The Lake District

On June 23, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 11 am.

Ivan and I had cereal and then packed everything up.  We said good-bye and thanks to Laura at noon.

We were off on our English road trip.  Ivan started driving towards The Lake District which is located in Northwest England.  The weather was overcast and gloomy.

I worked on the blog while Ivan drove.  I can’t drive manual (stick), plus I’ve never driven on the other side of the road.  I think I might crash into somebody if I tried.  The roads in England are very narrow.

Lovely green views

When we started getting close to The Lake District, the views were green and lush.  I noticed a lot of cows and sheep in the grass.  It’s great to see so much greenery since you don’t see much in Las Vegas.

It took an hour and 45 minutes to arrive at the Inn on the Lake which described exactly what it was.  It’s located in the small village of Glenridding.

Our lovely pink flowery room

It was a shame that we didn’t get a lake view room, but we still had views of the nice mountains and the golf course.

View of the golf course

The lady at reception recommended a few places for lunch.  We checked out The Ramblers Bar which is right next to the inn.  Ivan thought their menu it looked good, but we drove to find The Travellers Rest.  The selection was really small at The Travellers Rest, so Ivan drove us back to The Ramblers Bar.

Ivan and I shared bean chili, potato and leek soup and a smoked salmon baguette.  Lil Dave got a banana and chocolate baguette.  The food was really tasty.

Ivan and I took baths in the cute bathtub.  It was really relaxing to lie in the hot water.

The Inn on the Lake from the garden

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked around the beautiful garden of the hotel which leads right to the lake with a small pond right before the lake.

Pond in the garden of The Inn on the Lake

Ivan and I hoped that the weather would improve, but not really sure since English weather is known for drizzle and being gloomy.  We checked out the village of Glenridding.

Stream in Glenridding, England

It’s quite cute and quiet.

The lobby of Inn on the Lake

The internet was buggy for Ivan and a few other guests at the hotel.  It worked fine for me on my phone and my netbook.

I used the internet in the lobby while Ivan went next door where he had to pay for internet which only worked at The Ramblers Bar.  It wasn’t that much money, but it wasn’t good that the internet didn’t work for him at the hotel.  Routers can act weird sometimes.

Dogs are allowed to stay at The Inn on the Lake, so we saw a variety of dogs.  The biggest one was a HUGE Great Dane.  It looked like a mini horse.

I joined Ivan in The Ramblers Bar.  It was nice that we could use the same internet connection that he paid for and only pay once.  Ivan and I shared a yummy cider.

There was a cute English sheepdog who was hanging out with his owners.  He couldn’t see a thing!

We got ready in the room.  Ivan put on a nice shirt while I wore a flowery dress.  Lil Dave decided to eat his banana dinner in the room.

Ivan and I headed to the Lake View Restaurant for our 8:30 reservation.

Ivan with the cheese mousse

Ivan and I started off with a cheese mousse with beetroot and grilled halloumi and polenta for our starters.  I decided to get the twice cooked shin for my main course which was really tender and tasted great.  Ivan went with the trout which looked like salmon.

For dessert, I thought we should try the English Sticky Toffee.  I’ve never had this dessert before and I had to try it since it’s a popular English dessert.  I’m so glad that it tasted amazing.  The banana mousse we shared was mild, but tasted pretty good.  It was a lovely meal.

There was free tea and little sweets in the lounge area.  We used the internet in the lounge for awhile before going back to our room for the night.


Robbie Williams concert

On June 22, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to Market Street in Manchester.  I lost a bra in Marrakech, so I had to find a replacement.

Laura suggested Debenham’s or Marks & Spencers for bras.  I popped in to M&S to try on bras.  Ivan and Lil Dave went to Phone Warehouse and Boots.  I found a nice bra and underwear set.

It was an overcast day.  We were hoping it wouldn’t rain tonight, since we were going to a concert in a stadium.

Our next stop was Primark.  It’s a great store with tons of cool selection of clothes, accessories, purses and home stuff with really reasonable prices.  Ivan and I bought some clothes and rain jackets.

Zara was up next, so Ivan could find the jacket he’s seen before.  He found one similar which looked really good on him, so he bought it.

We walked to Piccadilly Gardens – it’s what Morrissey sings about in the song Piccadilly Palare and not Piccadilly Circus in London which everybody thinks it is.  Ivan and I were both hungry and were thinking of an Italian place.  But, then we saw the Street Food Market.

Street Food Market at Picadilly

We checked out the market and found a great place selling chicken tandoori wraps.  Ivan and I each got one.  Lil Dave went to another stall to get a banana and chicken sandwich.  Our food tasted great.

Ivan needed a haircut bad, so we went to The Arndale mall.  We found Supercuts and Ivan got his hair cut.

Ivan drove us back to the apartment.  We chilled for 30 minutes before heading out again.

Ivan drove us to a car parking lot near Etihad Stadium.  Tonight, we were going to see Robbie Williams with Olly Murs as his opening act.  Olly doesn’t go on until 7 pm or so, but we wanted to make sure we got in the Golden Circle.

We walked to the stadium and got there at 4 pm.  There was a long line at A1 which Ivan found out is the best entrance to the stadium – closest to the Golden Circle.  Ivan read that the doors open at 5 pm, but the line started moving a few minutes before 5 pm.

Ivan researched that the Golden Circle is a great place to watch the concert.  Robbie Williams has been playing in this stadium for the last 3 nights, so people have been saying things on the internet.  The Golden Circle is actually a special ticket which we didn’t have.  We snuck into the Golden Circle.  A few people were checking for wristbands and the right tickets, but Ivan and I just waltzed right in with no trouble.

We walked around the circle to check out all the different views of the stage.  Behind the stage, there’s a screen with part of Robbie Williams’ face on it.  Ivan thought that the screen would open up later.  Two runways were on both sides of the stage.

Once you leave the Golden Circle, you’re given a green wristband that ensures your re-entry into the area.

We walked to the seats and sat down for awhile since we had awhile to wait.

Before the Robbie Williams concert

Ivan and I played games on our phones and chatted.

At 6:20 pm, we stood in line to get food.  Ivan was thinking ahead – he thought that the queues (lines) for the food would be huge after Olly Murs finishes.  I agreed, so we decided to get food now and eat it cold during the break.  Ivan and I each got a chicken sandwich and chips.  We shared the chips (french fries) and headed back to the Golden Circle.

We sat down on the side to wait for Olly Murs to come on.  He wasn’t on at 7, but at 7:30 pm.  Olly was very good and he’s quite cute.  He looks really young though (like 18 years old) – I think he has that stubble on his face to make him look older.  He sang all his hits like Dance with Me Tonight, Heart Skips a Beat, Dear Darlin’ and Troublemaker.  He was great and he danced around sexily for the girls.  It started showering a bit during Olly’s set.

We knew his last song would probably be Troublemaker which it turned out to be.. so we started heading up to the toilets during the start of the song.  I wanted to avoid the long line for the ladies’ toilet since it’s always long especially compared to the men’s line.  Ivan went to get wine while I went to the loo.

We ate our chicken sandwiches which didn’t taste bad cold during the break.

Robbie ziplining into Etihad Stadium

Photo by jenniewraight

Later at 9 pm, Robbie Williams came down a zipline for his grand entrance.  He took the stage and it started raining.  Robbie said Let me introduce myself, I’m Robbie F***ing Williams.  How funny!  He told the crowd that the next 2 hours, we would be his.  I know I was totally down for this.  This was my first time seeing Robbie and Ivan’s sixth time.

Robbie Williams is such a performer – people compare him to Freddie Mercury.  I read that he had gotten fat, but he looked good to me.  But, then again he was wearing all black for most of the concert.  Ivan told me later that he gained a bit of weight.

The rain kept coming back and then stopping – I’m just glad that it wasn’t too hard.  I’m so happy that we bought our rain jackets earlier at Primark.

The screen with Robbie’s face on it was being used for visuals on the big screen and his face which we thought was really cool.  A silver cast of Robbie’s face came out and the top of his head opened up and balloons flew out of it.

Balloons coming out of Robbie's head

Robbie moved around on the stages.  He is quite a good looking guy and very cheeky.  He definitely has charisma.

It was cool to see the visuals on the big screen and Robbie’s face which matched with what song he was currently singing.

Bright stained glass on the big screen

A bronze cast of Robbie’s face came out this time.  This one had stairs leading up to it.  Some of the band went up with Robbie.  The cast shot out fire from its head and it shot water out at the audience.

Olly Murs came out and sang Kids with Robbie.

Robbie Williams has so many wonderful songs and he sang many favorites like Millennium, Rock DJ, Come Undone, Let Me Entertain You, Bodies, Candy and Strong.

During the song Me & My Monkey, the screen had Robbie as a an ape.  Very cute and funny!

Me & my monkey visuals

Lil Dave came to the stadium to hear this song since it’s his favorite Robbie Williams song – he was hanging around somewhere.. I didn’t see him, but he said he’d come just for this song.  It turns out that the fans really love this song.

Concert from high up

Picture by samlyon4

Robbie came out for an encore and sang Feel, She’s the One and Angels.  It’s so cool singing Angels along with 49,999 other people.

The concert was amazing.  I really enjoyed it.  Robbie is wonderful to watch.  I’m glad that we’ll be seeing him again soon at Wembley Stadium in London.

After the concert, we walked out via the delivery entrance.  The queues for the bus were so, so long.

Ivan and I walked back to our car in the parking lot.  Our plan was to wait for 30 minutes until the traffic died down and then drive back.  We did just that.  We played on our phone and listened to the radio.

Right before midnight, we left the parking lot and it was pretty quiet on the streets.


Travelling to Manchester

On June 21, 2013, we woke up at 5:40 am.  We left the hotel at 6 am via taxi.

We had breakfast at the airport.  Our first Ryanair flight from Marrakesh to Paris left at 7:45 am.  Our plane arrived at 11:40 am.  The customs looked like a prison.

Paris Beauvais Tillé airport was really small.  I think the airport was named after Beauvais who is Beavis’ French cousin.

We grabbed our bags since our flights weren’t connecting and walked to Terminal 1.  Check-in wasn’t open yet, so Ivan grabbed food at Paul.

Ivan and I ate our tasty tuna baguettes while trying to use the internet.  It was a poor connection.

We checked in and waited in the super long Security line which was annoying.  I’m not sure how the line is so long and slow.  They need more x-ray machines at the Paris Beauvais Tillé airport.

We walked to our gate and found out that our flight was delayed for 30 minutes.  Not too long of a delay at least.

Getting on the Ryanair plane

The Ryanair plane left Paris at 3:55 pm and started heading to Manchester, England.  We arrived in England at 5 pm.

Ivan and I got a shuttle to the car rental village where we picked up our car since we’ll soon be off on a road trip through England and Wales.

Ivan drove us to the Airbnb place.  We were greeted by Laura.  She made us tea and we talked about our trip, Las Vegas and Manchester.  She was very sweet.

We chilled in our room and took showers.  Lil Dave decided to stay in – he wanted to jump on the bed and Skype with his dad.

Ivan drove us and parked in a car park near The Comedy Store.

The Comedy Store clocks

We ordered a vegetarian saag curry and a vegetarian hot pot at The Comedy Store.  The food was good.  The saag didn’t have much spinach like it should have.

We tried to find a bar for an espresso, but each bar was busy and the service was slow.

The Comedy Store bar

Instead, we each got a Red Bull at the Comedy Store bar.  We also grabbed our bottle of white wine that we bought earlier.

It was time to laugh.  The compère (MC) was Alex Boardman.  He looked like an American actor, but I couldn’t think of his name.  He was really funny as the host.

There were 4 comedians on and they were ALL really good. It was great to hear some English comedians again – always so much funnier than American ones. We particularly liked Ian Stone who we have seen multiple times before..he’s the kind of comedian who you just feel like you could watch for hours and hours because he’s so funny and just such a natural on the stage.

We were surprised how quiet it was in there – in London on a Friday night at The Comedy Store it always sells out and is packed – here in Manchester it was less than half full. Also the crowd seemed a lot less drunk (and thus quieter) than they would be in London.

Ivan drove us back and we called it a night since we had a long day of travelling.


Henna Square

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had breakfast at 10 am at the buffet on June 20, 2013.

Gazebo at Hotel RIU Tikida Garden

We used the internet for awhile at the pool.  Ivan and I had sangria in the lounge area of the lobby.

We all headed to the buffet for lunch.  Ivan and I had paella, fish and pizza.  Lil Dave put bananas on a few slices of pizza to create a nice banana pizza.  Ivan and I enjoyed a glass of nice sangria with our lunch.

Ivan and I organized our suitcases and packed everything up.

We all took the free shuttle to the New Town.  Ivan and I checked out Zara, but we didn’t find the jacket Ivan liked in Ibiza.  We thought there would have been more shops, but we didn’t really feel like walking around to find them.

Ivan thought we should head to the medina (old town) to go for a spa day.. plus, I wanted to get henna done before leaving the country tomorrow.  We got a taxi to the medina.

Lil Dave decided to chance it and go visit Reggie.  Ivan and I tried to go to a modern hammam spa, but it was all booked up for the day.  So much for another spa day.

Ivan and I walked to Jemaa el-Fna square.  We went to one lady asking about henna prices to get a feel of what they charge and what we could bargain for.  She said there were different prices for colors like orange, brown and black.  Orange henna only lasts a day – not sure why anybody would want it only for a day.

The lady was asking for 200 dirhams for one hand in black.  Her daughter was going to show me something.. I thought she was going to draw something with a pencil, but she started putting the henna on me.  I said I don’t want it now.  I didn’t even pick anything.  She wiped it off, but it made a stain on my skin.  I was pissed and knew I wouldn’t be getting henna done from them.  Ivan asked for 120 dirham and they both said no.  So, we left.  Of course, this is when the lady started saying Ok, it’s fine.  It was too late by then, plus her daughter made me mad by putting henna on me when I didn’t agree to a style I liked.  The mom started chasing us.  She put her hand on my shoulder and said she’ll do it for 120 dirham.  We were both saying No, we don’t want to.  We still thought it was too expensive anyway especially since it only takes a few minutes to do.

Ivan and I went to an orange juice stall to get a glass of oj to share.  A guy came over saying that he’ll do a good henna job and he won’t stain me like the lady did.  I kept saying I don’t want to talk about it.  I was still mad at that stupid lady putting on the henna before I said yes.  He kept banging on about how good his designs are.  I didn’t really care.  Finally, he went away.  But, of course he came back again to try to convince me to do it.  I just wanted to drink my orange juice in peace.

Ivan and I went in search of another lady doing henna for a more reasonable price.  We sat down and the two ladies seemed nicer.  They had lots of books with henna designs for hands and a some pictures with henna on feet.  I wanted one hand and one foot done.  I found a great design that was the same for the foot and hand.  Ivan asked her how much.  She said 80 dirhams for each one.  Ivan said No, 50 dirhams each.  She said 70 dirhams each.  Ivan said that’s fine.

Getting henna done on my foot

She started putting the henna on my foot and leg and then my hands.  It only took a few minutes to do.  She told me that I couldn’t wear my shoe for an hour since the henna needed to dry.  The design looked nice, but the lady seemed rushed when she was doing it.

Henna design done in Jemaa el-Fna

My foot was getting burnt on the hot ground since we were trying to get to a café.  Ivan and I went to one and chilled out on their terrace for an hour.  We talked about our travels and business ideas.  We noticed that the night market stalls were being assembled in the Jemaa el-Fna square already.

Jemaa el-Fna square in the afternoon

An hour passed.. so we walked to a souvenir shop to grab last minute souvenirs and postcards.

Lil Dave was waiting for us at the post office.  He said thanks and good-bye to Reggie the monkey.  He had lots of fun with him during his stay in Marrakesh.  We grabbed a taxi back to Hotel RIU Tikida Garden.

Lil Dave decided to head to the dinner buffet, so we could have a nice evening alone – plus the kitchen weren’t too keen on making him a banana tajine.

Ivan and I went to the restaurant for our 8:30 pm reservation.  The restaurant was shaped in a circle.  It was really pretty inside and a man was playing Moroccan music on his guitar.

Ivan and I grabbed some Moroccan salads and chicken pastilla for appetizers at the buffet.  The chicken pastilla was delicious.

Our waiter took our order which was two fish tajines.  He poured us red wine.

Fish tajine at RIU Tikida Garden

Our main courses came out shortly.  The fish tajine tasted good, but not as good as the one we had at Azar.  Ivan thinks to save time the chef cooked the vegetables in a pan, fried up the fish and then stuck it in a tajine.  Voila, quick and easy tajine!

Ivan and I went back to the room and we watched more of The Sketch Show before getting some rest.


Moroccan Cooking Class

On June 19, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up early at 8:30 am.  We had the free breakfast on the terrace and then packed everything up.

We stored our luggage with the riad.  We had a lovely stay at Riad Andalla.

Lil Dave headed out to meet up with Reggie the monkey.  Ivan and I walked to the post office at 9:30 am.  We were waiting for a pickup for a cooking class.  It came at 9:45 am and the van had two British people inside already.

The van stopped two other times to pick up two other couples and then were driven to Faim d’Epices.  If I knew that we’d be in the car for awhile, I would have taken a nap.

We were greeted by Michel at Faim d’Epices.  He’s part owner of the cooking class.

Faim d'Epices cooking stations

The décor was quite nice and we each had our own cooking station which is always great in cooking classes.  Ivan and I both think that cooking demonstrations aren’t very good since  we like the hands-on approach.

A Moroccan lady named Nezha showed us how to make the bread from scratch.  The counter was high so I had to tiptoe a bit (since I’m really short) to see her demonstration since the table she was doing it on was slightly lower.  I was hoping we’d remember everything she taught us, since we’d be making our own bread after the Spice Workshop.

Michel did the Spice Workshop.  He’s really funny and likeable.  The group had to put on blacked out sunglasses and try to guess the spices by smell alone.  Some were pretty obvious like ginger, but some were hard like mixes of two different things which was actually a trick question.

Michel doing the Spice Workshop

He told us how to tell if saffron was real or not.  Ivan and I thought the Spice Workshop was a little too long.

Lots of Spices to guess with a blind smell

The workshop was interesting, but it could have been cut down some.

It was time to make our own bread.

Making Moroccan bread

Good thing, Nezha was there to help us out.  She’s very nice and a great teacher.  Our breads were left under a tea towel to rise for awhile.

It was time to learn how to make a fish tajine.  Nezha showed us how to make a sauce and then chop up vegetables and how to place the ingredients into the tajine (earthenware pot).

Ivan's ready to eat.. but our fish tajine must cook first!

Everybody in the group put their ingredients into the tajine and now our tajines were ready to start cooking.  It takes about 45 minutes to cook.

Nezha showed us how to cook the bread by frying it in a pan.

Nezha cooking up vegetables

She also showed us how to make three Moroccan salads (appetizers).

Three Moroccan salads

Next, we got to fry our own bread at our cooking stations.  Michel helped us out – letting us know if it was cooked enough or not.

Cooking the side of the bread

Nezha showed us how to make crepes.  The Moroccan crepes are much thicker than French crepes and square.  We got to practice folding the crepes.  Nezha cooked two up and the group got try to them.  The crepes were yummy.

We had some free time since our tajines were still cooking.  Outside, there’s a huge backyard with lots of vegetables and flowers.  The cooking class grows all their vegetables right in their garden.

Ivan's fish tajine

It was now time to eat the food we cooked.  We sat outside in the backyard.  Everybody brought out their fish tajine and bread to the table.

Ivan with all our food

Our fish tajine was good, but slightly overcooked.  The best salad was the one with the roasted red and green peppers.

Each couple in the group got a recipe book in a long test tube to take home as a souvenir.

The Faim d’Epices cooking class was wonderful.  Ivan thought it was a great mixture of demonstration and hands-on cooking.  We highly recommend taking this cooking class to learn how to make Moroccan food and eat your tasty creations.

Ivan and I were dropped off in Jemaa el-Fna square.  Ivan went to get the luggage while I picked out some postcards and souvenirs.

We got a taxi to RIU Tikida Garden.   It’s a lovely all-inclusive hotel with lots of trees throughout the grounds.  The internet didn’t really work in our room, so we headed to the pool to use it.  I worked on the blog.

The dining room was all booked up for the night, so we went to the buffet for dinner.  Ivan and I had fish, Moroccan salads and harissa soup.  Lil Dave had a few bananas and took some back for his secret banana storage… which I still haven’t found.

After dinner, we went to see the entertainment.  It was lots of Moroccan dancing and music.

There was flashing lights on the dance floor right before one of the acts and a 2 year old girl started dancing around.  Her parents didn’t grab her when the belly dancer came out like most normal parents would.  Good thing the belly dancer was good natured… because she just smiled and laughed that the little girl was dancing near her.

Belly dancer & little girl on the dance floor

Ivan and I are sure she toned down her performance.  She did shake her boobs a bit.. but didn’t seem to shake her hips a lot like most belly dancers we’ve seen in Morocco.

The last Moroccan song went on too long.. it was the same beat over and over and over again which was doing our heads in.

Ivan and I headed back to the room after the show and watched some of tv series The Sketch Show before going to sleep.


Relaxing Belly

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had the free breakfast on the pretty terrace on June 18, 2013.  It’s great that you can see the square from the terrace. The square was quiet this early in the morning.  Our breakfast consisted of crepes, bread, orange juice and tea.  Lil Dave brought his own bananas to put on bread.

Lil Dave went to go souvenir shopping for his dad with Reggie the monkey.

Ivan and I went to Yamy for lunch later where we had a tuna panini with fries.

It was another relaxing day for Ivan and me.  Ivan and I both used the internet.  I was still catching up on the blog.  I’m glad that the riad had fast internet.  Traveling can be tiring – a day where you don’t do much is much needed sometimes.

We headed up to the terrace right before sunset.

Ivan and me on the terrace of Riad Andalla at sunset

We ate the tasty medjool dates Ivan bought in the square.

Took a taxi to Azar at 9:30 pm.  Azar is a Lebanese restaurant.  People were doing shisha in the front part of the restaurant.

Ivan and I shared artichoke salad, eggplant dip, halloumi cheese, small squid for our starters.  Modern belly dancers came out to dance around the restaurant.  I was surprised that they were pretty.

Belly dancing at Azar

Most belly dancers are fat and old.  The Muslim guys were loving it.

Monkfish tajine at Azar

Our monkfish tajine was our main dish.  We watched the belly dancing while we ate our lovely tajine.

Dessert was up next.

Chocolate fondant for dessert

Ivan and I shared a wonderful chocolate fondant that came with ice cream and peanuts.  It was a scrumptious meal at a beautiful restaurant.


Seafood Hammam

On June 17, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I checked out of Riad Villa el Arsa.

At 11:30 am, we walked to our new accommodation called Riad Andalla.  The lady only spoke French and gave us a letter from one of the owners named Christophe.  The note said that he’d be back at 6:30 pm and it recommended a place for lunch with a map on the back.  We filled out our forms with our passport numbers and other personal information.

Ivan and I used the free wi-fi in the lovely courtyard.  A guy, who is co-owner and a friend of Christophe’s came to say hi, but he didn’t speak much English.  He asked if it was our first time in Marrakesh and we said yes.  He asked if we had eaten and we said Christophe recommended a place for us.

Our bags were placed in our room.

We all went to Henna Café for lunch.  Ivan went here so I could get henna done on my hand.  But, we both forgot that we were going to a hamman spa later.

I almost stepped on Prince Harry the tortoise.  I didn’t know there was a tortoise walking around.

Prince Harry the tortoise

He was really fast for a tortoise.

Ivan got a Atay Louiza tea which had lemon verbena while I got an Atay Sheeba which was with wormwood/absinthium.  Oops, I forgot that I don’t really like the taste of absinthe.  My tea was really bitter and strong.. I really wasn’t a big fan.  Lil Dave got a banana tea.

Ivan and I shared hummus, Henna Café sandwich (Moroccan street food with potato egg mix with seasoning) and a falafel sandwich.  Lil Dave got a banana sandwich.  The food was okay.

Lil Dave left to meet up with Reggie.. they were headed to the garden for general monkey business.

It was time to head to Hammam Ziani.  Harvey Keitel has visited this traditional hammam.  Ivan bought us both a spa package.  The guy at reception said that there’s no reason to tip since it’s included in the price.

We went our separate ways to get our washing and massage done.  I had a small lady take me to a changing room.  She handed me black underwear.  I always put on the underwear in the spas and it never seems to fit right or really cover everything too well.  I hoped I had it on the right way.. but somehow it didn’t really feel right.

I was led to a room with only a cover on… also my weird black spa underwear underneath.  I was washed with water by the small lady and then taken to the sauna.  The lady didn’t speak much English, so I had to guess what she was saying in French.

The sauna had two girls already sitting down.  I sat across from them.  I wasn’t sure if they spoke English or not, so I just smiled.  It turned out that I was right and they spoke Spanish.  I’m glad the sauna wasn’t that hot.  It had pretty colored lights coming in since the windows were all colored with green, yellow and red.  There was a cloud of steam covering half of the room.

The girls left a few minutes later.  The sauna has two levels, but I don’t like it too hot and stayed where I was sitting.  The lady came back a few minutes later.. although, it seemed pretty long since I didn’t really know what to do with myself.  I kept blowing into the steam and waving my arms around to move the steam around.

The lady scrubbed me down and then washed me.  She held my hand, I think because I didn’t have my glasses on, and led me to the massage room.  The room had the two other girls all oiled up already getting their massages on concrete tables.

I laid down and got a great massage.  I do like some pressure since it works the sore muscles out.  The lady was tiny, but she gave a powerful massage.  Masseuses always seem to bend your legs in ways that you didn’t know was possible.

I went into the other room and laid down on the concrete table.  The lady gave me a mud mask which the guy at reception gave me for free since I wanted a facial.  I got my hair shampooed and my body got washed.

I went to go change.  Another lady (not the lady who gave me my massage) opened my curtain and I was half naked… She didn’t care and said Tip.  I said Yah to shut her up and hoped she’d close the curtain.  But, that didn’t happen.  She just stood there staring at me like I was going to get some Dirhams to tip her with.  I said The tip is included and she shut the curtain.  The nerve of some people to just open a curtain and demand a tip.

I put my clothes on and then headed to a waiting room where I was served mint tea.  The two girls were sitting there sipping tea.  I drank my tea and went to the front room to see if Ivan was done.

Ivan was in the room in his robe reading a magazine.  He went to change and came out a few minutes later.  Ivan had the same experience as me except with a guy massaging him.  His guy also asked for a tip and he told him Tips are included.  The guy made a Shh gesture, so he wouldn’t say anything.  Ivan says that he read online that some people have gotten the people in trouble for asking for a tip.

The hammam spa experience was definitely good and relaxing.  If you’re shy about being half naked around strangers, it’s probably not the best place for you to go.  We felt really clean.

Ivan wanted to take a tour on a horse and carriage.  He paid 100 dirhams for an hour.

Me with the whip and Ivan in the back

The driver took us around Marrakesh where we saw a mosque, a hospital and a Louis Vuitton.

Koutoubia Mosque

There’s not much to see around the square, but it was great to relax while being driven around in a horse and carriage.

Ivan and I walked back to our riad.  Ivan said he met Christophe while I was in the room and said he looked like a French model.

Later, we headed up to the terrace for sunset.  Ivan got a nice rosé, so we can drink it during sunset.  Christophe came over to say hi.  He’s really funny and quite the character.  He loves living in Morocco since it’s blue skies and sunny all the time compared to where he lived in France.  Christophe is very French and wears great clothing.  He definitely could be a model like Ivan said earlier.

Ivan and I both agree that we couldn’t live in Morocco especially in Marrakesh.  The medina (old town) is a bit much.. with all the motorbikes you have to avoid, along with the bicyclists and the horse and carriages.  It’s a beautiful place with all the great colors and beautiful patterns.  Lovely place to visit, but not suitable for us to live in.

We walked around the night market at Jemaa El-Fna square.  You can get interesting foods at the market restaurant stalls like sheep’s head, brains and tongue.

Sheep's head, brains and tongue

I will definitely not be having that any time soon.

Our dinner was at the market stall #14.  This market restaurant stall specializes in seafood.  Ivan and I shared fish, calamari and more fish.

Seafood dinner at stall #14

All the food was fried and tasted good.

Ivan and I headed back to our room in Riad Andalla which is a short walk from the square.  The music from the Jemaa el-Fna square was loud.. I put my earplugs in before I went to sleep.


Quad Bar

On June 16, 2013, Ivan and I packed everything up and moved rooms in Riad Villa de Arsa.  We had the free breakfast on the terrace.

Lil Dave went to roam around the medina.  He was going to meet up with Reggie and take a cooking class on monkey Moroccan cuisine.

Ivan felt a lot better.  He got lucky that his sickness only lasted a day.  Ivan and I walked around the Jemaa el-Fna square.  We went to Taj’in Darna Café and Restaurant for lunch.  We had a boring lunch of a tuna sandwich and a fruit salad.

Pretty Moroccan glass cups

Ivan and I checked out the shops since we had time to spare.

Perfect coned spices

Ivan and I walked to a parking lot since we were waiting to get picked up for a trip.  We got picked up by an SUV and picked up two girls nearby.  The driver drove us to a street and got out.  He was waiting for two more people.  A French couple went into the backseat and we were off.

It was time to go on The Rock Desert & Palmgrove of Marrakech half day trip run by Dunes & Desert Exploration.  We tried on our helmets and were given goggles.

I sat on the quad bike with Ivan driving.  He said I could drive my own if I wanted.  I tried driving the quad bike, but I think I was too slow.  It hurt to keep my finger pressed on the acceleration button.

The group started following our guide.  We saw a lot of rock desert and wild palm groves.

At first, the guide was going slow.  Ivan said How come we’re going so slow?  He thought it was like we were out for a Sunday afternoon ride.  Lil Dave wanted to drive, but Ivan told him not to be such a silly monkey.

The guide actually listened and we started going faster.  The scenery wasn’t amazing, but it was fun being on the quad bikes.  It was really hot out though.

The other group caught up with our group which only confirmed that we were going too slow.

Ivan on the mountain

The two groups went on top of a mountain for a nice view of the desert.

Me with my helmet hair

I’m glad we stopped a few times for a water break.

The group started driving more in the desert.

Berber village

Everybody stopped at a Berber village.  It was time for tasty mint tea and honey crepes.

Time for mint tea & crepes in the shade

I’m glad we got a chance to relax for awhile in the cool shade.

It was time to head back.  A guy was using a spray gun to knock dust off people.

Ivan getting sprayed

Ivan and I both got it done.  It was a fun day on the half day tour riding in the desert on quad bikes.

That night, we walked to the Jemaa el-Fna square for dinner.  Ivan read that #1 and #14 stalls were best restaurant stalls.  Ivan thought we should check out #1 tonight.

Chez Aicha is the #1 stall which has been visited by Jamie Oliver.

Eating dinner among the locals

Ivan and I shared fried eggplant, vegetable tajine, sardines, sole and fried calamari.  The food was good.

We walked around the market and came across a row of tea vendors selling cardamon tea and a spiced cake.  The cake tasted good with the tea.

Having cardamon tea

The cardamon tea was really spicy and delicious.

Ivan found a nice bar online that he thought we should visit.  We walked to Kosy Bar.  Ivan and I shared a bottle of rosé‎ and talked about traveling and life amongst all the other tourists.


A Day of Rest

Ivan woke up at 5 am on June 15, 2013 since he was really sick.  His stomach really hurt and he was so cold that he was shivering.  He took some medicine, but still felt bad.  I’m glad he didn’t feel like this on the train.  I knew it would be a day of rest for both of us. 

We used the internet for a short while.  Went back to sleep at 7 am and woke up at noon.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to lunch at Un Déjeuner à Marrakech.  I had a mint tea while Ivan had a smoothie with yogurt.  Ivan and I shared a vegetable and goat cheese sandwich and a courgette soup.  Lil Dave had a banana and chocolate pancake.  The soup was good, but the sandwich was only okay. 

Ivan still wasn’t feeling 100%, but he felt better.  My stomach still felt odd, but nothing major.

We relaxed at the riad.  Ivan used the internet while I worked on getting the blog up to date.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked around Jemaa el-Fna square for a few minutes. 

Moroccan lamps for sale

Lil Dave went to meet Reggie the monkey at a good market restaurant which only served monkeys and was famous for their banana tajines.

Ivan found a great Italian place for dinner called Pepe Nero

The entrance to Pepe Nero

A beautiful pool welcomed us at the entrance of the restaurant.

Ivan and I shared a salmon cake and eggplant parmesan with tuna for our starters. 

Salmon cake at Pepe Nero

Our main course was fettuccine with salmon and a salsa rosa sauce.  The food was very, very tasty.

We started making our way back.  Ivan was confused and a few little kids said a street was closed.  Ivan said he wanted to go to Jamaa el-Fna square.  The kids started taking us towards the square.  Ivan was walking fast and he hit his head on a tunnel.  The kids were annoying because the street that they said was closed wasn’t actually closed.  Don’t fall for this stupid trick.  A guy started following the kids.  We told them we knew our way back to our riad, but they kept following us.  We got to our riad and they wanted money.  But, I said Leave us alone, we knew how to get here.



Ivan and I had the free breakfast in Dar Melody at 7:45 am on June 14, 2013.  We said thank you and good-bye to Laurence.

Bernard walked us to the taxi.  We shook hands and said thank you and good-bye.  If you ever come to Fez, you should stay at Dar Melody for the beautiful house and the friendly customer service.

The driver took us to the train station which was only a few minutes away.

Our train left at 8:50 am headed for Marrakesh – it’s a long 7 hour train ride.  Ivan booked us a first class ticket which was a room with a table by the big window and a door that closed.  It was filled with us, one monkey (Lil Dave, of course!) and three Australians.

My stomach and Ivan’s stomach felt weird which was probably from the food we’ve been eating.  I was really tired since we didn’t sleep that much last night.  Ivan went to go sleep in another carriage, so he could stretch out.  I really wanted to sleep, but I knew I probably wouldn’t wake up – so I got to work writing the blog since I was so behind.  Lil Dave slept next to me in Ivan’s seat.

Every now and then a loud French announcement boomed over the speakers.  When the train went into a tunnel, the small strobe light above us was the only light on.

Ivan came back later and we watched part of a movie.  We ate cheese sandwiches that Ivan bought on the train.  Lil Dave had a banana and honey sandwich.

We passed the time by taking a long much needed sleep.  The train arrived in Marrakesh at 4 pm.

We got a taxi to Jemaa el-Fna square.  It’s a huge square which comes alive at night with many market stalls and restaurants.  Ivan and I went in search of Café de France.  Ivan had directions from our riad (traditional Moroccan house or palace).  Ivan found a porter and he placed our luggage into his cart.

The porter led us to Riad Villa El Arsa which is another lovely Moroccan house.  We had to fill out forms with our address, profession and email address.  Ivan and I aren’t really sure why they need this information.  The riad had a nice sized bath right on the main floor in the courtyard.  I’m sure that’s useful when coming back to the riad when it’s really hot out.

Our room was pretty and had a small Moroccan bathtub in it.

Ivan in the small bathtub

Ivan took a bath while I used the internet.  I had a bath right after.

Dinner was at Un Déjeuner à Marrakech.  Ivan and I shared a carrot soup, fish fillet, salmon salad and a dried tomato & mozzarella tart with a lemon sorbet with basil coulis.

Dried tomato & mozzarella tart

The food was delicious.

We walked around the big Jemaa el-Fna square.

Jemaa el-Fna square

There’s lots to see at the market like beautiful Moroccan lamps for sale, orange juice stands, stalls selling dates, nuts and dried fruits, ladies doing henna and snake charmers.

Boxing match at Jemaa el-Fna

You’ll see entertainment happening.. we came across a boxing match between two kids.  Lil Dave didn’t understand the guys holding the Baraby apes who were trying to get tourists to pay money to pose with the ape.  The apes clearly don’t know what is going on.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I were still tired so we headed back to the riad.  Our stomachs felt funny, but we soon fell asleep.

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