Day 1 of New York (With A Best Friend)

Seeing friends who don't go to your school or live in your city is already hard enough, but having a best friend who literally lives on the other side of the world (13hour plane journey) takes that challenge to a whole new level.

In my situation, her name is Mili and she lives about 7000 miles away from me. This is why, we seize any opportunity to see each other, and it so happens that our holidays coincided slightly, and Mili and I ended up meeting in New York for a day. Her last day, my first day.

This is how we spent our day.

It's important to know that I had never been to New York before, so Mili was my guide and sacred protection for when I kept looking on the wrong side of the road and almost got hit by cars (multiple times) and for understanding the subway system.

Central park was definitely the highlight of the day for me, it was absolutely beautiful and endlessly big.

I mean, I thought Hyde Park was incredible... this is a whole new thing. It has rocks you can climb on and see the Manhattan skyline, bridges, ponds, playgrounds and all sorts of things.

Everywhere I go I always have something to say about the people, because I think that's really what makes a place special, what gives it character. This really became clear to me in Central Park because no one cared about people watching or norms and just went on with life. I really admire that and it definitely made the park more interesting. For example, Mili and I saw a man dressed only in a bright pink bra and underwear scootering around posing for pictures, and we were just thinking wow thats wierd but also damn he has courage and he doesn't care. Most importantly he made people smile and smiled along with them, at the expense of his dignity, which is really admirable.

Perhaps some more 'ordinary' people...

Another one of my favourite things about the day was the sky. Before you start asking questions please just admire the sky in these photos I beg. I don't know if it's the New York charm or me being odd but I love it beyond words. The way the buildings tower over and the sky is bright blue and the clouds perfectly white and fluffy really got to me hahah. (I do appreciate I sound crazy but I'm going to go with it)

Food was also something that I thoroughly enjoyed (really not suprising at all, but yesterday I really enjoyed it) For lunch we ate at Shake Shack in Washington Square Park. Although a lot of you may say that it's just like having Shake Shack in London... you're probably right lol. The burgers had the same mindblowingly good taste and the coke came in the same bottle and was, by all means the same. BUT, the company, atmosphere and place completed the experience and made it that little bit more magnificent. Because, to be honest regardless of where in the world you are, Shake Shack will always be incredible. Dinner was at Benihana, which anyone who has been will know is unbelievably good food and will always 100% recommend.

Throughout the day we also went to Highline, which is basically a small park on a bridge over the city. One part had this glass that was over a road and I could see down and it was pretty damn cool especially with all the cars driving underneath. We also stopped by loads of cool vintage shops and vinyl record pop up shops which were very interesting and had cool neon lights that low key blinded me. Because we're tourists and felt like it we ventured down Fifth Avenue as well, admiring Gucci shoes and Versace jackets we couln't buy hahaha.

A lot more of this wonderful city to come! Stay posted... <3 Where in the world do you most want to go?

x Sofia

Marrakech - Morocco

Sun, markets, cous cous and friendly people. All things I love and all things that I found plenty of in my recent trip to Marrakech, the economic capital of Morocco. I stayed there for about 5 days and, although the slightly rowdy traffic inside the Medina scared me a bit, I have to say I absolutely loved it.

So the Medina is the old, walled part of Marrakech where you can't find shops like McDonalds, Zara or any other chains. Instead, it is full of markets (souks) that sell authentic Moroccan specialities like pottery and ceramics, argan oil (which is only made in morocco!), leather, carpets, spices and lots and lots of metal lamps. These were definitely sold at a cheaper price than I assume you could find anywhere else in the world so I definitely took advantage of that and did some shopping. Also, it was really nice to see how grateful the people were when you bought something from them, you could tell it meant something to them. Although the majority of these shop owners were very friendly, it was occasionally odd to constantly be called out from at every angle with people saying 'Hi, where you from?' 'yes? you like? we have many different colours, come look', and as much as I wanted to stop and appreciate every beautiful thing there was to see, I simply couldn't, and sometimes had to resort to not looking at things I liked in fear of being swept into a market frenzy.

As I said, the Medina definitely did have a particular traffic style I was not particularly used to. To me, it seemed like this was because of the forced coexistence of curious, always stopping tourists and Moroccans trying to go about their daily life. There is no separation between pavement and road, and, although cars aren't allowed inside because of the tiny roads, there were a huge variety of other vehicles I seemed to be constantly looking out for. This could be anything from motorcycles to tuk-tuks and often even donkey carriages.

But, to be honest, most people walked and it was usually fine. From the beautiful riad we were staying in, which was in the Medina, we had easy access to all these souks and some great restaurants. During my whole stay in Morocco I am not exaggerating when I say I lived  on six things and nothing else. These six things were orange juice, cous cous, tagine, pastilla, mint tea, and m'smen bread (all traditional Moroccan foods). My favourite by far was m'smen bread, which is a pan-fried dough made mainly from flour and semolina, and takes mind blowingly good... with anything.

Most of the days we just spent walking around and exploring but there are some particular places I went to that I loved and would definitely recommend.

Medersa Ben Youssef

The Medersa Ben Youssef is a Quaranic school dedicated to Islamic scripture and law. Entrance is via a long passageway leading to a stunning courtyard, a serene place (before the tour parties arrive) with a shallow, water-filled basin in the centre. The façades surrounding it are so finely decorated, but the richest of decoration is notably around the mihrab, the arch that indicates the direction of the Mecca. 

Go inside, and you'll notice passageways and two flights of stairs that lead to over 100 windowless Quaranic students' rooms. From the windows that look over the courtyard, you can lean your head out and see it in all its glory.

Bahia Palace

The Bahia Palace was originally lots of different houses, but was merged to form a large comfortable living space with beautiful gardens. There are lots of rooms with extremely intricate ceiling designs and traditional living spaces as well as plenty of stunning fountains and courtyards, but what I loved most about this palace was its aesthetics. I simply could not get over the extremely satisfying basic principals of architecture and colours used. The amount of work put into every single detail of this palace was tangible... from the floors, the walls and the ceilings. The colour patterns that were simple yet satisfying and such perfect combinations all made me so happy. 

Jardin Majorelle 

Most commonly known in the west as Yves Saint Laurent gardens, is one of the most visited sights in Morocco, and I can definitely understand why. You walk and see hundreds of different plants surrounded by astonishingly vibrant primary colours on walls, plant pots and paths, all the while hearing birds chirping in the palm trees above. If this doesn't sound like the most idylic, perfect scenario to you then I don't know if anything ever will. One of the nicest things about this garden is that it feels like you're not in the middle of marrakech... it feels like you're in a completely different country where cars, pollution and noise all don't exist. This was definitely one of the nicest places we visited, and the visit was perfectly concluded with a mint tea in the café with some almond biscuits.

Le Jardin Secret

Continuing with the garden themes, 'le Jardin Secret' was another garden we visited. And, although sharing many common aspects with the YSL gardens, it had a very different, clearly more serene atmosphere about it. This could be because of the use of neutral colours, or the fact that it was not nearly as tourist packed, or maybe simply the fact that these gardens had a prominent use of water, and this was extremely calming and generally made the gardens look more tranquil. The gardens are filled with exotic plants and fountains that allow you to indulge in your idleness; whether that be under the shade of the trees or sipping a coffee from the terrace. I can tell it is definitely a sacred place, and the aesthetics of it were well thought out, with clear geometric references that made it all the more pleasing. I also got to meet one of the owners who explained the whole concept of it to me, which made the visit even more worthwhile.

Riad - Sirocco d'Amour
The riad I stayed in was called Sirocco d'Amour and I loved it so much. Its distinct from many other riads because it's small and comfortable, which means it feels a lot like home. It has a little pool on the ground floor which is great in the middle of the day when its absolutely boiling, and a terrace with a little cabana so that you can spend time there even in the day (this terrace was also incredible to see the legendary moroccan sunsets.) What I loved the most was how kind and helpful the manager and his wife were; something that is quite common in Moroccans but still was a pleasant suprise. The rooms were also very very cute and had colour schemes which made them all the more pleasing.

Are any of you planning on going to Morocco? Or have you been? Let me know! Hope you all enjoyed this post! 

(more coming!  stay posted)

x Sofia