Marrakech 2017

Original Writing, travel

From the alleyways to the Atlas mountains, my trip to Marrakech was one of astounding beauty and culture. I was inexplicably lucky to have my parents take me to Morocco to celebrate my 21st birthday, and although it took off on a rocky start, it’s safe to say I had an amazing time absorbed in the culture and traditions of the city. My parents really outdid themselves with the choice of Riad and its location, as well as a perfect birthday dinner. I couldn’t have been happier.

On our first day in the city, we visited the captivating Secret Garden: it was beautifully tranquil, surrounding us with trees and plants of every kind. As you’re all probably well aware, I am no stranger to intense heat, and I absolutely loved the climate. It reached roughly 30 degrees by the time we arrived at the garden, so whilst my parents climbed up the tower, I sat in on the terrace overlooking the gardens and it was absolutely perfect. The gardens were kept in perfect, pristine condition with seats scattered across the grounds and quaint water features here and there. Did I mention the heat?

Unfortunately, as a result of relatively unmanaged asthma and weak lungs, I landed myself in hospital that same evening with an asthma attack, and spent the better part of that evening and the following day attached to oxygen tubes and a nebuliser. My dad was adamant we ought to leave back home for England so I could receive proper treatment, since my breathing was incredibly laboured but I refused to leave only 24 hours into our trip. With some IV steroids and 18 hours of oxygen tubes and nebuliser treatments, I recovered and discharged myself with albeit fragile lungs, over the moon to finally be able to breathe again. That night we ate in a picturesque Riad courtyard (a traditional, Moroccan house) relieved after the events of the previous night.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

On our third day in Morocco, we visited The Majorelle Botanical Garden. Walking around in 30 degree heat is no small feat, but the gardens were beautifully landscaped. It didn’t take us long to explore the whole place, plus there were no places to really sit down once we’d finished but other than that, it was a fantastic experience and made one forget where we were.

The fourth day brought us to the Atlas mountains, one of the adventures which really heightened our cultural exploration of the country. The air was fresh and cooler, with a perfect breeze and the views were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was a picture-perfect landscape of rolling snow-capped mountains amidst green hills, with small Berber villages dotted all over. Visiting the Berber villages really took my breath away; a 9000 year old heritage preserved within the mountains, where they live a life of complete simplicity. No one had phones, computers, or any electronic device and the children were blissfully happy playing with each other amongst the animals on the hillsides. The feeling of content was contagious despite their minimalistic style of living, and it saddens me that they rely solely on tourism to preserve this historic, authentic heritage. We visited a Berber household, and I cannot describe just how accommodating and hospitable they were. We were greeted with warm smiles, fresh bread and mint tea without any hesitation. What struck me the most was seeing young, perhaps six-year olds, begging for money for to buy essentials since they only relied on tourism to get by, and the look of sheer pleasure and happiness on the ladies’ faces when we gave them money made my heart hurt. I urge as many of you as possible to visit the Berber villages if you travel to Morocco – it puts things into perspective and makes one realise the luxuries and privileges we, in the West, take for granted.

(A quick note – buying gifts from the Berber community itself is much more beneficial for their livelihood than in stalls and markets in the alleyways in Marrakech. Of course there is plenty of choice in the alleyways and it’s an enriching experience but the Berber communities make all their gifts by hand, from carpets to plates to jewellery. Buying from the communities will help preserve their heritage and support the families.)

We explored the city on our fifth day, wandering through the markets and alleyways and venturing into the square. There’s quite an exciting buzz in the square, whether it be during the day or at night, with countless events taking place across the area. I personally, however, do not approve of the treatment of animals in the square, where monkeys were kept on chains for entertainment for the tourists. Other than that, it was rich in culture and a fantastic visit. We travelled by horse-drawn carriage across the city, passing the old and new town. I highly recommend it as it’s a brilliant way to see the sights of Marrakech without trekking in the humid climate. The only downside is to be weary of the pollution, especially if you have asthma or a lung condition: the majority of Moroccans travel on motorbikes and travelling on a carriage will result in the inhalation of these fumes.

The final day took us through the alleyways one last time and we immersed ourselves in the art of Marrakech, from hand-painted plates to canvas paintings. I was beyond excited that my dad bought me a canvas – the artists capture the essence of Moroccan culture and landscape perfectly in their choice of colours.

It was with a heavy heart that we left Marrakech and it’s intertwining of Eastern values with Western influence. The people were so accommodating and polite, always looking to help us in any way they could and offering us the best bargains as well as little gifts and presents along the alleyways. The only hiccup was the pollution, as it does hang heavy in the air, but I’d love to explore more of the new and old towns if (or when!) I return. A special thank you to Patrick and Caroline at Les Trois Palmiers El Bacha Riad for taking such great care of us, and to their staff for their overwhelming hospitality and kindness, always ensuring we were happy and well looked after. I’ve never come across such lovely people.

A x

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Original Writing

Ideally, we ought to show love for our mothers every single day of the year. Sometimes, we forgot to show them just how much they mean to us.

This past year has been horrendous for me and one of only reasons I survived 2015 was thanks to my mother’s relentless encouragement, positivity and belief in me to make it through. It’s something I guess I just took for granted but never should; thanks to her, I have the strength to persevere and fight every obstacle that comes my way.

They say a mother’s love is like nothing else on this planet. But a child’s love for their mother is also incomparable. I thank God for giving me a mother as bright and loving as her; presents and a card don’t really to justice for what mothers really deserve in life.

Happy mother’s day, mum. And thank you, for everything. Nothing you’ve done for me has gone unnoticed.

Anisah x

ITALY 2014

travel

This year, I went to Italy for a week with my family, and we decided to visit the Amalfi Coast. I am fortunate enough to have travelled a fair bit in my life, and at 18 I have experienced some amazing holidays but honestly, nothing could compare to the beauty of the Southern Coast of Italy. The serenity of the coast is something I have never experienced before, and the views were one of a kind, so I have decided to share with you some of the incredible places I visited whilst we were there!

1. Driving through the mountains when we arrived. It was a 2 hour drive from Naples to the Coast, and the scenery was unforgettable.

10570194_305469616280713_1739551395_n

Through the mountains

2. One of the greatest hidden treasures of Amalfi is the secret woodland we stumbled across (by accident) when we were exploring the outskirts of our town. It had the feeling of being almost untouched by man whilst nature was thriving. We also came across a hidden and rather precarious looking ruin which led us on further. Unfortunately we didn’t proceed into the ruin as my father was concerned the ruin may collapse on us.

10693393_508320009312863_1594006402_n

Stepping into Narnia – through Italy

10549662_1588898124670552_1025691065_n

Top left and right: The hidden ruins in the middle of a secluded woodland. Bottom left and right: the view from the harbour by our hotel

3. Positano and Capri. Two of the most picturesque places we visited. Capri is a small Island off the coast, and after taking a chair lift 1932 feet up the mountain (it was quite literally a chair on wire), we were awarded with stunning views. Although it was busier and filled with more tourists than other parts of Italy, the mountain gave us a spectacular view of a neverending sea and an intense feeling of serenity and calm. We arrived to Positano by boat, and as soon as we neared the harbour, the first thought that came to mind was that it was a postcard-perfect town. The sea was a mix of deep and light turqoise, with houses embedded within the rolling mountains surrounding us wherever we turned.

10593296_540537246072189_67902356_n

Posetano and Capri

 

4. Climbing up countless mountains. Quite a few of the people who visited Amalfi, and the residents, spent their time on the beach fronts or in the sea and there were very few who risked getting sunburnt by climbing up these steep path. This meant is was very quiet at the top, and the peaceful atmosphere allowed us to appreciate the view even more.

10554189_252870028255935_739967015_n

Blissful calm; at one with the mountains.

 

5. Spending the evening in the town centres. One of the best things about Amalfi for me was the night life. Everyone came out in the evenings, enjoyed a drink at around 5pm then ate dinner at around 10pm. Watching the sun set in the distance whilst sitting at the top of the stairs on a cathedral eating Italian ice cream was one of the highlights of our holiday. The evening air was warm, not too cool as to be uncomfortable, and the town would be buzzing with activity and the smell of tobacco. Every night spent in Italy was a perfect way to end such an incredible day, and I look forward to going back there again.

10554086_1457223394541467_1106535253_n

The nights were just as mesmerising as the days. Top: sunset by our harbour. Bottom left: Sitting on the cathedral steps at midnight. Bottom right: amazing hotel room, inspired by Hollywood legends.