My Morrocan highlights: where eastern culture hits the west

I’ve just returned from an amazing week in Marrakesh, which marks my first trip to Morocco (and well Africa too as it comes to it). Here are some of my best bits ❤

img_0602-1My new friend: Shakira the Camel ❤

This was definitely a highlight. I love animals and adore nature so combining camels in the Sahara desert was definitely win win for me. This was actually my first time seeing camels in real life – they are pretty strange creatures but you have to agree they are undeniably cute.

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Walking around the Medina and souks

I don’t think that my repertoire of words cannot adequately depict the utter chaos of the Medina and souks. I’ll try. The Jemaa el Fna square was a full on sensory experience. Each of my senses was compromised and overloaded; it was rowdy, flamboyant and ear-piercing as well as vibrant, dazzling  and magical all in one. The smell encroached on us from every angle, both good and bad. Within a foot of the same square you can expect to smell the dire horse dung to exquisite fragrances and fresh aromas of herbs and spices. The food was delicious – an abundance of dried fruits, fresh produce and sweet treats – and hence something to suit every palate.

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Exploring the Medina and Koutoubia Mosque

Marrakesh reminded me a lot of middle eastern parts of the world that I’ve visited, which is perhaps because of its Arabian heritage. I have to say Marrakesh itself didn’t feel like being in Africa.

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Enjoying mint tea in Dar Darma Riad

The Souks are a labyrinth; take a wrong turn and you either end up lost down local residential street (countless times), a dead end (yep!) or maybe if you’re lucky in the actual place you intended (rarely). I wouldn’t count on it though, your guess is as good as your intention. But that’s part of the fun, right? One thing that really blew me away was the decor within the Riads. On the outside these buildings are nothing much to look at, but inside you become transported into a stunning tranquil space that feels miles away from the hustle and bustle.  A hole in a dusty wall can turn palatial inside.

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Without a shadow of a doubt the food highlight for me was Comptoir Darma. The lamb Tagine was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever tasted (coming from a non meat eater). The flavour was incredible; the prunes melted in my mouth. It was that rich and decedent that we had to balance it out with a more savoury lemon and olive couscous dish. The evening itself was a pure spectacle; the restaurant was opulent and our meal was accompanied by entertainment of belly dancers and entertainers.

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A day in the Atlas Mountains

Spending time traveling through the Atlas Mountains was an amazing experience. The indigenous people of Morocco, the Berbers, migrated to these mountainous regions of Morocco. We visited a traditional Berber village, saw how argan oil and almond butter is made, trekked to a waterfall, enjoyed a camel ride and quad biked through the Sahara Desert. All in a days work. 🙂

I went to Marrakech with no expectations. Annoyingly the only presumption I had was to be cautious of the locals, since I’d been warned a thousand times over to watch out for harassment. Don’t get me wrong, as two young women we experienced a lot of hassle, but I wouldn’t say it was any worse than some other (perhaps poor) countries. Having heard a ton of horror stories we were definitely prepared for the worse so it really wasn’t as bad as I expected! It certainly didn’t detract from enjoying the trip and being immersed in the culture.

I’m going to go into more details of specific aspects of the trip later on, but for now, I hope you enjoyed reading my best bits!

Thanks for reading,

Lianne x

A Great British Summer Weekend

For the last six weeks the weather has been pretty incredible across the UK, which for the Northwest is totally rare. Amazing for me because I’ve actually stayed in the country for the duration so have been able to fully embrace a great British summer!

If you read my last post about some of my summer plans you’ll be aware that I embargoed myself from international travel in June after having a busy few months away from home. I actually don’t remember the last time I actually stayed home in June and have been yearning to explore more of the UK whilst the weather is at it’s best.

This past weekend we hopped on a train to the closest coastline at Formby Beach.

Totally tropical sand dunes, Fiji or Formby?

Formby beach is surrounded by sand dunes that are absolutely stunning. With the skies crystal clear and temperatures reaching 28 degrees I seriously could have fooled you into thinking that I’d been exploring somewhere much more exotic than Merseyside!

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Red dress: Primark

Stunning beaches. I never thought I would ever catch myself describing Merseyside as stunning. Alas, I am doing. This national heritage site is surrounded by incredibly soft  yellow sand and the beach is not a typical British seaside bucket-and-spade affair. Formby itself is a pretty affluent area; which extends to its coastline.

Isn’t nature beautiful?

To balance out the quaint picnic on the beach we later got our fill of good old northern British seaside tackiness ten minutes up the road at Southport. Come on, who doesn’t like a good old Fish’n’Chips at the seaside?!

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Delighted

The next day we headed to try clay pigeon shooting. As part of my summer bucket list I wanted to try my hand at a few new activities. I was by far the worst in our group but a great day out nevertheless!

 

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 Top: New Look; Shorts: Pimkie at Asos;  Trainers: New Look

In my head June was just going to be a typical British summer weather wise, but nope; even Manchester has enjoyed this bought of tropics!

Not only am I feeling refreshed and rejuvenated at having limited my travel for an extended period for the first time in what feels a long time, I’ve even got a bit of a tan without trying. Winning.

Thanks for reading ❤

Lianne x

Summer bucket list

Since I need no reason to make a list, here goes my pledge for summer 2018!

Picnics

The weather so far this summer has been unexpectedly great in Manchester so touch wood it continues because I love nothing more than a good old picnic in the park.

I’ve already had a few spur of the moment picnics so here’s me pledging to continue making the most of the opportunity to grab a blanket, snacks and entertainment when the sun is out. Maximum relaxation and zero planning? I’m a big fan.

Outdoor cinema

Wouldn’t a cinema here be fab?Last summer I did this a few times in a few local bars, but this year I want to find something bigger and more organised; whether that is  a drive-in-cinema or a larger park with bean bags and blankets. Or in a jacuzzi anyone?!

Reading

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The extent of my reading lately has been limited to restaurant menus!

I’m annoyed at myself that I’m not doing anywhere enough reading at the moment. It’s not even a time thing; I’m just being lazy. Each summer I love to find an easy to read page turner that’s light and fun and usually set in a destination that I want to travel to. I still remember the summer I discovered the I heart series by Lindsey Kelk. It completely made me yearn to visit New York, and so I did a few years later (read my New York post here).

Staycation/explore the UK

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Bike: Evans Dungarees: New Look Top: H&M

A new one for me I want to actually try to maximise the time I spend in the UK over the next few months. Whilst I’ll definitely travel outside of the UK this summer, and lets face it I’ve already travelled a fair amount this year, I tend to spend the most time in the UK in autumn/winter when its coldest and then grumble at UK weather. This summer the weather has already been sunny & warm so I plan to make the most of my home country whilst it’s at its best. The UK has some amazing places. I want to explore and experience much more here over the summer so I’m thinking new cities, lakes and mini breaks. I welcome any recommendations please 🙂

Dining al fresco

I need no excuses for a BBQ but I want to dine al fresco as much as possible this summer. The weather is completely unpredictable making it hard to plan so in theory this will mean spontaneously buying disposable BBQs whenever possible ❤

Carefree plans

img_5781One thing I’ve been doing differently this month is avoiding making too many plans. I’ve felt sort of strange but quite freeing when I’ve got to the weekend and have no idea what I’m going to be doing. I know it’s only mid month but I’m already noticing how relaxed I’ve felt. Although admittedly at times I’ve felt a little uncomfortable as it’s very alien to me to have an open diary, but I have to say it’s also been pleasant to wake up and think what do I want to do today? Last weekend I spontaneously went trampolining & had such a laugh & has made me want to have more time to be spontaneous. Sometimes I need to allow myself moments to get bored to become creative.

New experiences

I love learning and want to try as many classes as possible. I’ve already tried a few new things this year, such as a Thai cooking class this winter, trampolining and bike rides and loved both planning new things as well as the spontaneity. Spontaneous living is becoming a bit of a theme of mine lately! I am now committing to a summer full of new experiences. My first new activity will be aerial yoga; I’ve signed up to a four week class starting at the end of the month. Other things I think I’d like to try: chocolate tasting, clay pigeon shooting, perfume making. Maybe some outdoor sports too. Do you any fun recommendations?!

I will update on how these things go 😎

What are your plans for the summer? Let me know!

Thanks for reading,

Lianne x

Copenhagen eats

Where to eat: away from the tourist traps

Head away from the busy Nyavh; a tourist spot lined with waiters a plenty attempting to lure you into their overpriced restaurants. I’m told that the restaurants here sell very standard-touristy-overpriced-non-authentic-grub. If that’s your bag then fine, but if you fancy an authentic Danish experience by dining amongst locals then head away from the main hustle and bustle and venture to the local spots.

There are some cool brunch spots, converted warehouses and food markets for a more authentic experience.

What to eat: Smorgasbord

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Hallernes Smorrebrod in Torvehallerne

First things first the traditional food of Denmark is known as Smorgasbord, which is essentially an open sandwich. The specifics of the sandwich are as open as its namesake with the toppings being plentiful & creative, so enough to surely satisfy pretty much everyone. Winning concept to be honest, who doesn’t like freshly baked bread?!

You can pretty much get one of these on any nuck and cranny of any street in the city. They are everywhere and they are delicious. You really cannot leave Denmark without trying one. Hallernes Smorrebrod in the Torvehallerne food market make some really decedent, pretty and delicate open sandwiches.

Where to visit a food market: Paper Island and Torvehallerne

Denmark has tons of food markets. Paper Island is a pretty impressive food market with music and good times. Here you can find pretty much any type of cuisine with independent traders a plenty, providing a plethora of seasonal cuisine.

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Hav in Torvehallerne Market

Torvehallerne food market has a bit more of a laid back vibe than Paper Island in a grab and go sense but full of incredible food stalls nonetheless. The above is a selection of fresh seafood from Hav; all raw and freshly caught from the Danish coastline. Delicious.

Where to brunch or lunch: Mad & Kaffe

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Mad & Kaffe

Mad & Kaffe is heavenly. It has that urban street food vibe making it a pretty hipster spot and is perfect for people watching. We visited the one in Vesterbro but as far as I’m aware there are about 3 located throughout the city. The menu consists of a range of brunch and lunch options, the Flounder (pictured above) was delicious;  an open sandwich with capers, pickles, lemon and dill. The burger & chips were amazing (look at that picture!) and I’m also informed that the salads were also delicious.

Where to wine: Vinbodegaen

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Girls wining and dining at Vinbodegaen

Vinbodegaen is a quaint little wine and snacks bar out in the Frederiksberg district specialising in fine wine and so I’d definitely recommend if like me you love a good wine!We shared a platter of fish, bread and cheese, which made the perfect accompaniment. Whilst the menu was small it was all it needed to be and definitely succeeding in hitting the spot.

A Long weekend in Copenhagen

This is a bit of a delayed one. However I wanted to retrospectively share snaps from some of the trips I’ve been on over the last couple of years since I’m at danger of losing track!

Last June I nipped over to Copenhagen for a short break to see my cousin who is currently living there. I love visiting new places where my friends reside as I get the insiders knowledge and to experience the real local life. It’s why I sometimes prefer AirBnB’s over hotels.

Here are some snaps!

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Dungarees: New Look

Loved mooching around the hippy Christiana. If you’ve never been to Copenhagen I’d definitely recommend visiting. Technically a town in its own right.

Nyhavn. Apparently this is one of the most touristy spots in the whole of the city & hence locals tend to avoid. It was mid June and completed packed out, but summertime in any city is going to be overcrowded so it didn’t bother me. It’s very pretty so was worth the quick stop to admire, walk around and take some pictures but note it’s extremely touristy. I definitely wouldn’t recommend eating around there as largely speaking the restaurants are overly crowded,catered to tourists and awfully overpriced. 

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This gallery was situated outside of the hustle and bustle of the city centre in a beautiful tranquil green space.

The art exhibited here was right up my street, think lots of abstract work, exuberant colours and complete vibrancy. I adore pieces that can be perceived in multiple ways but succeed in making you  stop and think deeply. I discovered some pieces of this ilk by Artist Tal R, a welcome discovery for me. We tried our hand at some painting too; the calligraphy is Lianne in kanji <3.

More mooching around the city and being besides the water. Bliss.

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Jacket: Zara (sold out), similar here and here and here

I don’t often get to see my cousin so really loved spending the time together. x