Hammam Rosa Bonheur

I had no idea what to expect going into this experience but everyone I spoke to prior to booking our trip recommended getting a Hammam treatment.

My parents had been to Marrakech a couple weeks before we went and treated us to a spa day as a belated birthday present. A massive thank you because this was fantastic and we both came away completely relaxed which when surrounded by the noisiest and most colourful city I have ever clapped eyes on this was quite a prize!

We didn’t need to bring a thing except money- most spas will accept Euros or Moroccan Diram.

This treatment was stress free from beginning to end. We were warned the hammam was tricky to find (tell us something we hadn’t figured out about Marrakech and it’s hidden gems!) but the riad arranged for us to be met outside Cafe de France in the main square and then directed to the hammam (we did have to find our own way back… but after the massage we sort of just floated home on an Argan oil bubble!)

At the entrance to Rosa Bonheur we were greeted by a lovely gentleman who explained in perfect English how the experience worked. There were three set “menus” to choose from or alternatively you could choose to mix and match any of the treatments. We decided upon a Hammam that included a black clay scrub and an eucalyptus treatment lasting approximately 45 minutes followed by a one hour argan oil full body massage. Argan oil comes from the fruit of the argan tree, which grows only in Morocco. This was heavenly and we were gifted a small bottle each to take home.

After a delicious mint tea and sampling a few local biscuits we undressed and wore a teeny pair of disposable knickers – quite familiar to us ladies but I recommend going with your partner as seeing a grown man in a black pair of disposable knickers is one of my holiday highlights, even before the treatment started I had a smile on my face!

We covered our modesty with a robe, slid on a pair of slippers each and ascended to the top of the building where we were quickly robbed of our robes and ushered into a Hammam together. We were each washed, scrubbed and steamed within an inch of our lives. I have been told that it is quite rare to be allowed to enjoy the treatment together so if this is something you want to enjoy as a pair maybe check with the spa beforehand. either way this would still have been a very enjoyable experience but experiencing it with your other half I think was more fun. Plus as a first time experience for us both it was good to giggle through.

The smells of the Eucalyptus and the heat were out of this world. The whole experience was very relaxing and topped off with the massage just sent us into another level of zen! We both felt totally recharged on our last day in this city of buzz this was a rare escape to peace and quiet.

We waited until our last afternoon to experience the Hammam and it was very enjoyable even if it did remove a teeny bit of our tan (at least I felt it did).

Overall result – a total recharge when your running low on energy plus a dewy glow to your silky soft skin! What is not to like?

LLM

xx

Marrakech Souks

If you want a soukcessful shopping spree look no further!

Head towards the main square and behind a sea of juice stalls, hustlers and henna ladies there is the entrance to the souks.

The maze of lanes and alleyways lead you to multiple treats and additional items to take away from your trip. There are lots of leather goods, lanterns and clothing.

I have included some of the highlights below:

Lanterns

Cushions

Trinkets

Baskets

Spices

Slippers / shoes / sandals

I wish I could do it all again now!

Scrolling back through holiday photos especially one I enjoyed as much as this should be illegal while sat at your desk!

…Someone pass the biscuits- severe case of holiday blues!!

LLM

xx

Top Ten Travel Tips: Marrakech

Top ten tips:

  1. Stay at a Riad- the free recommendations were the cherry on the cake for us!
  2. Always walk on the right hand side (we saw a couple of crashes between people and scooter/ mopeds)
  3. Don’t drink the water unless it’s bottled
  4. Haggle in the souk- it is expected
  5. Book a Hammam (we went to Rosa Bonheur in the old town Medina)
  6. Bring comfy shoes or buy some when you’re there
  7. When exchanging money ask for small notes/ change
  8. The further into the souk you go the cheaper the prices, don’t be afraid to shop around
  9. Be respectful of the local culture -pack a light scarf that you can use as a wrap
  10. Leave more room in your suitcase for shopping than you’d expect

Here are some of the restaurant cards and guides to the gardens I collected:

Riad Romance

This was our gorgeous riad – approximately a 10 to 15minute walk into the main square/souks, we stayed at Riad Romance 

Highlight of my trip:

Breakfast every morning was served up on the roof terrace.

LLM

xx

Yves Saint Laurent, Jardin Majorelle

Is the queue worth it? YES 200% – stick it out, arrive early and show some determination. Do not be put off by thinking this is a tourist trap. Because, it is but it is also the top of every Marrakech to do list because it really deserves the top spot!

We bought a ticket for the gardens and the museum combined, this is an option at the ticket desk but its not known widely and many make the mistake just to purchase the gardens ticket.  It is only a small amount more for the museum and it is a welcomed extra.

The Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech is one of the most visited sites in Morocco. It took French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) forty years of passion and dedication to create this enchanting garden in the heart of the “Ochre City”.

The gardens are more than just cooing over different trees… here are a few of my favourite snaps! These gardens scream “I am made for instagram”  and I promise every way you turn there will be a photographer snapping another gorgeous picture- we witnessed queues to take photographs at certain spots. There’s enough beauty to go around don’t worry!

The best bit for me was the secret cafe in the midst of the gardens, you get to sit beneath a tree with heavy branches littered with oranges. The colours are incredible and the ice-cream flavours are superb!

As you can imagine there are a big team of gardeners tending to the site and many will happily take your photo and tell you about the gardens. It’s a place to be proud of and their dedication is evident from the impeccably kept gardens. One gentleman got so carried away taking our photographs I think we could have a whole album of couple snaps here to bore the whole family!

We also looked around the bookshop, gallery and Berber museum which provided an interesting snapshot in time throughout the gardens history.

We both decided it was a welcome haven in a magically loud and colourful city of the senses!

It really should be the top of your list of things to do or worth going back for if you missed it the first time around.

LLM

xx

4 Days in Marrakech

Day One: 

The best tagine was possibly the first night, our flight arrived in the evening meaning we really wanted to just find the riad and get settled before our adventures began the next day. The riad contacted us beforehand and suggested cooking a traditional meal of fresh Moroccan salads followed by a stunning chicken tagine – who were we to turn down a freshly prepared three course dinner upon arrival, so we decided to chance it. It was utterly delicious. Dinner was followed by an early night.

I was tempted to go out and explore the main square tonight but I am so pleased we ventured out the next day. I think it is important to visit the square for the first time in day light.  I am not so sure my navigation would have worked under the dark disguise of night time through the numerous near identical lanes.

Day Two

We were fortunate enough to get breakfast served at our riad included in the price upon booking. Everyday it was slightly different variations but essentially: fresh orange juice, coffee, hot milk, pancakes, fried egg, yogurt and bread with butter/jam. We ate beside the pool or on the roof terrace if it was warm enough underneath the palm trees! This really made me feel like I was living in a postcard!

I was desperate to explore the souks and see what shopping treats were in store for us. So we walked (with a hand drawn map, a guide map and also google maps) to the souks via the main square. I would like to think I have a pretty good sense of direction but the alley and lanes are very similar, not helped by locals trying to inform you that the main square is “shut today, come to my shop”, “the main square is not that way”, “you are walking the wrong way to the medina”. Our riad owners warned us that locals might try and confuse you deliberately so that they could sell you a tour guide or offer to guide you for a fee. Just stick to your instincts and also once we had made it in a couple times it becomes more familiar.  Also Google maps is a great backup!

The souks are a maze of colour and there are fantastic bargains to be found!

We ducked out from all the madness and buzz of the souks to get a fresh orange juice at Terrasse des epices  (a stunningly decorated spot perfect for a timeout from the markets beneath its lantern lit rooftop chilled zone). I was also informed that this is beautiful in the evening too.

We ate lunch at the nearby Le Jardin (careful you do not squash the tortoises that roam freely through this restaurant!)

After lunch, we went to hunt out Le Jardin Secret, a spot recommended for its tranquility in this vibrant city. With only a small admission fee it should be on your to do list! There seemed to be a lot of husbands and boyfriends happily taking in their  brief time of calm and stillness. The far tower offers a spot for a drink or light bite to eat if you fancy it. The green glittering tiles beneath your feet and the lavender scents are dreamy. I felt as though I was skipping through a Pinterest board rather than living in real life.

For dinner, we braved the Jemaa el-Danna square. It is worth highlighting that I did not ever feel scared during my whole time in Marrakech apart from this night. There is intense rivalry between the food stalls and I would recommend knowing which stalls to eat at before ambling through the various promoters. We were pushed and pulled into every direction with paper cut palms from various menus being thrusted at us. We ate at stall number 14 but also had stall number 1 suggested to us by friends. The riad owners had endorsed number 1 for seafood. We had bread with dips (smoked aubergine and tomato) calamari, chips, bread and soft drinks for approximately £15 for us both. The prices in the square all seemed to be very good value for your money. We had choruses of “two years no diarrhoea” chanted at us  from one restaurant which stuck in my head.

Another tip for the square expect to see snake charmers, monkeys on leads, henna ladies, dancers,

Le Salama, just off the main square behind Cafe de France has a great skybar for a drink, and has a fun decor. There is a happy hour here for most of the day just excluding the hours 14:00 to 15:00.

On the way home, I found some incredible jam biscuits from a seller. A quick mint tea before bed.

Day Three  

Breakfast at the Riad followed by a taxi to the Jardin Majorelle ( Please see another blog on this garden)

Further exploring the souks, there are lots of different sections for example, there is a metalwork section and another area for weaving.

We spent this afternoon relaxing in our gorgeous riad and sun bathing on our new beach blankets purchased at the souk (sometimes you can forget to take time to chill on holiday especially in a city like Marrakech where there is so much to see, taste and do!)

Dinner – Il Limoni – outstanding food, decor and staff! This was recommended by the riad owners and I had not heard of it in blogs/reviews before traveling to Marrakech. It was hands down the best restaurant in Marrakech for us. Excellent tagine and also offered italian food too. The tables are beneath lemon trees and a fountain in the centrepiece of the courtyard! Very beautiful and extremely reasonably priced for the high quality food, setting and staff.

Day Four 

Breakfast served at our riad.

For lunch we ate at Nomad , I would recommend booking as we were very lucky and managed to bag ourselves a spot overlooking the markets below we saw lots of couples and groups turned away for not having a booking. We shared the Nomad burger: spiced lamb burger with sautéed aubergine/eggplant, caramelised onion and harissa mayonnaise and also a feta and courgette fritters served with minted yoghurt. Followed by an incredible pudding (it is worth going here just for the pudding alone!) The Saffron scented Moroccan Date cake with fresh whipped cream and salted caramel sauce. It was the perfect rival of the old classic sticky toffee pudd. All that shopping had made me hungry!

Hammam spa treatment at Rosa Bonheur(see my blog post on this individually for more information).

For dinner we ate at the restaurant called Le Foundouk choosing to sit on the roof terrace. This was a wonderful dining experience and they even wash your hands for you before you start. Each menu is rolled up into a scroll and given to you in a basket. There is alcohol served here including cocktails. You must must must try the pistachio creme brulee.

Things to add the above if you want to:

  • Palais Al Bahia and the Palais Al Badii
  • Saadian Tombs
  • Tanneries
  • Atlas mountains day trip
  • Medersa Ben Youssef
  • Koutoubia Mosque

LLM

xx

Round up of 2017

This year has been absolutely amazing and one that won’t be easily beaten. The final branch has been swept away from our road and its officially time to say goodbye to 2017.

In 2017, I travelled to the other side of the world – Australia and New Zealand, stayed with best friends, met new friends and felt happy exploring by myself (there was a lot of alone time when you travel solo). Then, just before I got sick of living out of a rucksack and smelling like one too for that matter. I flew home with about 4 stops en route to London (a backpacker’s budget is stretched to the last few pennies after three months so I couldn’t be picky with my flight/s home). It was worth every painful minute, hour and day (yes it took way over 24hrs to travel home).  And the jet-lag was REAL!! So were the holiday blues, especially when you have to see everyone you’ve met along the way continue their journey without you – although the holiday tips come in handy for planing future escapes.

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I always planned to travel in advance of starting my training contract and I am so pleased now having started that I had a chance to do it. One thing this post has made me realise was just how lucky I was to do it. I love all my memories, photographs and I really must update the travel section of LLM to reflect the places I visited soon (I kept a daily travel journal while I was away to write down tips, do/ do nots of backpacking).

Australia: including staying with one of my oldest friends in Sydney (the best tour guide in town FYI) skydiving in Byron Bay, climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge (one of the most breathtaking views), Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Great Ocean Road, Cairns, Fraser Island and sailing the Whitsundays.

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Friends like these don’t grow on trees. img_2047img_1591-1img_1991

New Zealand: Both islands – the most amazing, naturally beautiful holiday destination. Queenstown and Franz Josef Helicopter hike both stand out as ultimate bucketlist places ticked off.

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Travel also took me to Abu Dhabi, Copenhagen, France (including Paris), Monaco, Italy (San Remo),  Kos, Croatia and Lanzarote to name a few.

Next instalment, and in preparation for starting my training contract was to move into a gorgeous flat with my boyfriend, such a fun experience buying new bits and pieces to make it look more “ours” and less “rented/ temporary”. It was a mad few weeks of viewing properties all over London. But we eventually found our gem and started to plant some roots. This is the first place in London that has really felt like home and what makes it even better is it is shared with someone really special.

Other highlights have to be:

Four friends had beautiful weddings. These were each individually special for me and memories I will always remember. Thank you for letting me be part of your day.

Three  trips to Ikea to new household essentials (plus half the plant section!)

Two of my friends got engaged! Congratulations!

One of my friends announced they had a baby on the way. So much to look forward to in 2018 and new introductions to meet (cannot wait!)

I started my training contract, met new colleagues, friends and challenges.

Here is to more excitement in 2018.

LLM

xx

New Year’s Resolution 2018

New Year is here and I have for the first time in over a year been for a run, ok a sort of run. It was mostly a jog and a very red faced one at that.

Have you set yourself a new years resolution?

You have probably guessed I have (like thousands of others) decided to be healthier in 2018 and use my gym membership more (it wont be hard as I only used it a handful of times in 2017). But my overriding resolution is to do more things that bring me joy. That being said I will invest a big effort into getting healthier. I used to really enjoy running as a hobby but since stopping i’ve struggled to pick up my trainers to start again – this changed this morning. And, once you force yourself to set off it really is not that bad. I also really want to continue to travel and see more of the world around me. Any suggestions for long weekends away are very welcome!! I try to maximise the best usage of my annual leave this way.

A new years resolution can be giving something up but also starting something new (find the courage to pick up a pen and draw, or pen a diary entry, or learn to knit or learn a language or try cooking a new dish – we tried Beef Wellington this New Year’s Eve etc).

Recently, I think its become more and more apparent that I like to plan but not too rigidly (a plan with some movement is perfect in my eyes), this might be seem to be an oxymoron to some. But let me explain, I think goals are great but that we should not allow ourselves to fall apart if we cannot immediately conquer our new challenge; therefore a little degree of flexibility is a good arena to be in. Always be open to change. That way you wont be disappointed or frustrated if things need tweaking along the way.

To achieve my goals, I have roped in my boyfriend and best friend to help me.  He motivates me when I feel disheartened. I suggest roping in your better half and/or friends to help put your best foot forward. Make your resolutions public (like I am doing here in this blog or by phoning  a friend/ family member and that way it becomes REAL) . This way you will be more likely to stick to them and will add to your resolve.

I challenge you to share your own New Year’s resolution in the comments so that we can all rally each other on.

Wishing you the happiest and healthiest year in 2018!

LLM

xx

ps. My breakfast this morning (armed with my lemon and apple cider vinegar shot – I will do a post on this to follow…hold that thought/judgement until then please….)

Breakfast NYE

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island is tiny but totally stunning.

mag4Townsville is the greyhound bus stop and then you get on a short twenty minute ferry over to the island. It is not worth spending much time in Townsville and I would utilise your time exploring magnetic island, its sensible to get a hire car between friends.

The Base hostel was also one of my favourites and well worth its price tag!

We hired a car and ticked off a lot of what the island has to offer in one day: Horseshoe Bay, Arcadia Bay, Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay and West Point.

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We fed rock wallabies (tip- they LOVE the leafy celery sticks).

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The island has some incredible walks, beaches and history.

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LLM

xx

 

Whitsundays 

Only read this if you want to hear about two days and one night of bliss…
We departed from Airlie beach early in the morning to make the most of our first day out at sea.


Our trusty stead was called Siska, a red hulled sailing boat (although we hardly had enough wind to ever put the main sail to use). 


The three crew were fantastic and made our trip even more incredible; then there was room for twenty-three adventurers! The weather for or trip was forecast to be horrible but it was great the whole time I was in the Whitsundays! In fact people got burnt! 

The first day was phenomenal, as soon as we set sail someone spotted dolphins alongside the boat. My friend hannah and I were by chance on the same Whitsundays tour which was lovely, we sat with our feet over the edge of the boat dangling into the turquoise sea beneath. The views of the nearby islands were stunningly beautiful. 


For lunch, Gabby (one of the fab crew) whipped up a tasty treat- I take my hat off to her for cooking for all of us in a shoebox of a kitchen! We had quiche and salad (had to hold on to the salad so it didn’t blow overboard), afterwards we had teas/coffees. 

Our first stop was Whitehaven beach- huge sea turtles pop up to say hello as we get transported from the boat to land-we had to wear incredibly figure hugging stinger suits so don’t expect any bikini shots! We sweated up to to the Hill inlet lookout point. The views here were the best thing I have ever seen, it was only turquoise water and swirled pure white sand. The photographs do not do this spot justice. It is incredible to see first hand. 


For bed, I tried to sleep in my cubby hole of a bunk but the body heat of that many people downstairs inside a boat was too much to handle so I grabbed lots of comfy clothes, my pillow and provisions then headed up to top deck. 


My plan was to sleep underneath the stars and that’s exactly what ended up happening (I was a bit achy in the morning but this was definitely a tick off the bucketlist).


The second day meant more stinger suiting and booting as snorkel and dive trips were taking place. My favourite spot was Blue Pearl Bay (caveat- I did see a huge Reef shark and nearly cried into my mask, I’m not so sure about the whole “they are more scared of you than you are of it story!”) when I regained composure we went to another snorkel spot. 

I was so gutted to finish this trip it really was fantastic! 

Also the after party in Down Under bar was pretty great too. Lesson of the night a tall glass in Aus is called a Schooner. 

LLM 

xx 

Noosa

Noosa is 130km north of Brisbane and it was my chosen stop before travelling out to Fraser Island (alternative choices would be rainbow beach or Hervey Bay). 

Reccomend the breakfast at Canteen 

Beautiful shops

The main beach was pretty much what it says on the tin- I have started to feel spoilt by the beautiful Australian beaches.

However, a five minute walk from Noosa main beach takes you to Little Cove beach- this is breathtakingly pretty and a great spot for a picnic lunch or to swim/ read your book. 


From Little Cove walk around to Noosa national park- there are lots of different routes you can take (easier to more challenging paths), reccomend wearing trainers and walking around to dolphin point (to see… dolphins surprisingly!!).

Dinner at the Irish bar 


Next adventure–> Fraser Island 

LLM 

xx