While in Morocco, we’ve got many events & activities planned & most had the same thing in common… the pickup each morning by the companies was at the El Fenn. We decided we should know where this is prior to going so went searching… we didn’t have far to go as it’s right around the corner from our own Riad.
We’ve learned to not assume anything from the front of a building here in Marrakech – some entrances are a huge wooden door in the middle of a stone wall, others are glass, but once you go inside, it’s usually quite something else. El Fenn was the most surprising yet.
The colours & art were bright & beautiful with an African feel. There was beautiful clothing, footwear, there was decor & jewelry, furniture & even a cool brass moped with a cowhide seat! Giant vases in a cerulean blue, lanterns upon lanterns lit up every corner, and brightly coloured bunting hung throughout the lobby. There was an amazing display of colourfully painted full-size branches in vases.
Then there was the stairway up to the rooftop… a shiny, red corkscrew of a staircase that lead up to a beautiful patio with stunning views of Marrakech & two of its spectacular mosques.
The lanterns swing in the breeze, there’s lots of plants & trees, comfortable seating, even futons. The tiles that Morocco is famous for did not disappoint here, herringbone green on the floors paired with the brick walls & mirrored bar made for such a lovely spot.
I had a refreshing Red City Rosé Cooler – Rosé wine, fresh strawberry, Triple Sec & sparkling wine – delicious. We were served spiced olives & salted peanuts as a snack.
Dinner was from the bar menu – a Spiced Lamb Burger with Feta & minted raita sauce & also a Red Bean & Mushroom Burger with Cheddar Cheese, both with tasty homemade, fresh cut fries.
We’ve learned that staff are not in a particular hurry in dining establishments, unlike on the streets where it’s rush, rush, rush. We work fast-paced demanding jobs at home so are learning to slow down here & take it easier, to relax & enjoy the moment. We were lucky to have gotten a spot on the patio it seems, as reservations are required for dinner service & we can see why.
We were able to capture tons of photos from inside while we waited, but also of the patio & its brilliant sunset, with the fading light overtop of the exquisitely lit mosques, where you can hear the Call to Prayer echoing.
We’d like to make a reservation for dinner at some point during our stay & see what the dinner menu & seating elsewhere upstairs will bring.
Always on the search for the perfect personal item & the best carry-on… I’m going to give these a try:
Found a Kenneth Cole carry-on branded ‘Reaction’ at my local Winners store. It’s got zippered covers on each side to hold your belongings firmly in place + extra pockets inside. I like the easy movement of the double spinner wheels & the telescoping handle works well. There are protective corner pieces & a few spots with grip handles to make it easy to pick up at any angle. This one was about $90
I won’t travel without compression bags (or socks!) now. They make it so much easier to fit everything you want to take into just a carry-on. These ones don’t need a vacuum to seal them, just roll them up by hand. They also protect your clothing etc from any moisture. They cost about $13 for 4 bags.
From experience, I know good shoes make all the difference between enjoying your walking tour & totally not. I knew just where to shop local to get them too – Payton & Buckle Shoes in Downtown Chilliwack. These comfy little slip-on runners are by Vionic & are from their Beach line, they actually have arch support. I’ll wear these for our flights as well – easy on, easy off. They can be worn with my capris, skirts or dresses. I love that they’re washable. It’s going to be hot in Morocco so sandals are a must, these gold ones will be cool but are nicely padded & adjustable across the top of the foot. They’re by Aetrex. Pricing varies. www.paytonandbuckle.com
This time I ordered my new anti-theft personal item bag from Amazon, a co-worker had gotten a similar one that she took to Mexico & it worked very well. I have to have something with lots of compartments, this one has 2 + 18 pockets! I also wanted an extra USB charger, and something that was easy to get into. This one opens like a doctor’s bag & has padding for my tech so putting in my laptop, iPad, eReader etc is simple & safe. This bag has a strong carry handle or can be used as a backpack. It has the strap to secure it to your carry-on handle as well. There were other colour options but I wanted to somewhat match my carry-on & also not get so dirty., so black with grey it is. The brand is Lovevook and was just over $50. Here’s the link for you: amzn.to/3NvHpL3
I wanted to downsize my toiletry bag but couldn’t seem to find what I wanted until I came across this cutie with some travel size Moroccanoil products inside (no that wasn’t planned – Morrocanoil products to Morocco… lol) – extra volume shampoo & conditioner, a light treatment & a clean, light body spray. I learned awhile ago to take much less makeup & skincare. I’m never away that long so a decent wash of my face using my favourite Dermalogica wash, my good quality moisturizing sunscreen, my powder foundation with SPF by Eminence, a toothbrush/paste & some excellent lash extensions by my girl Tracey from Voila Lash Lounge (Downtown Chilliwack & Downtown Abbotsford), deodorant & my tinted chapstick with SPF are really all I need. www.voilalashandbeauty.com
It’s always so much easier to pack for a warm weather holiday than it is a cold weather one… no bulky heavy clothing & footwear, so a carry-on is all you really need. Lessons learned: always take pjs, an extra change of clothes, any medications & your toiletries in your personal item… checked baggage gets lost. A lot. This way you can at least change into pjs & wash the clothes you’re wearing, letting them dry overnight & able to wear your spare outfit until you get your luggage back. I always pack a couple of sheets of Tru Earth laundry strips, they melt easily in the hotel sink & despite not having a strong scent, or major suds, they clean very well. You can also take less clothing if you’re washing in between. I’ll do an update once I’ve tried these bags out.
Simply put, we check it all over, then clean. If you think the airlines have time between one flight & another to do a thorough clean, then think again. There is no way they can clean up everyone’s mess they seem to leave all over the floor(that’s a rant I’ve already posted grr), reload the plane & get everything perfectly clean & sanitized in often less than 20 minutes.
I put our bags under our seats, my husband places anything that needs to go in the overhead there while I get out the disinfectant wipes. I’ve seen how gross people can be (adults are almost worse than kids!) nose picking, bare feet placed on tray tables… I shudder at some things I’ve seen. We wipe down the window, the seats including belts, the TV monitor, the seat pocket, tray tables… once a woman was giving me the side eye as I cleaned, so I flipped over the cloth to show her how BLACK it was, she gagged & asked me if I had an extra wipe… I keep empty sandwich bags with us, the dirty wipes go into them in the seat pocket until the flight attendant comes around collecting garbage, then we use hand wipes on our hands & those also go in the sandwich bag.
Once we get off the plane, we head straight for the nearest washroom, wash our hands & use damp paper towels to wipe the outside of our carry ons since they’ve been on the floor of the aircraft the whole flight.
At the hotel we drop our bags just inside the door, then check that the room is what we paid for, that the bathroom & main room is clean, and most important… the bedding. is. spotless. This sounds like it should be a given. It is NOT. We’ve found, unfortunately more than once, hair or even blood on the bedding. Nope. Absolutely not acceptable.
If something like that happens, one of us stays in the room & the other goes to speak to a manager at reception. Sometimes they come to check, but mostly they’re mortified so just give you another room immediately.
A couple of places we’ve been, that’s the way it is… the standards of cleanliness are not as high as other places, so you keep your shoes and socks on & use some clothing to cover the pillow you’re going to sleep on, or better yet, roll your clothing and sleep on that. Our hotel in India was like that. Also, our hotel in Whitehorse, Yukon.
It may seem like overkill, but now that you’ve read this, you’ll really notice people’s behaviour on long flights, it’s like they lose their perception of what’s appropriate in the company of hundreds of other people. We witnessed a guy walk barefoot into the plane’s washroom, then saunter out, and place his feet on the seat back & his TV monitor! Especially in the wake of Covid & Norwalk… why wouldn’t you take some simple precautions to ensure your hard earned holiday doesn’t get cut short due to illness or worse… staph infection.
PS Do NOT put anything but trash in the pocket in the airplane seat back… we’ve been told by former air crews that most people blow their nose & put the used Kleenex right into the pocket…
1. What is your name, where were you born & where do you live now?
Guest – Kelsey Forsyth:
My name is Kelsey Forsyth. I was born in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada and I currently live in London, United Kingdom.
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2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
I would like to think of myself as some sort of backpacker. Impulsive, yet methodical. Someone who goes and explores places because of my curiosity from seeing it in text books in school or seeing pictures and thinking, I would love to see that in real life.
The last few trips I’ve taken, I have only taken a ruck sack because I don’t want to have to pay any airline additional fees, but my first trip overseas alone, I did take a full backpackers style backpack which I do love, I just don’t love the cost of paying for it. I try to travel as often as I can and as long as I can. When I lived in Canada I had a contract job which allowed me to have large chunks of time off during the Spring, so I usually made the most of that. I moved to the UK officially on April 14th, 2020, but there were no flights out of Canada during that time due to Covid, so I left the country on March 21st which ended up being the last flight to the UK because the flights before and after mine were all cancelled. Impulsive, to say the least.
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3. How do you fund your travelling?
I have always worked. I’m pretty decent at saving money and I would work several jobs at a time, often far away from home allowing me to squirrel money away for adventures.
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4. How long have you been interested in travelling & give us a quick, bullet point list of some of the places you’ve been.
I think I have always been interested in travelling. I just enjoy experiencing, exploring and seeing things instead of having things explained to me. I like the opportunity to walk around a place, eat the food and try out activities in different areas with different cultures. It’s amazing what this world is made of and it would be an absolute shame to not have the opportunity or to create the opportunity for myself to see it all first hand. I have driven across Canada twice with the exception of New Foundland and Labrador or any of the territories (although I was 20 minutes away from the Yukon Territory once). I have been to every corner of British Columbia, Seattle Washington, New York & Portland, Oregon. I have been to:
• Houston, Texas
• Cayman Islands
• The Netherlands
• New Zealand
and most recently,
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5. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
The best place I have ever been is a very subjective question. I think the best beach I have ever been to has been in the Cayman Islands. The water was stunning and the people were so nice. But I could never live there.
I loved London from the moment I first arrived and knew it could be a place I could easily move to. I had left London for less than a week and booked a trip to return again to continue to explore the area I had read so much about from history books in High School.
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6. Where is the worst place you have been and why?
The worst place I have probably been was New York. I was there on a class trip when I was in grade 11 and I enjoyed it to see the things that I got to see, but I really didn’t like the food. American food is just not good. It is so far from real and just made me sick the whole time.
Also, the people were horrible. I watched one of our special education teachers get knocked over and her glasses flew off and stepped on trying to cross the street because people give no care about anyone other than themselves.
It’s an overwhelming and tragic feeling in the United States of that kind of mentality and one that is truly unique to America.
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7. Do you have a Bucket List? Give us the top 5 on that list.
I sort of do and I sort of don’t have a bucket list. The world is evolving and so am I in that time. Some places I used to have absolutely no interest in, I now would love to go see and explore them as I grow and learn more about my comfort zones and stepping outside them.
Currently, the next few places I would love to visit and explore would be
Again, that is a short list and there are many beautiful countries missing from that list that I would love to visit.
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8. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
Recently, I have only been traveling with essentials because it saves a lot on cost, but I do sneak in some items that are for vanity. I always take my mascara, a book and my own bar of soap.
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9. What was NOT a good travel experience & why?
I really enjoy traveling by myself. I didn’t realize that until I had done it on my own and then met up with a best friend after. I had already become accustomed to enjoying walking and checking out different places and seeing things one way, while my friend enjoyed the glamorous side of traveling, which I also did, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoyed other aspects as well and it, at times, was met with resistance or hesitation so it made me feel like we both weren’t able to enjoy our experiences because we were both looking out for that the other would enjoy more than we were enjoying the experiences for ourselves.
It’s important to find the right person to do this with, and we had lived together and worked together so I didn’t expect our wires to cross the way they did, so it was a bit of a shock and made for a bit of an awkward travel experience.
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10. Where was your most recent trip? Tell us a little about it. Also please share some photos!
My most recent travel experience was to Portugal. I happened to have a four day weekend allowing me to jump on a plane and travel 2.5 hours south to Lisbon. It was such a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.
Everything was hard for a lot of people because of Covid and the continuous lockdown that the UK had seen since Christmas 2020. It was a long winter and opening back up again in the summer was slow and delayed.
Countries were being added to an amber list which meant you could travel with particular cautions and luckily being double vaccinated allowed me the luxury to start living life as close to normal as we can get, post pandemic.
We arrived in Portugal and went through security. We needed to prove our vaccine status and prove a recent Covid Test which was negative. It didn’t take too long to get through and we went to check into our Airbnb.
It was a great location, about a 20 minute walk into the old town, which was stunning and beautiful. We took a ride on the tram to go up one of the massive hills and then walked it the rest of the time.
We found an amazing restaurant with fresh seafood and pitchers of Sangria for 10 Euros! We visited it twice in our 4 day stay and did walking tours and climbed mountains to see castles in Sintra.
We relaxed on the beach after that in Cascais. It was such a nice experience to travel the world again and continue to be able to appreciate the things we could lose when things like Global Warming and Pandemics take over. The world is much smaller than we all think.
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Thanks so much, Kelsey, for giving us a glimpse into your adventures & we’ve noted a few of the same Bucket List destinations on your mind are also on our own – maybe we’ll see you somewhere around the world! Safe travels!
I am not being overly dramatic when I say: Packing is critical. If you pack too much, you end up disorganized, lugging around heavy bags, and paying top dollar fees for over-weight baggage and if you pack too little, you’ll be on the hunt down for extra clothing when you’d rather be on an actual adventure.
These are some essential things to keep in mind when it’s time to pack.
1. Get your packing process started at least a week ahead of when you’re leaving… at the very least… make a list! This way you’ll have time to purchase any additional items you might need. Then once you’ve got the perfect list type it out check-list style and print one every time you are going on holiday… you’ll be less likely to forget things. Sometimes we forget the most obvious things… those will be the items you can’t do without! I’ll place my checklist at the end of this post (to save paper you could place this in a plastic sleeve & use a dry erase pen to mark it).
2. Go online and find out about what you can take as luggage, while most airlines allow travellers to check at least one bag at no extra charge on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for bags checked on domestic flights.
3. Along with your one piece of carry on luggage, you are usually able to bring one other personal item. It is subject to specific size requirements but something like a purse, laptop bag, or backpack is generally acceptable. I would suggest taking one, you’ll want to have at least one change of clothes in here in case your main luggage gets lost. The personal item you bring can contain your e-reader, itinerary, magazines, travel toothbrush & paste.. you get the idea. My husband and I each take a small tote style bag to place under the seat ahead of us and that way we don’t need to get up again once seated to get our books etc. Our carry on suitcases go in the overhead storage until we arrive at our destination.
4. Rolling is much better than folding.; tightly rolled clothes take up way less space than folded ones. And they are less wrinkled when you arrive at your destination, believe it or not. Also once rolled, smaller items can go inside your shoes for more space.
5. Any type of liquids should really be in plastic resealable bags. They WILL leak… it happens. Why even worry? Just pack them that way to begin with and save yourself the headache of hair gel soaked clothing, or shaving creamed shoes… My all-time favourite packing tip: you know how you get those little shower caps in hotel rooms or dollar stores? They make really good shoe covers for keeping the soles of your shoes from getting your clothes dirty! And all sizes of food storage bags (also from the dollar store) can hold all of your other like items together – hair products in one bag, lingerie in another, etc. They’re reusable & don’t take up any extra space. I even keep some in my carry on for mints, identification, earphones & medications.
6. If you’re travelling for longer than a week, you may want to wash some clothes in the hotel’s bathroom sink and hang them to dry. I always make sure to pack a travel-size packet of laundry detergent to clean my clothes on the road… there’s a method to this madness… I’ll pack less BUT have room for any new purchases I buy on our travels! I also take a small drawstring bag to use for soiled laundry, to keep it separate from the clean stuff.
7. See if you can find pants that turn into shorts or a jacket that turns into a vest, that’s another space-saving technique right there!
8. My best advise: Wear layers. Your actual travel outfit should be in plenty of layers, which will help you travel multiple climates in style and comfort. Also it gives you many more options of what to wear during your entire trip.
9. It’s really important to keep your valuable and essential belongings in your carry-on bag, not in your checked baggage. Your passport, identification, money, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables should always be brought onto the plane with you… which leads me to >>>
10. Print triplicates of your travel info – you’ll be so glad to have done this… I make 3 copies of our itinerary (including hotels, flights etc); my husband gets one to keep with him, I get one to keep with me and I leave the last one with my mom. You never know what can happen. It’s a good plan to have another person, that’s not travelling with you, know where you’ll be and the times you’ll be gone/home.