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Old May 18, 17, 1:28 pm   #1
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Western Sahara, Atlantic Islands and Marrakech. Pop Specs sweetie! Very nice! I like!

So, I alluded to this in my previous TR, but due to one too many weekends of drinking shenanigans, FlyIgglesFly and I couldn't leave the 2017 disputed countries thing well enough alone, and decided that we needed to head to Western Sahara as well.

Having been to every recognized country at this point, I'm kinda over touching down just to "check off" a country, so we decided we needed to get a bit more in depth...and that's how the idea of driving up the coast all the way from Dakhla to Laayoune came into focus. Of course, we haven't found anyone that will hire us a car for that yet, but I'm sure it will work out. It always does.

Laayoune isn't exactly a hotbed of five star resorts either, so rather than stay in a marginal two star hotel...we found a place that does traditional tents out in the desert. They also allegedly serve camel tagine...we were sold.

Then, I found out, you can actually fly out of Western Sahara to the Canary Islands...and hey, from there you can fly to Madeira...and from there? The Azores. Oh, and fyi, SATA/Air Azores flies an ancient A310 from Ponta Delgada to Boston. One of the few widebodies I've never been on. I was sold.

All was planned and sorted, then there was a wrench in the works. I needed to be in Kazakhstan for work. Just two days before leaving for Morocco. Combination of change fees and availability meant there was no way I could change and just fly Kazakhstan to Marrakech. Thus was born what I'm sure will be a day from hell: Almaty to Frankfurt to Washington to Newark to Madrid. I would understand if it was a mileage run, but unfortunately...it's life instead.

Then another shoe dropped. The Madeira to Azores flight was canceled that day of the week. This meant, logically, a detour was needed. To Porto. It involves some airlines with the codes TO and FR. To and from will both be bad I'm sure. I plan to be heavily medicated for these flights.

Then, that nonsense about a possible laptop ban on flights to the US materialized. Per policy, I can't put laptops in checked baggage, so that threatened to really mess things up. Fortunately, sanity has prevailed, and it's time to leave. In case you weren't following, all in the span of 15 days:



Off we go...but first, links to my previous reports:

I. London to Iran and Afghanistan in a mix of C, F, and LCCs
II. Above the Arctic Circle with UA/CO/LH and SK in whY, C, and F
III. Around the World in 40 Days for 40 Years
IV. 8 Places People Who Are Right in the Head Do Not Spend New Years
V. 12 Countries, 10 Airlines, 4 Islands, 27,080 miles, 11 Days
VI. 6 Countries in 6 Days - Caribbean Island Hopping and first AA Experience
VII. Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana with an unexpected sidetrip to Caracas!
VIII. To Ha´ti - for vacation and a milage run!
IX. Around Senegal and West Africa
X. 4th Annual New Years in Dangerous Places - Libya Edition
XI. Kosovo and FYR Macedonia - Milage Run in United Business + TK/LH
XII. Washington to Peru and Machu Picchu on COPA and TACA
XIII. To Johannesburg...for 36 hours!
XIV. Here a Stan, there a Stan, everwhere a Stan Stan....
XV. Air Burkina, Air Cote d'Ivoire and 7 countries in West Africa
XVI. Turkey for Thanksgiving....with a side of Tajikistan, Serbia, Montenegro, and Moscow
XVII. Into the Heart of Darkness... Congo, Angola, Gabon, OH MY!
XVIII. HI! Four Islands, Lots of Planes, Beaches, and Convertibles
XIX. Plenty of Salt, Not Enough Oxygen...a Trip to Boliva, Colombia, and Ecuador
XX. Learning to Relax - Long Weekend in St Christopher and Nevis
XXI. You're spending New Years WHERE? IRAQ? (2009-2010)
XXII. Pineapples, croissants, and neon OH MY! A trip to Hawaii, Paris, Andorra, and Vegas
XXIII. South Pacific, Israel, Lebanon - 6 weeks - 71,500 miles - 24 countries
XXIV. Sundae bloody Sundaes...a 2014 United Year in Review
XXV. Lakes, Lemurs, and Lithuania: Horton Hears a Houthi!
XXVI. First Americans tour to North Korea 2005 - Arirang Mass Games
XXVII. Doing the Needful - Lufthansa Business US to Chennai
XXVII. C-ing things: Canada, Curry, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Camels, Chengis Khan and China!
XXVIII. Learning my ABCs: Algeria, Bahama, Cuba and the Cubana IL-96
XXIX. Exploring ZMapp of West Africa...or how I got detained by the CDC
XXX. Transatlantic to Bangkok with United, Austrian, Air Canada, and Thai
XXXI. Being Lazy in Belize
XXXII. Quick Trip to Cape Town with United, SWISS, South African, and Lufthansa
XXXII. FUNny thing happened going to and from Tuvalu...Cathay F, Etihad Apts, Fiji Biz
XXXIII. Achievement Unlocked: AFRICA! Visiting Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal
XXXIV. FIN. (and thanks for all the fish)
XXXV. What do you do after visiting every country? RTW in First with NH, TG, SQ, QR, EK, LH
XXXVI. Rock in the Abkhazia - Progress on the Unrecognized Countries List

Rough outline of this trip report:

I. DC to Almaty in United/Lufthansa First
II. Musings on Almaty, Ritz Carlton Almaty
III. Almaty to DC in Lufthansa Business
IV. DC to Madrid in United Polaris Business
V. Overnight in Madrid, to Marrakech in Iberia Business
VI. Marrakech
VII. Marrakech to Dakhla in Royal Air Maroc Business, 2 nights in Dakhla
VIII. Dakhla to Laayoune...inshallah!, overnight Laayoune Bedouin Camp
IX. Laayoune to Las Palmas on Royal Air Maroc, overnight Las Palmas
X. Las Palmas to Porto on RyanAir, overnight Porto
XI. Porto to Funchal, Madeira with Transavia, overnight Madeira
XII. Madeira to Ponta Delgada with SATA, day in Ponta Delgada
XII. Two days exploring outside Ponta Delgada
XIII. Ponta Delgada to DC with SATA and JetBlue

Here we go!
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Old May 18, 17, 2:33 pm   #2
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Looking forward to this trip very much !
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Old May 18, 17, 3:18 pm   #3
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No. Freakin. Way. (Peter Griffin voice) This trip, looks awesome . Can't wait.
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Old May 19, 17, 6:31 am   #4
  
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You are even crazier than I am (although have not done anything like that in years!). Looking forward to this one
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Old May 19, 17, 6:59 am   #5
  
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Flying with LH F and Ryanair on the same trip is almost as remarkable as having visited every country in the world, ironmanjt...
Looking forward to this.
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Old May 19, 17, 7:17 am   #6
  
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This one has serious potential. Will be interesting to follow.
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Old May 19, 17, 8:59 am   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRain View Post
Flying with LH F and Ryanair on the same trip is almost as remarkable as having visited every country in the world, ironmanjt...
Looking forward to this.
Well, the LH F is still pending a few days before departure. Despite a full J fare, it looks like economy is massively overbooked, so I'm guessing they're planning to OpUp at the gate. Let's cross our fingers!
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Old May 19, 17, 10:37 am   #8
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Wonder what the OP thinks of Marrakech. Was there last Thanksgiving for four nights. Great culture, but was bored at night. Also, lots of touts. Wrote a brief trip report about it.
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Old May 19, 17, 10:43 am   #9
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
Well, the LH F is still pending a few days before departure. Despite a full J fare, it looks like economy is massively overbooked, so I'm guessing they're planning to OpUp at the gate. Let's cross our fingers!
Fingers crossed indeed!
Just like you I could use another shot of LH F & FCT, as it's been 4 weeks already...
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Old May 19, 17, 4:41 pm   #10
  
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Yikes, looking forward to this trip report.
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Old May 20, 17, 8:07 am   #11
  
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Talk about suspense!!

I have feeling that this is going to be epic - safe travels.
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Old May 20, 17, 8:27 am   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRain View Post
Fingers crossed indeed!
Just like you I could use another shot of LH F & FCT, as it's been 4 weeks already...
What we have is called an addiction, but "they" always say you should strive for healthy addictions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
Talk about suspense!!

I have feeling that this is going to be epic - safe travels.
I know, right? The suspense of if I'll be forced to endure LH business is killing me...
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Old May 20, 17, 3:34 pm   #13
  
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I have an addiction to following your travels vicariously through reviews, so really you are just being kind to others by continuing to travel.
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Old May 21, 17, 8:00 am   #14
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Can't wait to see pictures from all those exotic destinations
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Old Yesterday, 9:51 pm   #15
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So, after getting up at 0145am to fly Almaty to Frankfurt, halfway through the Frankfurt to DC flight I couldn't stand the idea of a direct 3 hour turnaround to Newark then Madrid, so I called United...and got an amazing agent, who moved me to tomorrow with no change fee.

Karma was clearly on my side, because my DC to Newark flight currently shows:

Status: Delayed due to air traffic control conditions impacting our flight operations (Estimated Departure 7 Hours 25 Minutes Late)

So tonight I will sleep in my own bed...instead of (maybe) some dingy Newark hotel...or a Dulles Airport floor. Let's hope all is sorted tomorrow.

Halfway through the first couple parts of this report, hope to have it up tomorrow!
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