Sunday, 23 December 2012

So What If The World Ends!

Barcelona, how I survived without you in my world will forever be a mystery! It is so amazing! The food and just this entire city! If the world ends, I would be happy knowing I spent time here!

Poor Mama has been very sick so I think it was definitely the right choice to leave Morocco. When we arrived at our hotel we got a free upgrade so we are in this huge suite and Daddy, ever so kindly, has situated us on two of the biggest shopping streets in Barcelona.

We have been here for a few days now and have managed to see some of Antoni Gaudi's most famous works like La Sagrada Familia! We also have eaten some tremendous food and have plans to eat more.

Tomorrow should the world end you will find me in Barcelona's top restaurant! I am having such a hard life! It's actually been so amazing being here though.

Like today we went wandering one of the biggest shopping streets. When we decided to stop for Lunch and this lovely old couple were just sitting down to eat. We were unsure if we wanted to eat there but they said in perfect English that it was very good and we were more than welcome to eat with them if we wanted and they could help us understand the menu and give us some tips on what to order.

We found out over lunch that they were a lovely old German couple who were on holiday as they had a house in Barcelona and we ended up sitting and talking with them for just over 2 hours having one of the yummiest meals of traditional Catalan food!

If the world ends tomorrow I am so glad that I managed to do this trip with many people I love and being able to eat such amazing food. Luckily, I don't believe that it will end tomorrow and I look forward to the rest of what is to come.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Quick Change

WE ARE GOING TO BARCELONA! Mama and I have been booking extrodinares today and we are going to Barcelona tomorrow. Mama is quite sick now and I am not that great either so I think it probably is the right decision.

Neither of us are in love with this country, we like it but we don't love it so going to Barcelona for a week should be good. If I was by myself I would do the south but I think Mum has had enough. I think it's hard because we have been here for almost two weeks and although we loved Chefchaouen and Moulay Idriss the cities like Casablanca and Tangier we didn't like.

I am really excited for Barcelona. It should be amazing and I have mother her so maybe some shopping may be done. Christmas sales and all that. Mother says we are going to see the architecture and art but I am sure she can be swayed a little.

Yesterday, after mother and I booked the flights and kept dad up all night (sorry!) I went to the the Jardin Marjorelle with Rosie where the Yves Saint Laurent Memorial was as it was his garden which he donated to the Moroccan people. This had to be followed by a drink at the swankiest hotel called Mamounia.

So hopefully will be leaving Morocco on this high because I have had such a lovely evening. I shall leave you with a picture of the Yves Saint Laurent Memorial Garden.

The Beginnings Of The Female Jamie Oliver

This morning we woke up and we went to a cooking class to learn how to make Tangines. It was really fun and my one actually tasted pretty good but I am not sure how easy they will be to replicate them at home. This basically is going to be my line if anyone actually trusts me to make them one.

It was interesting walking with the lady while she brought her ingredients. It was interesting seeing where everything came from. It was a little disturbing when we went to buy the chicken and they weighed them alive and then killed them right in front of us!

I am surprised after writing this that I still managed to eat my Tangine with gusto. This afternoon we are going to meet up with Rosie. I think Mum wants to talk to Dad about leaving but we have to decide one way or another by tonight.

Marrakech Part 1

Today we arrived in Marrakech and we're still quite tired from the overnight train but we went into the main square which was actually rather intimidating. People were hassling you and basically chasing you with snakes and monkeys that were wearing diapers which sounds a lot more comical than it was.

You couldn't even take photos because they wanted money for the photos and you had to bargain for the price and the people you had to bargain with were scary and intimidating and I feel like I know about both those things having a judge as a mother. When she doesn't get her way...

So we ended up spending very little time in the main square and heading for the nearest cafe seeking refuge. Mum has been humming and haring about going on the second half of the trip as she isn't really loving morocco and the south looks even more basic and we can't bail so we sat in the cafe using wifi and looked at places we could go.

This evening we went to try find mums friend Rosie who was in Marrakesh for a conference however we ended up just missing her so we ended up back with the group because one of the girls was leaving the tour.

At this meeting they went over what was in the next part of the tour and when our tour leader said that "I cannot assure the safety of the food" I think Mum was shocked as what we have been eating (and already been sick from) was considered safe. Poor Mum. I think she plans on talking to Dad but as our hotel has no wifi and there is no cell signal for her in this whole country... Good luck.

Wishes On Tangier

We left Chefchaouen the next morning and jumped onto a public bus which is an interesting experience... The little boy on the seat opposite me vomited all over his mother and the floor and when the mother got off the bus driver just put newspaper over it and we continued on our merry way. Standard bus in Morocco.

We arrive in Tangier and we have lunch and we go wandering. If I am perfectly frank it's not really that amazing. Don't get me wrong, I like it but it doesn't blow my socks off. We had a look around the medina and souq but not as stunning as what the guide book made it out to be.

This evening we are getting on an overnight train to Marrakesh. Mum is excited as she has always wanted to go to Marrakesh so I am hoping that it will live up to all her expectations.

To be fair and I do always try to be. Morocco is a little dissapointing. When you look at photos of this place you would think it is vibrantly full of color and really picturesque and some of it is but a lot of it is incredibly poor and dirty and smelly and actually quite seedy.

As its an Arab country I get stared at constantly and having ransoms grab you bum or wink and you is not that fun. Don't get me wrong, most of the people have been amazingly nice but not all.

I think it's harder for Mum than me because she has wanted to come here for so long. I am enjoying being here but I wouldn't say that I am in love with this country or having the time of my life like I was when I was in every other country I have been to so far.

I hope the south gets better.

Oh Fractious Day! Callooh! Callay!

I am feeling better, still not 100% but much closer than I was yesterday. Today, I went and explored the small town of Chefchaouen. It is really quite quaint and pretty.

We looked around the shops and I love the leather bags but I think I will have to save that to the end as carrying multiple bags could be quite tricky! Tomorrow we have another bus ride which I hope will go better than the last but just glad to be feeling better.

It sucks being sick because I don't have much experience with mild illness for the past year. So when I get sick I get a bit angry with myself. I sort of tell myself off like "you are not dying, you are still alive, you are lucky look where you are! Stop being such a wuss!" but I have to remind myself that I have only been out of hospital for six months and I am still weaker and more susceptible than the usual person.

But hey! I am here so who cares!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Sick As A Dog

Today I feel as sick as a dog. I was meant to go exploring Fes but instead have been lying in bed with the contents of my stomach going out both ways. However I haven't been sick in over an hour so hopefully things are looking up.

So I ended up not getting any better and spent the whole day in bed. I woke up feeling slightly better but still not great and hoped onto a bus to take us to Chefchaouen. It was a pretty drive but sadly I felt sick as a dog and having a quick vom and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed. However I am now feeling better now and hopefully will keep my dinner down and i will head into town tomorrow.

I won't post a photo with this blog coz its really not been all that pretty!

A Big Day

Last night we got to Moulay Idriss and it is stunning. We are staying in a guest house of a lovely local family and it is way nicer than I thought it would be. They made us the most lovely dinner! They even showed us how they cooked! It was really interesting and yummy!

The next morning we woke up and walked around Moulay Idriss and saw the Mausoleum which the city is famous for and walked to the highest point and looked out across the valley.

Then we all jumped into these cabs and I am being generous when I call them cabs because they are OLD Mercedes and feel like they will fall apart or blow up at any minute.

We made it to Voulibus which is an old roman city. It was really interesting walking around. Tom would have loved it so I could not help but miss him a bit while walking around but don't ever tell him that!

We saw some really interesting things like apparently they used to put carved penis's as arrows to your nearest brothel and they used to play drinking games, much cooler than those we play now.

They also were so unbelievably smart. They would actually have running water and sewage and warm baths which every hotel in Morroco I have been in so far has not managed to have. They all have Luke warm water and it's sooo cold you have to jump back into bed after a shower.

We then went and hoped back into the Taxi's and headed off to Meknes. When we got here we had trouble getting to the hotel to drop off our bags to go exploring because there was a big protest going on about unemployment rates.

However, we made it to the hotel and then dropped off our bags and went wandering. We went to the old grainary which is really quite impressive and then walked past the kings palace but sadly we couldn't really see in. It was the cleanest area of Morocco I have seen so far though. We then went into the local Medina and had some tea and then went off on a hunt for a camel burger which was surprisingly good! We then headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags only stopping to see how the decorated their plates.

After that we jumped onto the train and went to Fes. We were so tired by this point we all basically collapsed after going out for a lovely dinner having ye another tangine. They are delicious though so no complaining here!

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Today we headed to Rabat early in the morning and I mean EARLY! We had to leave the hotel and 8AM which is basically a criminal offense! Anyway, I decided not to press charges as we were heading to Rabat the capital of Morocco.

I liked Rabat much more than Casablanca as it was very clean (in comparison) and it was sunny which is good because it is warmer and not raining so you don't get wet. However hot and appropriate Muslim attire sometimes are not the best combination. I cannot understand how people could travel in summer here!

We went to the Kasbah which is the oldest part of the city and basically a walled city inside a city! It was stunning and such a picturesque place and the doors were so tiny, obviously not made for people like dad or Tom! We also went to Mausoleum of Mohammed the V which is where the last king has been laid to rest!

The whole city was so pretty and so different from any of the European cities I have been seeing. Love the mixture of cultures that have come to create this country! It makes it such a fascinating place.

This evening I am heading to a small pilgrimage town called Moulay Idriss. We are staying with a host family in their guest house. This is very different from all of the tours that I have done because we don't have a bus or minivan and we are catching public transport everywhere.

When mum and I booked this we didn't quite know what we were getting ourselves into and got a bit of a shock when we got the breakdown of the itinerary and then another one when we got here.

It's fine though. We have only almost been stuck on a train and had to jump off while people held the doors from closing and been very lost with a photocopy map that nobody could understand but this is an adventure and what is an adventure without a few close calls.

We haven't died, yet. So off to Moulay Idriss we go!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Just The Beginning

I made it, just. I was a little for a while that we wouldn't. The plane was late leaving Zurich because it was snowing then we get to Lisbon and we get on the smallest plane I have ever been on!

The plane only fit 20 people. You had nobody sitting next to you. It was one seat and then the isle then another person. The isle was raised in the centre to accommodate the engine. You could even see out the front of the plane because the pilots weren't even separated from the rest of the plane!

We made it though and arrive into the hotel! We arrived quite late so we were really hungry so we went out and had a lovely dinner. Everyone smokes inside here though shisha and cigarettes so I am going to stink this trip.

Casablanca is an odd city, it's not what I expected but I don't really think that I had any idea what to expect but it just wasn't this but that is not to say that it is a bad thing.

The city is very alive and not really made from tourists. It is an odd mixture between and Islamic country and an African nation. They are really lax about islamic practices here though. I think this might change as we go to smaller towns.

Today mum and I went on a tour around Casablanca and I was surprised at what I saw. It is not a beautiful place in the traditional sense of the word but the people are friendly and the place is incredibly interesting mix of cultures and heritage.

This evening we met our tour group and I am the youngest by about ten years and surprisingly mum is not the oldest! The tour is a lot more basic than what we thought it was going to be. It should be interesting!

This is truly the beginning of an unforgettable adventure.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Zurich - Part 2

Back to Zurich, hard life right? But mother is coming to meet her. When I started to make my plans for this trip I really wanted to go to places like India and to the Amazon and Africa and my Dad looked at me as if I was mad. He said to me "you realize you won't have even been out of hospital for six months when you start this trip. Are you insane?" Not his exact words but general gist.

However, we came to a compromise. Mama has always wanted to go to Morocco so she is coming with me!! So she flew to Zurich to meet me. Jannie and I met her at the airport and she honestly looked like she had been in the car for an hour not a fourty hour plane ride.

Since she was here we have been snowed in for a day and it has been very cold so we have been taking it very slowly as Mum needs to get over her jet lag but we did manage to squeeze in some Swiss choccy, sweets and all things naughty and shameful. A wee excursion to see Breaking Dawn Part 2 was even on the books. 

It's been wonderful to relax at a home and catch up on some reading, tea drinking me time. Tomorrow however we are off to Morocco so I thought I probably should update the blog as it is a new beginning. 

So Africa, watch out, here I come.

Life Is Hard On Lake Como

So I left the hotel in Milan with sadness as it is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed and it was hard to leave such beauty behind not knowing what the future holds but as all of us must I left and had good faith. We drove an hour to the beautiful Italian Lake Como!

We had a good time driving in Italy even if it was a little adventurous like driving into a tunnel at which the road suddenly finished and having to back up a good two hundred meters on a tiny Italian street. We made it to Lake Como which can't help but take your breath away and when I saw where Jannie had booked for us to stay...

We stayed at the beautiful Casta Diva which were old lakeside Italian villas which have been restored to their former glory. That afternoon we went on a lake cruise in an old Italian boat around this truly picture perfect lake. It is so picture perfect it has been the set for movies such as 'Quantum Of Solace' and 'Star Wars.' Celebs like George Clooney even have houses there and not for the first time I was amazed that this is my life. It was as perfect as it sounds.

After this we went to the spa and had such a lovely time! Jannie and I then dressed up and went to have   light dinner in the bar area and there was a celebrity chef who had been cooking with this group and they were having hors d'oeuvres served and free wine and because we couldn't have dinner while this event was going on we were invited to join them.

Life is hard on Lake Como.


Back to Italy I go!!! Seriously sometimes I wonder what I ever did to deserve this. Everyone always say how strong I am, how brave but I don't really feel like that sometimes. Something awful happened to me and I just got through it as best as I could but whatever reason I am so happy to be here and in Milan!!

Jannie has planned the most beautiful road trip. We drove to Milan from Zurich which took just over three hours and we arrived at one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen. It is called Hotel Principe Di Savoia. It's the hotel where all the supermodels and celebs stay during Milan fashion week!!

It pure luxury. That afternoon we had a scrumptious afternoon tea and then headed 'The Last Supper'. Like all paintings pictures can never be enough but it is such a surreal experience to be over here and experiencing all of this!! 

We woke up the next morning and headed down to breakfast and then headed off to the Duomo not before doing some shopping in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Duomo is such a stunning church and unlike many others you can actually go up onto the roof and have a stunning view out over Milan.

In the afternoon we went shopping on the Quadrilatero della moda which are four of the most famous shopping streets in the world. It was so beautiful. One advantage of traveling in Europe in winter is christmas. Everywhere is decorated with fairy lights. It is so beautiful and romantic. The Quadrilatero della moda was so stunning and amazing. I had one of the best days of my life strolling it. Followed by more amazing food.

I dont think that life gets greater than this, great food, great people and being in such a beautiful place. I really am thankful that I am able to live and see this. 

Zurich - Part One

I am now back in swissy land!! I had to leave Paris but luckily I had a lovely family friend called Jannie come to meet me! Jannie picked me up from the train station (I caught a train from France to Switzerland! How cool is that!) then we went back to her place which is amazing!! It looks right out over Lake Zurich. 

That evening we hatched plans for a wee Italian road trip!! We decided that we would go to Milan for two days and then to Lake Como for one, all over a lovely carbonara!  The next day while we finalized the plans. I relaxed and had to wish father a happy birthday! Then that evening Jannie and I went to Skyfall!! If you have not seen this movie, see it! I am not sure if it was because I was in Zurich but it was my favorite James Bond so far.

I have had the most lovely relaxing time here but bring on Milan!

Parlez-Vous Francais?

I am in love with the city of Paris! It was the perfect end to an amazing tour! When we arrived in Paris we went on a driving tour and got our bearings and I got to see the Eiffel tower with its Christmas lights on! I am unsure whether I think that it is more beautiful at night or during the day. Such first world problems.

It is truly breathtaking! Like I felt like my life could not get more perfect aside from the aching leg and having had cancer and all that jazz. I honestly felt so happy with my life. I was in Paris with Petris and other new friends. 

I even went to the MOULIN ROUGE!!!! My friends Claudia and Vanessa are probably the only people who can comprehend how excited I was about this. Claudia because she is as obsessed about it as I am. Vanessa because she has caught Claudia and I running around my house singing to the songs of the Moulin Rouge movie at the top of my lungs. It really was as tacky as you thought it would be. It was Tacky with a capital T but it made me so happy! 

The next morning I went to a perfumery which showed us how perfumes were made and  the history of them. We then went back to the Eiffel tower and went up. Unfortunately from the top you could see nothing as there was too many clouds! 

I ended up having five days in Paris in which time I had some beautiful food and saw stunning places. I tried to go for my first haircut but they said my hair is still too short so I think I will just wait to go home to get it done.

It's weird thinking of my life as I now define most of it as pre-cancer and post-cancer. When I first got diagnosed I didn't think it would change me that much and essentially I am still the same person but I just feel a lot older. A middle aged woman stuck in a teenagers body. Many women's dream. 

I often wish that I was how I was before in looks and how I related so much better to those around me but I guess we can't change who we are and if I think about my life I have amazing family and friends and I'm in PARIS!

I stayed in a hotel next to the Bastille monument. I felt like walking around singing Le Mis. It is such a nice area of Paris and I don't get where people get this idea that the French are rude.

I had the most nice experience with the French and I can understand them being snarky with tourists. Of a group of fifty people only one other girl and I could speak marginal French. Imagine if all Japanese or Chinese tourists showed up New Zealand and didn't bother to make an effort to try to speak English. We would get annoyed. Why should we expect the French to be any different. 

I had the loveliest experience with the local Parisians and just in Paris in general. Such good food!!! Did I mention that? YUM!

Piza or Pizza?

The drive to Lucerne was a long one but on the way we got to stop at the leaning tower of Piza!!!! It is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. I have seen many photos of it but I didn't quite realize how crazy it is. It really does look like someone has stopped it mid fall and told it to freeze! 

We weren't supposed to stop in Piza for that long. The plan was supposed to see the tower, take some snaps and then grab some grub and jump back on the bus. We didn't plan on stopping long because during world war two the whole place was flattened so it is basically now just for tourists. However, two of the boys ended up getting lost so we searched for them for an hour and a half before we found them.

We ended up getting to Lucerne and everyone was sick and tired so we all had an early one. Bec and I literally fell into bed after dinner and were asleep before our heads even touched the pillow.

This morning we have gone up Mount Pilas in the Swiss Alps. It is so stunningly beautiful it takes your breath away. My leg is really sore today so I didn't climb to the tippy top but I had a wonderful Swiss hot chocolate in the Swiss alps.

I am writing this with one of the most magical views I have ever seen. Sometimes i can't quite believe that this is my life because what nineteen year old gets cancer and then is like "hey, lets go to Switzerland!"

After we got down we went to a local restaurant and had some cheese fondue for lunch. It was really different tasting but also strangely nice, it was different to anything that I have tried before but I liked it.

After we finished lunch I went to conquer some Swiss chocolate which I assure you has been hyped up for a reason. I was in bliss aside from the fact that I was still feeling rather grotty. Yay for sickness! It's about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Cool Cat's At Piza


In the last two days I have been to a Italian leather factory and shown how proper Italian leather is made, I have been wine tasting in Tuscany and I have even seen the statue of David!

Life is not getting much better than this apart from the fact that I am sick. I have finally got the contiki cough which I have been avoiding like the plague so this means I am taking things slowly and just trying to stay healthy! 

Though all in all my life is spectacular. I am in Florence and I am having the time of my life. Still trying to catch up on sleep and rest from Rome but doing it in a magical city with magical food.

Life is good. Again I am reminded at how privileged I am. At the moment, yes I am sick, but I am not vomiting continuously, I am able to understand what is happening around me, I am not going to die from having a cough. 

It always scares me when I get sick. I sit there and I worry that the cancer is coming back or I have got something as deadly but then I realize that I am just like everyone else (thankfully!) and I have a cough and to not freak out because I am alive and in Firenze.