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Travel and Food With Kids in Marrakech
Marrakech is mayhem and no one who has set foot in that Moroccan city will ever claim otherwise. It’s a happy form of bedlam for those who like excitement, but a stressful and terribly unpredictable place for those who like to exercise strict control. We advise the latter to take a Vueling to Zurich with their family and enjoy the placid feeling of a place where everything works and a scrumptious fondue is easy to come by. As for the rest of you – we recommend you follow us on this fantastic adventure.
Marrakech is the sort of place where someone accosts you every three steps you take, touting to sell you something or lead you to someone’s shop, offer you a guided tour of the city, drape a snake around your neck, tattoo you, make you an orange juice, walk with you and his monkey – which he wants you to hold by the hand – or fill your bag with perfumes, spices, soaps and beautiful decorative objects that appear to have leaped out of A Thousand and One Nights. All this happens as you dodge to avoid horse-drawn carts rolling to the cry of “Cheap carriage ride, María”, donkeys and other fauna that throng the streets, as you have your photo taken with a chameleon, visit palaces that until then were just a figment of your imagination and chatter about the latest exploits of Barça with men of all ages who cross your path.
This Moroccan city is pure magic, a delightful, fascinating chaos with whiffs of spice and mint tea – sometimes of horse dung, too, but, what the heck! – where any adventure lover is bound to have a whale of a time. And, who better than children to imbibe such a place, different from anything they’ve ever seen before, and abandon themselves to the stream of outlandish characters and situations that will punctuate their stay in Marrakech and make it unforgettable.
The first place the young ones are going to be infatuated with is Jemaa el Fna Square, the nerve centre of the Medina, where one of the most enchanting gastronomic festivals in the world strikes up as night falls. The smell of delicious spicy meat starts to waft out from the street stalls, and of hummus, couscous, tajine, salads and other specialities, sold for a sou. Some are reluctant to sit down to a table in that street market for fear of food poisoning, contaminated water and possible adverse effects on their digestive system. But, just by making sure the cutlery is clean and dry, and avoiding raw food, you can take part in an extravaganza that even Sublimotion can’t touch.
The same square has numerous restaurants with a view, providing angles to gawk at the ongoing revelry in Jemaa el Fna. One of our favourites is Aqua (68 Jemaa el Fna); their top-floor terrace affords privileged views of the square and the homemade Moroccan food is quite good. They also have pasta, pizza, sandwiches and other international dishes, which is great if you want to get away from local cuisine for a day.
We press on with the family gastro route through Marrakech and sit down to a table at a venue which is marvellously unclassifiable – Clock Cafe, one of the few hipster eateries in town, a spot which could be in London or Berlin but has nevertheless retained its Arab essence. Prices here border on those in Europe, their piped music is indie pop, their chairs are yellow, the walls are scrawled with graffiti and they serve a brilliant chicken and caramelised onion couscous, although the kids are more likely to go for the camel hamburgers, one of the star performers of the house. If the weather is cold – which it might be during the Marrakech winter – their fireplace will be your best friend.
Another spot well worth stopping off at is Nid’Cigogne (60 Place des Tombeaux Saadiens), a spacious, three-storey restaurant next door to the Saadian Tombs where the children can have fun with the cats roaming the terrace, enjoy the simple dishes, ranging from sandwiches to Moroccan stews, and take a break for a few hours from the incessant bustle of Marrakech. The service is friendly and, as is the case throughout this fairy-tale city, children are always welcome and are treated kindly, respectfully and effusively.
Lastly, while your options are endless, do make a point of having tea in the pretty Marrakech Henna Art Cafe, where you can get a henna tattoo and taste their little pastries while you wait. You can also dive into a delicious snack of hummus and vegetable couscous at a reasonable price, and pick up some of the souvenirs on sale inside.
Armed with a basketful of craftwork, spices, soaps, multi-coloured babouches and thousands of unforgettable memories, you will have enjoyed a family experience filled with hours of laughter and a stream of wonderful stories to tell. Well, where else in the world are you likely to come across a serious-looking character dressed in a djellaba who stops your little boy in the street and calls out, “Hello, little Nicholas!”. Book your Vueling to Marrakech and get ready to live out the experience for yourself.
Text and photos by Laura Conde of Gastronomistas.com
Travel to Santa Claus home
But, what and where is Lapland? This is a tough question. This territory, above the Artic circle is divided between Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. However, officially Lapland is where the Sami live. Generally, people refers to Lapland in Finland or Sweden, neither Norway or Russia refer to their territory under this name, and usually Lapland (or Laponian region) is the name used to the union of the Swedish and Finnish areas.
For the matter of this post, we should go to the north of Finland, in the Finnish Lapland. The capital is Rovaniemi, an iconic place in which the line of the Artic circle passes across. This is an area to start wild adventures, among thick forests and wooden houses (mökki) there is the highest mountain in the country, some of its fjords and one of the best places in Finland to see Northern lights and enjoy the amazing view of the sun at midnight.
This area is known for being Santa Claus hometown (Santa in Finnish is Joulupukki). The translation is quite confusing: “Joulu” means Christmas, all right, but “pukki” means, literally, deer or goat. Years ago, people was afraid of him and nobody knows when, eventually, he became the charming elder he is now. The tradition of Joulupukki is from the beginning of the 19th century, even most of the Finnish tradition was lost after the story of Santa Claus was Americanized.
Thousands of letters are sent to the postal code of this town with tones of Christmas whises. They are collected and arranged by Santa’s hard-working assistants, the elfs. Attention! The address is: Santa Claus, 96930 Polar Circle, Finland. When Santa Claus gets to people’s houses he asks "Onkos täällä kilttejä lapsia?" (There are well-behaved kids here?), and kids should answer a convincing yes to receive the gifts.
It’s not only Santa Claus who makes Rovaniemi one of the most visited places in Finland. Around his figure and Christmas traditions, Santa Claus village was built, about 8 kilometers northeast from Rovaniemi. This is a theme park to do some shopping, participate in gifts workshops or simply enjoy a great variety of activities.
You can also visit Joulukka, the place where elves prepare the trip for Santa Claus. You will find out how elves live, you’ll be able to help them bake ginger cookies with Christmas decoration and they will guide you to meet Santa Clause.
Do you want to see what is Santa Claus doing right now? Easy! Santa is so updated on new technologies and he has cameras streaming live his daily work. One camera is outside the office and the other is inside to watch how he gets ready for this special day.
A good option to go from Helsinki to Rovaniemi is taking the high-speed train, which takes only 10 hours. You’ll feel like the main character in the animation movie “Polar Express” who takes this train on Christmas Eve to meet Santa.
But, besides the visit to the land of Santa Clause, there are many other things to do while you are in Helsinki for your winter trip.
Even Finnish people use the sauna all the year, the contrast with the freezing cold outside is the best way to enjoy a hot sauna to get over the cold. Or, for those looking for unforgettable experiences, you should try avantouinti. What is that? There a clubs in Finland to practice ice swimming. They make a hole in the ice of a lake (the hole is called ‘avanto’) and they get in the freezing water after the sauna. They state it has beneficial effects for your health but be careful or you’ll get a cold.
The winter in Finland is the greatest time to take stunning nature photos. The snowy landscapes are unforgettable memories from your trip and the whole country is covered in white most of the winder. Take advantage to the opportunity of practicing winter sports too. Skiing or skating over iced lakes is such a unique experience.
Pictures by Tarja Ryhannen
A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.more info