- To see the sunrise in the desert
- To visit Cairo
- To visit Luxor
- To eat tajine in Tunis
- To discover new Medinas around Morocco
- To learn how to surf
- To take a walk in Pompei
- To eat gelato in Rome
- To visit Istanbul
- To enjoy a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia
- To try a Hammam
- To see monkeys in their natural habitat
- To enjoy a city break in Amsterdam during spring or fall
- To drink frappé in Athens
- To visit as many museums as possible wherever I go
[EN]: The most common element when it comes to moroccan door styles is represented by the arches, the most used one being the Moorish arch. Also, the doors are often inwrought with delicate metal work or decorated with beautiful carvings or colors. Usually the doors are made of wood but sometimes you can find metalic doors as well. In Fès you will find a big amount of beautiful doors decorated in Zelij (mosaic) technique perfect for being photographed.
[RO]: Cel mai comun element al stilului marocan când vine vorba de decorul ușilor îl reprezintă arcele, cel mai utilizat fiind arcul maur. Totodată, ușile sunt adesea încrustate cu elemente metalice atent lucrate sau decorate prin sculptare sau prin pictare. Cel mai adesea ușile sunt realizate din lemn, însă uneori pot fi și metalice. În Fès veți găsi un număr mare de uși lucrate în tehnica Zelij (mozaic) numai bune pentru a fi fotografiate.
[EN]: Fès has been my home for 5 months. It was the best life experience I had in 23 years, I feel like it helped me to discover myself, to understand better who am I. It had its ups and downs but overall it was great.
I will try to make a list about the best options when it comes to accommodation. I will focus on Fès but it is applicable all over Morocco.
[RO]: Fès-ul a fost casa mea timp de 5 luni, fiind cea mai interesantă experiență din cei 23 de ani de viață. A avut suișurile și coborâșurile sale, însă simt că m-a ajutat să mă auto descopăr și să mă înțeleg mai bine pe mine însămi.
În cele ce urmează voi încerca să fac o listă a celor mai bune opțiuni când vine vorba de a vă caza în acest oraș, însă variantele expuse sunt valabile și în celelalte orașe marocane.
For short stay:
- Hotels and Hostels
[EN]: The most common solution when it comes to accommodation during holidays is booking a hotel or a hostel. In Fès you will find plenty of them and my suggestion is to choose Medina if you are here for turism and your expectations are not extremly high. If you want an area more quiet and you don’t want to get out of your comfort zone, then maybe the New City is a better choice.
For hostels I have two recommendations: Funky Fes and Chilling Hostel Fez.
The first is located close to Rcif gate. You will find here a nice atmosphere with welcoming staff and for sure you will meet a lot of nice people with whom you will be able to walk around the city. The price per night is around 10 euros for a bed in a mixt room with 12 or 8 beds and the breakfast is included.
[RO]: Cea mai la îndemână soluție când vine vorba de cazare în timpul vacanțelor o reprezintă închirierea unei camere de hotel sau de hostel. În Fès există nenumărate astfel de locuri, însă dacă sunteți aici strict în scop turistic vă recomand să alegeți Medina, adică partea veche a orașului. Dacă însă vă doriți o zonă mai liniștită și nu vreți să ieșiți din sfera voastră de confort, atunci partea nouă a orașului este o alegere mai potrivită.
În ceea ce privește hostelurile pot să vă recomand două: Funky Fes and Chilling Hostel Fez.
Primul dintre ele este situat în apropiere de poarta Rcif. Atmosfera din acest hostel este una caldă, cu angajați simpatici și primitori, plin de călători, fiind imposibil să nu plecați acasă fără să vă fi făcut câțiva prieteni noi. Prețul pentru o noapte este de aproximativ 10 euro pentru un pat într-un dormitor mixt cu 8 sau 12 paturi, iar micul dejun este inclus.
[EN]: The second one, Chilling Hostel Fez, is near Bab Boujloud which is one of the main attractions of the city. You will pay around 5 euros for a bed in a 8 beds mixed dormitory and the price includes breakfast as well.
[RO]: Al doilea hostel, Chilling Hostel Fez, se află aproape de Poarta Albastră, Bab Boujloud, care este una dintre principalele atracții ale orașului. Pentru o noapte veți plăti în jur de 5 euro, patul fiind amplasat într-o cameră mixtă cu 8 paturi. Și în acest caz micul dejun este inclus în preț.
[EN]: When it comes to hotels you have a lot of options. Among the most famous ones that are situated in the New City I want to mention Ramada, Royal Mirage, Ibis, Palais Medina & SPA and Barceló.
Closest to the train station is Ibis. For one night, for a double room you will pay around 45 euros.
[RO]: Când vine vorba de hoteluri opțiunile sunt nenumărate. Printre cele mai faimoase, situate în orașul nou, amitesc Ramada, Royal Mirage, Ibis, Palais Medina & SPA și Barceló.
Cel mai apropiat de stația de tren este hotelul Ibis, unde pentru o cameră dublă veți plăti aproximativ 45 de euro/noapte.
[EN]: In my opinion the best placed ones are Palais Medina & SPA and Barceló, both of them being near the main avenue, Hassan II, near Borj Fes Mall and quite close to Medina (five minutes by taxi).
Palais Medina & SPA is a five stars hotel and for one night, for a standard double room, you will pay approximately 90 euros.
[RO]: În opinia mea, cele mai bine poziționate hoteluri sunt Palais Medina & SPA și Barceló, situate în zona bulevardului principal, Hassan II, lângă mall-ul Borj Fes și destul de aproape de Medina (cinci minute cu taxi-ul).
Palais Medina & SPA este un hotel de cinci stele, iar pentru o noapte, pentru o cameră dublă standard, va trebui să achitați o sumă aproximativă de 90 de euro.
[EN]: For a night at Barceló Fes Medina, a four stars hotel, you will pay nearly 55 euros for a superior double room.
[RO]: Pentru o noapte la Barceló Fes Medina, un hotel de patru stele, va trebui să plătiți circa 55 de euro pentru o cameră dublă superioară.
[EN]: I think this is the best option if you travel to any place in Morocco because you are closer to the so called Oriental atmosphere. You can find riads all over Medina with prices between 10 euros and around 200 euros for one night. If you choose to stay in a hotel I would definitely say you should choose a riad even just for one night. I am sure you won’t regret it.
[RO]: Riadurile sunt case tradiționale care au aparținut în trecut unor familii marocane bogate. Consider că sunt cea mai bună alegere deoarece vă conectează la un alt nivel cu atmosfera locului. Găsiți riaduri în toată Medina, iar prețurile sunt cuprinse între 10 și 200 de euro pe noapte. Chiar dacă alegeți să vă cazați într-un hotel, vă sugerez să rezervați și o cameră într-un riad măcar pentru o noapte. Sunt sigură că nu veți regreta.
[EN]: Of course, there are also solutions like Airbnb and CouchSurfing.
[RO]: Bineînțeles, există și variante alternative cum ar fi Airbnb sau CouchSurfing.
For long stay
[EN]: If you plan to stay for a longer period of time in Fès you have three options.
- You find a riad or a hostel where you can rent a room. Usually one room with private bathroom in a hostel shouldn’t be more than 2000 dirhams/month (aprox. 180 euros) and a room in a riad shouldn’t be more than 2500 dirhams/month. Usually the price you pay for the hostel includes the bills (electricity, water, internet) and in some places even the breakfast but in riads, in some places, you might have to pay for these utilities.
- You stay with a moroccan family. You will have your own room but you will share the livingroom, the bathroom and the kitchen with the members of the family. It costs around 1500 dirhams/month. It is a good solution if you want to understand moroccan culture and society better but you won’t have much privacy and inviting people over might be a problem in some cases.
- You rent an apartment. This is the solution I chose. Me and my collegue rented an apartment in the New City close to Hassan II avenue and Borj Fes Mall. We had all the shops, banks, pharmacies, etc. very close to us, no more than a 5 minute walk away from any of them. In that area the apartments have usually two bedrooms, one huge livingroom, one kitchen, one classic bathroom, one turkish bathroom/toilet and one balcony. Also that neighbourhood is one of the safest in the city and there are living a lot of foreigners. We were paying a rent of 4000 dirhams/month and around 700 dirhams/month for bills.
[RO]: Dacă doriți să stați pentru o perioadă mai lungă în Fès, aveți trei opțiuni.
- Găsiți un riad sau un hostel unde se închiriază camere și pe termen lung. De obicei, o cameră cu baie privată într-un hostel nu ar trebui să coste mai mult de 2000 dirhami/lună (aprox. 180 euro), iar o cameră într-un riad nu ar trebui să depășească 2500 dirhami/lună. În mod normal, chiria pentru camera de hostel include utilitățile (curent electric, apă, internet), iar în anumite locuri chiar și micul dejun, însă în cazul riadurilor, în unele dintre ele, va trebui să plătiți facturile separat.
- Stați cu o familie marocană. Veți avea propria voastră cameră, dar va trebui să împărțiți sufrageria, bucătăria și baia cu restul membrilor familiei. Dacă alegeți această variantă, va trebui să plătiți cam 1500 de dirhami/lună. Este o soluție dacă doriți să înțelegi cultura și societatea marocană la un nivel mai profund, însă dezavantajele sunt că nu veți avea prea multă intimitate, iar dacă doriți să invitați pe cineva în vizită s-ar putea să nu vi se permită în unele cazuri.
- Închiriați un apartament. Aceasta este soluția pe care am ales-o și eu. Împreună cu colegul meu am închiriat un apartament în orașul nou, aproape de bulevardul Hassan II și de mall. Aveam toate magazinele, băncile, farmaciile, etc. foarte aproape de noi, la o distanță de nici 5 minute de mers pe jos. În clădirile din această zonă apartamentele au de obicei două camere, o sufragerie imensă, o bucătărie, două băi, una clasică și una cu toaletă turcească și un balcon. Totodată, cartierul este unul dintre cele mai sigure din oraș și aici locuiesc o mulțime de străini. Chiria lunară era de 4000 de dirhami, iar utilitățile aproximativ 700 de dirhami pe lună.
1 euro = ~ 11 dirhams
1 leu = ~ 2,4 dirhami
There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to face some choices, some of them difficult, some of them easier. It might be about changing your career, about having a child or moving to a new place, or it can be anything else. All of these are lifechanging factors and just like these ones, there comes another one which is easier do deal with but it will still change the way you see things: travelling alone.
The first step is to have the courage to travel alone. If it is the first time you are doing it you should start planning your trip: book your tickets and your hotel/hostel room and try to make a plan for each day of your staying. Of course you won’t be able to respect everything as you planned but at least the most important things are fixed.
Wandering the world by yourself is like gambling: you can never know if you will win or lose, if it will be good or bad. It is a risk you are willing to take and by that it means you are ready to face the problems that might appear. Even though it can be difficult to travel by yourself and having no friend to accompany you, you will see that you are able to handle things better than you thought you would be. A journey on your own will make you return as a new person: you will feel more independent and confident and you will realize that you are capable of so much more. All of these will make you want to explore the world more and by exploring it you will actually learn new things about yourself.
If it is your first time to travel alone and you don’t want to take a big risk you should choose a destination that is not so far away from your home. You can have a city break in a city close to yours, you can go camping for a couple of days or you can make an itinerary and visit some places close to your hometown which you never visited before.
Things you shouldn’t forget to take with you: your ID card/ Passport, cash (since there are places where you can’t find an ATM or you can’t pay by credit card), phone charger or external battery, personal hygiene products, pills (especially pain killers), sunscreen, wet wipes, towel. If you know you might get involved in some activities you should also take with you the necessary things for doing them: sports gear, camping equipment.
Volubilis was the first thing on the “Must See” list for Morocco. The city is the best-preserved archaeological site in Morocco and was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997. I visited it shortly after I moved to Fes and it was the first real trip I joined. It was a one hour and 20 minutes journey on the highway. The ancient city is situated close to Moulay Idriss, a town in northern Morocco. We arrived there in the afternoon but it was still pretty hot. The entrance fee was 20 dirhams which means around 2 euros so very cheap.
The first thing we visited was the museum. Before entering it there is a small Lapidarium which is a place where stone monuments such as columns, cornices, stone epigraphs and tombstones are exhibited. Inside the museum there were some maps to make you understand how the territory occupied by romans looked like. Also there you can see pottery, statuettes, iron fragments, coins and mosaics found during the excavations.
After that we started to visit the site. Volubilis is undoubtedly the most majestic Roman ruin in Morocco, but before the romans installed their camp in first century AD, when Emperor Claudius officially annexed North African Mauritania, a settlement of Carthaginian traders had been there for almost three hundred years. We spent around 1 hour and an half wandering around the ruins and I can confirm that the most amazing features are the city’s many beautiful mosaics preserved in situ.
How to get to Volubilis from Fes: If you are not going by car you can go by bus to Meknes and from there to take other bus or Grand Taxi to Volubilis. It souldn’t cost more than 15 euros.
Moroccans are very friendly and hospitable and you will meet a lot of nice people who will make your journey easier and memorable, but here are some things I learnt after a month spent in Fès.
1. Bonjour! Hola! Hello? Italian, spanish? Amigo!
As I said, moroccan people are friendly and some of them very curious. You will stand out amongst the locals so a lot of eyes will focus on you and a lot of people will want to start a conversation with you. Some of them will be harmless, they just want to know where are you from and what is your country like but other can end up as marriage proposals in which case you must laugh it off.
2. Stay away from false guides
First of all because they are illegal. Second of all they will act like they are your bestfriends and they want nothing in return for their favour but remember that a false guide is someone who gives travellers a tour of the city, in exchange for something: whether it is direct payment or spending money on leather bags, argan oil, etc. In 90% of the cases or even more there is the expectation of a purchase being made. Some of these guides may say they don’t want anything and then in the end they will ask you for money. If you refuse to pay them they can get verbally aggressive.
3. Petit Taxis
These are the most common cabs in the city. Some of them have free counters which means that the driver will turn it on in the moment you start the ride and it increases by 0,3 dirhams. Other taxis have fixed routes which means there is an exact price you have to pay for getting from point A in point B. There are honest drivers too, but a lot of them will try to deceive you so the best way of avoid being over charged is to ask how much you will have to pay to get to your destination before entering the car.
4. The Language Barrier
The common languages are Darija which is moroccan arabic and French. There is a small number of people who are able to talk in english so before coming to visit the region you should learn some basic phrases either in french, either in arabic.
5. Don’t wander in Medina during night
An evening walk in Medina could seem an excelent idea especially when the temperatures during day are very high. Enjoy the walk but try to remember your way back because after the shops will be closed you won’t be able to remember the way and you can consider yourself officially lost.
Amsterdam was never on my bucketlist but I am glad I visited it. Even though I think spring would have been a better moment to visit the city, doing it in january was pretty good too.
I spent eight days there which for me was a little too long but I don’t regret it. First thing I observed when I arrived there was how relaxed people seem, how friendly were they when I asked for directions and that almost everyone speaks english fluently.
The city is calm even though there are a lot of turists and the traffic isn’t chaotic. I was surprised by how many bikes I saw even though I knew the dutch people love to ride them. I rented a bike for a few hours and, except the fact that my hands were freezing because I didn’t have gloves, it was perfect: it is very safe to ride bicycle through the city and it is a great way to explore the neighbourhoods if you are new there. As for public transport you can choose between bus, tram, metro and train. I never used the metro and my favorite was the train because it is the fastest but mostly I used the bus. You can buy transportation cards from GVB company which allow you to travel by bus, tram or metro: for four days you have to pay 21,50 € and you can travel as much as you want.
Five random yet interesting facts about Amsterdam:
- The canals that go through the city are longer than 100 km
- Some say there are more bicycles than people who live in the city
- There are approximately 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam; some of them are occupied by residents but some are available for rent to visitors
- Amsterdam’s buildings are supported by wooden poles that sink through the mud and are fixed in a sandy layer
- Some people say Amsterdam is home to highest number of nationalities out of any city in Europe
There are two weeks since I arrived to Morocco and I am still learning to adapt. Fes is my new home and it is considered to be the cultural capital of the country.
When I arrived here I expected to find a city that looks like the Medina that you can find photos of on the internet. I was a little bit disappointed to see that is not like that, that there are two different parts, Medina quarter and the New City which is nothing like the old one. Even though the city didn’t meet my expectations in the beginning, now I find myself falling in love with Fes everyday. It is an amazing combination between wild and peaceful, conservatory and relaxed, old and new. You can always find new places to explore so it is impossible to get bored but more about that soon.
Once you arrive one of the first things you will notice is the kindness of the local people. They have the best intentions and they will always try to help you. One thing you should avoid are the so called “illegal guides” whom you can find especially in Medina and who will ask you for money after they help you find the place you were looking for. As a tourist your safety is almost guaranteed here in Fes since tourism is an important income source for the city. Sometimes I feel like the authorities value the tourists more than the fassi people thing which I think it is not really ok: for example it happened that I was walking on the street with moroccan friends and a policeman stopped them and started to ask them several questions just to see if we were friends or if they were bothering me or wanted money from me.
Everyday I am learning new things about this amazing city and about moroccan and arabic culture so, as I said, I am falling in love with Fes more and more day by day.
Since I spent two months in Bulgaria I decided to take the best out of it. I was involved in a project so I only had the weekends free and one free week at the end of the project. As you can guess, I decided to explore the country as much as possible.
Of all the cities that I visited Plovdiv was my favorite. It is a city where you can go to spend a weekend with your family or you can go to have fun, it depends what are you looking for. Into it’s modern and people-friendly layout it has artfully incorporated its archaeological sites. The city is a beautiful mix of medieval/ Renaissance period buildings and modern ones. There are many remains preserved from antiquity such as the archaeological complex Eirene, the ancient Plovdiv Roman theatre, Roman odeon, Roman aqueduct, Roman Stadium and others. Of course, my favourite parts were the Old City and the pedestrian zone.
Not to forget, Plovdiv has evidence of habitation since the 6th millennium BC and it is considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world. The old name of the city was Philippopolis and it has 7 hills like Rome but, unfortunately, one of them was leveled during the communist regime. In 2014, Plovdiv was selected as the Bulgarian host of the European Capital of Culture 2019.
How I got there: Bus from Razgrad to Sliven (aprox. 166 km), bus rom Sliven to Plovdiv (aprox. 178 km)
Things to see (my favourite ones):
- The Old Town – amazing architecture
2. Archaeological sites
3. Pedestrian zone – you can find cafés and restaurants
4. You should explore other parts of the city too, especially green areas (mini forests) and parks which are really beautiful
I always loved diversity and the feeling you get when you arrive to a new place. I wanted to travel and I can say with joy and contentment that now I am able to do this more often than before.
I have always associated travelling with the concept of stairs: the higher you climb, no matter how tired you are, you still want to take an extra step to see more; I would call it an infinite stairway. The beauty of going through this way is that the more places I see, the more I want to see and each time I remember how we are small and how even though sometimes we tend to consider ourselves as the center of the universe, we are only another part of what surrounds us, of what we call life.
I chose to travel at a time when I could find no place, nor the motivation to continue on the path that I took. I discovered a new passion and also a way to prove myself that daily efforts will be rewarded.