In celebration of turning 70, Larry is hitting all seven continents with the help of THIRDHOME.

As Larry travels the globe with THIRDHOME, he’ll be blogging about his experiences as he navigates the post-pandemic world. His planning began in 2019 with THIRDHOME Director of Adventures, Liz Bates, who has assisted him in pivoting to satisfy his travel cravings when COVID-19 restrictions have not allowed him to visit a destination. Keep reading to learn more about Larry’s most recent travel experiences.

Next Stop: Azilal, Morocco

It was a balmy 112 degrees when I landed in Marrakech.  Who knew Africa could get hot in July?  Morocco was a detour from my European Invasion to sneak in a visit with my friend Abdou.  I met Abdou when he guided our Third Home “Colors of Morocco” tour last year and he and I morphed into “Whatsapp buddies” staying in touch ever since.  So, I took him up on his offer to return to Marrakech and travel with him to his hometown of Azilal located 3 hours away in the Atlas Mountains.  I welcomed his invitation to join him in his air-conditioned car and as we entered the scenic mountain range, the temperature cooled down to a slightly less awful 95 degrees.   Our adventure was underway. 

First stop on our “Abdou Azilal Tour” was the spectacular Ouzoud waterfalls located 15 miles from Azilal.  After a short walk from the crowded parking lot in the middle of this rocky and desolate landscape was the highest waterfall in North Africa surrounded by olive groves with cafes, vendors and a series of hiking trails leading down to the falls.  The resident monkeys joined us as we approached the falls and appeared to be pretty content and well fed as visitors were chatting them up and feeding them.  In the distance I saw hikers beat the heat by swimming in the small lake at the base of the Falls.  If I didn’t experience Ouzoud first-hand and take dozens of pics, I would have left convinced that what I saw was a mirage since the surrounding area as so dry and rocky.

Next up was hanging out with his family in their Azilal home.  I arrived in Azilal during the four-day celebration of Eid al-Adha, one of the 2 main holidays celebrated in Islam.  This “feast day” celebrates the willingness of Ibraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael to Allah as an act of obedience.  Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen, and a lamb provided by Allah was sacrificed in Ishmael’s place.  To celebrate the holiday, animals are ritually sacrificed, and meat provided to families, friends and the poor in each town.  Abdou’s brother slaughtered 3 sheep and a goat prior to my arrival so for the next 2 days we were seriously well-fed carnivores with large plates of meat, olives and fruits at each meal. 

Several mosques dotted Azilal so prayers were plentiful and residing at the top of the mosques, next to the speakers, were huge nesting storks.  The highlight of the town was the numerous cafes where the locals gathered to sip tea and talk.  Two days later I parted company with Abdou and his family and arrived in Marrakech at my Riad for my final night in Morocco and a welcome swimming pool.

As a final note, while in Amsterdam, I learned to love fresh herring, a local favorite fish served with pickles and onions.  My father would have been proud as he was a herring lover his entire life. 

Next Stop: Lisbon

TAP Air Portugal has become my favorite airline in the world for two reasons:  1. They hold an auction wherein flyers can bid on moving up to a first-class seat from coach.  For the record, I bid, and I lost.  2. They send out an email prior to any flight connecting through Lisbon offering to extend a layover from several hours to several days and rebook your flight allowing a traveler the opportunity to stay in Lisbon and experience the city.  When I received the email 3 days prior to flying home from Morocco I remembered my favorite Spanish saying “por que no?” (why not?) and decided to spend two nights in Lisbon prior to leaving the continent.

Great decision on my part because Lisbon is a city worth exploring and quite different from my prior European destinations.  Lisbon is a hilly city much like San Francisco, with picturesque vantage points to view the Tagus River, the plazas and the neighborhoods.  I decided that a tuk tuk tour was in order given my short stay and I chose Jose’s vehicle mainly because his tuk tuk was adorned with a really cool wooden parrot.  It was a great choice because we covered the entire city riding up and down streets so narrow that arms had to remain in the vehicle to avoid hitting fellow tuk tuk travelers.  During my tour I learned that the great earthquake of 1755 combined with a fire and tsunami pretty much leveled the entire city of Lisbon. 

My 5 Favorite Lisbon highlights:

  1. The Portuguese sardine!  Not disrespected and squeezed into a small can with a bunch of oil, but grilled and served on a plate to be consumed with French fries.  Delicious!
  2. Strolling through the city’s narrow streets and seeing how the locals live.  Even the graffiti tells a story.
  3. Dining al fresco and sipping sangria in the Alfama historic district while chatting with the restaurant owner.
  4. Riding a bicycle along the Tagus riverfront and stopping at Commerce Square to admire the large rectangular square and the iconic arch leading into the city center.  
  5. Gazing down at the city from up high at sunset and admiring the vibrant array of colors and shadows.  Lisbon is an incredibly colorful city.

MEET LARRY

World Traveler, Philanthropist, Friend, & THIRDHOME Member

In celebration of turning 70, Larry is hitting all seven continents with the help of THIRDHOME.

As Larry travels the globe with THIRDHOME, he’ll be blogging about his experiences as he navigates the post-pandemic world. His planning began in 2019 with THIRDHOME Director of Adventures, Liz Bates, who has assisted him in pivoting to satisfy his travel cravings when COVID-19 restrictions have not allowed him to visit a destination. Keep reading to learn more about Larry’s most recent travel experiences.

Next Stop: Amsterdam

What’s not to like about a country that birthed Vincent Van Gogh, Heineken beer, those cute wooden shoes and coffee shops that sell marijuana alongside their java?  And how about all those bikes in Amsterdam?  800,000 Amsterdammers (yes, that’s a real word) own 880,000 bikes and dominate the city streets.  Autos beware, this is a city bent on travel on 2 wheels, not four.  The Dutch go to work on bikes, take their kids to school on bikes, go on dates on bikes and stay incredibly fit on bikes.  This is an indicator of a very egalitarian society where young and old, men and women and rich and poor travel side by side across the city.  Noom and Weight Watchers are advised to stay clear of the Dutch market.  These folks don’t need you.

My three days exploring this glorious city led to more steps per day than the prior 3 weeks of my Virginia life.  Amsterdam continually ranks as one of the most walkable cities on the planet and the Amsterdam-Centrum or city center can be reached from all sides of the city on foot.   Tired of walking?   Rent a bike, or better yet, take a city tour by boat and explore the Amsterdam canals and bridges while learning about Amsterdam’s history.  

You want great museums and attractions? 

As a final note, while in Amsterdam, I learned to love fresh herring, a local favorite fish served with pickles and onions.  My father would have been proud as he was a herring lover his entire life. 

Next Stop: Bruges

Second stop, Bruges, Belgium for a stay in one of the coolest Third Homes on the website.  This amazing apartment in the heart of Bruges features a 16th century tower that provide a 360-degree vantage point of the city.  On a clear day one can see the towering windmills on the coast as well as dozens of church spires scattered throughout Bruges. 

Bruges is a city to fall in love with.  It is a medieval Unesco site and a living museum that leads one to believe they are walking through a modern-day fairy tale.  At the heart of the city are the Markt and Burg squares and a 13th century belfry with 366 winding and narrow steps made from stone, wood and marble that one can climb (and I did) to view the whole city and surrounding countryside.  Each Wednesday the square features a “don’t miss it” market with fresh fruits, vegetables and delicacies from across the region.  Warm weather features al fresco dining in dozens of outdoor cafes. 

What makes Bruges such a spectacular and memorable site?  How about this:

  1. There are more than 80 bridges in Bruges and canal tours operate all day to cruise the city.  At night the bridges and surrounding historic buildings are lit up and produce some of the most memorable reflection photo opportunities anywhere. 
  2. You have to love a city that features one museum dedicated to the French Fry and another museum dedicated to the history of chocolate and cocoa.  Only in Bruges can one witness singing and dancing taters.
  3. Speaking of chocolate, over 50 chocolatiers (chocolate shops) dot the streets of Bruges.  Each shop offers different versions of quality cocoa ranging from melt in your mouth white and dark chocolate truffles to caramel and marzipan infused cocoa treats.  For true chocoholics tours operate daily to visit several of the top stores.
  4. Once a week locals gather beneath the belfry for a concert of church bells from above.  Since I have a high level of ignorance identifying classical music hits, and I was clearly in over my head, I asked my fellow concert mate what was playing and was told it was a Bach fugue.
  5. The waffles in Bruges, especially at Chez Albert’s, are absolutely the most scrumptious delicacy in the whole city.  How about choosing between chocolate, fresh strawberries, whipped cream or caramel toppings.  Diet be gone!  These are simply too difficult to pass by. 
  6. A bicycle tour into the countryside is a must do.  Windmills and pastoral scenes along the river as well as the rare Belgian Blue cows await tourists who are so inclined to explore the nearby town of Damme.
  7. Belgian beer dates back to the Middle Ages and the Belgian Brewers guild was recognized in 1385.  The Belgian breweries bring over 2,000 original beers to market.  My favorite?  Brugse Zot Blonde.

MEET LARRY

World Traveler, Philanthropist, Friend, & THIRDHOME Member

 

THIRDHOME Exchange members have recently returned from Amsterdam, Netherlands and Cozumel, Mexico. Keep reading to learn about their THIRDHOME experience.

 

Amsterdam Netherlands THIRDHOME

Unique High End Canal House | Amsterdam, Netherlands

Located on the main canal of Prinsengracht, this renovated property is is located in the heart of Amsterdam. This elevated corner property features 7 windows that offer expansive views of the canal area. The home is also near the central Spiegelgracht canal, a hot spot for artists, galleries and coffee shops. With room for 4 people, this property is perfect for a week-long exploration of Amsterdam and all the art and culture it has to offer.

THIRDHOME member Leslie says, “Our stay at the High End Canal House was fantastic. Our host could not have been nicer, and the location was fantastic. We walked all over the great city of Amsterdam, enjoying the great vibrancy, food, beauty, culture and museums. When we ventured out of the city, public transportation was easy and nearby. After full days of sightseeing, we came home to the well appointed flat that was charming and cozy, but the perfect size for two couples. We stayed on the run because there was much to see, but we would have also been content to simply enjoy the lovely views from the windows of boats meandering along the canals and the locals on bicycles.” click here to read more of Leslie’s review.

 

The Landmark Resort of Cozumel | Cozumel, Mexico

This resort property, on the coast of Cozumel, is a welcome reprieve from the stresses of city life. The Landmark of Cozumel is an upscale oceanview resort overlooking Dzul Ha Reef and featuring a gorgeous beachfront. 5-star amenities such as the beach club, live entertainment, a stunning pool area, fitness center and daily maid service make The Landmark of Cozumel the perfect place for a tropical escape. Their 3-bedroom residences can sleep up to 6 people. Their 2-bedroom residences can sleep up to 4 people. If you’re looking for a sun-soaked beachside escape with full-resort amenities, look no further than The Landmark Resort of Cozumel.

THIRDHOME member Carl says, “My wife and actually stayed at the Landmark Resort for 3 weeks in unit (510). We had seen pictures before we booked the stay. But the pictures did not do it justice. Our condominium was on the 5th floor and had an ocean view from each bedroom. The place was huge and very modern. Marble and tile everywhere. The beds, all kings, were very comfortable. The furniture was very nice and all 3 bedrooms had a 55-inch smart TV. The gym was nice and I used it almost every day. The pool area was so nice you did not want to leave. The grounds were nicely kept and there was 24-hour security. But all of these amenities did not make the stay a great experience. It was the staff! Adriana, Ramon, Jair and Paola without a doubt made our stay an experience we will always remember.” click here to read more of Carl’s review.

 

Members, click here to view all available weeks and plan your next THIRDHOME Exchange trip. Remember, you must be logged in to your account to see availability.

Want more information about our luxury home exchange club? Click here to learn more about THIRDHOME.

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