Meet Me In Morocco, Part 1: Marrakech

There is no other place in the world where a distinct sense of exoticism, unparalleled beauty, and the promise of a unique holiday experience lures in travelers from far and wide quite like Marrakech. I say this because I've noticed a certain degree of glamorization that comes with talk of this city. 

Indeed, Marrakech is as stunning, as captivating, and as full of life and unbridled energy as many make it out to be. And this blog post will certainly highlight the beautiful places I visited, and the delicious food I ate. But there are challenges that come with visiting a place where you know neither the first nor second language of the country. Where poverty runs rabid among 5-star hotels and luxury spas. And where not every aspect of the city is tailor-made to Western tastes and expectations.

Don't get me wrong: I don't aim to give a negative view of Marrakech. In fact, I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. But I want to give an honest account of the best, and most frustrating times. This first blog post is going to focus on just our time in the city of Marrakech itself. I'll be back next week with a post on our trip to the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert! (that way, these posts will be shorter and a bit easier to read)


The Scottish Steakhouse: A meat based love affair

It isn't too often that Ben and I travel outside of Edinburgh in search of the next best restaurant. Edinburgh really is an up and coming food hub, with new spots popping up practically every week, so there's always bound to be a restaurant on my list of places to try. But there's something quite romantic about hopping on a train and escaping the city, if only for an evening.

So when I won a Valentine's Day meal at the Scottish Steakhouse in Falkirk, I jumped at the chance to explore one of Edinburgh's many neighboring towns. And, as an added bonus, this would be the first time that Ben and I would go out to eat on Valentine's Day. We usually prefer to cook a romantic meal at home, but putting the responsibility on someone else for one of the year's most pressure-filled nights was a bit of a relief (especially after last year when I completely failed at making creme brulee...).

Armed with hungry stomachs and absolutely no knowledge on how to get around Falkirk, Ben and I boarded a very reasonably priced ScotRail train and made our way in the opposite direction to everyone else at Waverley Station. While Edinburgh was gradually filling up with couples from the suburbs aiming to celebrate V-Day in the capital, we were headed out to the significantly quieter nearby towns.

We pulled up in a taxi to the old Scottish manor house turned hotel which the restaurant was located in, excited to see where this adventure would take us.

Faced with a menu full of Scottish classics, and the task to choose the most blog-worthy dishes of all, we went ahead and ordered two very different starters. Since steak is a rather rich and filling main dish, and I wanted to be able to fully appreciate it when it came time to dig in, I chose a lighter starter of Shetland mussels. Soaked in a briny broth, but kicked up a notch with a hint of chili, these mussels were the perfect start to what would later end up being a much heavier meal (from which I would undoubtedly roll home).


My Edinburgh Bucket List

After this week, I'll be halfway through this academic semester (not including the exam period at the end), and it's had me in a bit of a panic that next year I'll be in my final year of University. And while there's a lot of academic pressure to come, I've also realized that there are so many fun things in Edinburgh that I've yet to do!

It may be a bit pre-emptive to start a bucket list for my remaining time in this lovely city, but I also think making a mini (and by no means exhaustive) list of things I'd like to do is a good reference for whenever I have a free weekend (or, let's be real- afternoon).


January 2017: Going, going, gone

I finally feel like I'm back in somewhat of a routine. After the past few weeks of nonstop travel, academic work, and social events, the lull in my schedule is leaving me feeling more relieved than ever. It sounds crazy, but in the past two weeks I've been in Edinburgh (obviously), London, York, and Sheffield. I even realized after spending 14 days in the UK since winter break, I had only spent 6 of those days in Edinburgh. Yikes.

But even though things have calmed down quite a bit, this bout of business had led me to realize that this coming semester year, I'm going to have to be more flexible on making time-sacrifices. There's so much to do as I look to the future, so something's gotta give. It's not like I won't be running, singing or writing anymore, but I might have to pull back on one of the above each week or so. It's not the best feeling by any means, but it's a temporary solution.

Since I've been full speed ahead on lots of different things since the start of the semester, I thought I'd share a few tidbits from the past few weeks. Plus, I thought I'd also add in a little bit at the end of this post on what I'm looking forward to in the coming weeks.


Finding My Voice, 3,000 Miles Away

This past weekend, I spent the majority of my Saturday night at a formal ball. When I finally reached for my phone late that night and checked my social media, I was flooded with updates on my newsfeed; thousands of people were detained in major airports, protests were raging, and the ACLU had made a move on blocking this newly enacted legislation.

In this moment, the weight of an overwhelming sense of guilt washed over me. It crushed me. I felt that I was so far disconnected from the country I called home. I felt as though the world I knew was caving in, and I was just watching it from afar.

Being far away from home is difficult. Anyone who's taken a semester abroad could tell you that. But when your home country is changing drastically by the second, in ways you could never really expect, this combination of homesickness paired with guilt is amplified. And when the events taking place aim to threaten your friends, family, and identity? Well, that's another story.

And it's the story that I want to tell you today.  

Me and my Iranian father.

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