Oh Bagan how fantastic. What a place!

Ramblings of a Walker

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travellingmumjustustravel

This is a testament to what i’ve tried to do at Just Us Travel… Thank you Holly Mannin. Just Us travel is about inspiring you to have the strength to travel and to know that you can do it. Thank you.

Hi Hannah! i have really enjoyed reading about your experiences, sounds as though you have both had some incredible adventures and I feel greatly inspired to do the same for Sophie. I have just booked our first ever trip away together to Turkey in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait. It is purely going to be a hotel and pool holiday, nothing too adventurous this time, most importantly for me is to just see how Sophie is travelling for the first time. I am most looking forward to spending some fun, quality time together. I have also just booked an overnight trip to France, a week after…

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This is a testament to what i’ve tried to do at Just Us Travel… Thank you Holly Mannin. Just Us travel is about inspiring you to have the strength to travel and to know that you can do it. Thank you.

Hi Hannah! i have really enjoyed reading about your experiences, sounds as though you have both had some incredible adventures and I feel greatly inspired to do the same for Sophie. I have just booked our first ever trip away together to Turkey in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait. It is purely going to be a hotel and pool holiday, nothing too adventurous this time, most importantly for me is to just see how Sophie is travelling for the first time. I am most looking forward to spending some fun, quality time together. I have also just booked an overnight trip to France, a week after Turkey. We leave from poole on the Thursday morning and arrive in Cherbourg at lunchtime. I have booked a lovely little b&b for Thursday night and we return on the ferry on Friday evening. I think I feel a sense of pride that little me is taking Sophie and showing her little parts of the world and I would love next year to plan something bigger and more fantastic. I will definitely be calling upon you for you help and expertise!
Thank you so much for creating ‘Just us travel’ and sharing your knowledge. It really is a wonderful, inspiring page! It has already given me encouragement and confidence to go places I wouldn’t have imagined taking Sophie to on my own

Morocco #travelling #single #parent

The week before I was looking at flights on Skyscanner…the cheapest flight was to Marrakesh. So I went for that! I’d always wanted to go to Morocco, I’d always said maybe without Lilly, was it safe enough to take her?…but Lilly and I are travelling partners, to not take her would go against everything I stand for and what Just Us Travel stands for; we can take our children, children live there don’t they??!! I bought a guide book and packed up the rucksack! Off we went.

As soon as we landed in Marrakesh, It was that sense of excitement mixed with nervousness! I knew we’d made the right decision. The smells, the hustle, the bustle..fantastic. Marrakesh has souks galore, cafes and a generally chilled atmosphere. Id booked a Riad for the first two nights to get our bearings, buy a sim card and plan the next few days of the trip. As soon as we walked out into Marrakesh the buzz and the atmosphere hit you. What a city. We walked from café to souk to café. We spend the day at a pool at a Riad outside Marrakesh run by a local family . The evenings were spent eating at one of the food stalls where you could chat with locals and travellers and watch the street performers do their thing. Great!

After two days we moved onto the Atlas mountains. I decided that a place called Imlil looked great. To get here we needed to get in a Petit taxi (these are small local taxis that only operate within the town) then a grand taxi (these are larger long distance taxis, they are old Mercedes) you have to ask to be taken to the grand taxi stand where you then wait for a seat in a car. Usually I would buy two seats for the space. Another trick is if you want the taxi to leave early then buy as many seats as you need to so it will leave!. We took this taxi to Asni where we had to wait for a bus to take us up to Imlil. The bus will only leave when it is full, beware also of touts who try to tell you that there is no bus. There is of course an easier way to get to Imlil, you can book a private taxi to take you there from Marrakesh, this is a far more expensive option. Before I set off for Imlil I called and booked a room here at Dar Tighoula, I also stayed in contact with the owner who was extremely helpful and guided me to the right bus on the phone. This is something that I wouldn’t have done before having Lilly, whereas now I have slightly adapted the way I travel by ensuring we have somewhere to stay booked and the person knows we are coming. When booking somewhere I will most often check them out on trip advisor or try to get a review of the place first if possible.

The owners of Dar Tighoula were incredibly helpful, they were a lovely family who created a lovely atmosphere in their home. They couldn’t stop feeding us and giving us mint tea either! Imlil is a great base for trekking as there is the famous Toukbal mountain range here. It is also great place for trekking with children, we did three different day treks with a guide who took a mule, if Lilly was tired she could ride the mule (and so could i!) On one trek we went to a gorgeous remote area; where we heard a woman giving birth! This was quite unnerving and well the guide didn’t bat an eyelid…

The Atlas Mountains were stunning, we stayed here for three days. We then moved onto Taroudant, a desert town..the journey here was tough and I wouldn’t recommend it with children; we were meeting an American girl we’d met in Marrakesh and so not to break a promise we went. …we spent a lot of time waiting for grand taxis to fill up…none the less we eventually. On arrival in Taroudant I really felt as though we had arrived in the middle east..this was the real morocco. It is a walled very Arab town with many souks and medina’s. We saw four other tourists whilst here; I do love that feeling of ‘discovering somewhere’, I can’t deny it! We took a horse and cart ride around the town and its walls, we visited a restaurant with a pool; women weren’t allowed to swim but I only saw this notice afterwards; I swam in shorts and t-shirt anyway, I would recommend this if you are swimming in a predominantly Arab place.

After Taroudant we were going to head further south to Tiznit but I changed my mind due to Ramadam not finishing for another 3 weeks. Hardly anything was open in Taroudant and if we went further into Morocco off the beaten track the likelihood would be that nothing would be open anywhere in the day. I decided that another time; maybe an Easter I would take that route and head down to Sidi-Ifni. I had also underestimated how long it takes to get around Morocco (away from the main routes where you can get on air-conditioned buses) it was the hardest place that I had travelled around. India seemed like a dream in comparison.

So, it was decided, we should go to the sea. We had spent about 9 days inland and Lilly deserved a beach. We went to a place called Taghazout; a surf town about and hour north of Agadir. To get here we took a shared taxi to Inezgane; a junction just before Agadir where there were much more taxi’s going to compared to Agadir; therefore the wait was shorter. From here we jumped in another grand taxi to Agadir and then bargained for a private taxi to Tagahzout. This was the first place where I hadn’t booked accommodation….it took about half and hour…after leaving our bags in a café and looking at some awful places…we managed to secure a room on the roof of someone’s home overlooking the sea. Perfect and for about £10 a night, bargain. Taghazout is a village which attracts a number of tourists but you get the feeling its people who have been coming here a while. We spent three days here, exploring and swimming in the sea. Taking a beach tent when going off the beaten track in Morocco is a must for shade for your children.

After Tahagzout we took a grand taxi (they tried to squeeze us into one with no space) to Essaouria. The taxi will drop you at the grand taxi station outside of the main walled medina; from here there will be people with a cart offering this time id booked our room in a guesthouse courtesy of my guide book, the room overlooked the sea, I paid a bit more for this room but it was well worth it for the fresh air and sound of the sea while we slept; we were so high up on a flat wall that this was perfectly safe.

Essaouira is a touristy town and once you come in from the ‘outer Morocco’ it takes a while to adjust but when we did; the pure secret of the place became clear; the winding medina, long white sandy beaches..around every corner seemed a new surprise. We spent five days here, exploring and hanging out, playing in the dunes and swimming. Lilly loved Essaouira; it’s a great place for kids. We met a lovely Dutch girl here who we spent a couple of days with. I was finding it hard to leave but my friend informed me that as it was the end of Ramadan in a couple of days all transport would be on a standstill and we wouldn’t be able to move…Reluctantly we moved onto El Jadida..We went to the local bus station and ended up taking a lovely air conditioned bus….what a treat! We were dropped though at a roundabout where a ‘grand taxi’ took us to ElJadida; even when I say the name I sing it!! When you arrive at this town

the taxi driver announced his town with pride, welcome, you have arrived! We had! We

Were firmly back in the ‘real morocco’ what a buzz!! This is a Moroccan holiday resort, I love to go to places where the Locals holiday when im travelling, there is always such a buzz and sense of fun in the air! We arrived at the end of Ramadan! What a celebration we witnessed. Each day we would discover new beaches and in the evenings we split our time between the Portuguese old town (beautiful walled old town and the market) We made friends with the locals, one man was a shopkeeper who invited us to Share his supper and the other was Fatima, the girl who did the Henna, she invited us into her home and we drank tea with her family, its these moments that you cherish. I heard once that if you just stop, you can see Morocco happen in front of you. I found this here. Lilly loved the buzz and we had an amazing time. I also had to brush up on my French as no English was spoken!

From here we took the train to Fez! I had a flight leaving Spain in two weeks’ time and as much as I wanted to stop in Rabat we continued on to Fez…Fez, Fez, Fez Home to some amazing Riad’s, and gorgeous swimming pools but it was the only place in Morocco I’d found aggressive. Fez has a stunning medina but it had an air of pressure and persistence and harshness. I think that two days here were sufficient. It is worth spending the extra money here if travelling with children and taking a room in a Riad with a pool. If not then locate a pool, Fez threw me; a small door would open and behind it were the most incredible houses…I’d never seen anything like it. We would usually sit up on a roof terrace of a bar or restaurant and listen to the call of the mosque, by this point in the trip Lilly was very accustomed to this and would often point out mosques and discuss Ramadan.

From Fez we took a coach and then a bus up to Chefchaouen. This was an unpleasantly hot journey that seemed to take a very long time…and it was my birthday! I think it may have been so unpleasant as I was getting ill…with food poisoning.The beautiful blue walled city in the Rif Mountains with its Andalucian influence is very different to other places in Morocco. The Plaza Uta El- Hammam is the central square, lined with cafes and restaurants. We sat here and watched the world go by, mostly though we just explored! We arrived at Riad Dar at 2pm. We went out for food and explored the beautiful blue town; this was a good job as the next day I was bed bound. Thank god that I was in a Riad with a DVD room on the roof; Lilly-May played here; I dragged us out towards the pharmacy who sold me antibiotics; if you look in the back of your guide book it will usually list antibiotics for that country for the illness you have. I always carry rehydration sachets with me so I took them too. A hot sweet mint tea also helped. We found a beautiful Riad here with a pool where we went for the day while I recovered. The evenings in Morocco were lovely, we would often hang out in the markets and medina’s and Lilly would play with the local children. I remember the locals trying to give Lilly a kitten and urging us to take him back to our hotel. It was quite as task to say no!

The next day we visited the waterfalls; a stunning place that we had to take a grand taxi to, there was a fantastic but quite tough walk up through the river, the walks saving grace were the swimming spots on the way up. We met a Moroccan family who shared their lunch with us; the Moroccans are very kind people. We also met another family who invited us to stay with them in the desert…

It was time to leave Morocco; we shared a taxi with others who were staying at the hostel to Tangier, they were lovely Spanish travellers amazed at myself and Lilly travelling together, we are still in touch. At Tangier we took the boat across to Algericas; Spain; a relatively painless procedure. When you arrive at the port in Tangier, there are about three different boat companies operating out of here. The trick is to find out which company is departing first and buy a ticket from them. From here we took a bus to Marbella. I booked a room at a hostel..when we arrived the owner Dave laughed and handed us a beer…’what an adventure you two look like you’ve been on’ he said…

Marbella was fantastic…we have since been back, it is great for kids, it has a wonderful old town where we sat and ate tapas, great clean town beaches.. It was a very welcome rest. Morocco, had been a trip where we had met fantastic people, discovered a new culture It’s a good idea to plan a rest at the end of a travel I feel, I also think you should try to book a flight into one part of a country and out of another where possible, or of course you can do a circuit. Heading to Spain after worked well for us!!

If you would like any information at all on visiting Morocco please do ask! I’m happy to book accommodation, plan itineraries, recommend products and give general advice!!

What to take for children in Morocco

· Sun hat

· UV suit

· Water spray

· Sun cream

· Beach tent

· Books

· Toys (although you can get cheap ones out there)

· Colouring and pens

· I took an ipad…up to you but it helped on journeys.

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Mumbai Mumbai a note on Mumbai

Mumbai Airport – On arrival.

Go straight past all the touts to the Taxi counter. If you are with Children it is best to take an AC cab. I do love the smells of India and the last time i took a non-AC one..but my advice would be to take an AC as its cooler…Ask to be taken to Colaba..This is the best area i have found for kids and a great place to stay, it is near the sea and has a real mix of people and some good priced accommodation right up to 7 star luxury.

I have been here many times and love Bentleys Hotel. It is mid range in the Lonely Planet. Flights tend to be much cheaper to Mumbai.

The city is a tale of two halves, with an emerging middle class. When I was there in 2006 Bollywood was fast emerging. We were extras in a movie ironically about an Indian restaurant in London.

You will be shocked but you will also be taken in by a city that attacks all the senses, a crazy place with a smell of hope, desperation, love and fear combined. It is an inspiring place. India is a place of surprises, every day is a new surprise, every day you will laugh. That isn’t to say it is without its annoyances, you must be aware of yourself at all times, as with most places in the world there will be someone trying to fleece you with a trip that only costs x amount or a rickshaw tour…my advice walk away. I have been conned a few times but you learn from your mistakes and you do not fall for it again but every so often I think, dam its happened again. It is a learning process. A good word to know is ‘Chello’ which means go away.

Begging; i have a simple rule, i do not give to beggars, this is simply as once you do many come out of the woodwork, I know this sounds harsh, this isn’t to say that i haven’t given bananas before but usually in smaller towns. The children usually have a pimp that they bring the money to..so you are helping no one, please try to only give food or water where ever you are in India. I get so upset with the tourists that visit with their large tips, especially in the Delhi/Taj-mahal area as it has contributed to a greed amongst the population which i hadn’t noticed before and is getting increasingly worse.

Bargaining – India is where I learnt this art…they will always charge you double if not triple for everything without a set price…bargain and don’t be scared!! They want you to! Practice practice practice. Another piece of advice is to research, say you find a cushion cover (in a tourist market) you like, go to a few stalls to find out what they are charging then when you have an average price…you can cut it by two thirds and start there. Recently in Morocco I worked out that the hippy pants were 80 rupees, I was being fussy (you have to carry everything) I found a pair I loved and the man tried to charge me 250.. I instantly said 40, we agreed on 75, I owe India for this. If this doesn’t work, walk away, they will always offer you a deal.

Over the years I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Mumbai, you do start to work out the things that you love to do when you go, the two times I’ve been with Lilly we’ve spent a couple of days at least in Mumbai..It is lovely to just be there, to take in the smells, the feeling and the buzz of India. Walk around the markets, visit the cafes and bars…you must visit the famous Leopolds Café in Colaba..i first went here in 2006..this is an expat institution in Mumbai, slightly touristy and pricy due to its recent fame from the book Shantaram..but hey, they can serve a bowl of cornflakes or Jam toast for your children.

A trip out to Elephanta Island is a fantastic trip to take with the children, this leaves from the India Gateway. This is an Island full of Monkeys. It is great to get off shore from Mumbai, as the boat gets further away you realise the true vastness of the City.

In 2011…when i decided to take Lilly May to ‘Essel World’ the water park on the outskirts of Mumbai…this involved a taxi..a boat and a rickshaw and two hours later we arrived…(I truly realised the vastness of this city) .i would advise booking an AC cab to get here..my problem is I love to take the public transport and hailing a cab and it takes a lot for me to back down on this as I feel that getting somewhere is all part of the experience. In this case it isn’t appropriate as I found myself bargaining with the taxi driver on price as he stated one price and started charging another. I ended up having to get out of the cab at the toll booth, paying what Id agreed and taking another rickshaw from a town outside Mumbai. I don’t think they had ever seen tourists out there.

I will write a separate article on transport in different countries…with children. This was a hilarious place..Lilly Loved it. We ended up there for the whole day and with a train to catch in the evening..do take a tshirt as it is not appropriate in India to wear a costume.

Go and watch the locals play Cricket in Azad Maidan near to Colaba on a Sunday….they are only too happy to give you their seat in the grounds and talk to you about cricket…to which you say you love it and don’t worry they use soft balls; this is nothing like watching us in our whites in Britain…this is different, crazy, dusty and well this is when I truly starting rating cricket! This is close to the old colonial buildings which are fantastic.

Chowpatty beach is a great place to go in the evening, when I travel I find myself doing what the locals do..This is where they go to watch the sunset and have an evening walk. It is truly fantastic. There are many food stalls set up on the beach with matts outside. You choose your stall and take a seat (see picture) We often end up meeting and talking to locals here. There are even little rides for the children to go on.

The last time we visited the gardens in Malaba – an upmarket area of Mumbai, they were gorgeous, just like many places in India you will be asked by nearly every family to have your photo taken with them, you must oblige and in return ask to take theirs.

There are a number of hotel pools around. Something that I do with Lilly a lot as they are usually very cheap to get in and a break from the heat.

I love Lilly playing with the local children and try to create as many opportunities for her to do this. There seems to be more and more that you can do in Mumbai, a city that over the last 8 years has changed and is changing rapidly.

Go now would be my advice and take the children. From here you can take a train or a plane to Goa or Kerala to enjoy beaches.

Lilly loves India and begs to go back. A plan one day is to take her to the Himalayas for a summer. Stunning.

A few words to help

Namastey which means ‘hello’ – you can do this making a prayer sign, ‘we Chello’ which means ‘we go together’. ‘bahoot acha’ means very good and acha means good, I love that word!, T-K means ‘ok’, ‘baksheesh’ means ‘bribe’..(just to know!) ‘up ka/ki nam, ka ha hey’ means ‘what is your-girl/boy your name’. ‘mera nam Hannah hey’ ‘my name is hannah’ Aap kaisey hain, which means ‘how are you?’ Shukriyaa or danduvad means Thankyou… kahaan hai? Is usefull when asking for somewhere, e.g Pharmacy Kahaan hai? Just put it at the end! Bahuta mahaṅgā means the price is too high.