Kat’s Kibbles & Bits

Just back from 3 weeks in Marrakech and South of France.  2 great groups and two fantastic times.  The next visit to MOROCCO will be in 2021 with the focus on straight Morocco; visiting TANGIER, CASABLANCA AND our beloved,mysterious MARRAKECH .

AFRO COLOMBIA is still in effect for those that care to venture “off the beaten track”.  You will have the opportunity to visit PALENQUE (pah link ay)  an hours drive from CARTAGENA, where the runaway slaves from West Africa took refuge in the 16th century and where today it remains a thriving community of their descendants.  They have their own language and their own schools. After 6 or so visits; I have become the sister to the Mayor of Palenque and they welcome KATTRAX with open arms.  The west African flavor is quite evident in their cuisine, their music and their dance.  We have started ticketing those that are already confirmed.  There is still space to see CARTAGENA, CALI; the salsa Capital of the world and the now cleaned up version of MEDELLIN, where the notorious Boss, PABLO ESCOBAR once ruled. Airfare to all those cities is a mere $675 from Miami. Get in while there is still space.  MARCH 13-23, 2020  The land package is $2636 pp.

A VERY HOT AND EXCITING KATTRAX ADVENTURE for SEPTEMBER 2021 is our KENYA CLASSIC SAFARI and BEACH GETAWAY.  This one will only allow limited participation for the discriminating travelers.  If you thought ZANZIBAR and the SERENGETI was the ticket; check out the link below.

https://wetu.com/Itinerary/Landing/E7C67779-7045-4E8F-BF8E-D6B4BA4A9116?m=d

I can’t tell you how it hurts my heart to tell late comers, “Sorry, it’s sold out, waitlist only”.

in a few days, we take off to the Land of the Pharoahs with a Holy Land Extension. Those on the extension are excited about crossing the Sea of Galilee and getting dipped in the Jordan River.  Immediately following will be ABU DHABI and DUBAI during the time of the FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX, no doubt the hype will be high. Maybe I will get a glimpse of my #1 driver; LEWIS HAMILTON. I will definitely be packing my MERCEDES PETRONAS gear.

In any case, we will be celebrating a few birthdays: Elizabeth Sherrill-Davis of Sacramento, Lori Medley of Atlanta and Toni Adams of the Bay Area. We plan to have a partying good time

Until next time!

It’s Been Great!

I was blessed with 2 great groups over this last 3 weeks. Every traveler in group 2 was no stranger to me so again a monumental Kattrax reunion. They said their goodbyes, gave up hugs and departed  this morning so I was solo until this afternoon

I have dined sufficiently these 3 weeks with my last 2 meals being the huge seafood platter at my favorite TOINU FRUITS DE LA MER and ending this afternoon at Le Petit Pernod with Magret de Canard (duck breast) No not like those greasy ducks hanging in the window in every China Town.

Now I need to be on straight bread and water until the religious ceremony in January. I’ve got 2 wedding dresses to get into.   It’s going to be difficult with Egypt and Dubai in a couple weeks.

Again, it’s been a great Marrakech and Marseille tour.  Stay tuned for details on the next Moroccan adventure. It will be Tangier, Casablanca and Marrakech possibly May 2021.

Colombia travelers, I hope to have the reduced rate by tomorrow.  Hoping to still have our original 15 + passengers.

Kenya details will be released this week. Bali and Phuket will probably be cut, not enough interest.  Australia March 2021 is looking good as is Mykonos August 2021 thanks to the recruiting efforts of Stephanie Taylor and Gerie Crawford

God willing, I will be in New York tonight and California tomorrow.  Missing so many of you

See you soon!

 

 

Insh’Allah Marrakech

 

The time has come to say au revoir, ma salaama to the Moroccan city that shares Islamic and French culture.  It’s been nice. Yesterday folks were scurrying about town at the souks, in the Medina, at the mall getting in their last bit of shopping.   A few adventurous souls got down and dusty riding ATV’s in the desert.  My hat goes off to Michael, Gerie, Stephanie and Artis. It seems they had quite a good time.

I’m all checked in at the Ménara airport chillin’ in the Pearl Lounge until flight time. In headed back to Marseille and will meet the group there later on tonight.

Until next time!

Kat’s Kibbles and Bits

Group #2 arrived in Marrakech on Saturday. So this gives me 9 straight days in this mysterious but wonderful city.  While they were having their city tour and the shoppers being introduced to the souks, I had on my hustle hat chillin’ poolside and meditating in the spa on upcoming tours and checking out local eateries.  L’Addresse, a very cool restaurant less than a 5 min walk from our hotel and overlooking the Square turned out to be pretty nice.  Day 1, I lunched with fellow foodies, Michael and Cynthia Stacks of Miami who by the way were just with me in Italy 2 months ago, as was Sekilati Kodilichi of Oakland. Marcia, we miss you!    Again, this is another Kattrax reunion – All in the group are repeaters from the Greek Isles, Negril, South Africa, Paris, Colombia, Brazil, Australia  and Vietnam: Nicole Robinson-Hamilton & Yolanda Morton of Tennessee, Stephanie Taylor of New Jersey, Joyce Smith of Durham,  LaVerne Anthony & Cherri Banks of Pittsburgh, PA, Tannia Weaver & Gerie Crawford of Gainesville, and Artis Dawson & Darlene Daevu of Oakland.

I skipped the morning portion and later met the group at the Berber Pharmacy.  They treat me like a Queen at that place while waiting for the group to arrive.  While other tourists are standing outside in the heat I was so  thankful to be in a private air conditioned room, drinking saffron tea. After the group’s  introduction and education on the health benefits of various herbs and spices, they had lunch at Dar Moha. Now knowing how they operate, we took tagine orders, called them in and cut our wait time by more than half.  The group loved the starters (called salads, served family style).  I tell you, a variety of combinations of tastes you would never imagine being paired together.

Last night while most of the group was chopping it up, having cocktails poolside and  recuperating from their full day tour; I hopped in a taxi and headed to Casa Jose, a Spanish restaurant with a Moroccan flair.  I wasn’t disappointed, it was quite enjoyable. Tonight,  claimed to be the best seafood restaurant in town; Patron de la Mer, it has sketchy and mixed reviews, but I’m going to take a chance and thug it out anyway.

Today, will Be part 2 of their city tour and those anxious to get on a camel, named Clyde and ride through the burning sand of the palm grove; will have their chance.

Will I return to Marrakech?  God willing, yes.  The itinerary will be strictly Morocco ; Tangier, Casablanca and Marrakech.

Updates: Afro Colombia March 2020  – We are just waiting for the adjusted lower cost  on the Cartagena hotel

Australia, The Land Down Under –  March 14-25,  2021 – the flyer is now ready to be emailed.

Black Paris April 15-22, 2021.   2020 is SOLD OUT with a waitlist.  The 2021 flyer is ready and we are now accepting reservations.

Two more nights in this incredible city and we will be off to the south of France, to a gem of a city… MARSEILLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down Under With Kattrax – March 14-25, 2021

This tour will include 4 nights Sydney including learning the true story of the indigenous first people…The Aborigines, 3 nights Port Douglas with a full day outer barrier reef cruise and ending with 4 nights in Melbourne; famous for its vibrant energy, hip restaurants, fashion boutiques, cafe-filled side streets, cool bars and unbeatable art galleries.
Included: Daily breakfast, 3 dinners, 5 lunches, tours and admission fees in each city, wine tastings and domestic air between Australian cities.
International Airfare could be less than $1000 r/t from SFO.

Land package including regional flights: $4200pp double occupancy.
***Our dates may be adjusted by a day or two if Formula 1 overlaps. As much as I’d love to be in Melbourne for the Grand Prix, it would drive up hotel costs in that town.***

Our tour price is based on a minimum of 15 participants.

The flyer/terms/reservation form will be forthcoming. If you are still interested let me hear from you.

Take care,
Kat in Marrakech

Some “Me” Time in Marrakech

The first group departed early this morning. Since the next group doesn’t arrive until tomorrow, this day would belong solely to me. Our 5 star hotel is truly an oasis in the midst of all the craziness that goes on at Djemaa El Fna  aka The Square nearby.  From day to night it transforms itself into an unrecognizable site.  There are monkeys led around on chains, snake charmers, dancers, musicians, con men, and  con kids just to name a few of the characters.  Stay alert and pay attention.

The spa at our hotel is a haven that brings solace after a hectic day of touring.  In addition to my hour long toning massage with Argan oil and aromatic Mandarin, and my lymphatic drainage; I had a first time experience in a Moroccan Hammam.  It was private not public.  You step out of your slippers and the technician removes your robe. You are in a dimly lit heated room and lay down on a marble slab. You are lathered with savon noir (black soap) then exfoliated with a Kessa Glove. This enables deep cleansing of the skin by removing dead skin cells and eliminating toxins.  You are scrubbed front and back with Argan oil and Atlas clay, then you are rinsed with warm pots of water, followed by cool water.  It left my skin feeling soft and rejuvenated.

With everyone gone, there was no need to go out so I just ordered and enjoyed room service. As it is, I’ve got work to do on the upcoming 2020 Colombia and 2021 Australia tours. So I better get to it!

Rooftop Pool or the Burning Sand

Let me tell you about Ahab the Arab, Sheik of the burning sand…  Our guide, Abdul took the group out, hit a few corners, shopped, shopped, had a wonderful lunch, shopped, visited a hammam, had his friend prepare tagines, spent time making purchases  in the leather shop, got  dressed up in camel riding garb, hopped on camels (I’m sure one was named Clyde)  and rode through the burning sand.

Meanwhile …

Mysterious Marrakech

 

Our Air France flight departed Marseille at 7am and in 2 1/2 hrs we arrived.  The Menara International Airport is lovely and getting through Immigration was a breeze with no lines.  Our guide, Abdul was there to greet us.  Abdul is of Berber descent; Morocco’s original inhabitants.  Again,  Kattrax has been blessed with another very knowledgeable guide.  He has been the guide for many celebrities, such as P. Diddy and the Clintons, to name a few.

Our hotel, Les Jardins de La Koutoubia is an upscale 5 star property featuring a spa, 3 restaurants and 2 pools.  It is a lovely, welcoming oasis in the middle of the craziness of the Medina.

Marrakech, the 4th largest city in Morocco, located to the north of the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.  The only other 2 Moroccan cities I’ve visited in the 90’s were Casablanca and the beach resort town of Agadir.  Marrakech is 150 miles south of Casablanca and 150 miles north of Agadir.  The busyness of this city is unlike any I’ve seen.  Also known as the “Red City” because the color of the buildings and ramparts are of beaten clay.  Former French rulers decreed all buildings must be painted in that same shade.  Marrakech is the French spelling and Marrakesh is the English.  The heart of the Medina is Jamaa el-Fna, also known as “The Square” is a very vibrant marketplace that is very different by day vs night. A Medina is the old part of a town or city found in many countries of North Africa, not just Morocco.  It is typically walled, containing narrow maze like streets, fountains, palaces and mosques. Many are car free as there is not enough space in the alleyways for cars to pass. Tone Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina” lyrics  written by Young MC refers to a fictional aphrodisiac that’s got people and a dog doing some wild and crazy things.  Not the same but there is definitely some wild and crazy things going on in this Medina.

Before leaving Marseille, I booked 3 treatments at the Spa by Carita, known in Paris and worldwide. This one in Marrakech is located in our hotel –  how convenient!  My first 2 would be shortly after hotel check in.  I had the lymphatic drainage, followed by the Oriental massage with Argan oil scented with mandarin.  Later in the week I will visit the private Hammam here in the Spa.  Hammams are traditional bath houses and steam rooms that stretch back hundreds of years where people visit for a deep cleanse and a casual encounter.  You get a scrub with black soap, An exfoliating glove and a massage with Argan oil. For some, this is a part of their everyday life.  After my treatments, I felt like a million dollars; totally relaxed and mentally in sync.

Our welcome dinner was fantastic which was in one of the hotel’s restaurants as was our lunch the next day at DAR MOHA, owned by critically acclaimed Chef Dar Moha. The starters were an experience for all to enjoy in experimenting several new tastes. Several of us chose tagines. I had one of sea bass and prawn and others had one of lamb shank.

We visited the Koutoubia Mosque ( one of the few, not open to the public).  It’s minaret rises 252 ft into the sky, quite an impressive sight. Next we visited El Bahia Palace with over 150 rooms.  The palace was the residence of Bou Ahmed, his 4 wives and 24 concubines…yes I’d say Bou was big pimpin’ back then.  His favorite wife, of course had the most ornate and elaborate apartment; beautifully painted with carved cedar wood.

While the group hit a few more corners, I waited for them at the Herboriste Bab Agnaou better known as the “Berber Pharmacy”. The setup is similar to the Essence of Life (fragrances and oils) in Egypt but this is all about health.  Moustafa gave me an introduction to the various herbs, ointments and powders.  It was quite an education.  By the time the others had arrived I had already made my purchases which consisted of an oil to reduce swelling,  a cream for under eyes, a cream for age spots used by celebrities (prickly pear) and costing a fortune in the states, and ointments for loved ones with eczema or an occasional cold sore.  We learned the health benefits of saffron, not just for cooking.  We learned that drinking a hot tea of hibiscus is for low blood pressure but for high blood pressure you drink it cold;  a few leaves in a bottle of water, shake it up til it turns red and voila! Several got their sinuses cleared out by crushing black cumin seeds in a napkin, making a pouch and inhaling slowly in each nostril. Its not to be done quickly otherwise one feels a burning sensation.  Overall, it was quite an educational experience and a definite highlight for me.

Afterwards, others were rushing to the caftan shop and while I was dropped off at the hotel.  Wow! What a day.  Today was a very good day and I didn’t have to use my AK.

 

 

A Wonderful Way To Spend A Sunday in Marseille

Barbara from Atlanta and Marlene from St Louis were in Marseille to celebrate their birthday, however, we decided to surprise them at the hotel with a cake from the best bakery in Marseille, a couple bottles of wine and a little old school R & B.   This all took place in the Bibiliotheque (library) of our hotel just prior to walking up to Martin’s for a tasty home cooked meal and the sounds of his gospel choir. It was a very good time full of fun and laughter.

The next morning we had a very early departure from our hotel for our flight to Marrakech.  Serious excitement had been brewing in all of us in anticipation of what was to come.  Stay tuned!

Dinner in Marseille, Last Night

A wonderful meal was enjoyed last night.  Myself, Kellea, Wilemma and Marlene dined sufficiently at LA LANGOUSTINE.  I started before my starter with the most tastiest foie gras ever.  Pictured were the starters.  The mains of duck breast, Lamb chops and prawns in pasta were to die for and the desserts were equally divine.  This foodie was in sheer heaven!