Everything You Need to Know Before Going to Marrakech

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.

1. CLOTHES

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!

3. BARGAINING 

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.

5. WEATHER

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!

How to survive overseas flights

When I was little and would travel to Japan with my mother, we would often joke how the flight itself felt like a trip of its own. Since in most cases it would take up to 47 hours to fly from Brazil to Japan, it was basically a two day trip just to get there.

As a kid, it would even feel like going to an amusement park for a day. I would long for the day that I could buy my favourite international candies and snacks at the duty-free shop, watch as many movies as I wanted with the in-flight entertainment center while eating my meal (which my mom never allowed me to do at home) and arrive fresh and rested to go adventure in Japan.

As the years went by, airlines have continued to increase their hospitality and developing their technology in order to make trips more enjoyable and here are today’s main perks of flying overseas.

THE DUTY-FREE SHOPPING
It sounds quite silly to spend money shopping literally right before a trip. However, international grounds mean international tax-free prices and the great time to buy all those things you’ve been procrastinating to buy because they were too pricy. With the duty-free discounts, it’s the perfect time. Go get those fluffy gloves you’ve been needing or those speakers you’ve been dying to get for your annual summer
barbecues.

THE HIGH SKY SUNSET
Depending on where you are headed, your flight will probably depart in the evening and you will have a front row seat to a beautiful sunset amongst the clouds. What better way to start your new adventure, right?

FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
If you have travelled overseas, you probably have already explored the entertainment system that becomes your best friend for the next 8+ hours. But what makes this small screen worth your time, are all the most recent movies and television shows from all genres. It’s the perfect time to catch up on all the latest movies you have been eager to see but haven’t had the time. Now it’s your chance!

THE MEALS

Airplane food has been a common unfavourable reason not to travel overseas, due to the flavourless meals served in the past. Luckily, airlines across the globe have acknowledged this problem and unravelled why the taste of meals change when served up in the air. It turns out that the concentration of salt and other spices tend to decrease on high altitudes. As a result, airlines have collaborated with professional gastronomes and nutritionists to spice things up even more and create tasty menus. Today, I look forward to international flight meals, because they are always inspired by local cuisine either from the country you are leaving from or arriving at. Also including a dessert and drinks.

THE JETLAG FIX

Since you were flying for long, with plenty of time to eat, sleep, watch a couple of television shows and even had time to get some work out on the way. You’ll probably be somewhat fresh at arrival and ready to start your new adventure!
Which is the perfect solution for the dreadful jet lag. With plenty of energy to survive until night when you can finally sleep on an actual bed in local time.

Note: Make sure to contact your hotel check-in times in advance since some hotels (especially in Asia) only allow check-in after 13.00 and even at 15.00. Which means you’ll have to store your luggage in the hotel until you can get in your room.

BONUS: CASHING IN THE MILES

If you keep track of your miles (points gained from every flight taken from a non low-cost airline like Ryanair, Transavia and others), then with this overseas trip you have probably earned enough points to reach a whole new level in your miles’ plan. These new miles include numerous travelling benefits like lounge access, upgraded seats and even enough miles to buy a new trip!

So make sure to enjoy every part of your trip, even before and after you arrive at your destination!

Souvenirs to take home from Japan

Every year when I go to Japan, I reserve half of my luggage for souvenirs. Which includes lots of food, stationaries, beauty products, clothes and actual souvenirs for family and friends. It can be overwhelming for some people to enter one of those 100 yen stores (everything for a hundred yen) or Donki Hotte that’s literally packed with billions of different types of everything. So here’s a list to give you an idea of what kind of things you might want to take back home.

Beauty products

It’s tough to pick just one product or brand because they are all fantastic at a reasonable price. You probably won’t recognise the majority of the brands like Lulumun, Kanebo, Isehan and many others, but you don’t have to remember their names because as my friends say, “If it’s from Japan, then it’s good quality.” So if you find something that you are interested in, buy it!

I usually stock up on face masks, nail polish and eyeliners since I always run out of them and every time I go shopping, I find a new collection. Especially of face masks with funny designs like ninjas, Pokemon, animals and so on. They barely take any space in your luggage so you can go nuts and have a spa party back home.

Another product that I can’t live without is the Shiseido Tsubaki hair set. This is the only shampoo and conditioner that works for my thick Asian hair and it is the only product that makes it shiny and smooth. The incredible aspect of this product is that it’s suitable for every type of hair, many of my friends and family have tried it and they all love it.

Clothes

Most of the “must buy” clothes from Japan are for winter- comfy clothes that keep you warm. Cotton socks and kigurumi (onesies) are the most fun to shop for because there are soooo many different types that they have stores specialised in just them. With all kinds of cute designs like cartoons, every single Disney characters, animals and cool patterns. The onesies might take some space in your luggage, but they are totally worth it once you see how cosy they are.

Uniqlo store – This high tech clothing store never fails to amuse me with their practical clothes. They have ultra-light rain and winter jackets that can fit into a bag the size of your fist! No more struggling to fit your massive jacket inside your luggage! This excellent Japanese brand also has a collection of HEATTECH thermal clothes with so many products like cardigans, leggings, bra tops, shirts and even blankets.

Food

In Japan, there are equally as many non-eatable products as there are eatable ones. If you go to a supermarket wanting to get a snack, you’ll probably spend about an hour and a half picking one because the choices are endless. There is something for every taste, mix and even cooking style – like fried chocolate which is pretty yummy and crispy.

I usually pack my luggage with wasabi snacks, yakisoba instant noodles, and sauces with sesame and for yakisoba and barbecue.

Sweets

I’m not the biggest sweet tooth and I don’t eat sweets very often, but I can’t resist Japanese sugary snacks. Like this heart-shaped Genji mini pie that melts in your mouth and basically every candy by Meiji and Glico. Like the classic Pocky chocolate sticks and the cute mountain and mushroom-shaped chocolates, Takenoko No Sato.

I have recently become obsessed with this matcha (green tea) Kit Kat, which was a surprise to me mixing green tea and chocolate but they actually fit perfectly together.

Electronics

Akihabara is the most famous area in Tokyo to shop for electronics because of the department stores located there, but you can find Bic Camera, Yamada Denki and Yodobashi Camera, at all the main streets of the city as well. Other general department stores like Tokyū Hands and Loft have their own electronic floors with massive sections dedicated to just phone covers and accessories to try.

Bangkok Guide: Things To Do

Oh Bangkok, the perfect destination for a treat-yourself trip. A country where you can get VIP treatment for the same amount of money you spend at home. With an incredibly rich culture, cuisine, religion, shopping and nightlife. There is so much to explore. As a tropical country, Bangkok is always hot making it the perfect destination all year round.

Language: Thai Location: Central East Asia Climate: Tropical – very hot and humid Currency: Baht

Temples (Wats)

Bangkok is home to 400 mind-blowing temples and shrines. As a Buddhist country, there are many local shrines around the city where people go visit daily. Shrines are much smaller and quicker to see compared to temples that usually require a half/full day since its very easy to get distracted by all the mesmerising details.

The Wat Pho Reclining Buddha and the Wat Phra Kaew Templeof the Emerald Buddha are a few of the easiest temples to get to since they are located right by the Chao Phraya river and the Grand Palace.

If you are on the Thonburi side of the city (opposite to the Grand Palace), make sure to see the Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn. This temple has a unique architecture with the main Prang tower located in the center surrounded by smaller towers. The towers are designed with Khmer style and you can climb to the top of the main tower to see an incredible view of the city.

The best way to get here is by taking it to the skies with the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station, or the orange flag Chao Phraya Express boat to Tha Tien (N8) pier.

Tip: Make sure to cover your shoulders, ankles and knees (for both sexes) when visiting temples in Thailand as a sign of respect. Long shorts and skirts, capris, t-shirts and polos are preferred options and definitely avoid tank tops.


Markets

Thai outdoor markets are one of the most fun things to do in the city. You can find incredible house decor, clothes and souvenirs for your friends and family. Everything is incredibly cheap and if you like to negotiate, you’ll have even more fun.

Chatuchak Weekend Market: This early morning market is a great place to start your day at the city’s most famous market. Here you can find literally everything from clothes, accessories, handicrafts, ceramics, furniture, art, food, beverages, books, antiques, collectibles and much more.

market divided into two sides with various tents selling clothes and goods. And right in the middle of the market, there’s a canal with people selling local fruits and foods. There is also an unexpected exhibition of large snakes and a slow loris that you can take photos with if you are brave enough.

When you arrive at the site, you have to take a short boat trip to actually get to the market, which is super thrilling.

Note: These markets are pretty far out from the city with no train station anywhere near it, so the best way to get here is by booking a day trip from your hotel or from an agency. These trips usually include other activities like the banana farm or the tiger sanctuary.


Shopping

Continuing the awesomeness of shopping in Bangkok, make sure to stop by at least one of the many malls of the city. At MBK Center, a large local mall you can get clothes and authentic goods. Isetan is a Japanese department mall located in the equally huge Central World, which incredibly enough has another department mall called Zen. All these malls have VAT refunds, authentic Asian food courts, restaurants, cafes and above all incredible decor. Amongst these malls, my favourites are the Asiatique and Siam Paragon because they are super-malls with numerous things to do.

Asiatique: This night outdoor/indoor bazaar is divided into four districts. At the Chareonkrung District there over a 1,000 small boutiques split into four warehouses. If you are looking for unique fashion and gadgets, the Factory District is your spot.

The Waterfront District is a great place to have lunch and dinner at one of their 40 restaurants by the waterfront. Then head to the Two Square District’s where you can get delicious strong and affordable drinks at one of their many bars.

If you are a Muay Thai and theatre fan, don’t miss a show at the Live Theatre where you can watch a play about the history of the sport as well as a live match. The ticket costs 870 THB ($28) dollars for a 90-minute play, which runs from Tuesday to Sunday from 8.00PM.

There’s also the Thai puppet show and the famous ladyboy Calypso Cabaret show. If you don’t want to pay for performances or eat at a restaurant, there are lots of free street performances and food stands amongst the streets of the bazaar as well.

There’s always so much to do! Luckily the place closes at midnight.

The best way to get here is with the BTS train to the Saphan Taksin station.

This mall is so large that it will require several trips

for you to see everything.

The main part of the mall is dedicated to shopping with 250 stores of high-end fashion and department stores. It has Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium on the bottom floor with a fun boat ride to see the rays and sharks.

The basement is dedicated to food. Where you can find incredible restaurants and food courts from all over the world especially Asia and a great supermarket.

At the top floor, you can have the movie experience of a lifetime at the Cineplex Theatre. Where you can get VIP treatment for basically the same price you pay back home. If you purchase a two-person ticket for 1,500 baht ($48) you get to have a drink and a snack in the beautiful lounge, get a super comfortable deep-seated leather sofa with electric footrests where you can put your complimentary snacks and blankets.

Tip: Make sure to get there at least an hour before the movie to hang in the lounge AND get a 15-minute massage. Which is heaven after a day of shopping and exploring.

Above all, this mall also has three other malls, Discovery, Square and Center that are right next door. Each mall has its own unique style with corresponding stores that you can just hop to after being starstruck by Paragon.

How to get here: BTS train stop to their own stop, Siam Station.


Museums

National Museum: This museum is like no other, it is home to the largest collection of Thai artefacts in the entire country, including King Rama V’s exhibition of his luxurious gifts from his father. Chinese artefacts including Khon masks.

Tip: Make sure to check out this museum on a Thursday when they offer tours with English-speaking guides.

Jim Thompson House: Jim Thompson was an American Entrepreneur who went to Bangkok and fell in love with the country, the silk and the people. The museum is located at his former house, which is designed by Jim himself. As you walk around you get to learn about Thompson’s extraordinary bold life, the silk industry and his store. The house is decorated as a Thai complex with six traditional teaks, a beautiful surrounding garden and a cafe.

The Jim Thompson’s silk store is a great place to buy authentic souvenirs and Thai goods. You can find pillows, bags, clothes, travel essentials and everything you ever wanted with beautiful Thai silks with elephants and beautiful colours.


Boat Ride along Chao Phraya River

Bangkok has a large river with connecting canals. Where you can go on boat trips and cruises, a great day-activity since it can get reeeally hot. From the river, you can properly see the difference between the two sides of the city. On one side you can see the skyline of temples, markets and the Grand Palace while on the other side you can see where the locals live in wooden houses with children playing and freshening up in the water.

At night, there are dinner cruises where you can have a great dinner with performances while surrounded by a lit-up skyline.


Muay Thai

At the home of the legendary martial sport, you can join a class at the many dojos in the city or watch live thrilling matches at stadiums like:

Rajadamnern Stadium: This historical and exciting stadium host matches four days a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) at 6.30 PM for 1,000 to 2,000 THB.
Lumpinee Stadium: Just like Rajadamnern, Lumpinee is also a Muay Thai historical stadium but with a more modern structure. One of the reasons to why this stadium is more popular is because you can gamble and bet during the matches. The negotiations are done with hand signals just as they do it in the stock exchange rooms. Prices go from as cheap as 200 to 2,000 THB on Tuesdays to Fridays at 6.30 PM and on Saturdays at 4.00 PM and again at 8:15 PM.
Channel 7 Stadium: This free of charge stadium has an electric energy and it is always frequented by legendary veterans and rising superstars. Since it is free and only offer matches once a week on Sundays at 12:45 PM, I recommend going there at least 40 minutes before the match so you can get good seats.
MBK Stadium: Just when you though the huge MBK mall was just for shopping and eating, on Wednesdays at 6.00 PM you can watch matches in a ring outside of the mall.

Thai Massage

Last but definitely not least, Thai massages- the most relaxing activity you can do in the city.

The art of massage has been part of Thai culture with different types and techniques that have been specialised for generations. Which means there are numerous types of massages for you to try such as aromatic with oils, reflexology, and warm herbs facial, foot and back massages. Some bigger spas even have massages for pregnant women and muscle massages for athletes.

If you are a fan of Thai decor and massages, I highly recommend going to a spa during your trip. Thailand goes beyond when it comes to luxury and hospitality.

I know it might sound like an expensive activity, but since its Bangkok, you can also find cheap but great parlours around the city. Especially in and around malls for as cheap as 300 THB ($7) for an hour. Arunda Oriental and At Ease are great locations for a massage break.

Have you been to any of these places? Let us know what you thought of them. 🙂

Madrid

Since the summer has officially ended, I hopped to Madrid for some extended summertime. Here I discovered the amazing El Rastro. What makes it so amazing? It is a 400 years old extensive flea market full of everything from clothes to furniture connected by the historical streets, alleys, and plazas of Ribera de Curtidores. Including beautiful paintings, unique collector’s items and Madrilenian goods such as the flaminca dress .

Even though it is very traditional, the market does not sell food, which is not a problem for those who go to the market during lunch or breakfast time since the market is surrounded by typical cafes and restaurants. Where you can leave the crowded market for some delicious salty or sweet croquettes, which is one of the many tapas. It can be filled with codfish, Iberian ham, caramel, chocolate or many other stuffings. They are perfect for any time of the day and any taste!

So if you happen to be in Madrid on a Sunday, don’t miss out on this experience to have an outdoors tour of the city by the locals and see how they spend the last day of the weekend.

Como o verão aqui na Europa tenha terminado oficialmente, eu dei uma puladinha em Madrid para um pouquinho mais de sol. Aqui eu descobri o mercado El Rastro. O que o faz tão incrível? É um mercado antigo de 400 anos, onde você pode encontrar de tudo de roupas á móveis, conectado por ruas, becos e praças históricos de Ribera de Curtidores. O mercado também inclui pinturas lindas antigas, peças de colecionadores, e bens Madrileños como o famoso vestido de flamenca.

Embora sendo muito tradicional, o mercado não vendo comida, o que não é problema para os que vão ao mercado during o café da manhã ou almoço para fazer algumas compras ao ar livre, porque o mercado e cercado por vários cafés e restaurantes típicos. Onde você pode deixar o agitado mercado por deliciosos croquetes de sal ou doce, que são uns dos vários tipos de tapas. Existem muitos tipos de croquete, como bacalhau, presunto Ibérico, doce de leite, chocolate e muitos outros enchimentos. Esses croquetes sã perfeitos para qualquer hora do dia e para qualquer gosto!

Então se você for passar um Domingo em Madrid, não perca essa experiência de passar um dia como os locais ao ar livre na cidade guiado pelos moradores, e ver como eles passam o último dia do final de semana.

Desde que el verano ha oficialmente terminado, escapé a Madrid para extender mi verano. Aquí descubrí El Rastro . ¿Qué lo hace tan amable? Es un extenso mercado y sitio de usados e antigüedades de 400 años, lleno de todo desde ropa hasta muebles. El mercado es conectado por las calles, callejón y plazas históricas de la Ribera de Curtidores. Incluye hermosas pinturas, artículos de colección y productos madrileños como el traje de flaminca.

Aunque es muy tradicional, el mercado no vende comida, lo que no es un problema para aquellos que van al mercado durante el desayuno o el almuerzo, porque está rodeado de bares y restaurantes. Donde se puede salir del agitado mercado para algunas deliciosas croquetas saladas, dulces o de frutas, que es una de las muchas tapas. A saber: bacalao, jamón ibérico, caramelo, chocolate o muchos otros rellenos. Son perfectos para cualquier momento del día y cualquier gusto!

Si estas en Madrid en un domingo, no te pierdas esta oportunidad de pasar un día como un local pasa su último día del fin de semana.