Vestlandet (the Western Coast of Norway) has the same appeal for me as a movie star- yeah, it might be pretty, but that’s also all it is to me. Because living in Volda many years ago was so hard- both in regards to the language, to adjusting to a new culture, its rainy weather and its taciturn people, I never feel like going back.
Ever since I moved away from the city centre, most weekends have been about walking Sammy, visiting friends or having people over for coffee. Thinking back I’ve probably stayed in more often than not- taking in the view, doing yoga and baking cake. And since there was no Sam to walk yesterday and we’d both been quite busy lately, I invited F out for lunch, like in the good old days. 😉
Regardless of the cold and the wind, our short trip to Amsterdam inspired me. Norway may be rich and all that, but it’s really only the end of the world! Oslo still needs 20 years more to become as continental as the rest of Europe. If ever. On coming back though, I realized I’d missed the city, as provincial as it might sometimes feel. 🙂 Blame it on living a tad far away, on trying to make it through this never-ending winter or on the commitments Sammy boy implies, a lunch date on a Saturday is more the exception than the rule, it turns out. 😉 But yesterday I decided to grant myself some urban time and invited a friend of mine out for lunch. Meanwhile, another friend wanted to grab a beer later on and so I asked F if he could walk Sammy and a perfect day lay ahead.
“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.
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.
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!
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! 😉
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.
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).
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!
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!
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!
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!
I didn’t have my camera with me last week and the way it was raining and blowing, I don’t think I would have dared to take it out of the hotel room anyways. But I promised you a couple of words about my going out on my own to a 3 courses treat and so here it is. 🙂 Having ventured outside in the kind of weather you wouldn’t expose your dog to (except for Sam, who actually enjoys it!), I made my way to the marina, since people said it was where it all happened. I found them all lined up- restaurants, bars, the lot of it. Neither of them looked very appealing and I thought to myself, is it really possible that the provinces are so lacking in style? And then I spotted it, just when the thought of settling had struck me, I saw the cute wooden house on the top of the hill and went up with my life at stake, since the stairs were very slippery. 😉
After a long winter, I finally get to see a bit of sun! Strolling through Berlin again and feeling sun rays on my cheeks feels surreal, even though that means tears down my face ’cause I didn’t think of taking my shades with me. Continue reading
The second half of this year I’ve spend working my ass off, billing and paying debts and I’m still miles away. 😦 Luckily I’ve had a couple days out of town here and there, so I used each opportunity to have a short city break. And Stavanger was no exception. I was there in court with a good friend of mine for two days and we had a blast. Heroines by day, superwomen by night. Haha! I’m exaggerating, of course, all we did was have a late dinner on the first evening and an early one the second one. But it felt so good catching up, no kids to tend to, no dog to walk, lots of time to buy the last Xmas gifts (for her) and to get a Xmas haircut (for me). Continue reading