The Magic of Marrakech

Please note- there are many images in this blog entry due to Marrakech being such a photogenic place!

When I was a child, my favourite Disney film was Aladdin. Magic carpets, enchanted snakes and exotic music; food and colours everywhere.

After years of waiting for an opportunity, I took the 1 hour flight from Seville to Marrakech which is not where this children’s story is set but the photos I’d seen and all I’d read about it evoked this mystical, dusty and glittering land.

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Bonjour Beautiful Bordeaux

There is a game called ‘Ryanair Roulette’ where people go online and book flights to whichever destination is the cheapest on that day. I love this idea as I am happy to visit almost anywhere and to be fair, Ryanair does offer some unusual and interesting destinations.

My cousin Luke and I didn’t exactly go blindly for the cheapest but we collected a few potential destinations into a list and we decided which one to go for.

I am a lifelong Francophile and Luke appreciates French cuisine and wine so we opted for the under 2 hour flight from Manchester to Bordeaux, France.

So off to the land of red wine we went…

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Algeciras: Andalusia’s Forgotten Corner

Algeciras is often spoken about as the ugly spot of Andalusia. Industrial. Crime-ridden. Barren.

You won’t find it featuring highly in travel guides and it is often seen as just a transient port of call between Spain and Morocco. Algeciras is in the autonomous region of Cádiz, it is the last stop on the train line from Madrid and overshadowed by its stunning neighbour, Tarifa to the south-west.

I first heard of this supposedly unremarkable town when I was studying A level History, with reference to the Algeciras Conference of 1906, held to discuss the future of Morocco.

Intrigued to see why this place is both disregarded and heralded, I spent three days in the Algeciras zone, visiting a friend who lives there. The Campo de Gibraltar encompasses the following areas:

  • Algeciras
  • Los Barrios
  • La Línea de la Concepción
  • Castellar de la Frontera
  • Jimena de la Frontera
  • San Roque
  • Tarifa

With my knowledgeable friend to show me round, our first stop was at one of Algeciras’ surprisingly beautiful beaches. The ugly reputation is largely undeserved, once you look past the grey dusty streets and shutter-drawn windows.

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Porto: The Unsung Portuguese Gem

Porto is a blend of chilled, happy days and charged, wild nights. It feels very, very safe and the people are amongst the friendliest of any city I’ve ever visited. 

This is the first travel article I’ve done for my own blog on a place other than Andalusia but I feel it’s now a natural progression to cover more of the world. I’ve noticed that over the past few years, I’ve travelled a fair amount around my home continent of Europe (my last long-haul trip was back in 2015 to Las Vegas).

The beauty of Europe is how the culture, climate, language and history is so varied and you can be in a completely different place after only a 2-3 hour flight!

My cousin works with a Portuguese woman who had long been recommending for him to visit Porto as she knew he had visited the Algarve around five times. When he suggested Porto to me, I had no visual impression of what it was like, I had never seen photos of the place.

The only thing I knew was that it has a football team and is sometimes referred to as Oporto.

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Best Places to Drink in Córdoba: Bar El Clandestino

When I think back to many of the fantastic times I had out and about whilst living in Córdoba, Bar El Clandestino is the place that mainly springs to mind.

A couple I used to work with introduced me to it very early on and I was relieved that I’d found somewhere a bit more in tune with what I enjoy from a good bar (as much as the quaint Spanish tabernas were a lovely cultural experience, I needed something a bit cooler and more modern too).

Situated on Calle Diario de Córdoba on the bended road heading from the town hall  and Roman Temple down towards the river, it is one of those classic legendary postage-stamp sized bars which always seems to the most popular kind of place. It is just on the edge of La Judería (the old Jewish district/UNESCO World Heritage site of Córdoba’s historic centre) and close to several places to eat, should the mood take you.

Friday nights would have dozens of people spilling out of the bar and milling round the street outside, a happy and chilled vibe where you could meet anyone and end up with another new drinking partner.

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