Travel and Tourism

Where the Sidewalk Ends (Part 5)

Sorry for the delay in this series – I was in L.A. and Santa Fe for the last few days. I’ll tell you all about that soon, but, first things first, I need to finish telling you all about our journey from the northern tip of Manhattan to the southern tip.  In the last post we were enjoying some tasty dogs in the flatiron district.

For the next ten blocks, we kind of stumbled around in a tired, over-stuffed stupor. At first I thought I was imagining all the bells and singing, and then I realized that we were in Union Sq. just in time for the Hare Krishna show. For my first few years in New York, Union Sq. was definitely my favorite part of the city. My sister went to NYU and her dorm was right around the corner. When I’d come to visit her, I’d tried to spend as much time in the square, watching all the skateboarding punks, the old men playing dominos, the street performers, and the people selling jewelry and apple pie. Even now, with a Whole Foods, DSW and three Starbucks, I still think it’s the perfect spot to spend the afternoon people-watching and getting a true sense of the diversity that makes NYC so unique.

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The Hare Krishnas in Union Sq.

Just when I thought I couldn’t walk any farther, we crossed the 200 block marker, and I felt a sudden rush of energy. “Let’s walk to New Jersey!” I joked.

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200 blocks!

A good representation of Little Italy

We made it to Little Italy just in time for dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures because I was too focused on finding a restaurant and it was pretty dark, so this is someone else’s picture of the garlic scented streets.

Here’s my advice for eating in Little Italy: be careful of the specials. We chose a restaurant where the entrees were all between $15-$20. I ordered one of the pasta specials and as the waitress was leaving to put in our order she casually said, “oh yeah, because it’s a special it’s going to cost a few extra dollars. That’s ok, right?”

“Sure,” I said, and then fortunately added, “Wait, how much exactly?”

“$69.”

At which point I nearly choked on my water, and immediately ordered something else. Pasta needs to be covered in gold if I’m going to pay that much for it. That really rounded out my experience of feeling like a tourist.

Ok, we’re so close to the end – only a mile and half to go.

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Fez was my favorite (outside the medina)

The old city of Fez can be very overwhelming and crowded (we were constantly getting touched and grabbed by strangers), so on our third day we left the city center and headed for the Merenid Tombs. This was only a twenty minute walk from our hotel, but it felt like a different world. If you visit Fez, don’t miss the opportunity to pack a picnic and spend a day in the hills. If you’re not physically active, you can also get a taxi to drive you to the top of the hill for about $10.

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Well worth the hike.

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You can’t help but sing “The Sound of Music” when you walk these hills… at least I couldn’t.

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You can see all of Fez from these ruins.

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Every family has a specific plot of land where they can dry their leather hides.

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Can you see the leather on the top of the hill?

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Here’s a family collecting their leather. It’s hard to believe my buttery leather coat was once just a stiff piece of skin drying in the sun.

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Fez isn’t as overwhelming from this perspective.

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Amidst the 14th century ruins, sheep and goats graze.

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One of the goats wanted to join our picnic.

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The happy honeymooners!

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The world’s oldest parking spot.

It starts in Marrakesh

I’m back from my honeymoon in Morocco and tanner than ever! I will post some stories about our wedding as soon as I get the official pictures from our photographer, but in the meantime, I’ll let you in on some of the amazing adventures from our honeymoon.

2013-03-04 10.52.14As custom, they served us with mint tea as soon as we arrived at our hotel. She first poured one glass and put that aside. Then she poured two more glasses and threw those out because supposedly they’re too bitter. Then she poured the original glass back into the pot and added that entire pile of mint. We had A LOT of mint tea in Morocco, but that was definitely the finest.

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I was obsessed with the copper sink in our bathroom and the deep blue walls. Our hotel was a perfect introduction to Moroccan aesthetics.

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We even had our own terrace, complete with matching sombreros.

2013-03-04 10.48.22We could have spent the whole day in our serene suite, but there was an old Medina (an ancient walled in city) to explore.

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In the main square, we were immediately attacked by snake charmers who draped all their nasty snakes all over us.

2013-03-04 11.53.55We had to pay them just to get the snakes off of us. YUCK! I could even see a mouse shaped lump in one of them.

2013-03-04 12.38.10The market place, known as a Souk, was crowded and intense. Don’t be surprised to see half a butchered cow hanging next to necklaces and scarves. You can find anything you need within arm’s reach. Morocco’s really a place to go if you love shopping, but you need to be comfortable bargaining. I never paid more that an eighth of the original price they gave me. Our tour book said they hike the prices up the highest for American and Japanese tourists.

2013-03-09 13.53.37The main square was filled with snail soup kiosks. The smell is intoxicating. We had a small bowl before dinner. I’ve never had snails before, and it was a little hard to get past their little faces, but I got over that pretty quickly because they were so delicious.

2013-03-09 14.46.53Next, we had dinner in the middle of the square. I’ve never had a dining experience quite like this. It’s a maze of little bbq stands and the waiters will actually block you so you can’t go past them when choosing which one to go to. They will put the menus right in front of your face, or grab your arm. Then if you say no, they curse you out. We went through the stands twice before we couldn’t handle the harassment any further and sat down in the closest empty seat. We had tajines (meat and vegetables cooked in a traditional clay pot), coke and olives, for a grand total of $4.

2013-03-09 15.12.39Marrakesh doesn’t really come alive until after sun set. There are tons of street performers, snake charmers, henna artists, and trained monkeys. It can be a little overwhelming to be in the middle of it, but it’s really entertaining to watch it all from a terrace view (while drinking mint tea).

If you visit Marrakesh make sure to stay in the old medina. I loved our hotel, Riad Ajebel, and the owner was incredible (more about her in the next post). The walls of our hotel were built in the 11th century! Marrakesh was like a living museum. We spent three nights here (we traveled during the day), but that was definitely a good taste.

2 Days to get this hilarious book!

My blog friend, The Hook, has just published his first book! He’s shining a light on all the terrible, ridiculous things tourists say, and do when they think no one is watching. He is a bellman for a popular hotel near Niagara Falls and he’s seen it all. For months now, I have been enjoying his hilarious accounts of self-absorbed, maniac clients, and now you can too! Follow this link and download a free digital copy of his book (Only free today and tomorrow).

The moral of the story: treat everyone with respect or else you be the subject of his next book.

P.S. I almost didn’t download this because I don’t have a Kindle, but then I learned that you can download a free kindle app for you computer. It’s right below the purchase button.