Thursday, 31 October 2019

Keeping a travel journal ...

I hope you are enjoying the stories of my travel as much as I am enjoying sharing my travels with you.

While out browsing this week, I spied a lovely pink notebook & had to have it because I am a great notebook fan & this one is so pretty. WHY notebooks?


I LOVE travelling, exploring new places, new food, new culture, new experiences & new people; for years I have bought a book, or a proper travel journal to take with me to make sense of all I see & do. It is also a good way to be able to revisit the holiday any time I like ...


When I am on long coach trips (as the last 3 long 14-18 day trips have been), I love to spend time each day catching up on my journal, jotting down people & things I have found interesting. It also helps me to be able to label my photos once home.

They have their own space in our study at home & I just love the process of spending time reflecting on the days travel before writing it down - that process helps to make the experiences real ...


When I am on an organised tour, it is easier to keep a travel journal because I scan my itinerary, separate it in to each day & then glue it on a page & skip several pages before doing the next day. I leave between 3-6 blank pages between each day (depending on the thickness of the book & how long the trip is.)

I also add in the hotel names as that helps me to remember them for Trip Advisor feedback because on long trips the hotels blur in to one.  I also jot down the names of the travel guides that we explored the cities with - there are always some memorable ones who bring the cities to life with history, anecdotes & their personality.

This format means it is easy to keep updated in the journal & there is usually space to put in a map - often annotated with places I have taken photos of & will need to label.

I sometimes do little pen drawings & captions as they are a good way to remember events.

I also pop entrance tickets, church notices, restaurant bills etc in the book as well & then glue them in when I get home.


Bulging books show the added extras ...


Maps of favourite cities  - I have visited Warsaw twice & absolutely love this beautiful Polish city ...


A brochure that caught my eye - it had some good background on the city ...



Fascinating places to visit ...


Found in an interesting Copper domed church in Helsinki ...


Visiting the salt mines way down under the earth in Krakow ...


It is a lovely way to revisit a holiday. In Riga, the map we picked up on our own girlie trip,  suddenly gave us a walking route & enabled us to visit the Ruins of the Choral Synagogue which I shared ...


Memories of the lovely Latvian capital of Riga


When on a trip to South Africa to visit family, I also take a journal to jot things I need to remember, places I have been & postcards I find on the way ...


Monogrammed {D} notebooks are always a welcome gift from friends who understand my love of books & journals ...


Some of my travelling stories ...


Do you keep a travel journal? Do you collect fridge magnets, tickets, postcards of your travels? Tell all to inspire me to make my journals even better.

Thank you for stopping by, I love reading your comments & appreciate your time spent here,
Dee ~💕~

Monday, 28 October 2019

Exploring the Moroccan city of Fes / Fez

I have always been fascinated by the interesting scenes from Morocco - it is quite unique & a country with  a long & varied history which was influenced by the many invaders / occupiers. Yes was founded during the 8-9th century, a long & interesting history.

Fes or Fez as we write it is the fourth largest city in Morocco & it is located close to the lovely Atlas Mountains. It has the oldest university in the world, founded by Fatima & her sister Maria & influenced by their connection to Spain. The intricately carved doors lead to the most beautiful courtyard in this university building of  Al-Attarine Madrasa the arched windows on the upper level are the residences of students even today. Every bit of this courtyard was covered in detailed tiles & scripts - a fascinating space.


Fes has a population of 2.5 million & our tour headed to the 14 century Medina with its 25 km of walls - vast space.

To see the massive Medina from the lookout on the surrounding hills was quite staggering; I admit to thinking ‘this is not the place to get lost in’ - fortunately, our two drivers Paul & Lisa, Mohammed (our full time guide for the week) and a specialist Medina guide were with us to make sure we enjoyed our time in the Medina.


Leading us in to the many passages, some barely wide enough for one person, some long, some dark, some just walls, others with doors or shops ...


I have visited markets in many African countries & these reminded me of the markets in Mekele & Addis Ababa in some respects but on a much larger scale.

Don’t you just love the beautifully displayed fruits & vegetables? The numerous tangines were outside some of the many Medina restaurants - delicate aromas wafting down the alley ways ...


Shouts of ‘Balak’ (watch out) rings out as hand carts & donkeys pass with goods - these narrow passage ways mean that goods have to be carried in  ...


So many sights, smells, sounds, colours, textures in each passage ....

A round bread is local to Fes & it is good - Mohammed passed some around & it was really good as it was freshly made & hot.


The market is divided up in to sections - this is the copper beater section - the melodic sound of hammering is heard long before you get to see the gleaming copper. How absolutely beautiful are the wares?


A visit to a market weaver with their looms & stunning bolts of fabric - from finely woven threads of Aloe Vera which gives a silky thread. I admit to buying a lovely scarf ...


 Then on to a scene I have seen often on the covers of travel brochures - the huge vats of dye to stain the beautiful soft leather hides that they pride themselves on. The Chouara Tannery dates from the 11th century, one of the oldest tanneries in the world. Can you see the men in the vats of dye?


The hides are treated in vats with chicken poop, salt & magnesium to soften & sure them ahead of the dyeing process. There was a decided ‘wiff’ in the air in the hot sun. Can you see the hides drying on hangers on the top of the building? 

Inside the shop had the most beautiful coloured shoes, bags & wares .... 

We were led up a very long alley, past so many interesting shops to a beautiful building - the venue for our traditional Moroccan lunch. The venue was beautifully decorated with the extraordinary tile patterns & colours - a total delight to view. 

We had a selection of beautifully presented bowls of vegetables (centre bottom) along with some of that beautiful freshly baked round breads - heaven. 

This was followed by the beautiful tagine (top left) which has chicken, cous cous, potatoes which were clearly spiced with saffron or pimento (sweet paprika), carrots, legumes & more. It was spicy but not hot. At home I add more fruit & chilli to my tagines so it was interesting to have their authentic version. 
We finished off with thinly sliced orange, spiced with cinnamon and traditional sweet mint tea, poured at great height from a very decorative metal pot. A thoroughly enjoyable lunch stop. 

We also had the opportunity to visit a pottery factory outside of the market - they make the most stunning mosaic work, really skilled craftsmen who work with pottery made on the premises. 


I have a fondness for blue & white & this factory made my heart sing - just look at the stunning, detailed patterns. 

Morocco is almost unique in that it still has a sizeable Jewish Quarter & all three religions - Jews, Christians & Arabs have lived side by side for generations.


A sight that is often seen are storks nesting up high on electricity poles in the countryside or on buildings as seen here ...

These shops / houses are unique near the Jewish Quarter because they have balconies. Arab homes have no windows on to the outside from privacy, which is why they have the central courtyards common in Moroccan architecture. However, this row of shops with their homes above were home to Jewish tradesmen, bankers & shopkeepers ...


The Mellah or Jewish Quarter in Fes / Fez - still a religious site where the two religions co exist - very interesting.


I hope you have enjoyed visiting Fes with me, feel free to follow my blog so you don’t miss any new posts & I always enjoy reading your comments,
Dee ~💕~

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Making time to travel & explore new countries .....

My faithful followers know that I love to travel - it is in my genes as I am from a long line of ancestors who left their lands to set out for Southern Africa from mid 1600 - Dutch, German, British, French, Swedish, Eastern European, Polish, Russian, Prussian, the Baltics & Africa - I have their genes still & their gene imprint makes me feel a deep connection to these regions.


This DNA article looks at how we feel familiar in certain places - the DNA imprint of our ancestors draws us in.

I still feel drawn to certain parts of Europe, & I know through my DNA & family tree that these are countries my ancestors lived in - this is my DNA profile ...


I have wanted to visit Morocco for a long time & when the opportunity arose, I asked Monica, my sister in law & trusty travelling companion, to join me. I was delighted when she jumped at the opportunity to explore Spain, Gibraltar & Morocco with me. She is familiar to many here for our long trip through India some time back exploring her past ....

I have found the best way to travel easily - coach travel! I am often met with much laughter when I say that I am a convert to coach travel for ease & comfort.

Many say - ‘Isn’t it just for old people?’ Definitely NOT - it is full on, busy, action packed, exciting & yet relaxing as it is all taken care of - hotels, meals, guides, transport, ferries, pick ups, luggage ...

I looked at my phone app & we walked 85km in the 18 days away - impressive ...


Our coaches in Marrakech - we did a 6 day loop from Tangiers port to Meknes, Fes (Fez) with its enormous Medina, Jewish Quarter & Royal palaces; to the beautiful Portuguese port city of El Jadida with its quaint streets & harbour then to amazing Marrakech to explore the markets, palaces, take in the Chez Ali Fantasia entertainment, YSL gardens & then to Casablanca with a stop at Ricks Cafe, on to Rabat & then to spend time in the stunning Tangiers.

What is the attraction of coaching across Morocco? I absolutely love people watching, the varied stops, lunch in random places (including one on the beach watching life pass us by) and by travelling between places, I was able to appreciate what makes each country special - the similarities & the differences between life in Southern Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Maputo, Congo, Comoros - all countries I lived or travelled in).

My Dad quizzed me about Tangiers - I did not know that him & my Mom had travelled there in the late 50’s but there did not cross over to Europe - they just felt like a trip from Zambia to see what lies far north in Africa.

Our journey started in the Plymouth as we made a 24 hour ferry crossing to Santander in Spain - exciting times as we found our cabin, put our luggage down & headed on deck to watch our coast disappear & give us time to get our sea legs. Yes, we all did walk like drunks as the ferry took to the open waters & to the Bay of Biscay ...

Travelling on the French Brittany ferries, night draws in as we leave our familiar coast  ...


Our compact but adequate cabin with just an overnight bag with us, our luggage safely stored on our coach somewhere in the depths of the ferry ...


Enough place with a compact en suite ...


Time to stretch our legs & explore the ferry ...


During the night, we stopped to allow for a medical evacuation & at about lunch time the next day, an announcement was made that another medical evacuation would happen. We had moved closer to France to allow for a heart attack patient to be airlifted & so the engines powered down, the decks were closed & we watched the helicopter make several attempts to land & then we were on the move again, thankful that emergency services can operate from such distances.


We are always up to exploring so we headed for the entertainment area to have a drink & enjoy some live music then back out to walk the decks ...



A vast but immaculate ferry ...


Orca watchers on deck, these waters are known for their numerous species ...


Checking out the sea maps on deck for our position ...


Some of the many dolphins that are about ...


Lovely lines of the covered walk ways ...


After 26 hours (with the delays) we eventually made land in Spain, in Santander, ready to explore new cities & were thankful to get our land legs back again, have a hearty meal & bed down for the night in a comfortable hotel - you know you are in Spain when there are such lovely tiles in the hotel ...








I hope you will pop back to see more of our travels, thank you for stopping by, your comments are always appreciated.

Dee ~💕~