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An Ode to the Home of Vidalia Onions

To paraphrase Shakespeare, would an onion by any other name taste as sweet?

We think not, since most onions are hardly sweet at all. So what’s in a name? Vidalia, Vidalia, wherefore art thou Vidalia?

The only way to know for sure was to go directly to the… CONTINUE READING >> 

David and Yumion, the Vidalia Onion Mascot. High five in Georgia

To paraphrase Shakespeare, would an onion by any other name taste as sweet? We think not, since most onions are hardly sweet at all. So what’s in a name? Vidalia, Vidalia, wherefore art thou Vidalia?

The only way to know for sure was to go directly to the source. We headed to southeast Georgia, halfway between Macon and Savannah to find out.

Vidalia Georgia

Vidalia Georgia Onion Water Town

There was no mistaking our destination, all of the town’s water towers are decorated with giant onions. In fact, onions dominate almost every aspect of the city of just over ten thousand.

We mounted up on our trusty bikes and cruised around on a quest to find out just how many layers of onion we could find.

We found signs, slogans and even a mascot, Yumion, prominently displayed throughout the town. Of course there were also several eating establishments proudly proclaiming the fame of their onion rings, but how could we know which of these were truly ring royalty?

We asked around.

Vidalia Onion Rings in Vidalia, Georgia

The consensus winner seemed to be Steeplechase Grill & Tavern, and it must be good because folks around Vidalia do not take their rings lightly. But the breading was light — and crispy, and plain old delicious. Served up with a sweet onion dipping sauce, yessiree, these were some mighty fine rings.

Yumion's story in books!

Having been steered right by the townsfolk so far, we decided to take some more advice and check out The Vidalia Onion Museum.

Everyone said not to miss it, and once again they were absolutely correct.

Vidalia Onion princesses

We learned the entire onion saga through the little museum’s displays and videos, from the accidental beginnings, right up to the modern marketing that has sent Vidalias to every corner of the globe.

Turns out that the world-famous onion came about completely by luck.

Shrek loves Vidalia Onions!

Area farmers were struggling to get by raising cotton and tobacco during the depression.

Then Mose Coleman decided to try his hand at growing onions. His onions turned out sweeter and milder than any anybody had ever tasted before.

Soon several other farmers also switched over, and their onions were uncommonly sweet too.

Just so happens that the soil around Vidalia has very little sulphur, and that makes for a one-of-a-kind onion. Soon tourists were stopping through and asking for the sweet onions that became known by the town’s name.

Sweet Vidalia Onions Baby!

But it still took one more bit of good fortune to make the Vidalias truly famous.

The Piggly Wiggly chain of grocery stores are headquartered in Vidalia and when they began stocking the unique onions word soon spread.

Their fame grew until the name Vidalia Onion had to be legally defined and protected.

Only onions grown within a specific area near the town can bear the name. Then, in 1986, the State of Georgia proclaimed Vidalia Onions as the official state vegetable.

Vidalia Onion Art

In addition to all of the great history we found at the museum, we also learned that we could take a tour of an actual onion farm and packing plant.

We knew where our next stop was going to be, Vidalia Valley.

Vidalia Onion fields and Georgia Pines
Vidalia Onion fields and Georgia Pines

Vidalia Valley onion farm and packing plant

They do a lot more than just grow and box up onions at the Valley, as we learned when our gracious guide, Lauren, led us into the processing area.

As soon as we opened the door we were nearly knocked back by the overwhelming aroma of onions being chopped — and this was the slow season.

Lauren explained that during the peak of the harvest the chopping goes 24/7 and the smell is so strong that her hair will smell like onion for months — her stylist refuses to cut it! Wow, just think if these weren’t the mild variety.

Vidalia Valley onion factory

But no one at the plant is shedding a tear, because all of that chopping is done to supply the fastest growing part of Vidalia Valley’s business, creating and distributing all sorts of onion products.

They make relishes, salsas, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, and even jams and jellies, all prominently featuring Vidalia onions as a main ingredient.

Vidalia Police Supply

In fact, the versatile Vidalia is so sweet and mild that many people claim to eat them raw, like apples. We weren’t sure if we were quite ready for that, leaving us with a dilemma.

To bite, or not to bite, that was the question.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

ECO-FRIENDLY EXPLORATIONS: SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL FOR CONSCIOUS WANDERERS

Sustainable travel considers the economic, social, and environmental effects of tourism and details measures that tourists, the tourism industry, and locals can pursue to ensure that travel is safe and beneficial to everyone… CONTINUE READING >> 

More people have embraced travel in recent years. And rather than stick to the tried and tested vacation destinations, tourists have embarked on lesser-known regions, eager to see what they offer. This open-mindedness has boosted tourism across the world. However, it has also prompted debates regarding the effects of travel and what tourists can do to ensure they leave destinations better than they found them. We look into what sustainable travel entails, regions that support this travel style, and how you can also be a conscious tourist.

What Counts as Sustainable Travel?

For anything to be sustainable, measures must be in place to ensure that people can continue using that resource without depleting it or affecting its availability adversely. For example, sustainable farming practices ensure that we can continue producing adequate food without harming animals, land, and all other resources used in the production.

How does this work when it comes to travel? It’s pretty much the same. This kind of travel considers the economic, social, and environmental effects of tourism and details measures that tourists, the tourism industry, and locals can pursue to ensure that travel is safe and beneficial to everyone. What does this look like? Let’s consider examples:

      • The Economy: When tourists eat at local restaurants, they inject money into the local communities and thus make travel beneficial to the locals.
      • The Environment: Tourists can engage in environmental conservation by recycling and reusing their litter. They can also opt for train travel instead of planes for short distances.
      • The Society: Preserving local customs is essential for the continuity of tourism. Tourists should respect local communities by following the norms, e.g., dress codes.

These are but some examples of sustainable travel. You can learn more by following sustainable travel communities and learning how you can be part of this incredible movement.

Which Destinations Have Embraced Sustainable Travel?

Sustainable travel has gained traction, with more governments doing their best to ensure that tourism grows without harming their social, economic, and environmental progress. And when traveling through the following destinations, this investment in the future will be evident:

1. Iceland

Anyone who has been to this country can attest to its cleanliness. From the minute you land in Reykjavik, you can tell that the local community cares a great deal about the environment. Everything is pristine, from the baths to the roads to the glaciers to the hills. You can get lost in nature and reconnect with Mother Earth quite easily when everything falls into place so much. As an added perk, the country invests a lot in renewable energy and has the highest green energy per capita production in the world.

2. Costa Rica

The diversity in this tropical destination calls many travelers. After all, you can immerse yourself in nature by enjoying rafting, zip lining, hiking and other adrenaline-filled activities in its jungles and rivers. But how does the country ensure travel sustainability? Besides its tourism policies, which protect its biodiversity, it relies on renewable sources to generate >90% of its electricity. Moreover, the tourism sector encourages travelers to embrace cycling and other low-emission activities. To get in on all this fun, you should have a valid passport that meets the entry criteria and is in good condition. Fortunately, obtaining a passport quickly is simple through expedited passport renewal services, enabling you to acquire your passport within a matter of days!

3. New Zealand

The breathtaking natural beauty of New Zealand is truly unparalleled, offering travelers an extensive array of choices that span from lush vineyards to majestic glaciers and towering mountains. This diverse landscape not only captivates the senses but also serves as a testament to the remarkable productivity and ecological diversity of the land.

Yet, New Zealand’s allure extends beyond its stunning backdrops. The country is at the forefront of progressive green energy initiatives, proudly generating a substantial 20% of its energy from geothermal sources. This commitment to sustainable practices reflects a harmonious coexistence between modernity and environmental consciousness.

Moreover, New Zealand’s tourism policies exemplify a dedication to responsible travel. These policies extend a protective umbrella over the pristine landscapes, ensuring that tour operators, visitors, locals, and various stakeholders collectively contribute to conservation efforts. This united front aims to safeguard the delicate ecosystems, preventing any inadvertent harm and preserving the remarkable beauty that draws travelers from around the globe.

In essence, a journey through New Zealand is not merely a visual feast for the eyes but a holistic experience that celebrates the delicate balance between human exploration and environmental preservation. The country’s commitment to green energy and sustainable tourism underscores its dedication to maintaining the natural splendor that makes it a haven for those seeking an unforgettable and environmentally conscious travel experience.

Slovenia, Bhutan, Botswana, Peru, and Vietnam are also great options for eco-friendly travel.

What to Consider Before Your Next Eco-Friendly Adventure

Embracing sustainable travel might sound challenging, but it is pretty easy to implement. It comes down to the following decisions:

a. Where to visit: Start by listing eco-friendly destinations and choosing one among them. Examples include Iceland and New Zealand.

b. How to travel: Find sustainable travel means, e.g., using public transport instead of hiring a car or taxi, walking/ cycling where possible, and opting for trains instead of planes.

c. Where to spend money: Focus more on local tours, restaurants, accommodation, travel options, and products.

d. How to behave: Learn about local customs before traveling and follow them, e.g., not taking photos in prohibited areas.

Also, conserve water and energy as you move by avoiding unnecessary energy consumption, such as leaving the AC on all night.

Getting Down to the Meat N’ Bone of the Holiday and Bowl Seasons

This is the time of year for family gatherings, friendly get-togethers, holiday parties, and festive feasts. Yes, if your loved ones are anything like ours mass quantities of incredible food will definitely be involved… CONTINUE READING >> 

This is the time of year for family gatherings, friendly get-togethers, holiday parties, and festive feasts. Yes, if your loved ones are anything like ours mass quantities of incredible food will definitely be involved.

And if you have been following along with our Gypsynester adventures over the years, then you know how we love meat. Maybe even too much, if this episode in Argentina is any example:

So this year, with a little help from our friends at Meat N’ Bone, we decided to step things up a notch and go for some seriously delicious dishes featuring their Premium Quality Meats from the best suppliers in the world.

When our package arrived, still perfectly frozen fresh, we decided to thaw a couple Teres Major Wagyu steaks. These are considered to be second only to Filet Mignon for tenderness. Luckily I took a minute to check out their website and found a recommendation to pair the steaks with Gourmet Argentinian Chorizo, which we also just happened to have. One thing I should point out, don’t think of Mexican spicy chorizo here, these are 100% pork, made with garlic and white wine. Absolute excellence.

In another stroke of good luck, we happen to live on a boat in Southern California, so it is pretty much always grilling season for us. But I can say with certainty, this meal was right near the top of our very well-worn grill’s lifetime barbecue achievements. The steak with the sausage, along with some fresh, grilled asparagus was absolutely out of this world.

It was right about then that it hit us, why are we still racking our brains over what to get for gifts for all of our family and friends? Last minute shopping problem solved!

Then a couple days later it was time for our annual holiday boat parade. Sure sounded like another good excuse to fire up the grill if I ever heard one. And since the lights, parade, and fireworks are a casual, outdoor affair, it also seemed like the perfect time to try the Dry Aged Brisket Burgers and Steak Hot Dogs that came in our Meat N’ Bone box.

The burgers are made from high quality brisket (Prime/Wagyu) and have been dry aged for at least twenty one days, and the hot dogs are made with the same high-quality beef as their prime steaks. Both grilled up great, and tasted even better, and the all-American menu made our December evening feel like the forth of July.

Then, with the sun setting low and the grill still aglow, we were more than ready for a procession of decorated maritime vessels followed by a blow out fireworks finale.

Our next culinary adventure will be coming up soon because for Christmas dinner with family we are going to try the G1 Certified Picanha, also known as a Top Sirloin Cap, Fat On. This is hands-down the most popular beef in Brazil, and if, like us, you’ve been to a Brazilian Steakhouse, you have certainly seen the mighty tasty semi-circles of meaty goodness on the skewers, and hopefully tried them too.

Picanha is a favorite for grilling over an open fire, but since we are going to spend the day at our relative’s house, and I don’t want to outside tending to the barbecue, we are going to try roasting it in the oven. I am hoping for a sensational aromatic similarity to the way a Thanksgiving turkey makes the whole house smell incredible. Who knows, it might be even better with beef!

It also occurred to me that if there is any open fire around I’m guessing that chestnuts might just take precedence on Christmas.

While we were planning all of these gourmet holiday get-togethers, it hit me that as much as a box from Meat N’ Bone makes a great gift this time of year, there are a whole bunch of other very good reasons to treat yourself over the next few weeks. That’s right, it’s bowl season and that means plenty of big games that are perfect for laying out an exceptional spread featuring the very best meats.

What could be better than a New Years Day all-day football and meat feast featuring the best chicken wings ever, or mouth watering brisket sandwiches? These delectable goodies are guaranteed to make everyone a winner no matter what happens on the field. In fact, we might be so engulfed in the food that we don’t even notice what the score is.

Then of course, the big one, the ultimate day for an eating and football frenzy, the Super Bowl, finishes off the season. This calls for something special like kabobs made with USDA Prime/Choice Tenderloin and a variety of the best sausages to be found anywhere. Now that would be a definite game winner.

We certainly hope that these ideas help everyone with creating great gastronomic gatherings for the holidays and all of the big games coming up. And if you want to find us, you know where to look.

We’ll be on the sun deck firing up the grill.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

A big thank you goes out to Meat N’ Bone for providing the meats and compensation for this incredible culinary adventure! As always, all opinions are our own.

Great Ideas for Expanding our Outdoor Living Space

We found beautiful outdoor furniture that is built to be durable and hold up in all kinds of weather, while also being eco-friendly and sustainable (Hint, that’s not it in the picture, that’s the old stuff.)
CONTINUE READING >> 

Every now and then a coincidence will happen that makes us go “hmmmm.” Today was one of those days. Just a couple of days ago we were talking about the lounge chairs on or sun deck on the back of our boat.

Oh, for those who don’t already know, when we are not gallivanting across the globe on our GypsyNester adventures, we live in a harbor on a boat in Southern California.

So anyway, our deck chairs are getting a little ragged from being out in the elements for the past few years and so Veronica said, “I’m not loving these anymore, we should look at something different, maybe a sofa or a love seat.”

Then today, out of the blue, we were contacted by Expormim, https://www.expormim.com/us/outdoor-furniture/sofas/, and asked to check out their outdoor furniture to see if we would like to write about it. It only took one look for us to know that the answer was yes.

Not only is the furniture beautiful, but it is all built to be durable and hold up in all kinds of weather. It is also made to be eco-friendly and sustainable. But that doesn’t mean that there is any trade off on quality and dependability, as they like to say at Expormim, “Without durability, there is no sustainability.”

And they should know because, after all, they were named as the Sustainable Brand of the Year in 2022. And this is not a title that they take for granted, so they look to live up every step of the way when comes to securing their materials and in all of their and manufacturing processes.

As a company, they are deeply committed to sustainability and social responsibility, all while pursuing beauty and achieving excellence. And they make sure to focus on accomplishing this without forgetting to care about our environment as well as staying conscious of economic growth.

While we certainly agree with that philosophy and definitely want to support companies who pursue these lofty goals, we are still looking for good looking, sturdy, and long lasting furniture. So we took a bit of a tour through their website and found several items that caught our eyes. The Twins Sofa by MUT Design could be a perfect fit for us.

In fact, the more we looked through the site at https://www.expormim.com/us/outdoor-furniture/, the more really great options we found. As we continued to browse we found the Liz Sofa designed by Ludovica Serafini and Roberto Palomba that also seemed to be a very good possibility.

And we couldn’t help but notice that there is a whole lot more than just sofas to choose from, such as tables, tables, and more tables. An almost endless array of other pieces are available, and any one of them would be a wonderful enhancement to our sun deck.

There is also a huge variety of chairs to consider too, with several that go great with the sofas we looked at. It’s enough to make us wish we had more room out there on the deck.

Oh, and just to make sure it is clear, there is absolutely no reason that anyone would need to live on a boat to appreciate and enjoy this wonderful furniture from Expormim. Any land-locked backyard or patio would do just fine.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

No Home for the Holidays

Selling the nest and becoming GypsyNesters has given our adult chicks the joy of being hosts for the holidays in their homes.

It’s not about expensive gifts – instead we enjoy…  CONTINUE READING >>

Happy Holidays!

Selling the nest and becoming GypsyNesters has given our adult chicks the joy of being hosts for the holidays in their homes.

Once again this year we will be making our way to The Big Apple for the holidays. Oh, the anticipation! The joy!

Christmas is the one time we allow ourselves to hands-down spoil our kids — and, boy, do we ever!

As thrifty as we are during the non-Jesus-being-born part of the year, we let loose the coffers when we visit The Spawn during that “most wonderful time of the year.”

It’s not about expensive gifts – instead we enjoy spending foolish amounts of money going out on the town. Generally our time is spent chasing our black-wearing, taxi-flagging, fast-walking, subway-chasing, urbanite offspring, The Piglet and Decibel, around New York City – from ethnic restaurant, to Broadway show, to our favorite piano bar where aging bejeweled starlet-types show off the old vocal chords.

It’s a very civilized, blister-inducing, whale of a good time.

The REAL Santa Claus at Macy's on 34th Street

NYC is freaking magical during the holiday season. They really know how to deck them halls.

We go into full tourist mode and hit all of the famous holiday hot spots, the bigger than expected Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the surprisingly itsy-bitsy skating rink at the bottom of it, the lights along Fifth Avenue, and the Macy’s on 34th Street with the enchanting window displays and most perfect Santa ever.

He’s the real one, we’ve seen proof of it in a movie.

As crazy as NYC can be throughout the Season with a Reason, we do slow down on the big day.

A huge meal is prepared in The Piglet’s teeny studio apartment. The miniature tree sparkles, and the hide-a-bed is festively extended for extra seating.

Our cheeks are nice and rosy, as The Piglet’s landlord likes it stupid hot, so we usually need to crack a window. Christmas tunes are played on an iPod while the fireplace channel crackles on the TV.

This is quite a departure from the Christmases we celebrated when the chicks were still nest-bound, but I have to say, it is MUCH easier on me, stress-wise.

I no longer have to find forgot-where-I-hid-them presents, then hurriedly wrap them while barricaded in a closet with a flashlight in my teeth and covered in packing tape.

There is no racing from Christmas pageant, to holiday recital, to endless Nutcracker rehearsals. Gone is the setting up of the fake tree (real ones always ended up making us sad when they turned brown) and the untangling of the strings of lights.

These days, we pick up gifts from different parts of the world as we travel about — instead of the mad mall rush of days of yore.

The best part of our new “empty” nest Christmas is the excitement on The Spawn‘s faces as they give gifts to one another. The love they share and the happiness they want to give each other is what makes “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, well, the most wonderful time of the year.

I couldn’t care less about presents, just give me that.

Oh, and world peace. And a bell for my bicycle. And… please consider a donation to our favorite charity, Habitat for Humanity, to help those truly homeless.

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR turn: How have the holidays changed for you over the years? Have you any new traditions you’d like to share?

Let the Meat Sweats Begin!


enlarge video

At the Parrilla La Estancia in Buenos Aires, Argentina is the big Kahuna, we attack an enormous platter of sizzling meat on its very own bed of coals CONTINUE READING >>

At the Parrilla La Estancia in Buenos Aires, Argentina is the big Kahuna, an enormous platter sizzling on its very own bed of coals, lovingly presented in the center of our table. The dizzying array of chicken, carne asada, sweetbread, kidney, chorizo, veal tripe, blood sausage, and udder, plus the fact that this was Argentine Barbeque for 1, sent a shiver of impending meat sweats down our spines.

To see more about Parrillas in Argentina: https://www.gypsynester.com/parrilla.htm

Visit our GypsyNester YouTube Channel!

The British Isles… Virgin That Is

In the Caribbean, often the best places to visit are not the ones that are easily accessible to most tourists. If you come on a cruise ship you are likely to miss many of them as you hurry from one major port to the next…

CONTINUE READING >> 

As soon as we stepped off the plane in St. Martin we felt at home.

The warm tropical breeze filled our senses and immediately took us back to when we lived on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Having spent nearly a decade down here, we have learned a few things about the Caribbean.

One is that often the best places to visit are not the ones that are easily accessible to most tourists. If you come on a cruise ship you are likely to miss many of them as you hurry from one major port to the next. You may even want to look at visiting a private island for vacation.

Our itinerary for an eight day jaunt across the British Virgin Islands and St. Martin aboard the sailing catamaran Dream Canouan included stops or overnight anchorages at several out of the way places such as Jost Van Dyke, Sandy Cay, The Baths on Virgin Gorda, Anagada, the caves at Norman Island, and Grand Case, none of which are even remotely possible to reach on larger ships.

A few of these are some of the most prominent points of interest in these islands. We woke up our first morning at the Baths, where stunning rock formations of gigantic stones rise above the surface of the water, and quickly learned that beneath the waves can be every bit as fascinating.

Snorkeling between the massive boulders, we found many of the colorful tropical fish that we remember from our days of living down here, but also came upon a school of squid. Never having seen them other than on a plate, we were mesmerized by their neon colors and effortless flowing motions.

We spent that night at the legendary pirate hideaway, Norman Island. Without a doubt pirates did use the island as a base, but whether the stories of hidden treasures that have been found in the past, or might still remain, are less certain.

Didn’t matter to us, we were thrilled at the prospect of discovering natural riches beneath the sea in the caves of in Privateer Bay, then enjoyed the added bonus of a swimming circumnavigation of the rocks known as The Indians on our way to the next stop, Jost Van Dyke.

An unexpected surprise awaited us there, because we met perhaps the BVI’s most renowned citizen, Philicianno Callwood, better known as Foxy. In 1968, with an eye to the future of sailing yachts coming to on his idyllic island, he opened Foxy’s Tamarind Bar.

We first learned of Foxy’s while living on St. Croix, as their Old Year’s Night Celebration (that’s New Year’s Eve outside of the islands) was legendary across all of the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean, but never made it over.

During our afternoon anchorage, we were lucky enough to sit a spell with the man behind the legend and he most certainly did not disappoint. After cordial introductions he regaled us with tall tales and bawdy ballads in the style of a true troubadour.

His welcoming manner and humor made it clear why his fame has spread far and wide over the past half century; even Queen Elizabeth of England is a fan and awarded him with the MBE (Member of the British Empire).

The establishment was certainly impacted by last year’s hurricanes, but escaped the worst of it and is up and running in full swing. Recovery was no doubt easier for open air structures such as the many beach bars and restaurants that dot the coasts of these islands than for some of the more substantial buildings.

Foxy showed us where his family’s homes had been damaged, yet the resilience of these islanders was inspiring to see. Throughout the BVI we were not only impressed by that, but also by the same warm and welcoming spirit that he exuded in almost everyone we met.

The following morning found us offshore of an uninhabited dot of sand known as Sandy Cay. For modern folks such as us, it was an extremely rare opportunity to visit a place where absolutely nobody lives. For some reason the theme song from Giligan’s Island kept popping into our heads.

Fortunately, no storm and no stranding was involved, but we did find an odd monument left behind. Perhaps some stranded castaways had been here.

For a change of pace, and scenery, we made our next call at Anegada. This island is geographically completely different from its sister Virgin Islands since it is a flat, choral atoll. The reef that formed it continues off of the southeastern tip as Horseshoe reef.

This is the largest in the Caribbean and forth biggest in the world, but unfortunately we didn’t get to snorkel it because is also the lobster capitol of the region. We arrived during the season, meaning the reef is off limits to everyone but fishermen.

It also meant that an abundance of the delectable crustaceans were available for consumption. We took the dingy in for a dinner of incredible fresh seafood and more of the hospitality that we experienced from nearly all of the British Islanders that we encountered.

On our way back to Saint Martin, we passed by the private islands, Necker and Eustatia, owned by Virgin Records and airlines billionaire Sir Richard Branson, and Google mogul Larry Page respectively.

We have to say that we now understand the desire to own your own secluded piece of paradise better than ever. Still, all in all we’d rather be seeing it from a boat.

The only bad part of the trip was having to put shoes back on at the end.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See more of our amazing trip here.

A big thank you to Dream Yacht Charter for providing this adventure, as always, all opinions are our own.

Discover the Magic of Morocco Desert Tours: A Journey of a Lifetime

A desert tour can be an incredible adventure that includes a chance to explore the varied landscapes, dive into the local culture, and even spend nights under the most amazing stars anywhere…
CONTINUE READING >> 

Morocco has been on our minds quite a bit lately. Last summer we spent a week on the south coast of Spain, near Marbella, and were intrigued by the idea of taking a ferry boat across the narrow bit of the Mediterranean to take a quick peek at Morocco. But alas, we were thwarted by the fact that the ferry only when to the Spanish town of Cueta on the north coast of Africa.

Then, just a few weeks ago we found ourselves in that same city of Cueta, which is completely surrounded by Morocco. But we were on a cruise so we only had one day and once again were denied seeing the country that now seemed to be teasing us.

So now we have decided that it is time to start making some plans for our very own trip to Morocco. And one of the top things on our to do list of must-see activities is to take one of the fantastic Morocco Desert Tours.

A desert tour can be an incredible adventure that includes a chance to explore the varied landscapes, dive into the local culture, and even spend nights under the most amazing stars anywhere. Yes, we definitely want to stay the night in a traditional nomadic camp so we have the chance to enjoy the local food and music.

The evening is capped off with a breathtaking sunset, followed by perhaps the most amazing sight. We also hear that the dry desert air, along the intense darkness far from any city lights, makes it feel as though the stars are hanging right in front of you, just out of reach.

After that, morning will greet us with a spectacular sunrise over the dunes of the one and only Sahara Desert. Then, of course, our desert tour experience wouldn’t be complete without a ride on a camel across the vast Sahara.

But we also know that we couldn’t possibly travel to Morocco without a visit to the historic capital of city of Marrakech. The city is probably most famous these days for it’s many bustling markets known as souks. But nearly one thousand years ago it held a place of high importance as the original Royal seat of the The Almoravids.

Their dynasty stretched down the west coast of Africa and well up into what is now Spain, as well as all along Mediterranean and North Africa. After that, from medieval times until about one hundred years ago, the entire country of Morocco was known as the “Kingdom of Marrakesh”.

Exploring the city would give us another great option worth looking into, an opportunity to join one of the Marrakech Desert Trips. From our research we have found that these unique undertakings can be a truly transformative experience. The type of once in a lifetime expedition that can be actually life changing.

Exploring the Kasbahs and Oases along the route is another great highlight. Departing from Marrakech, the route usually leads up into the High Atlas Mountains. We’ll pass by stunning landscapes, picturesque valleys, and traditional Berber villages clinging to the mountainsides, such as Ait Benhaddou.

This classic desert fortification was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and has been the location for many of Hollywood’s biggest pictures, including Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Mummy, and Gladiator.

And even as dry as the desert is, there are also oases along the way. The Draa Valley is renowned for many lush oases that stand out starkly against the arid desert landscape. So we really feel that visiting an oasis is another must do.

And who knows? Maybe we can have our very own Midnight at the Oasis.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com