Author: The Flaneur

Australian writer. Travel writing, opinion editorials, short stories, poetry.

Riad Zineb, Marrakech, MOROCCO

Riad Zineb is a dream. We found it while searching for hostels to stay at and while it’s pricey for a hostel, it’s excellent value as a riad.

Riad Zineb offers great security, free wifi, airport/railway transfers, free breakfast and sits in a central location in the old town, with the Medina and main square within walking distance.

The riad itself is stunning. Quiet pool, quaint furnishings, attention to detail, rooftop terrace. It’s all there. The communal seating areas are so comfortable and filled with odd curiosities, that make the place feel like home. I honestly spent more time relaxing in the riad than I did out in the square. It was an oasis.

Riad Zineb is sisters with Riad Karmela and they often share facilities. While breakfast is served in Karmela, Riad Zineb offers a fantastic dinner on the terrace. Karmela also offers traditional hammams and massages, which I made good use of.

What makes this a stellar review is Walid. Walid was the riad staff who first greeted us and made us feel welcomed. His customer service went above and beyond as he gave us his full attention whenever I had a pressing matter, which was often. For example, I left my phone in a tour bus (I know, right?) and he helped me track it down and secure it again. Also, we arrived sick and weak from a previous illness (ate some bad food elsewhere) and he kept checking on us, providing bottles of water, catering dinner to our needs: plain, bland and simple.

Riad Zineb is more than a hostel, or a budget riad. Its ambience, customer service and comfortable feel left us reenergised and content.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

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Hostal Catedral, Seville, Spain

Hostal Catedral (or Pension Catedral) is in a good location. Fast wifi, good security and well priced. However in the morning it can be noisy and the hot water in the shower can be temperamental. Facilities are basic.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Elevador de Santa Justa, Lisbon, PORTUGAL

The queue is long. It is always long. It can last up to an hour and there’s no skip the line pass.

Entry to the elevator and the viewpoint is €5.15. You can use a transport card to use the lift and if you do, you must only pay €1.5 to go to the viewpoint. It’s open from 9am-11pm, but there’s always a queue. We went around dusk (summertime, 8.30pm) and waited about 45min.

The view is sublime. Panoramic scenes of Lisbon looking out to the sea, or out past the foothills. There shouldn’t be many people up there to ruin your picture perfect moment as only a lift-full of people can be up there at any given time.

Afterwards, the main question is how to get back to geound level if you choose not to take the lift down. It’ll be an adventure in the back alleys of the city.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Fado, Alfama, PORTUGAL

We set out from our hostel at 10pm to see Fado performed in Alfama. In a dimly lit Tasca, we were offered sangria or green wine to sip while we experienced this traditional art form.

Fado can be heard online or through CD but no. It must be experienced. Fado is a direct line to the passions of the heart and soul, and has been sung for centuries. It is the most emotional performance of any music I have ever been to. The two guitarists, one Portuguese guitar and the other a regular six string, accompanied the singer who closed their eyes and lamented from deep within. Before the performance, the bar owner dims the lights and demands silence. There must be no chatter, not even a whisper between songs.

The performance can last into the early hours of the morning. Go. It’s an essential Portuguese immersion that will leave you emotionally raw.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon, PORTUGAL

Jeronimos Monastery in Belém is architectural nobility. Get yourself a ticket on the red City Sightseeing Lisbon bus and hop off here for a bit. There’s a queue to get into the monastery (but it didn’t take us long at all) and it’s worth it. The 15th century stonework is in pristine condition and there’s a lot to see. There are rooms full of historical information if you’re inclined to linger and read. Otherwise the great halls, stained glass windows and marble carvings are unrivaled.

The adjacent church is free to enter and has no line. If you can’t be bothered to do the whole monastery, then the church is worth seeing instead. Or make a day out of Belém; there are plenty of other noteworthy sites in the local surrounds. Belém Tower, and the original Pasteis Nata shop is there.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

A Toca do Julio, Colares, PORTUGAL

A Toca do Julio is a humble roadside restaurant on the drive through Colares, between Sintra and Cascais. It has rustic charm and excellent food. It seems to be the place where local guides stop to give tourists an authentic Portuguese meal.

Cured ham, cheese and olives were there to greet us, as was the promise of bottomless wine. For €22 we had starters, main, dessert, wine and coffee. I had the grilled garlic octopus and it was to die for. As someone who doesn’t typically eat octopus, I was thoroughly impressed at how flavoursome and tender this dish was. The homemade dessert was a local-style tirimisu called Biscuit Cake and it was equally as delicious.

Air conditioning, free wifi and excellent Portuguese food.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Cabo da Roca, Cascais, PORTUGAL

Cabo da Roca is stunning. A beautiful wide expanse of ocean marking the westernmost point of continental Europe. Well worth seeing if you’re passing through between Sintra and Cascais.

It’s very windy, so leave your hat in the car. There’s a tourism office there and an historic lighthouse to explore as well.

The view itself is sublime and noteworthy enough to warrant the trip.

Please note that €0.5 coin is needed for use of the toilet.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.