Happy Fourth of July!

In honor of July 4th, which hopefully you’re all out safely celebrating (or IN safely celebrating, if that’s your particular jam), I give you some photos of “America’s Oldest Seaport” and the Boy’s hometown: Gloucester, Massachusetts.

America's Oldest Seaport Continue reading

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Layover Life: 6 Hours in Oslo

As with our flight to Spain and Morocco, our return flight had a long enough layover to leave the airport – this time, in Oslo! Norway has an excellent train system that sent us quickly from the airport to the heart of the city in about 30 minutes, giving us plenty of time to get a quick taste (we’re already plotting our return…).

View from Akershus Fortress

We got off the train right by the Oslo Opera House (free), a beautiful modern building on the water that was practically glowing in November afternoon light (the light there was truly incredible, since it was basically golden hour the whole time we were there thanks to Norway’s particular seasonal daylight). We walked around, taking photos and taking in the view (note: it’s cold there in November!).

We then continued our walk around the city, strolling along the water and through the Akershus Fortress (free), a military area and castle with large grounds that snake through a variety of historical stone buildings.

Akershus Fortress

We ended up grabbing a bite to eat at the Eufemia Bar in the Thon Hotel Opera near the train station, where we notably tried reindeer and lingonberries (tasty!).

Reindeer

And we couldn’t leave Oslo without trying Aquavit – luckily, the Norwegian Aquavit Bar in the airport (believe it or not) provided the opportunity! (We did not like it.)

Aquavit

OSLO HIGHLIGHTS

  • DO: Take in the gorgeous architecture of the Oslo Opera House
  • DO: Wander the grounds and look at the views from the Akershus Fortress
  • DRINK: Try the Scandinavian liquor aquavit (at your own risk!)

 

Out and About in Marrakech

We only spent one day in Marrakech, so at some point we’d like to go back and see more of it  – especially as by the time we arrived, we were starting to figure out some of the nuances of traveling in Morocco (you better believe we had airport transfers to and from the hotel). Still, we managed to do enough in one day that I figured I’d round it all up here for you!

Marrakech Door

Palace of the Bahia

The main activity of our visit was exploring the Palace of the Bahia (10 dirhams),  a nineteenth century palace (and big tourism site) in Marrakech. Continue reading

Where We Stayed: Marrakech

After Fes, our next stop on the grand Spain & Morocco tour was Marrakech – due to flight scheduling, we were only able to spend one day and one night there, but thanks to our inadvertent make-each-place-you-stay-better-than-the-last plan, our one night was at the supremely beautiful Riad Idra.

Note that we booked through Chase, and the pricing reflects what we paid – make sure to check on your own.

Riad Idra
105 Derb Tizougarine, Dar el Bacha, Marrakech Medina, Marrakech, Morocco
$190/night for the Ahlam Room

Riad Idra

As mentioned in a previous post, we managed to get ourselves quite sick in Fes, so we were just barely on the upswing when we arrived in Marrakech. We took our customary tea and cookies in the courtyard, which is a gorgeous haven of white carved stucco, climbing vines, and pops of blue and turquoise (ever-ready for the decor-loving Instagrammer). Continue reading

Out and About in Fes, Morocco

It’s May, and I’ve (sort of) nearly made it through recapping our trip last year to Spain and Morocco – we’ve covered Brighton on a layover, Madrid, Seville, and the eats and the hotel in Fes. Now, on to what we DID in Fes, with the final piece of the puzzle (Marrakech) and our home-going layover still to come! Whew. Thanks for sticking with me.

Before I get to the fun stuff, though, a setting of the stage and a little cautionary tale on what not to do in Fes: we arrived at the airport, confident in our abilities to navigate Morocco just as easily as we had Spain. That was our first mistake.

Arriving in Morocco

The Boy speaks French, and we (thought we) negotiated a taxi rate from the airport to our hotel. This was our second mistake. Continue reading

Eating Out in Fes, Morocco

I’ve already posted about where we stayed in Fes, but now to tell you about where we ate – with one disclaimer: on the last day, we got quite ill. We don’t know what exactly made us ill – the Boy got it worse than me, but we mostly ate the same things, and nothing was particularly suspicious. Still, a good note that Morocco is one of those places you might be likely to get a bout of traveler’s disease (the worst of ours lasted about 24-36 hours), and that it’s possible one of the below places brought it on…

Breakfast

Riad Dar Bensouda

I don’t have any photos of breakfast, but we ate every day in our hotel Riad Dar Bensouda, and they put out an impressive (and varied) spread of eggs, fruits, breads, cheeses, and more, along with juices and the ubiquitous sweet mint tea (free). Continue reading

Where We Stayed: Fes

I’m going to have a lot more to say about Fes, Morocco (speaking of which, is it Fes or Fez? I feel like the one I’m using is more accurate, but just doesn’t look right to me, so I’m torn), but I figured I’d kick off by sharing where we stayed for the three nights we spent in the city. Note that we booked through Chase, and the pricing reflects what we paid – make sure to check on your own.

Riad Dar Bensouda
14 Zkak El Bghel, Elquettanine, Fès 30202, Morocco
$95/night for a Standard Room

Riad Dar Bensouda

Morocco is a truly incredible country, and while we did have some struggles while visiting (more on that to come), it was an awesome experience. Also awesome – you can get truly beautiful accommodations in Morocco for very little money Continue reading

Out and About in Seville

After our first couple of days in Madrid, we moved on to our other Spanish destination – Seville (or Sevilla). Since I visited the city in college, I have loved Seville, and this trip was no exception – it’s smaller and a little older-feeling (in the best way) than Madrid, but there’s still plenty to do and see, and the winding streets got us (very slightly) more prepared for our time in Morocco’s web of alleyways. We spent our two nights there hitting the major sights, strolling, and eating.

Metropol Parasol

Metropol Parasol

When we first arrived, we settled into our hotel – the perfectly nice Hotel Bécquer ($135/night for a Standard Double) which had a great rooftop view of the city – and set off on a pre-dinner wander to secure flamenco tickets for the following day. Before long, we came upon the impressive Metropol Parasol (free on the main level, 3 euros to ascend), a wooden mushroom-esque structure that lends shade to a large plaza, has walking paths on its top (we didn’t make it up there, however), and Roman ruins in its basement. Continue reading

Out and About in Madrid

If you’ve been following along with some of my recent blog posts, you’ll know that our last big vacation was to Spain & Madrid (with some layover stops along the way). Beginning with Madrid, I’ve covered where we stayed, what we ate, and one particularly decadent meal. Now for the final piece of the puzzle – what we did!

the plazas of madrid

We are wanderers by nature, and Madrid is a beautiful city, so we did a lot of walking around and taking in that beauty (notoriously, on my first trip to the city as an 18-year-old, my best friend and traveling companion kept having to stop me from walking into the street as I stared blissfully up at all the gorgeous architecture). Continue reading

Eating Out in Madrid

There are so many reasons I love to travel, but I’m not gonna lie to you, a big one of them is eating. For any given trip, before we go I have crafted a list of more eateries in the chosen location than any one person would be able to visit in a lifetime, let alone a few days. Large segments of the trip itself are spent debating where we should eat next, and Yelp/TripAdvisor are always close at hand (for the record, I found TripAdvisor more helpful in Spain and Morocco).

Chocolateria San Gines

Madrid was no exception to this food-centric rule – while our jet lag sometimes had us eating at weird times, we nevertheless did our damnedest to enjoy all the treats the city had to offer. Here are a few of the highlights… Continue reading