Beautiful Morocco: My Holiday Trip to Marrakesh

A very happy Friday to everyone! It has been a few days since I have posted and my online absence can be blamed on a long and lovely family vacation. I had never been to Morocco before and I have recently returned from spending a blissful week in Marrakesh.

I found Marrakesh to be a charming city that was a perfect blend of the old world and the new. The old city within the walled medina was something out of a storybook.  After the first day of walking back and forth to the main square from our riad  – I told my husband that Marrakesh reminded me of Ludhiana (Punjab, India)! The small by-lanes in the medina resembled the lanes behind my grandmother’s house in Ludhiana that I remember exploring as a child.  Little shops selling dry goods, cobblers, electricians and even the people reminded me of childhood vacations long gone.  The best part – I got to Marrakesh a lot faster than I would get to Ludhiana.

What endears me to a city when I visit?  Good food, great shopping and friendly people are always a great start and Marrakesh offered all of these in abundance. Moroccan food was tagines and couscous galore and I loved all of it.  My sweet tooth was particularly indulged with all the pastries and biscuits on offer everywhere.  At the top of the fabulous list was Morrocan tea – a delicious blend of tea, mint leaves and sugar.  Sitting in a cafe overlooking Jemma el Fnaa Square and drinking tea, without any rush, was one of the many relaxing things we repeated often on this vacation. Marrakesh was a great reminder of the charm of going on holiday with no planned itinerary what so ever!

Marrakesh is a shoppers paradise with winding souks selling everything from carpets, lanterns, leather goods, clothes, food and much more.The souks are very entertaining, where bargaining is encouraged and guessing your ethnicity is a sport – even the kids had a great time! The carpet and rug stores were my favourite and the offerings were phenomenal. Of course, I bought a berber rug, some leather poufs, leather boxes, a necklace, a lantern or two and still had to drag myself away before I bought anything else that I could not carry back without leaving a child behind!

We were keen to stay in the heart of the medina and stayed at the ‘Andalla Riad and Spa’ for the entirety of the vacation. The riad was beautiful and the employees deserve an A+ for their impeccable hospitality and helpfulness. Andalla Spa offers a few family suites (including one that sleeps six) that allowed us to stay in the same room with our two lovely children.  This turned out to be a blessing and we really enjoyed spending time together as a family.  The riad also had a lovely spa with a hammam that was a wonderfully relaxing experience.  The scrubbing, bathing and massaging were a heavenly combination that I would be happy to repeat any time of the day.

There are many excursions on offer close to Marrakesh and while we did not attempt anything too bold, lest we take time away from relaxing, we did do a hiking excursion in the Atlas Mountains that was great fun. Marrakesh offers that perfect blend of winter sun and exotic travel that is easily accessible from the UK. It was a great vacation and I would heartily recommend Marrakesh for those that may be considering it as a holiday destination in the near future.

I hope you enjoy my holiday photo lookbook and as always, thank you so much for visiting my blog.

Hotel:

Andalla Riad and Spa 

Clothes and accessories:

White tiered dress – ASOS, Similar ASOS

Floral tunic – ZARA

Magnificent Munich: Weekend Adventures in Jeans and Lace

Dear Munich,

I am so glad I came to visit you this past weekend.  One of your residents is a great friend of mine.  We met while we were both residing in Mumbai and her friendship and kindness have ensured me a friend for life.  I am lucky that she came back to your arms as it gave me the opportunity to visit.

Over exaggerated praise can sometimes ring hollow, however, superlatives must have a purpose and I intend to employ them diligently. I will start by saying what you must have heard many times before – you are a beautiful city. Your skyline is stunning, the churches and squares majestic and the markets and parks enchanting.

We both know that aesthetic beauty can be found in many a destination but true appreciation hinges on a deeper connection.  Within your magnificent form, there is a calm and serenity that I have rarely encountered in a big city. To praise you, without talking about your culinary delights, would be a grave omission on my part. The beer, especially the wheat beer, surpassed my expectations and I shall find myself scrambling to find your best in London.  The sausages, pretzels and wiener schnitzel were delicious and I have discovered an unexpected fondness for sauverkraut.  Pastry is the secret path to my culinary heart and you had me at Strudel.

I marveled at the architecture and climbing up St. Peters church for the magnificent views from the walkway took away my breath, both figurative and real.  The movement of the tiny platform as the mightly church bells rung stopped my beating heart but I soon recovered with some delicious Weiss beer on terra firma. There is no better feeling as a tourist than when you thoroughly enjoy even what you were not expecting to enchant.  I now understand why BMW World is the most visited attraction in Munich.  Finally, I must state that your Olympic Park built for the 1972 games in the city is an architectural and town planning masterpiece.  I loved the views and walks incorporated within the sporting arenas and would highly recommend it to fellow travellers, especially those with young children.

I came to see you with no particular expectations. I left, looking forward to experiencing your hospitality again, sooner rather than later.  I bought some lebkuchen at the airport to help your memory linger for longer in the recesses of my mind.

Thank you for a lovely weekend!

With love and admiration,

Isha

Clothes and Accessories: 

Blue Dress  – Zara

White sneakers – Massimo Dutti

Pink Coat – Miss Selfridges

Pink Scarf – Mango

Grecian Adventures: Part 1

One of the many wonderful benefits of Easter break is the chance to go on a vacation, especially in pursuit of some sunshine! This year we decided to go somewhere where no family member had been before, which is a harder task in the modern world then one would think.  Greece sounded like a wonderful destination that ticked all the boxes and we decided to visit Athens and Santorini.  We arrived in Athens on Easter Sunday and embarked on our city tour the next morning with our first destination being the Acropolis of Athens. Pictures do not do the ancient citadel perched atop the city of Athens justice – the ancient buildings are a magnificent sight to behold as is the sprawl of modern Athens below. Amongst the many buildings on the Acropolis are the Parthenon, The Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion. The Erechtheion is an ancient temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon supported by a porch on its South side called the ‘The Porch Of The Maidens’. This porch is supported by six caryatids (sculpted female figures that serve as architectural support in place of a column or pillar) and their unusual and tragic story had me intrigued!

It all started with the  guide asking us if we thought these caryatids were original or replicas.  I guessed original and I was wrong – the six caryatids supporting the ancient temple are replicas.  Five of the original six sisters have been moved to the New Acropolis Museum, which was our next destination. Where is the sixth sister you may ask? The sixth caryatid sister was removed by Lord Elgin, a Scottish nobleman diplomat, who was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803. He took this sixth sister, along with various other marble antiquities (known collectively as the ‘Elgin Marbles’) back to Scotland to decorate his mansion.  Later, he sold these antiques to the British Museum for 35,000 pounds to repay his increasing debts. The sixth caryatid remains in England, and can be seen at the British Museum.

As we headed towards the New Acropolis Museum I couldn’t wait to see the five sisters.  They stand together, tall and glorious, but I felt a great sadness as I looked up to view them. In the middle of the group of sisters, stands an empty space for their sixth sister and this continuing geographical separation has all the hallmarks of a Greek tragedy.  Legend has it, that when the sixth statue was removed, the other sisters could be heard wailing at night for their sibling!

I am fully aware of the ongoing debate about whether the United Kingdom should return the Elgin Marbles to Greece.  It stands as one of the most prominent repatriation cases in this domain and I have read the arguments for and against returning the antiquities taken by Lord Elgin all those years ago. Standing at the Parthenon, looking across at the six sisters that represent part of the ancient glory of Greece, I cannot help but feel a sense of injustice at this forced separation!

The next day we left for the island of Santorini.  I had heard so much about its natural beauty and the blue and white island does not disappoint!  Blue and white are the official colours of the island, with the blue symbolizing the heavens and the surrounding Aegean sea and the white to reflect the intense heat in the summers. Many of the blue and white domes that dot the landscape are private and public churches. According to our tour guide,  there are 550 churches on the island, with more churches than there are priests! More about Santorini later……….

I hope you enjoy these pictures of Greece and I hope to bring you many more in my next post.  By pure chance (yeah right!), I brought along my blue Pankaj and Nidhi embroidered kaftan top to wear and the gorgeous blue was the perfect complement to the magical surroundings – I felt like a Hindi movie heroine but my husband warned me not to sing as it may lead to us being asked to leave immediately!

(Clothes and Accessories: Red Sweater – Cos Stores, Blue Top – Pankaj and Nidhi, Jeans – Zara, White Trainers – Dolce Vita, White Sandals – Arturo Chang)