News and insider tips about travel in the United States and to International destinations. Visits to exotic locations and unexpected adventures. Restaurant reviews. Secrets known only to locals. My travel articles also appear in Luxury Travel Magazine, New York Daily News & Westways Magazine
Summer's almost here and it's time to think about planning vacation travel. Wanting to ease some of the difficulty traveling, I applied for and received a Global Entry pass so at many airports I breeze through domestic security (thank you TSA Pre ) as well as international points of entry. I would definitely recommend Global Entry to everyone who travels more than a few times a year. The cost is minimal ($100 for 5 years) and the online paper work isn't too time consuming. Email me and I will give you all the details. Last fall I took a trip to Morocco on a press trip with half a dozen other journalists. We traveled from Fez in the east to Marrakech and the High Atlas Mountains in the west and then to Essaouira on the coast. In the High Atlas Mountains, we arranged for a cooking lesson in the kitchen of a local cook. To get to her home on the grounds of a remote boutique hotel, we walked underneath walnut trees up a steep dirt switch-back trail we shared with
To get a good photograph of Casablanca's Mosque Hassan II took a lot of backing up and avoiding the crowds of international tourists who had come to visit one of the world's largest mosques. The building is not only about size, but details. The mosque invites visitors to appreciate the scale of nature and the intricacies of life as represented by the exquisite metal and tile work. As if it were the land's sentinel protecting man from the violence of the world, the Mosque stands on the edge of the North African continent, on the edge of a palisade overlooking the turbulent Atlantic Ocean. A trip to Morocco often begins in Casablanca and frequently tour guides make the Mosque one of the first stops. After the majesty of the Mosque, we traveled north-east toward Fez, stopping in Mouly Idriss, a historically important hill city where we had lunch at Restaurant Alaambra with an open air-patio and grill. The Mosque and Restaurant Alaambra were two good tent poles for
Taking a cooking class is a great way to learn about another culture. In Morocco recently we had a cooking class in a very unlikely spot--a mountain top in the High Atlas Mountains. At the trekking hotel, Kasbah Toubkal , adventurers head off by foot and donkey on trails that go deep into the mountains for all-day and all-week trips. Berber villages cling to the sides of the mountains, accessed only by dirt trails littered with donkey poop and walnut shells from the orchards along the path. For our cooking class, in a clean and organized kitchen, straight out of the 1960s, our group sat on low stools around tables covered with whole chickens, large chunks of bone-in lamb shoulder, fresh tomatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, garlic, zucchini and a jumble of herbs and spices. Haja Rkia ben Houari ("Haja" because Rkia had completed a pilgrimage to Mecca) had invited us into her kitchen to show us how to make a traditional Moroccan meal of couscous, tagine , freshly
From Casablanca on the coast to the inland city of Fez in the northern part of Morocco, the area looks very much like the American Southwest. Looking out the window of the van, there's not much to see. A well-paved highway cuts through the flat, dusty farmland, passing villages remarkable only for the number of flat roofed houses with satellite dishes and the occasional donkey cart. I'm with a group of travel and food writers visiting Morocco. Some of us are here for the first time. Before we leave Casablanca we stop at the Mosque Hassam II, the 3rd largest mosque in the world, the largest in Morocco. The scale of the doors makes visitors look very small. The detailing on tiles and metal work on the tall doorways is beautiful. The mosque overlooks the breakwater and harbor. A few blocks away, restaurants and clubs share the same view. We grab a quick breakfast after our all-night flight before we climb in the van for a three hour drive.