All posts filed under: Travel

Weekend Unexplored: 3 Day Road Trip Adventure from Marrakesh to Skoura

Planning a visit to Morocco can be intimidating for anyone. Luckily for me, my friend who is practically a local was the chief architect of our adventures. We opted for a road trip with stops at various attractions between Marrakesh, Ouarzazate and Skoura in a private SUV with our driver and guide, Edouane. Specifically, we did not want to be the tourists that just check off boxes on an itinerary. We wanted to experience each place to the fullest and we accomplished that with our agenda. Day 1: Marrakesh to Skoura This was our longest driving day as it took over 5 hours at 30-40 miles per hour to our final destination over rocks, dirt paths and up and down windy mountain “roads”. This was not a car ride for folks with motion sickness, like myself. It was rough going and I was extremely happy when we finally arrived at Ouarzazate for a late lunch and a break from the car. Along the way, we discovered a village nestled in the Atlas Mountains and watched an …

Spring Road Tripping to Normandy and Brittany in France (Mont St. Michel, Cancale, St. Malo, Dinan and Giverny)

Shoulder season is one of the best times to visit Europe and late spring is the perfect season to see the French country side. Hotel prices are still reasonable and most attractions are open and are not overrun with tourists. The highways in France are easy to navigate and with all the technological options, gone are the days of getting hopelessly lost and confused on the road. My cousin and I decided to do a 4-day road trip to visit towns in the western part of France as it is one area we have yet to explore. Our destinations for this trip were Paris to Mont St. Michel, Cancale, St. Malo, Dinan and Giverny on our return to the city. Day 1: Paris to Mont St. Michel Mont St. Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a small island off the coast of Normandy that is topped with a medieval Benedictine monastery. Over hundreds of years, the ramparts were built around the island to keep the English forces out, which was followed by other buildings …

Explore Marrakesh (Morocco) Like in Insider

Marrakesh, with its kaleidoscope architecture and chaotic souks, can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. I had an opportunity to visit Marrakesh for four days with my friends who have been there numerous times and had local recommendations from their friend, Zach Idrissi, the owner of Amani Hotel. Having local guidance to ease me into this overstimulating experience was a welcome blessing since I was flying solo for most of my stay in the city. I also lucked out by going around Ramadan as everything was calmer and more laid back. The markets and attractions will close a bit earlier around 5pm, but the aggressive behavior in the souks will generally be less prevalent. This makes for an overall pleasant and safe experience for solo travelers. Where to eat: Have an afternoon tea break on the terrace of La Mamounia and take a stroll in their manicured garden. You should check the availability for non-hotel guests as the hotel started to restrict non-hotel guests to certain hours for tea. Have dinner at Le Tanjia where there …

Essential Travel Tips for Marrakesh and Morocco

Traveling to Morocco for the first time can be intimidating and overwhelming for many travelers, even for the experienced folks. The mélange of sights, sounds, and cultural differences in this vibrant city can trip many up. These are tips that can help make your arrival smoother and less stressful. 1- Book a transfer from Marrakesh Airport to your hotel. Taxis in Marrakesh have a well-deserved awful reputation for ripping off tourists and also refusing to turn on their meters. After a long flight, the last thing you want to do is haggle for a reasonable fare. I highly recommend Marrakesh Airport Transfer. I booked online two days before my arrival with flight information. My driver was waiting for me after I exited baggage claim with my name on an easily identifiable sign and escorted me to a clean air-conditioned car. The cost was approximately $12 for a 15-minute ride to the Sofitel in the city center for one person. Prices will change depending on the number of people and the destination. I checked with my local …

2 Days Chillaxing in Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira has to be Morocco’s most laid back beach town and luckily, only a short 2-hour drive from Marrakesh. When I asked my local friend to help me plan my Morocco vacation, she suggested this sleepy seaport town. At first I didn’t know what to make of it because it’s not a resort town dotted with luxury hotels that one would expect. However, the chill atmosphere there provided a much needed respite from the bustling city. It felt very much like a backpackers’ haven. I decided on a short 2-day trip to Essaouira, leaving Marrakesh at 9am and returning the next day at 3pm. This turned out to be just enough time to sample what the town had to offer in short period. Essaouira is known for ocean sports such as kite surfing, so if you are into that, then you’ll need a few more days. I booked my own private transfer through my friend’s recommendation with Hiba Tours, which cost 160 euros or approximately 190 dollars. The car ride was comfortable and Jamal, the …

Review: Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas

Phuket has always been on my list to visit whenever I am in the southeast Asia due to the inordinate amount of enticing beach photos that are published on social media. On my recent trip to the region, I was able to fit a few days in Phuket. The biggest question while researching the popular destination was where to stay because Phuket is renowned for its amazing luxury resorts and party towns. After receiving advice from my Thai friends, I opted to stay in the northwest region of Phuket as the weather is better there in November and my main objective was to relax. I selected a 5-day stay in a pool villa at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas located near the Sirinath National Park. Did the 5-star resort meet my expectations? Positives: This 91 villa-only resort is catered to honeymooners and high-end clientele. The location is approximately a 20-minute cab ride from Phuket International Airport. Each villa has an infinity pool making it a perfect spot to hide away for days. Alternatively, there …

Review: Creative Omakase at Michelin-rated Sushiyoshi (Osaka, Japan)

Getting to experience the creativity of Chef Nakanoue Hiroki at Michelin-rated Sushiyoshi was the culinary highlight of my recent Japan trip. Although Osaka has a booming street food scene, its sushi has generally played second fiddle to Tokyo’s. Sushiyoshi is trying to break that narrative with its creative omakase. I had heard great things about this 26-year-old sushi-ya and was excited to try it. As an added bonus, Chef Hiroki speaks decent English and his exuberant personality makes the experience memorable for all guests. How did this chef’s tasting stack up to all the other omakase? When I arrived at 7pm for my reservation, there was already a full house as the sushi-ya contains only 8 seats at the counter. I was escorted to my spot at the end of the bar and was promptly served tea and a hot towel. Japanese omakase can be intimidating for non-Japanese tourists; however, Chef Hiroki was very welcoming. My omakase started with salmon and caviar tartar housed in an “apple” wafer vessel. The wafer reminded me of a …