adventures in Essaouira

On July 29th I celebrated my birthday. In true leo fashion, I toasted grandly with friends in Paris. Meanwhile, my Italian, forever the romantic, planned another surprise getaway. The last three were in Italy, but this one, he hinted, was to foreign landscapes I had often dreamt of. I arrived to the airport unaware of where I would be spending the next four days. Tears of joy collected in my eyes as I saw the boarding sign: Essaouira, Morocco! In just over three hours we landed and soon after arrived to gorgeous views from our riad.

IMG_7474That evening I experienced my first Moroccan sunset. I was already enamored.

IMG_7587The following day we explored the Medina of this mid-eighteenth century fortified city.

IMG_8147I learned that the prominent blue covering many of the doors and windows were remnants from a Jewish past, and also the symbolic color of a port city.

IMG_7478 IMG_7484IMG_8004I was interested in learning about the local products of the artisans, and even met a few.

IMG_8012The port of Essaouira, known for it’s myriad of blue boats and hundreds of local fisherman, was the most important trading port between Europe, Africa and the Americas from it’s foundation in 1770 until the first half of the nineteenth century.

IMG_7739 IMG_7772 Having first ridden a camel in the desserts of Rajasthan during my travels in India, I thought what better way to discover the Moroccan landscape, with it’s miles of sandy beaches.

IMG_7940With the winds in full force, we boarded these gentle dromedary and began our tour.

IMG_8414Our guide stopped to show us the ruins of an ancient Sultan palace from the 18th century.

IMG_7954We continued until we reached the town of Diabat, where Jimi Hendrix’ legacy lives on.

IMG_7957The last day I experienced a local hammam, and we spent the afternoon in the Medina, a place I had grown to love for it’s vibrancy. Many tagines later, it was time to return to Paris.

IMG_8158But not before one last sunset, ending a magical adventure in Morocco.

Venice of the North

Bruges, or Brugge as the locals call it, is considered Venice of the North. Where better to sneak away for a surprise romantic weekend with my Italian? I secretly made all the arrangements months in advance, and with only a few minor obstacles, just as the leaves were changing into spectacular shades of browns and reds, and the chill of winter lingered in the air, we boarded the train. A short 2-hour ride to discover this UNESCO World Heritage city in Belgium’s Flemish Northwest.

IMG_6174Home was a welcoming regal 15th Century Palace, once the residence of the Burgundian aristocracy.

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Bruges greeted us with a cloudy sky and the promise of rain, setting the mood as explorations began.

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We were both struck with the city’s architecture. Elegant brick buildings set upon tranquil canals.

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We did our best to avoid the crowds and chose any side streets we could find, following the sun.

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To get a better look at the city from above, we climbed the 366 steps of the historic Belfry Tower.

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A view to savour as the ancient clock tower chimed all around us.

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We also enjoyed an impressive view from the rooftop of the last remaining brewery, De Halve Maan.

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What’s a trip to Belgium without a chocolate tasting? After trying quite a few, I favored Dumon.

IMG_3848Having taken quite a few weekend escapes since living in Paris, Bruges was one of my favorites. It’s inhabitants friendly, it’s range of dining options impressive (In’t Nieuw Museum is a must for a real local experience) and the scenery spectacular. There are quite a few museums and galleries too, satisfying all the senses. Weekend in Bruges, a success!

viva Italia!

Anyone who knows my Italian (or reads this blog) know’s he’s a romantic, and like me, loves to travel. He also loves to plan surprise romantic escapes. Yes, I chose well! For the last few years my birthday was spent in Italy, destination unknown, until we arrived. A few years ago it was a charming agriturismo in Tuscany… and last year hiking in the Dolomites. Both adventures I smile upon. Once again this year, we are enroute to Italy to celebrate. I’ve never before so much looked forward to my birthday! I suspect we are heading south, but haven’t a clue where. Any ideas? Wherever it is, July 29th will certainly be a day to remember!

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After our journey to places yet unknown, we are heading to Monterosso, home on the riviera. You can follow my adventures via instagram and I promise to post photos as soon as I can. Until then, wishing you all a wonderful summer wherever you are in the world!

Paris by night

Once in a while, even those who call Paris home must play the role of a tourist. What better way to fall in love all over again? And so, recently, to celebrate nothing in particular, my Italian and I spent a night on the Seine amidst the lights of Paris. We boarded the boat just beneath the glow of Madame Eiffel, and with champagne in hand, began our dinner tour. This is certainly a city to behold, even in it’s darkest hour. In order to share this experience, I braved the cold and currents on the return, and with iPhone in hand (forgive the poor photo quality) I captured Paris by night.

Enjoy the ride!

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For those visiting the city of lights or locals in need of dinner with a view, jump aboard! Take note, I recommend only going on a Sunday night for the Michelin chef’s dinner. Romantic and gourmet. We will be playing tourist again come Spring, as the sun is setting, a whole other Paris to savour…