Archives for category: Must do

Candy FlossLiving in London can be challenging at the beginning, but it certainly doesn’t take you too long before getting used to the new lifestyle. And for some people one of the biggest advantages of being here is the diverse mixture of people, cultural traditions and beliefs which makes the city so vibrant and unique.

My husband and I have always been great explorers, travelling around and meeting new people every day. Through all these years, many people from various places in the world have come and gone in our lives. And although far away, we try to keep in touch with most of them – if not all of them.

Last spring we were very excited indeed when a very dear French friend contacted us saying she was coming to London. What a nice surprise! It had been ages since Amelie came to London! We made so many plans and very anxiously waited until the day she arrived.

One of the things we did with Amelie was the rather pleasant boat ride on the not so known Little Venice canal. It starts near Warwick Avenue tube station, passes behind the London Zoo and goes all the way to Camden Lock. And what made this day even more fun was the fact there was an event happening that weekend and the canal was very colourful with boats from many parts of the country, decorated flags, music and a lot of happy people. And it was at this very nostalgic fair near the canal that we had most fun.

It truly felt like going back in time. The small cafes, the stands and what were being sold. This nice atmosphere combined with the warmth of an early spring sun made this a day to remember. And the highlight of this day for me was this conversation we had over a traditional cup tea with cake.

Amelie’s English was a bit rusty after moving out of London, and she was trying to tell us how she loved candy floss as a kid in the South of France. The trouble is she couldn’t remember ‘candy floss’ in English. So she was trying to describe it to us, saying that in French it’s called ‘barbe à papa’, hoping we would know what she meant. I’m still puzzled, but my husband, being a big joker, says to the poor girl “oh yes, I know what you’re talking about! In English it’s called bum fluff.” And Amelie very relived continue telling us the story of how pink ‘bum fluff’ was her favourite.

I know, very cruel! She was mortified when we explained that bum fluff wasn’t the same as candy floss, but we had a good laugh at the end.

Marrakesh

Snake-charmer at the Jemaa el Fna

I woke up on Friday morning very exited as my husband had booked a weekend at a SPA near Gatwick to celebrate our 6th anniversary. He didn’t tell me exactly where it was nor its name. We got in the car and, half way through he asked me to get the hotel details in the gloves compartment. That’s when I found out we were actually going to Marrakesh! That explained why he asked me to take some dresses and skirts when we were packing on the previous night. What an amazing surprise!

Getting there was quicker than I thought. Perhaps because of my excitement… And my first impression after leaving the airport to our hotel wasn’t that good. The traffic is absolutely crazy and I truly thought we were not going to make it there. Motorbikes cutting through everywhere and a two lane road fits three cars easily! Hard shoulder? Who needs it??? I seems the basic rule is, if there’s enough space to fit your vehicle, then do it! People will honk their horn at you if you’re driving too slow or leaving a great gap between your car and the car in front, and if you take more than half a second to move when the traffic light changes to green.

We finally got at our hotel at about 4pm! It was absolutely gorgeous, with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. We dropped our stuff and went straight out to La place Jemaa el Fna. It’s a square surrounded with cafes and restaurants and in the evenings the place comes alive and turns into an open-air stage filled with acrobats, storytellers, snake charmers and musicians. There are literally hundreds of food stalls to choose from, selling anything from snail soup and lamb head to couscous, grilled meats and french fries. Jemaa el Fna leads in to the medina, or old quarter, where the famous souks can be found.

The next day we were very lucky to find a really nice taxi driver who took us around and gave us a lot of tips regarding prices and places to visit. The first place we went to was the Majorelle Gardens, also known as the Yves Saint Laurent gardens. I was absolutely enchanted with the beauty of this place. It has some blue buildings which have a nice contrast with the garden. Totally worth the visit. After that we did the famous dromedary ride and, of course, some shopping, or should I say haggling, at the souks.

The souks are the best place to be if you’re a shopaholic! There are so many beautiful handmade crafts, clothes and rugs that you don’t know where to begin. The souks are huge and you can easily get lost in there. And the crazy thing is you need to watch out for motorbikes passing by thought the tight alleys whilst trying to figure out where you are. I suppose this is what makes this place so original.

We decided to buy a rug, and I have to say, what an experience! They take you inside their shop and ask you to sit down. Sometimes they even offer you a nice mint tea while all these assistants show you all sort of rugs. After a long time of demonstration, they try to give you extraordinary high prices, and that’s when the haggling starts. And they’re very good at it!

Well, as all good things in life never lasts long, out trip came to an end and we had to leave bringing good memories home with us and a certainty that we will definitely come back very soon. And when we do, there are a few things I’d like to remember:

  • Never get into a taxi without setting the price, otherwise they’ll charge you an arm and a leg.
  • When you arrive at the Marrakech airport, check the prices at the shops there to use as a reference. You can get it for at least half that price at the souks. If you’re good at haggling, you might be able to drop the price even further.
  • People with snakes and monkeys will try to get as much money as possible from you if you take a picture of their animals. So, be careful with that.
  • And last but not least, saying I’m Brazilian can help a lot when haggling.