Dhevatara Beach Hotel Seychelles

I’ve been on a hiatus. Not on purpose. It’s the usual excuses. Catching up with life, getting used to work, coming back from honeymoon and the like. Perhaps the latter isn’t a usual excuse but it’s a real one for me.

It’s now been a month since my husband and I returned from our honeymoon to the Seychelles. A two week luxury extravaganza staying at a boutique hotel located on Praslin, one of the unique islands home to a UNESCO site and a variety of rare species (coco de mer and the black parrot). These stories are for another post however. What I want to chronicle is our luxury hotel, Dhevatara Beach Hotel.

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This boutique hotel is perfect for the couple who doesn’t want to bask in the joy of children as it doesn’t allow kids under 12 on site. They can stop into the restaurant upon the discretion of the management but this is really an adults only spot. It is pricey but if you’re heading to the Seychelles, it’s likely not going to be a cheap vacation.

It also is small so privacy is practically guaranteed. There are roughly eight or 10 other rooms on the property that overlook a tranquil swimming pool. There’s also private beach access and every room has a balcony for guests to lounge the day away from the comfort of their own space. All in all, magic. Especially for a honeymooning couple looking to escape to a romantic location for fun chill vibes.

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Breakfast is also included in your stay. Head out into the dining room between 7 – 11am to find a menu of food that is ready made for you after you order. The menu never changes but the options are HUGE. Eggs any style, bacon, sausage, hash browns, fruit platter, meat platters, cheese platters, cereal, pancakes, crepes, yogurt, muesli, bread baskets with local jams. Everything is there. There’s also bottomless drinks including Nespresso coffee, THE teas, juices, champagne and other treats. This should make your mouth water, I know I’m flashing back to the scrambled eggs.

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I’m sure that prior paragraph makes me sound like a foodie, and maybe I am, but the breakfast needed a paragraph.

They also did lunch and dinner at the restaurant (which is one of the highest rated restaurants on the island) but we never ate lunch there (we ate ALL the breakfast). We did have dinner there and that too was A1. Yummy octopus curries, creole cuisines and tasty fish dishes. If you’re in Praslin, go to this restaurant for a calm yet romantic date night.

The room. We stayed in the sea view suite (and paid the sea view bucks). In the room was a giant and comfy King sized bed. A giant soaking tub with L’Occitaine products (lotion, shampoo, bath bomb, soaps, etc) was in the bathroom alongside a rainfall shower and his and hers sinks. We had turndown (and turn up) service daily. Room service was available at no extra cost (aside from the cost of the meal). A balcony that overlooked the pool and the beach.

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The last bit to talk about is the service. The hotel has an on-site spa as well as a number of helpful staff that give you advice about where to go for the best snorkeling, how to get around the island, things to do and help you book exclusive excursions. We had an amazing spa day and a trip to some smaller islands with the help of Francis. Oh Francis (inside husband joke). They also offered airport drop-off and pick up which was super helpful for us (we travelled for 12 hours so having a car really helped in the last stretch).

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That’s my review for now but if you have any questions about the hotel or what to expect there, let me know. Happy to answer. Last photos are for fun!

My 2019 Top Travel Destinations

I started my 2019 as an expat in London who went on a mini trip to Berlin Germany. One would think that you’d call that travel goals or at least, a healthy start for anyone who has resolved to travel more in 2019. To that I say you’re right, but my list of things to do this year, it’s oh so long.

As 2018 wrapped up, I saw lists curated on the best destinations to visit in 2019 and all I could think was “man, there are a lot of places out there.” How could I possibly find the time and money to do it all? The answer  is that there isn’t enough time but it doesn’t hurt to try. With that, I’m sharing a few of my travel destinations for 2019. This isn’t based on data or even places that I’ve completely experienced but for some reason (probably Instagram), I’m getting vibes that these places will see more tourism.

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Seen in Italy Magazine

Rome

Located in Italy is the beautiful city of Rome. I mean, there are lots of beautiful cities in Italy but Rome is the classic. It’s the one I recall when watching Mary Kate and Ashley jet off to another foreign place that was alive with cool outfits, adventure and somehow, a cute boy just waiting to fall in love with your feminine mystique.

In 2019, I foresee people aiming to live their best lives since 2018 was kind of meh for some. This means, indulging in yummy pastas, gelatos and wine, waistline be damned. But not really. You can walk all over the city to help restore a balance to your feasting and somehow, the pasta is less fattening there. Maybe I’m lying to myself but I have heard European food can be leaner than their American counterparts.

In Rome awaits, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, a detour to the Vatican, amazing architecture and yes, food! Why wouldn’t this be a stop in 2019.

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Dakar

Visiting a cosmopolitan city in Africa is easier than you think. One place that will delight you is Dakar, Senegal. Lined with beaches, delicious food, culture and lots of sunny vibes, Dakar is one of those places that will offer a magical experience. It’s a little less popping than places like Morocco or South Africa is (I saw so many Instagrams and I myself went to Marrakesh) so I have a suspicion that more eyeballs will be on the hunt for some place like Dakar since it is unique.

Not only will you be blown away by the landscape but you’ll learn a lot too. There are lots of museums about the slave trade and though it may not be a fun subject, it is one of very great importance. I’m hoping I can find my way there this year.

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Seen in Travel Triangle

Bali

So if you were on Instagram at all last year, Bali was all over the shop. There were photos of influencers in tubs filled with rose petals or sitting in a pool eating what appeared to be a delicious spread of a floating breakfast. Now that’s luxury!

When you arrive, perch on a beautiful sandy beach, climb a volcano or visit a temple. Some people love to have monkeys all over them but I say ditch that and just look at them from a far. This location has been on my list for two years now as somewhere I need to visit and that still hasn’t changed. Located in Indonesia, I’m dying to one day set off for warm rays, yummy food and a bit of adventure. I’m sure Bali will still deliver fierce photos on social media this year.

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Seen in Travel + Leisure

 

Palawan Islands

Just a few months ago this location sat at the top of my list for places to consider for my honeymoon. As soon as I “discovered it” however, I saw it appearing on way too many Instagram feeds for my liking. I wanted a remote, relaxing honeymoon adventure so I put it a bit further down on my contenders list but it’s still up there in regards to must visit. Why? The breathtaking views.

Sit on a white beach overlooking turquoise waters while sipping on a tasty drink. Go snorkeling and discover the flora and fauna below. Head off to a lagoon, an underground river or a cave to find hidden treasures. Or island hop and indulge in the local cuisine. This is truly a vacation to unwind, relax and dazzle your eyes! I definitely see more people heading here in the coming months.

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Montego Bay

Although I have Jamaican heritage, I’ve never been to any part of Jamaica. I have been to the Caribbean (DR) but not to any island. For shame, I know. But this year I suspect I might get there finally and so will others.

A tropical paradise, Montego Bay offers fun island vibes. Sip on my fav drink of pina coladas; eat jerk chicken, roti, curry goat, plantains, dumplings and all the goods; lay in the pristine sand reading a good book. There are a lot of ways to just exist in bliss on this island and I see many people in need of a remote holiday without spending tons of cash. Montego Bay in Jamaica is the answer.

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Seen in Visit Sedona

Sedona

A fan of hiking and spa days? Sedona will be your local place to head to in 2019. Taking in beautiful sunsets or sunrises, you can do yoga from a hill top or find a masseuse that will workout every bit of stress from your body.

What I like about Sedona and suspect others will enjoy this year is that it is low-key but surrounded by astounding beauty. Red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests are around so the nature lover in you will have something to constantly take in while in the city. You’re also pretty close to the Grand Canyon so you can take in those views and eat some delicious food that is likely to have a Mexican influence. And if you love spirituality, I know this place will be for you. I see mental health and spirituality topping people’s lists this year so don’t be shocked to see them all in Sedona.

 

Those are my thoughts based on no scientific facts, just my hunch. Let me know if you agree!

The Disappearing Passport: Stranded in America

Is my title dramatic? Of course it is but I was going through a range of emotions and I felt like this captured it. Are there worse places to be stranded? Of course! I’m aware of the amount of privilege I’m swinging here but that’s sort of the point of this post. How I realized my American passport offered me so much privilege when it came to traveling (and life as a whole) and how crippled, deflated, and shocked I felt without it.

Travel isn’t everything but it does mean something when you’ve experienced it. Once you’ve gotten a taste for it, it’s hard to shake. Like a sweet chocolate chip cookie or ice cream addiction. It’s so good and you can’t help but go back for one more cookie or one more scoop.

I had to give up my passport as I awaited a spouse visa to join my husband in the UK. Since I’m from America, I had to mail my passport to a visa office in Sheffield, UK and wait for a verdict. This meant no international traveling of any sort until I received a decision. If I wanted to leave the country, I’d have to withdraw my visa application and reapply with more money and wait an unknown period of time that could last for up a minimum of 3 months. No thanks! So I spent the tail end of Summer and early Autumn trapped in NYC. Specifically, the Bronx.

Again, woe is me right? Trapped in a cultural city known as NYC with lots of things to do, see and loved ones at my doorstep. Yeah, I’m playing my tune on a tiny violin but I’m trying to make a point. The point that when without your passport, your world feels smaller. Although I could travel domestically, I felt like everything around me enclosed on me. Especially with all the anti immigrant rhetoric and presidential news, my world felt like options were reduced and I could only see but a few steps ahead.

I also began to reflect and notice the amount of privilege I had. How I could easily travel around the world without having to apply for visas or get too much grief for applying. How I could just show up in Europe, flash my passport and pretty much get past the border without the third degree. It was simple and now I felt that that power was gone. That power to discover the world around me. I couldn’t leave NYC for Bali at the drop of a hat (though I would never do that because I require a little budget and a little planning). I wanted to learn about new cultures, see new sights and try new food. Again, I know I could do this in NYC but I wanted my privilege back, as odd as that sounds as a black female.

I never understood how complex (or how much more complex to be accurate) that life could be until after I started traveling. Learning about how different countries approached subjects like healthcare, democracy, homelessness, gender, etc. It was all so eye opening. But when I was grounded in the Bronx for about 3 months, I knew I had to settle in and just observe my surroundings with the hopes of being reunited with my passport. Observe I did. I saw what my neighbors considered a way of life and how people looked toward various moments of happiness. It was enlightening.

Cut to now. I have my passport and visa and I’m in the UK. I’m dying to book my next big trip (or small trip) and I’m so happy to have some autonomy restored.

 

Why You Should Relocate Abroad

Recently, I wrote a guest travel post for the ever fun and fabulous Shut Up and Go travel duo of Damon and Jo. I explained why I had to leave NYC in search of culture and a feeling of newness abroad in London. It was more than I dreamed of but also, not what I dreamed at all. Things happened and things didn’t happen; as is life no matter where you travel. But I feel it’s my duty to shed some light on people who love to travel this new idea – have you ever thought about relocating abroad?

If no, ask yourself why you’d pass on relocating or refuse to consider this option. To me, being an expat, even temporarily, is one of the best things you can do. It opens so many doors for you and gives you an experience like no other. To coax a few of you on the fence when it comes to expat life, I’ve identified four reasons why you should seriously adjust your life and relocate!

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Restart Button

No one gets a truly blank slate in life (unless you have amnesia) but moving abroad to a new country can get you close enough. When you move to a new country, literally no one knows who you are or your story. To them, you’re a funky foreigner that could live up to the hype of your homeland’s stereotype or show them a brand new perspective. Also, everything is foreign to you as well. You can figure out where you want to live, what you want to do to earn money and who you want to hang out with. It can be like it’s the first time you’ve ever had to make this decision. I know new beginnings can be scary for most but I say lean in to the restart and see what cool person emerges (or how you might reaffirm who you are).

New Cultures

When you are in a new city as an expat, you’ll run into people from all over the world. But instead of hearing a foreign language on a tour or while eating dinner out at a banging restaurant, you’ll actually have time to interact with and get to know other cultures. As a girl who spent most of her life in the bubble that is NYC (it too is it’s own kind of bubble), nothing made my eyes truly open until I studied abroad in Paris for a semester. Learning a new language, figuring out how people lived day to day, trying to understand the layout of the city – these were all challenges but I can say with certainty that it changed me for the better.

More Exploration

The downside of travel in the form of vacation or holiday is that you may not have enough time to truly get to know a location. As an expat, you can take your time learning the intricacies of various neighborhoods; discovering which places are your go-to for excellent dining, what spots are great for coffee or finding a wine bar that is pocket friendly! Just imagine how many more Instagramable locations, museums you can visit and cool hangouts you can find when you don’t have to be in a rush. Slow travel can be just as exhilarating as a quick holiday.

Private Time

Being alone in a new city can be frightening but nothing allows you to know yourself better. This sense that you are own your own and you have to work to make friends, setup your place and create a life gives you a new type of power. I’m not gonna lie though, some people don’t thrive on this. Some people panic and sink or shrink into a person they don’t know but if you keep your heart positive and believe that everything will turn out for the better, the things you find about yourself are invaluable. For instance, while abroad in Paris, I learned that I enjoy walking cities by myself. At first, I was doing it because I didn’t know what else to do but then, I started to enjoy my walks around the arrondissements.  I could navigate myself anywhere I wished to go and could speak to people in decent French to get what I wanted. Who know when I would have learned I had the power to do that had I not become a temporary expat in Paris!

It’s true that solo expat life isn’t for everyone but I think it can be! And if not, bring a partner, sibling, friend with you! Doing it as a duo can be just as eye opening and life affirming. Remember, you don’t have to be an expat forever – you can always go back home. But take the chance, get out there and learn a new way to live, you’ll be better than you are right now.

Let me know if you’ve ever been an expat or have considered it. Why or why not?

Is Travel On Instagram Depressing?

I was recently on a career podcast where I talked about failures and what it all meant when it came to success. You know! The idea that failure is synonymous with success. That no one who succeeds can say that they don’t know failure. Well, if you’re not familiar with this, I spoke about it at length in relation to my career on The Career Passport (take a listen if you like). This got me thinking about my present situation.

Currently, I feel like I’m in a bit of the failure point of my life. Why? I’m getting caught up in that trope where you accidentally measure your success against someone else’s. This is a terrible trap. It’s something that you shouldn’t do but as a human, can’t help but do from time to time. Why is this dangerous? For starters, no one is perfect or the same. By comparing yourself to someone else, you are holding yourself up to a standard at which you cannot truly compete. All of the things that got you to this point and person X to the same point are very different. It’s kind of like the butterfly effect. Where the fluttering of wings changes things drastically. Person X may have had a flutter 10 days before you which changed the course of their life. Comparing yourself to them is a losing battle. I have been doing this in some twisted way.

Right now, I’m in limbo. I’m vague about this because in someways, I don’t want to jinx myself about all the good things to come. I will write about this at length when everything is settled (perhaps by early November), but now I’m just holding on to sanity. The way in which I hold on is to occupy my every waking minute with work, research and entertainment. But now the entertainment is getting to me. When I look at Instagram stories for highlights from a person’s day, it makes me happy. I’m entertained and sometimes, uplifted at the various journeys people take. But then I get sour. I start to obsess and think about how I wish I could have those same liberties and freedoms, ignoring what I do have. Why?

I blame the limbo. Limbo just means I’m forced to wait. My hands are tied and there is absolutely nothing I can do to progress in the traditional sense until the waiting period has ended. This has me feeling stuck. Stuck in one little hole with a small opening starting to form at some far corner but that hole is forming at an incredibly slow rate. I twiddle my dumbs since I’m not allowed to assist in making the opening big enough for me. I was only allowed to prick it once and wait for time to expand it. Had enough of this metaphor? Yeah I figured. I’m waiting! lol

While I wait I admire and then compare. I think “I wish I could be there or go to XX place or do XX thing.” I’m longing and feeling like a failure as I just hover here. Instagram adds to this feeling. I desperately want to seize my destiny into my own hands but all I can do is watch the lives of others play out. Well, the highlights. I keep reminding myself that I’m only seeing the highlights. Not the tears or the real frustrations life throws at you because that would be depressing for social media. But what do I do?

First, I have to realize this isn’t a failure or a setback. All those people doing things I wish I could on Instagram are “waiting” for their own things that I’m completely unaware of. They too might be staying tight lipped about their situations until it all plays out and in the meantime, I get to see the way they distract themselves from all the waiting.

Second, I need to realize what I do have and what I can currently achieve. The answer to both is I can do a lot and achieve a lot while I wait. There is joy to be had in those very things so I need to snap myself out of it and enjoy.

Third and most important is to constantly remember that I too have highlights that people admire and I need to be patient and kind of enough to admire others highlights when they shine on Instagram (or in other forms). Life doesn’t revolve around me and others are allowed happy. I’m not saying I feel like they shouldn’t have it when I get all woe is me but I have to reinforce that idea of happiness is deserved and I get the privilege to take a look at it.

So Instagram doesn’t really build depression. It can feed into it if you don’t take a step back and realize what the platform is and can be used for (I mean, it’s also used as a tool of capitalism and greed but that’s another story, haha). Breathe and enjoy the highlights guys. You will have yours to share (or not share) sooner than you think!

Acting Black While Abroad

How does one act black while abroad? Is your hair in braids? Are you wearing wild prints? Do you say ain’t?

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To me, those aren’t black things. They are just things people do but somehow, doing it makes you stand out.

I recently had a conversation with my friend about this as race is still ever prominent in today’s society. From Kanye shouting about slavery being a choice; to Trump calling countries in Africa a sh*t hole, the dialogue is something I’m aware of. I find it exhausting as a black american female but it’s even more tiring when it concerns travel.

Traveling is usually done for fun. It’s a leisure activity that is packed with new cultures, adventure and possible ways for training your brain to look at the world. It’s not supposed be stressful. Granted, when I’m on vacation I’m a bit on edge trying to stay vigilant about scammers, pickpockets and high prices. But why oh why do I need to worry about representing a race or having people mistreat me while abroad?

Now, I don’t truly worry about this but it is a thought that pops up when I notice I’m the only one in the room.

As I said, I recently had a conversation with my friend about this. I was curious to know if she felt like she needed to be on her best behavior. Her response? She said that she only ever got an inkling of that when she was in European countries but in places like the Caribbean or perhaps Africa, she felt there would be less scrutiny over her attitude and demeanor. For the most part, she felt at ease on her trips but she wanted to make sure that she didn’t give the wrong impression. It made me think whether other black travelers felt this way too. Did they feel that they had to put on a performance or be anything other than themselves?

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Whenever I travel, I try to be the best me possible. I’m not worried about being watched or having someone call me out for being black. That’s totally ridiculous! And anyways, I had to get used to other people calling me an Oreo while growing up. I was told I wasn’t behaving like a black girl in my speech, what I liked to do, what I liked to watch, who I had crushes on, everything. It made me feel weird. I didn’t know how to take it but eventually, I realized that what they said didn’t matter. No one race acts in one particular way or even carries the same traits. I shouldn’t have to worry about people (black, blue, white or brown) thinking I’m living up or living down to their expectations of black people.

Last December in Morocco, I blogged that it was pretty hectic. But another thing I mentioned was that with my box braids, a lot of the locals called me a Rasta. Braids aren’t dreads and I’m not a Rasta. The point of this? I had no idea that I was being judged for my hair and that I was representing Jamaicans. I did feel that I stood out in some way but I was trying to represent, I was there to explore. I was there to see a new place through my eyes and walk the city and do whatever felt.

Vacations are supposed to be a break from reality, but then again, you can’t escape life. Maybe you can only dodge a few everyday annoyances and thinking that you can get a true break from nonsense is a dream.

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What I’m trying to say is that we aren’t all one way. We are all individual no matter the race and that people need to see past color. I’m not on my best behavior when I travel because I’m black and want to represent, I behave the way I do so that I can just leave a good impression of myself. No one else. I guess I just want others to feel the same. I want others to travel and just enjoy because traveling is fun.

Wear your hair in braids and do what’s comfortable to you is what I say. What do you guys think?

 

 

Can You Speak French in Marrakech?

Communication is key. It really is! If you can’t align with another person, things can really fall to poo as people say. I mean, there may be other factors at play but when you can’t express a simple feeling. Things start to breakdown to the point of no return. This is especially essential when traveling!

My last foreign trip was to Morocco. I was dying to go to a country where English or Spanish wasn’t the primary language. I wanted to be in a new location where I could dive head first into another language. The language of love… French.

I studied French for 4 years in college. So much learning in fact that it became my second major and I live abroad for an entire semester in Paris. It was good times. Well, at the time, I was very nervous. I was so far from home and excited but unsure of how much I should do in the country. Like, I didn’t really venture too far or do any wild things you see in the movies (rom com or R rated stuff). I just kind of wandered the streets from time and enjoyed pastries.

Not to make it sound sad or anything. It was great and I got to practice my French a lot but in hindsight, I would have mixed things up a bit. But I’m losing my point. I went to Marrakech because I wanted to practice my French and visit a country that dazzled on Instagram. When I got there however, I felt like I only ever got to speak French at my riad.

I was traveling with my boyfriend and upon our arrival, I felt as if everyone was addressing him rather than  myself. Maybe I’m a bit timid and he’s more outgoing but I felt like there may have been dynamics at play. I’m female. He’s a male. I’m black and he was classified as white. I’m American and they assumed he was German.lol They mostly spoke in English and we were told they preferred Arabic rather than us attempting French. Lots of little factors in Marrakech and I’m honestly not sure which one tipped the scale in either direction. What I did feel however is that I rarely got to speak much in French.

I know it’s been a while and my accent is pretty poo but I really wanted to break it out more. I did make attempts and understood a lot of what was spoken when our riad host have us the lay of the land but I definitely didn’t get to say as much as I wanted. Was it my fault or the outside factors? I’ll honestly never know but it was an interesting experience.

So can you speak French in Marrakech? You can but if English is your first language and they can sense it, I’d say be prepared for them to speak that language instead.

Am I wrong? Can you speak French and I was being too shy? Let me know!

Where To Eat In Marrakech

Today, I want to breakdown where you should eat in Marrakech if you’re dying for food and don’t want to end up in KFC. I won’t lie, if you’re a picky eater, you’ll find it hard to immediately pop in and find something to eat. BUT, if you’re open, you’ll discover that flavors there are amazing and that there’s so much you can find to satisfy your tastebuds.

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We went here after I got very hangry (I feel like that happens often). We were looking in our guidebook for a place to eat nearby Jemaa el Fna. We didn’t want to dine directly in the square as you were likely to find overpriced mediocre food but incredible views, so we looked a bit outside the square. We soon found Portofino. A spot that specializes in  Italian cuisine. When you enter, it doesn’t look like anything special. It actually looks like a tourist trap but it’s low key and actually pretty nice.

There, I ordered a creamy chicken pasta and we had an appetizer of bread and olives. It was great! Maybe I was starving but the food was really good and you received a large quantity of it. For dessert, I had a creme brule and anyone who knows me knows that it’s one of my favorite treats. It didn’t disappoint. I’d definitely recommend this place and rate it a 4/5.

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I love me some creme brule!

 

Cafe Dejeuner

A pricer option but lovely for a special dinner would be Cafe Dejeuner. It’s upscale (think sophisticated tourist) but not too high end that you feel out of place wearing jeans. The ambiance was delightful and peaceful – everything you need after spending a hectic day in the square.

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I had a zucchini and garlic soup as my starter and my boyfriend had four fried dumpling like pieces – they were amazing! For our mains, he had monkfish and I had a beef dish. Both were cooked very nicely, the meat fell off the bones and the sauces they were cooked in – so good. I’d recommend any of these dishes if you’re at this restaurant tucked in one of the side streets of the souks. Our dessert was a lemon tart, but a creative play on the tart. I have a sweet tooth and I think this was one of my favorite dishes. 4.5/5

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Lemon tart with meringue and yummy bits.

House of Fusion

Here you have to earn your food. On Rue Zitoun, this cute old riad is home to a fabulous chef named Edwina who teaches you how to make traditional Moroccan cuisine.

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Classes can cost about $100 but you’ll be getting a five star meal. Make cous cous and mint tea from scratch over fabulous conversation about the city and life. We ended up eating butterfly sardines, aubergine, cous cous with sweet roasted peppers, fried cauliflower, chicken tagine, cucumber sorbet and an assortment of vegetables. It was rich and unbelievably tasty. Really one of the best meals ever. What was more satisfying is that we made everything from scratch! 5/5

Those are my top spots for great food in Marrakech. I’m sure La Mamounia serves up fabulous food but you’ll probably spend a pretty penny on it. All of these options are moderatley affordable. Even the cooking option as you learn to make all the dishes from scratch and get the recipes to recreate the meal later at home.

 

Let me know if you’ve been to any of these places. Any other worthy spots to eat at in Marrakech?

Inside The “Door To The Desert”

We had seven days in Marrakech. A place my boyfriend and I had never been to before. Upon stepping foot in the ancient medina, we were in awe of the beauty and action that danced before our eyes on the bus ride into the city. Once actually mingling in without surroundings however, we were overwhelmed and frazzled.

A day or so of getting used to the pace of things, we started looking into ways to retreat, relax and taking in the vast desert landscape that is associated with Morocco. After doing a bit of research and getting a recommendation from our Moroccan cooking class teacher, we booked our trip Ouarzazate – the door to the desert.

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Where are we bro?

The door to the desert! I was excited (and so was my boyfriend) to see a bit of the Sahara, or just get close enough to it. I had never been before and we thought this location sounded like a perfect way to squeeze in the “roughing it” portion of our trip without straying too far or investing too much money. We hopped on a bus from Marrakech to Ouarzazate (about 5 hours ride) and then took a car up to The Fint Oasis.

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It’s hard not to be charmed by the ride and the views. Everything was so rural and earthy. We saw people walking along the side of long stretches or road, dunes, greenery and more. That may sound so “touristy” or privilege like of me but I found everything so sweet and real, if that makes any sense. It wasn’t like being yelled at in the ancient medina to lunch somewhere or buy something, but peaceful and beautifully savage.

We road in a car for what was about 20 minutes, absorbing every shock and bump of the rural terrain. That was fun. I felt like I was on a safari ride or in Jurassic Park. haha

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Aren’t the colors and the sky just amazing. It really is so different from city life.

We soon settled into the oasis and walked to our room through this courtyard pictured above. It was beautiful but the place did not scream or look to add on any bells and whistles. It was a retreat for you to relax and recharge, away from all things digital. Absolutely no real WiFi unless you were next to the one little hub that moved around from room to room based on the staff member who controlled it. At first I thought, how dare you but then I realized, “I’m at the door to the desert, I need to explore!”

But wait, I needed food. I was getting hangry. The oasis provided free breakfast and dinner and had a lunch menu we could order bits from. I decided on chicken skewers and my boyfriend went for the tagine.

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Chicken skewers and chips

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Lemon chicken tagine

After our meal, we went out trekking. Exploring the wonders and walking up hills that looked a bit scary.

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I was trying out funny perspective.

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Never appropriately dressed for any portion of this trip, lol

We really loved our time alone and made the best of everything. We went on long walks and scaled some tall heights. Everything was exhilarating with a hint of scary (my dad told me to be a bit wary of things and now it has stuck) but we made it out alive.

All in all, I’d say staying at the Fint Oasis and exploring the door to the desert was a once in a lifetime trip. If you’re about luxuries, this place won’t be for you. It’s quaint but the resort has no WiFi and it also has one set menu – you get no choice on your food. It’s good local food but it’s the one standard nonetheless. If you plan on spending a week here, make sure you have access to a car because you can exhaust your wandering after a day. I think a short two day trip works (that’s what my boyfriend and I did). Come here to explore the tip of the desert and have a digital detox. That’s what I think it’s good for.

Have you accidentally detoxed from digital? Purposefully? Why? How was it?

Riad Zitoun – How Was It?

Close your eyes and picture a Moroccan riad. What do you see? Fabulous patterns? A gorgeous courtyard with a pool? A lavish rooftop overlooking the medina? Our stay at Riad Zitoun wasn’t the picture of lavish travel but it was quite nice.

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Sit here, the fire is nice and warm when Marrakech gets super cold at night.

Our trip started off rocky. A thief named Josef lured us to walk with him (against my constant warning) to Riad Zitoun to show us his “shortcut.” He was the WORST! The absolute WORST. I don’t wish him death but I don’t mind if he loses a limb. haha. He walked us in circles to our place where he then requested 20 euros. I paid him 10 to buzz off and he kissed my hand. Whatever. We enter the riad.

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Behind these doors is something special.

Since it’s the holiday season, there’s bit of tinsel tossed about. Keeping things festive. We chat with the hostess in French who tells us some insider tips to navigate Marrakech and hands us a map. We then collect the WiFi password from her (which is amazingly fast) and make our way to our room.

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Cozy chic?

The room has two beds. One single and this beautiful double bed that we laid our heads on. Nothing excessive or ornate – just enough to feel like you were in Marrakech whilst staying cozy at night. We also were given a heater and loads of extra fuzzy blankets to hide under. For someone who always gets cold, those blankets were life savers. During the Winter, Marrakech really gets cold at night and the room got drafty. The blankets literally gave me life and the bedding was all around clean and nice.

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Bathroom in Blue.

Our bathroom was a surprise. The tub wasn’t a tub. It was like a basin for your feet with a shower head. It worked though. It was interesting. It’s hard to keep the water all in the tub though when using the shower head. There are no curtains so you are exposed and the water splashes around – especially if you are tall. The towels are also basic. Nothing plush but hey, they dry you. The bathroom also comes with small hand soap and plenty of toilet roll.

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We tired.

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How does this face look?

They clean the bins every night but no new bedding and I couldn’t quite tell if we got new towels but I think we did.

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Warm Moroccan colors.

At the very top of the riad is a terrace. You can sit up there to catch the sun at the top of the day or just lounge away drinking Moroccan mint tea.

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I’m loving the accents and decor.

There are little loungers and sofas covered in beautiful bright prints. Drapes are also all around the space to protect you from the wind should it be a cool day. I say take advantage of the terrace. It overlooks the ancient medina and you can hear the prayer call in the early morning.

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Free breakfast!

The idea of free breakfast always excites me so I was glad we had it included with our accommodations. The setup was so cute and the colorful little dishes were so nice. They concealed Moroccan breakfast essentials like honey, jam, butter and more.

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I still don’t know what this is.

We were served crepe like treats and cornmeal type of biscuits. We spread the jams and honey on it and they were quite tasty. I’d say a 3 out of 5. I was surprised to discover that a Moroccan breakfast never included fruit or meat, just carbs. That and mint tea. I will say the breakfast was nice as you could literally eat it when you woke up. No need to rush at 8 AM to collect on the free food and you could have an intimate breakfast by yourself – no need to sit with other people if you’re antisocial.

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What a cute stairwell no? So beautiful.

The hallways had character. I liked the patterns and colors in the space. That said, the stairwells did have low ceilings so again, if you are tall, watch your head.

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Yay for warmth!

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My eyes rarely stay open for photos.

All in all though, Riad Zitoun was a solid 3.5 out of 5 stay. The rooms were a 3.5, the food was a 3 and the helpfulness and ambiance was a 4. Now, it’s no La Mamounia but you get a lot of convenience from this location. It’s comfortable, quiet and provides you with extras like excursion packages, airport pickup and just a friendly atmosphere.

If you need a place to stay and want to be near the ancient medina, then Riad Zitoun is the perfect fit. If you require luxe or a pool in your riad, then this isn’t the place.

Would you stay here? If you’ve been to Marrakech, where did you stay?