Friday, February 28, 2014

My Beautiful Friends

Sorry, but this post is about to get super mushy.

Between celebrating Makayla's 21st birthday tonight and spending almost the entire day with Melissa, Hani, and Libby, I'm remembering just how great my friends really are. Between the Arctic temperatures, a sinus infection, midterms, and still being in the limbo period about next year's plans, these past few weeks have been extra hard on me. At this point, it feels like I'm going through the motions just to graduate, and I'm not getting as much out of school as I did in the past.

Also, many of my friends have graduated or live in other states/countries, which is both a blessing and a curse. It means I can travel to see them and know how to handle long-distance friendships, but it's very hard when all I want is a certain friend by my side and s/he isn't around. Moreover, many of my friends who are still in college aren't yet 21, making it difficult to go out.

To all of my friends reading this, both old and new, just know how much I love and appreciate you. The power of friendship is incredible.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Morocco Update

Major apologies that I haven't updated the Morocco series in a couple of days--this week has been full of exams and more work than I was expecting. However, the drafts for the rest of the series are in progress, and I can't wait to post them in the coming days!

Thanks for understanding! xoxo

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Loren Hope Spring 2014

I've hopped onto the Loren Hope train.

I know that every fashion blogger and her mother have already posted photos from her spring look book, but aren't her new pieces gorgeous?! I want them all!

My favorite spring pieces:

Clockwise from top left: Alex Cuff in Lilac ($78), Small Sarra Cuff in Coral ($58),
Talia Necklace ($268), Sophia Studs in Ballerina ($34), Alice Necklace in Crystal ($258),
Mirabel Cuff in Bloom ($138), Luna Earrings in Bloom ($118)

Which piece(s) would you choose?

Day 14 // Fes (فاس)

Dar Warda, like the night before.


Tip for today: wear the same shoes you wore on the hike to Mount Toubkal, and don't wear any pants/a skirt that drags on or touches the'll see why!

We're starting out the day at Bou Inania Médersa, which you can see from Bab Bou Jeloud (it's the building with the minaret, or mosque tower). This religious institution attained Grand Mosque status, likening it to the holiest mosque (the Grande Mosque) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Because this school is so full of history, try to read and learn about it beforehand! Non-Muslims and Muslims alike are able to enter for a fee of 10 dh.

THAT's the minaret!
c/o TripAdvisor
c/o TripAdvisor
c/o TripAdvisor

Did you think you were done hiking after climbing Mount Toubkal? Think again! Take a hike up the hills to the Tombe dei Merenidi (...or take a cab, if you so please!) and see the best view that Fes has to offer. From this hilltop, which has the remains of the Marinid Tombs, you can see the medina, donkeys and goats roaming, and leather hides drying out. Pack a picnic and spend some time relaxing here.

Look at that view!
c/o TripAdvisor
Even the tomb itself is beautiful.
c/o TripAdvisor
Animal hides left out to dry.
c/o TripAdvisor

It's finally time to see the tanneries! Terrasse des Tanneurs is located in the medina, and you can see the dye pits and the tanning process itself. Keep in mind that it isn't going to smell so pretty, but it's a sight you'll never forget! Also, this is the time that you want to buy those beautiful leather goods. The rule of thumb is to try to haggle the price down to about one quarter of the "list" price. The goods here are going to be of higher quality than the leather goods sold elsewhere, so have fun and be smart about your purchases! I don't know about you, but I want a Moroccan pouf cover. And please excuse all of the pictures...I just think the tanneries are such a classic image of Morocco.

c/o TripAdvisor
c/o TripAdvisor
c/o TripAdvisor

Vocabulary (French // Arabic // English)
  • une tombe // maqbara (مَقبَرة) // grave
  • une terrasse // shurfa (شُرفة) // terrasse

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 13 // Fes (فاس)

Welcome to Fes! Boasting two medinaat, a gigantic sports stadium, and universities, Fes is a great combination of the old and new. It's also the leather/tannery capital of Morocco, so keep your eye out for some high-quality leather goods! Also, Fes is really close to Meknes, and it is Morocco's third-largest city (after Casablanca and Rabat).

On that note, you may be wondering why we didn't visit Rabat, Morocco's capital city. I actually went to Rabat, and in all honesty, there isn't much for tourists there. My friends and I were there for a day and a half and had nothing to do except visit the souks. If you do want to go to Rabat, the train between Casablanca and Meknes/Fes stops there, so it's easy to get there.

Transportation (MeknesFes)
Between Meknes and Fes, the ONCF train costs about 20 dh and the ride lasts about 30-40 minutes.

Dar Warda is located next to the medina, and costs about $22/person/night for a private room. It includes free breakfast, free WiFi, and, according to word-of-mouth, amazing hosts! In my opinion, it looks a bit like a palace--don't you agree?

Photos of Dar Warda, Fes
c/o TripAdvisor
Photos of Dar Warda, Fes
c/o TripAdvisor


The Cherratin Médersa is another former school that tourists can now visit. It is a bit smaller than Fes' other médersa (Bou Inania), but is equally beautiful. Entrance is 10 dh.

c/o TripAdvisor Spain
The Aben Danan Synagogue is located in the Mellah, or Jewish quarter. Also at 10 dh, you get to see a 17th-century Torah in an active synagogue, as well as learn about Jews in Morocco. From there, you can visit the Jewish cemetery, which is just steps away.

So that girl's in the way, but you get the idea.
c/o TripAdvisor
c/o Wikipedia

While you're in the Mellah, make sure to also visit the Jewish Museum at Em Habanim Synagogue, a synagogue-turned-museum. I'm not sure how much the entrance fee is, but I can't imagine that it would be more than 20 or 30 dh.

c/o Flickr user maykal

After culturing yourself about Moroccan Judaism, go see the Bab Bou Jeloud! It's another beautifully constructed gate that serves as the city's landmark. This serves as the entrance to the medina and the souks, as well.

Enough said.
c/o Wikipedia

Before you go into the souks, though, you need to go to Jardin Jnan Sbil, which is next to the gate. This garden has fountains, manicured shrubs, and Islamic-styled tiles, and it offers a quiet getaway from the medina. I'm pretty sure I could stay here pour jamais.

c/o TripAdvisor UK
c/o TripAdvisor UK
c/o TripAdvisor UK

Now that you're relaxed, time to get back in the game in the medina! Explore the souks, walk around, and enjoy yourself!

The souks are always so charming.
c/o Wikipedia

Vocabulary (French // Arabic // English)
  • pour jamais // ila al-abad (إِلى الأَبَد) // forever

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Liebster Award 2014

Thank you so much to Harper over at Harper Honey for nominating me for a Liebster Award! Harper and I met each other through Her Campus, and it's been so fun to be part of the blogging community with her, as well.

For those of you who don't know, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers with under 200 followers in order to spread the word about new blogs. The nominator nominates 11 people and asks them to post 11 facts about themselves and answer 11 questions, and then each nominee must continue the cycle. Let's get started!

My 11 facts:
  1. I hoard samples of everything, from tea bags to perfumes to vitamins.
  2. My favorite accessory is a bold lip.
  3. My favorite TV shows are The Mindy Project, New Girl, Parks and Recreation, and Big Bang Theory. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is a guilty pleasure, as well. :)
  4. Half the time when I "like" someone, I realize that I'm just bored and am absolutely not attracted to him at all.
  5. My ideal evening would be spent on a terrace of Morocco sipping fresh-squeezed orange juice, looking at the lit-up city, stargazing, and listening to the call to prayer. It's so peaceful, and literally the definition of an Arabian night.
  6. My favorite foods are pasta, pizza, and anything involving bread and cheese. Oh, and pomegranates!
  7. When it comes to clothes, I believe in quality over quantity. I may only have three pairs of jeans, but they're so versatile and good that I don't even lust after other pairs.
  8. I collect nail polish. I must have over 70 bottles.
  9. The beauty products that I can't live without are Organix Moroccan Oil shampoo and conditioner, Moroccanoil Light Oil Treatment, Milani lipstick in Best Red, and unscented Chapstick.
  10. My favorite book is The Hunt for KSM. If 9/11, the War on Terror, or anything related to terrorism or war history interests you, read it.
  11. Even though I don't know what I'm doing next year, I'm absolutely confident that my life is going to pan out exactly how I want it to within the next few years. Watch me.

Harper asked me:

1. What are your top 5 favorite movies, and why?
Ah, I don't really watch movies! I guess High School Musical, because it's adorable and never gets old; Breakfast at Tiffany's, because it's a beautiful classic (and who doesn't love Audrey Hepburn?); and Zero Dark Thirty, because I'm obsessed with national-security issues, namely the War on Terror (and I really enjoy picking out what isn't factually correct in the movie). I know that was only three, but I really am not into movies.

2. Where do you like to go when you are upset or stressed out? What do you do there?
I go straight to my bed! I call my mom to vent, then take a nap.

3. If you could live in either a comic book, a romcom, a musical, a crime show, a gothic novel, or a sci-fi series, which would you pick and why?
Definitely a rom-com--and I'm pretty sure I'm living in one right now! My love life is already hilarious, why not film it?

4. In what ways do you hope your blog will grow or change?
I want to gain a following in other countries, as one of my blog's focuses is culture and travel. I just started the Morocco virtual-trip series, and I think it's one of the greatest ideas ever. Hopefully, I'll do more virtual trips, and chronicle some real ones!

5. You are on a mystery solving team, similar to the Scooby-Doo gang, with a combination of friends and celebrities. It's you plus 3 other people and an animal side-kick of your choice. Who's on your team?
Okay, my animal sidekick is definitely Serge le lama. I'd choose my friend Emily, as she's studying criminal justice and wants to do this stuff in real life; my sister, for the sole reason that her name is Daphne; and Sandra Bullock, because homegirl rocked the FBI stint in Miss Congeniality.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself working in national security in Washington, D.C.

7. Tell me about something from your childhood that you still keep (a toy, a book, etc.).
When I was a baby, I was fascinated by cardboard tubes, like toilet-paper and paper-towel tubes. My dad strung together a few toilet-paper tubes as a "toy," and I still have it. He doesn't make anything ever and can have a hard time expressing his emotions, so it means a lot to me.

8. Do you have any favorite charities or causes?
I don't have specific charities, but my preferred causes are helping the homeless, helping veterans and their families, and expanding education to girls around the world. I always make sure to give at least $1 whenever I pass a homeless person in Ann Arbor, and if I don't have cash, I buy him/her the snack of his/her choice or a coffee. Today, I bought a man barbecue chips and an Arnold Palmer; last week, I bought a young guy Starbucks; the week before, I gave a nice homeless couple $5 and a box of Nature Valley bars. I try to do what I can.

9. Do you stay organized? What are you best at staying on top of, and what are you least organize about?
I'm the QUEEN of being organized! Between my (two) color-coded calendars, neat living space, and time management skills, I'm great at it--my parents even pay me to organize the house! However, if I don't write something down, I forget, so there's also a negative.

10. What time of the day or night do you have the most energy?
Definitely between 9 p.m. and midnight! Often beyond midnight, too. (It's almost 3 a.m. as I write this...)

11. Tell me 3 regrets you hope to die without.
Not seeing enough of the world; not knowing enough languages; not spending my life in a dead-end jo that I don't enjoy.

Now, I would like to nominate the following bloggers for the award!

  1. Nancy of Neatly Packaged
  2. Kirsten of Life in Kirsten's Boots
  3. Casey of Love and Waffles
  4. Rania of Excuse Denied
  5. Rosalyn of Rosalyn Gambhir
  6. Katherine of Kolouring
  7. Madeleine of Small Town Roots and Cowboy Boots
  8. Morgan of Mermaid Tales
  9. Emily of Pearls & Pokemon
  10. Camille of misscamillexo
  11. Kelsey of Things Unseen

And here are my 11 questions for these lovely ladies to answer:
  1. What's one thing that you really want to learn?
  2. What are your go-to beauty products?
  3. What do you love about yourself, and why?
  4. If you could spend two weeks exploring any country, which one would it be, and why?
  5. Where do you envision yourself in five years?
  6. What led you to your path of study and/or career?
  7. What's one little luxury in which you like to indulge?
  8. How do you hope to impact the world?
  9. What are your five favorite books, and why?
  10. How did you spend last summer?
  11. Where would you want to take your honeymoon, and why?

Can't wait to read everyone's responses! Nominees: comment with the link to your post. :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 12 // Meknes (مَكناس)

Riad Zahraa, like the night before.


Heri el-Souani, or the royal granaries, was one the works commissioned by Moulay Ismaïl. It was built in order to store 20 years' worth of grains for all of the royal horses, and today it stands as an architectural wonder that tourists enjoy visiting. Entrance is 20 dh.

c/o Low Cost Morocco Travel
c/o Low Cost Morocco Travel

Habs Kara Prison was originally a diplomat site under Moulay Ismaïl, but it turned into a prison for 60,000 (mostly Christian) slaves. For just 10 dh, you can see where Ismaïl greeted ambassadors and kept his POWs, as well as the horrible conditions that these prisoners faced.

c/o Brendon and Keryn Doran

For those of you art and thaqaafa (culture) lovers, so hopefully all of you, check out the Musée Dar Jamaï. In English, it's known as the Museum of Moroccan Art, but it was actually Hassan I's palace. It only costs 10 dh, and in addition to highlighting Moroccan art and luxury goods, you get a glimpse of the sultan's former living quarters.

c/o Hôtel Meknès
This courtyard...! I have no words.
c/o Hôtel Meknès

In case you haven't seen enough beauty today, go to the Lahboul Gardens, which are near the medina. Like the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech, the Lahboul Gardens were built in the 1900s by Frenchmen, and they're a zoo as well as a botanical garden! Unfortunately, I can't find any good pictures that aren't watermarked and/or copyrighted, so just look at them on Google yourself!

Again, there is no such thing as a visit to a Moroccan city without exploring the medina! The souks are low-priced and relaxed (compared to the souks in other cities) and have lots of authentic food items for sale, but Bab Mansour gate is the real attraction. (Quick fun fact: bab was one of the first words I learned in Arabic! It has the first two letters of the alphabet, and no short vowels.) This was another public work under Moulay Ismaïl, who reportedly had the architect executed, believing that he could do better. There isn't much to do at the gate other than marvel at its intricacy, but it's a landmark of Meknes nonetheless.

c/o Cooking in Tongues
c/o Cooking in Tongues
There are gates, and then there's this.
c/o OK Voyage

Vocabulary (French // Arabic // English)
  • la culture // thaqaafa (ثَقافة) // culture
  • une porte // bab (باب) // door

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 11 // Meknes (مَكناس)

With that, we're back inland. Meknes (pronounced "mek-ness") is a fun city that's full of history, sights, and attraction. A couple of fun facts: it was the capital of Morocco in the 1600s/1700s, and its sister city is Nîmes, France! Also, Meknes itself is a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Transportation (CasablancaMeknes)
Between Casablanca and Meknes, the ONCF train costs about 90 dh and the ride lasts just under three hours.

Riad Zahraa is a charming hotel right in the medina. The location couldn't be better, and the price is $25/night/person if there are just two of you (and it gets cheaper, the more people that are on the trip, down to $16/night/person). Plus, the amenities are endless: included breakfast, on-site restaurant, air conditioning (!!), Internet access, laundry facilities, and more! And look how pretty it is!



Remember the Médersa Ben Youssef in Marrakech? Meknes has a similar attraction, which is the Bou Inania Médersa. This school was founded in the 1300s (!!), and it's full of Islamic architecture. Only 10 dh to enter.

Before telling you about the Mausoleum of Mouley Ismaïl, it's time for a small history lesson. Mouley Ismaïl Ibn Sharif was the king, or malek, of Morocco from 1672-1727, and he was known for his fearlessness as well as his implementation of public works and architecture that were inspired by Louis XIV. Mouley Ismaïl died in Meknes, and here lays his tomb. While it is free to enter, leaving a tip is highly encouraged.

The king himself.

c/o weepingredorger
Fountain at the mausoleum.
Sahrij Swani is a manmade basin that was created in preparation of possible drought. For just 10 dh you can walk around the basin and take in the view--sunset visit, anyone?

A wall borders one side of the basin.
c/o Panoramio

Vocabulary (French // Arabic // English)
  • un roi // malek (مَلِك) // king

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 10 // Casablanca (الدّار البيضاء)

Hôtel Central, like the night before.


You absolutely must go to the Hassan II Mosque! It's the only jaami in Casablanca that non-Muslims can visit, and is gorgeous. It costs 120 dh for entrance, but only 60 dh upon presentation of a student ID.

c/o Morocco Holidays Guide
c/o Trek Earth

Again, anything related to Judaism in Morocco is high on my list, so I'm super excited about the Museum of Moroccan Judaism, especially since it's the only museum in Morocco that's dedicated to the religion. Entrance is only 20 dh, and it houses Judaica, photographs, and other artifacts relative to the history of Moroccan Jews.

c/o Morocco on the Move

While you can't go inside, definitely stop by the Royal Palace to take a look! The architecture is stunning, and the gardens are beautifully curated. Plus, it's one of the many palaces in use by the current king of Morocco, Mohammad VI.

c/o Seize The Trip

Apparently, Musée Abderrahman Slaoui is full of jewelry, furniture, artwork, and more. Admission is 30 dh for adults, but only 10 dh for students. It's small, but definitely worth checking out!

c/o TripAdvisor

You know how much I love the medinas (or, in "Arabic" Arabic, medinaat), so how exciting that Casablanca has TWO! There's the old medina and the new medina, and they're very close to one another. They have some great souks, too, so browse away!

Finally, what would a trip to Casablanca be without going to the beach, or plage? Sit back, relax, soak up some (more) sun, and let the sand exfoliate your feet after that long hike.

c/o World Effect
c/o Paradise in the World

Vocabulary (French // Arabic // English)

  • une mosquée // jamaï (جامِع) // mosque
  • un musée // mat'haf (مَتحَف) // museum
  • une plage // shaati-i (شاطِئ) // beach