Reviews

Private Tour Chefchaouen, MOROCCO

Our private tour of Chefchaoen was a mixed bag. I was probably blinded by the prospect of visiting one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so I didn’t prepare myself well enough and made a few rookie errors.

First of all, Chefchaoen is over three hours from Fez. Bring something to do in the car because it’s just a lot of countryside otherwise. Our tour guide was an hour late, and we were picked up only because I called enquiringly where he was.

Second of all, clarify with your tour guide before hand that you’ll be given a tour of the city. I was under the impression that we would be given a private tour of the Blue Pearl, but we had a guy who said he ‘didn’t have a tourist permit’ so he ‘wasn’t able to actually escort’ us through the streets. This didn’t seem very legitimate, nor did it instil much confidence in us. I appreciate free time to explore, but we were told to meet him at the Kazbah at 5pm, and that we should try and get to a few of his recommended landmarks, such as the Spanish mosque. He didn’t give us directions or a map, and we couldn’t speak Moroccan, and there are no street signs. So we were left in a maze for 3 hours. We got lost.

Chefchaoen is a labyrinth. Winding streets and alleyways. There’s a tourist belt with typical wares and crafts, and there’s the residential side. Somehow we made it to the residential side, in the sweltering heat. We nearly melted. Bring water, buy water, stay hydrated.

Lastly, the tour guide took us to a local restaurant and recommended we try the fish Tagine- a delicacy. Beware the fish tagine. My partner and I were violently ill, night of a thousand deaths style, for three days and nights afterwards. We had to cancel the Casablanca leg of our trip and spent a week recuperating. Beware the fish tagine.

Look, I think there are other ways to get to Chefchaoen. It’s a magical city, but I didn’t really get a chance to love it between all the palava that happened on my tour.

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.

Advertisements

Suzhou and Zhouzhuang tour from Shanghai 

I’m glad we went on this private tour. We booked this at short notice through TripAdvisor and the company was very helpful with us.

Our guide was very informative, he had a lot to say and he spoke English well. The guided tour through the Master of Nets Garden was great, and we felt very supported having a knowledgeable guide take us through this beautiful ancient residence. The tour of the silk factory was also very interesting on the process of silk production (unlike other factory tours which can just seem like a showroom).

Visiting Zhouzhuang was my favourite bit of the whole trip, and I enjoyed my included gondola ride. However, would have appreciated more time, even free time to explore the water village. It’s such a cool place, I just wanted an hour or so to follow my nose, to explore the canals and see the little craftsmen in their shopfronts. This was the main feedback from all on the tour- there was too much time spent in the silk factory, and not enough time in Zhouzhuang.

Also, don’t expect too much from the lunch. As far as Chinese meals go, it was pretty disappointing and poorly produced. 

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.

Pastelaria Belus, Marid, Spain

On our first morning in Madrid, we had the classic traveler’s fog: you want breakfast, you need coffee, you have never been to this city before, you don’t know where’s good. So we walked. We didn’t speak any Spanish, and we walked. We chanced upon this very small, clean, bright cafe boasting sweet and savoury pastries. We tentatively slipped inside.

They have a basic breakfast menu, cute pastry and coffee deals which suited us just fine. My friend had croissants and a hot chocolate, while I had some savoury morsels and a life-affirming coffee. I enjoyed my treats, something with beef, something with cheese.

Despite the language barrier, the server was particularly accommodating. Quaint, bathrooms, wifi- everything a weary traveler could want.

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.

Kasbah, Chefaouen, MOROCCO

Chefchaoen is a labyrinth. Especially dizzying if you don’t speak Moroccan, Arabic or French. There are no street signs, and the locals are likely more interested in selling their wares than give you directions. That said, the kasbah is right in the centre of it all, and hard to miss.

It’s a very old structure, but after visiting it, that’s all I really know. We went in the afternoon (double check opening times because they’re very specific) and paid the entrance fee. There’s signage, but none in English, so we just wandered the site in awe. Perfectly manicured gardens and turrets with stunning views.

I recommend you go, but only as part of your larger city adventure. It only really needs 20 minutes. It’s a perfect spot for sweeping pictures of the Blue Pearl.

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.

Makers Workshop, Burnie, Tasmania AUSTRALIA

The Makers Workshop is such a cool space. It supports local arts and showcases the wares of local artists. It’s true, the products may be a little pricey, but everything is artisan and locally sourced, so I find no issue in paying artists for their craft.

The space includes the visitors centre, tours to make your own paper and a cafe. There’s free wifi and toilets as well. It’s also an educational space outlining a history of the area and horticultural innovations.

It’s very easy to get to along the foreshore. The walk along the boardwalk is leisurely and the Workshop can’t be missed. I spent a week in Burnie without coming here, but dropped in on my last day and found it really helpful with its info on the area and gallery. Bought some cute souvenirs as well!

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.

Cuff Food and Wine, Melbourne CBD, AUSTRALIA

We came to Melbourne on a public holiday. It was the night before the AFL Grand Finals, and the streets became a river of people jostling and restless like caged animals freed. The usual brunch spots, like Degraves Street, were swamped by out of towners and locals alike, all under siege from the 10% public holiday surcharge on all service.

The Cuff Café was down Flinders Lane, away from the crowd. Solace. My friends ordered variations of the basic avocado on toast, while I had the corn and leek fritters with avocado and smoked salmon.

The food is homey. There aren’t bells and whistles, no blob of mystery coulis, no floral garnish. It was everything we wanted and more. I recommend the cafe as one off the main drag, one with a satisfying brunch and burger menu, one that becomes a wine bar come nightfall.

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.

Flinders Backpackers, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Flinders Backpackers is your conventional backpackers hostel. Basic. Weird stain on the mattress. Paper thin walls.

The only common space is an all in one. As you exit the elevator, the first thing you see are the lines for the front office. Look left and there’s the huge kitchen space, tables and chairs, piles of luggage that didn’t fit inside the $2 lockers. Look right and there’s a mess of people, playing games, reading, eating, drinking. Some call this a homely vibe, communal and inviting. I found it chaotic and overwhelming.

I shared a room with friends on level 9. We could still feel the bass from the nightclub on the first floor through the walls. I know we paid basic rates for bare minimum facilities, and I wasn’t expecting the Ritz. But I felt uncomfortable with the ultra-sterile chlorine/bleach smell that permeated even the curtains.

Honestly, the hostel forced me out onto the streets and into the city. For that, I am grateful. I did not wish to stay in that place any longer than I needed to.

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.