{Portfolio} Rural Portugal

The green scenery in rural Portugal was a welcome contrast to the reds and browns of Marrakech.   Related PostsWordless Wednesday: Deep in the Kasbah86Tags: marrakechWordless Wednesday: Coexist84Taken in the Souq’s of Marrakech.  I love the mix of artifacts.  Tags: marrakechMarrakech; Lights, Camera, Sand and Sun! {Guest Post}84Today’s post is a guest post from my friends at Thomson, a pre-eminent travel company based in the UK.  Readers know Marrakech is our home base in Morocco and it’s a must stop city on anyone’s travel itinerary.  But did you know Marrakech is also a hot spot on Hollywood’s radar? From movie stars seeking…Tags: marrakechWhat to Eat and What to Avoid in Marrakech57Living in a city that gets more than double the number of tourists as residents yearly, there’s a big industry that caters to tourists. It makes sense. Whenever we’re out we see hundreds of them walking, eating, and enjoying the city. But, sometimes – ok lots of times – we …

Amanda Mouttaki{Portfolio} Rural Portugal

What to Eat in Lisbon and Beyond

When I go somewhere I decide what to see and do based on what I can eat. A lot of times I have a good idea of what the local specialties are but sometimes I’m thrown a curve ball. The only thing I knew about Portuguese food was there was a lot of pork and there’s a delicious cupcake/custard “thing” called pasteis de nata. My normal planning includes mapping out where the best food is but with no time before this trip, I’d have to rely on instincts.  In order to find what to eat in Lisbon and the surrounding areas I signed us up for a food tour and an all day tour of the area. I also made use of the resources at our hostel to tell us where they liked to eat. Our first day we arrived in the early afternoon from Cascais and our room wasn’t ready. We asked about great food in the general area …

Amanda MouttakiWhat to Eat in Lisbon and Beyond
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Preparing for Ramadan in Morocco

Thursday afternoon the house became quite all of a sudden, except for the occasional whirl of the food processor I didn’t here noise from the kids. As most parents know this is never a good sign. Ever. For a second I assumed they had gone outside to play but every now and then I’d hear a phrase spoken.  When I finally got up to look downstairs (we live in a traditional style Moroccan home with 4 floors and an open courtyard in the middle) I saw this; Grandma had gotten the boys to help with Ramadan preparations by shelling kilos of almonds. It’s some task as they need to be boiled then cooled, the skins removed and then cleaned again. Finally they’re fried, cooled, and ground almost to flour. Some Moroccan families outsource all the prep work now, they buy cookies, or have someone come to the house to make them. They might rely on the dry packages of harira for the …

Amanda MouttakiPreparing for Ramadan in Morocco

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