Exploring the Textiles of Morocco

by Nicole Farrell

Morocco has a long history of textiles with century old techniques passed down through the generations. 

  

 

  

The souks of both Fez and Marrakesh each have a dying area. Men can be seen dying clothing and textiles. These are then hung to dry.

  

 We stumbled upon many stalls similar to this one. I could not resist a few of the metallic and silk threads for the equivalent of $1 Aussie!

  

I always associate tassels with Morocco as it was a bit of a theme for my first visit to the country. Nothing has changed and I can't walk past a pom pom or tassel! The selection is amazing. 

  

 I found a fabulous little area in the souk of Marrakesh that sold fabulous ribbons and seed beads. 

  

 These clutches have been made using recycled rugs. There were also slippers made from old rugs and I purchased a pair to wear with jeans. They are too nice for slippers!

   

We were lucky enough to visit a women's cooperative which employs disabled ladies for embroidery. The embroidery was of the highest standard and I particularly loved the edging stitch in the left  photo. The stitch is known as 'Darss'. On our October tour, we are excited to offer an optional class at the cooperative. The stitch can be mastered in approximately 2 hours and is a fabulous edge for scarves, napkins etc. There is also the opportunity to visit and observe rather than stitch. 

  

                                   Arts and Crafts of Morocco                                                                              Women Artisans of Morocco

These two books are on my wish list. I have not seen them in person so can't personally recommend but they certainly look good.

 Our March 2020 Morocco Highlights Tour is filling fast. Click here to discover more. 

Meringues, mix masters and the Marrakesh Medina

by Nicole Farrell

Marrakesh is the 4th largest city in Morocco. It's a fortified city with a medina packed with stalls and vendors. The medina is UNESCO listed. It is a maze of alleys with donkeys transporting goods, motorbikes and plenty of people. I honestly think it would be impossible to see it all. Everyday is a new adventure!

On this day, I was thrilled to discover meringues! As a self confessed sugar addict, meringues are a favourite! These remind me of the ones we used to have as kids from woolworths. Bags of tiny coloured meringues! Check out the size of the mix master! 

   

  

Our Morocco Highlights Tour departs in March which is a perfect time of year to visit. Discover more about the tour here.

12 Top Travel Tips for India

by Nicole Farrell

India is one of those countries that people have an opinion about. I regularly hear statements such as "Wow, I've always wanted to go'' or ''I could not deal with the poverty'' or ''did you get sick''.

India was top of my bucket list for more years than I wish to admit. Now I have been, I am so keen for other travellers to experience this amazing country. It is not without its challenges. However, you'll be rewarded with an amazing experience. Here are my top 12 tips:

1. Pack ear plugs

Even if you never sleep with ear plugs in, don't leave home without them! India is a country with lots of culture and a ton of festivals. Everyday is a festival somewhere in India! Indian people know how to party and this often means loud music, lots of food and of course amazing colour! Embrace the festivals but pack ear plugs as weddings can be an all night party!

  

2. The traffic is chaotic 

Lots of people and lots of traffic often results in chaos and in India there is the addition of the beloved horn! Yes, all drivers believe that tooting their horn will result in action so it is NOISY! Always walk when crossing the road as the traffic can judge and move around you. If you run they can't judge your speed! 

Speaking of traffic there is a fabulous documentary called 'Horn Please' which shows the folk art painting of trucks in India and how modern ways are changing traditions. I watched it online and really enjoyed it!

  

3. Wear appropriate clothing for the culture

India is a conservative, religious country and as a visitor, it is wise to dress appropriately. Cover your shoulders, arms and knees. There are plenty of shops that sell cotton tunics like the one I am wearing in the photo below. In cities, women are wearing jeans and Western clothing. However, in rural areas, ladies still wear sarees. 

 

4. Avoid uncooked food

When travelling in India, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid getting sick. Only drink bottled water and brush your teeth with bottled water too. Smart Traveller offers excellent advice.

5. Take a passport photo if you want to purchase an Indian SIM card

 Do you really need the internet 24/7? On my first trip to India I only used hotel and restaurant wifi and I LOVED it. I really felt like I was living in the moment and experiencing India. There was no temptation to post on Instagram or check my emails while I was out exploring. If you do need a SIM card, they can be purchased at the airport.

6. Print your flight details

To enter an airport in India, you need to present a printed copy of your flights. If you don't have this, there is a small office and you can pay to print!

7. Books are cheap in India 

If you love to read, India is a great place to pick up a few books. There is usually a good selection of books in English in one of the reputable book shops in each city.

8. Photographs

You'll be asked to be in lots of photos with Indian families, men, couples! Indian people love to have a photo with a foreigner. It does not seem to matter their age, hair colour etc, they like to get a selfie with you. Some people also ask you to hold their baby and have photos taken!

Indian people smile a lot UNTIL you ask to take their photo and then they look very serious!

9. The food is so good!

Garlic naan, curry, dahl, samosas....what is not to love? Just ask for the spices mild until you adjust your taste buds. Enjoy! I always take Travelan tablets or a good probiotic as a precaution when I travel in India. I also carry charcoal tablets. Do some research and prepare for your trip as best you can.

  

10. Don't over plan

There is a festival everyday in India and tourists are often welcomed with open arms. Allow time and flexibility to embrace these opportunities.

11. Don't over pack

Leave some room for shopping! India has amazing textiles, leather, jewellery and more. I always take a few older items of clothing which I am happy to leave behind. This means more room for shopping!

12. Be flexible

India is an amazing country with so much to offer travellers. However, you need to go with the flow and embrace the culture, chaos and fun!

We offer 3 tours to India in 2020. Our tours are in February and early March so the temperature is perfect for sightseeing. Discover more here.