The medina in Fes was a bustling place. Between the carts, mules, and rushing people, it was a wonder we didn’t get run over! We took sanctuary along the corridors of the medina in mosques, workshops, and souks, and the tannery – shoes, jackets, and purses galore! There was a scenic view on the top floor of the tannery, but we needed a sprig of mint to mask the smell of a mixture of cow urine, quicklime, water, and salt which is used to break down the tough leather. The medina is rich with so much history and beautiful craftsmanship – it was hard to pack it all into one day!
Happy Friday, friends! I’m sharing a few photos of our journey from Rabat to Fes – with a stop at the Volubilis ruins in between – on this similarly warm and sunny day in D.C. I hope everyone has spectacular weekend plans! Mine involve brunching, working out, and more brunching with mom.
I can hardly believe it myself, but I’m back from my whirlwind trip to Morocco! We somehow managed to cram 5 cities into 8 days, with 2.5 days of car rides (and one camel ride) in-between. I enjoyed every minute of our week-long trek across the country, so I have decided that the best way to share my trip with you is chronologically… After an 8-hour plane ride from Dulles to Paris, a 4-hour layover, and another 4-hour plane ride to Casablanca, we finally arrived.
We were greeted by Aziz, who would be our amazing driver for the duration of our trip, at the airport in Casablanca. He had already met up with my sister, Natalie, who had arrived hours earlier from Senegal, so we all hopped in the car to travel from Casablanca to Rabat, our first destination. In Morocco, the hotels we stayed in were “riads,” traditional Moroccan houses/palaces with an interior garden or courtyard. Riad Kalaa, in the heart of Rabat, had a beautiful Andalusian courtyard with stone and marble architecture. The room I shared with Natalie was super cozy and had amazing amenities. It was so cozy, in fact, that Natalie and I didn’t want to get out of bed. Thankfully, Riad Kaala had a filling and delicious breakfast of traditional breads, yogurt, and fresh-squeezed orange juice that tempted us to leave our room.
Our stay in Rabat was a short one, but a great intro to Moroccan culture and hospitality. I would quickly learn that Morocco is home to beautiful medinas, delicious kefta kebabs, and cats – lots of cats.
This blue and white top just screams “take me to Morocco!”, doesn’t it? Little does it know, it will in fact be accompanying me on my journey to the exotic lands of Morocco very soon – Friday in fact! I’m not quite sure how this trip snuck up on me as it did. A few months ago our family vacation to Africa seemed forever away. Now, it’s just a few hours. Crazy how that happens, huh?
My intent was to write a post on “how to pack for an exotic vacation” , but that clearly was a lofty goal as I have not taken photos for or written said post. Instead, you will have to settle for many, many photos from my trip and maybe a note or two on how my packing worked out… or not. I’m actually feeling pretty confident that I packed enough basics and layers (without over-packing, huzzah!).
I have managed to fit 7 days worth of outfits, four pairs of shoes, light camera gear, and entertainment material into one carry-on and a mid-sized suitcase (with room to spare!). I’d call that an accomplishment.
After a delicious traditional breakfast [with the most amazing carrot juice ever!] at Don Deme, a local breakfast a short walk away from our apartment in Roma Norte, T and I set out on one of my favorite excursions during our time in Mexico: Teotihuacan, a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city just a 1.5 hour bus away from Mexico City. Teddy and I got there late in the afternoon, around 4:30pm, which actually ended up being the most perfect time to explore the magical ruins. The crowds were beginning to dissipate and the pyramids looked beautiful in the warm light of the late afternoon sun. There are two main pyramids at Teotihuacan: the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun. The Pyramid of the Sun is the larger of the two, so T and I decided to climb that one to get the best view.
And a view is what we got. A long climb up while holding on to ropes was totally worth it for the breathtaking view at the top of the ancient city below. It was an experience unlike any other, which Teddy beautifully captured, along with several other travelers from near and far. The top of the pyramid was cameras galore, but who can resist such a fantastic photo opp?!
Photography by Teddy Wolff
I’m back from a most excellent adventure with T in Mexico City and am quickly springing back into my hectic DC life. Things are much colder here than in lovely 70-degree Mexico, but I always love coming home after a great trip. I told Teddy on our drive home from the airport, “the best part about coming home after a traveling to an amazing new place is how it puts my life back in perspective.” There really is so much more out there than the minutia of the everyday, which really brings a wave of positivity into my life.
Teddy and I stayed in Roma Norte, a neighborhood just west of Mexico City’s historic center, with a couple in a renovated apartment that we found on Airbnb. If you have plans to travel to Mexico City, I highly recommend using Airbnb [here is where we stayed!]. The neighborhood eerily paralleled the charming Capitol Hill and Bloomingdale areas of the District, with its brick facades, scattered parks, cute dogs, and young families. It is very walkable, which T and I took full advantage of. The primary focus of our trip was food photography for Teddy’s portfolio [check out his blog for awesome photos taken during our adventures of Mexican cuisine and culture!] and then eating said food, so walking to work off our frequent meals was an absolute must.
We arrived in Mexico in the afternoon, which left us a few hours to acquaint ourselves with our bustling street. After a few minutes of exploring, we found a nice french cafe with outdoor seating [basically every restaurant and bar has a patio that sometimes extend into the street] and quiet charm. It was only fitting to order tequila and mezcal as our first drinks in Mexico, which we quickly learned from locals is meant to be sipped, not taken as a shot. Sipping these strong drinks is made easier and more pleasant by a spice mix frequently used on fruit [and on the rim of cocktail glasses], called chile de árbol. We both absolutely love the spice, so I need to see where I can find it in the states!
Photography also by Teddy Wolff
Well, 2014, here we are. A new year, a new start. There are so many things to look forward to, to plan, to do. I’m at a good, steady, happy place in my life: we aren’t moving any time soon, and since we are renting, we have no real home improvements to make. However, I’m constantly looking for ways to organize our space. Our living room wall is in need of some face-lifting with a new frame design [it’s been virtually nonexistent since we moved in a year and a half ago] and the cabinet in our bedroom needs some serious organizing for all of my art and craft supplies currently floating about freely.
2013 was a crazy busy year with work, for both me and T. I transitioned into a new role as a facility rentals coordinator and T was full speed ahead with building client relationships and creating beautiful photographs for them. And it isn’t stopping! He’s been asked to join the ASMP 8×10 panel in January to talk about some of his work and I am so excited for him!
On the leisure front, we are taking our first vacation with just the two of us at the end of January to… Mexico City! I haven’t taken a vacation in a year, so this will truly be exciting and relaxing. A whole week of exploring and eating our way through the city, and documenting it all of course. T has a new camera and micro lens to test out, so Mexican cuisine will be the perfect subject to photograph.
2014 already has a lot in store for us, but here are some other goals I hope to accomplish in the new year:
A bad habit I’d like to break: Laziness
Usually after a long day all I want to do is sit down on the couch with a glass of wine and watch TV or a movie. I think it’s OK to do this sometimes, but my time can be used so much more productively! Instead of plopping down, I’d like to do a quick 10-minute workout [like Popsugar’s 10-Minute Tush-Toning Pilates Workout], read a book, practice my violin, or paint.
A new skill I’d like to learn: How to speak Spanish
Our trip to Mexico at the end of the month has spurred me to learn a little Spanish. T has basic Spanish under his belt and is brushing up on vocab, so why not learn a word or two? I’d also like to brush up on my Italian [I was fluent as a 4-year-old and re-learned it in college], but I need to take it one step at a time.
A craft I’d like to do: Transferring photos to wood or canvas
This is a craft I was hoping to get to this year, but alas, time did not allow for it. A Beautiful Mess has a great tutorial and I’m really looking forward to trying it!
A restaurant I’d like to try: Little Serow
A local D.C. favorite, Little Serow is on the top of our list to try in 2014. As a no-reservation and set menu restaurant it can be a little difficult to get in, but I’ve heard the food is well worth the wait.
A good deed I’m going to do: Volunteer in D.C.
I haven’t decided which organization to volunteer with, but I’d really like to give back to the city I live in and NeighborGood is a good place to start looking.
A book I’d like to read: This Is Not the Story You Think It Is…
I have always grappled with the question “what book should I read?” and this time it has been conveniently answered by my sister who has this particular book available for me to borrow. She hasn’t read it and doesn’t have a recommendation to offer, but I trust in the instinct she had to pick it up.
Personality trait I’d like to bring out: Adventurousness
This year is for trying new things! I’m going to try to not let anxiety and apprehensiveness get in the way of new experiences.
Don’t forget to follow my 2014 adventures on Instagram @jackietara! What are you looking forward to in 2014? What goals are you hoping to complete? Please share, and here’s to the new year!
Last weekend presented a wonderful opportunity: a quick [but great] trip to Charlottesville. As Teddy immersed himself into photographing a beautiful Charlottesville country wedding, I was able to catch up with my amazing friends over dinner and wine downtown.
On the way home, we decided to stop off and enjoy a few minutes of the gorgeous day [one of the prettiest in Virginia in these last couple weeks]. Butterflies were out in full force, along with a few daring sky divers. Maybe one day I will work up the courage…
Wearing: striped top: Loehmann’s // flats: DSW // floral skirt: hand-me-down [the best]
Photography also by Teddy Wolff