Sunday, May 6, 2018

Guide to Marrakech

Hello friends!   It's been quite a while, hasn't it?  Over a year, actually, and I'm sorry I've been so MIA.  I fell out of blogging for many reasons but mostly because I was so exhausted putting effort and energy into something that wasn't totally fulfilling me.  I felt more obligated to be posting versus letting it come naturally and given everything else I had going on, it just fell to the bottom of the priority list.  But here we are and while I can't tell you how often I'll be posting because there's still a ton more important things going on, what I can tell you is that I'm super excited about this Guide to Marrakech post.  I was extremely fortunate enough to go for my birthday last year and lately I've had an insane desire to go back.  While I'm not quite ready to make that happen yet (aka many more places at the top of my travel list!), my friend Preston is headed there (tomorrow) and I have said for months (literally) that'd I'd do a guide post.  So without further adieu... 

Marrakech is a combination of craziness, beauty, romance and adventure.  Crazy because it can be sensory overload (especially walking through the souks) and there are so many people, motor bikes, donkeys pulling carts, and shops that it can get quite overwhelming.  Beautiful because, let's face it, if you've seen any pictures on instagram, the architectural details and colors sprinkled throughout the city are like no other.  Romantic because there's just something in the desert air that's intoxicating.  And adventurous because no day or route through the souks was the same.  I went with my best friend from high school, Margot, and she was the perfect travel companion because she was down for anything.  And was a lot less affected by culture shock than I because of her travels to India and through Central and South America.  We spent 8 nights in the country which was the perfect amount of time for what we had planned (we had some things pre-arranged but also just went by the seat of our pants and it was the perfect balance).  I only felt unsafe once because some man tried to give us unsolicited directions, demanded we pay him and gave us a hearty "f*ck you" when we said no.  Otherwise, I loved the people in Morocco because they are so hospitable and kind.  As far as what to wear, I just went by the general rule of thumb to stay fairly covered up with loose fitting clothes (considering I'm a blond Western woman, it felt like the best approach).

Here's a highlight reel of our trip!

Where to stay: we stayed at Riad Carina because I wanted a really authentic experience.  Riads are small bed and breakfast/boutique-type hotels that are usually 5 - 12 rooms with a rooftop.  Riad Carnia is inside the old city walls (the Medina) but it's in the southwest part of the Medina which just so happened to be on the other side of the souks from a lot of the places we went to eat and do things at.  Next time I'd stay more in the northwest part of the city (or outside the Medina completely to have it feel a little more relaxed and vacation-y).  Our friend Abbie stayed at Riad Adriana and highly recommended it.  

What to do:  shopping in the souks is a must and no, you don't need a guide.  You just need to be comfortable negotiating, knowing how much you want to pay for something and being able to walk away if they won't meet your price.  There will likely be another vendor with the same pottery, textiles or knick knacks.  Some of my absolute favorite places we bought things at: Hanout (a boutique I purchased a handmade wool jacket from), Blaoui Abdelghani (where I purchased my insane fruit bowl - they had the most beautiful pottery!), Jad (for candles), and all the shops below Terrasse des ├ępices (where I bought a blanket and all my pottery and drinking glasses).  I went a little crazy but I had just moved into my apartment and was very excited to buy decor for it!  There's also a great book I wish I had resourced before we went called Shopping in Marrakech.

If you can swing it, I highly HIGHLY recommend making it out to the Sahara desert.  We did a three day guided tour with one overnight in the desert but if I did it again I'd plan to hire a private driver and stay at a more boutiquey camp.  Not that ours was bad but it was quite an experience (very authentic berber experience).  We booked our trip with Viator and I was not expecting the 13 hour car ride back from the desert (we took our time getting there and coming back was just an insane amount of time in the car).  With a private driver you'd be able to kinda make your own schedule and make more stops if you want.  If you don't want to trek all the way out to the Sahara desert, there are a ton of other options closer to Marrakech where you can still feel like you've escaped the city a bit.  

The day after we got back from the desert we went to a hammam (Le Bain Bleu) and spent $60 on the best scrub/massage (traditional duo) I've ever had in my life.  We had our riad call them so we could make a reservation.   

The morning of my birthday we did a sunrise hot air balloon ride with Ciel d'Afrique and it was like nothing I've ever experienced.  It was the most perfect sunrise and definitely worth the 4:30 AM wakeup call. 

We also did tea at La Mamounia (which I could honestly take it or leave it, it wasn't what I expected but a fun way to get in and see the grounds) and visited Le Jardin Majorelle/the YSL Museum.

Where to eat: the highlights were Nomad (truly delicious modern Moroccan food with amazing vibes, highly recommend making a reservation), El Fenn (we went for lunch with a pre fixe menu and the food was great - really fresh Moroccan dishes), Terrasse des ├ępices (we went TWICE.  Once for lunch and for our last dinner - they have an "international" menu in case your heart desires a burger as a break from all the tajine like mine did), Pepe Nero (cute courtyard seating - we went for my bday dinner and they also had an "international" menu) and Le Foundouk (try to sit on the rooftop if you can - I think it would have elevated the meal for us).  I would have liked to try Le Jardin but we didn't make it.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to live vicariously through Preston's posts and continue to scheme my dream of owning my own riad in Morrocco...

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Right... Pieces That Move Me

Following up to my quick life updated on Monday, I am so excited to share details on my next travel adventure: I'll be spending 9 days in France in April.  If you've been following me long enough, you know I went to Paris, Florence and Milan a little over two years ago.  I'm so excited to go back to France, I can hardly contain myself.  I'll be spending a few days in Paris, running the Paris Marathon and exploring a few things I didn't see the first time, and then heading to the South of France (Nice, specifically) for the remainder of the week. I'm using Nice as my base for the week and plan to adventure around so if you have any suggestions (things to see/do, places I must eat at, etc.) send them my way!

In true Tracy fashion, I've been working on my packing list for quite some time now.  My goal is to travel as light as possible (which will be a little tough considering I need to pack all my marathon gear!) so I can do some shopping while I'm there.  I did some pretty light shopping buying souvenirs last time I was in Europe but my goal this time is to actually spend some money on myself.  I also want to travel as light as possible because I've gotten quite used to only packing a carry on (even for trips home in the winter!).  I fly standby a lot and carrying on is really the only way to go.  




My travel outfit lists usually include versatile pieces that I can dress up or down or mix and match to get the most wear without having to pack different outfits for every single day.  I was so excited when Banana Republic asked me to participate in their "What Moves Us" campaign.  I'd say two of the biggest things that move me include versatile wardrobe pieces and experiencing new things by traveling to new places. 



Versatile wardrobe pieces, like this amazing shirt dress, are great for traveling and also great to take from desk (with a blazer and heels) to weekend (with a scarf and flats).  It'll definitely be making it into my suit case.  And I can't forget about these ballet flats because I know they'll be super necessary while I run around France for the week.  

Travel/Weekend Look: Banana Republic Shirt Dress (c/o), Banana Republic ballet flats (c/o), Gigi New York crossbody bag (c/o), Georgio Armani sunglasses, Scarf borrowed from Megan

Work Look: Zara boucle jacket (similar linked below), 3.1 Philip Lim Pashli, Nine West d'orsay pumps (similar linked below)

Would love to know - what moves you? 

Shop the look:

Photos by Megan Zietz 

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Early 2017 Life Update

Hello friends! It's been a while since my last post and I apologize. Let me fill you in on life as of late:

After the NYC Marathon I went home for a quick weekend to surprise my grandma for her birthday (I still owe you a post on the NYC marathon - I could relive that day over and over again, it was so incredible!)


Celebrated my 29th birthday with SoulCycle, friends and bottomless brunch


Work was crazy through the end of the year which I was not prepared for

I went home to Reno for the holidays and had some solid couch/downtime 


I have officially drank the SoulCycle koolaid and have been going just about every week since December



Started Training for the Paris marathon (at this point it's a short FOUR weeks away!)


Went to Tulum, Mexico for a friend's bachelorette weekend (working on a post for you soon because it was absolutely amazing)


And that's just the big things!  I have been so excited for this year's adventures and challenges and so far it has not disappointed.  I am working on a winter marathon training update to share with you because that's been one of the things taking up most of my time (and one of the biggest challenges I've faced this year).  

In the meantime, tune back in Wednesday for a new outfit post with a brand that I absolutely love!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Right... Pop of Orange


J.Crew Trench Coat, Banana Republic Scalloped Dress (c/o), Charles by Charles David Nude Pumps, Philip Lim Pashli Bag, Banana Republic Earrings (c/o) 
I have to admit, I've turned into one of those people that pretty much only wears black, white, grey and tan.  Oh and the occasional olive.  I pared down my wardrobe a ton earlier this year and left myself with this group of super neutral clothing which has been simple to style because everything matches, but I realized I'm missing that occasional POC.  Cue Banana Republic coming to the rescue with this amazing scalloped dress.  It's perfect for work with heels or can be dressed down with an oxford underneath and some sneaks for a casual weekend look.  Oh and it has pockets and fits my hips.  Which is a win in multiple departments.  




In other news, I'm working on a full marathon recap which I hope to share very soon!  It was such an amazing race - something I never expected to say about a full marathon!

Shop the post: 

This post was written in partnership with Banana Republic - as always, all opinions are my own.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Fitness Friday: One Week Countdown

I love fall mornings in the park with the mist over the Great Lawn

We're a total of 9 days away from the NYC Marathon and sh*t has gotten really real over the past few weeks.  We've received our bib #s and start times and I've completed my 20 mile long run.  I came back from my forced 10 day break and got right back into things and was feeling great and somewhat caught up on mileage so I decided I was ready to tackle a full 20 mile run (part of me had debating just doing 18 because I was nervous as hell...).  It went off without a hitch and was one of the best long training runs I've ever had.  Needless to say it gave me a ton of confidence for the big day!  I am gearing up for the "last 10" mile run this weekend - it's organized by Jack Rabbit and Nike and we run the last 10 miles of the marathon course.  Undoubtedly some of the hardest miles because it has the most hills and it's where people tend to start to struggle a bit.  This part of the course was fairly blurry to me from the last time I ran the marathon because all I could focus on was getting across the finish line and trying to block out the pain I was in.  So I'm definitely ready to soak in this part of the course and know there won't be many surprises on race day. 

Pre-20 mile run!
Post-20 mile run and still smiling!!!

I'm also in the "taper" phase where mileage has decreased significantly and if you know any other runners this phase can be a little bit of a mind f*ck as well.  You start to feel phantom pains that weren't there before and it's also a bit of an emotional roller coaster (in weird ways I can't really explain).  For example, I got super depressed last Friday because work had been so busy and I was just exhausted and feeling really alone/isolated because I had made zero plans except my long run.  A little weird, I know, but all part of the training I guess! 

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