Madrid - A Secret & Colorful Corner -

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After having recommended hotels, restaurants, shops, parks, and sights to see in Madrid, I would like to to share one last thing; my favorite corner of Madrid, Plaza de la Cebada. One of the most historic plazas in the city, it is well known for it’s famous covered market. The market takes up nearly the whole plaza! This plaza is in the heart of the Latin quarter, in fact, easily reachable from La Latina station.  Next to the plaza, you’ll find many small bars offering tapas with some wine to wash them down. You’ll also find the famous La Latina theatre- they still host daily shows! While these are all interesting attractions, the reason I love this plaza is completely different. Very few people are aware, but there’s an amazing small courtyard surrounded by some rather dilapidated walls behind the market. At first glance, it might not seem like much, but once inside you’ll see that it is truly fantastic! The walls are full of colors and graffiti art. A band generally plays in a small outdoor amphitheater, adding even more ambiance to the whole scene. Everything is absolutly authentic. There are even some shopfronts that frequently host a wide variety of artists.  Before heading into La Latina Sunday market, stop a while to take some sun on a colorful bench . Between the improvised music and the mix of colors, you can’t help but feel some Spanish Allegria!

Marrakech - Something Special -

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Looking for a few ideas outside the box and to beat the crowds at the usual tourist sights?

For those who decide to stay in Marrakesh for more than 4 days, there are some interesting options for spending relaxing days or even trying having a very strong olfactory experience...read on to understand.

A REGENERATING HAMMAM

You can’t leave Marrakesh without having visited a hamman, either in your riad or one of the many spas such as the one in the Les Jardins de la Koutoubia 5 star hotel. This spa is sponsored by Clarins and offers a vast array of treatments. There are no doubts that this is among the cleanest and most hygenic spas in Marrakesh. Relax and let yourself be pampered!

NIKKI BEACH LE PALMERAIE

Of course, there’s even a Nikki Beach in Morocco. It is located a little ways out from the center in the Palmeraie area. This beach hot-spot is 15km from the the airport and easily reachable from the Medina in 10-15 minutes by taxi.
 

VISIT THE TANNERIES

As you may have learned, I love to go from one extreme to the other. This experience is not for the faint of heart, and I must warn those of you who have a hard time with strong odors. The tanneries are located on the eastern outskirts of the Medina in order to be in close proximity to the waters of the Oued Issil. Local guides are easily found as they tend to hang out near the tanneries, although, they may not be required. You’ll be struck by the strong smell of the skins, especially the excrement used to soften and lighten them. In fact, The processing and treatment is all very natural...the skins are immersed in pigeon excrement to soften them before proceeding to be colored using natural pigments from saffron and poppies. Once colored, they are put out to dry in the sun.