As part of my trip to Fez, I also took a few days to discover the back country around this great city. Meknès, one of the four “imperial cities” of Morocco, is definitely worth a visit. Surrounded by three belts of walls, these fortifications are the longest in the kingdom. Their great protective stance is only broken through by a handful of beautifully adorned doors, opening a majestical way towards the inner city.
A few miles away, the region also boasts an impressive archeological site of Roman ruins called Volubilis. The exceptional state of the excavated walls, house foundations, arches and mosaics is utterly stunning. Perhaps even more impressive are the claims by archeologists that about 60% of the ruins still remain to be found and restored.
About an hour and a half away from Meknès stand the Middle Atlas mountains. Hidden in the forest is a lovely village named Ifrane, which serves as a ski station in the winter. A really great halt for those seeking peace and freshness, Ifrane is set close to an amazing natural reserve with many hiking paths. At the end of my trip, I visited an eco-friendly farm down in the valley, whose owners produce excellent goat cheese, as well as olive oil and honey. A truly great place to stop by and enjoy a nice meal of cheese, bread and other local products!
Last month I discovered Honfleur, a lovely little village hidden in Normandy, not far from Deauville and Trouville. Only two hours away from Paris, it was the perfect romantic get-away week-end, especially thanks to the charming hotel we found over there: the Auberge de la Source is a true gem, tucked at the end of a quiet and leafy path. The hydrangeas and the fishery pond only added to its spell.
Honfleur is especially famous for its colourful harbour, and indeed the sight didn’t disappoint. For a meal, you might want to stay away from the seaside restaurants – somewhat a bit too touristy – and explore Honfleur just a little further down its paved streets. There are a few good tables especially if you’re in the mood for some seashells.
A couple of weeks ago I went to spend a few days in Istanbul. The city really lives up to its reputation and it would be an understatement to say that I wasn’t disappointed: Istanbul is simply grand, magnificent, full of art and history, amazing by its architecture, lovely and full of inspiration in its quieter neighborhoods. In one word – gorgeous.
What I particularly liked about Istanbul is its situation by the sea, in-between two continents. The city is so expanded, it’s incredible to contemplate. But it is almost always freshened up by the ocean’s breeze. Obviously, besides the pure and salty marine air, the great thing about it is that one can find countless striking views of the Golden Horn. Uskudar, on the Asian side, provides a great promenade by the sea with fishermen, seagulls, wooden houses and children taking a swim. For other lovely marinas, look at Ortakoy or Bebek, both charming. Also great to wander about and have a nice bite, the fish market by the Galata Bridge has delicious fish sandwiches…