cut strips of colorful paper and glue or staple the ends together to create a paper chain counting down to an important event. I created the one pictured above when I was going to visit Chris in Europe a couple of years ago. Even the photos brings back such memories of excitement! Best of all, they are easy to make and keep your eye on the prize.
this week has been full of moving jitters. minimizing everything we own to fit into a teeny manhattan apartment is going to be tougher than I thought. My strategy so far is to make piles. piles everywhere. donation piles. selling piles. storage piles. moving piles. it's mayhem but I know it'll totally be worth it. I've been wanting a more simplified lifestyle for a while now and this move is forcing me to do it.
now, it's friday, go play!
Casablanca - our last stop in Morocco before Paris - was worlds different from the rest of our journey. We were in the new part of the city, which is very business-centered and modern. We took a petit taxi to visit the grand mosque by the sea, the third biggest in the world!
We took a lunch break to visit Rick's Cafe (owned by an American diplomat who wanted to cash in on a good thing) inspired by the film Casablanca. The food, atmosphere and service were wonderful. The '40s music and fezzed waitors really transported us back in time -- unfortunately we didn't go at night to hear the live piano music. womp womp.
Before we flew back over the Atlantic, we spent a few days in Paris to revel in good memories. It was cold and rainy but, as always, incredibly beautiful.
Chris' sister, Katie, was able to join us with her boyfriend as they were spending a couple of weeks around London. It was fun seeing the city again through their eyes.
It was hard to say goodbye to rue cler and all of the goodness that comes with it, but coming home felt like we'd made quite the accomplishment. A few weeks and thousands of photos later, we are back in the states and on to our next adventure.
While the city itself is more commercialized than some of the others, Marrakech has it's own distinct charms. The Majorelle gardens were undoubtedly one of my favorite stops on the entire trip. The colors alone were awe-inspiring and the meticulously curated garden is a real treat after bustling through the city. Acquired by Yves Saint Laurent, the garden's beauty was overseen by the designer for many years before his passing in 2008. We strolled the grounds, toured the on-site Berber museum and sipped tea in the cafe before visiting the designer's memorial, which is tucked in a dignified side passage.
The house next to the gardens was really a feast for the eyes. Those colors really popped among the greens! I want to live in there!
One of the top things on our list was to take a cooking class while in Morocco to learn how to make traditional food. We signed up for Souk Cuisine - which I would highly recommend! - and shopped the souk markets for fish, veggies, spices and more.
We stopped at olive stands and sampled the goods, which were crazy delicious. After testing a few of the salty, pickled goodness, we ordered a bundle for snacking before cooking. Lots of Moroccan meals start with a little dish of olives and bread.
The spice shop may have been my favorite grocery stop because the smell of the entire market is amazing. It's one thing I miss almost daily about Morocco. We sampled and sniffed tons of spices and got to know the buying process like locals. For our dishes, we needed saffron and cumin.
A quick visit to the local bakery was really a treat. The whole operation runs as an assembly line and this guy is the final stop before fresh-baked-breaded goodness. Lots of the locals will bring in their lunches to be baked in the oven during the day -- We even dropped off our fish to be baked for about 50 cents and 30 minutes of waiting.
We returned to the Souk Cuisine kitchen and got to work on a meatball tagine, baked fish slathered in spices, vegetable salads, and -- you always leave room for dessert with Moroccan food -- fresh almond cookies.
After long days wandering through the maze of the city, we'd retreat back to this place. Our riad was light and airy and the perfect hideout from the midday sun. (Soon I'll post a follow up with the names of our riads and pitstops!)
:: tomorrow - part 6 (and last city in Morocco) in Casablanca ::
We drove our rental to the desert town of Merzouga where we checked-in at the charming Hotel Mohayout. The staff was incredibly nice and because it was the slow season, we had the place almost to ourselves. The hotel hosts tons of activities so we took 'em up on the dromedary/camping trip. We rode out into the dunes for a couple of hours before coming upon our blanket-laden site.
This is our campsite where we stayed up late drinking mint tea, eating chicken tanjine and watching the stars shoot. Chris and I opted to sleep outside of our tents in the open. It was the most amazing experience -- I'd really recommend the trip to anyone.
We woke up super early to climb a dune and watch the sunrise before returning to our hotel for some serious breakfast before hitting the road again.
:: Tomorrow - Part 5 in Marrakech! ::
Remember to check the filter on your air conditioner every few months -- especially now that it's getting more use than usual. Swipe the vents with a dust cloth in between replacements for the best results!
img via bicyclette boutique