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At The Market

By Hannah

sunny 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

We left our rustic abode in Kinvara at around 10:30 this morning. The plan was to stop in town just long enough to pick up some lunch items and motion sickness pills, and then start the three and a half hour drive to Dublin. However, we were surprised to find a tiny bustling market taking up one of the streets we passed while looking for a pharmacy. Several kiosks lined each side of the lane, selling jam and vegetables and live chickens. We decided that we wouldn't mind arriving in Dublin a little later than originally planned.

large_160_Kinvara_to_Dublin_004

large_160_Kinvara_to_Dublin_004

We wandered about, taking in the Irish banter and beautiful weather that had eluded us for so long. The sound of traditional Irish folk music filled the air, played by a pair of elderly and very enthusiastic musicians. Mom and I paused at a stall selling wool tweed hats and headbands in a variety of colours. I ended up falling in love with a purple toque, while Mom went with a pink and purple knitted headband that doubled as earmuffs. We continued on, turning to look at jewellery and pictures and eventually coming across a stand laden with sauces, chutneys, and jams. Mom promptly picked out a jar of mango chutney, her favourite condiment. The stall's attendant struck up a conversation with us, and we learned he was originally from Scotland, with family from Northern Ireland and England as well. He had moved here roughly twenty years ago, but still wasn't considered a local, which he preferred. Laughing, he told us that he could get away with more if he remained a "foreigner". However, he seemed to me to be the perfect embodiment of a friendly, jovial Irishman. The three of us departed with wave and a smile. A couple of other kiosks caught my eye, including a display of the most interesting puppets I'd ever seen. A collection of griffins, elves, and other mythical creatures composed of colourful fabric and skillful stitches stared back at me as I attempted to wish more space into my already full bags. Just before we left, Mom bought Abby an adorable little handcrafted Edward Scissorhands figurine, a character that Abby is rather fond of, and a loaf of homemade bread for our lunch later that day. Then we said goodbye to Kinvara for good.

We drove for about an hour and a half, during which time the "slight drowsiness" the antinauseant was supposed to cause put me into a coma. We stopped for a brief lunch in the sunshine, laying our picnic out on a couple of benches. Besides the good weather, the only unusual thing we came across in the greenspace was a trio of worn statues of children, all looking slightly unsettling with their crumbling faces. We dubbed them "Medusa's grandchildren". Then we packed up once more and completed our journey to Ireland's capital city, Dublin.

Dublin is expensive. Our new apartment costs twice as much as our last accommodation. However, it also seems to be about twice as large. Its white walls, modern style, and clean atmosphere all stand in stark contrast with the country cottage's ramshackle exterior, grubby interior, and rough wooden accents. We're back in an urban environment, and while it's still pricey, this spacious apartment doesn't end up costing much more than a hotel might.

New digs in Dublin

New digs in Dublin

Once we had familiarized ourselves with our new home, Mom, Dad, and Abby all went out to pick up some groceries for dinner. I was still drowsy due to the effects of the antinauseant, so they allowed me to pass out on the couch instead. For dinner I cooked a sort of bangers and mash, except the mash was colcannon and the bangers were wrapped in bacon and stuffed with onions and sage. We haven't eaten a meal that hearty since I don't know when.

We have a great view from the balcony of our apartment. Row upon row of houses with four chimneys apiece sit in front of us, set off by a massive sports stadium in the background. The sky has turned a dusky blue and bright orange street lamps are flickering on. I have a good feeling about this city.

Posted by KZFamily 13:28 Archived in Ireland Tagged market ireland dublin kinvara Comments (2)

Morocco Day 1 (Part 1)

By Hannah

sunny 17 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Tangier: Hotel Continental Our Room

Tangier: Hotel Continental Our Room

We woke up much earlier than we would have liked today, about six in the morning. We were told this was necessary in order to catch the nine o'clock ferry over to Morocco. However, I mourned the half hour of sleep that was lost as we sat in the waiting room, letting the ferry dock. The ride over was rocky, but otherwise quiet and uneventful, which provided a stark contrast to the world we met on the other side. As soon as we exited, we were approached by various "guides", asking us if we would like a tour. Having experienced this before, my mom and dad quickly said no thank you and kept looking for a cab big enough to hold our luggage. However, a man that seemed to actually be a guide, or perhaps a friendly taxi driver, told us that our hotel was in walking distance of the terminal, and was nice enough to point us in the right direction. Arriving at the hotel, we found the decor both palatial and dilapidated. Most of the walls, floors and ceilings were covered in colourful mosaics and stained glass windows, but had fallen into disrepair. The hotel had been built in 1888 and was once one of the most impressive in Tangier, providing lodgings for people such as Queen Victoria's son. It has lost much of its former glory. We made our way up to our room, which was large and minimally furnished, and decorated with an ornate archway and mosaic'd ceilings. The porter, who had carried our one bag up before us, stood waiting as we set down our things and inspected the room. My dad finally gave him about 60 cents, which he looked less than pleased with. After settling down and preparing ourselves for the day ahead, we set out into the streets of Tangier.

Tangier: Medina

Tangier: Medina

The hustle and bustle of the town swept us up as we headed down the main road. After a bit of walking around, we sat down to people watch. All of the different outfits and activities were a lot to take in. Abby, Mom, and I were a rarity with our uncovered heads. There were a lot more men out and about than women. We were approached by a man trying to chat us up, asking us where we were from and how we liked it here. Seeing we were reluctant to get into a conversation, he simply told us to give him something. I was a little taken aback, but my parents were expecting something like this, and sent him on his way. Another good natured man came up to us a short while later, apparently very impressed by my hair. He told me that I would be worth a dowry of many camels, and parted by saying "may God bless you forever" without trying to sell us something once. Shows that you really only know what kind of person you were talking to after the exchange has finished, as my mom told me earlier. We had drinks at a cafe, where we suspect that tourists and locals get handed differently priced menus, and then went to visit the Medina fish market, a sizeable marketplace where meat, produce, and spices were sold in addition to a wide variety of fish. There were chickens everywhere you looked, hanging from various ceilings and window ledges, with their neck skin drooping from their bodies. They definitely weren't the freshest we'd seen. Heaps of sausages, pig legs, and offal were everywhere. We'd never seen so many butcher shops in place. Though it was definitely something to look at, we refrained from buying anything, as hygiene didn't seem to be in the forefront of any of the shopkeepers' minds. Lining the paths through the market were mounds of fruits and vegetables, artfully arranged and much more appetizing than the limp, headless chickens. We didn't purchase any of this either, for the same reasons concerning sanitation. There were also stalls selling spices and olives, all piled in seemingly precarious ways. At the other end of the market was the fish, the abundance of which was almost as overwhelming as the smell. Squid, crawfish, prawns and shrimp were among the few that we could identify. We saw a massive swordfish, just laying on the ground, perhaps waiting to be prepared or bartered for. On our way back through the marketplace, we had to duck as men carrying whole cow legs on their backs swung to turn corners. The atmosphere was loud, exciting, odorous, and exotic.

Tangier: Medina

Tangier: Medina

Stepping out of the market, we headed for the streets, preparing ourselves for the onslaught of merchants trying to sell their wares to us. The ambush was immediate. It seemed we couldn't go anywhere without being assailed by a man clutching anything from watches to teapots. We were followed by one guy who tried to lead us to his shop, and was so persistent that my dad had to turn around and tell him that we weren't going anywhere near his shop if he didn't stop pursuing us. He let up after that. My mom bought a couple of bracelets, showing off her bartering skills, and I got a sort of dress/robe, which wraps between the legs and over the shoulders, with a belt around the middle. I'll try to post a picture of me wearing it sometime soon. It was a little intimidating to shop for clothing there, as I had to follow the shopkeeper up into the next level of his store (accompanied by family, of course) and try on the various garments with his help. It all worked out in the end, however, and I ended up with a striking black and silver one, the price of which my mom whittled down from 500 dirham to 200. I'm going to do my best to find an occasion when I can wear it.

Tangier: Luxury Lunch

Tangier: Luxury Lunch

We kept our eyes open for a restaurant to stop at, hoping for a more traditional Moroccan place than a sandwich shop. As luck would have it, one of the many people employed to drum up business for restaurants found us and led us to a beautifully tiled and decorated one. We sat on couches and stools, and were given a choice of two different meals with various courses. After choosing one, we were quickly presented with bowls of harira, a tomato-based Moroccan soup with herbs and noodles, and a basket of flat, soft bread. Though we found this to be tasty, it was average in comparison to the bastillas we were given next. The triangular phyllo pastry looked like a samosa, and was filled with chicken, onions and saffron. It was topped with, of all things, icing sugar and cinnamon. Surprisingly, the combination was really quite delicious. I think it was the best thing I ate while in Morocco. Next came our main course, a large bowl of couscous made with saffron which contained chicken, carrots, turnips, potatoes, chickpeas, and cabbage. The couscous was light and fluffy, and we ate our fill with more still left over. The meal ended with the traditional sweet mint tea that my mom is so fond of, and crumbly shortbread-like biscuits. While we ate, we were serenaded by a group of musicians playing Arabic music, and watched by a couple of skinny stray cats, who seemed to have gotten in through the open doors of the balcony. We were able to see the winding, shop-filled street from where we were seated, and the environment made us feel as though we had stepped into a movie. The Moroccan experience is definitely worthwhile, if you're up to it.

Posted by KZFamily 10:18 Archived in Morocco Tagged market morocco barter tangier Comments (3)

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