morrocan-palm-trees

Marrakech Guide

Posted & filed under Lifestyle Edit.

I’ve compiled a list of things that I wish I had found on the inter webs when travelling to Marrakech.

 

TRAVEL:

Old town is a maze – literally. But if you get lost and someone offers you directions – don’t take it. These are the people that know you’re vulnerable and will be walking with you for 2 minutes and in return will ask you for a minimum of 50dh. However, if you see a security guard, shop owner, police officer, these people will guide you without asking for anything in return. In any case, be prepared to walk a lot in and around the souks. You will most likely get lost but the best way is to keep calm, look confident as if you’re supposed to be walking that way. I would avoid the souks during evening time, mainly because its getting late and to get back will become a bit more of a hassle. 

Now to walk to the new town, also known as Geliz, is about 1hour from the old town. Very do-able, however it all depends on how much energy you have left. Yellow taxi are around and you can get one around 10/15dh during the day and 20dh during the night. However as you’re a tourist they will try and charge you double – just haggle before you get into the taxi. Make it clear where you want to go and how much you will pay. If they say no, which they most likely will, tell them you paid 15-20dh to get here, and if they still don’t budge, move on and find another taxi. Young moroccan drivers will charge double/triple, therefore try and aim for someone slightly older. Also for locals, the taxi drivers use a meter but for tourists, the idea of a meter goes out the window and they will try and make the most that they can. So haggle away with a smile. The truth is though, they know we’re tourists, so we’re never going to have the luxury of paying local fares, but it’s a real good feeling trying to get as close as we can!

The square which leads to the souks has a huge bus stand and has many buses that go to Geliz – and they only charge 5/6dh so if you really want to travel on a budget give that a go. Also it’s always nice travelling using the local transport. 

 

EAT:

Moroccan cuisine is full of fresh bread, fruit and meat. I personally adore Kefta Tagine and each place does it different. You can have it with bread, rice, chips or on its own. Old town has some pretty little cafes, however these are pretty much over priced as the only people who eat here are tourists. Geliz town was my favourite place to eat as they had a huge array of food options. Chicken/kebab skewers, pizza, tangines, lots of options which are all affordable. Now if you want to go all out, head on down to Comptoir Darna, food is more on the pricier range. Again full of tourists but you get a buzzing atmosphere – open from 7pm till late, with belly dancers, sheesha and a bar. If you want to feel like you’re in a scene of Made in Chelsea then this is the place to be. 

Starbucks and Mc Donalds aren’t the fast food joints that they’re in London. These are hang out places for the rich and elite who come from 7pm onwards till the early morning and literally just hang out. Now I’m not a fan of Mc Donalds but Geliz had the nicest rooftop terrace floor that I could resist myself. If you’re looking for a sweet treat head down to Dino’s – a short walk from Mc Donalds and they serve up the nicest ice creams – but make sure you actually have space in that belly of yours as the portions are huge!

 

SHOP:

Now I didn’t do much shopping, I wanted to buy a rug but the average price was 1000dh for a small rug – it was almost impossible to haggle down so I just gave up. I did however buy a few bottles of Argan Oil from Atlas mountain which was 90dh – pure Argan goodness. And this leads me onto my next point nicely…

 

EXCURSIONS

We did a couple;

Quad biking – pointless driving in dirt/sand. We had a much better experience in Greece and Turkey. 

The average price was 500dh pp however we met a couple who only paid 200dh for the both of them. You could imagine how we felt. So honestly haggle hard!

We also did a whole day excursion from 9am-4pm, off to Atlas mountains, berbers house, waterfall with a pit stop of for lunch – which you have to pay for seperately btw – even though they make it seem like it’s in the deal. This cost us 250dh pp however the same couple only paid 220dh for the both of them. Those guys are serial hagglers – totally admire them!

We visited the YSL gardens – totally overpriced for what it is, but still quite pretty and the restaurant had really bad food & service. Definitely not recommend. Standard price is 70dh for the museum and an extra 30dh for a museum tour of the berbers (nothing to do with saint laurent) and its a small room, save your 30dh! Also don’t take a taxi right outside the YSL gardens, they will over charge you. Walk further down for 10mins, you’ll save about 70dh that way.

Bahia Palace and Ben Yousseff mosque are definitely worth the visit!

 

STAY

Ok – this is a biggie. All depends how long you’re going for and what you want from your time in Marrakech. If you’re a real traveller at heart and want to see all that Marrakech has to offer, the good and the ugly then stay in a  Riad in the old town. These are small hotels/homes with upto 5/6 rooms. The service is a friendly one, they make you feel at home and its only a tad cheaper. Also I would only recommend staying in a Riad for 2/3nights. Any longer and you’ll get bored and miss being buy a pool and hotel amenities. If you’re staying for 7nights, might be worthwhile splitting your trip into 2 segment, some time at a Riad and the rest at a hotel. If you do opt to stay at a Riad keep the address on you at all times. Most drivers won’t know where a Riad is but will know the road name and can take you there much easily. Hotels are easier to find so you won’t face a problem there. When we went to Atlas Mountain on our little excursions I did see    the prettiest hotels on the mountains with exquisite views – the only thing you’d have to deal with is coming back into town is almost 1hr 30mins drive – but if you really want to get away for a little secluded retreat then perhaps that could be an option?

Overall Marrakech is a vibrant city with quite a bit to do, with good food and good weather. I stayed for 7 nights and it felt too long, a 4night stay is probably the right amount of time I’d say!

Now onto some photos:

waterfall-atlas-mountain waterfall-restaurant berber-house-marrakech marrakech-souk-lanterns marrakech-souk-tea-set marrakech-souk marrakech-old-town
marrakech-old-town-to-souk marrakech-terracota-walls riad-pourpre-medina-marrakech marrakech-pink-door

patong

Thailand – Phuket – Patong

Posted & filed under Lifestyle Edit.

I put off writing this post for a while. I’ve been back almost 2 weeks now and normally I get my laptop out straight away and write down everything but I just didn’t have the urge to do that this time round. I flew out to Thailand pretty much straight after finishing work and I was already exhausted that the 15+ hours of travelling didn’t help. We flew into Phuket and booked a hotel just off of Patong beach. The beach itself was nice but the water was a dark/muddy colour which didn’t seem appealing and the sand wasn’t the cleanest. 

Let me start with a breakdown of my 3 three days in Phuket.

Day one we went into the main street just to get a vibe of the town and there’s a strip leading towards the beach where there are 30+ massage parlours and each one looks sleazier than the next. Specific shops had messages on the window front saying ‘only massage, no sex’ which made me ‘lol’ a bit. The actual beach was super busy with tourists and locals. To be honest we didn’t spend that much time on the beach, I’m always cautious that Nojmul hates standing/sitting in the sun/heat for long periods. We walked on the stretch leading towards Bangla road (we had no idea what Bangla road was) and it was just tourist. I’ve been to parts of Europe and stayed in tourist parts but it still felt like there was some culture but Bangla road was a whole other story. Its literally strippers valley. At first I chuckled like a little 12year old boy but then I felt really uncomfortable. People were walking their kids through this street and I was so shocked. Why would you chose to expose you child to this so early on in their life? Maybe I’m just old school.

 

Day 2 we did a sea kayaking tour which was pretty cool and we took a ferry down to James bond island – which was super packed and because I’ve never actually seen the movie, it didn’t really have much significance. When we got back to the hotel in the evening I asked the hotel owner where could I go which was the ‘real’ Thailand. He suggested that we go Old Phuket town which has a open market every Sunday. With great street food, local music, stalls and all around nice family fun. So that’s exactly what we did. Best experience ever. Absolutely loved being around so many local people who hadn’t submit themselves to the western/tourist lifestyle.

 

Day 3  - The entire morning I felt like death. I slept in until 2pm, got up had some lunch. Walked around the tourist streets of Patong and then booked Fanta Sea for the evening. Which was an incredible experience – a huge theatre show with acrobats, live music. They also have a buffet dinner but we decided to get dinner after the shower since we had lunch so late that day. It was quite a touristic thing to do but still felt like it had asia culture infused.

 

Travelling around Phuket, the most popular & cheapest way to get around is rent a scooter, everyone seems to be on one. Another method is tuk tuks, they’re quite good but you have to haggle down the price.

 

TIPS:

Tours/excursions are easily available but haggle and ask around for prices because they over price everything and then lower prices very quickly.
Be careful of where you eat. Some places don’t always have fresh food. Try the fresh fruit. I ate an insane amount of mangos and pineapples.

 

My thoughts on Phuket? It’s not somewhere I would be in a rush to back to due to how tourist/sleezy it was. But I do want to go back to some islands because Koh Phi Phi was my favourite place I’ve ever visited! Day 4 we got a ferry early morning to Koh Phi Phi

 

I’ve created two vlogs for day 1 & day 2 – been playing around with editing techniques too! Let me know what you think.

D A Y 1  here

D A Y 2  here

 

Thailand phuket thailand sea1 thailand sea thailand patongthailand sea kayak caves kayak thailand patong2 james bong islandold phuket town fanta sea elephant flowers old phuket cactusstreet music old phuket market street food thailand phuket fanta sea patong cute elephant thailand fanta sea palace
venice7

Venice Throwback

Posted & filed under Lifestyle Edit.

venice19venice20 venice12 venice21Venice1 Venice3 venice13 venice18 venice17 venice16 venice14Venice2Venice4 venice7 venice6 venice5venice8 venice11 venice10 venice9

When you find all the old photos from 9 years ago…

 

The other day I was clearing out my handbag and found a bunch of SD cards – and found photos which I thought I’d lost from 2006-2009. All my holiday and university photos were on there, I was so happy! These photos were taken way before instagram days and with a cheap crap 8mega pixel camera but with the help of photoshop I’ve been able to spruce them up a bit. Venice, the city of love (or is that just Paris…?) was my first real holiday away – like on a plane, with tickets that I paid for myself and its when I first fell in love with Italy and ever since I’ve been visiting lots of different parts of Italy falling more and more in love with each visit.

I was 19 when I travelled to Venice, that’s almost 10 years ago! Where has the time gone? We booked a hotel a little out of Venice and had to catch a bus into the city but it only took 20mins and the busy picked us up right infront of the hotel, so if you want to travel on a budget I really recommend staying a little further out. We spent a week in Venice and split the days to visit various parts of the city. We made a day trip to Murano, the town known to be a master of glass made objects. We went of too Lido which was a beach town and the remaining three/four days exploring the small but quaint town underwater. I was studying Architecture at the time and was intrigued of the middle eastern influences within the city and explored the town with that concept in mind. I was so in awe with it that I based my Uni dissertation around Venice and its Middle Eastern influences.

I also remember haggling for the first time ever with the gondala people, they obviously tried charging us way more then what it should be but we did some research and were determined to try and get the price which everyone would pay. I regret not picking up some masquerade masks. We also spent a lot of time on water taxis which was probably why I loved it so much. Anywhere near the waters makes me feel calm. The reason why I love these photos is because I never had an intention of sharing them on a blog 10 years down the line. They’re moments captured at their rawest form without composition thoughts. My biggest advice to anyone in their early 20s would be to travel.  Travel as much as you can, as far as you can. Live like a traveller not a tourist. It is possible to see parts of Europe as beautiful as Venice on a budget you just have to plan. But it is so worth it!

It’s a city I’d love to visit again in a few years. 

lisbon6

LISBON

Posted & filed under Lifestyle Edit.

A picture heavy blogpost is totally acceptable for a holiday post….right?

lisbon4 lisbon5 lisbon lisbon2

lisbon7 lisbon1 lisbon8 lisbon3 me

5th April I set off for what I thought would be a relaxing, sunny vacation, first stop was Lisbon for 4 days and then moving onto Barcelona for another 4 days. Getting a connecting flight from Lisbon to Barcelona was super cheap – around £22pp, if this summer you’re planning a trip into Europe I would definitely recommend splitting it up into two locations.

We arrived mid-day on Easter Sunday and it was scorching hot, 24degrees to be exact. Getting into town from the airport is made really accessible. There is an aerobus which takes you from the airport into the city centre and it only costs around 4euros pp and it runs every 10-20mins depending on the time of day. Or you can get the metro which is around 1.25euros and takes around 35mins. I much prefer taking a bus, this way I get to see the city. If you really wanted to get onto the Metro, they have pretty much an oyster card system, (obv much cheaper) you just reload whenever your money runs out.

We booked VIP Executive Apart Eden Hotel which is literally in the middle of the city centre – on the left of the hotel were all the traditional markets and stalls and to the right of the hotels were all the high-end luxury stores. We stayed more on the left side as there was more culture and really cute boutique style restaurants. There’s definitely a relaxed vibe in Lisbon, completely different from London. The cobbled pavements, worn down walls, graffiti on every surface, all have history hidden within the streets, very endearing.

Easter Sunday most places were closed, some restaurants were open but majority of the shops and markets were closed for business, so we just grabbed some dinner and browsed through the lanes trying to get a feel for the city. The next day, we were told that it’s a bank holiday which means that most museums and shops would not be open. On top of that it was raining, started off as a drizzle but there were moments where it was raining quite heavily. We didn’t want to waste an entire day cooped up in a hotel so we braved it and walked to Saint George castle. The cue to get on the tram (which are so vintage looking) were really  long – we started asking for directions and walked towards the castle. It was about 25mins of walking constantly uphill but you get to see the backstreets and the locals. Luckily throughout all of this the rain stayed away but once we got the castle it poured down! We didn’t get to enjoy the view and explore as much as I would’ve have liked. We made our way to a metro and got back to the hotel to dry up and get some lunch. Rain hadn’t stopped so I started googling places to go when it’s raining in Lisbon I actually googled that entire sentence and all reviews were pointing towards the aquarium. Apparently it’s the largest aquarium around in Europe so we jumped onto the metro and off we went. Definitely recommend going here – probably one of the best aquariums I have been to. Even now, writing this almost 10days later, I remember how beautiful and peaceful it was inside.
There’s a massive shopping centre and food court opposite the aquarium so we made our way in to explore – I was just looking for a Sephora.

If you know me, you’ll know that my exercise routine is between me getting out the house, driving to work and then running around a classroom. Beyond that I do very little walking which means I don’t really own any comfortable walking shoes and I had only taken a suitcase full of sandals and flip flops. By now my feet were aching in my super uncomfortable gladiator sandals so I went into Nike and brought a pair of Free Runs 5.0 – best investment ever! My feet thanked me the whole trip!

Tuesday we went to Sintra which is a 40min train journey away, you can use your metro travel card here just make sure you have enough topped up. I love train journeys, you get to see so much more of the city. Sintra in beautiful. Definitely need more than one day here. It’s whole land full of palaces and stunningly sculpted gardens. We only managed to get to two of the palaces and luckily the weather was on our side, it was sunnier and rain free. I think I’m definitely going to go back and possibly stay near Sintra just to explore it a little bit more. There was a lot of walking involved – what would I have done without my trainers?

Wednesday we went to Belem which again, is a train ride away, but much shorter maybe 15mins? I brought the most delicious Custard tarts (and I don’t even like custard) but it was raining so I didn’t get to explore it a whole lot. We came back to the city centre and just spent most of the day walking around local towns.

The local cuisine seems to be either fish or ham/pork, I don’t eat ham/pork and not really a fan of fish so we pretty much ended up eating anything with chicken or vegetables. I really liked Lisbon but obviously would’ve preferred it if the sun was out a bit more. There’s a lot of walking uphill involved so if you’re planning to go take comfortable walking shoes and maybe a rain jacket. Out of everywhere I’ve been in Europe it’s definitely the cheapest in terms of travelling/food and tourist sites. I flew out to Barcelona on Thursday which was a mission of its own – there were strikes with French Airlines which pretty much has a knock on effect through-out the entire airport, more on that in the next post.

I also attempted to vlog – which I am going to start editing now, hopefully should be up this Sunday so make you’re subscribed here.