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

Last day in CPH

IMG_7594We´re home again after a grand weekend away from dog walks and cat poo, from fussing over dinner and going to work at all hours of the day. It´s been so good- sleeping late, eating out, having drinks with friends and discovering the neighbourhood. We´ve mainly kept to Vesterbro, with the exception of yesterday, when we walked all the way to Nyhavn, the canal downtown. The funniest part was when we realised Dyrehaven was just around the corner from our place and we´d walked for at least 20 minutes, round and round the block. Haha!
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Top 5 Things to Do in Berlin

I simply love Berlin. It has little of what I usually find enchanting in a city- the architecture, a romantic old town, the sea and, last but not least, dark and beautiful people. 😉 But it does a great job compensating the lack of European grandeur (due to the fact that it was bombed under WW II) with a down to earth buzz, which is why I prefer it to both Barcelona and Rome. Berlin has the river Spree and knows how to use it, it has incredibly creative people, lots of galleries and cultural happenings everywhere, yummy restaurants, world class museums, not to mention the “not so bad” Bauhaus buildings. 😉 I´ve been there quite a lot in the last 6 years and I like to think I know the city a little bit, so I invite you to read about my top 5 things to do when in Berlin.

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Berlin Fashion Week

Hi y’all? Missed me yet? We´re in Berlin for the SEEK trade show and it´s been an adventure of all sorts! 😉 I have a couple of fair advice coming up, but this blog entry is about Berlin vibes and holiday “wanderlust”. I love this city, as you might have noticed if you´ve followed my travels for a while now. If there´s one city I´d move to in Europe regardless of the weather (and you know me and weather!) and language, it would be Berlin! Such a cool place, full of positive energy, creative people and progressive paths!
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Celebrating my husband´s success at Taco Republica

Yesterday my husband made his first satchel and I´m so immensely proud of him! He´s designing and making leather accessories by hand and although very talented, it´s been a tough ride. The Norwegian market is small and uptight and people are so rude, 90% of all mails he writes remain unanswered! This being said, we´re going to Berlin for the SEEK trade show! And we have high hopes! He´s already been contacted by a trade show in New York (they tried to persuade him to attend), an internet shop that wants to promote his products and a couple of private persons for smaller commissions. 😉 Yey!

So today we felt like celebrating his success and what better way to do it than with a beer and some tacos in the sun! In Scandinavia, you learn to make do with the weather you have and a sunny day is a festivity in itself! IMG_5066

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Atelier Asian Tapas

Our friends have visitors from the big abroad, so we thought it´d be nice to go out for a meal and get to know their sister/sister in law. We´re huge fans of Mathallen (The Food Court) and it´s quite central, too, but for some reason we keep forgetting to go there lately. And since we´re trying to show Oslo from its best side, we booked a table at Atelier Asian Tapas, where they serve delicate Asian influenced dishes. With the same owners as Xich-Lo, a fantastic French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Oslo, one cannot expect anything less than exquisite taste and relaxed service. Atelier has high aspirations of becoming a regular meeting place and they have weekly events promoting Vietnamese food with a twist. It´s also the place you go to for a yummy lunch and a glass of Prosecco, especially on a Saturday afternoon.

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Normandy

Five years ago we were in Paris for a meeting my husband attended with his work at that time, Le Palais des Thes. And since it was summer and we´d heard so much about Normandy, we decided we should give it a try. It´s only a 1,5 hour train ride away from Paris and the accommodation not a bit as soaring as in Cote D´Azur. We´d seen for us lovely food, sunbathing by the sea and Indian nights. Such poor judgement! The food was amazing in every way and so was Honfleur, where we chose to stay at our friends´ recommendation. The truth is it was lovely in every way, but not exactly what we´d imagined.. After a couple of days of rain, the sea was agitated and swimming not allowed. I think we might have ended up going to Greece after all that summer, just to get our dose of sunshine.;-) Living in a Nordic country means one should take one´s intake of vitamin D seriously! 😉

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