Friday, 29 October 2010


Traveller loved Morocco.

Unbelievably, the Northern tip of Africa is only a mere three hour flight from London and upon touching down, Traveller was excited to be somewhere completely unlike anywhere she had ever been.

T doesn't have many photos which reflect the beauty of Marrakech or the culture, and I guess this is for two reasons. One, you generally have to pay for photos taken throughout the city and two, she spent the entire trip engrossed in her surroundings. The sights, the smells and the sounds were so utterly foreign to Traveller that she usually forgot to take photos!

Luckily, one of T's friends captured some fantastic photographs so she is going to include them (and some of her own) in her post today.



The above two photos are of the riad we stayed in - Riads are a sort of private accomodation in Morocco. There were eight of us and we had the whole Riad to ourselves. The people who ran it were brilliant and the building and rooms were beautiful.


Our first night eating in the square - it was worth it for the atmosphere! Sheep's head curry was a popular dish, but we weren't quite game enough to try it...


The souks where you can buy spices, leather goods (more about that later!), lanterns, ceramics and clothes. You have to barter and that's where all the fun is!



The square at night...

Our first and only fancy meal in the new town part of Marrakech.

We ate a Lebanese restaurant called Azar and the food was phenomenal but what we really enjoyed was the unique decor..


Photobucket particular, their rose covered lift which had plastic grass underfoot

Endless hours of amusement!

Our last night at the Riad - the Riads were the best place to eat traditional Moroccan fare. That particular night we enjoyed a beef and prune tagine which was out-of-this-world delicious! The sauce of the dish had caramelised so it was a very sweet-savoury dish. Just the way T likes it!

Thanks for looking at the photos!
One more Moroccan post to come....

Monday, 25 October 2010

Day Trip: Atlas Mountains

During our long-weekender in Morocco, we journeyed to the Atlas Mountains for a break from the bustle of Marrakech...On the way, we visited the Berber market where we experienced a market unlike any we had seen before.

The Berber Market is a once-a-week event where the Berber people exchange and sell goods in order to buy their necessities for the week ahead. We were the only tourists in the entire market and we were under strict instructions not to take any noticeable photographs. Most of the below were shot from Traveller's hip. You could buy anything from spices and herbs to rabbits and chickens to the almost out-of-place mobile phones and underwear. Many men also received their weekly shave or haircut.

Our least favourite part was the abbatoir-cum-butcher where you could purchase an entire skinned goat, fresh tripe and any part belonging to a cow, goat, chicken or sheep. As you can imagine, the stench was inordinately palpable.





The Atlas mountains themselves were quite beautiful and we had tagine for lunch before embarking on a perilous walk through to the waterfalls.






Friday, 22 October 2010

The last remnant of summer.


Traveller is in mourning.

Summer has officially, and unequivocally left Britain.

Today, Traveller had to extract her winter wardrobe from the depths of her storage container (if anyone has lived in a small room, in a London flat, you know what T's talking about) and replace it with her shorts, singlets and all other summer paraphernalia that she won't see for the next six months.

A solemn occasion.

The good news?
Traveller was able to enjoy one last sunny jaunt to an exotic occasion before hibernating for the winter.

The chosen destination?
Marrakech, Morocco!

Most European countries that T visits tend to play host to a significant level of contrast. Indeed, 'city of contrasts' is a cliche that is thrown around many cities throughout the world. There is always the rich and the poor. The beautitful and the ugly. The delicious and the repulsive. The irritable and the placid. Those that are in a rush and those that have all day.

Marrakech was one of these cities.

The first and most obvious example of this was our girl's visit to a Moroccan spa.
On our last day in Marrakech we decided to treat ourselves by visiting a local spa for a mud scrub, facial mask and massage. There were five girls on the trip and we all woke up in anticipation of the delicious pampering that was bound to occur. We arrived at our destination after our guide wove us through the many bustling, motorcyle-ridden side-streets of Marrakech.

Thoroughly lost, we were pleased and impressed upon arrival at our spa. It was so beautifully designed and tranquil that we almost high-fived each other right in the courtyard. Instead, we composed ourselves and giddily changed into our plush robes and flip-flops.

Our spa attendant did not speak English and instead we communicated through a variety of confused sign-language. She guided us upstairs to a hallway of three rooms which faced the courtyard. Pausing, we all looked at each other, eager for the pampering to begin. With no warning, the attendant put her hand on Traveller's arm and gently pushed T into one of the concrete rooms, stripped her robe off (revealing T's last clean pair of underwear) and left her facing her horror-struck friends. T started to feel nervous. What on earth was the attendant going to do with her? The concrete room had two beds in it, a sink filled with strange looking pastes and a large shower head that was streaming hot water which covered both beds and the ground.

Suddenly, the door closed and Traveller was left in the dark room by herself, wondering what to do. She decided to sit and wait and grew more nervous by the second. One minute passed and then RF was suddenly shoved into the room. T breathed a sigh of relief. At least they could experience whatever atrocities were going to occur, together. They sat on the bed, in their now soaking underwear, and started to giggle hysterically. Tears of laughter started to trickle down T's cheeks as she struggled to compose herself.

Soon, the attendant came in and proceeded to scrub RF down in front of T. As RF's dead skin trickled onto the concrete floor, T started to feel a little squeamish which helped in calming down her severe case of the giggles. RF was then washed down which involved being doused in water thrown at her in little buckets. Copping a splash right in the face, RF struggled to blink and breathe which caused T to descend into giggles once more.

One girl, afterwards, likened it to being reminscent of receiving your weekly prison wash.
A truly awkward experience.

T is happy to report, however, that the massage was lovely.



Thursday, 14 October 2010

Reasons to smile.

two week's holiday starting in less than twenty-four hours

no aches and pains from the half-marathon

school dinners and, in paticular, apple pie and custard

incomparable friends and family

new possibilities

and...a plane ticket that's heading to Morocco in two sleeps!
{along with Traveller! - yippee!}


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Hardest Part.


Now, it may seem like a daft thing to declare (not that that's ever stopped T before) but the hardest part of the half-marathon is running the race. Traveller can handle the months of training, the intervals, the really long training runs but phew - when it comes to actually running the competition - it's quite tough, no?

It's all about the head space. You really need a certain level of mental strength to get you through when you don't want to run anymore. Traveller was astounded that even crowds of cheering bystanders, whooping family members and eager friends who were photographing at every mile or so were not enough to propel her towards the finishing line. To put it simply, by the tenth mile, she was tired. She did not want to run anymore. Of course she did, albeit intermittently.

So, long story short - Traveller finished the race at 201:21 - about 1 1/2 minutes longer than last year! She was on track to finish at about 1:52, but hey, who's counting?!

And, there is always next year.

RF and T did declare that they were finished with half-marathons mere seconds after the race. You do, however, always feel differently about these things once you've had time to recover...right RF? It needs to be said that RF beat her time from last year by five minutes! Winner!

Anyway, T will stand by the fact that the Royal Parks is one of the most beautiful runs you can experience. It has a fantastic atmosphere, is really well organised and passes all of the most memorable and beautiful of London's iconic buildings and landmarks.

So, minus the aches and pains, the anxiety, the interminable mile marks that just keep coming, the long queues for the port-a-loos and the strange dreams that inevitably happen the night before - the halfie is really a tremendous experience!



One of T's mates who ran the race on his 30th birthday. He came in at 1:39 - champion!

Love this photo - RF's expression is priceless!



One of the best parts?

Riding home on Boris's bikes through the beautifully autumnal Hyde Park
{even though T's legs were barely able to cooperate with the pedals!}

For those of you wondering about the strange dream..

T woke up gasping with fright (and unequivocal relief that it wasn't reality) from a dream that involved her and RF running the half-marathon. This half-marathon, however, wound through a dark and eerie city where escalators rose up to the heavens and indian buffets were on the sidelines and well, T just couldn't get RF to concentrate. RF was standing still on the escalators and worst of all, eating indian food whilst the race was still going. Needless to say, they ended up getting lost and missing the finishing line.


Saturday, 2 October 2010

Keep on Running?

Traveller has not really mentioned that she is running for the Royal Park's Half-Marathon this year.

Well, she is.

Next Sunday, in fact.
Except, today she is laying in bed with a yucky flu whilst resting a sore foot.

Oh dear!

And, things were going so well!

Traveller and running friend had completed four really long runs (a 16k and three 18ks!) and were on track to finish the race at least a little faster than last year. Traveller has really loved training this year and has been looking forward to running for her chosen charity.

But now, T's not so sure...

Somewhere in last week's 18k, T's foot started hurting and it hasn't really stopped.Traveller will run regardless of her sore foot but would like to do it in a reasonable time!

T is thankful for Running Friend who, risking germs and potential disease-catching, brought lovely flowers, company and fruit to her today.

Thanks, RF!


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