Sunday, 23 April 2017

The streets of Marrakech

One of the favourite things to do in Marrakech is to stroll through the ancient medina and the souks that are like a maze hoping to get lost for a while before finding your way home again. Those moments of not knowing where you are feel like you are an adventorous expedition trying to find some new exotic market or some unknown artisants quarters.

It's like a fairy-tale walking through the medina.

And somehow you always seem to do just that. Even after so many years in Marrakech there's always new streets and new parts of the medina you didn't visit before and that you are amazed by. It's easy to walk around for hours and lose track of time, especially if you have your mobile phone with a good camera with you. There's so many beautiful things and street life to take photos of.

If you get lost, don't worry! Keep on walking!

If you are in Marrakech for the first time it could be a bewildering experince to walk in to the souks but key is to keep walking and look confident on where you are going (even if you're not). Otherwise it won't take long before you are attacked by boys and young men who want to show you the way to the big square. That's fine of course, as long as you want to go to the big square, and you have 10 or 20 dirham to tip them with. (Some will ask you for up to 100 dirham, but never pay that much!). And some will try to trick you into believing some streets are forbidden to walk on or that they are closed. Most often this is not true and you could just give them a friendly smile and walk on. Eventually you will always find your way out of the souks and onto a major street where you can find your way back to your hotel.

There must be a thousand different streets like this in Marrakech!

The souks are located north of the big square Jemmaa el Fna and are the largest in Morocco, famous for as the most exotic place to shop in the whole world. Marrakech is almost a thousand years old and the souks were at an early age divided into several distinct areas where one area sold shoes and another sold carpets etc. The most valuable products like jewlery were places in the centre of the souks. Today is is still like this to some degree but many areas now sell a little of everything.

The souks are simply magical!

Don't forget to photograph all the gorgeous gates and doorways!

And buy some popcorn if you feel like having a snack!

If you have been walking for too long... take a rest...

...or take a horse ride back home...

...before you see double...or triple!
We have now spent almost a month in Italy, time sure flies, and it's high time to head back to our main base, our Riad in Marrakech. We look forward to May in Morocco, catching up with all our friends, working on exciting Red City PR projects and once again walk thos magical streets of Marrakech!

Red City, here we come!








Thursday, 13 April 2017

Capri - The Ocean Break

Arpino, our little medieval village just south of Rome, is the the perfect starting point for exploring Italy. It is conveniently located close to Rome, Naples, historical sites, national parks, mountains and the coast line including Sperlonga, Amalfi and Capri. This time we drove our little Fiat 500 (what else?) to Naples to catch the express ferry to Capri. We were excited to check out this beautiful island that has attracted both Roman emperors and the global jet-set scene for over two thousand years.

Capri - an iconic destination.
Capri - also called "the gardens of Eden"

Less than 3 hours after leaving our house in Arpino we checked into Relais Maresca Hotel on Capri, one of the oldest and most iconic hotels on the island, located in the marina with stunning ocean views. As always we prefer to travel off-season and we actually arrived on the very day when most of the hotels and restaurants started to open up for the season so it was still pretty calm and tranquil. Many tourists visit Capri over the day so when the sun set we had this charming island (almost) to ourselves.

Welcome to Relais Maresca! 

We enjoyed our beautiful terrace suite with amazing views.

Capri is a pretty small island so you can walk, take the convenient cable car that connects the harbor with the main town or catch a taxi (they are all cabriolets!). There are basically three main parts on the island: Capri town, marina grande and Anacapri.
View over the marina.
Capri is absolutley stunning with very dramatic sceneries, lush nature and the most beautiful ocean views wherever you turn. There is a reason why this tiny island has attracted so many royalties, celebrities and tourists over hundreds of years.
Different shades of blue, local fishermen doing their thing.

Capri is best explored on foot, walking the charming and narrow streets, or by boat which gives you the opportunity to go around the island and experience the dramatic cliffs and enchanting caves. 
We took a very beautiful tour around Capri in a private Riva boat.

The famous blue grotto was simply spectacular.
Dramatic cliffs everywhere! And the little house below them belongs to the Swarowski family.
And beautiful caves everywhere too!

2,5 hours in a private boat takes you around the island and gives you tine to explore all the caves and sights.
A word of warning; Capri is not cheap! In fact, even for luxury travellers like ourselves, we found it very expensive. So stay away if you are on a budget. For instance, two small cappuchinos at one cafĂ© we visited were 14 Euros! (In Arpino we pay 2 Euros). But if you are willing to spend some cash, there are so many great restaurants and beautiful luxury hotels here.
Capri main piazza with the cool clock tower that you can hear ring every fifteen minutes.

We went to some excellent restaurants both in the marina grande and Capri town. Since it is expensive wherever you go we suggest you aim for the nicer upscale restuarants that offers the best value for money and stay away from the over priced joints. The fish is extremely good, the local wines are nice and Capri sure attracts a fun crowd. As always try to avoid peak season, it can get really crowded.
Enjoying an ocean front lunch at Lo Zodiaco, a nice fish restaurant in the big marina.
Ocean views from the terrace restaurant of Relais Maresca.

Luxury hotel Quisiana has both a great casual pool side bistro and an amazing fine dining restaurant.

Beauty everywhere!

Where to stay
-Hotel Quisiana (The iconic luxury hotel on the island)
-Hotel Relais Maresca (Charming hotel with the best ocean front location and suites with terraces)
-Tiberio Palace (It does not get more posh)
-La Minerva (A bit outsode town but very nice)
Where to eat:
-Villa Brunella, la Terassa restaurant (Best view over the sunset and excellent food)
-Rendez Vous (fine dining restaurant of Quisiana)
-Lo Zodiaco (stylish fish restaurant in the marina)
-Villa Margeritha (a beautiful terrace and a nice restaurant)
-La Colombaia (easy going but pricy pool side restaurant if Quisiana)
What to do:
-Hire a private Riva boat with a skipper and go around the island
-Take scenic walks
-Shop the unique Capri collections of the global luxury brands
-Go and hang out on the posh beach clubs around the island
-Visit Villa Elise (to admire the terraced gardens)

All the luxury brands have small shops on Capri and many of them create unique Capri collections sold only on the island.
This Dolce&Gabbana t-shirt is part of a unique Capri collection that is only sold in the little D&G store on the island. Of course we had to get them!
Beautiful sunset #1 (as seen from our suite at Relais Maresca)
Beautiful sunset #2 (as seen from the Villa Brunella terrace restaurant).
Capri was a very nice experience and we will be back soon again. After 3 days on this beautiful island we both feel energized and ready to head back to Arpino and celebrate Easter.
See you on the other side of Easter!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Spring in Arpino

Spring in Arpino is a powerful and colourful experience with cherry blossoms and fruit trees in full bloom. We have chosen a great time to spend a couple of weeks in our townhouse when the nature is waking up after the winter and when the temperature is mild, between 15-20 degrees during the sunny days. March and April here is like Swedish summer basically.
Arpino behind spring blossoms
The views are even prettier than usual, which is hard with the kind of views Arpino offers. The medieval village on top of the hill is just made for being photographed over and over. And we have sure posted lots of these photos over the past months.
Arpino at its greenest!
And the animals are also waking up to see the beauty of Arpino
Cherry blossom everywhere!
Another proof of spring.
We have taken so many long walks and well needed jogging tours around Arpino the last days where we've been met by so many nice village people together with the spring views.  

One day we took a long walk and had lunch at the fantastic restaurant "La Perla" that had this view.

Another day we drove to the nearby lake to have lunch at the Guide Michelin restaurant "Il Mantova Del Lago" that had this view.

View from one of our many jogging tours.

5 things to do during spring in Arpino:
1. Take long walks through the stunning landscape in full bloom
2. Enjoy an espresso in the sun on the main square (an espresso or capuccino is around 1 Euro each)
3. Visit the many sights of the region before the touristic season starts
4. The first Sunday of every month during spring it is possible to visit the enclosed nunns of the Benedectine convent (this nunnery is our closest neighbor!)
5. On Good Friday there is a huge parade going through Arpino, it is all very impressive!

View of Arpino from the hill where we live.
We have combined business with pleasure, working on some exciting Red City PR projects from our Italian home while enjoying the most beautiful of springs. Now we look forward to some friends visiting and also easter in Arpino.
Greetings from Italy
Hope the sun is shining on all of you!