Tag Archives: vacation

souk style

moroccan basketfuchsia moroccan poufmoroccan sequin basket
I’m going to interrupt my Morocco travel journal with some of the things I brought home from the souks. Surprise: poufs and blankets.

Bartering is not my strong suit, and it felt silly at times when the amount in question was literally a dollar. Some things were very inexpensive like the brass animals and the baskets. I’m happy with the price I paid for the wedding blanket, but it’s not as if it cost pennies. I probably paid a bit too much for pottery and the poufs in the end, mostly because the conversions get tricky. One dollar is equal to eight Moroccan dirhams–not the simplest amount to convert, especially when paired with bartering and a foreign language. It was an adventure though, and now I have a story about the time I got the hard sell on pottery in Fez.

So while I am not the one who will get you a rock bottom bargain in Morocco, I do have just one tip for souk shopping:

If You Love It, Buy It

The souks of Fez and Marrakesh are often described as “maze-like,” and it’s true. You might loop back past a particular stall, or you might not. If you come across something you just love, even if it’s the silliest thing like a tagine-shaped basket, buy it. I never came across another one of those baskets, so I’m glad I stopped when I spotted it.

Do you have tips for the souks?

notes from fez, morocco

fez medina gateMay 15 2014: Yesterday morning we took a bus from Chefchaouen to Fez. It was a four hour journey, terrifying at times as the bus swayed down the winding mountain roads. Often the edge of the road was inches from a cliff, and our bus driver was not exactly driving slowly. More often than not he straddled the dividing line, narrowly avoiding small cars. I didn’t sleep until we reached a flat region.

fez riad balconyArriving in Fez was completely overwhelming though. The directions to our riad were in French, so we walked in circles through the medina. We probably passed our riad at least once, before finally using the wifi of a cafe.

fez riad detailsThe riad itself is opulent. Beautifully laid tiles, impressive carved stones, high ceilings, and an enchanting courtyard. It’s something from a movie. There is even a pet tortue.

fez viewSpeaking of tortoises, I bought a basket shaped like a tagine, and while walking someone offered me a live tortoise “pour tagine.” I declined.

fez tanneryToday we went to the terraces overlooking the tannery. We bought two poufs with the intention of giving one to my mom, but I don’t think she’ll like either! I also found a lovely blanket, blue and white pottery, and argan cream, whose label has a hotmail email address.

moroccan slippersOn our walk back from the souks, we got slightly lost (again) and wandered into the meat market. Birds were being slaughtered, others were near death, barely lifting their heads. We found a passage out and quickly left.

notes from chefchaouen, morocco

chefchaouen
From my travel journal: “We arrived by air, flying into Tangier across the Strait of Gibraltar. We immediately took a grand taxi from the airport to Chefchaouen–probably overpaying in the process, but we avoided having to transfer taxis in Tetouan this way. We drove about two hours through the Rif mountains, the roads extremely windy. Mules dotted the rugged countryside, along with sheep.”hand door knocker“The medina here is inaccessible to cars, so the cab driver dropped us at the edge of the medina, having driven down an extremely steep dirt road to do so.”chefchaouen roof deck
“Someone from our riad met us at this point, guiding us into the medina. As soon as we passed through an archway, the Blue City materialized. All of the buildings here are awash in periwinkle blue. The architecture has Spanish influences like barrel tile roofs, but the city is unmistakably Moorish.”chefchaouen stairs
“We’ve been here a few hours and have heard (and seen) roosters, drank several mint teas (hot!), and had tagine. We’re waiting to see the sunset over the mountain range–then we’re giving into jet lag.”petit dejeuner
“This morning we ate petit dejeuner on the terrace of our riad, then set out for a hike up to the old Spanish mosque. Though the mosque is no longer in use, the path to it was well-worn, used by Berbers crossing to the city. We saw a goat herder in the mountains too.”chefchaouen view
“It was a fairly steep climb, and though it was only 10 a.m., quite hot in the sun. But the views at the top were spectacular–the whole city is on view, cradled between mountains. The morning light was very pretty, bathing the blue city in a gentle glow.”goats in the medina
“On our walk back this morning, we saw a woman herding goats through the medina. We stood to the side, but the goats were apprehensive of us. We snapped a few photos and the woman started shouting. She only spoke arabic, but seemed upset we took her photo–which we weren’t trying to do. It was impossible to explain it was just the goats. It was embarrassing –not the first of our accidental slights against locals– and as much as we try not to be tourists, we are.”

what I wore in morocco

white morocco outfitHello, hello! We got back late last night from Morocco and I’m excited to share some of the highlights in the next week. I want to start from the beginning though, and that’s what I packed.

One thing I was very cognizant of while getting ready for this trip was the packing list. Morocco is a Muslim country, and while it’s Western-friendly, there’s something to be said for being respectful of another culture, and that means dressing appropriately. I never bared my shoulders and I only wore long skirts and pants. I was never harassed. I have no doubt traveling with my husband contributed to this fact, but I think dressing modestly helped a ton too.

grey and black morocco outfitThe heat may seem prohibitive to this type of dressing, but there’s very little humidity, so with good hydration and taking breaks in the shade, I never felt oppressively hot. Plus, at night it does get cool, so having at least one top with long sleeves is wise.

Of course, some tourists and local Moroccan women dress in clothes I would normally wear in summer weather: short shorts, tank tops, and shorter dresses. I have no idea if they were treated any differently, but they did stick out. But absolutely no one dressed this way in the more rural towns.

In addition to wanting to dress conservatively, I wanted to pack as little as I could. It was an 11 day trip, but I knew I’d bring back a lot from the souks (and I did). I’m really happy with what I packed in the end–everything got worn multiple times, nothing felt like dead weight. So below are a few tips, plus everything I put in my bag!

black and white morocco outfitStick to a Color Palette

This is such basic, normal advice, but critical to pulling off longterm dressing with few items. Everything I wore was black, white, or grey. I did bring one colorful maxi dress with a matching pink cardigan for dress-up nights (used twice), but otherwise, all of my daytime clothes shared a color palette. Dressing just became a matter of “when did I last wear this piece?” rather than “what goes with this?” Everything went together.

Embrace Natural Fibers

Again, this isn’t earth shattering, but it’s the difference between pitted-out tops and ones that can be rinsed and dried without an odor. All of my tops were cotton, so while I definitely got sweaty some days, my tops didn’t hang onto odor.

Think Drapey and Flowy (and Gauzy)

Yes, those are words now. I never thought I could get with drapey pants, but they were my favorite thing to wear on the trip. Mine were linen–very comfortable and the black was low maintenance. And non-fitted tops felt cool while being a bit more modest.

Below are my essentials for the trip. Just add in a favorite maxi dress and cardigan if you plan to have any fancy dinners–I highly recommend La Mamounia!

morocco packing list

{Everlane Cotton U-Neck in WhiteJ.Crew Bar-Stripe TeeEverlane Cotton U-Neck in BlackJ.Crew Pom-Pom TunicJ.Crew Keeper Chambray ShirtTory Burch Kerrigton Mini ShopperZara Drawstring Loose Fit TrousersJ.Crew Maxiskirt in StripeFrame Denim Le Garcon JeanJack Rogers Navajo FlatsTory Burch Espadrille Flats}

florida

floridaI got back late Monday from Florida, and what a successful trip it was! I ate every meal outside, drank outside, shopped outside, and saw the ocean. Somehow it had been 5 years since I last visited–a strange realization considering I spent most school vacations at my grandparents’ home there.

All of those formative years spent floating in a screened-in pool, napping on rattan love seats, and eating fresh-picked grapefruits for breakfast have made me very fond of the state, faux bamboo and all. So it should be no surprise that I bought these from Circa Who in West Palm Beach:rattan chairs

They were marked half off, so even when the shipping was factored in (a not inconsequential amount), the chairs, individually, were still less than $200 each. The cushions aren’t attached to the chairs, so when I eventually find fabric to have them redone, it won’t be as costly as upholstery. But the colors in the cushions work with what I have, so there’s no rush.

And now I’m reinstating my moratorium on faux bamboo. But if I ever retire to Florida, I am set.