Madrid and Morocco

Location: Madrid followed by Morocco.

Arrival Date: Madrid 25th – 27th November/Morocco 27th November – 6th December.

As I come to the end of my travels for 2012 and spend my last day in Essaouira i’d like to share some insights with you.

I’ve been thinking deeply as to why I love travelling so much and I keep moving. It is a form of escapism? To some degree it is. An escape from social conditioning, conformity, routine and mediocrity. It’s also an inward journey of self discovery. I recently watched the film Into the Wild and there’s a quote by Jon Krakauer that sums it up for me ”The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences.”

I’ve felt layers of ego and conditioning being stripped away as I learn more about myself, my character and behaviours through my experience of the world. I’ve noticed the shift in me as I begin to let go of years worth of pre-conceived ideas and judgements against others. There is no ‘right’ way, we’re all different and we’re born into this world for whatever reason to our own unique cultures and environments that shape who we are today.

Traveling alone builds confidence and inner strength to deal with the various challenges along the way and call on those inner resources. It broadens our perceptions where otherwise we may be limited in our understanding and knowledge of the world and others. To really ‘know’ something we must truly experience it.

I’ve always dreamed of creating a lifestyle where I can work and travel simultaneously. I wondered how realistic this dream was and now i’m living this dream having created a structure that’s enabled me to strike a balance between work and play.

I’m loving how I can blog about it as I go along and share these experiences with you. I’m not sure if i’ll ever settle down in one place…who knows….for now the journey continues!

Madrid:

Where I stayed: Hostal Plata – Clean, friendly & really central. Ask for a room with a view as my first room faced a wall, i’d read about this on Trip Advisor – if a view is important to you it’s worth expressing this on an email and the booking form.

What to do: Madrid is fantastic for history, art and culture lovers, I went to the Prado museum and the Botanical Garden. I was only there for 2 days didn’t have time to do much, I really wanted to visit the Reina Sofia Museum, modern art with Dali and Picasso, unfortunately it was closed on the Monday! Always check the websites for opening hours and there are certain times which are free such as on Sunday evenings.

park

If you’re into walking and parks i’d highly recommend Retiro which I strolled around taking in the beauty of my surroundings. There are a few more parks worth a visit especially Parque Del Oeste. It has an Egyptian temple in it and was brought over brick by brick in the 60’s as a present from Egypt!

Morocco:

Where I stayed:

Marrakech: Riad Amani – I couldn’t have asked for better hospitality, breakfast on the terrace and the best part was I was given a gorgeous suite on arrival. I would of been very happy to live there! I’m not sure what the other rooms are like and i’d imagine what you get depends on how full they are at the time.

Essaouira: The Dar L’oussia –  A luxurious hotel tucked away in a quiet area of the medina. Another fine spot for having breakfast on the terrace! Be warned, the Moroccans love bread and sugar! i’ve eaten more bread over the last week than I have in a whole lifetime!

chez

What to do: Explore, explore, explore! Don’t always go to the supposed ‘hip’ cafes, bars and restaurants you’ve read about on Trip Advisor, I made this mistake and found either the places were closed at this time of year or they didn’t live up to the reputation given. The best bits for me were stumbling across those hidden gems that were not advertised. The square – Djamaa El Fna in Marrakech is one of the most surreal places, extremely mad and entertaining! You really feel like you’ve been transported back in time!

Highlights:

* Visiting the roof top of a parliament building in Madrid with spectacular views across the city not known by tourists, with a friends sister who resides in Madrid, thanks Lau!

* November/December is a quite time of year to explore Morocco and is not jam packed full of tourists.

* Having lunch on the roof terraces of various Riads in Morocco including the Dar Hanane with new friends Stuart and Mandy.

* Going horse riding at sunset in Essaouira

* Sitting in a cafe on the pretty seafront  of Essaouira watching the world go by….

cafeculture

Lowlights:

* Madrid doesn’t seem like a city where many people travel alone or where you would easily meet new people.

* I was warned about the hassle i’d get in Marrakech and was told that it wouldn’t be as bad in Essaouira but actually I found the opposite! I could handle it and never felt threatened or intimidated, just incredibly irritated at being constantly chased down the street by young boys leering at me and asking to see my blue eyes.

If you’d like further information on either Madrid or Morocco then feel free to contact me and I will send you over some more recommendations.

Next stop: LONDON!!

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