We’ve got our very own travel-guide on staff at GritCycle in the form of our September Instructor of the Month, Maddy! We swear, if she’s not in the Saddle Room, she’s on an airplane or trekking across international borders. Since she’s been all over the world, we asked her to share her five most-favorite destinations, and in the process, has given us a serious case of wanderlust.
The Greek islands are absolutely blow-your-mind beautiful in every way. The people, the food, the bright white buildings against the deep blue sea, the charming little alleyways that lead to the water, and everything in between…you seriously can’t beat it! This was one of my favorite trips because, for starters, I pretty much didn’t have to pack anything except bikinis & beach cover ups #packinggoals. My friends and I spent the week jetting around the island on ATVs, climbing on rooftops to chase sunset, diving off cliffs into the Mediterranean sea, and living off Greek salads and fresh fish. 10000% my idea of a good time.
#4 MOROCCO, AFRICA
Morocco was a part of my most recent globe-trotting adventure last month. I thought I knew what to expect going into it, but it ended up being SO MUCH MORE THAN I EVER IMAGINED.
We hit some cities first, specifically Chefchaouen, Fez, and Marrakech. The best way to describe the cities is colorful, vibrant mazes of organized chaos. They’re loud, they’re electric, and they’re non-stop, all
the time. I mean seriously, you’re walking down the street and you’re like “oh ok, there goes a donkey…and that guy is pushing a cart with spices piled higher than his head, and this guy is inviting you into his restaurant…all the while there’s a snake charmer over there, and look, a guy weaving rugs!” It’s absolutely nutty!!! It’s truly a country for all of your senses. My favorite city was a little spot beyond the travel meccas of Marrakech and Fez… a little town called Chefchaouen nicknamed the “Blue Peal City”. It’s a bit off the beaten track and takes some effort to get to…but worth it? ABSOLUTELY. The entire city is painted vibrant shades of blue and the people were some of the kindest I’ve met during my travels. Not the mention the food was UNREAL!
The Sahara Desert was where we spent the second half of the trip and it was, in every possible way, the complete opposite of city life in Morocco. In the desert, it was quiet, peaceful, and nothing short of magical. I’d never seen sand so orange in my life! We had Berber guides take us via camel deep into the desert. It was totally crazy because there seriously wasn’t a single person in sight. Just our 2 guides, my 3 friends, and myself wandering through what looked like a never ending sea of golden waves. We rode camels for about 2 hours to get to camp. The camp was set up with traditional Nomadic Berber tents complete with Moroccan rugs, beautiful lanterns, and plenty of mint tea.
It was insanely hot in the desert, even in the middle of the night, so instead of staying in our nice cozy tent we decided to pull out our mattresses under the night sky. It felt like we were face to face with the entire milky way! No wind, no cars, no buildings, no air pollution, nothing…just the blissful sight of a sky full of stars and the tiniest bit of light from the moon shining down on us. We woke up just before the sun was about to rise. My friends and I climbed to the top of one of the bigger sand dunes and watched the sun come up over the Sahara. It was such a unique sight. We sat there for a while just marveling at the rhythmic undulating dunes of the desert… with nothing but sand in every direction.
I like places that make you feel things. Morocco did just that for me.
#3 PERU & MACHU PICCHU, SOUTH AMERICA
Peru is probably the wildest adventure of a trip I’ve ever been on. We went to Lima and Cusco (both amazing, charming, and totally unique), but the focus of the trip was to conquer the Inca Trail and finish at Machu Picchu!
We covered 26 miles in 4 days at crazy altitudes (the highest point was 13,824 ft), carrying only what we needed on our backs. The hiking terrain was the most fascinating part. Each day brought something different – there was beautiful mountain scenery, a lush cloud-forest, a subtropical jungle, and of course, a stunning mix of Inca paving stones, ruins and tunnels.
We slept in tents under the stars (one night at temps below zero), hiked up dusty paths where the temp would skyrocket when we got to the top (I just remember having to take my jacket on and off a zillion times haha), got caught in pouring rain, doused ourselves in mosquito repellant, and ate more potatoes than any human ever needs to consume, at any time. #allpotatoeverything
But at the top of every peak and at the end of every day when our heads hit our “camping” pillows, there wasn’t a more satisfying feeling in the world.
Carrying what I need on my back and gazing at hills on hills is the closest I’ve come to pure peace on this earth. It definitely wasn’t a hike for a faint hearted…but it was without a doubt worth every step!
#2 BALI, INDONESIA
Ahhh beautiful Bali. Ok, this one wins on pure bliss and beauty. It’s the perfect mixture of adventure and relaxation. Not to mention all it takes is getting there and life becomes SO affordable. I’m talking $8/night for a beach front bungalow with an infinity pool…less than $5 for every meal. YES, WAY. It’s super easy to get around and honestly, you can’t make a wrong choice when deciding where to go. I spent 2 weeks exploring the island and I could really go on and on about this one. But I’ll just let the pics speak for themselves…
Without a doubt, I have to put Australia as my #1 favorite spot in the whole entire world…or at least what I’ve seen of the world so far ☺
A massive part of my heart is forever in Australia. It was the first place I ever traveled to internationally. I was 20 years old and I sauntered off across the world just me myself and I. I studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. I didn’t really know anyone who had been there before, I certainly didn’t know anyone who lived there, I just knew that ever since I was a kid I wanted to go there.
I guess you could say that experience more than opened the floodgates for my love of travel. Haven’t been able to stay put ever since!
Everything about Australia is magnificent! The beaches are beautiful, the Aussies are rad, and their lifestyle is just fully ideal. As for favorite spots, it’s a tie between Sydney and a little hippie town up the Sunshine Coast called Byron Bay
It’s quite the journey getting all the way to Australia, but I’d do it a million times to be back on those beaches under the Australian sun.
One of my life goals is to visit at least one new place every year of my life. Ever since that first trip abroad to Australia I’ve been working to make sure that happens. People ask me all the time how & why I travel so much. The answer is pretty simple…on every level of my existence, I want to make it happen.
So next time you’re afraid to take the leap because “you don’t have the money or the time” just remember… the price of anything is really only the amount of life you exchange for it. We can always make more money, but we can never make more time. Make the most of it!
If you’ll excuse us, we’ll be spending the rest of the day plotting our next big adventure. Thanks for showing us the world, Maddy, you amazing gypsy you!