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Morocco: Making New Special Friends in Fez

Morocco: Making new special friendships in Fez
Fez is a fascinating city with a very interesting history. There is an interesting mix of AlAmazeekh ( old name berber) and Arab, as well as other groups from Africa and some Europeans.

The old city is fun to wander around in, and gets especially active at night.

We wandered a bit through the souq, but since it is quite large, we have to return to Fez to experience more of the old city and more of the old souq.

People are friendly and we enjoyed fun and courteousness from whomever we met.

The most exciting moments came when we arrived at our Riyad, which was quite late at night. Everything was locked and all the lights were out. Moments later the lights went on, and a very jovial "welcome!" and a big smile came from the Riyad owner. He graciously showed us to our room. 

The Riyad experience was like staying in an Arabian sheikh's palace. There was a lot of money and energy in all the details around the rooms, lobby and the grounds around the riyad.
Each room had a different theme and story behind it. The young owner is the 4th generation riyad manager in his family, and we met the family, including the loving mother and even grandmother!

Swimming in the swimming pool felt luxurious and was one of the best swimming experiences I had whilst staying in a guest house!

We got to become friends with the family and the mother invited us to go with her to see her village in the Atlas mountains area, which was in a Amazieh ( Berber) village. 
We had some very heartfelt conversations about politics, religion, culture and of course business in the evenings as well as during other places we went around with them in.

We were invited to a wonderful lunch, and a small wander around the area, with fresh air and a different energy than Fez had in the city.

Because we are friends, we stay in contact with each other. This means we will be returning to Fez more often.

MOROCCO: Along Casablanca's Corniche

MOROCCO: A stay along Casablanca's Corniche

Being my second visit to Casablanca, we decided to stay at the Corniche area and experience another side of the city. We did see some of the tourist sites but went off the beaten path as much as we could to feel a bit more of what local people did.

There were similar establishments along the whole Corniche area which looked like this.

A visit to a tea shop which we enjoyed the attention of a very nice and flirty server.

The kind man at the bar assisted us with wine and opening our own wine bottle. He was very sweet, and we are in contact with him still.

Enjoying a coffee at a more cosmopolitan and contemporary cafe in the city.
A fun man who was running a shop in the tourist area in the old city. He was a joy to meet.

Casablanca's answer to Baywatch. He was a life guard by the rather treacherous ocean. His enchanting smile and kindness was infectious! He invited me to go swimming in the sea but I was not an expert swimmer for the waves. Interesting how he would resuscitate me if I were to be succumb to the water.  

We enjoyed a fun beer and a wine, at the countryclub by the Corniche.

Lisbon, Portugal: A Fun Weekend Experience in Youthful Lisbon

Lisbon is an old Western European city with a notorious past, but the Lisbon I experienced was a blend of the old, in terms of architecture and culture, and the newer youthful city. Lisbon has an amazing nightlife, which was even amazing to witness from a distance. We were in the city during the weekend and these are some typical scenes.

For the most part, the night life was predominantly heterosexual, but I do suppose there was a mix of LGBT fun, as there were some clandestine clubs around.

As any typical large city with nightlife, one would see at the very early hours, groups of young partygoers walking, very drunk or stoned, looking at their half mast eyes, tripping over kerbs and bottles, etc. It was a good time, but one had to keep their awareness at a higher level later at night.

We wanted to experience some local Fado singing in a Fado house. The feeling was polite, the food was nice, and the kind and conscientious waiter assisted in finding a nice wine for us. 

The artists who sang and played for us in the Fado house. They were very kind.

We had special VIP access to the lounge on the top floor of our hotel in Lisbon. We enjoyed a beer and a wine.

Our state of the art hotel room had many electrical gadgets in it, and I let my playful self come out when I got onto the swing which was in our hotel room.

PORTUGAL: A fun Weekend Visit to a Wine Hotel

PORTUGAL: A fun Weekend Visit to a Wine Hotel 

We love wine and the romantic thought of the life of wine, so what better place to experience this but in a wine hotel which has it's own winery?

Set in a refurbished 14th-century manor, this luxurious modern hotel is 6 km from both the Herdade do Perdig√£o winery and the town of Monforte in Alentejo province. Torre de Palma, an hour or so drive from beautiful Portuguese cities like Estromuz, Evora and about three hours from Lisbon.

Free rental of bicycles allowed us a wander around the property and also through the vineyards.

We had fun robes and slippers in our room, with coffee and tea.
The wading pool was fabulous and felt like a private pool. The dry sauna next to it was a bit finicky, but I did enjoy some moments in it.

Jao Carlos was a very kind host and poured us copious amounts of wine at the gathering on the roof top. The sunset was very beautiful at the top of the roof, and the local wine added to the ambient feeling.

We got the fun opportunity to hop into a vat of grapes and have our feet smash the grapes to start the wine production process.

Marvao is a walled medieval mountain town which is in the area. The town was having a  Medieval and Middle East festival. 

We went for dinner in Estramoz which is another city near by, on the way to Lisbon. It was an unpretentious dinner. The waiter was kind and the food was nice!
A few hours later we arrived back to Lisbon. It was an easy and memorable adventure.

Cape Verde: A visit to Sao Vincente,

Cape Verde: A visit to Sao Vicente.

A short flight from Praia takes one to an island with bucolic mountainous beauty, and the home to the late Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora.

Most holidaymakers visiting Cape Verde usually stay on the beach and in resorts made especially for them.  We chose to go to the opposite side of the island to a beach hotel named Residential GOA. 
This fun hotel is run by an eclectic French couple and it is right on the sea shore!
When we arrived, we were met by a very vivacious woman named Rafael, with her flowing clothes blowing in the wind, she cheerfully says "bonjour"!  "bonjour!" several times. Her husband, Stan, almost being blown over by the wind greets us with a friendly and warm Hello/ Bonjour too.  They are both perfect hosts and go out of their way to make you feel happy. There are a few women who work in the kitchen and around the lodge. They are very beautiful!

We were immediately offered a beer or a glass of wine, and also shown to our room, which was right on the beach as the waves from the ocean lulled us asleep. 

The main lodge room had a calming and "chill" African vibe, with local Cape Verdean and West African music playing the whole day. There are African books and Curio items around the lodge. There is a bar with bottles of the usual alcoholic drinks and Portuguese as well as local beer.

We were able to wander around on the sea shore and wander around the small village areas. The island has beautiful mountains and other larger towns which we have yet to experience, and we are looking forward to experiencing Mardi Gras on another visit.

The last evening we were at the Residencial GOA, Rafael cooked up a three course fish and seafood dinner and we had wine with it. They offered some "Grog" which is a local alcoholic drink. I sampled it but it was not my favourite, but I was happy to try it!

 We will definitely be returning to this wonderful part of the world as Cape Verde claimed our hearts!

Cape Verde: Our Secret Treasure Island

Cape Verde: Our Secret Treasure Island

Our intention of visiting the islands of Cape Verde has finally materialised. Cape Verde/Cabo Verde, which are a group of islands 500km off the West African coast, are in fact not green but due to being part of the Sahel region, are desert and brown.

We fell in love with Cape Verde the moment we arrived and they are our secret treasure islands, which we know we will be returning to again and again.

The history of Cape Verde is sordid and painful as it was the first location for European trading of African slaves, and the scars are very real today. European invaders, colonisers, and other groups from Africa give Cape Verde an interesting culture, language ( each island has their own accent!) and culinary delight.

We wish to share most of our first experience and impressions in photos here.

Praia is the capital city and the economic centre for Cape Verde. It is the largest city with the main government and embassies, and an urban feel.

We enjoyed the local vibe in each place and found the people humble, kind and welcoming.

A perfect fish luncheon, on the sea

I wanted to dive into the water like the local people were, and they let me join in on the fun! The sea was perfect!

We befriended one of the security guards at our Praia hotel.
 A fun secluded beach where we admired the sea and the rock formations etched out from the sea.

The mountains in the middle of the Santiago island are green and mountainous, and are a contrast to the desert like conditions on the other islands. We found this to be like a Shangri la!

 Idyllic feeling!
 Dinner at our hotel restaurant, right on the sea shore!

A feeling of JOY and happiness!

The first Slave trading post where Africans would be punished and sold, a monument to the islands' horrible past. The feeling and energy is still felt and alive walking around that monument.