March 20, 2017

Paris to Morocco

FOUR years. Yes, it had been four years since Ben and I took a vacation for just the two of us. We always brought our kids along on our adventures. And although we love having them around, we definitely were due for a romantic/fun/free/adventurous getaway, just Ben and I.  We flew Nana to San Antonio, where she took care of our boys for 10 days! I'm sure she was exhausted by the end but the boys had fun with her and Finn says he "misses Nana!"  I must admit, I felt quite a bit of anxiety leaving my boys for that length of time. Especially Fox because he is very much attached to me and I knew he wouldn't understand where I had gone or that I would be coming back. As a mama, it's heartbreaking to think that your child misses you. However, I'm sure I missed my boys and thought of them more often than they missed or thought of me. Face-time helped ease my anxiety. And being busy, having the time of my life with my sweet hubby definitely helped ;). 

We felt like newlyweds again as we ran around Paris, flew to Morocco, rode camels across the Sahara dessert, shopped, dined, stayed out late and didn't have to put kids to bed. It was a dream vacay that I would do all over again in a heartbeat.

Ben and I were so lucky to fly business class from the US to Paris. We ate a 3 course meal, watched movies and laid down to sleep during our 8 hour flight. The perks of business class are especially nice for a 33 week pregnant lady like me!

We spent about 24 hours in Paris before flying to Marrakech, Morocco. Since we had been to Paris before it was fun to go again for a quick trip, knowing our favorite spots and how to work the metro system. We were able to see and do so much in so little time. First stop, a little cafe by the Eiffel, where we people watched through the window and shared a crepe. Next stop, the grounds of the Eiffel tower, where we strolled around, shared another crepe (but who's counting) and sipped hot chocolate with chantilly creme. We then went to Champs Elysees where we took pictures by the Arc de Triomphe, went shopping, ate fresh baguette, caprese, and macaroons from the famous, La Duree. After dark we took a ferris wheel ride in the drizzling rain, enjoying a lit up view of Paris. We made it back to the Eiffel Tower to sit and enjoy watching it light up with flickering lights. Then, it was back to our hotel, just down the street from the Eiffel,  Le Derby Alma, for macaroons, ginger ale and a bubble bath. 







Can we talk about how perfect French croissants are!? I definitely ate my way through Paris and this boulangerie's croissants, tarts and beignets were amazing!

We hopped on a plane to Morocco, a beautiful country on the coast of Africa, known for it's amazing artisan goods and Sahara dessert.  We stayed in Marrakech, right in the middle of Jemaa El-fnaa, a large shopping bazaar that is buzzing all day and late into the night. There, artisans are selling handmade lanterns, shoes, pottery, rugs etc! There are snake charmers, monkeys, food and so much more. We purchased shoes and slippers, plates, leather poufs, toys, olives and traditional clothing. 






 At the beautiful, Bahia Palace

The food in Morocco was very much the same everywhere we went... couscous with meat and vegetables and various spices, olives, salads, and flatbread with salsa or jam. 

 I got henna, something I've always wanted to try

 Ben found the "best barber" he has ever been to before and saw him twice before leaving Morocco.

In Marrakech we stayed in one of the many Riads, a small bed and breakfast that was once a Moroccan traditional home. Each Riad has water features, amazing tile work, intricate carvings and decor. We stayed at couple different riads, but our favorite was, Riad Princessa. 

We took a 3 day trip to the Sahara dessert. On our way, we stopped at Ksar Ait Ben Haddou, ancient city and where movies like, Babel, Prince of Persia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator were filmed.




Once we were settled into our hotel we took a walk along the street we were staying and found this little abandoned building built into the rocks. We got a little adventurous and climbed it's steep skinny steps, ducking our head in it's little rooms, peering through the tiny windows, finding a garden at the top.

The next morning we stopped at a beautiful gorge (the last body of water before the Sahara) and a village where we watched the people garden, make rugs and wash clothes in the spring. Our tour guide, Rashid was so informative and called us "friends" every other word he said.

When arriving in the dessert we chose a camel and rode through the Sahara to our campsite. There we climbed the dunes and watched the sunset. We enjoyed a communal dinner with the other 14 people who were camping with us. We sat in the candlelight, at a table of six, each with a fork and ate from the same large dishes. Our table consisted of couples from Portugal, Italy and Brazil and our conversation was mainly about American politics...Ha! They had so many questions for us Americans. 






Ben and I chose to sleep under the stars instead of in the tent that night. (The tent was a cloth tarp covered structure with mats lined up for the 14 of us to sleep on). The weather was warm during the day but cool and crisp at night. We looked up at a full moon and a sky full of stars and couldn't believe we were where we were, doing what we were doing. It was surreal, breathtaking and thrilling. During this time of year the weather is perfect in the dunes and the scorpions, snakes and bugs don't come out until summer. We woke up early in the morning to ride our camels back during the sunrise. It was a calm and pretty ride, other than when the camel behind mine was biting at the butt of my camel, making mine jump... that freaked. me. out. We ate a breakfast prepared for us consisting of flatbread and fresh jams.  

On our way home from Morocco we stopped in Paris again, where we visited the Sacre Couer.  

This trip was one of our favorites to date. It was adventurous, sporadic, beautiful and amazing- just how we like it. Looking forward to returning to Morocco one day with my kids, because sometimes traveling with your kids is the best time ever and sometimes traveling without them is the best time ever as well ;).