Category Archives: Tips & Hacks

Loving an addict-anonymous reader’s attention

The scourge of drug , drinking and porn addiction in our communities is destroying our homes,relationships and community as a whole. I don't think there's anyone out there that can truly say that they don't know anyone that is or has been addicted to either drugs or porn in this day and age.

Shame keeps us from seeking help. What will people say? Our son in rehab? Can never be! We will beat it out of him. Send him for 40 days jamaat. Maybe it's jadoo – these are all likely responses of people around the addict.

Let's get real. I've been in this situation many times. I love a recovering addict. This road has not been easy. There is no overnight fix and relapses do occur- this is the nature of addiction. I've had to push him into a car and drive him hours to a rehab in the middle of the night because he relapsed. I've had to leave him so that his parents could stop being manipulated by his lies and see for themselves how serious his condition is. I've seen it all, done it all- and yet you may ask why I still love him, why am I still with him?

The simple truth is he's the nicest person I know with a heart of gold who is the best husband except for this one flaw- I love him. He fell into bad company in campus which led to addiction and years later a serious medical condition needed strong medication and this resulted in another addiction- but through all that I've seen how hard he tries to stay clean, that this is really not the life he wants and I know I can help him. I've been told numerous times by rehabs that if I leave him he has no-one else that is equipt to deal with his issue , no-one around him strong enough to deal with this and I know this- if I leave he has no hope. I also see the other men at the rehab, I hear about other addicts from friends and family and I wonder if I won't end up in the same situation if I leave and find someone else because honestly it is THAT common. I cannot leave, move on and let him destroy himself and his life- he deserves more.

Druggies as many love calling them are not just those shabby looking, dirty junkies you used to see sleeping on the streets or begging at the robots. No my darlings, they are lawyers, teachers, doctors, anaesthesists, pharmacists, businessmen , grandfathers and yes even aalims. They're these haaro looking poiros with beards who are huffaaz that you sit next to at the masjid and can even lead a somewhat normal life most of the time- they're quite good at hiding it.

Tv makes drinking and alcohol look so cool , that even someone like me whose lived through this nightmare , who knows the devastating effects that drugs can have has caught myself thinking 'hmm cocaine looks so fun in the movie, wished I'd tried it when I was younger'. Just one time wont hurt etc- NO , NO , NO – this is dangerous thinking- we need to inculcate this awareness that drugs and alcohol is completely haraam – awareness that Allah does not accept your ibaadat for 40 days after indulging- that it WILL remove all barakah from your life, that you would never want to die in this state and that many times all it really takes is just one snort, puff, shot, injection to have you craving more.

It's not something we can keep sweeping under the rug. There are kids younger than 12 in rehabs, you need to be more involved in your kid's lives. Peer pressure and the wrong company plays a huge role. 'It's just dagga' is not an acceptable response- dagga can cause mental illness, is intoxicating and is a gateway drug- don't be naive. Many times dagga is mixed with other drugs too.

Women are also increasingly resorting to drugs so much so that there are now rehabs specifically for muslim females in South Africa. Sometimes the husband gets the wife hooked so that he can continue 'partying' – our muslim men are giving their wives to drug dealers for the night for drugs- this is a REALITY.

So this is all happening and I know many of you in this situation are probably sitting feeling hopeless, you feel alone, you don't know what to do anymore and this is why I wanted to share what I've learnt over the years with you because I know this can help so many people in the same or similar situation :

1. Do not be an enabler. When they are in active addiction do not give into money demands. They may even steal from you. Take away their atm cards. Do not let them drive under the influence. It may be necessary to even take their cellphone away so that they cannot call their dealers. All family members need to be on the same page. You cannot have the wife being hard and trying to do the stuff mentioned and the parents or siblings giving into demands in secret.

2. If you don't believe them when they say they haven't taken anything , ask them to do a drug test – make sure you watch them actually pee into the container, many times they will google ways to pass drug tests (adding chemicals in the urine) or add water into the sample.

3. Jamaat is not the answer, with all due respect, you cannot just send someone with a serious drug or alcohol addiction straight into jamaat and expect a miracle- they WILL have physical withdrawals. I've even heard about addicts going into jamaat and then stealing the collection box, clocks and frames to sell for drugs. This may be helpful AFTER detox and rehabilitation but not during active addiction.

4. I hear often that 'you cannot make someone change' that if they don't want to change then rehab won't help them. Understand this- a person who is in active addiction , while going through psychological and physical withdrawal will most often refuse to go into rehab- it is not their choice, YOU have to be strong- tough love etc. You can only have a decent conversation with them once they're sober. Also, they don't get a say in the matter- they are endangering themselves and those around them- It's also illegal- It's upto you to put your foot down and get them the help they need. Once they are detoxed, withdrawal free and level headed they will thank you- trust me. Occasionally you do get those who will say they love the lifestyle, they love the high and they do want that lifestyle even when sober- this is when you have to decide if you can live with an addict forever because living with a recovering addict and living with an addict are two different things.

5. Violence and abuse from them should not be tolerated. Again, tough love. They are honestly the best manipulators and are excellent at making you feel sorry for them and playing on your emotions. If they get violent have them put in cuffs and taken to rehab. If they steal from you or are behaving dangerously then call the cops, have them arrested and let the ultimatum be jail or rehab. This will require you to be incredibly firm and strong – you have to be cruel to be kind.

6. Rehab is the answer but not one or two weeks. Minimum 21 days but longer is usually better. A rehab that has proper counsellors or social workers, that focuses on spiritual upliftment but also builds them up and doesn't break them down. In this instance I recommend Crescent of hope in magaliesberg- this place was life changing for me and my marriage. Uncle Rafiq at the centre is amazing with his advice and counselling and dealing not only with the addict and addiction but also repairing the family unit as a whole. (Fyi-Zakaatable patients are catered for).

7. Understand that relapses do happen, the key is acting on it the moment you notice it- getting them help immediately and not giving into their pleas that it was 'only once' or that they can fight the addiction on their own etc- be firm and strong. Ultimatums also work most times. Here though you cannot keep giving ultimatums and making threats and not acting on them- they will not take you seriously or respect you.

8. Even once they're out keep in touch with the rehab facility. Magaliesberg offers boosters, where you go in for a few days every few months for motivation and as a reminder- these are a good idea. Don't take it for granted that they did the rehab and will be fine- addiction is a daily struggle- reminders are good- reminding them why they need to stay clean, motivating and reconnecting spiritually.

9. Naltrexone implants are being done around the country and it can be very beneficial getting these done after a proper rehab and detox. This helps with opioid addiction so eg heroin and even for alcohol addiction. It lasts 3 months and then you can have another implant done. Naltrexone is also available in tablet form but then obviously this is more difficult to monitor. Naltrexone ensures that even if they take something they feel sick and don't get a high so they won't even try to take anything on Naltrexone. Naltrexone is very different to Suboxone and Subutex- it isn't habit forming.

10. Allah consciousness- zikr, salaah, taalim at home, listening to inspirational talks in the car all will help them try to stay clean once they're clear headed. Good company, being surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family gives them motivation to stay clean. Inclusion not shaming and exclusion- love and support and helping them get back on their feet.

11. Distractions- having something to focus on that they're passionate about and that keeps their minds busy will be beneficial after rehabilitation. Hobbys, sports etc. I've frequently been told that having a child or another child may give them the push they need and make them 'grow up' – I actually know someone who did change when the wife gave him an ultimatum that she would take their unborn child and move out if he didn't clean up his act- this was when he got help and has been clean ever since… this won't work for everyone though. Its also not something I would advise- bringing a child into that situation hoping it will change them.

12. Sometimes they need further counselling, there are unresolved childhood issues, self esteem issues etc- even a life coach can sometimes help. But unfortunately not everyone has issues – some are honestly just so deep in it and love the high- they need to find other things in life that give them a natural high- passions- things to live for and get excited about.

13. Disowning, shaming, ridiculing will not get you far. It is upto us and I firmly believe it is our responsibility that when our fellow brother or sister slips that we try and help them up. Hate the sin not the sinner, understand that this is not the life anyone would've chosen for themselves , that they can't help themselves but YOU the people around them can help them- every time they slip up put them right back into rehab. Although if you are in a marriage and have children and you have tried getting them help several times and whatever I've suggested then it may be time you gave up- thinking about their safety and getting them out of an unhealthy situation- that doesn't mean their family has to also give up though- someone around them should try to help their family member nomatter how frustrating it may be – if this means leaving them in the rehab for 6 months, 12 months then so be it. It's about saving a life. At times if you truly have exhausted all options, if they have resorted to crime or prostitution to feed their habits and are a danger to you and the rest of the family it may be necessary to cut ties- only you know what your reality is- I cannot tell you what to do – I can only urge you to exhaust all options so that you don't regret the decision for the rest of your life. You also can't make someone change, you can get them help and once they're sober you need to hear how they truly feel- if they blatantly after detox and counselling would rather choose drugs over life then you have to Whats right for you too.

14. Understand what their triggers are and keep an eye out for them. This involves keeping the lines of communication open. Spot/surprise drug tests may even be a good idea and motivation not to slip up.

15. Get yourself help- it can be so exhausting both physically and mentally living with an addict, you need your own support structure and counselling. Addicts will often guilt you and manipulate you into keeping their secret- they make it seem like you broke their trust or you divulged secrets from the marriage- NO! addiction is not a marriage issue, it is NOT something you should be forced to deal with alone. Get them help, get yourself help- give them an ultimatum- pack your bags and leave and demand they get proper help if they're refusing. Do NOT keep quiet and do nothing (this doesn't mean you shout it out to the world, you can still conceal their faults by telling only those who can actually be of assistance). Work on yourself, make your own money, let him realise that you have options, that you are strong enough to manage on your own if you need to- this may give him the realisation that he could genuinely lose you and he may be more willing to seek help- if you have nowhere to go, are financially reliable on him etc he may just use this to take advantage of the situation and threaten to leave YOU if you tell anyone about his addiction.

16. When we hear about people having affairs, gambling, dealing in ribaa etc we don't look down on them as much as those who have a drug or alcohol addiction- why? Are they not all major sins? We also seem as a community to view drinking as worse that popping pills. The amount of people young and old that are seriously addicted to codeine based products like stilpane, adco-dols etc and sleeping pills is alarming yet many times we don't class them as 'druggies' yet codeine,morphine,heroin are in the same class. We definitely need more awareness. Porn addiction is also quite serious and not something to be taken lightly.

17. As for jadoo and evil eye – yes occasionally perhaps this may be the case but they will still have developed a physical addiction and simply taking them to an aamil only isn't going to solve the problem at hand. Let's get serious! They were using the drugs and need detox and to get over the withdrawal stage nomatter what led them to it.

18. Some people are truly beyond help, most commonly once they've tried heroin and in this case I honestly don't have any answers for you. I have not been in this situation But I do understand that it is the worst with the highest rate of relapse. Implants every three months may not be in everyone's budget, tablets are also around R1000 every month- It's sometimes necessary to see things for what they are and decide if it's worth it, if you're fighting a losing battle or not.

19. Sometimes YOU also need to change. Yes YOU. I didn't realise this till I heard a talk about Allah not changing the condition of people until they change themselves. I needed to connect with my creator, I needed to read all these duas to ask Allah to help him and keep him clean, to help me and give me stength, to guide me. I needed to change so that he could change too. I needed to read Salaatul Hajaat and all my other prayers that I had been neglecting. At every step I sought his guidance with Istikharah and HE always showed me what to do. Sometimes this is your test too.

20. They need someone to talk to when they're thinking of relapsing or having a hard day- ideally this should be the wife/some other close family that they can call for motivation and counselling and so you can help them to remove triggers and access to substances or just keep them busy and help them cope with the psychological addiction- sometimes this may be a professional eg someone from the rehab but at any stage that they slip up they need to understand that the best thing for everyone is to come clean and let you know immediately so that you can help them to help themselves- it might sound impossible but with proper communication free of judgment, yelling and belittling it is absolutely possible. Know the signs to look out for.

21. A dua given to me by mufti Siraj Desai to read constantly truly helped me. There isn't a day that I don't read this dua for him.

Rabbana Hablana min azwaajina wadhurriy-yatina, Qurrata a’ayun wa-jalna lil-muttaqeena Imaama
  O my Rabb! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous [25:74]

No-one can really tell a wife to stay and put up with this type of behaviour- you know what you can bare- you should seek Allah's help and take it from there but I can tell you that happiness is possible. Having the man/woman that you love back is possible, recovering from drug addiction is very possible with an awesome support structure not by shunning people, not by exclusion and disowning people but only with love, tough love and proper help. It is not an easy road- it is one full of tears, dissapointments, 'why mes' , anger, frustration etc but sometimes it IS all worth it.

Allah ease the pain of all those watching the ones they love go down this destructive path. Allah give you strength to do the right thing and get them the right help. Allah make it easy for all the people fighting their nafs and addictions daily , give them the strength to stay clean- give their family the understanding of how to help them. Help us as a community to keep our children amd spouses away from all things harmful and give us your guidance to do what is best for us and them. Ameen

Glow essentials

Recently I've had several requests from people to please share my beauty regimen with you guys as they've noticed that my skin was looking quite glowy and healthy.

In all honesty, I have had what for me is quite bad skin this past month, as a result of my hormones being all over the place! I've had a pimple crop up every 10-14 days which is not normal for my skin. I've thus taken a bit of extra care of my skin and even with those concerns, managed to maintain healthy, glowing skin.

So my latest beauty regimen consists of Gardenia and Argan eye and face cream from the Argan Co-op in Essaouira , Morocco. Unfortunately this is not available in SA.

I have been using the infinity Crystal Blanc from Nadia Motala Hair and beauty for the last 2 months- I don't use them every day, instead every second day and sometimes if I forget to use them then 2 at a time! I'm convinced that this together with the drip that I had at Reviv in Umhlanga, is why I did not get sick this winter even though EVERYONE around me had the worst bout of flu that stuck around for 2 full weeks! These patches are great for achieving even toned skin and I've even noticed my slight pigmentation get a bit lighter now. They're hailed as a lightening patch to lighten the skin and if you're following me for a while you know I'm totally against promoting skin lightening however, I feel that what this does is give you a bright, glowy look – for instance how your skin looks after a steam facial – even toned, bright and healthy.

My other new fave product right now is from Muse Beauty. The Farsali 24 k Rose Gold Elixir. This is the key to faking the glow even if you don't have it. Use it before you apply your foundation to help you stay hydrated and achieve that sun-kissed glow

My skin just soaks this up without leaving an oily layer or any discomfort. It's suitable for all skin types and is packed with Rosehip oil, vitamin E oil, 24 K gold etc to fight off aging, help with pigmentation and stretch marks. You can even add a few drops to your foundation. So lightweight and deeply nourishing and hydrating.

What I also do is make sure to use a mask atleast every 10-15 days . Right now I'm using The Ordinary , peeling solution (from Muse Beauty) once a month alternating with a sheet mask , Tony Moly (from Muse Beauty) or any of those available from Shades of Mink.

Before bed I apply Superskin Elixir from Phytocare and allow that to work it's magic while I dream! So you see , great skin takes work and is totally possible even when your skin is bent on being a pain in the butt! I forgot to mention that I absolutely make sure to remove all my makeup before bed and use a mildly exfoliating face scrub daily whilst showering (Rooibos or Nivea). And don't forget the sunscreen!

Hope you enjoyed this , let me know what else you'd like to read in the comments below.

Tips for newbie bloggers

My inbox is filled with requests for tips on how to run a successful blog/become an influencer. It all depends though how you define success – for me I’m very impressed with where my instagram account is at right now – for some the amount of money I make off my account may not= success.

What you do need to realise is that I never had any intentions of being a blogger – I simply put out what I loved and people were drawn to it – so right there is my first tip- do what you love and don’t try to be like everyone else. Since I never had any intentions of being ‘the next Ascia or Dina Torkia’, I’m quite happy moving at my own pace and having fun with my blog- the less ‘work’ it entails and the more fun it is , the more pleased I am. 

What is success to me? Helping people embrace and love their hijab and modest dressing. Providing a platform for Promotion of local modest fashion designers and I won’t lie, I love reviewing and styling items – so to me the monetary aspect isn’t much of a concern. If you plan on making a living off your blog you need to realise that you will need to invest alot of time and money into it – from photographers to products and clothing.

My options are limited due to where I live (there is one photographer in a town not too far away but her work is very average) , I can’t attend most blogger meetups and events and working 6 days a week, time is not on my side. If you live in a city try and collaborate with upcoming photographers for a free or really cheap photoshoot.  You don’t have to invest in a costly camera and equipment- my pics are taken with my cellphone and I’ve managed just fine- lighting is key though and my worst pics are usually because I’ve finished work late and had to take pics after sunset. 
The best time to take pics? Before 8am or after 3pm usually. 

I’ve never approached or emailed businesses to ask them for items but many bloggers do. Please always try to be polite if you do and realise that some businesses are run by single mums/divorced women or women who run households that desperately needs a second income- don’t be demanding they may not be able to afford your requests.. perhaps leave it up to them to suggest items and pick from there. 
Reply to emails , dms and answer (reasonable) questions that your followers/fans pose. You have to engage with your followers.

Accept that not everyone will like you of your style- you are not nutella (although, there are people out there who don’t like Nutella!!). You will encounter nasty comments, criticism, people creating fake profiles just to spread hate and people who befriend you for all the wrong reasons. Be wary.
Be very careful who you share your ideas with – people are not afraid to shamelessly copy. 

Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers – we all have to start somewhere and blogging can be quite cutthroat- we will never have contentment if you stalk and compare- just be yourself and do you.
It’s really easy to start to compromise your beliefs and lower your personal standards when you see ‘what everyone else is doing’- try to be tough and not bend into peer pressure – you don’t have show more skin, advocated haraam or do what everyone else is doing to be accepted – there are literally too many people out there that all look the same (different versions of the Kardashians) or all dress the same but there’s not another one of you – embrace your uniqueness.
You will drive yourself crazy if you obsess over stats – appreciate and interact with the followers you have and just concentrate on the followers you DO have. 

A beautiful feed (which I find so difficult to do) is really popular and great to look at. 

 Hashtags are your friend- use them. Tag pages that might repost your pic- it’s the fastest way to new followers. 
I delayed starting a blog and really didn’t want to but there’s only so much you can type under a pic on instagram so if you plan to give detailed reviews or pen your thoughts- definitely get a blog- there are many free hosts.

Hijabi boss babes

One of the most requested tips have got to be from ladies requesting tips on how to style themselves modestly for interviews and the corporate environment as well as for meetings. I therefore decided that it would be fun to put together a few looks as a reference guide. Let’s dive straight into them.
My first look is a longer length navy cape that I purchased last year from @shop.style.snap , which I’ve paired with a white flare sleeved top from @lunahcpt and an off white wide leg pants from Bershka. Shoes are from Mr Price , bag from Colette and scarf from Hayaa Box. You could wear navy pants , wear any formal crisp white shirt and add a few accesories to this look. Why not try a white maxi dress, even one with flared sleeves for a trendy but even more modest look?

The next look is for those ladies who prefer not to wear pants- I wanted to demonstrate that you can totally still fit into the corporate world. I’ve worn a plain black straight winter dress from Mr Price which could easily be swopped for an abaya. The coat is a recent purchase from H&M , it was 50% off too! Shoes are from Zara and scarf from Turkishly Delightful. 


My third look is pink , because sometimes you’ve just got to embrace your femininity- every one needs atleast one powersuit. I love the printed fabric on this one but I wish the pants were a bit wider. This suit was purchased from Fashion Fusion in Durban , shoes are from La Capella. Shirt is from Legit and scarf from Hayaa Box.

Next up is 2 different looks created by making slight changes. 
Look one :

A winter trench coat from H&M worn with Bershka wide legged pants in red, the same white shirt above from Legit , the same Mr price heels from the first look and a pearl scarf from Modanisa. This look would look just as great if you swopped out the red pants for black or any other colour really. Simple and so elegant!
Look 2:

Here I’ve removed the trench and added a sleeveless coat (you could wear a shorter one too) and I’ve changed the scarf to a beige one from Al  Shazia in Durban. The handbag/clutch is from planet54.com (don’t forget my discount code ‘bash10’)
Tips:
-In my opinion a simple navy or black blazer should be a closet staple.

– A sleeveless coat/blazer  in black/white/navy or tan as well as easy to style scarves in the same colours will go a long way

-wide leg pants or palazzo pants are easy to style but generally difficult to find so if you find a pair you’re happy with, take them in every colour!

– A formal shirt in white and one in black is versatile for your work wardrobe but even for the weekend it will look amazing with your favourite pair of jeans and a statement neckpiece. 

Tips for shopping online from Small businesses

Your home businesses/small businesses do not run in the same way as your big retailers and online stores eg Zando and Spree. Here are a few tips for ensuring you don’t step on any toes: 
Tip 1, Please respect the fact that home businesses are usually a one man show. Understand that queries sent through at odd hours of the night may not be attended to immediately as business owners have a responsibility to their family as well.. you can’t shop 24 hours a day as you can at a normal online store.

Tip 2, understand that instagram dms are not always reliable, messages tend to disappear at times, notifications do not always pop up for dms and dm chats are not permanently saved. It would be better to use the method of communication listed in the bio of the business profile. 

Tip 3, please read the caption under the pic for details about the item (if supplied), you could also browse through the comments section to see if someone has already asked the question you want to pose and if it has been answered already.

Tip 4, if you have placed an order for an item and asked the business to keep it aside for you, the right thing to do should you change your mind/find it cheaper elsewhere or have a sudden financial crisis, is let them know that you nolonger require the item and thank them for their time.

Tip 5, As hard as it might be, understand that at times a handful of businesses may have a valid reason for not putting up prices- the main one that is understandable is for baked goods eg birthday cakes that require quotes –whose price will fluctuate based on the type of cake, type of icing, size of cake etc so don’t necessarily write off all businesses who don’t put up prices – sometimes the extra effort may just be worth it.

Tip 6, Some businesses refuse to have open profiles- I know that it makes no sense from a business perspective but that’s their choice at the end of the day – clicking follow on a profile is not so difficult, but I do understand that when you want to purchase something and are in a hurry, waiting for someone to accept a follow request, then waiting for them to respond to your email/watsapp is another unnecessary wait- it is what it is- you have the option to wait or support someone else.

Tip 7, Courier delays can and do happen- the driver has a breakdown, the parcel gets lost, the courier is Fastway (who are pathetic imo) etc- this is part of life- if you have been supplied a tracking number (which you should be given) please track and call the courier if you have any concerns before getting upset with the business who doesn’t have control of what happens once the parcel leaves them.

Tip 8, if you receive an item that has been received in poor condition eg broken or leaking etc , my advice is to immediately take a picture and forward it to the supplier.
A good online business will refund you or replace the item. 

Tip 9, Be courteous at all times. Watsapping someone ‘How much’ without greeting and common courtesy reflects very poorly on you
. Start with greeting, perhaps a quick how are you, introduce yourself and then ask about the item preferably by also sending a screenshot of the item so you’re both on the same page. 

Tip 10, understand that Online businesses do not always have the option of you being able to pick up or try on – I understand that this can be difficult especially if they also have a strict no refund policy- if you are terrified of losing your hard earned cash when something doesn’t fit or you really can’t afford to pay courier, my only advice is to rather look for an online business that does offer you this option as there are a handful that do- or shop at a regular store. 

Tip 11, just because a business is posting pics of new stock at 12 am , it does not necessarily mean that they will be up for business queries at that hour.. if like me, you’re scared that you might forget the page name/to message them the next day/that the item may get sold by the time you wake up- send a message, apologizing for the late message, explain what you would like and that they don’t have to reply immediately but when they have the time.

Tip 12, once you have received the parcel, a thank you and a message to say you’re happy or love your item is always a great idea although not compulsory- it will brighten someone’s day.

Travel Memoirs- Abu Dhabi and Morocco itinerary and tips 

Abu Dhabi Visa was done via tts services, link is on etihad’s site. Multiple entry @ R 2467 each (agent quoted R3950!)Morocco visa via Uncle Ab Dawjee. Etihad tickets booked directly on website.

  •  Leave jhb 14 april Etihad, Friday 19:25pm , Arrive Abu Dhabi 5:55am.

Stay at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, 2 nights prestige suite executive lounge + butler + bfast.

Sights in Abu dhabi

Sheikh zayed mosque

Madinat zayed shopping centre-abayas etc open till 11pm gold centre

Sheik zayed masjid 9am to 10pm and emirates palace

Capital gate , corniche 18 degree slant

Heritage village 5 min walk from marina mall

Abu dhabi mall-kate spade/balmain etc,riva

Yas mall, ted baker and kate spade

Marina mall-centrepoint,giordano, ted b , valentino. Sky tower

World trade centre mall and souk-ted b , h&m

Mina port

Al wahda mall, riva and lc waikiki, cold stone , fuddruckers and tgif

Observation deck at 300 drinks with a view

Jump out of a plane… (kind of!)

You can do it in Abu Dhabi without actually jumping out of a plane at all! Head to the Abu Dhabi Country Club’s Spacewalk facility to experience the sensation of floating through the air, without the terrifying prospect of hurling yourself out of an aeroplane. Introduction course including instruction and a two-minute flight Dhs180. Frequent flyer, family and party packages available.

Spacewalk Indoor Skydiving, Abu Dhabi Country Club, Al Sada Street (02 657 7777).

Nusr et al maritah island

Ferrari world

Abayas kunji mall, yas mall, marina mall,wahda mall and world trade centre mall and souk sweety

To eat

Fauchon – avenue at etihad towers, al khubeirah

last exit- pop up eating places in caravans.. very cool

*Red star bistro- teppenyaki.. Very tasty

**chilis-Mexican food… very tasty

**Leopolds of London- must go.. must have creme brûlée… best we ever had.. inside

*Peppermill -Abu dhabi Eastern Mangroves

* La Boulenger for shisha n food

*Fuddrukkers-steaks and burgers

*ROGO’s Rollercoaster restaurant in yas mall Abu Dhabi also must must

*TGIF- all over steaks n burgers n pasta’s

*Bricco’s for deevine Italian food n steaks

*Wagamama deevine Chinese food on sheikh zayed road and Abu Dhabi

(garlic chicken noodles very tasty)

*California Pizza for really tasty pizza’s

*Buffalo wings and rings-Abu dhabi.. Tasty boneless wings n food

* the famous chocolate street

* Salt for burgers by mushriff park

Dip n dip divine

Lebanese flower,defence rd- cheap excellent food

Al mina fish market/fish souk

Eat at emirates palace /tea

Another eat-out known for good Manakish and good Sulaimani tea is the Armani in Madinat Zayed.

Pf changs abu dhabi mall, yas mall, world trade centre mall

****Must have!!!! Cold stone creamery ice creams that are all over UAE..

fashion TV cafe

Godiva Cafe- same mall as leopolds of London

Bens cookies-yas mall

Sephora-yas mall

  • Leave Abu Dhabi 17 April 2:45 am, arrive Casablanca 8:35 am- aeroport transport to pick us up- look for driver holding signs- upto 3 ppl at 300 mad { mr muhammed +212 6 76 76 81 89}

For train -Train connects airport with main train station , casa voyageurs. Leave every hour, take 30 mins. Look for signs pointing downstairs in the airport.

Inwi sim free at airport- R66 for 5 gb

Staying at Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche deluxe king room with mosque and medina view. Casa port railway one block away. . Across masjid, near old medina

Sights in Casa + eateries

Hassan II Mosque

Habous quarter-where locals shop, traditional

View of city climb bell tower cathedrale de sacre coeur.
Amoud french patisserie

Pralinor artisan chocolate

Fauchon french patisserie,21 boulevard moulay rachid,Anfa

Maarif shoppers paradise –near boulevard bir anzarAne, more traditional

Paul restaurant, 55 boulevard mohamed abdou, palmier

Morocco mall closes 9pm-laduree , lc waikiki-dipndip ,crêpes de france ,dominoes- musical fountain, etam, h&m

La sqala-restaurant near medina- near ricks café-old fort

Patisserie bennis habbous-almond biscuits

Casablancas central market where locals shop

Blend gourmet burger – rue theophile gauthier

Corniche-Ain daib district to chill

Eat at frederick bassel

Train to fez is 15 euros first class. 4-4,5 hrs by train or car.

  • Leave for Fez 18 – 22 April. Train

Staying at palais sheherazade+spa – snr suite.2 mins walk to medina.  My first choice was Riad Fes- they were booked for my dates..

Sights and eateries

Bab boujeloud-blue gate

Chouara tannery

Hammam- spa laaroussa 3 derb bechara about 250 hammams in fez 50 to 100 dirhams

Café clock ( 7 derb magana) talaa kabira-camel burger, drinks . Branch in marrakech

Jardin jnan sbil garden outside medina

Nur Restaurant (7 zkak rouan)

Al Qarawiyyin mosque and university in the medina-oldest university in the world.

The ruined garden- by riad idrissy for supper

Try bread pizza!!

Merinid tombs

Disney channel restaurant in medina- pizza and panini when you sick if moroccan food

Royal palace of fez- dar el makhzen

Hotel sahrai- nice view

Ctm buses 6:30 am and 20:00 to marrakech 150 dirhams

Ctm buses fez to chefchaouen 8:00, 11:00,16:15 and depart 80 dirhams 4,5 hrs , last bus to return at 6pm.

Omar taxi driver in Fes – +212 670-337493

Munir taxi for long distance eg chefchaouen- +212 624-781206

Chefchaouen by car
Best idea.

Chefchaouen – medina, best known for leather

Pizzeria mandala- taste of italy, avenue Hassan 2 – delish!!

Wool garments and woven blankets- a lot of native crafts You wont find elsewhere

Hashish grown nearby sold all over lol

Kasbah, ex prison- great view

Train and Bus to Marrakech 9hrs

Drive 5 hrs (527,6 km)

  • Leave for Marrakech 22-26 April

Hotel Ryad Art Place- excellent location

Sights & food:

Jma el Fnaa

Marrakech gueliz boulevards and french café culture.

Marrakech to essaouira (191,5km) 2h 40mins

Le bains de marrakech-couples hammam 2 derb sedra, bab agnaou,kasbah

Medina spa
– cheap and quite good

Tadelakt home accessories in medina

Buy leather bags at leather souk

Moroccan glasses and tableware

Market/straw bags with pom poms etc

Ras el hanout spice

Food – le jardin (32 souk el jeld,sidi abdelaziz marrakech medina) or nomad (1 derb aarjan, marrakesh medina)

Menara gardens

Majorelle gardens 8-5:30, lovely shops around, walking distance from medina

Rue semarine(busy full on blast of medina) rue mouassine (boutiques)

Algerian-French designer, norya ayron, 32 souk el jeld, sidi abdelaziz, near souk cherifia also in le jardin restaurant

Akbar delights, 45 place Bab fteuh

Ensemble artisanal- dept store for souvenirs avenue muhammed v, open till 7:30pm

Souk cherifia, sidi abdelaziz-no haggling. Nice souk. Open till 7pm(some stores closed tues)

Max & Jan, quirky funky moroccan wear, 10-7pm, 14 rue amesfah, sidi abdelaziz medina

Marjane supermarket- abdelkarim el khatabi street(15-20 dirhams from jmaa el fnaa)

Or else aswak as salaam supermarket

Boulevard muhammed V, star bucks ,zara etc, cyber park

Koutoubia mosque

Warda la mouche boutique store-127 rue kennaria, medina(jmaa el fnaa, down lane by café de france) – near naranj

Menara mall, shopping, has carrefour . Not much shops

Complexe d ‘Artisanat – shopping with no haggling

Carreeden shopping centre koton, lc waikiki

The Michelin Contender: Gastro MK

If there were a Moroccan Michelin Guide, chef Omar El Ouahssoussi would easily snag a star for his five-course Euro-Moroccan tasting menu of dishes like breaded quail’s eggs with vegetarian kefta and puréed beets.

Best Pastry: Al Jawda

Eat some of Madame Alami’s gorgeous Arabian pastries on the spot, or buy them to nibble over a drink on the terrace of the nearby Grand Café de la Poste.

Best Pizza: Jack is Back

First-rate pizza in Marrakech? Absolutely. Try the artichoke and arugula version at hip Jack Is Back.

Bahia palace

Latitude 31 – 186, street El Gza Arset lhiri Bab Doukkala – Marrakesh

Phone +212(0) 5 24 38 49 34 Mob +212(0) 6 61 17 94 17

info@latitude31marrakech.com – closed sundays

Nomad -located just off the Rahba Lakdima spice square (places des épices) in the heart of the Marrakech Medina

Terrasse des epices-

15, SOUK CHERIFIA. SIDI ABDELAZIZ.

MARRAKECH MÉDINA

Buy paintings from the lovely Abdur Raheem downstairs where Terrasse des espices is – just listen to his stories!!

Naranj- Address: 84 Rue Riad Zitoun Jdid, Medina

Contact: 00 212 524 386 805, naranj.ma- book

Chez Chegrouni, 46 Jemaa el Fna, Marrakech (00 212 24 6547 615

Le Comptoir, Avenue Echouhada, Hivernage, Marrakech (00 212 2443 7702;- belly dancing, expensive

Ait ben haddou- kasbah/ksar(182,5km from marrakech) 3,5hrs. Use main entrance!

Atlas studios.

  • 26-28 April Essaouira Heure Bleue palaise suite

Essaouira fish market in medina not food stalls at the waterfront, and have a simple place there grill your fish. View from heure bleue rooftop. Essaouira to Casablanca 398,6km (4h18mins). Only place in the world where argan trees grow.

-we actually ended up eating at the waterfront at Chez Ali and it was fantastic!!

Ramparts (slavers bay) -View from the top of Kasbah’s sqala

Argan oil co-operative (products more expensive)

Horse riding on the beach

Visit the traditional souk

Home-made black soap exfoliant

Bab el marsa gate- port

Eat at le chalet de la plage- seafood! Boulevard muhammed V open 12am to 1:30pm

Eat at Adwak

Kinder pancakes

Windsurfing lesson?

Dolce freddo-place moulay hassan-ice cream

Dinner at umia- book in advance

Gorgeous paintings available here too!

Must try choc volcanoe at taros ❤️

Essaouira to casa ctm bus at 11:15am costs 110 dirhams , 6 hrs.

Driver Kabeer +212 690-498036 , +212 654-768227 – 2 ppl – abt 1500 mad
– advise you to take a car rather.

  • 28-29 casablanca atlas sky hotel near airport

29th leave Casablanca 11:25am to Abu Dhabi 22:20pm

Yas Viceroy 29-1 May

Ferrari world
– yas mall- yas waterworld

  • 1 may 9:50am fly back to jhb

Tips:

Balak balak, make way for eg donkey cart. Don’t accept directions from strangers if you don’t want to tip them, they always want money. Ask a cop. Don’t change money at airport, very expensive. Change at bank/just withdraw. Travel by train, petit taxis or buses- numbers listed for long distance cabs above. Check train schedule for express trains eg 7:05 am train from casa to fez only 3 hrs as opposed to 5 hrs. Shops open till around 7pm and medinas till 8 or 9 pm.

Gandoura cool robe, takchita

Fes medina best shopping in morocco- curios cheaper.Stuff u wont find elsewhere.

Eat fish chermoula

Eat makouda dipped in harissa sauce

Try zaalouk, like humus

Brochettes-kebabs

Kaab el ghazal-pastries horn shaped

Briwat/briouats- phyllo pastry stuffed with almonds

Shebakia-sesame fried cookie with honey

You can custom make your purses out of diff skins and colours

Try berber omelette, try couscous varieties, tagine.

Bstilla-pigeon pie ( pastilla )
– the best i tried was at La Sqala in casa

The best cities for street food include Fez (head toward the Achabine area), Marrakech (in Djemaa el-Fna and surrounding streets) and Essaouira (near the port end of Place Moulay Hassan).

Have rafisa

Try shebakiya

Moroccan tassle leather bag
Don’t forget to pack:

Meds for gastro 😂- usual traveller’s meds

Hand sanitiser, dettol hand wipes

Comfy shoes is a must

Sheikh Zayed mosque- dress modest with scarf- but they do provide head cover and jilbaab too.

Bug spray for Mozzies in Fes

Tips for running and growing your small business

I decided to complile a list for designers and home businesses from the perspective of an avid shopper. I come across all sorts of businesses and business owners and I thought it was time to share a few tips that I think can improve the shopping experience for alot of consumers : 

Tip 1, please always put up prices of your items- There’s nothing we hate more than having to dm,watsapp and email for prices- it’s too much effort! Most of the time we won’t bother with that. Not putting up prices is costing you many sales.

Tip 2, take more pride in the pics you put out there. Some of you have amazing pieces but they just aren’t presented well- trust me, good lighting and a bit of effort makes All the difference. You don’t need to be a professional photographer- my smartphone works fine for my pics, if I can do it, so can you!

Tip 3 , always reply to your customer queries. Many times we ask questions on your social media pages or via email or watsapp and don’t receive a reply- that’s poor customer service- don’t be that business. Be prompt with replies, if I’m really eager to purchase, I might just go to your competitor even If they cost R50 more.

Tip 4, There’s few things a hijabi hates more than ¾ sleeves , having to wear something under usually spoils the look- short sleeves or long sleeves ? Please pick one and help a sister out

Tip 5, please consider our middle to lower class sisters when you are designing your range. Have a range that suits all budgets, not everyone can afford to spend R4000 on an abaya but we all still want to look good! Some of us can afford that R4000 but choose not to spend so much on a piece that we will probably wear once only- please consider bringing us more affordable wear. There is definitely a market for exclusivity but try and mix it up and cater for everyone too- avoids people copying you just to offer a cheaper alternative.

Tip 6, let’s try bringing new designs into the market? Let’s try and think out of the box? If one person starts doing Turkish clothing successfully, it does not mean we now need 10 other people selling the same. We seem to wait for one person to try something and other people to approve before we take the plunge to do it. Don’t be scared to explore options on your own, to be the pioneer rather than the follower.

Tip 7, please remember that not everyone has a model’s figure so please try and cater for ALL women. It’s the most upsetting thing when a size 34 person has to take an XL because your cuts are just not realistic.

Tip 8, don’t say imported from Dubai if you know it was made in China or by someone in your next street- that’s dishonest and wrong on so many levels. We don’t care where it’s made as long as the quality is good so just be straightforward .

Tip 9, if there are valid delays with a parcel please be timeous in explaining these delays to your customer and keeping them updated regularly. Taking someone’s money and then making them nag you for their item is not on. Yes we understand customs delays, courier delays etc but please be honest and upfront with this information- we don’t need to hear how your mother in law’s Aunty’s sister is hospital or that all 3 of your kids have been down with the flu but then see that you’re happily posting on your facebook and instagram, uploading your latest designs but haven’t replied to a watsapp from last week. A little professionalism please 🙏🏼.

Tip 10, please try and post actual pictures of your items not internet pictures unless you are 100% certain that your stock you are sending a customer matches that pic. If it doesn’t that’s false advertising and it’s unfair for you to stick by your ‘no refunds’ policy. You advertised an item and gave me a different item- I’m entitled to my moneyback as I didn’t get what I paid for- simple. Avoid this by posting what you are actually selling as opposed to internet pictures if possible.

Tip 11, private profile ? Why? Are you trying to reach the maximum audience or trying to hide what you stock? There’s no reason a business should be on private profile. It’s entrepreneurial suicide.

Tip 12, a professional logo, business card and brand presence should not be underestimated … eg, I follow almost 3000 pages, I might want to recall your page name , is it something easy that stands out (without pesky _ )and perhaps a logo that stays in my mind?

Tip 13, engage with the community. Pop up stores, a stall at your local fair/souk is a great way to get your name out there.

Tip 14, don’t be afraid to use larger social media pages as advertising tools

Tip 15, try and get the best courier rates for your client. If your item costs R150, asking me to pay R150 courier because I’m in an outlying area will certainly put me off. Be open to pickups if the customer is in your town/city , use of the post office and also if your item costs a lot, eg R1000 + there should ideally be free courier or postage offered.

Tip 16, be open to different forms of communication , eg don’t only entertain queries via watsapp. Allow people to dm and email you too. I get that dms can at times dissapear and be problematic but you can always ask that person to finalise via watsapp or email once they have all the necessary info that they need.

Tip 17, try and have a detailed sizing guide available on hand to answer sizing queries. Basics, eg Length, bust, hip measurements of garments or whether your M will fit a size 32/34 or 34/36 etc – often times I’m interested in an item and book a certain size only to enquire about your sizing and realise it’s completely different from the normal – 34 is your Large, but why?

Tip 18, engage with your followers. Ask them what they’d like to see more off. This will give you ideas as to what is lacking in the market and where you can tap into a market no-one has thought to.

Tip 19, include as much info as you can in the caption of your pictures eg, colour options, sizing, what fabric options are available etc

Tip 20, if you’re going to launch items at fetes/fairs/souks etc please also make them available to your online shoppers as well. You should value all your clients and not just use your online shoppers to sell the leftovers that you couldn’t sell to your local clients.

Last tip, it is absolutely your duty to ensure that you package fragile items eg makeup adequately to avoid accidents in transit. If the item does not reach the person in good condition, a refund is mandatory, not providing a refund for a substandard product is inexcusable . At the end of the day treat your customer as you would like to be treated . 

Travel Memoirs -Mystical Marrakech 

Our first night in the charismatic city we did a quick google search for ‘best restaurants in marrakech’ and settled on Naranj which was a very short walk from Jmaa el-fnaa. An absolutely delicious supper at this beautiful Lebanese restaurant owned by Ruba and her hubby, full review can be found on my instagram profile.

Naranj, elegant and romantic

After a scrumptious breakfast we caught a cab to Le Jardin Marjorelle, home to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. It took French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) forty years of passion and dedication to create this enchanting garden. In my opinion this is a must- see attraction.


We skipped museums in Morocco as a whole but one of the most informative and fun experiences was the visit to the Berber museum at Le Jardin Marjorelle- we could not get over the gorgeous ceiling+mirror effect in the jewellery area( unfortunately no pics or videos are allowed).


Lunch was a tasty club sandwich in the gardens  and then we were off to try and get to Souk Cherifia. When I say try I mean that the cabbie tried several times not to bring us here. First we were told by one taxi driver that it was very far outside the town then our driver stopped the car many times telling us there was a better souk and artisanal store that he could take us to. I just kept insisting that I wanted to go here and nowhere else, even as he dropped us off he argued with me that there were no stores here,only a mosque- I’m glad I ignored him!


Souk Cherifia , is one of those places where you don’t really have to bargain(in a few stores eg the basket and spice shops, you can still bargain). Gorgeous pricey boutique stores, spice shops selling argan oil with certification, getting to watch babouche being made and also getting to meet the wonderful painter Abdur Raheem, are just some of the reasons I would recommend you visit this area of the medina. We had planned on eating at Terrasse des èpices but that unfortunately did not materialize.


We returned to our hotel to perform prayer and freshen up and decided to try Nomad for dinner which promised a modern moroccan menu with a twist on international dishes too. I opted for a harissa burger and hubby decided to try out the monk fish. He loved his monk fish although I wasn’t crazy about the broth, the burger was good but the highlight was definitely the date and saffron cake- absolute decadence!

After dinner we decided to tackle Jmaa el-Fnaa to support the local talent. We absolutely loved this experience watching all the different performers and that’s how we spent all our post dinner evenings till about 1 am.


In the morning after breakfast we decided to have a bit of a lazy morning and try a hammam   experience in Marrakech. My back was also killing me from carrying my backpack around and all the walking. A quick google search led me to calling medina spa and making a booking for 1pm. They are a few 100m away from the riad. I really should’ve enquired about whether they had male masseuse available for men but I just assumed thay because it was a muslim country they would, like Turkey, have men and women separated. This was not the case, hubby and I were treated together and no men were available.
We chose the supreme beauty which is a hammam experience , scrub with berber cereals,  wrap with ghassoul and argan, scrub and foot massage in the hammam(we didnt receive this), soaping, 45 minute facial with argan and a 45 minute massage. The hammam experience is quite rushed but the argan facial and face massage was one of the best I ever had. The massage was also really good.
After our relaxing morning we were famished and decided to head around the corner to Naranj once again as I had my eye on their lunch menu. They did not dissapoint- be sure to try their chillie sauce! Supper was on the same street at a tasty pizza place named Homemade pizza and our evening was spent enjoying The square with a little shopping thrown in.

Our last day in Marrakech I decided to head to Wardah la Mouche after breakfast while hubby took his time getting ready. It’s a beautiful boutique store with more modern pieces and the store is owned by a French woman who’s married to a Moroccan. Glad I relied on those tripadvisor reviews as they had a few gorgeous pieces!


Lunch was at the highly in demand Roti D’or  where we enjoyed a bit of tex-mex food and divine mojitos- another highly recommended restaurant off tripadvisor.

We then decided to look for Max and Jan and medersa ben youssef and I was super dissapointed when the medersa was closed. Max &Jan is another boutique store but way over priced- the jacket I liked was 2500 Mad!

That evening as we enjoyed being entertained by performers who had now become friends we wished we could stay just a little longer, but alas in the morning we would have to leave with our new friend Kabir from Essaouira.

Travel Memoirs – Abu Dhabi and Casablanca 

Morocco has always been a place that intrigued me and together with Turkey, they have both been at the top of my bucketlist. After visiting Turkey last year, I must admit that I had preconceived notions about what Morocco would be like- my recent trip dismissed most of these.

Unfortunately even though Morocco is in Africa, there is no direct flight. We chose to fly Etihad airways for the first time to spend a few days in Abu Dhabi and I’m so glad we did! Our first hotel booked in Abu Dhabi was the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche- we booked an ocean view suite that gives you access to the Club millesimé lounge which served meals all day as well as a private butler service and 2 garments ironed free per day. We spent two nights here and hubby really didn’t want to leave! The suite was perfect, view was incredible and the meals and service top notch! The best part was the price as this incredibly large suite with all the perks is around the same price as an executive room at southern sun, excluding breakfast! Having had a bit of an uncomfortable night flight we had breakfast on arrival at the hotel then slept for 2 hours. We then freshened up and decided to head to the very Beautiful Emirates palace and then to Marina Mall for lunch and to purchase sim cards.

Tub with tv
Yummy french toast with a gorgeous ocean view at Club millesimé


Lunch was at Shakespeare & Co and was quite delicious. We did not end up buying simcards as the tourist sim is 100 aed with no data provided and only valid for 14 days- this meant that we would only use it for 36 hours and when we returned from Morocco, we would have to purchase another simcard! Hubby wanted to rest so he took a taxi back to the hotel and I decided to stay behind and shop at the mall and at my fave department store next door, Centrepoint.

Supper was at a local favourite, Lebanese flower and everything that we tried out was delicious. The next morning we had a light lunch at Club Millesimé then headed to the incredibly beautiful Sheikh Zayed Mosque which is truly one of the most magnificent mosques I’ve seen- highly recommend adding this to your sight seeing list. Please dress modestly but don’t worry if you didn’t carry any modest clothing because they provide you with hooded caftans and scarves. Please respect this place of prayer- no posing whilst taking pictures, the actual prayer sections are out of bounds to non-muslims and visitors may not step onto the courtyard area. April weather was perfect in UAE, not too hot or cold, light jacket in the evenings but you can still enjoy ice creams and a selection of the best mocktails you’ll ever taste. We decided to try out Pf Changs for a late lunch/early supper but all that really stood out was the dynamite prawns and the drinks.


Abu Dhabi was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for us- the taxis fairs are about 1/3 of what you pay in Dubai, shopping has a better variety as well as many sales, the area is less touristy and way more laid back. People are friendlier too!

The next morning at 2:45 am was our flight to Casablanca. We had received an email from Etihad Airways the previous week encouraging us to make them a bid to upgrade to Business Class- we took them up on this and bid the lowest amount mainly because we needed a good night’s sleep on the flight as we had sight-seeing planned for Casablanca (the seat has massage function and becomes a completely flat bed). I was very impressed with the perks and comfort of Etihad business class seats- highly recommended and glad that they had accepted our bid for an upgrade. The egate at Abu Dhabi airport makes passport control non existent- having done the eye scan on arrival- we could scan our passsports and do our eye Scans in 10 seconds on our own – no queues to stand in.

Breakfast in Business class at Etihad Airways

Toiletries courtesy of Etihad Airways

Arrival at Casablanca airport was at 8:35 am and passport control was hassle free. The first thing we did is head to the Inwi counter to collect our free simcards and purchase data which is incredibly cheap – about R70 for 5 Gb. Most places in Morocco have free wifi, from hotels to restaurants and malls and even the airport so that made life a lot easier! Our transport was waiting for us and I would recommend anyone book their airport- hotel transfer with the very friendly and knowledgeable Mr Muhammed from Aeroport transport who was quite shocked at how much I knew about Casablanca and the country in general (I can supply any of the contact numbers required from my blog post).. While hubby slept during the 30 minute car trip to the hotel, Mr Muhammed told me all about the place, the sights, the culture etc.

Our Casablanca hotel was the Sofitel Tour blanche and we had booked a room with Medina, port and Hassan II mosque view. A lovely room but not as great as Abu Dhabi. The staff though were really amazing and being Le Club Accor loyalty members, they granted us a free anti jet lag massage. The only weird thing about this room- a coffee machine but no kettle. We decided to freshen up and then proceeded to the train station across the road to purchase our train ticket for travel to Fes the next day. We could purchase tickets here but we would need to take a cab the next day to CasaVoyagers station (10 minutes away) to catch the train (cost of train ride 348 MAD for 2). Lunch was a short walk away at La Sqala- an old fortress turned restaurant- Loved the vibe- the pastillas were the best that I would’ve tried in all of Morocco but the seafood platter was very bland. I loved the concept of having the option to order a combo of 4 mini juices so you can try their variety. Our first taste of mint tea was the start of a new found love. The next stop was the beautiful Hassan II Mosque , I had a hard time finding the lady’s section here and parts of the masjid were under renovations so I waited for hubby. It’s quite chilly here especially with the ocean breeze. The masjid is built on the beach and is according to most online forums, the only sight worth seeing in Casablanca. We headed next to Casablanca mall to enjoy some retail therapy- although my favourite part was the supermarket Marjane- supper at Pizza Hut was so dissapointing.

We were meant to visit Habous Quarter that morning before our 3pm train trip but hubby just wanted to ‘chill’ and recover from a bit of jetlag so we lazed around at the hotel that morning. Breakfast here was an amazing experience!Please note that the cab drivers in Morocco always try to charge you double or even triple what you really need to pay and bargaining is a must! Also, use the smaller red government taxis in Casablanca as they’re much cheaper than the white grand taxis. In Fes they’re also red, in Marrakech they’re gold and in Essaouira they’re light blue. It’s easy to catch a cab so if a driver doesn’t want to budge or his price is too high, just go to the next one.

Also note that I had begun learning a bit of beginner’s/tourist’s french via apps and youtube videos and this proved very beneficial. Morocco has a few languages- Arabic, Berber Arabic, French – they’re also being given a choice between German or Spanish in schools so many don’t speak English at all.

We ate plain baguettes with cheese that we purchased at the train station and then hopped on into our first class seats- different from Turkey but still very comfortable. 6 people share a cabin that is air conditioned. The train ride took around 4,5- 5 hours ( please note that the lady who sold them to us told us it was a fast train taking only 3 hrs but we would soon realise that everyone in Morocco underplays the distance it takes between places). At several stops people hop on to offer you baguettes with cheese/chicken or drinks. We shared our cabin with Salma and her gran who were on their way to Rabat. This train ride was an eye opener for us as we truly realised that we were wrong about Morocco. It had never registered before that being a third world country, the poverty faced in certain areas would be very similar to our own in South Africa. The route between Casablanca to Fes is filled with ‘shacks’ like those you would see in a South African township. I won’t lie, it was hard to see! The rest of the train trip hubby slept while I tried to find a way to adopt a Moroccan child – the extreme poverty together with seeing some of the most beautiful friendly children in the world, just had hubby and I pining. Unfortunately our country does not have an agreement with Morocco in terms of adoption procedures, so this is a very difficult, if not impossible task.

We arrived in Fes at sunset, their station is most beautiful! We found our cabby Omar as we exited the station and he was to basically be our designated driver for the rest of the trip… my next post will cover the magical city of Fes.