Saturday, 23 February 2019

The Return to the Red City

Return to the Red City

After spending Christmas in Sweden and a busy month in Italy it was finally time to return to our main base in Morocco: Riad Arabe located in the middle of the ancient Marrakech Medina. 

The ancient medina is truly stunning

Marrakech is a truly magical place with so much beauty, energy and exotic charm. At the same time the Red City is also a hard lover and we always feel that after staying here for a long period, working and living in the middle of this cool but also challenging town on the edge of the desert, it is necessary to escape for a while and create some distance between us and this mythical and hedonistic place. And then, after some time travelling or staying in Sweden or Italy we once again start to feel the itch for Marrakech and that special energy that this place possesses. The Red City for sure casts a spell on both travelers and those of us who have made this mythical place our home. For us it was high time for a Marrakech fix and we were thrilled to return home after a few months in exile.

Spring time in Marrakech

Our hoods

February marks the beginning of spring in Marrakech and we returned back to sunny days, blue skies, beautiful views over the snow caped Atlas mountains and day temperatures of around 25c. Perfect!

Back on our sunny terrace

Back to lazy days by a beautiful pool

Cicero was excited to return to Marrakech, he loves the warmth and sun and didn't really appreciate the winter in Sweden

Nice to be back home with Trassel the Riad cat

Beauty everywhere

Stunning sunsets

It is also so much fun catching up with our friends, Red City PR team and clients.  It is a hectic time for our communications agency Red City PR with so many new clients and projects so we have been busy working here under the African sun and fine tuning the projects we started up while in Italy.

Back in the office with our talented Red City PR team and partners

We have had some fun weeks attending great parties, nice dinners and lazy lunches. It was also high time to get back to the gym and working out with our great PT Youssef.

Catching up with friends, here with pal Vanessa Branson

Enjoying good times with nice friends in beautiful homes

End of February is also the time for the really cool African Art fair 1-54 attracting the international art crowd and activating the buzzing art scene of Marrakech even more. We attended the press and VIP opening of 1-54 Art Fair at iconic La Mamounia hotel and also went to many of the opening events and exhibitions including a fun night at the Yves Saint Laurent museum followed by cocktails in the Majorelle Gardens.

African Art Fair 1-54 is on!

We are also busy organizing our TEDxMarrakesh event that takes place on March 2 at Es Saadi Palace. This is the most talked about event in town and we are now hosting the 7th edition with the theme "Identity". We have an amazing line up of 20 international and local key note speakers as well as some world class entertainment. A few tickets are still available to buy online (HERE).

Patrick and our TEDx co-host Andrea on stage during the previous TEDxMarrakesh event

Great to be back in Marrakech!

We are so happy to be back here in the Red City and look forward to check out some of the new restaurants and bars that have opened since last time. Stay tuned for updates. We feel so lucky to call Marrakech our home and to have the privilege to rotate between Morocco, Sweden and Italy for both work and pleasure.

Bring on the Moroccan spring season we’re ready!

With love from the Red City

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Living in Sweden

Since a few years we divide our time, life and work between our homes in Morocco, Sweden and Italy. In previous blog posts we discussed what it is like living in Morocco (HERE!) and and in Italy (HERE!). Now it’s time to give the same reflections about our native country and third home: Sweden.

Idyllic Swedish summer at the island, where we have our summer house

We were both born and raised in Sweden and spent almost 40 years in the country until we decided to re-locate to Morocco, where our lives changed forever. Before the move we had good careers, a beautiful town house, a charming country house on an island in the archipelago, a sports car, a big boat, great friends and we were part of the fashion and culture circles in Stockholm. So why on earth did we decide to leave all that? And why, after creating a new life in Italy and Morocco, did we buy a new house in Sweden? We will try to answer all that in this blog post!

Sweden - cold and dark

We left Sweden in search for something new and to explore a new lifestyle with a new purpose. And although we of course are very proud of our birth country, its Northern geographical position doesn’t really deliver on sun, light and warmth all year around. So we first discovered Morocco then Italy and fell in love with their more relaxed, sunny and hedonistic lifestyles. We soon had created new social circles and a thriving business in both countries as well as a charity organization in Morocco.

We have kept returning continuously to Sweden over the years for work, for family and friends and simply because we miss it when we are away. So this summer we felt we needed a more stable base in Sweden. We decided we wanted a permanent house instead of our summer house on an island. The plan is now to divide our time equally between the three countries, that way we optimise the best of the countries we love most.

A beautiful winter day

Why Sweden?
Sweden is a social liberal, safe, beautiful country with good schools, good health care and a great social welfare system. The nature is vast, unspoiled and the forests are accessible for everyone. Sweden is an iconic destination for anyone craving minimalist design, minimalist architecture, minimalist fashion, good music and innovative start-ups.

People in Sweden are in general nice, stylish and disciplined. They are also polite, liberal and social. Swedes are also, apart from being gorgeous, very hard working. There is not really much else to do during 7-8 months of darkness and cold weather per year, but work. Swedes work hard and play hard. So, for being a small country of approximately 10 million inhabitants surprisingly many groundbreaking innovations, global household brands and great music have Swedish origin.

Everybody knows the brands IKEA, H&M, Volvo and Spotify and music artists like ABBA, Ace of Base, Roxette and Aivicii as well as an infinit list of Swedish supermodels. It is a pretty cool country that many companies turn to in order to find out what the next global trend will be.

Per with a typical Swedish friend: Emma who is tall, blond, successful entrepreneur and a super model

The best with living in Sweden
  • The beautiful nature, fresh air and clean waters
  • The very liberal and equal society
  • The high minimum standard for all citizens
  • The safety and security
  • The efficiency and reliability
  • The legal and welfare system 
  • The healthcare system, good schools and long parental leaves for both men and women
  • The trend setting nation that is in the forefront of fashion, music, design and start-ups

Sweden at it´s best on a beautiful summer day in the archipelago

The challenges of living in Sweden
  • All the good things mentioned above cost a great deal of money so the taxes are very high, pushing 55% even for normal salaries. Also capital gains and company taxes are very high.
  • It's a very expensive country to live in, Stockholm is listed as the seventh most expensive city in the world to have a night out in.
  • THE DARKNESS! Sweden is very dark and very cold for a very long time of the year. During November-March it is pretty much dark from 3pm to 9am. If it is not freezing cold, it is raining or muddy. 
  • Swedes are a bit introvert and not as outgoing. Swedes are in general more focused on a small circle of close friends.

Cicero does not like the cold winters in Sweden, he prefers the Italian and Moroccan weather

When spending a good deal of time outside Sweden we have come to appreciate the things we took for granted while living full time in Sweden. In most aspects it is a great country. For us it is mainly the darkness and cold weather that are the main draw backs with Scandinavia. Oh, and we do love the sunny laid back South European lifestyle. But during the beautiful summer months, Sweden for sure is a stunning country that we appreciate a lot.

Our new house on Dalarö in the archipelago - a good reason to spend some summer time in Sweden

After spending a cold and white Christmas in our new Swedish house on Dalarö, we will return during spring to check on the renovation projects of the house and we really look forward to spend a long summer, ocean front in beautiful Sweden.

Cold greetings from Sweden

Stay Warm!

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Weekend in Paris

Paris is always a good idea and we have visited the "City of Lights" many times in the past, both for our work in fashion and culture as well as for pleasure. This time we had a great reason to return since our friend, the actress and supermodel Marisa Berenson, had invited us to the closing night of her theater hit show "Berlin Kabarett". We were so excited to kick off the year in style in Paris, to see Marisa's play and to hit the restaurants and meet up with some Paris based friends. So we said good-bye to Swedish winter, packed our bags and were off to France.

Bonjour Paris!

This time we stayed at the very chic and very pet-friendly five-star art déco hotel Juliana with a brilliant location in the 7th arrondissement only a few steps from favorite shopping street Avenue Montaigne and with many brilliant restaurants in the area.

Cool art déco interiors at Juliana

We really appreciate the truly pet-friendly hotels and Cicero sure loved our suite.

We enjoyed long walks through Paris with the occasional stops for coffee or wine. We visited the Yves Saint Laurent Museum that opened at the same time as the YSL Museum in Marrakech last autumn (more about that HERE). There were some amazing dresses on display as well as possible to visit the iconic original studio and showroom of Yves.

The original studio of Yves Saint Laurent

Beautiful YSL dresses on display

Walking the streets of Paris

Classic sights

Beautiful days in Paris

Cicero enjoyed all the long walks and the warmer weather

That perfect cafe au lait 

Paris nights 

Bonsoir Paris

And then it was finally time for us to see the Paris hit show Berlin Kabarett on Theatre de Poche, a play that has been written for our friend Marisa Berenson by brilliant Stephan Druet. We were so excited! The play was MARVELLOUS and Marisa is such an impressive actress that can also really sing and dance. It was an intimate and amazing experience.

Berlin Kabarett

Amazing performance by our friend Marisa. World class! 

Marisa and the other actors after closing night. Due to the great reviews and interest the show will continue in March and April at Theatre de Poche, so don’t miss this iconic performance if you are in Paris!

Paris is all about food, friends, wine and fun. We made sure to re-visit some of our old favorites and also discovered some new restaurants. The area of our hotel is filled with genuine little bistros and Guide Michelin star restaurants so we were never hungry. One day we had lunch with our dear friends Didier and Alice We always have a great time with this jet-setting couple and they took us to their local favorite restaurant Petit Cler, it was divine. We will soon see them again in Marrakech.

Alice and Didier, first time we meet up outside Marrakech

Bisous dear friends

One evening we had dinner at the Guide Michelin restaurant Fountaine de Mars, where also the Obamas dine when they are in Paris. A great bistro with amazing food.

A lunch at Ralph’s, the restaurant of Ralph Lauren, is a must when we are in Paris

The courtyard of Ralph’s is perfect for a drink

We also returned to Hotel Costes for dinner. This was the "it hotel" in Paris back when Per was working in fashion. It is still cool with a nice ambiance. The food is great but service has gone downhill a bit since our last visit.

Post dinner evening walks through Paris.

We actually managed to get some work done as well since we have two Red City PR clients based in Paris. Two planning meetings and one board meeting were managed between walks, food and culture. After a truly great time in Paris it is time to head back to Italy for a while. We will be working from our Italian office in January and look forward to catch up with clients and friends in Arpino and Rome.

Au revoir Paris, C'était merveilleux!