A Travellerspoint blog

Morocco, Africa

Casablanca

overcast 13 °C

The flight from Capetown (CPT) to Casablanca (CMN) was CAD$441 and a total of 18hr 35min with Quatar Airways. There was one layover at Doha (DOH) for around 2 hours as well. After we landed, I went straight to the Moroccan House Hotel Casablanca to check into my room. This hotel cost CAD$49 per night, which totaled to around CAD$150 for the 3 night stay. The hotel was very authentic to its cultural associations and gave a glimpse into the daily lives of its locals, but with a touch of the tourist hospitality. The amenities included free Wi-Fi, gym, restaurants and free breakfast.
On the first day I visited the Hassan II Mosque and The Corniche. After the hotel's provided traditional breakfast, I caught a cab to the first destination which was around 2.8km and 7min away. This is the 3rd largest mosque in the world, and the only one that non-Muslims can enter, so it was an extreme culture shock, but in the best way. It was a beautiful architectural feat laced with interior mosaics and minarets. It cost 140 dirhams (or around $14) to get in with a short guided tour on the history of the building. This is definitely a must see monument; the location of sitting right by the ocean also allows visitors to take beautiful photos. Next, I took another 8min and 4.1km cab to The Corniche. I took a walk by the beachside and ate at a restaurant lining the shore. As I walked I listened to traditional street music and got a henna tattoo from a vendor. At the end of the boardwalk was a clock tower, which, at night lit up in an array of colours to end off the day.
Interior of Hassan II Mosque

Interior of Hassan II Mosque


On day 2 I took on the Quartier Habous and the New Medina of Casablanca. The cab to the first destination was 9min and 2.7km long. It is a quaint yet traditionally Moroccan town with a decent selection of bazaars, craft shops, bakeries and cafés located close to the Royal Palace. The shopkeepers were not too pushy and with some haggling, you can find some amazing deals. After buying some cakes from Patisserie Bennis and strolling around the Mosque in the center, I left to the next location which was only 800m or 3min away. The New Medina is a wonderful place to relax in and is one of the largest house of Art-Deco shops. The tram that became operational in December 2012 is a great place to see, and with less car traffic, you can stroll along the main street stretching miles down. There is an array of cafes and shops selling things that would make wonderful souvenirs as well.
new medina of casablanca

new medina of casablanca


Finally, on the last day I visited the Musee Abderrahman Slaoui and the Tamaris Aquaparc. The cab to the first area was 2kkm and 8min away from the hotel. It was a very educational museum with an amazing collection of turn-of-the-century and early 20th century travel posters, along with other Moroccan art, decorative ware and jewelry. The building was quaint and small, with many a tiny cafe found on the top level where I had some delicious Moroccan pastries. Next, I made my way via cab on the 18.7km or 35min long ride to the Tamaris Aquaparc. It was a small waterpark with an array of fun family games and children activities. After some time there, I ate dinner at the restaurant next-door which is very well known with the locals for its traditional food: Zoya's. Once I returned to the hotel, I packed my bags for my flight at night to Thailand, Asia.
Tamaris Aquaparc

Tamaris Aquaparc

Posted by TravelBuddy2016 07:51 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

South Africa, Africa

Cape Town

sunny 34 °C

I spent 3 days in South Africa doing a numerous amount of activities, almost all of them allowing me to immerse myself in the great outdoors. The flight from Egypt to South Africa was 14hours and 50 minutes long. I rode with Ethiopian Airlines and travelled a total of 1,268km with 2 stops at ADD (Bole Intl.) and JNB(Tambo Intl.) in order to finally reach Cape Town. The flight cost CAD$520.37 and was honestly worth it in the end. Our first stop was straight to the Cape Heritage Hotel to unload and settle down into my room for the next 3 days. The cost of the hotel totaled up to $412 for a 4 day 3 night stay at $134 per night. The hotel was exquisite yet cultural and provided amenities such as free breakfast, a bar/lounge, free Wi-Fi and airport transportation.
I woke up bright and early one the first day of tourism for a complete day of travelling in Table Mountain. The ride from the hotel was 6.6m which totaled up to around 17min because of the empty roads on a taxi. The first thing I did when I had finally arrived was catch a 5min cable car to the top of Table Mountain 1089m above Cape Town. After exploring the summit for a bit, I enjoyed the surreal panoramic views of the town below. After grabbing a quick bite at the Table Mountain Café and refilling my water bottle, and took the short audio tour by connecting to the free Wi-Fi available at the top. I took one of the 3 hiking trails offered to witness the abundant fynbos vegetation with over 1,460 different species of plants. After returning for lunch at the small restaurant located near the summit hotspot station, headed out yet again on a free 30min guided tour departing from the Twelve Apostles Terrace. The staff were extremely friendly and accommodating to all sorts of people which helped enrich the overall experience. I then took a Table Mountain Abseil by stepping off the top, at 1000 metres above sea level. I Abseiled into pure vertical space, surrounded by beautiful views and the deep blue Atlantic. Finally, I ended off the day by viewing a renowned sunset from the top of the summit while enjoying a bite at the outdoor restaurant.
table mountain

table mountain


The next day I visited both the Langa Township and the Two Oceans Aquarium. After a hearty breakfast, I grabbed a cab and made my way on the 12.9km or 15min ride to the Langa Township to experience the authentic life of the locals which is often shrouded by the vast tourism industry. I took a guided CAD$50, 2 hour cycling tour with Footsteps to Freedom. It was distressing to find there were still places in the world where people are so unfortunate, and how they make the best of their situation. The tour guide explained the various different types of housing and allowed us to donate money to families by buying their local crafts. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to witness this hidden side of Africa, as it helped widen my horizons and my perspective on daily life. It was a wonderful experience with the extremely accommodating and friendly townsfolk and business owners. After this, I took another 15.9km cab ride for 19min to the Two Oceans Aquarium. The ticket was 135 South African Rand which translates to around CAD$11. Exploring the various exhibits such as the predator tank, penguins, Indian Ocean Gallery, Kelp Tank and Atlantic Ocean Gallery was very informative and fun. After using the touch pools and microscope exhibits, I made my way to the Shoreline Café to grab a bite to eat. Finally, I ended the day with taking a dive in the aquarium which offered the unique opportunity to get close to ragged-tooth sharks and shoals of large predators such as yellowtail, dusky kob and black- and white musselcracker.
Two Oceans Aquarium

Two Oceans Aquarium


On the final day I viewed the Old Biscuit Mill and Robben Island. The cab to The Old Biscuit Mill was 3.9km and 9min long. There was much to do as everywhere you looked there were more stalls and vendors trying to get you to purchases their stuff. It was extremely busy with food stalls, bespoke stalls and tours of a chocolate factory, all with very reasonable prices. Definitely worth the visit! After filling my bags and stomach, I took the 1hr 46min cab travelling 19.8km to the renowned Robben Island. I reached the dock and took the relaxing 20min ferry ride to the island. The tour we were given was by a previous political prisoner so It was obviously very emotional. This suited the vibes because this attraction is a closed down prison that was filled with Apartheid prisoners including Nelson Mendela. It was historic trip into the past lives of the prisoners, personal stories and insights in order to gain a more appreciative understanding of this shadowed piece of history. This final destination ended my visit to Cape town, South Africa on a sad, but hopeful note for change. The next day I would take a flight to Morocco,
Old Biscuit Mill

Old Biscuit Mill

Posted by TravelBuddy2016 07:23 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Russia, Europe

Moscow

My last flight was CAD$249 for a 8hr 45min ride with 1 stop in RIX for 4hr 25min via Air Baltic. The hotel I stayed at was the Hotel Metropol Moscow which was CAD$188 per night, or CAD$664.80 for 3 nights.
On the first day I started off with an 11min cab to The State Tretyakov Gallery after a hearty hotel breakfast. It is a famous art gallery in Moscow. that is a wonderful place to educate yourself and admire Russian fine art. There was an amazing collection of Russian artists such as Shishkin, Borovikovsky and Kiprensky. I found that it was easy to find, well-presented, and a very good way to expand and enrich your view of Russia, its art and its history. I took the audioguide tour, and it was really good and worth the extra money. I then ended the day with an 17min cab to Bolshoi Theater. To fully enjoy this, I treated myself to the best seats I could afford and dressed up to attend. The theater had a stunning interior and an amazing performance that was a wonderful experience from start to finish.
State Tretyakov Gallery

State Tretyakov Gallery


On the second day I began with a 10min cab to Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, which is the largest museum of European art in Moscow, located in Volkhonka street, just opposite the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. It is a fine arts museum located in the center of the city with a large collection of ancient art as well as Renaissance masters, Impressionists and modern art. In contrast to Tretyakov gallery, its focus is on foreign art. It is a vaery large museum and I ended up spending the entire day there. Then, I ended the day with a 15min cab to Farmers Restaurant Lavkalavka. This is simply the best restaurant I've tried during my entire trip. It was an excellent value for the money and had good service for the delicious courses. I had the borsch soup , but everything on the menu was divine. This restaurant severs food from a selected group of local suppliers and every meal comes with a story which makes it personal.
Farmer's Restaurant

Farmer's Restaurant


On the last day I first took a 16min walk to Moscow Kremlin, which is a fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west. It is a large fortress surrounded by huge red walls and beautiful towers. It showcases 800 years of Russian history, and although no bags are allowed, they can be left at the luggage. The outdoor churches, gardens, Tsar bell and the great cannon were all very impressive to see in person. Finally I ended the day with a 12min walk to St. Basil's Cathedral. This is surely the most iconic building in Russia and it lives up to its renowned worldview. It is an absolutely beautiful and incredibly intricately designed masterpiece built in the 1950's to replace a church that already stood on this spot. At the end of the day I had my last meal in Russia at the local canteen and went back to my hotel to pack my bags and go home.
red fort moscow

red fort moscow

Posted by TravelBuddy2016 07:16 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Egypt, Africa

Cairo and More

sunny 26 °C

Today marks the start of an amazing experience; my dream trip around the world. On Sunday, after having just arrived at the airport in Cairo, Egypt at the first continental stop of my journey, Africa, I was both excited and tired. After an excruciating 18 hour flight with a 6h 55m layover at London, United Kingdom, you can imagine just how exhausted I was. To make things worse, the 9, 203km journey from YYZ-CAI totaled up to a grand $1,344 CAD, marking the fist of many dents in my wallet. I took a cab to my hotel at 10 Sphinx Street, Nazlet El-Semman, Giza after exchanging my Canadian money into the Egyptian pound. I had booked the Pyramids View Inn for the astounding price of only $45 CAD per night which totaled up only $225 CAD for my 5 night stay in Egypt. After a meal and a good night's sleep, I started up bright and early at 7:00 on Sunday to get ready for the day's activities. After picking up a car rental , I made my way to the first stop at Sharm El Sheikh's St Catherine's Monastery. It lies on the Sinai Peninsula, in a quaint town at the mouth of a large gorge by Mount Sinai. It was a wonderful historic experience to climb the mountain with a crowd of fellow tourists guided by an expert. There was a spiritual atmosphere clinging to the rocks due to its proximity to the mount where Moses received the 10 commandments from God. I toured the landscape via walking visiting areas such as the Burning Bush, the Charnel House. All of the locals were extremely friendly and didn't mind helping me fully reap the benefits of this beautiful area. I stayed at Mount Sinai until around 4pm, when I started to feel the first onsets of hunger. I then took a drove to the renowned Naama Bay. There were a number of daytime activities still commencing such as glass-boat rides, kayaking, parasailing, wind surfing. I myself went swimming along the white sandy beaches and went home excited for the next day. On day 2 I had a blast from the past with my travel to the siwa owasis for a safari into the great sand sea. The car drive there was a grand 6hrs, so i left early in the morning at 5am in order to arrive at the safari tour near 11am. However, in the end, the long toll filled journey was worth it in order to experience the true adventure associated with ancient egypt. My tour group traveled in a jeep from the fortress of Shali to the Shiatta lake in a total 6hrs. The next day I travelled to hurgada city for the careless reef snorkeling and the abu-simbel sound and light show. On the final day I traveled to Luxor for the 8hr day cruise to dendera. When i got back to the hotel that day i packed my bags so I could get up early for my flight to South Africa.
St Catherine's Monastery

St Catherine's Monastery

Posted by TravelBuddy2016 08:05 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

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