have planned there. Do you need sportswear? A special pair of shoes? A thick jacket? You can put on your heaviest or most space-guzzling clothes on on the flight and thus save a little space and weight in your suitcase. It is important that you pack clothes you can combine nicely. A cute summer dress is airy enough for a hot lunch and combined with a blouse perfect for the evening. I have to admit that I rarely travel longer than ten days with only hand luggage, because I like to have room in my luggage for souvenirs and also enough clothes. But even a longer journey is no problem, as nowadays you can wash anywhere in the world or you can find laundrettes and in case of need you should always have a hand washpaste with you, for which you only need a sink. The next important advice is: Roll it up! Sounds funny, but it’s real. If you roll your clothes, this not only has the advantage that they remain wrinkle-free as far as possible, but they also take up considerably less space.

I always stow my shoes in shower caps when travelling. Either a pair or one shoe per cap – depending on how they fit better into the suitcase. The shower caps are usually so robust that I can use them for years.

Do you have any other tips I forgot to list here? Then I’m really happy about your comment!

The me beyond the words

In my first grade report, my classroom teacher, Mrs. Nagel, wrote about me:
„Bahia is always very communicative to her teachers, but well behaved.“

To be more precise, this means that I have always liked to talk.

I really like to talk and I really like to travel – so why not combine both?
My name is Bahia Fox, I was born in June 1991 and my bucket list is as long as a jokes beard.
Besides talking and travelling, my other major passion is photography.

By now I have moved 24 times, which probably influences my wanderlust – but I can’t and don’t want to imagine it any other way.
It’s not just wanderlust that drives me to want to travel the world.

Above all it is curiosity and hunger for knowledge.
I hope I can put into words how beautiful the world and its people are out there.

Enjoy reading!

Bahia ♥

Sahara – English version

Walking on foot through the desert with six dromedaries, three accompanying Bedouins – born and raised in the Sahara, food and water for the next twelve days, your father, your older brother and your younger sister. Oh yes… armed with a satellite telephone in case of an emergency, it sounds like the beginning of an adventure. Now, when I also tell you that we walked along the Libyan border at a time when the Foreign Office warned not only about travelling to Libya itself, but specifically around the border region, it all starts to sound even more dramatic. But to be honest, we didn’t have any near-death experiences – except maybe me, when I had to have a thorn „operated“ out of my foot in the middle of the desert. It had drilled itself deep into my foot and was removed with a knife which was only good enough to peel potatoes. From that moment on I know what pain really feels like.

        

        

Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly which route we took, so I’ll just tell you about my impressions, which in this case are much more expressive.

The Sahara has an almost limitless variety of landscapes, and that’s only in the relatively small part we were able to explore. We were there during Halloween, so the days were hot and the nights still bearably cool. Sweaters, long jogging trousers and sleeping bags were indispensable as we slept in the sand under the starry sky, no tent to warmly surrounding us. A marvellous dream! You won’t see a starry sky like this again in your life. On top of that we were very lucky because a meteor shower swept over us and we saw about 40 shooting stars each night.

        

We travelled for miles and miles across endless orange-red sand dunes, passing breathtaking little oases, and hiking over stones so sharp that even the Bedouins jumped on the dromedaries. We could not help but be amazed by all these wonders.

        

        

        

        

        

We deliberately chose to travel at that time of year because most dangerous animals, such as scorpions, are already in hibernation. Nevertheless you have to be careful because there are still some snakes hiding in the sand. They are not normally deadly, but without a car the way out of the desert takes so long that they would be, being unable to get an antidote in time. Watch your steps and trust your bedouin! In order to show us these lovely creatures in more detail (and to release them into freedom, safely out of reach), they couldn’t resist to keep them – temporarily – under control for us with their wooden sticks… help!

        

        

All the food and water we consumed for those 12 days was carried by the dromedaries. We woke up every morning with the first rays of sunshine, breakfasting on the bread we had baked beneath the sand under embers with which we boiled water for tea. Before noon, after the first few kilometers, we had biscuits and a small cup of cola to recharge our batteries. At noon and in the evening we cooked various dishes together using couscous, and had to drink about 4 litres of water a day to avoid dehydration. These incredibly powerful animals carried all our supplies for us day after day.

        

        

Therefore it was strictly regulated that before we eat, cook, build our camp or make fire, we saddle the dromedaries, tie their forelegs together (so they can’t run away at night but can still move freely) and prepare their food. Only when they were taken care of did we take care of ourselves.

        

        

        

        

        

How did we pass the time without a smartphone and without getting bored? We learned Arabic words, taught German, played „desert games“ with everything the dry earth had to offer, enjoyed the beautiful silence – and above all – each other’s company.

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

We spent our last night in an oasis, surrounded by a small desert village. Since we couldn’t take a shower for twelve days and the water was only meant for drinking and brushing our teeth, we were all the looking forward to a bath in the water… all except me. Since the village was very Muslim, it would have been disrespectful to jump into the oasis there, and probably even more so as a woman in bathing clothes. Well. I could endure the one extra day by looking forward to showering at the hotel. The desert air is filled with a very dry heat, so dry that one almost does not sweat, even though it is over 40° degrees hot. Even I, a big fan of personal hygiene, can say that it is absolutely bearable to survive this time unshowered. For the occasional refreshment, there are biodegradable hygienic wipes available at the drugstore, but please take them with you from the desert and dispose of them at home where appropriate.

        

On the way to the hotel we had to make a detour to visit Anakin …

… and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we drank tea with the inhabitants in their sandstone houses.

        

        

        

Almost two weeks without a mobile phone, Facebook and other distractions had a very healing effect. For me there is no better feeling than to lose all sense of time. However, accessibility also has its right to exist. When we reached civilization after the twelve days and switched on our mobile phones for the first time again, the most terrible and lasting news of my life so far was waiting for me. My stepdad, who was always more for me than „the new man at my mother’s side“ or a simple friend, had incurable lung cancer. In April 2016 his body freed itself from its pain and since then not a day goes by without me painfully missing him. But what good would it have done if this news had reached me earlier? So this journey ended up shaping me in another way. Twelve days away from civilization and the tangible awareness that one is not immortal taught me much more than humility and happiness, they taught me above all the courage to want to experience the world even more intensely.