Finding Solace in Rural Portugal

A few days before we were scheduled to leave for Portugal a wave of fatigue swept across me. I had been running non-stop for weeks on end. I was burning the candle at both ends, I rarely slept more than a few hours a night and when I could get to sleep it was due in large part to sleeping medications. Normally before we go anywhere I spend hours researching, planning, and deciding what we’ll do, how we’ll get there, and most importantly what we’ll eat. Before I knew it we were on the plane en-route to Lisbon. I had barely gotten my suitcase packed in time. There were two things I had in place before we left home; where we would stay, and what we would eat 2 of the days. We flew from Marrakech to Madrid and then to Lisbon using a combination of RyanAir and EasyJet – two low cost carriers in Europe. I had planned this …

Amanda MouttakiFinding Solace in Rural Portugal
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Where Kids Can Play in Marrakech

One of the single greatest resources when we moved to Marrakech was online Facebook groups. There are probably half a dozen if not more for Expats in Marrakech, Expats in Morocco, English Speakers in Morocco and so on (you get the point!) Some are more active than others but whenever I have a question about where to find something or need a reference for who to call I go first to the groups.  At first MarocBaba was skeptical but when I’d ask him where to get something he didn’t always know. Now there’s a better chance I’ll find an answer to my question on these boards then I will asking around the neighborhood. This post is a great example of crowdsourcing.  Someone raised the question of “where can I take my kids to play.” Sounds simple enough but you see there aren’t many playgrounds here. Really for a big city there are hardly any.  But this is some of the information …

Amanda MouttakiWhere Kids Can Play in Marrakech
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Seeing Spain through a Bus Window

When my friend and I decided to go to Spain we started plotting out what we would do. We had just 6 days but thanks to a quick flight from Marrakech to Madrid (it’s a little under 1 1/2 hours) we could hit the ground running. Spain is a big country and as great as it would have been to see the whole country it’s impossible in such a short time. We initially thought we would go south to Andalucia but then the guidebook kept leading us to northern Spain and so we followed it. Maybe our plan was still overly ambitious but for the better part of six days we saw Spain through the windows of buses. In our preliminary research we learned that there was an option to purchase a 99euro pass bus that was good for 7 days (there are other durations of time available for good prices). This seemed like the perfect plan as we knew …

Amanda MouttakiSeeing Spain through a Bus Window
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World Cup Fever in Spain

I’ve just returned from a week in northern Spain with one of my best friends from childhood. Suffice to say we saw quite a bit of the country, ate some delicious food, and enjoyed catching up on many years of life that we have lived away from each other.  One thing we couldn’t escape was the World Cup. Spaniards love football, a lesson I learned in Lisbon during the Champions League Final last month. Opening ceremonies for the games start tomorrow and I know my oldest son will be glued to the TV throughout the tournament. For the entire tournament I’m partnering with my friends at Multicultural Kid Blogs in a series to teach others (and especially kids!) about geography and global cooperation.   Each time Spain plays during the tournament I’ll be sharing a post about the country.  You can follow along with the other bloggers as they share about their respective countries on the MKB blog. Their first …

Amanda MouttakiWorld Cup Fever in Spain
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Slow Cooker Harissa Meatballs

Is it just me or have the last five months gone by incredibly fast? I can’t believe that June is part way through. Last year I was so organized and prepared for Ramadan way ahead of time and this year I feel like I’m grasping for straws. This will be my first Ramadan in Morocco. It’s hard to believe that MarocBaba and I have been together for 10 years and I’ve never been in Morocco during this time. We’ll be staying through part of July and then the boys and I are returning to the United States to spend some time with my family. Sadly MarocBaba won’t be joining us, instead he’ll be staying in Marrakech to run food tours and hold down the fort. I know that I won’t have to do much this year as my sister in laws have the food department largely under control. In fact I’m kind of relishing the fact that I might be …

Amanda MouttakiSlow Cooker Harissa Meatballs
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5 Tips for Flying Europe’s Low Cost Carriers

It used to be the best way to travel around Europe was on the large train network that crisscrosses the continent. This network still exists and is in operation, in fact there are plenty of high speed trains that can take you from London to Rome or Prague quicker than you might think. But, there’s also a new kid on the block and that’s the discount airlines who are taking over European skies. Sure, the major national carriers are still in existent and offer you more with your ticket than just a guarantee to get from point A to point B. But if you’re looking to travel, and get a deal, then here are 5 tips you need to know for flying to and within Europe. Know the Carriers and Where to Find Their Best Prices There are new discount carriers popping up every day, and for the most part you won’t find them on fare aggregator websites (like Orbitz or …

Amanda Mouttaki5 Tips for Flying Europe’s Low Cost Carriers