Marrakech

Marrakech – a major tourist destination, is in one word, lively. Speeding scooters, vibrant colours, woven goods and stalls of spices (I stocked up on curry powder, paprika, cumin and a house blend) – everything together and all at once was a sensory overload. A trip to the souk was a particularly humbling experience, as I witnessed incredibly hardworking women make henna powder by the grounding of dried leaves of the henna plant. They did this for hours at a time, only taking breaks when customers required their attention. Later in the afternoon, after camel riding, we road-tripped to Ourika Valley for a late lunch where we enjoyed traditional tajine by the river. It was a bittersweet goodbye when it was time to head home to London, that's for sure, but I know I'll be back – and next time it will be with a few spare suitcases – I've been dreaming of colourful poufs and traditional rugs!

 

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Rabat

As a first timer in Africa, I was super excited to begin my travels of a new continent by visiting Morocco. Over Easter break, Sara and I travelled to Rabat and Marrakech, which both offered a different taste of the culture. Rabat, Morocco’s capital, was my favourite of the two, as it wasn't touristy and felt very authentic, partly thanks to traveling with Sara’s mom, a Moroccan native. Between glasses of hot, fresh mint tea and sweet biscuits, we explored the souks, shopping amongst the locals. Navigating down crowded, narrow alleys, we found our way to bartering (as culturally expected) for keepsakes – beautiful, hand-crafted leather wallets and baby booties (for my expecting friends), spices and pottery. When the heat got the best of us, we would take a break for a freshly squeezed orange juice (for a mere 60 cents) and a few sweet dates. 

Sights I visited and are not to be missed :
– Café Maure - Jardin Des Oudayas
– Mausoleum of Mohammed V
– Chella
– Souk

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Venice

What better excuse to go to Venice for Carnivale than to celebrate your flatmate’s birthday? This past Friday, Laura, Sara and I jumped on an evening flight for the weekend. Last time I had been to Venice was over 8 years ago when I studied abroad. The city was just as I remembered, and I was absolutely mesmerized all over again by its beauty and simplicity.. it’s so unbelievably romantic. When we weren’t navigating down one winding, narrow alley after another, we would sit outside in the sun on a terrace for a refreshing aperol spritz or gelato. We walked nearly 9 miles both days, which we figured warranted trying all the local foods. Favorites included frittole (fried doughnuts) from Tonolo, fried meatballs from Ca' d'Oro –Alla Vedova, fried mozzarella and sardine sandwiches from Rosticceria Gilson (sensing a theme here?), yogurt flavoured gelato from Grom..you get the idea. On our last night, we met and spent the evening with some locals. They brought us to several bars completely off the beaten path and in Venetian fashion, we bar hopped. We would get a small glass of wine or half pint, and have small plates at each so as to sample the best. Three genuinely amazing spots included Taverna Al Remer where we enjoyed prosecco on the dock right by the canal, the cozy Timon Bar with its timber ceilings, and Ai Promessi Sposi, where enjoyed the cabernet house red for a mere 1 euro a glass, along with a plate of artichokes and octopus. La dolca vita!

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Antwerp

We arrived in Antwerp on a Monday, so a lot of sights were closed, unfortunately, but we made the most of it by walking loads and exploring the port city. Upon arriving, we were blown away by the train station – it's one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. We noticed a lot of younger people in the city, which made sense once we learned that Antwerp is home to several colleges. My favorite part of the day was stumbling upon t'Hofke, a charming restaurant that we found only by wandering down a hidden courtyard. It was closed (again, Monday!) but if ever I find myself back in Antwerp, I'll be sure to return and enjoy a nice meal via their outdoor seating or even downstairs in their candlelit cellar (so romantic!).