top of page

In this fourth and final blog in a series documenting my son Andrick and my travels to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, I’ve got to tell you about Morocco—best for last, perhaps? Morocco is a country that’s truly unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, set’s dive right in, as Morocco has a lot to offer travelers.

Experience the Marvelous Moroccan Outdoors

While Morocco is famed for its cultural buildings and historical cities, its outdoors are absolutely worthy of attention as well.

1. Take A Ride Through The Sahara Desert

No trip to Morocco is complete without taking a ride through the Sahara Desert, best experienced on a camel safari or a 4X4 tour. In addition, these tours give you the opportunity to spend the night under the radiant stars. The desert is a beauty to admire during the day, but it's even more spectacular during the night.

After dark, the stars are fiery constellations, unimpaired by the light pollution of cities. Even the sunsets and sunrises are like no other, as the dunes turn into a dreamlike landscape.

2. Go Surfing At The Coast

From beginner surfers to professionals, Morocco's coast has surfing for everyone. For more experienced surfers, the place to visit is Taghazout, which is a small fishing village. Here, you can find waves for all abilities. From the difficult Boilers site to the laid back Immensouance, which is one of the longest rides in the country, you can do it all here. If you're a beginner surfer or a kite surfer, you can visit Essaouira, where the swells are more gentle and easier to ride.

3. Hike The High Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains stretch over 1,500 miles, from the west coast of Morocco to Tunisia. It's also home to North Africa’s highest peak, known as Jebel Toubkal, which is the most popular destination for experienced hikers. However, if you're not looking to embark on such an ambitious hike, there are a number of shorter, easier hikes to take.

Visit Morocco’s Beautiful, Timeless Cities

Morocco’s position in Northern Africa has led to its cities developing an astounding mix of European, Mediterranean, and African architectural styles and cultures. I completely fell for Morocco during the time my son and I spent there, and these cities simply blew me away.

4. Delight In Casablanca’s Gorgeous Mosques

Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco. It’s a city with an incredibly dense population, even compared to my home of New York City. As such, this visit can even be overwhelming; however, as long as you take your time, it’s absolutely worth the trip.

One thing that you simply can’t miss in Casablanca is the Hassan II mosque. There are many beautiful mosques in Morocco, but this one takes the cake! It's the largest mosque in the country and contains the second-tallest minaret in the world, topping out at 689 feet. The mosque was commissioned by King Hassan II, and was completed in 1993. Hassan II’s goal was to create a landmark for Casablanca that would be recognized worldwide, and this mosque doesn’t fall short—literally.

5. Feed Your Creative Side Show In Fes

Fes is the artisan capital of Morocco and is most famous for its leather products, which come from the leather bazaar in the old medina, which means market in Arabic. Visiting Fes is one of the best ways to understand Morocco’s rich culture and its history. Here, you can find anything from beautiful tanneries, to rug weaving shops as you explore the city.

6. Be Mesmerized By The Multicultural Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is known as the sleepy town of Morocco’s bigger cities, and can be a beautiful place to unwind after visiting the fast-paced Casablanca. This town once served as a place for refuge for Muslims and Jews during the Spanish Reconquista, and again for Jews during World War II.

Chefchaouen is now known for its breathtaking cobbled streets, bohemian atmosphere, and dreamy, blue buildings. You can admire the town’s beauty and all its colors while enjoying a treat at one of its many street-side cafes.

Experience Authentic Moroccan Culture

Moroccan culture is something to behold. A mix of North African, Mediterranean, and European cultures, it’s sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

7. Steam In A Traditional Hammam

A hammam, also known as a public steam bath, is a Moroccan rite of passage. Hammams were once a place where people would gather to bathe and socialize, as very few used to have access to private bathrooms. Now, while there are far fewer hammams, they still exist and allow tourists to immerse themselves into Moroccan culture. They are a great way for female travelers in particular to meet and socialize with local women.

8. Visit The Djemaa El Fna

Marrakech is the cultural capital of Morocco and is filled with an abundance of nightlife, restaurants and shopping malls. At the heart of it all, however, is the Djemaa el Fna, which cannot be missed.

Djemaa el Fna is Marrakech’s most popular meeting place full of snack stalls and street vendors during the day. At night, it transforms into a mystical place full of entertainment. From jugglers to musicians and snake charmers, Djemaa el Fna has it all.

9. Visit Marrakech’s Saadian Tombs

If you’re interested in the history of Morocco, the Saadian Tombs is the place to go to learn about Morocco’s sultans. These tombs showcase the finest Arabic craftsmanship of the 16th century. Historically, many Saadian sultans were buried here until a rival dynasty seized power and closed the tombs off. However, in 1917 these tombs were rediscovered and restored to their former beauty.

At the Saadian tombs, you can admire the tile and lattice work in the columned mausoleums as well as pay your respects to the Saadi household staff buried in the rose garden.

10. Attend A Cultural Festival

Morocco hosts a number of unique annual events and festivals, and this can be a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Music festivals such as the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music is a multi-day celebration of music.

One of the most exciting events held in Morocco is the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival. During this festival, entertainers and artists from all over the world come together to perform in the Djemaa el Fna and El Badi Palace.

Add Morocco to Your Travel List

Morocco was the final country my son and I visited during our trip overseas. We traveled through Spain, Portugal, and I’m so thankful we added Morocco to the list because it’s simply magnificent. The people, culture, and sheer beauty of the country are incredible, and I’d recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.

Thanks for reading! If you like what you’re reading here, be sure to sign up for my free email list, covering parenting, traveling, and life in New York City.

18 views0 comments

A street in Portugal is bustling with pedestrians and a streetcar system

While Portugal might not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about world cuisine, it’s an amazing place to visit for anyone interested in eating unforgettable, mouth-watering food.

I was born and raised in Haiti, where the Caribbean’s vibrant culinary culture was fully present, before moving to New York, arguably one of the greatest places to eat in the world! As a result, whenever and wherever I travel, I pay careful attention to cultural dishes and the tastes home to each region. It’s truly a marvelous treat.

Portuguese cuisine includes a blend of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisine, as well as spices from all around the world. There are not many places that have much interesting and diverse food influences.

When I recently traveled to Portugal, I had the privilege of trying some of their delightful cuisine. Here are some of the best:

1. Francesinha

This sandwich consists of two thick slices of bread, thin slices of wet-cured ham or roast meats such as beef or sausage and a middle slice of bread. The sandwich is then covered in melted cheese and dosed in a thick gravy tomato sauce that’s traditionally made with wine or beer. Finally, the francesinha is topped with a fried egg and served with fries.

The francesinha originated in Porto in the 1950s, but it’s been adopted as a cultural staple since then, and variations of the francesinha can be found throughout Portugal—a perfect example of how each region of Portugal has its own special spices, seasonings, and unique flair on their traditional dishes.

2. Arroz Doce

Arroz doce, which effectively translates to rice pudding, is a dessert that mixes white rice, hot milk, cinnamon, egg yolks, and vanilla. Rice pudding is a common dessert in many cultures, but Portugal’s take on it gives it a distinctive taste that can’t be found elsewhere.

Unlike most other rice puddings, Portuguese recipes include eggs, which gives the dessert a more yellow color than you may be used to. However, the eggs combined with the sweetness from the cinnamon and vanilla combine to give you a full, rich flavor that leaves you itching to go back for more.

3. Bacalhau

This food is easily one of the most popular in Portugal. Bacalhau refers to a dried and salted codfish, and there are hundreds of Portuguese recipes that turn these dry, salty chunks of fish into a delicious meal. If you’re looking for the fresh version, it’s known as bacalhau fresco.

In Portugal, there are countless bacalhau recipes and dishes to try. The way you’re served the fish will vary greatly depending on which region you are in, so it definitely wouldn’t hurt to order this more than once if you are planning on traveling around Portugal. The most common way to serve this bacalhau is in stew or with potatoes and rice. It is also common to find this fish grilled or roasted and served with a side of potatoes and grilled red peppers.

4. Cataplana

Cataplana is a dish that was named after the type of pot it is cooked in, which is an earthenware or copper pot that is often the shape of a seashell with clasps. While there are many different versions of this dish, there are two major types of Cataplana recipes. The first version uses pork and clam, while the second version uses a combination of seafood. Both of these are a type of stew, however the broth will vary between different versions of the recipes.

5. Feijoada

Feijoada is a bean stew that can be found in various forms and recipes. It is a traditional Portuguese dish, and its roots run as deep as Portugal's colonial days. While the dish will vary greatly in different regions of Portugal, you can expect every recipe to include black beans combined with garlic, olive oil, bay leaves, and a number of local meats and a side of white rice.

6. Bifanas

A bifana is a traditional Portuguese pork sandwich. This sandwich has three or four thinly-sliced pork cutlets that have been marinated in a mixture of white wine and garlic, then fried in lard or olive oil.

A Portuguese bread roll known as papo-secos is then soaked in the marinade and filled with the meat slices. This sandwich is commonly eaten as a savory snack in Portugal as it is small yet filling.

7. Pastel de Nata

Pastel de nata is an egg yolk tart that’s commonly dusted in cinnamon and sugar. However, depending on the region, you can also find it topped with lemon, syrup, cinnamon sugar, or even whipped cream. These can be considered a Portuguese street food as they’re common in food establishments and are generally cheap.

8. Caldo Verde

Caldo verde is a very distinctly Portuguese dish. Regardless of the season, you’ll find this dish in food establishments all throughout Portugal. It’s a thick and creamy soup that’s traditionally made with potatoes, chorizo sausage, and kale.

9. Carne de Porco Alentejana

This stew originated in the Alentejo region of Portugal and is made from pork and clams. The pork cubes are marinated in a mixture of wine, vinegar, garlic, herbs, and red pepper paste. It’s then fried and simmered along with the clams before being served with a side of french fries or a baked potato.

10. Cocido a Portuguesa

Cocido à portuguesa is one of the most traditional meals you’ll find in Portugal today. It originated from farmers who would turn the various foods they had into a single stew. Potatoes, carrots, cabbage, chickpeas, pig feet and ears, and smoked sausages are put into a large pot and boiled.

When eaten, the broth along with the vegetable is served first. It is then followed by a platter of the meats and potatoes. While the list of ingredients may not make it the most appealing dish, the fusion of flavors is one that is unforgettable.

Thanks For Reading!

Are you as hungry as I am after reading that? The foods of Portugal are truly remarkable, despite often taking the backseat to their European counterparts such as France, Spain, and Italy. However, the flavors these cuisines bring to the table is unquestionably enough to compete with any nation’s national flavors. If you’re a foodie planning a trip, don’t forget to add Portugal to your list of destinations—it won’t disappoint.

Thanks for following along! This is the third blog of a four-part series on my recent trip to Portugal and Morocco with my son, Andrick. If you like what you’ve seen here, make sure to subscribe to my blog for more on parenting, life in NYC, traveling, and much more.

18 views0 comments

A group of three people consult a map while standing inside a museum

When it comes to traveling, whether you take a tour or take a trip alone will have a profound impact on your experience. While the decision of what you do will ultimately come down to your personal preference, it’s important to understand some of the key differences between each style of travel.

This is the second part in a four-part series about my recent travels to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. Last time around, we talked about some considerations for traveling internationally during COVID-19. In this post, we’ll examine some of the main features that each style of travel offers, and how that can impact your trip.

Seven Benefits of Taking a Tour

While traveling independently has its own benefits, there are definitely reasons to consider joining a tour instead. Over the past few years, tours have changed for the better. They have become more luxurious, varied, and appealing to an increasingly large range of people. They’re no longer exclusive to retirees or young adults looking to party.

Here are seven reasons you should consider joining a tour on your next trip.

1. More Insight About Where You’re Traveling

Tour guides will know your destination very well, and they’ll be able to provide you with plenty of fun facts, tips, and stories that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Additionally, since it’s likely that your tour guide has done this tour before, they’ll give you insight on what the best places to visit are.

2. Tours Can Provide Safety

Traveling in a group can be safer than traveling individually or as a pair in certain areas. Especially when it comes to traveling in a foreign country, it doesn’t get much safer than being a part of a guided tour with an experienced tour guide. This can give you an added level of comfort as you visit somewhere you’ve never been before.

3. Opportunities for Connection

While it’s not guaranteed that you’ll become best friends with the people on your tour, there’s the chance that you’ll find people to connect with. It can be fun to share your experiences with people who are interested in doing and seeing the same things as you.

4. Convenience in Travel and Accommodations

When traveling on a toup, your travel and hotel stays are typically arranged for you, which is incredibly simple compared to doing it all yourself. This can be incredibly convenient, especially if you’re traveling to more than one location. In a tour, you are able to do this without having to deal with the stress of booking your own transportation and stays.

5. Simplified Payment and Budgeting

When booking a tour, you typically know how much your trip will cost and are able to pay this fee prior to even beginning your trip.

6. In-Country Partnerships

It’s common in the tour industry for a company to partner with local specialists in order to provide the best possible experiences. This means you don’t have to take the time to find additional guides, and can instead simply rely on one company for everything.

7. Access to Unique and Rare Experiences

There are some places around the world that are simply impossible to visit without the help of a guided tour. If you want to do things such as trek a remote location or travel somewhere with strict travel restrictions, it may be impossible to do so without a tour guide.

Four Reasons to Take a Trip by Yourself

While there are many advantages to choosing to join a tour during your travels, there are also some disadvantages that should be considered before making your decision. Here are some reasons taking a trip by yourself might be a better fit for you.

1. Traveling Alone is Far More Affordable

With countless internet resources and free, detailed guides to any city you can imagine, you can plan quality trips independently for a fraction of the cost of guided tours. Some guided tours can be extremely expensive, and even budget guided tours are going to be more expensive than independent travel.

2. You Don’t Want to Risk Being Stuck With a Group

While there’s the chance you might get along wonderfully with the people in your group, it can also be a huge pain if you don’t. There is not much that can be done if you don’t enjoy the people in your group—you’re simply stuck with them until the end of your tour, which can completely change your experience.

If you’re a more independent person, or want a more personal experience, traveling with a tour might not be the right choice for you. Traveling alone gives you much more agency regarding who you spend time with and how much time you spend with them.

3. Your Schedule is More Flexible by a Vast Margin

Typically, during a guided tour, they’ll try to pack in as many attractions as possible. This means you may end up feeling rushed or be unable to enjoy a certain attraction as much as you may have liked to. Additionally, if there is another location you may have wanted to visit, if it’s not already scheduled in the tour, it’s likely that you won’t have the time to go.

Traveling alone doesn’t bar you from visiting these attractions, but it gives you more choice in where you go, what you see, and how long you spend on any given activity.

4. Tours Play it Safe

Unless you’re booking a specialized tour of some kind, you probably won’t be forced outside of your comfort zone very much. This can be seen as either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how you choose to view it.

However, sometimes one of the best ways to immerse yourself into the culture and lifestyle of a place is by getting lost, messing up a food order, and interacting with the locals. On a guided tour, you’re much less likely to have to take initiative or speak to anyone aside from the people on your tour.

Recapping the Benefits of Taking a Tour vs. Taking a Trip Alone

Ultimately, tours are best suited for individuals or groups who want to see famous attractions and simplify their trip’s logistics as much as possible. They have some downsides, such as a more rigid itinerary and their higher cost, but their benefits can be huge if a simplified vacation is what you’re looking for.

Taking a trip by yourself is more suitable if you want more control over your trip, or want to spend more time pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. The downside is that there will be more tasks involved with planning and organizing your trip’s arrangements, but as a result, your trip can be significantly more affordable.

Thanks For Reading!

That wraps up part two of this four-part travel series! Thanks for reading, and hello to those of you who are new here. I’m Altagracia—an NYC-based lawyer. However, on this site, you won’t find anything about the legal world; instead, you’ll find great resources for parenting, traveling, life in NYC, and much more.

To make sure you don’t miss next week’s post, make sure you sign up for my free email list, and check me out on Instagram and Twitter!

11 views0 comments
bottom of page