Marrakech II

“This makes me want to sell all my possessions and become a bum”, my darling says. I nod. I’ve been bit by the traveling bug more than ever before. This time in a different way, ’cause most of the places I visit, I want to stay. Whereas now I remember saying quite a few times- I could never live here, I just don’t see the appeal. And I meant it. I loved Morocco as a destination, but it’s too chaotic for me to ever imagine living there. And they don’t have booze everywhere! Haha!

A colleague of mine said something else that stuck- Morocco is one of those places you end up liking after you’ve come home. I think I know what he meant- you need to digest all these impressions, or else they’ll take the best of you. For my part, in my mind, I never left. The contrast to Oslo is huge- here it’s cold, dark and frozen- no chirping birds, no nothing and there won’t be anything until some time in April. :-/ Back there life was easy, for a tourist, at least, although I did get very tired the first few days.

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But let me tell you about the things you definitely shouldn’t miss. You should visit Le jardin Majorelle, in which this blue wonder resides, you’ve guessed. It’s an amazing garden with exotic plants and a sense of peace that Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berger purchased and brought back to its former glory. Unfortunately there’s quite a que, so try to come a bit early (we didn’t! 😦 ). The good part is you can buy tickets for both Le jardin Majorelle and the YSL museum, so at least it’ll be worth your while.

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Lunch and shopping in Guéliz is also a good idea. You can do it on the first day, as we did, or after a couple of days of wandering around in the medina, when you’ll find it a well-deserved break from all the chaos. Go crazy on shoes at Atika, buy your argan oil by Le Jardin Majorelle (I don’t remember the name of the shop, but there’s a chow chow outside it most of the time), then lunch at Grand café de la Poste – the marinated sardines were amazing and they make a mean tarte tatin au cocotte! They also serve alcohol inside, but that time we stuck to orange juice, which in Morocco, by the way, is the best I’ve ever had!

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The nicest restaurant we’ve been to is Le Jardin, in the old town. We went there twice in a row and the food was fresh and delicious. But it’s the atmosphere that sets it above the others- they have live music (and otherwise pretty funky music), chandeliers and the garden is a desert blessing, too. Check out the lemon tart! 😉

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If you come to Morocco, do your best to buy a carpet. There are so many amazing rugs and I assure you your neighbor won’t have the exact same one! I hear having a guide with you is best, I myself don’t like to set myself in debt to someone (the riad owner) and so we did the bargaining ourselves. I read somewhere that Moroccans inflate the price 3 to 10 times, we payed almost half of what they asked originally and were happy with our deal, although a guide might have gotten us a better one.

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There are so many colors, so much fragrance, so much spices, one should have tried more, brought back more, preserved a bit of it in a flacon, if possible.  We brought back two small amber soaps and the whole apartment smells like the souks (in a good way).

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You can also purchase pretty nice pashmina shawls or else cashmere scarves and kaftans. I brought back one for my mother and two for my friends. And the nicest one for me, of course! 😉 haha!

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Back to the alcohol policy, you will be able to enjoy a beer in more places than we’d first assumed, the thing is the food isn’t necessarily good there. Café Arabe, for example, had pretty terrible food on New Year’s Eve, but we ended up there because I couldn’t envision  New Year’s Eve without fireworks and champagne. Turns out, no fireworks (they don’t celebrate NYE at all!) and the champagne there I would have survived without. haha! So eat dinner in a stylish place and go elsewhere for drinks. I recommend Riad Privilege, a very beautiful place, but don’t lose it when you see the bill, a beer is 9 euros, more expensive than in Norway!

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When somebody says Morocco I immediately think of hamam, which turns out only means bath, as in a public bath, I would assume, since people didn’t have their own private bathroom before and some places they probably still don’t. Hey, my granny in the Romanian countryside got a bathroom only ten years ago, at my father and uncle’s insistence, otherwise she would have still been without. Bless her soul, she’s not with us anymore, somehow I keep forgetting that.

Wafa, our riad keeper, told us that locals go to the hamam once a week, on Sundays, to get properly cleaned. We chose Mythic Hamam Oriental, both because they had time for us that day and because they were near our riad. It was pure bliss! 3 hours of pampering, mint tea, black soap gommage, one hour massage and again some mint tea and cookies, if that’s not heaven, I don’t know what is! We took a couple session and it was romantic, if falling asleep by your lover can account as romantic. 😉 haha!

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Last, but not least, there are some pretty nice museums and sights. The Koutobia’s mosque call to prayer was definitely memorable. So was the Marrakech museum and the Palace el Badi. Otherwise, I think Marrakech is about drinking “café épicée” at Café des épices, in the Place des épices (spice market) watching the berber women at work, or, even better, sharing their fish meal with the stray cats around (priceless!), sipping some mint tea from the terrace at Le Jardin Secret and having dinner at Latitude 31.

PS. I don’t know how people reproduce themselves ’cause you can hear absolutely everything that happens in the entire riad! 😉 haha! So if you’re newly weds, Morocco is probably not the best idea! haha!

xxx, Alina

Marrakech

I’m back from Marrakech with an obnoxious cold due to the temperature difference (23 there and -2 here) and a serious case of wanderlust. Being my first time out of Europe, I was fascinated and overwhelmed. Imagine yourself thrown back in time a hundred years at least, donkeys wandering the streets, men with carts shouting about their merchandise, bicycles and scooters driving past you with a speed that renders you dizzy, lamb legs hanging from hooks, sheep heads rigorously lined up waiting for their customer, people trying to point you into their direction all the time, bright colors shimmering from everywhere, too much to take in at once for your senses.

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Merry Christmas 2017

Finally here. Today was my first day off and besides sleeping in, binge-watching Netflix, taking a bath, walking Sammy and having a nap, I did nothing impressing with my time. I was so tired I though I’d never get better. But indulging yourself half a day can work wonders and I now made my first batch of sugarcoated almonds and I’m on to making dinner soon enough. IMG_1639.jpg Continue reading

Sour Cream Porridge

My first three years in Norway I spent in Vestlandet- the Western Lands, a picture perfect place with lots of  manure smelling pastures. Unfortunately, those were also the most depressive years of my life. Too rainy, too small, very rural and with taciturn people, the place was nothing compared to what Bucharest had been and I longed to go back every day.  A few things stayed with me due my stay there- I can imitate the dialect to a certain extent and I love sour cream porridge! In fact, I love it so much I order it all year around at Frogneseteren restaurant, if I happen to go there.

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Pre-Christmas Days

Hey, peeps! How are you? I’ve been way too busy for my own good lately, but now that the weekend is here I have little plans to do anything else than relax, bake a little, clean the house and buy a cute Christmas tree.

Sammy turned 5 on Tuesday and since that day was horrendously hectic for my part, he only got a longer walk and some liver pate as a treat. But yesterday we finally bought him a new toy and he was ecstatic, he carried it around everywhere and asked us to keep it, so he could pull it from our hands. 😉 haha! You should have seen him! So cute!

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I’m done with the gifts, except for one last extra present, now I only need to bake a bit, fill up the cookie jars and wrap the presents up. What about you? Are you “en route”? Have you done the Christmas baking, too?

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These pics are from our neighborhood, where I’m taking Sam for walkies three times a day, listening to Sidney Bechet, Nat King Cole and Madeleine Peyroux. With my condition, I cannot overwork myself, or else I come crashing down and lose my will to wake up, so I need to plan a day off here and there or a couple of half days, to cope with the pressure. That’s exactly what I did yesterday- after wrapping up a couple of things with the accountant and delivering some small presents, it was just me on the agenda. I had a Prosecco with a close friend, then a couple more on my own, under the pretext of feeling sorry for myself on account of the pain ( apparently you need a couple of vaccines for Morocco). 😉

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Yesterday evening we went out for pizza and beer, just me and my boo. It felt like ages ago we did anything together, just the two of us, and it’s oh so important. The town was teeming with drunk people already at 5 o’clock and again I felt ashamed of this stupid Christmas party tradition here where people seem to lose all common sense. Do you have the same wherever you are?

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Leaving you with a couple of endearing pictures of Sammy boy, guarding the neighborhood. Fancying a bath with a glass of cold Christmas soda. 😉

xxx, Alina

A Gathering in the Spirit of Christmas

A couple of weeks ago I had a great idea: since F was going to his annual Christmas party with his colleagues this Friday, why not invite some of my girls to a Christmas workshop, drink some mulled wine and make some Christmas goodies together? What I didn’t think about at the time was that I’d probably work until 4:45 pm, come home to walk Sammy, give the house a quick shine, arrange some finger food to nibble on, make the mulled wine and then collapse.

As you might have guessed by now, by the time my friends came, also tired from a week’s work, kids, Christmas gatherings and such, we didn’t have energy to even stand, let alone make anything edible. So we had some mulled wine, shared some cheese with Sam, laughed to our hearts’ content and wrapped it up around. 11 pm. Gordana spent the night, but before going to bed and we ended up in the woods with Sammy, my mobile phone as a flash light, slipping forward like penguins, jiggling and laughing, falling and pulling ourselves up, Sammy jumping on top of us to “save us” from the fall. haha! You should have seen us! As she put it, it was like in a joke- a Serb, a Romanian and a Russian (Sam) were walking in the woods in winter, slightly inebriated and in a good mood… haha! IMG_1590.JPG Continue reading