17th of May, Norway’s national day, fell on a Thursday this year and since it’s Pentecost on Monday, yippie yay for yet a long bank holiday! And given we’re not into crowds, flags or loud intoxicated youths and we don’t have children who play in a band, we thought we’d skip the whole shebang and escape to Sweden! And it turned out Gothenburg was a hidden gem, at least in this summer weather we’ve been having! “One should think Italy moved to Sweden”, I told a bartender excitedly, while waiting for him to pour our rosé. “I know, it’s unbelievable, it’s even hotter than the Mediterranean these days!”
I haven’t blogged in a long time and I realized I’ve kind of missed it! The thing is I’m trying to write “real stuff”- short stories or even a novel and the process is exhausting, I’m telling you! Besides, it leaves me with a feeling that blogging is just amateur writing that no one reads anyways. But then a couple of friends told me they were looking forward to my new entries and so I decided to let you know how things are on this side of the world. 😉
I was a bit disappointed to hear that F was teased at work since he’d caught a cold and stayed home for a couple of days right after our trip: “Did you get food poisoning in Bucharest?” a French buddy said. “I hear you were in Bucharest”, a Czech colleague added, “it must have been wild!” And I know it was all a joke to them, but I have to admit it hurt. Here we are in 2018, traveling like never before and still harboring the same stereotype views of the world. Book a trip, I blurted out! We decided to invite them and serve them Romanian wine the same quality and price range as the French ones, hiding the label to see their reaction. ‘Cause it’s easy to classify persons as “ignorants”, but the thing is many decent people probably feel the same way, but don’t say it out loud and so nobody ever corrects them. Anyways, rant of the day.
Good old Bucharest! I hadn’t been home since October, I was planning a trip in February, but then a trial came up and I postponed it, just to get the flue and succumb to it for 3 whole weeks. In the meantime both Diana and my brother got the chicken pox and so in the end I was lucky to stay away, ’cause I can’t remember having had it as a child. In the end we decided to go together for the Protestant Easter, since it’s a bank holiday and we both had some time off.
In December, back when I was planning this short getaway to Amsterdam, traveling mid-March seemed like a really good idea. I mean we were drinking fizzy drinks in the sun in Oslo this time last year, so who would have thought Europe would be swept by such a wave of cold temperatures? Not me. That being said, I’ve never been so freezing cold as I’ve been this past few days in my entire life, walking around purposeless, through the hoards of tourists, trying to keep my spirits up when all I wanted to do was stay inside our cosy airbnb and drink mulled wine. Continue reading
“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’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.