Sunday, 3 September 2017

Ocean Break - Ponza

The island of Ponza is a true gem in the Italian archipelago.

When the tourists go to Capri (oh, it's a gorgeous island, read more about it HERE), the Italians go to Ponza. Like Capri, Ponza boasts amazing and dramatic nature as well as great restaurants and even beautiful sandy beaches (something that Capri is lacking). It is the perfect spot for a genuine ocean break. Ponza is the obvious choice for both the Italian jet-setters and the ordinary Italian sun-seakers. Non-Italian tourists seem to be very rare which makes the island very genuine. You come here for beautiful nature, great food and amazing private beaches.

Cicero had his bags packed and was ready to go!

Ponza is the largest island of the Pontine archipelago. The island was inhabited from Roman times and according to the legend the Ponza was named after the biblical person Pontius Pilate. 

The charming and colourful harbor of Ponza.

For us it is just a short drive of an hour from Arpino to the charming coastal town Terracina, where we can catch a speed boat that takes us to Ponza in less than an hour. So we packed our bags and two hours after leaving our house in Arpino we checked into our ocean front hotel on Ponza.

Villa Esiria - a charming hotel with the best location, overlooking the Ponza port town.

We stayed at a charming boutique hotel called Villa Esiria, located in a beautiful old villa with stunning views. Our suite had a big private terrace and even a small garden so Cicero was very pleased with his new temporary little kingdom. Most of the restaurants and all night life is located in the colourful and busy harbor area, which was a short but very steep walk from our hotel.

Cicero enjoyed the terrace immensely! 

Beautiful views from our private terrace and garden at Villa Esiria.

Ponza is famous for it's beautiful sandy beaches. 

There are some beaches centrally located in the town of Ponza but the best ones are secluded and can only be reached by boat. So rent a boat with a skilled captain and set out to find your own private bay, there are plenty to chose from! There are also some nice beach clubs available.

As evening falls the big yachts arrive to Ponza, a very popular bay for super yachts.

The locals are not easily impressed and if you don't have a reservation it doesn't matter how big your yacht is or how famous you are. During peak season reservations are crucial if you want to enjoy excellent seafood with a sea view. The food on the island is amazing, weather you go to a simple joint or fine dining establishment you will have a great Italian food experience.

"EEA" is the best restaurant on the island and boosts stunning sunset views. Make sure you book well in advance.

"Gennarino a Mare" is a charming hotel, exclusive yacht club and amazing restaurant. We came here  for both lunch and dinner.

Our little tribe enjoying another beautiful sunset from our terrace.

An absolute must when you visit Ponza is to rent your own boat and captain and go around the entire island to experience the dramatic coast lines and stunning nature, not to mention discovering caves, giant rocks and private beaches. There are also bigger boats taking groups of tourists around the island available but we strongly recommend you yo to get a private boat so you can set the pace yourself and have a more unique experience. We had a great day including several swims through natural rock arches and stunning bays as well as a lunch at a beach club on the back side of the island.

Best thing to do is to go around the island by boat. Ship Ahoy!

Beautiful nature everywhere you look!

Cicero really enjoyed the ocean and proved to be quite the skipper. 

He was a bit reluctant to dive into the salty waters though!

Chrystal blue water to go swimming, snorkeling or diving in.

Dramatic landscapes with giant rock formations.

Harbor life was very serene and beautiful.

Where to stay
- Grand Hotel Santa Domitilla (the only true luxury hotel on the island)
- Villa Ersilia (A charming boutique hotel with amazing views, get a room with private terrace)
- Gennarino a Mare (An iconic hotel located on the main beach)
- Hotel Mari (A classic hotel located in the busy harbor)

Where to eat 
- EEA (Fine dining restaurant with amazing food and views)
- Gennarino a Mare (Beautiful seaside restaurant with great seafood)
- Il Pescatore (Excellent fine dining)
- L'Aragosta (Classic restaurant with harbor front location)

What to do
- Rent a boat with a captain and go around the island for a day.
- Relax and enjoy the views.
- Find your own private beach and go swimming.
- Walk the marina at night and enjoy the buzzling nightlife.
- Have dinner and watch the sunset.

Thanks Ponza, it was just great!

Ocean breaks are simply the best!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

TEDxMarrakesh - Tribes & Trolls

We're so thrilled that it's soon time for the next edition of TEDxMarrakesh! With only a couple of months left we are now putting the last pieces of the puzzle into place for the event that will be held on OCTOBER 21 at Es Saadi Marrakech Resort. Last year we had such a blast with so many brilliant speakers and entertainers on the theme "Coexistence or no existence". This year's theme will be “Tribes & Trolls”, focusing on digitalization and how our lives are impacted by social media, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, block chain, bitcoins and psycho-graphics. Where are we standing now and even more important - where are we heading to?

The speakers will be sharing ideas about the benefits as well as the dangers of living in a digitally connected, global world. But also on how we define our world and how we ourselves are being defined. Who are our "real" friends? What do we really "like"? What it means growing up in a digital world for the next generation, etc. 

There will be many high profiled and inspirational speakers from all over the world focusing on this cool topic, looking at “Tribes & Trolls” from all kinds of different angles. Some of the amazing speakers are:
  • Alexander Bard (Swedish pop star, author & visionary)
  • Yasmina Olfi (Moroccan influencer known as "Fashion Minttea")
  • Vanessa Arelle (Mexican culture attaché, Vogue contributor & youth advocate)
  • Richard Gutjahr (German journalist & blogger)
  • Sohaila Ouffata (Moroccan-German telecommunications & media manager)
  • Dave King (British cyber & online reputation expert)
  • Erika Ferrer (Swedish Ambassador to Morocco)
  • Ayoub Fakir (Moroccan investor in cryptocurrencies & expert on Blockchain & Bitcoin) 
  • Tamara Littleton (British expert on online communities & online safety) 
  • Khalid Machate (Moroccan futuristic technology specialist)
  • Regina Mehler (German founder of "Women Speaker Foundation" & "1st Row")
  • David Jacoby (Swedish IT security evangelist & technical advisor for many books & movies)
  • Amine Harifi (Moroccan financial markets expert)
  • Stephan A. Jansen (German expert on Artifical Intelligence & Artifical Ignorance)

Some of the excellent speakers for TEDxMarrakesh 2017

There will also be a young Moroccan student on stage who will be selected through a student contest as well as three performers who will entertain between the speeches. They are:

-  Mehdi EL Ghaly (A Moroccan storyteller & performing artist)
-  Hicham Telmoudi (A famous violinist from Marrakech)
-  Hind Hakka (A singer with soul-full hiphop, R&B, reggae and Moroccan influences)

This will be an unforgettable day for sure so don't forget to buy your tickets before they are sold out! You can get them HERE on go to Cafe Clock, Just Dance Marrakech, BE Riad Marrakech or Riad Anayela in Marrakech. 

ABOUT TED, TEDx and TEDxMarrakesh

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and is an organization founded 1984 in the spirit of spreading good ideas. TED later created a program called TEDx, a program of local, self-organized events that spark discussions and create new thoughts. TEDxMarrakesh mission is to bring people together to share live inspirational speakers and artistic performances mixed with TED-videos. TEDxMarrakesh has produced five successful TEDx-events since 2011 and is part of the global TEDx-conversation of powerful people who believe that spreading ideas can stimulate change!

Keep spreading good ideas!

Friday, 4 August 2017

The summer of Cicero

Hello, I'm Cicero!

After the sad passing of our dachshund Disco last summer it was finally time to welcome our new tribe member and on July 1st we picked up our new puppy, a shorthaired black-tan dachshund that we named Cicero (Cicero was the very famous Roman born in Arpino, where we have a house, for more about Arpino and the original Cicero you can check out THIS blog post).

We couldn't really resist to let him sleep in our bed....

Our plan for this summer was to just hang out in our summer house on the island Runmarö together with our new puppy and have full focus on training him, relaxing and having friends and family come visit us. More about the beautiful island Runmarö and our summer in THIS blog post.

Puppy love

We picked up Cicero from the kennel when he was 8 weeks old and he quickly adjusted to his new family and turned out to be a very kind, calm and rather cute little dog. In his first month with us he doubled his weight from 2 to 4 kg. He will be approx 8 kg when fully grown, which makes it possible for us to bring him with us in the cabin when we travel between Sweden, Italy and Morocco.

Cicero is checking out the big blue from our jetty on the island

In order to be able to travle internationally with a pet they need to get rabies shots when they are three months old and then wait 21 days before they can travel. They also need a EU passport and the basic vaccinations. So we spent the summer in Sweden to get all this sorted and on August 20 we will all be set to go to Italy.

One of our friends works for the Swedish pet food brand Doggy and Cicero was very excited about his presents when she paid a visit.

Cicero is of course adorable and proved to be a clever, very kind and calm puppy. He quickly adapted to his new environment and is very social with both kids and other dogs, that we slowly introduced him to during the summer. By now he is used to travel by boat, car, bus, bikes and mopeds. We also had daily training sessions where he quickly learned some basic stuff like his name, "sit", "lay down", "stay", "walk by my side" etc.

Can I get my food now?!

Hanging out with master Patrick

On excurison with master Per

Walking by the ocean....

... and in the forest

Cicero in the sunset

Walking across the island with friends

 Cicero charmed our friend, the former super model Emma


We have already kicked off the fall with some Red City PR projects that we are working on from the island and in a week the board meetings start for Per. In approx three weeks from now we will leave Sweeden and head towards our house in Arpino and spend a month there. We are sure Cicero will love Italy (and that the Italians will love him). Having a dog in Italy os really easy since they are always welcome in restaurants, bars and hotels (which is seldom the case in Sweden).

Cicero is now ready to travel with his own passport.

Cicero (and we) wish all of you a great start on the fall season! Italy here we come!


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Best Day Excursions from Marrakech

The first time you visit Marrakech there is so much to see in the medina and in the close proximity of it that if you're only in town for just a few days we seldom recommend making any longer excursions. But if you come for more than three-four days, or it if you are returning to the Red City, there are so many cool places to see also outside the medina. The beautiful Atlas Mountains for instance, on a clear day you can see them from the rooftops in Marrakech and it's only a short drive to visit the blooming Ourika valley and the amazing Imlil valley.

A lunch in the Atlas Mountains with breathtaking views is just amazing!

Easiest way to get to the gorgeous Ourika valley is to book a private car with a driver for the day and ask them for the scenic roads and that you want to visit the authentic parts with some Berber villages that cling on the side of the hills and perhaps an Argan oil co-operative. There you can get your hands on some real Argan oil (and not the fake you are risking to get when shopping in the medina). In the middle of the valley you will find the Setti Fatma falls, 7 cascading waterfalls that go into the Ourika River. Depending on the day you will also be able to visit local typical Berber markets.

A private car and driver is the best way to go!

If you go a bit further south you get to see even more spectacular valleys in the Imlil valley. Here you can visit the highest peak in Northern Africa, Mount Toubkal (4 167 metres). There are loads of authentic Berber villages here and you can also do a lot of interesting trekking excursions.

Beautiful Imlil Valley

To see some amazing waterfalls and apes you should go to Ouzoud in the Grand Atlas village of Tanaghmeilt where you will find the prettiest waterfalls in Northern Africa. It is about 150 km north-east of Marrakech and on the way you will pass lots of beautiful landscapes with fields of olive trees. At the waterfalls you should stroll along the network of trails leading to the lake below the falls. If you are lucky you get to see some of the Barbary apes that live here.

Why not see some huge waterfalls and apes?!

If you are a film buff and want to do something extraordinary you should take a day trip across the High Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate and the dramatic stone and mud-built fortresses known as Kasbahs and the fortified villages known as Ksars. You will visit Telouet and Taourirt Kasbahs as well as the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ksar at Ait Ben Haddou. This is where a lot of films have been shot including "Gladiator", "The Mummy", "Alexander", "Babel", "Prince of Persia" etc.

The architecture of the Ksars and Kasbahs are just the coolest!

Another great excursion is to the stunning coastal town of Essaouira, an UNESCO world heritage site. This picturesque place has been the favorite retreat for both hippies and stars for decades. Here you can explore the atmospheric alleyways of the ancient Medina, and the old ramparts that protect from the strong winds. You should also visit the long white sandy beaches and the bustling fishing port with excellent seafood and all the blue wooden fishing boats.

The harbor in Essaouira is filled with fortresses and blue boats.

If you want to see the desert, Sahara is unfortunately too far away to make it just for the day. But there is a stone desert just one hour from Marrakech that you could visit instead. The Agafay desert is not exactly the same as the Sahara with the magnificent sand dunes but it's all the same a very cool desert excursion. You could take a 4x4 car and drive off the beaten tracks as an adventure! After the desert you should go and have lunch or a mint tea by the beautiful Lake Takerkoust.

The stone desert just outside Marrakech has camps where you could stay over night in cool tents. This is the Scarabeo Camp.

If you come to Marrakech in the winter (Jan-Mar) and it has been snowing in the Atlas Mountains you could take a day excursion to go skiing in Oukaimeden, a ski resort about 80 kilometres from Marrakech. The skiing area is at an altitude of around 3 000 metres and there are two ski lifts.

The ski lifts go above the clouds!

You could rent skis and snowboards on location.

There are so many more suggestions on excursions and there are a lot of guiding companies that can help you with your plans and booking. We always use the very professional tour operator Toubkal Guide for our trips and excursions, they are brilliant!

Excursions are even more fun with some best friends!

So to summarise, the best 1-day excursions are:
1) Ourika Valley
2) Imlil Valley and Mount Toubkal
3) Ouzoud and the waterfalls with the apes
4) Ouarzazate and the Ksars and Kasbahs
5) Essouira by the Atlantic coast
6) Agafay, the stone desert
7) Oukaimeden (in winter)

Adventure is always around the corner in the Red City! Keep exploring!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Runmarö - our Swedish island hideaway

Welcome to Runmarö!
After a very busy spring with lots of projects, both in Morocco and Italy, it was time for vacation and to head back to our little house on the island Runmarö in the beautiful Stockholm archipelago. Time for an ocean break in our little island paradise in Sweden and getting back to basics. We are looking forward to almost six weeks of vacation, where our summerhouse will be our main base. There are some Red City PR projects that we can work on remote and we will mix up our island life with some city breaks, friends and family. But most of all we look forward to sunny, relaxing days on this charming island.
Our house is located in an area on the island called Söderby, that used to be a fisherman's village
Söderby on Runmarö, this is where we have our jetty.
Our place consists of three small houses, some terraces and a huge garden with meadows and some forrest. It's total privacy and close to our jetty and the ocean.
We got this place some 14 years ago and really love the relaxed, laid back lifestyle on the island. Living here is total relaxation and we spend our days reading, running (we have a 12 km track), swimming and hang out with friends (ok, maybe doing some work as well, but from a deck chair). We cook and eat almost all meals outside on the terrace and enjoy wine in the sunset on the jetty.
Beautiful ocean views.

We barbeque almost everyday in the outdoor kitchen.
We actually have three kitchens: one in the main house, this summer kitchen and then our outdoor kitchen with a huge BBQ.

Lazy days with coffee and a good book
Outdoor living
Beautiful sunsets by the sea.
Runmarö is a quite big island, approx 5x5 km and it boasts a very livley little community with both all-year-around islanders, as well as those coming just for the summer season. We have a charming bakery, a well stocked grocery store and a restaurant. Fish and meat can be bought directly from the farmers on the island. There is even a theatre performing a few shows every summer and of course a number of local markets and events. 
The best way to get around the island is on one of these mopeds ("flakmoppe")
Runmarö is a very idyllic island close to Stockholm city and with a lively local community.

There are multiple daily ferries connecting Runmarö to the mainland and it takes approx one hour to commute from the island to Stockholm city center.

Lazy and (mostly) sunny days

But most exciting this summer is of course to welcome our new tribe member Cicero, a short haired dachshund, and hang out with him. More about this stylish puppy in a future blog post.

We wish all of you a sunny and relaxing summer!