Category Archives: Travel

Trip to Montenegro viewed from the water

We charter boats in Turkey every other year with our group of friends we refer to ourselves as The Dudes. This year we had the charter broker bring the boat up to Montenegro with the thought that we would cruise the waters of Croatia. We flew into Dubrovnik and had a car pick us up to drive us to our hotel in village of Tivat, Montenegro where we picked up our boat. We spent the first night at The Regent Porto Montenegro, a beautiful new resort with a huge marina and shopping village. The hotel has several pools, spa and the waterfront has many fun restaurants to choose from. We had dinner next to the hotel at a good Lebenese restaurant, BYBLOS, everything we ordered was fresh and beautifully presented and not expensive. 

The next day we had some shopping in the local village and sat by the pool until we could get on our boat at 4pm.  

Once we got settled onboard our captain told us he was not given permits to go to Croatia so we would only cruise Montenegro. There are often things that are out of your control and we had to just go with the change of itinerary and enjoy the next adventure. 

The airline had lost our luggage on the flight over a few days before so we were already wearing the few things we found in Tivat at little shops. The water in this area is not as warm as past cruises and we expected a few big rain storms so we got our books out and poured our first glasses of wine. The crew was great and the chef did an amazing job. The first night we anchored out not far from  Tivat. The next day we cruised along the shore going south to a small bay and village of BIGOVA. We went to shore took a hike and got caught in a big thunderstorm.  When we returned to the boat the chef had prepared one of our many course meals of fresh vegetable salads, fish and homemade bread.The next morning we went south to BUDVA the most popular tourist town in Montenegro. We made lunch reservations at the AMAN resort at SVETI STEFAN. This resort is two separate properties one on the pink sand beach and one on the small island that they have totally redone. We are on the top of the island then took the grand tour so we all marked on our notes to come back and stay. We spent the night anchored in the bay and the next morning we to shore in BUDVA. The old walled city has been well preserved, but of course the narrow streets are full of tourist shops and little restaurants. The newer area outside the old city has long beaches full of people sunning themselves and the beaches are lined with restaurants. We went back to the boat after a few hours and had the best lunch in town served by out great staff. 

We cruised north again to the bay of Morintsley this area has a great amount of history from years of war and the high mountains coming down to the water makes for dramatic scenery. We spent most of the next day n the lovely village of KOTOR. Carl and I hiked to the top of Castel St. John Illyrian Fort, it was 11,685 steps according to our watch counter. When we got back into town we met the rest of the group at a wonderful waterfront restaurant Galion. Montenegro is famous for the mussels they raise in many mussel farms. We ordered them and they did not disappoint. A great day from start to finish. Later some of the group decided to try out the water sports and a swim, but the water was very cold. 

The next day we took a transfer to Dubrovnik for our flight out to Amsterdam for the night before we headed home. We stayed at the Sheraton Amsterdam airport hotel. It is connected to the airport so it is easy to board the flight in the morning. The hotel has a good restaurant, so if you get in late and do not want to go into the city it is a good choice. 

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First trip to Berlin and know we will return.

On September 12th we arrived for our first time in Berlin and all our expectations we met. We checked  into Hotel de Rome on the square looking out over the memorial created when thousands of books were burned. Now you can look down through a small glass window to a room filled with white empty book shelves to commemorate the event. The hotel is a great location for walking through what was East Berlin. The breakfast was beautifully presented each morning and the service was top notch.

The first day we wandered the area and got our barring. We had an early lunch at “Alpenstuech” known for their SCHNITZEL. The portions are very large so perfect to share. It was a short cab ride but worth the trip. Make reservations at info@alpnstueck.de. 

The next morning our guide Caroline, stummeline@web,de,  met us at the hotel for a walking tour. We headed to the area know as Museum Island and since it was a light morning rain it was a good time to see the museums, starting with the German history museum, the Pergamon museum, and a quick tour of the Egyptian museum. Then we started walking to understand the areas in the East and how the people lived during and after the war when the wall was built. We went toone of the many inside courtyards that have now tuned into shops and restaurants. Carl wears bow ties and we went to the famous shop called “Auebach” galleria and manufacturer, a dream shop for ties and crazy socks.

Lunch was at the KAUTINE a small lunch spot on the grounds of the Arcitecture school,  Joachimstrabe, excellent soup and small salads.  From there we wandered through the amazing Berlin Cathedral before returning to the hotel, my app said we covered 4.7 miles.. That night we had a dinner to remember at an amazing restaurant,  PAULY SAAL. +49 30 3300 6070. 

Pictured above a couple of the dishes served, it is a prix fix menu, but the choices are many and not that large. The pea shells were a gift from the kitchen filled with small sweetbreads next to a mini croutons.  Be sure to make reservations and enjoy every bite.

The next day Caroline organized a car and driver so we could get a better idea of the difference of the East and West areas of Berlin. We cruised past and around the Bromdenburg Gate, Check Point Charlie and the Jewish Holocaust Memorial which is a full block of granite blocks etched with names of those who lost their lives. There is a section of the wall still standing along the river so you can walk along and feel how it must have been for the people of Berlin. There is so much history you really need more than just a couple of days.

Standing in front of the piece of the wall still topped with barb wire, and the new apartment building behind.

Our last night in town and we had dinner at Le Petit Royal, owned by the same guy as Pauly Saal. Very nice simple menu, casual dining at its best. We really wanted to go to Bandol sur Mer, but not enough nights, next time. 

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A few days in France, before our barge trip and Lyon after

We arrived in Paris a few days before boarding the barge, Nenuphar. Since we only had a couple of days we needed to walk fast. We checked into the Hotel Regina, 2 place des Pyramides, across the street from the Louvre. This was the first time we stayed at this hotel and it was a great experience. 

After checking in we headed out to walk along the river toward the French quarter with a plan to have lunch at an old favorite, ALLARD, 4 Ave St. Andre des Arts. We started with a lovely pate then shared a local specialty, frog legs in garlic butter and fresh local strawberries.  A little shopping and wander through the book stalls open along the river bank. Back to the hotel for a rest before dinner at a great bistro, L’Ami Jean C’Est. We walked back to the hotel and with the full moon above and the Eiffel Tower in the background it was a lovely first day in Paris.The next day we gathered for a walk through the Morais heading to the market by Faubourg and Denis. The food stalls were filled with large white asparagus spears, fresh local berries and stacks of small melons. Our appetites were peaked so we started walking through the neighborhood looking for a restaurant  for lunch, we chose “Le Square Frousseau” 1 Ave Antoine Vollon, a busy bistro with plenty of sidewalk seating.

We then headed to the Picasso museum  we had not been there since they had reopened after a remodel. Dinner was at a fun casual bistro ( d’Chez Eux ) they wheel over a great antipasti trolley and created huge platters for us to share. Several people shared  the amazing roast chicken, others had the fish of the day or lamb chops. The evening walk back to the hotel can take your breath away, Paris at its best in the evening. It was a long stroll, but after so much good food we needed it. Next day we only had a couple of hours before we left for the barge so a casual walk through the gardens and lunch at a great new restaurant “52” at Faubourg Saint Denis, after you enter the street through the huge arch you will arrive on the busy street loaded with restaurants and small food shops.  White asparagus at 52 was great!!!

 After a week on the barge Carl and I headed to LYON for city life. We checked into a very nice hotel, Hotel Carlton, newly updated with a great staff. The hotel is located on the small island just across the river from the old part. Lyon is famous for all their great restaurants and it did not disappoint.  After wandering the streets for several hours and a quick nap we headed to dinner. We had been eating French food for a week and chose a pizza/pasta restaurant close to the hotel, CASA NOBILE. This was not gourmet but go for the pizza and their great antipasti of fresh veggies and local meats. 

The next morning we walked to the area about 10 blocks from the hotel in the newer part of LYON. The food halls, LES HALLES OF PAUL BOCUSE.  There are over 100 food stalls with everything from pastry to one of our favorite stops at Bellota, serving perfectly sliced Spanish ham and Spanish wines.  This is a must see place if you get to Lyon. We then ventured back to the old section of the city and took the funicular to the top of the look out and walk through the Notre Dame basilica at the top. We walked back down and wandered along the RUE MERCIERE where we stopped for lunch at a cafe and shared mussels and fries. This is a great walking stree since there are no cars and plenty of ice cream shops.

That evening, since it was out last night in Lyon we took a cab back to the top of the lookout for dinner at CHRISTIAN TETEDOIE. if you go ask for a seat next to the huge windows overlooking all of Lyon.  The staff was very attentive and from the start with several amuse bouche, helping us work through the huge wine list and deciding if we wanted to choose the multi course meals or alacarte. I had a lobster starter and the braised rabbit, Carl had the pidgeon.  The next day we took the fast train back to Paris and stayed at the Sheraton airport hotel.  For dinner we took the train into town for a wonderful dinner at Chez Julien, 0142783164, make reservations and enjoy sitting outside in the courtyard. 

Our friend Joanne Weir gave us two restaurants that we have to try on our next visit, SEPTIME AND CLOVE CLUB,  until we return only good memories remain. 

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Barge trip in France with Friends

Carl and I have shared barge trips with friends before, but each trip brings new discovery. We gathered 10 friends months in advance to share a week long trip on the FRENCH COUNTRY WATERWAYS barge Nenuphar. We have cruised with other companies before, but nothing comes close to the experience offered by this company. 

A little about our boat:    We had 6 large king size bedded rooms ensuite. The barge is very spacious with a nice outside deck where you will find your 12 lovely bikes stored, ready for your morning ride. The 6 crew members ar always ready to make sure your every wish is taken care of. Our amazing chef, Kim, prepared 3 wonderful meals using all the fresh ingredients purchased each day in the local villages. 

We were met at a wonderful hotel in Paris, Hotel Regina, 2, place des Pyrqmides, across from the Louvre. The barge company offered us a special rate so it made the pick up very easy.  On Sunday early afternoon we were greeted by our guide and driver for the week, Charlie, with a large bus ready for the trip to our barge moored in the village of TANLAY.  We settled in, had a welcome dinner and got the details of our week ahead. We were cruising the Canal de Bourgogne, while the boat heads to the first in a series of 36 locks we got on our helmets and headed out along the path on our bikes. After lunch while the barge makes its way through the locks Charlie takes us to visit a great winery and we have our first introduction to Chablis wine. The wine maker explains the difference between Grand Cru and Premier Cru Chablis, offering tastings of both. Later over dinner we will share our first of many bottles of French Chablis and other regional wines. While we were learning about the wine and how the vineyards differ the barge was on its journey to the village of LEZINNES where we would moor for the evening. 

The next morning some of us were up early for a hot air balloon ride across the fields while the sun was rising. The lovely quiet ride ended after about and hour we had a smooth landing, after a champagne toast we were back at the barge in time for breakfast.  Charlie was ready to take us to the village of Ancy-le Franc, we had time to wander this old village and learn about its history and visit the church that is the center of  every town.  Of course we were back at the barge in time for another great lunch and a bike ride to the medieval capital of lower Burgundy, AUXERRE. 

It was now our third day on the barge and we are settled into the leisurely pace of canal living. Some of us walk from one of the lock houses to the next waiting for the barge to pick us up others take off on their morning bike ride to explore small villages along the way.  Then before lunch Charlie takes us on a walking tour to explore the village of NOYERS looking in the shops for our next treasure or sharing a cup of coffee in a local shop.  Later in the afternoon some of us go to CHATEAU OF ANCY-Le-FRANC, an amazing chateau owned by an American who is in the process of rebuilding the many gardens and restoring the chateau.  The boat will spend the night in the village of RAVIERES.

The next morning we went to visit an 18th century forge, FORGES de BUFFON. This area was a large producer of steel during the 18 hundreds because of the location next to 2 rivers and the canal there was water for power and easy access to shipping to Paris and other parts of France. The barge continued through the locks docking at MONTBARD for the evening. We had the opportunity to enjoy dinner at the famous 2 star restaurant, LE RELAIS BERNARD LOISEAU in Saulieu. This lovely hotel and restaurant was about 45 minutes from MONTBARD, but Charlie was a great driver and after 4 hours of eating and drinking good wine we arrived back safe at the barge. 

  • Friday morning we were up early to go to the farmers market in Montbard to buy a few special things we wanted to have chef Kim prepare. We bought the sweet Tuscan melons that we never have in Seattle and huge white asparagus which Kim did a great job serving for lunch. We got on our bikes to make up for all the local pastry, cheeses and wines we had been eating, time to count steps. We met the barge several locks later and cruised to VANAREY-Les-LAUMES.  After our amazing lunch and the required afternoon cheese course Charlie took us to visit ABBAYE de FONTENAY.  That evening was a lovely captains dinner since we would all be going our separate ways in the morning. 

The story would not be complete with out mentioning that each day after lunch we were served 3 different cheeses and the same following our amazing 3 course dinner with simple green salad. The introduction to all these cheeses was a wonderful education,  some that we knew and other that we had never tried, but look forward to finding at a local cheese shop later. I have to add a couple of my favorite cheeses were Fleur de Marquis, Brillat Savarin and a lovely Bleu de Causse, but with 36 cheeses served in a week it was hard to remember the wonderful flavors of each. 

We can not say enough good about a week spent in slow motion cruising along the French Country side. French Country Waterway has several beautiful barges to choose from, whether you want to gather several couple or just join others go to their web site or call Effie at 1-800-222-1236 and they will send you a brochure.

Thank you to the great staff and all our friends for sharing a very special week. Renee and Carl

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Exploring Buenos Aires

Every year Carl heads to Argentina for a week of guy bonding and fishing. This year on a quick change of plans from visiting Brazil,  my friend, Yu Sian and I had to switch to a visit to Buenos Aires which crossed over two days with Carl.

We all arrive in BA in the early morning and proceeded to The Alvear Palace Hotel  on Alvear Street. The hotel is the old grand Dame of famous hotels. They had rooms ready for us so we got unpacked and ready to head out. When the other fishing guys arrived we walked 2 blocks to Fervor Restaurant. Fervor is a white table cloth restaurant like when working people use to lunch. They serve a couple of fish choices and meat of a every kind, shishka bobs with 3 different types of meat. We had a fried cheese to start with a side of roasted red peppers drizzled with just the right amount of olive oil.and of course a nice bottle of wine.

The men went back to the hotel and we headed out to tour the famous cemetery where Evita is buried. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for amazing ice cream at Volta across the park from the cemetery.  We needed a rest to get ready for the big steak dinner. The men wanted to have the big steaks that Argentina is famous for, so off we went to Don Julio, donjulio.com.ar, the steaks are big enough to share along with a wonderful plate of heirloom tomatoes. When you do not have a reservation for dinner until after 8:30pm it is hard to go to bed at 1 am.

We went to the Soho area the next morning to walk, explore, and shop, this area is a young energized group of streets still in transition. There were fun restaurants and stores of every kind. One thing you realize is the trend that fringe and platform shoes are in, covered with a poncho of some kind. After wandering the streets and a stop for coffee it was already time for lunch. We grabbed a cab and headed across town to The San Telmo area and “La Brigada” the meat centric restaurant famous for all the soccer memoribilia. The walls and even the ceiling are covered with photos and signed jerseys. The servers all love to cut your meat with a spoon to show how tender their meat is. We shared a beet salad, octopus starter, filet with a blood sausage side. We had no room for dessert but watch others around us share wonderful looking dishes.

We had to do a little shopping before going back to the hotel for a well deserved rest. First stop was for a pair of lizard shoes from Rossi and Caruso, they have several stores in the city and this one is behind our hotel so an easy stop. The next stop was “Arandu”, Ayacucho 1920 street. This store is 3 floors of beautiful leather goods, polo clothes and paraphernalia for the sport, old rugs and saddles.  Worth the visit.

If you want a light lunch there is a very good local empanadas restaurant behind the hotel called, El Sanjuanino. This is a funky place with $2.00 empanadas while you sit in old booths and drink a beer.

Dinner was a change of pace with reservations at a small French restaurant called “Roux”, Pena 2300,  Mrebaudino@rouxrest.com. The place seats about 36 guests upstairs with a small private room downstairs. The menu is simple, but every dish is cooked to perfection.  I had the roast goat, one of the other guests had the pork belly and someone had the duck breast. We had a excellent waitress,she spoke perfect English that helped us order the sides and of course a couple of desserts to share. Love the dulce de leche! This restaurant has 2 seating so you can come at  8:30 or 10:30pm but be sure to make reservations this is a great choice for lunch or dinner.

Each day we would just start walking and explore each unique area of Buenos Aires. You can take the yellow tour bus that allows you to get off anytime wander the area and then catch the next bus 15 minutes later, you can use the pass for 24 hours.  We toured the Latin American art, MALBA, then walked on to the Japanese Gardens, not worth the visit.

Dinner this evening is at “Tegui”, Costa Rica 5852, behind the plain graffiti painted door. I love the feeling of this space from the moment you enter the  door you are handed a glass of champagne and taken to your table. The kitchen is in the back of the space and the open concept allows you to watch the magic take place. The 10 courses offer all the food groups, starting with tomatoe, scallop, sweetbreads, veal cheeks, and several other courses before the fresh cherries and ending with chocolate 4 ways. We did not do the pairing of wine with each course, but ordered a couple of glasses of wine for the diverse meal.

We really became tourists when we took the yellow bus and got off at the El Boco area with the bright painted houses and buildings. There are several antique stores, dancers doing the Tango  with music blasting in the street.

 We jumped back on the next bus and rode to the  area where the Sunday Antique fair was in full swing, in San Pedro Telmo area, a must do on any Sunday.  We headed back to the hotel for a well deserved rest, since we had reservations at Faena hotel for the fun Tango show and dinner, expensive, but well  done.

After a busy week-end we took it easy the next day with a simple tour of the Opera house, wish we could he seen music on the stage or a ballet. If you are there during the season be sure to get tickets anything you see will be memorible.

Dinner was at a Peruvian  fusion restaurant back in the Palermo area. Osaka, Soler 5608, was a nice space with a good bar and open sushi counter. The menu was huge and trying to make a choice was difficult so our waiter helped us order. It was not one of our better meals, but the ceviche tasting was interesting.

It was our last day so we wanted to visit a couple of places on our list. The first was a kitchen store called Enseres, El Salvador 5986, a small space with  interesting tools and aprons. You have to ring the bell by the front door to enter. Then we walked 2 blocks to  a great new spot called La Mar, El Salvador  5986. This restaurant is part of a chain with several franchise owners around the world. The menu is also a Peruvian fusion concept, but much less expensive than the other concept. We met the owner Milias Rosenberg, he is young and has great energy for this beautiful restaurant. Eating lunch outside could not have been better. We shared several dishes, but the best was dessert, a suggestion of Milias, CACHANGA!!  Fresh fruit on top of a crisp is so good but, be sure to plan on sharing.

There is a new hotel in the neighborhood worth checking out. Casasur, Costa Rica 6032, this boutique hotel has a nice restaurant in the lobby and looked to have fun restaurant in the adjoining lobby, called “6”. This area is up and coming and will be a fun place to stay.

Go to Buenos Aires, it is a city with great energy!

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Five days of skiing in the Aspen area

Since we spend most of our skiing days in Sun Valley for a change of pace we venture out to a new area with our ski group once a year. Our goal is to ski every other year in Europe and on the off year head to a U.S. Area. This year we decided to ski in the Aspen area, Snowmass and The highlands. We checked into The Little Nell Hotel, small boutique hotel sitting at the base of Aspen Mountain. 

  The rooms are lovely and many of them overlook the ski hill. We rented skies next door to the hotel and the guys that run the ski room at the hotel take care of your equipment each morning and afternoon after you finish skiing. The hotel has a great staff that will take care of your every need. There is a nice pool and jacuzzi along its a full service spa in the hotel. 

The village is full of high end shops and restaurants to suit everyone, we chose to have dinner at The Kitchen—970-300-4525. The feeling  of the open space is inviting, with the large open kitchen front and forward. The huge cooler as you enter holds massive pieces of prime beef, something they pride themselves in serving. Large stack of pink salt blocks are on the counter ready to be used to cook the beef or buffalo on and then to serve the customer. We shared several starters, including the deviled eggs with confit duck tongues garnish, the whole cauliflower is amazing.  Many of the dishes had a Moroccan flavor, including the tagine serve in the original vessel seen in Moroccan cuisine. Be sure to try the apple pie served in a small cast iron pan with the lattice crust.

The next morning the hotel car drove us to Snowmass, about 25 minute drive. This is a large spread out area with well groomed runs many different lifts and assorted terrain for all abilities. We made reservations at Gwyn’s, a restaurant on the mountain for lunch at 1:30. Gwynshighalpine@gmail.com. This restaurant has two sections and we chose the side with a seated dining and nice menu. The portions are large so it is great to share the salads and mains, desserts too.

That night we went to a Japanese restaurant called “Matsushia” a concept similar to a small Nobu type menu. We shared several things, but love the miso soup with clams to start and they did a good job on the tempura. Everything is an easy walk from the hotels, this was close to the famous Hotel Jerome.

The next day we went back to Snowmass and had lunch at another place on the mountain called “Sam’s” a true BBQ joint, once again the portions were huge, loved the sweet potato fries and baby back ribs with several BBQ sauces to try.

I had an excellent massage in the hotel after a little shopping in the village. It is always fun to buy new ski clothes in Aspen especially at a shop called Gorsuch. For dinner we went to an old standby called Pinon, it has been in Aspen for 26 years. They offer beautiful American fare, nice lamb chops, a couple of fish selections done to perfection. The noise level is low and the service and wine list are top.

The next day we went to The Highlands, about a 15 minute drive. This is a smaller mountain with steeper runs that flow easily down the mountain to the small village below.  For those that want a bigger challenge you can hike the Highland Bowl. You purchase a strap to attach your skies to your back and start your hour long hike up the steep snow steps to the edge of the bowl, put your skies back on and head down, best if the sun is shining and the winds are low. They had a great kids program in full swing with many smaller lifts and easy access for kids of all ages.  

We made reservations on the mountain at a crazy place called Cloud 9,that is made famous for the rough and wild parties that happen on the deck most afternoons when the sun is shining and the champagne is flowing. They have two settings one at noon and one at 2pm. They offer a set menu with 5 main course selections. I chose the fondue and it was terrible, taste like it was made from a powder mix and $50 at that.

We were invited to a friends place for a buffet dinner, we brought the wine, a nice break.

The last day we skied Aspen Mountain again, shared lunch at the bottom in the Ajax cafe, sitting in the sun and watching the people ski down to the gondola. Then it was time to fly back to Sun Valley and put our skies away for the season.

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Cooking adventure in Morocco with Joanne Weir

When someone asks me to join them in Morocco to cook and explore I find that I can never say no. Last spring the amazing chef, cookbook author and tv personality, JOANNE WEIR,  www.joanneweir.com, suggested I join her group in Morocco for a week. That is how it all began. 

On Monday 10/21/15 I arrived at the beautiful compound in Marrakech called Jnane Tamsna, owned by Meryanne Louin-Martin and her husband Gary. Jnane Tamsna, http://www.jnanetamsna.com, is located about 15 minutes outside of the main city of Marrakech, our home of the next week. This amazing walled garden is the perfect place to return to each day after the hectic noises and sights of the medina. Monday night we gathered in the main building to meet the rest of the guests. This building is like a small hotel plus there are 2 houses on the grounds a total of 25 unique bedrooms, plus 5 large swimming pools.  

 Joanne energizes her group of 18 guests that would spend their mornings cooking in the beautiful outdoor classroom and then sit down to lunch in the garden to enjoy the dishes we created . Joanne  gave each of us a packet of recipes and beautiful new aprons and began to tell us all the exciting adventures we would experience in the next week.

Tuesday morning we cooked our first tagines, these were small personal tagines that we would enjoy for lunch.  

 Half of us did a lamb tagine with preserved lemons and the others made chicken with dried fruit. Each tagine was set on a brazier for an hour while we wandered into the garden where tables had been set up for our lunch. We each got our personal tagine placed in front of us along with lovely salad and of course a glass of local rose. After our lunch a few of us went to Maison de Zoe to order beautiful linens and  cotton bathrobes, 366 zone industrelle de Sidi Ghanem. Zoe also has a small boutique in  La Mamounia Hotel. 

Each morning chef Bahija and Chef Joanne Weir were ready with our list of recipes and all the ingredients we needed to prepare our dishes for our lunch. Everyone gathered with knives in hand cooking together with only a break for our morning tea to be served.  

 After another beautiful lunch we would venture out into the markets to explore and of course shop for our individual treasures.  We were met by our amazing guide ( ABOUL, mohmoudtours@yahoo.fr ) his card says expert on shopping, shipping and history of the country. If you want the best guide in Merrakech ABOUL is the one to contact, cell 00212 (0) 661 173 971, in advance. He helped us bargain for great prices, he took the group that wanted carpets to a warehouse with an amazing selection showing the patience few men have. 

For lunch in the medina look at “La Table du Palais” with a bountiful garden behind it walls. Love the Caftan store next door, “Maison Du Caftan, 65 Rue Sisi El Yamani.” Something for everyone and great prices and quick alterations if something did not quite fit. After crazy shopping, buying spices, saffron and argane oil we headed back to change for dinner. 

Joanne arranged for dinner atan all woman run restaurant called “Al Fassia” famous for its roasted lamb shoulder. You start with 12 small plates of different salads and dips  

 then when the roasted meat arrives you are sure you will never finish the whole plate, but it seems to disappear. Make reservations, 002120 524383839, M. Fatiha will take great care of you. 

The next day ABOUL took everyone to an amazing upscale shop “AYA’s  11 Bis, Derb Jdid Bab, next door to restaurant Tanjia.  

 This is the place to buy top quality Moroccan style clothing, jackets, dresses and accessories. After all the shopping we headed to “El Fenn” at sunset for drinks on the roof, http://www.el-Fenn.com, worth the stop.  We then walked to dinner at “La Patisserier”, I would like it better for lunch since the view over the Medina from the roof would be wonderful. 

Friday we did not cook instead we went to the wonderful spice gardens called “Nectarome”. Nectarome is about and hour out side of Merrakech toward the Atlas Mountains. Interesting place that has developed over the past 6 years and now is selling their products at retail is several locations, Jnane Tamsna had the shampoo in the showers. After our lunch in their garden several of us enjoyed a 20 minute foot soak in their unique sunken footbaths with special salts. I fell asleep on the way home I was so relaxed.  

 The other gardens that we visited when back in town was “Jardin Majorelle, the gardens of Yves Saint Laurent where his personal home is.

The next day we made a quick trip to “Galerie des Tanneuns” I bought a beautiful blue suede shirt and several wallets for gifts. Their prices are great and if they don’t have your size they are happy to make it for you. 

Before dinner we went to La Mamounia for a drink in the garden, be prepared the martini was 19 Euro, but it is beautiful and worth the experience. Dinner that night was at a small restaurant called Nomad, back in the Medina. I would suggest it for lunch, trying to wander through the maze of alley ways at night is difficult. I had a simple piece of fresh fish, a nice change from all the tagines we had been eating. 

We spent our last day saying good bye to Marrakech, some people doing one last trip to the Souke for those little gifts to take back home. Some of the group just sat by the pool for the last bit of sun. 

The last evening we were invited for a magical dinner in the gardens surrounded by the many olive and citrus trees. 

   Everyone dressed in white and Meryanne and Gary opened their lovely home for cocktails before Joanne lead us through the garden to a long table surrounded by hundreds of candles. Music was  being played from under the trees by local musicians,  

 it is hard to say good bye to Marrakech especially as we sat under the stars and listened to the sounds of the night. 

Thank you Joanne of creating memories in one week we will all have with us for a lifetime.

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