A few weeks ago I visited the beautiful city of Marrakech and since it was my first time visiting a Muslim country, I had many questions regarding pretty much everything. What clothes to bring, what foods to eat, where to visit and so on.
Most of these questions are commonly asked before a trip, but due to Morocco’s rich and diverse history of Arabs and Berbers with influence by France and Spain, the answers weren’t as obvious. I wanted to make sure my friends and I were as respectful as possible to the local customs and be able to explore as much as we could.
So now that I am back from my trip I can answer all of these questions and help you prepare for your trip.
Packing and planning your luggage is definitely the most important aspect of getting ready for Morocco. Before my trip, I talked to several people who had been there previously and received lots of mixed advice. One explained that tourists should dress conservatively, while another said it is completely acceptable to wear shorts and spaghetti strap tops since Marrakech is more modern and acclimated to (many) tourists.
I chose to follow the cultural dress code and wear long flow-y dresses and skirts which are also the ideal clothes to wear on long days of exploring a new city. If there was an outfit that didn’t fit the code, for example, something strapless, I would just add a jacket on top and be ready to go shopping at the souks.
It is important for visitors to dress politely especially when visiting mosques and other religious monuments.
As for wearing a hijab, it is completely acceptable not to wear one.
2. FOOD & DRINKS
As I mentioned before, Morocco has had a lot of influence from other countries, which has splendidly made Moroccan food one of the richest and most delicious cuisines in the world. Not only is it accessible to every culinary group with vegan, vegetarian, halal, fish and meat dishes served in basically every local restaurant but it is also served as a three-course meal. Allowing visitors to try different dishes in just one meal!
The first is a selection of tapas, whereas just like the Spanish, it consists of several small dishes – usually vegetable and fruit based with lots of aubergines, tomatoes, olives and prunes. The second course is the main dish with heavenly authentic dishes such as Tajine, a stew or soup with a protein base of chicken, beef or lamb accompanied by saucy fruits like peach or couscous. Finally, the sweets are usually served as a variety platter usually including baklava, Briouat and Sfenj. Along with a cup of tea, of course. 😉
Other savoury dishes to try are brochette (skewers), Bissara, Tangia, b’stilla and kefta.
As part of Moroccan culture, alcohol is hard to find, but with many different types of teas and fresh juices to try, you will definitely not miss it at all.
Maghrebi mint tea aka Moroccan mint tea, aka atay, is the drink to have in the city and it actually goes well with any meal.
If you are staying at an Airbnb and have a kitchen in your house, I would highly recommend buying groceries at the supermarket and try cooking a local meal yourself. While shopping, you’ll be amazed by how various and fresh all products there are. The tomatoes and avocados were larger than my hand.
On top of how delicious everything is, the prices are even better!
Shopping for goods and souvenirs at the souks (outdoor markets) is much more than just buying handmade goods. Unless you go to a high-end place, there isn’t a price you can’t bargain in Marrakech. Rather it is to decrease the price of something you want to buy or to get extra monitoring for your rented car.
The key to a successful bargain is to be friendly and bold with the person you are negotiating with. Becoming friends with that person can go a long way, they will remember you and will recommend other places owned by friends and family with good prices. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t speak any French or Arabic. Many sellers speak English and even Spanish, Italian, Dutch and international body language. You’ll be able to agree on a good price without a language problem.
Personally, I don’t like to bargain at all and I feel terrible decreasing the price of something that is so beautifully handmade but being young and at the beginning of my career, I definitely can’t afford to. Luckily, I had someone who is comfortable bargaining. So make sure to bring someone with you who does like to bargain and has your back.
Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given.Hussein Nishah
4. VISITING OTHER CITIES FROM MARRAKECH
My original plan for this trip was to stay in Marrakech and take a day trip to the desert and maybe even to the Chefchaouen, the majestic blue city. However, I soon realised that both of these destinations were quite far from Marrakech with at least a 3-hour car trip and with so much to explore in Marrakech already, my friends and I decided to stay in the capital instead.
Although Marrakech is a subtropical semi-desert country, the temperature drops significantly at night. So no matter which season you go, make sure to bring long sleeved pyjamas and cosy clothes to lounge in your riad at night.
In February when I visited, the weather varied a lot during the week. Some days were warm enough to take a swim and other days the sky was just a haze. But since it was winter, getting away from the heavy snow back home was refreshing.
The best seasons to visit Marrakech are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October) when the tickets are cheaper and the weather is perfectly balanced.
In conclusion, these are the main tips you need to know in order to get ready for your Moroccan adventure! Let us know what was your favourite part of your trip in the comments below!
Last weekend I went to Ireland with my friends and I was extremely excited to have Guinness beer and Jameson whiskey in their home country. I was sure the drinks were going to be the highlight of the trip, but little did I know delicious the food was!!
Tasting different dishes turned out to be the favourited activity and one of the most delicious foodie trips I’ve ever had!
Every dish kept getting better – all with rich flavours and high-quality ingredients. And it wasn’t just authentic dishes that the Irish perfected, even international foods like burgers and toasts were also top notch.
Here are all the delicious places I tasted this weekend:
1. SoMa – Brunch and Burgers
This cute restaurant is full of delicious dishes perfect for brunch. Complete with burgers, avocado toast, club sandwiches, juices, milkshakes and fresh coffee.
One of their locations is right in front of the Spire monument, at the centre of the city, a great place to watch the street life.
I had the delicious avocado toast with poached egg and grilled potatoes.
This Irish restaurant chain has been serving fresh fish and chips since 1913. It has become a favourite by locals and highly recommended to anyone who’s craving a classic fish and chips.
The reason for their popularity is that fresh fish are cooked on coal-fired pans that give that special taste. The fries are perfectly done and the cod is also equally perfect cooked inside and crispy on the outside.
In all seriousness, this is the BEST BURGER I’VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. And trust me I’ve had a loot of burgers in search for the best burger and no ground beef has ever come close to this flavourful and crispy burger.
Their success is expected from a joint that has dedicated to only specialising in burgers and fries. Visitors get to choose exactly what they want in their burger from a business card-sized menu and three different types of crunchy fries (including sweet potato fries!!).
If you have to pick between one of these restaurants to visit, this is definitely the one.
This historical bar/restaurant/lounge/pub is over 300-years-old and is the perfect place to spend a typical Irish afternoon where you can have a delicious homemade dinner and have drinks all in one huge place!
Every nook and cranny (Irish slang for part of a place) is beautifully decorated creating a cosy atmosphere local beers and whiskey. When hunger strikes, head over to the restaurant where all the traditional food is cooked there. If you are in the mood for something lighter after all the beers, there is also a fresh salad bar right next to the restaurant.
5. Third Space
This authentic Irish breakfast chain cafe is located in several locations of the city where you can taste the traditional all Irish breakfast in two different sizes – the large (hungover and hangry) and normal size.
The interior of this place makes you feel at home with big windows to let the sunshine in and books and tables everywhere.
The brewed coffee was also delicious and if you don’t have time to stay, you can also take it to go!
This fresh seafood restaurant has won the 2018 and 2019 Irish restaurant award for its rich and fresh dishes and quality of ingredients.
The place is quite small, which could make it hard to find a spot (so make sure to book your spot as soon as you read this), but it also creates a cosy atmosphere and it gives you the perfect angles to watch the magic in the open kitchen happen.
I had the local oysters as appetizer then the fish taco and the clam chowder as main dishes. All incredibly delicious!
Overall, this foodie trip to Dublin was one of the best and most successful food trips I’ve ever had. Not a single bad or meh dish. Even the sandwiches I bought at the Guinness museum and at the airport were delicious!
Note: Although every dish was delightful, the prices were not as much. Judging from the cheap flight and hotel prices, I assumed the food prices wouldn’t be too far off. Although, everything was completely worth it for the quality and quantity of every food.
Season: Winter – June to August Weather: Cold, cloudy & windy
Average temperature: Highest 18-16°C Lowest 10-8 °C
Montevideo is a popular summer destination in South America, but it is just as incredible during the winter as it is during the summer. The food, wine, cultural street art in almost every neighbourhood and the beautiful beach coast will make you forget about the cold.
I was in town for just two days, but it was enough for me to fall in love with the city, and here are my top five things to do.
1. STREET ART
Montevideo is overflowing with beautiful street art spread amongst the city’s neighbourhoods. Each with its own unique style, history and atmosphere. Especially in Barrio Sur, where vibrant graffiti tells the story of the first Africans that migrated to the city and the history of tango dance and music.
As I said before, I wasn’t in town for too long but honestly, I didn’t miss much, because the city is so full of cultural art (including statues and monuments) on almost every street that by just walking around the city’s history is told.
2. EAT, DRINK & REPEAT
To avoid the strong outdoor winds that feel like they are slapping your face, you can spend your trip inside trying authentic cuisine and drinks all day long, because you are on vacation! So why not, right?
Uruguayan cuisine is so diverse that you will never run out of delicious dishes to taste. Particularly, the asado steak grilled on wooden parillas, the Milanese breaded steaks (similar to schnitzel), meat empanadas and freshly baked corvina fish. If you are looking for something simpler and faster the Chivito and Choripan sandwiches are fantastic choices.
Before my trip, I was told Argentina was going to have the best steaks and grills in South America, but after this trip, I must say that Uruguayan steaks were much more impressive. I don’t know if it was because I was luckier with restaurants in Uruguay than Argentina, but every meal was more delicious than the next!
As for the drinks, make sure to try the national Tannat red wine.
3. HAVE LUNCH AND/OR DINNER AT THE MERCADO DEL PUERTO
Fresh off the boat from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, I headed straight to this cuisine haven market for some late lunch. Unknowingly, we picked the prominent El Palenque restaurant that serves both authentic steaks and seafood, which turned out to have one of the best seafood spaghetti I’ve ever tasted!
The pasta itself was delicious but what blew my mind was the variety, quality and quantity of the seafood. The asado steak was equally delicious, of course, since you can’t go wrong with any juicy meat in Uruguay.
Make sure to save some space for desserts with dulce de leche, which is added to many of the traditional desserts such as pudim, crepe or just taste it straight from the spoon full of creamy caramel.
4. WALK ALONG THE COAST
The most fun activity I did during this trip was to just walk around from coast to coast along the Rambla Promenade. It is also an excellent first-day adventure to do so you can get familiar with the city and know where you would like to explore more in the next couple of days.
If you are not too tired from the walk, head towards Avenida 18 de Julio, for some shopping where you can buy leather and wool goods.
My walk journey started at Playa de los Pocitos, walking along the Rambla Promenade all the way to the west coast and ending at Ciudad Vieja, where many historical places are such as Plaza Independencia, Theatre Solís, Puerta de la Ciudadela, Palacio Salvo and many others.
5. TAKE A YERBA MATÉ TEA BREAK
Drinking maté tea is probably one of the most beloved Uruguayan traditions and a very unique experience to try in Montevideo.
The local herb drink is made from the yerba mate bush and it is served with hot water on a beautiful leathery and metal cup called Gourd. Many cups come with its own metal straw called bombilla.
The reason why the gours and bombilla are made of metal is to make it easier for locals to carry them around and have anywhere you go! It’s the perfect souvenir for tea lovers.
6. BONUS: ARRIVE/DEPART IN A BOAT
This one is not exactly an activity to do in the city, but rather a fun way to get to or leave Montevideo. From Buenos Aires, I took a boat by Colonia Express that takes 3 hours and 30 minutes. It’s not every trip that you get to arrive on a boat!
Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities in the world to brunch. As an entertainment city, the Dutch capital is full of delicious restaurants, cafes and bakeries where you can try authentic sweets like stroopwafles (caramel syrup crunchy waffle) and other international desserts, covered in Nutella.
Note: Majority of the brunch cafés in Amsterdam are “first come first serve”, which means visitors can’t make reservations, so make sure to show up before you get hangry. Luckily the waiting doesn’t usually take long.
Get ready to drool over these brunch heaven spots that will sway you to go visit Amsterdam just for the food.
Address: Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 54
First come first serve – Opening hours: 8:30AM to 4PM
Starting off with my ultimate favourite cafe in the city, this Kiwi and Brazilian infused place offers everything you could ever wish for a hungover brunch. Rather you are looking for a detox juice cure, healthy dishes or a plate full of carbohydrates to suck up everything from the previous night.
My go-to dishes are always one of the egg benedicts accompanied by a plate of pancakes to share and a fresh cup of Brazilian brew.
Address: Nieuwe Kerkstraat 84 First come first serve
Opening times: Tuesday – Friday 9AM to 5PM
Saturday – Sunday 10AM to 4PM
If you are opting for a less crowded place to brunch, Water and Brood is the destination. Located in the business area of the city, this minimalistic cafe is a great place to have a relaxing meal out. Everything about this place – the jazzy music, friendly staff and cosy decor create the perfect atmosphere.
With a shifting menu, this place serves different styles of egg dishes, truffled fries, waffles and chicken and many other heavenly dishes.
Address: Prins Hendrikkade 48
Opening times: Every day from 8AM to 8PM
Pancakes are one of the most popular breakfast and brunch dishes anywhere in the world, but it is also a beloved traditional Dutch dish.
There are numerous pancakes places but this particular cafe has both the classic and thin Dutch pancakes, plus the thick and fluffy American style with lots of side combinations.
Another reason to visit this place is for the interior decoration, with big Dutch windows where you can watch the canal in front and the blue and white Delftware design.
Note: This pancake house is located in several areas of the city but I usually eat at the same one in the city centre.
Address: Weesperstraat 105, 1018 VN
Opening hours: Saturdays and Sundays from 8AM to 2PM
Not only does this place have delicious fresh pastries and healthy lunch buffet every day of the week, but they also have four delicious weekend brunch dishes for the weekend. If you are in the mood to go all out, there is also the all-you-can-eat breakfast spread which includes unlimited coffee and juice.
The restaurant is located inside the Zoku hotel’s rooftop where you can enjoy the charming city view at one of their multiple terraces decorated with comfy sofas and an incredible glass-garden.
Address: Vijzelstraat 26, 1017 HK
Opening hours: 12pm to 10:30PM
What better way to beat the weekend hangover than with an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet?
Their chain restaurants are always beautifully decorated with Japanese interior and sakura (cherry blossom) trees. Their menu includes a large variety of fresh warm and raw dishes.
This Japanese cuisine restaurant is another chain that I always go to when in Amsterdam. I actually crave for the days until I can eat all the amounts of sushi possible.