17
Dec
14

THAT DAY WHEN I SET FOOT IN THE KINGDOM OF MOROCCO

 

From Dubai to Doha, then Doha to Casablanca, I arrived with much excitement to spend few days for the very first time in North Africa! The feeling of departing from my current home-base in UAE in mid October, and arriving in another continent was probably comparable to that wonder when a child finally unwraps his gifts under the Christmas tree after waiting for days and weeks. Hours spent in waiting at terminals and hopping from one airport to another were all worth it!

Traveling has been effective in making me more appreciative of those little things in life. That crisp and fresh Moroccan air that went down my lungs as I stepped out of Qatar Airways. That friendly and welcoming response from a staff of Aeroport Mohammed V when I inquired about directions to train station that took me from Casablanca to Rabat. Those deep breaths that I’ve taken as I embarked again on a solo journey in a place inscribed in my bucket list.

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The morning view from my hotel room’s balcony in Rabat, Morocco. October, 2014.

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Marhaba! Bonjour! Welcome to Casablanca!

Following my long haul flight, I happily found myself seated inside the first class cabin en route to Rabat, the capital city of the Kingdom of Morocco. I never heard myself utter a single complaint, despite I needed to walk briskly, almost running in phase, from the airport to the train ticket counter just to catch the 9:55AM train departure with a 50-liter-backpack behind my shoulders, and a large duffle bag in tow.

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My beautiful traveling mess on board the train from Casablanca to Rabat.

A sip of cappuccino, a munch of my favorite potato chips and more than an hour train ride, I reached a station where passengers bound for Rabat were instructed to alight, cross the underground pass below the tracks and wait for about half an hour to hop on another train. No problemo! :)

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Change train!

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Waiting for the next train.

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Few minutes after high noon, I had an initial glimpse of Gare-Rabat Ville, the 50-year-old train station in Morocco’s capital city.

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The vibrant hues at the train station that greeted me!

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Happy to arrive at a train station that’s half a century old!

Finally, Rabat, Morocco!

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First glimpse at the capital city of the Kingdom of Morocco!

Admittedly overwhelmed during the first few minutes of arrival, excitement continued as I hailed a blue petit-taxi-cab from the main boulevard in Rabat and went my way to my preferred accommodation.

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From where I stood at my chosen riad in Rabat, the Riad L’Alcazar.

Because I reckon traveling as a therapy and a reward for myself, I did not sacrifice comfort and convenience during this trip as I favored staying in a luxurious accommodation where interiors and architecture were Andalusian-inspired.

C’mmon, it’s not everyday I get to experience such!
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First sip of Moroccan mint tea. Verdict? Addictive!

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The riad or the courtyard was more contemporary than the very traditional, Riad Rcif in Fes.

I checked in and took the glass-lift to the penthouse.

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I actually wanted to book the suite after the wooden door (on the right of the photo above), as I found it more regal and elegant on photos on their website, however it’s already reserved for the honeymoon of another guests. The next door (on the left of the photo above) leads to my room.

Take a peek at what I called, my very own Kingdom of Isolation for a night in Rabat. Beautiful, isn’t it?
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Spent relaxing hours soaked under warm water in that tub!

That wonderful room with vibrant green accents opens to a small balcony that offers a sweeping view of Rabat!

The weather was sunny but breeze wasn’t insulting, rather calming and relaxing!
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Since I haven’t eaten any meals yet other than inflight food, I opted to sample my first Moroccan dish from the riad itself.  From their menu, I chose a very tasteful and tender Chicken Tagine, served with aubergine and veggie side dishes, plus piping hot Moroccan bread. Yummy!
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That hearty late brunch was followed by a pre-arranged and guided city tour.

The next day, I savored the breakfast inclusive of the package I availed, before I went my way to my next destination in Morocco. The blue pearl of Northen Africa, Chefchaouen.

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I’m thankful I made this short but absolutely memorable trip to Morocco.

It reminded me I could be happier by doing more positive things, over and beyond others’ unnecessary expectations.

*All photos on this blog post are taken using Samsung Galaxy Note 3. This is not a sponsored post.
*This Morocco Travel Blog Series includes :
03
Dec
14

2014 BEYOND TOXICITY BLOG GIVEAWAY

As 2014 has been life-changing and extremely challenging for me, I’d like to spend the last days of the year, and welcome the new one with hope, love and generosity.

With these simple travel mementos that I got from Jordan last May, Morocco last October and from United Arab Emirates particularly, Dubai that provided me a fresh ground to thrive, rebuild myself and work to support my families back home in The Philippines, I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude to my blog readers and followers in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by sharing with you my humble blessings via these personally favored travel souvenirs.

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From Dubai, UAE :

  • 3 pieces of fridge magnets
  • 1 piece of red and white ghutra
  • 1 piece of Dubai Starbucks Coffee tumbler

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From Petra, Jordan :

  • 1 red baseball cap
  • 1 small coin purse
  • 2 fridge magnets

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From Fes, Morocco and from a fellow Pinoy Travel Blogger based in Dubai :

  • 3 Moroccan-tile-design fridge magnets
  • 1 small blue travel journal called, Little Blank Book by Surat Journals, handmade from Dubai, UAE by Kenneth Surat.

Interested to win all those? Join in the fun! Here’s how :

  1. This blog giveaway contest is open to everyone, worldwide.
  2. It will run from 03/12/2014 to 31/12/2014.
  3. Only one winner will be selected randomly via RandomPicker.com to win all travel mementos listed above.
  4. Draw will be done on 01/01/2015, evening, Dubai time.
  5. Winner will be notified via email.
  6. The entire set of prize as shown on photos above will be sent to the winner via courier.
  7. The results will be published on this blog, twitter, facebook and Instagram account of DocGelo.
  8. Kindly leave your name and email address on the comment section below.
  9. Please provide answers to these queries :  (1) Why do you like to win? (2) Do you have any comments, suggestions about this blog, Beyond Toxicity @ docgelo.com?
  10. Sharing about this blog giveaway contest via social networks is not mandatory however, appreciated.

All the best to those who will join and may we all have the merriest holidays and meaningful and blessed Christmas season! Thank you very much!

>><<

26
Nov
14

Good Morning, Dubai!

I got introduced to a creative and meaningful art project by the London-based artist, IMPREINT and I decided to participate. His impressive project called, PORTRAITS has been running for 11 months to date, with collaborations from various people from different cities around the globe.

What is Portraits?

Portraits was born after Impreint painted 1000 balloons a few years ago, and while painting them, he believed that the paintings were like people : all different, imperfect, yet all beautiful.

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He started Portaits in December of 2013 and involved the people in his art in a very uplifting way, unifying the people around the world with a simple concept.

A balloon. A person. A place. When all put together seemed different, imperfect, yet all beautiful! Being a Filipino expat in Dubai, I feel so honored, pleased and excited to participate and be part of such positive endeavor, to highlight and feature beauty in diversities and imperfections.

So one weekend morning, I went to Bastakiya, in Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai, wearing a ghutra and holding a green balloon. With a smile, I politely asked an old European lady who was also touring the Old Dubai, to take my picture for Portraits.
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DocGelo with his green balloon at Al Bastakiya, Dubai, United Arab Emirates!

Why green balloon?

Of all colors, I chose green because it symbolizes life, abundance in nature, healing, health, renewal, most of all, hope!

Being a medical professional and for someone who’s presently trying to thrive in a new place and create a fresh and better life, I think the green color of balloon represents me perfectly. I believe the same goes with Dubai as our beloved emirate continuously offers promising opportunities and greener pasteurs in the middle of previously arid and vast desert.

Why Al Bastakiya?

I could’ve chosen the more iconic and touristy places that Dubai is famous for. I could’ve brought my feet again to Burj Khalifa with the fantastic dancing Dubai Fountain, or perhaps, revisited the inviting shores in Jumeirah Open Beach to catch the spectacular sunrise view of Burj Al Arab. However, I opted to go back to Al Bastakiya, located in Bur Dubai, just along the Dubai Creek and a stone’s throw away from the Dubai Museum.

Since I arrived in Dubai last February 2014 and started working and began to creating a new life in Dubai, one of the earliest places I’ve discovered and fell in loved with was Al Bastakiya. It’s the historic district in Dubai established in 1890s, that supported 60 housing units, mostly built with wind towers that are characteristically Arabic architecture. Bastakiya for me, is a reminder of Dubai’s origin, and what the emirate has become after years of evolution, improvement and achievements. Such humble place is a gem amidst soaring skyscrapers and future-forward cosmopolitan lifestyles.

I usually go to Bastakiya on weekends or holidays, or whenever I get a chance to unwind and simply stroll aimlessly in its narrow alleys. I find it so therapeutic and a breather after a long week at work or whenever I get tired of wandering inside Dubai’s massive malls. Just being there and sipping my favorite tea, savoring my favorite bowl of salad and thinking of nothing but being in the place and in the moment, soothes my restless soul.

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Welcoming my weekend morning in the cobbled stone-alleys with a purpose, and ending it with a power  brunch at my favorite tea house.
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My Saturday brunch! Exotic chicken salad, Blooming Jasmine Tea and Arabic bread.

 

Know more about the artist, Impreint and his project, Portraits through his website : http://www.impreint.com and view more portraits by following his facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/IMPREINTofficial.

 

15
Nov
14

5 PLACES TO VISIT IN RABAT, THE CAPITAL CITY OF THE KINGDOM OF MOROCCO

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An almost 2-hour-public train ride from Aeroport Mohammed V in Casablanca, that departed at 9:55AM via first-class-coach at 115 Moroccan Dirhams took me to Gare Rabat-Ville station. Next thing I knew – I found myself waiting for a blue petit-taxi-cab outside the 50-year-old terminal and checked in at my riad in a breeze.

Since I only have a day to spend in Morocco’s capital city prior heading to Chefchaouen and Fes, I decided to pre-arrange a 3-hour-afternoon-tour with the manager of the riad via e-mails about a month before my trip. I thought it’s wise to maximize my limited visit with a local tour guide who’s highly recommended by the hotel. Apparently, I gave my 100% trust to the hotel manager of that luxury riad in Rabat.

CONSIDER THIS A REMINDER WHEN TRAVELING AND DEALING WITH STRANGERS

The below itineraries were suggested by the multi-lingual male tour guide provided to me, along with a grand taxi or a vintage Mercedes sedan and a driver. The tour went fine and uneventful. I repeat, nothing unpleasant happened to me thankfully. However, after posting my photo with the tour guide on my Instagram account (@iamdocgelo) three weeks after the trip, one of the travelers I religiously follow on Instagram sent me direct messages that he and his friends were highway-robbed by the same tour guide during their 10-day-stay in Morocco (The reason why I personally decided to take down the said photo with that tour guide; I don’t want to imply I’m recommending him as well). They needed to call the Philippine Embassy and ask aid from the Ambassador.  Although I am sorry for what happened to them, I took everything positively as someone who shares the same passion in traveling became concerned and indirectly reminded me to be more vigilant and careful in dealing with strangers when traveling. Let it be a reminder to you as well. Don’t get me wrong – Morocco is safe even for solo-travelers like me; and the incident mentioned could happen anywhere to anyone, so let us all be extra-careful and prioritize safety at all times.
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Three hours were enough to visit 5 of the most interesting places in Rabat. Here’s the list of where I went.

(1) Mausoleum of Mohammed V

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Where the Royal tombs are.

After passing through countless foreign consulates and embassies along the road, we shortly arrived in one of Morocco’s most important and historic touristy places, the Mausoleum of Mohammed V and Hassan Tower.

The weather was so perfect in October. The cool breeze from Bou Regreg River complemented the gorgeous blue sky that afternoon. I went off the grand taxi cab alone as I was instructed by the tour guide to go inside the mausoleum and roam around the Hassan tower complex, take as many pictures as I want and meet him after half an hour for his brief explanation of the place.  Absolutely, not problem. I liked it that way.

Although I haven’t been to India yet, but it’s on my list, the first glimpse at the mausoleum made me think of Taj Mahal in Agra. Not only they’re both shrines for the tombs, but the immaculate and intricately designed structure made me perceived as such.

There were Royal guards on white and brown horses at the gates that looked like straight out of  Arabian Nights or Prince of Persia movie. I was told that those guards and horses go on shifts every one and half hour (or was it two?) as standing still under the sun, despite the cool almost-winter-weather could be so tiring and dehydrating too. Even horses are subjected to fatigue, hunger and dehydration, you know! :)

What makes the mausoleum significant? It is where King Mohammed V -the father of modern and independent Morocco is laid to rest. His tomb in flawless white marble can be seen and photographed by visitors from the balcony. Next to the King’s tomb are tombs of Hassan II, his son and the father of the present king of Morocco, Mohammed VI. Royal guards in handsome uniforms were stationed not only before the doors, but at the four corners of the mausoleum as well.

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The beautiful tiled wall inside the mausoleum.

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Moroccan details.
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One of the Royal guards in the mausoleum.

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Hassan Tower. Unfinished business.

The supposed to be world’s tallest minaret of a mosque was left undone after its founder, Sultan Yacoub Al Mansour died in 1199. Made of red sandstone, the Hassan Tower within the mausoleum complex was left incomplete with its height of 44 meters; they initially planned it to be 86 meters tall however, construction was ceased.

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One of the Royal guards at the gates of the Mausoleum.

Outside the mausoleum complex, I met one of Morocco’s traditional watermen in ful vivid attire!

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Obligatory touristy shot with Aguador, or the traditional Waterman.

(2) Kasbah of the Oudayas
 

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Bab Oudaia. The gates to the castle of the Oudaias.

The castle of the Udayas, or Kasbah of the Oudayas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located along Bou Regreg river -the body of water in Rabat that joins the Atlantic Ocean. Needless to say, the castle sets a romantic and relaxing ambiance after it was deserted following Sultan Yacoub Al Mansour’s death.

The café that serves that unforgettable and soothing Moroccan mint tea, coffee and sweet local pastries is one of the big reasons why one must not miss visiting Kasbah of the Oudayas.

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Where Tom Cruise shot his upcoming movie, Mission Impossible 5 a week before my trip!

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Bou Regreg River that meets the Atlantic Ocean. 
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That afternoon with Moroccan songs and traditional music.

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Cul de sac. Dead end of one of the narrow and blue-tinted alleys similar to Chefchaouen.

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Outside the oldest Portugese abode within Kasbah Oudayas.

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Moroccan delights perfectly paired with warm mint tea.

(3) Old Medina of Rabat

Teeming with handwoven colorful carpets made of sheep, camel hair, and silk, plus leather goods handcrafted by Moroccan artisans make the Old Medina of Rabat worth visiting. It’s a short walking distance from Kasbah of the Oudayas.

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Market scene in the Medina of Rabat.

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Those silk handwoven carpets laid on floor were my choices that I regret not buying.

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The oldest hotel in Rabat, I was told.

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Leather pattern maker within the Medina of Rabat.

(4) Kasbah Chellah

My afternoon tour of Rabat actually started at Castle of Chellah. After paying 10 Moroccan dirhams as admission fee, my eyes were treated to lush nature, made of olive and orange trees. There’s a garden inside with cemented walkway that leads to the ancient Roman necropolis. Right across the Roman necropolis are the ruins of an Arabic mosque, hammam or Moroccan bath and massage house and an Islamic school that was popular in the entire country.

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The Chellah Castle with its façade to the old necropolis.

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Spotted : Natural magic dragon amongst olive and orange trees within the gardens.

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The ancient Roman Necropolis.

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Storks and their huge nests atop ruins of the old Islamic school.

(5) Downtown Rabat

The buildings along the main boulevard in Rabat are reminiscent of French, Spanish and Portugese influences that blended well through the years with Moroccan history and African heritage. A stroll along the main road was so apt during sunset. A local beer could be enjoyed from an old French restaurant right across the Parlement du Maroc or the Parliament of Morocco. Other than the public train that runs from Northern Morocco to Marrakech, a city tram can be found in Rabat to its neighboring town of Sale.

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The Moroccan Parliament.
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Main Boulevard in Rabat.
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The Rabat-Sale tram.
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European influences are apparent in these century old buildings.

CAMEL MEAT, ANYONE?

My local tour guide suggested for us to dine at Tajine Wa Tanjia, an obviously upscale local restaurant in Rabat. After checking the menu, prices seemed affordable and reasonable so I gave my nod. When I asked for the house specialty, I received an instant reply of Camel Tanjia. Say, what? Camel? Caa-ca-camel?

Tajine or tagine and tanjia are Moroccan clay pots where meat such as lamb, chicken, and yes, camel are being made to tender-perfection.

I succumbed to my tour guide’s suggestion, and surprisingly, I found camel meat fork-tender and as tasteful as beef. There were no unpleasant after-taste as my taste buds tasted nice marinade of lemon and other preferred spices. I paired that camel tanjia with a bottle of red wine and Moroccan rice of course. What a way to end my first day in Morocco.

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Piping hot Moroccan bread, vegetables, olives and Camel Tanjia.

*All photos on this blog post are taken using Samsung Galaxy Note 3. This is not a sponsored post.
*This Morocco Travel Blog Series includes :
08
Nov
14

MEDINA OF FES, MOROCCO

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Ammoniacal odor inside Guerniz Tannery from  lime and pigeon droppings used to soften the hides.
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Belgha : Finely crafted and colorful Moroccan slippers inside Medina of Fes.1
Photographed and printed on postcards, the Bab Boujaloud, the gateway a UNESCO Heritage Site.

In retrospect, everything and everyone in Fes, Morocco was utterly interesting to a curious travel-enthusiast like me. From the offensive and pungent atmosphere lording one of the oldest tanneries in Guerniz, to plethora of colors and textures of local commodities sold in the old medina.

With the sun almost ready to set its glory that afternoon, and an apparent warning sign of impending drizzle from the rain clouds covering the walled city that seemed frozen in time, I left the courtyard of Riad Rcif with an expert-local-tour-guide whom I pre-arranged with my accommodation.
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The riad, or courtyard of Riad Rcif, my chosen kingdom for a night in Fes.

Silly me, I didn’t realize I would be walking around the medina of Fes for 3 hours literally. I was honestly expecting to ride a taxi cab or any mode of transportation but to my embarrassment,  I didn’t think I’d be strolling around the world’s largest car-free-urban-zone! Thankfully, I wore comfortable rubber shoes, however, it never crossed my mind that I’d be walking uphill and downhill, that eventually challenged my stamina and put me to fatigue within few minutes. In case we’re on the same page before I discovered Fes, this ancient part of Morocco has more than 9000 narrow alleys where only mules and donkeys are allowed and remain inaccessible to anything modern with wheels. Obviously, my preparation for this trip wasn’t enough. Nonetheless, everything went better than I imagined.
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A glimpse of the world’s largest car-free-urban-zone.

Just before the rain poured over Fes, we reached the medina via entering a massive gate known as the “bab.”  Bab Boujaloud serves as the access to the new souk and a gateway to countless mosques and oldest madrasa or Islamic schools in the world.
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Market scene in the Medina of Fes.
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Water Clock.

From the random market scenes, my attention was focused to Dar al-Magana, or the clock house. With 13 wooden windows and platforms with brass bowls, the water clock has its own unique mechanism that’s best explained on Wiki :

“The motion of the clock was presumably maintained by a kind of small cart which ran from left to right behind the twelve doors. At one end, the cart was attached to a rope with a hanging weight; at the other end to a rope with a weight that floated on the surface of a water reservoir that was drained at a regular pace. Each hour one of the doors opened; at the same time a metal ball was dropped into one of the twelve brass bowls. The rafters sticking out of the building above the doors (identical to the rafters of the Bou Inania Madrasa) supported a small roof to shield the doors and bowls. The bowls have been removed since 2004 and the clock mechanism is being restored as one of Fes’ remarkable landmarks.”

As bizaare as the water clock, there’s a stall across that sells bottled rose water and  dried rose hips.

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Bottled rose water, and rose hips. Their uses were unknown to me. Care to educate me?

Opposite to the water clock is the Madrasa Bou Inania; the only Muslim school in Fes with a minaret, or that tall spire with conical onion shaped structure, seen at a distance from the bab. It was an architectural masterpiece!

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I made it clear with my tour guide that I have limited pocket money hence, I didn’t have interest in buying unnecessary things. However, I effortlessly swallowed my words and digested it in no time when I purchased 3 wallets made of camel leather in different hues (I thought they’re good pieces to symbolize tanneries in Fes, and to be included in the little travel-inspired-prizes to be given away via a blog contest I’ll be conducting on December. Stay tuned!).

From else where in the medina, your nose will guide you towards one of the three oldest tanneries in Fes and probably the world. I went up the roof top of a leather shop over looking Guerniz Tannery.

Lime and ammonia from pigeon droppings are used to soak hides to soften them and to  scrape off hair easily. Needless to say, the aroma wasn’t pleasing to the senses, but the experience of actually looking at everything, like a scene directly out of a postcard or an Oscar-Award-Winning-Hollywood-movie was indeed one for the books!  Learning that their traditional tanning of leather takes about 1 to 1 and half month to do, I had deeper appreciation of the tedious labor exerted to create wallets, bags and other leather goods.
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Camel leather wallets. Bought 3 to be given away with other prizes to a lucky blog reader next month.

Following my tannery-experience, I found myself privileged to stand by the doors of Mosquee Al Qaraouiyine within the other medina. Considered as the most vibrant symbol of Moroccan architecture that was founded in the 9th century, Al Qaraouiyine University and Mosque holds Guiness World Records and listed by UNESCO as the oldest existing and continually operating educational institution in the world.
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Even feline species in Fes are fascinating and friendly.

Built in 13th century, another Islamic school that I saw in Fes was the  Attarine Madrasa. Its interiors was so intricate and opulent, it was actually breathtaking!
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Arabesque-beauty. That moment I wished I could read Arabic.

I was also brought to a store that creates and sells Djellaba, the traditional Berber long sleeved robe and scarf worn usually by locals of Northern Africa. It’s noteworthy that Berber men use cactus thread and all natural dyes in weaving Djellaba. The result was super-soft-woven masterpieces; I bought 2 scarves in dark brown and blue.
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Trying out traditional Berber attire called, Djellaba,  particularly worn in the desert; protective of sand storm.

Three hours of walking tour around the two medina, Fes-el Bali (the UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the district of Qaraouiyine wasn’t enough to cover everything about Fes. However, it’s still enriching than watching a mediocre film on screen, ergo, I would not trade the travel experience with something else.

>><<

*All photos on this blog post are taken using Samsung Galaxy Note 3. This is not a sponsored post.
*This Morocco Travel Blog Series includes :
04
Nov
14

TEN RANDOM REASONS WHY YOU MUST DINE IN ZURI RESTAURANT WHEN YOU’RE IN DUBAI.

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After a long and tiring day at work, I attended to an invitation from Zuri Restaurant through my fellow Filipino-UAE-based-blogger, Carla (My Yellow Bells). We came with another blogger-friend, Sheila (AB and Me), and shared the same table with Sarah (On Cloud Zen).  I arrived at Zuri with my pockets emptied of great expectations, however, I went home with stretched gastric mucosa and a wide smile on the face!

Here’s my list of

Ten Random Reasons Why You Must Dine At Zuri Restaurant When You’re In Dubai. 

(1) Unusual Buffet-Dining Concept.

Unlike the common eat-all-you-want-restaurants, Zuri doesn’t provide a buffet spread but menu on tablets, where diners can select as many dishes as they like with just a flick of a finger. When food is prepared fresh and served piping hot from the chef’s open-kitchen, tasting and sampling everything on the menu is always encouraged.

(2) Reasonable Price.

Inclusive of unlimited orders of available appetizers, entrée, desserts and mocktails, everything can be savored at a total rate of 225/-AED per pax only. Reasonable enough for me!

 

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Asian Mystery.  Mango juice, coconut puree, passion fruit and chili. I repeat -chili!
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(3) Cozy and romantic ambiance.

Minimalist yet classy and sophisticated interiors, almost-dim-lights, relaxing music, inviting mood. So perfect for special events or even for casual get-together.

(4) Accesibility.

Located a stone’s throw away at the back of Mall of Emirates in Al Barsha, Dubai, parking isn’t an issue for those diners with cars and Auris Plaza Hotel where Zuri is located is very accessible to commuters as well.
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Crab, tuna, bean, broth, sweet basil. Fried soft shell crab, pickled tuna, edamame beans, Asian master broth and sweet basil oil.

I love that soft-shell-crab soup not because I am biased with its main ingredient but it’s cleverly done with thin stock instead of rich and creamy soup, hence it’s not overwhelming. The chef knew how to highlight textures and flavors on each plate!
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Prawn, seaweed, marie rose, aioli, tamarind, corn. Grilled prawns with seaweed, curried marie rose, ginger aioli, tamarind jelly, and crunchy sweet corn.

What can I say? I love seafood! And Zuri presented it so well that I died and went to heaven and back! Hahaha!
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Scallops with cauliflower puree.

(5) Extraordinary fusion of textures, flavors, and taste!

Ingredients were played on plates so good, there’s a balance between taste, flavors, and textures. Case in point, the saltiness of scallops paired with almost-bland cauliflower puree. If that doesn’t sound creative and seems enticing to you, I rest my case.

 

(6) A considerable volume of choices.

In my opinion, the menu was well thought of. From its variety from poultry, meat and seafood, to mocktails and fresh juices and desserts, plus coffee or tea. The volume wasn’t insulting too. My definition of value for money and prioritizing quality over quantity.
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Duck, hoisin, butter squash, raisin, spring onion.

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Beef Cheek Risotto, Green Beans, Peanut, Garlic.

I am a fan of beef dishes when cooked to fork-tender and served medium well. The wait staff never failed to ask how I wanted my beef cheeks to be prepared, however, I found this dish so easily satiating and heavy as it’s served with risotto in coconut cream Its entirety is tasteful but made me feel full early.

(7) Quick service,  smart  and courteous wait staff.

A Filipina and a Burmese waitresses attended to our table the entire night. They made our dinner at Zuri extra remarkable and lovely. Seriously. I believe they deserve a salary raise for being so good at what they do.

(8) Dishes are  handsomely presented per plate, never boring.

Obviously, a self-explanatory creativity.

 

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Short Ribs Tamarind Peanut Teriyaki Purple Yam Jasmine Sweet Potato.

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Passionate Mint. Passion puree, mint leaves, honey. This is love in every sip.

(9) Mocktails and other drinks complement the entire dining experience. 

The Passionate Mint was so refresh while Asian Mystery (the mango with chili) was more than interesting; it’s seductive actually!

 

(10)  Spontaneity from starters to main dishes and desserts.

One may find it overly sweet but then again, creativity weighed more on my list. Imagine white chocolate as the egg white, and passion fruit jelly as the yolk. Who would’ve thought that a classic breakfast combo of eggs and bacon strips can be recreated into sweet endings? The chef and his culinary team were consistent and spontaneously witty from the start to finish!
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Bacon, Egg, Chips. Chef  Zaw Special.  That’s my dessert plate. DESSERT PLATE, YEAH!!!

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A corner at the lobby of Auris Plaza Hotel.

It’s difficult to beat the winning formula of satisfying your diners with discriminating taste, serving them with tasteful dishes and unforgettable dining experience via impeccable service, in a restaurant with sophisticated ambiance. Diners will surely spread the word about their pleasant gastronomic experience like an uncontrolled epidemic, without force and coercion.

Thumbs up to Zuri Restaurant! Thank you for inviting us!

ZURI RESTAURANT | AURIS PLAZA HOTEL, AL BARSHA, DUBAI  website : http://www.auris-hotels.com/en/auris-plaza-hotel/ | phone : +971 4 455 4800 | E-mail : reservation.plaza@auris-hotels.com

 
02
Nov
14

SHAYAN RESTAURANT IN DEIRA, DUBAI

20141021_210141
Cheers to Al Ghurair Rayhaan and Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana for hosting a Press and Bloggers Gathering!

It has been eight months since I arrived in Dubai which only means, it has been eight months of being exposed to diversities in cultures, people, religion and yes, cuisine! Among the many dishes available and made authentic by local and foreign chefs in this cosmopolitan city, the Iranian or Persian cuisine is one of the most fascinating.  And best place to sample it? SHAYAN RESTAURANT in AL GHURAIR BY ROTANA in Deira, Dubai.

I was fortunately invited to attend a Press and Bloggers Gathering hosted by Shayan Restaurant, and even luckier to treat my discriminating palates to a succulent taste of Iranian cuisine.  The night was filled with new introduction. First time to meet famous and established Dubai-based bloggers and press people, first time to dine while listening to soothing music played on traditional string instrument called, Santoor, and first time for my taste buds to be introduced to Iranian menu beyond skewered kebabs.

With elegant and modern interiors, yet casual and friendly atmosphere, quick and attentive service, most of all, interestingly good Persian food, Shayan Restaurant easily earned a spot on my personal list, as one of the best dining places in this emirate.

What did we sample?

Cold Mezzah, Sabzi platter was served generously…

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SABZI PLATTER : Lettuce, cucumber, radish, spring onion, mint leaves, cherry tomato and feta cheese.

Dip it, dunk it onto :

ZEYTOON PARVARDEH- green olives, walnut dressing and pomegranate.

MASTO KHIYAR – yogurt, cucumber and raisins.

  
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ASH  E RESHTEH – Traditional Persian Soup with noodles, mint, onions and topped with whey.

As Hot Mezzeh, the following authentic Iranian dishes landed on our table…
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SALAD SHIRAZI on the left, and KASHK E BADEMJAN on the right. Tongue-tied? Fine. It’s tasteful anyway!

KASHK E BADEMJAN -fried eggplant mixed with special aged curd, seasoned with traditional spices.

MIRZA GHASEMI -grilled eggplant mixed with fried egg and tomato.

SALAD SHIRAZI -traditional salad, mixed with cucumber, onion, virgin olive oil and lime juice.

The main dishes consist of …

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JOOJEH KABAB BEDONE OSTOKHAN – skewer of marinated chicken on the bone with saffron sauce.

TIKKE MASTI -cuts of beef tenderloin marinated with yoghurt, saffron and Persian spices.

CHELO KABAB KUBIDEH -skewers of minced lamb, with Persian spices and grated onions.

KEBAB MEYGOO -skewers of marinated grilled tiger prawn.

Those skewered goodness were all must-taste! Well seasoned, fork-tender and delightful in every bite!
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GHEYMEH BADEMJAN -lamb stew prepared with lentils, tomatoes and fried eggplant.

If you’re a follower of this blog, you must know that I’m not fond of lamb dishes unless it’s tender and cooked perfectly right without leaving an after-taste. That Gheymeh Bademjan (exhale! such effort in pronouncing Iranian food!) doesn’t disappoint. No overpowering flavor. Seriously delicious!

Noticeably, the use of spices, particularly the very expensive, saffron was done in abundance! Shayan offers saffron dishes, saffron rice and even saffron-flavored drinks! Need I say more?

BAGHALI POLO- steamed rice with fava beans and dill and SAFFRON RICE.

 
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SHOLEH ZARD-rice pudding flavoured with fine saffron, pistachios, almond and cinnamon.

The dessert reminded me of white porridge or chocolate champorado which are a classic favorite back home!

 

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SANTOOR.

 

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IMG_7620
DUBAI BLOGGERS!

Interesting place, fascinating Persian cuisine, great company. Fun night!

Special thanks to Shayan Restaurant for the invitation!

SHAYAN RESTAURANT | 3rd floor of  Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana | Phone : +971 (0)4 293 3000 |

website : http://www.rotanatimes.com/alghurairrayhaanbyrotana/offers/9790




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