Where to travel Spring 2018? There is a whole big wide world to explore! My top 3 new discoveries for 2017 were Morocco, Russia and Jordan.  I love them so much, I’m to going  back in this year!  All 3 are not expensive countries to stay in and travel around.  You won’t feel as if you are a walking ATM machine!

  • Not Expensive
  • Unique
  • Friendly welcoming people

MOROCCO:

First up is Morocco.  Whatever you like be it Desert, beautiful beaches or fabulous old towns it is in Morocco.  One of the best things about this country is that it retains its identity.  It is still very different from anywhere else and choc full of history.

MARRAKESH:

Friends said to me ‘Oh you won’t like it, its dirty, crowded and you are hassled to buy things all the time”.  I stupidly listened and avoided Morocco for years!  Well, I was enchanted by Morocco and its people from the minute I stepped off the plane.  Marrakesh was a delight.  The first trip in February I stayed in Palmeyria about 20 minutes out of town and the second time in the old Madena in a traditional Riad.  I would recommend both.  More about Marrakesh here: http://luxurytraveldiva.com/magical-marrakesh     http://luxurytraveldiva.com/diva-road-trip

My first trip was so good, I went back a few weeks later on a girls road trip.  More about that in my blog.

Morocco is perfectly safe with good roads and careful drivers.  We hired a car and enjoyed the trip, apart from one speeding ticket all went well.  Beware, they are very hot on speeding!

AGADIR:

Stopped for lunch and it is a typical beach resort mostly dating from the ’70’s and ’80’s.  About 30 minutes north of Agadir we stayed at   Paradis Plage    on the most beautiful beach, perfect for surfers.  Read about it here:

ESSOUIRA:

Possibly my favourite place.  It can be windy but we we’re very lucky and experienced lovely sunny days without any wind in March.  A stay in a Riad in the old town was a great experience. Exploring the souks, restaurants and cafe’s I soon felt like a local.

Wherever you go in Morocco everyone is so kind and friendly, we did not meet one unfriendly person.

ATLAS MOUNTAINS:

PHOTO: Hike in The Atlas Mountains

Then it was off the the mountains! I would like to spend another couple of days hiking in the mountains, our trip was short but perfect.  Even if we did manage to get lost finding the excellent Kasbah Bab Ourika    Read about it here.

My next country to visit in 2018 is:

RUSSIA:

Where to travel 2018? An instant love affair with Russia! St Petersburg is an enormous, majestic city with beautiful museums, palaces, restaurants and cafes with very friendly and beautiful people as well.  Morocco and Russia have more in common than friendly people, they have both retained their individual identity and you will be in no doubt that you are in Russia.  Globalisation has homogenised so many other places in the world.

ST PETERSBURG

PHOTO: Church of the Spilt Blood, St Petersburg

Read my blog about it here:  luxury travel diva     Stay on the main street running through the city, Nevsky Propsect at the Corinthia Hotel, which was a wonderful choice and perfectly located right where you will want to be!  I stayed at Corinthia Hotel

PHOTO: The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Explore the museums, galleries, walk around this beautiful city a be captivated.  How about a night at the Russian Ballet? A traditional Russian restaurant? There is a lot to do! I liked it so much I am returning to visit Moscow.

PHOTO: River Neva in St Petersburg, Russia

JORDAN:

PHOTO: The Dead Sea, Jordan

Where to travel 2018?  Last but not least, JORDAN! Again, I had such a great time, I went back in January.  Situated in The Middle East sandwiched between Syria, Israel, Egypt Jordan is a surprisingly peaceful country.  The question I am asked most frequently : “Is it safe”.  I felt perfectly safe at all times, wandered around alone all over the country and loved the friendly and hospitable Jordanian people.

Read my blogs here:  Luxury Travel Diva      Stay at the wonderful Movenpick Hotels, they are excellent.  http://www.movenpick.com.Travel from Amman to The Dead Sea and then float on the healing waters enriched with minerals, 400 metres below sea level at the lowest point on earth.

PHOTO: Sunset over The Dead Sea, Jordan

Then travel to Petra and enjoy The Pink City, one of the 7 wonders of the world.  Below is the world famous Treasury built in 200 AD by the Nabatean people, explore the old trading route and walk through time! Stay at The Movenpick Hotel Petra

PHOTO: The Treasury, Petra, Jordan

Further south enjoy the Desert of Wadi Rum and then Aqaba, on the Red Sea perfect for diving and relaxing.  I will explore these on my next trip!

Let’s hope for a fabulous 2018 full of exciting adventures.  Write and tell me if you go to any of my suggestions! Spring 2018 – How about Morocco, Russia and Jordan!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Kasbah Bab Ourika

What a way to end my Diva Road Trip around Morocco! I loved a short stay at Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Atlas Mountains, overlooking the Ourika Valley and will be back.  We drove from Essaouira to the Kasbah enjoying the sights and sounds of rural Morocco along the way.

The Kasbah has a magical setting in breathtaking mountain scenery.  It is a joy to relax, unwind and breath in the mountain air.  The perfect retreat after a hectic stay in the Medina of Essouaira.

Gardens at Kasbah Bab Ourika

The setting and the gardens are a highlight here.  What a treat to find such beautiful gardens high up in the mountains!  Enjoy the outdoor swimming Pool and Hammam.  I stayed in a suite decorated in a simple Berber style, making good use of local materials and fabric.  Simple but chic.

Enjoy a mountain view from the bed in the morning, open the doors and step out into a sweet little private garden to enjoy your morning tea!

Private little Garden outside the suite at Kasbah Bab Ourika

We asked for twin beds but there was the option of a larger bed. The bathroom with a shower was simple but functional.

Bedroom at Kasbah Bab Ourika

Enjoy meals in the charming Courtyard restaurant.

Charming Restaurant setting

We enjoyed breakfast on the terrace and tried a Berber Omelette, which was delicious and you should try when you visit.

Terrace for Breakfast

Hiking:

I would definitely recommend a hike with a local guide arranged by the Kasbah.  Hassan was a wonderful guide for our two hour hike followed by lunch in a Berber house cooked by a Berber family which was delicious and a very unique experience.

Views of the Atlas Mountains on my hike

The food was delicious and vegetarian as we requested.  Definitely a terrific experience!

Walking through Berber Village

Lunch with a Berber family

My drive back to Marrakesh airport was very easy and straight forward and it took me 45 minutes.  Kasbah Bab Ourika is a lovely mountain retreat but within easy access of Marrakesh.  I would recommend hiring a car and driving yourself around in Morocco, we were 2 women and felt safe and happy for the entire trip.  The people of Morocco are a delight.

Kasbah Bab Ourika

Information:

Kasbah Hab Ourika, Ourika Valley, Tnin Ourika, Morocco tel: +212668749547

http://www.kasbahbabourika.com

 

SaveSave

Camel Trek in Essaouira

My Diva Road trip around Morocco with honorary Diva Melanie, photographer for the trip! We loved Essaouira and this is my favourite place to visit in Morocco.  I loved the laid back beach vibe, the beautiful Old Town Medina, friendly people, stunning location ….. can you tell I loved it?  I will be back for sure!  If you go to one place in Morocco, this would be my recommendation.

Essaouira Medina – A cultural and shopping delight! All photos of me taken by @lemanieg

I stayed in a Riad located within the Medina which was a unique and fun experience and something you should do at least once during a trip to Morocco to get a different experience.  The local people were so friendly and I felt like a local after a 3 day stay! However, if you want a more relaxed vibe there are plenty of nice hotels and villas to choose from and you will be spoilt for choice.

Shopping in the Souk at Essaouira

The Souk is a delight, stay away from the main streets and you will find a treasure trove of Spices, delicious Moroccan pastries, just about everything you could wish for!

Pots Galore at Essaouira

I bought some pots, dates, spice mixes to bring home to France.

Camel trekking

Regular readers know I love Camels, so this was heaven for me!  Choose to go on a short trek or overnight and camp.  My Camel trek was a highlight of my trip and I recommend the company I used, see the information section at the bottom of the page.

James, my Camel and me

It was such a treat exploring on James the Camel with just my guide for company.

Then, the next day I used the same company to arrange a horse ride which was just as fun as the Camels but a lot faster!  They have beautiful horses, well looked after and cared for which is essential.

My view between the ears of Aziz

To be honest, for me it just doesn’t get better than this!  Cantering along on a pristine, unspoilt beach on a cracking little horse with a good guide for company.  The perfect morning.

Exploring the Essaouira coastline on a horse

The Old Port:

The Port is a fascinating place to explore and take photos of the iconic blue fishing boats.  Just around the corner are the little fish shack restaurants, where you choose a fish and they cook it immediately.  Delicious, clean and simple food but beware make sure you barter because prices are high.

Old Port of Essouaira

The Old port of Essouaira is charming and iconic for photographers on Instagram!  It is impossible to take a bad photo and the fisherman don’t seem to mind.  The history of the port stretches back into time to 1770.  This was the most important trading port between Europe, Africa and the Americas, originally named Mogador.

Free trade policies were encouraged by Sultan Ben Abdellah who encouraged the settlement of rich merchants and Jews to settle and work in Mogador. This was an important trading port.

Iconic Blue fishing boats

I enjoyed a delicious Lobster lunch at one of the little shacks around the port.  It was the best ever, but very expensive and I should have bartered really!

Delicious Lobster lunch at the Port

Beautiful old ruin in Essaouira

Above is a stunning old building, owned by Jewish traders and abandoned in the 1960’s.  Moroccan law dictates that abandoned properties are left for 100 years incase the descendants owners decide to return and claim the property.

A perfect end to a perfect day

Above is a photo taken admiring the view from one of the bars serving alcohol in Essaouira.  These are obviously popular with visitors to the town!

Definitely put Essaouira on your Morocco itinerary.  We hired a car at Marrakesh Airport and happily and safely drove all around the country from Marrakesh to Agadir to Essaouira to the Atlas mountains to Marrakesh.  The roads are perfectly safe, fellow drivers very well behaved, and the people of Morocco delightful and helpful.  Get out and explore!

The Souk at Essaouira

Information:

Essaouira information: Arrange a Camel, Horse, Quad adventure with: http://www.rando-dunes.com

Book a hotel or Riad by clicking on my Booking.com link on the right hand side of this page

http://www.essaouira.nu