Monday, January 14, 2019

Hello 2019

I'm a little late with my first post of the year. It has been a crazy few weeks since my last post and I just have not had the time for this. I finished up at my last weigh in losing half a pound, not quite hitting my Christmas goal but feeling pretty good about things. My last weigh in was the Thursday and in that weekend before Christmas I managed to have one full day on plan, one mindful day and one blowout. And then it all went out the window Christmas and my holiday. I came back and had a week where I was all over the place, but despite the temptation to skip it, I brave the scales at my studio/workshop and accepted my gain. I could feel the gain in my clothes and I knew I was up a substantial amount. Had I managed to get myself organised when I got back from my holidays I could have probably done a fair amount of damage control but I didn't and so I was not surprised when the scales said I was up 8.5lbs! Its a lot to gain in 3 weeks, but I don't regret one second of it as it was the best Christmas I've ever had.

It started out with a very special Christmas morning. My 2nd ever waking up in my own home and the first year that I was spending the full day with my love. Usually we spend Christmas day with our own families but since my family were in Morocco we got to be together this year. If that wasn't special enough, after exchanging all our gifts I got an extra special bonus gift....a proposal! The rest of my Christmas day went by in a bit of a blur. We had a couple of hours in the morning for the 2 of us to enjoy the moment before we headed up to his family to share the news.

I had a lovely 2 days with my inlaws to be, and then we headed home for one night in our house before we headed off to meet my family in Morocco. I'm not sure if any of you have been to Morocco, but Marrakech is completely mental. We flew in the night of the 28th and after checking into our hotel we went for a wander to find some dinner. We were both shattered and we had a long journey the next day so we took it easy that night. For some reason we decided to stay in a town 5 hours south of Marrakech to start and the bus trip to get there was not fun. 

Once we arrived though it was very relaxing. We were staying in a Riad just outside a small town called Mirleft with a lovely pool. We had a local woman who cooked our meals for us most days and so all there was to do was chill out. Its not the type of holiday I usually enjoy but after the madness of 2018 it was actually well needed. The locals were all very friendly and nice, but if you do plan on heading there and enjoy a drink on holiday, be warned it can be hard to come by. There were a couple of restaurants that would source wine for you if you gave them notice, but the prices to take it away were pretty high and so my sister and her boyfriend made the 2 hour trip to Agadir before picking us up at the bus stop to stock up on enough wine & beer to keep us going through New Year. 

There are some beautiful beaches in the area, one small one 5 minutes from our Riad but a particularly beautiful one if you venture 20ish minutes down the coast. Legzira Beach is described as Morocco's most unique beach and it is really lovely. There is a natural arch in the rocks about halfway down, and once you go through that there is a 2nd on that collapsed a few years ago just a little further down. While we just walked the beach and relaxed on the sand for a bit before lunch there are activities like quad biking and parasailing. That was how we spent the day on New Years eve before heading back for a lovely dinner, drinks and games. 

After a lovely relaxing time in Mirleft, we headed back to Marrakech for our last 4 days. On our first night we stayed in the new part of the city near the bus station for ease of transport, but this time we were staying right in the middle of the Medina. What we didn't realise was that if you are staying in a Riad in the Medina, chances are you cannot get a taxi directly to your Riad. We got a taxi from the bus station and it left us in the main square to navigate ourselves the rest of the ways. All of the streets off the main square basically turn into a maze of small windy alleyways that are a bustle of tourists, locals and vendors and down each little laneway. You also have to contend with young kids trying to offer you help (not for free) and trying to convince then you are fine when you are really lost. Eventually we end up down a very deserted little laneway to a door that had the tiniest plaque with our Riad name on it. Once you ring the bell and they let you in its a whole different world. 

Image result for riad villa wenge

It has the feel of a small boutique hotel, though because of the close proximity you can hear everything that goes on in the main area from the room. Its totally quiet at night time, but mid afternoon can be a little loud. A lot of the riads in the medina seem to be like that and they are lovely. Though if you visit Morocco, there is generally no door on your en suite bathroom. The toilet is usually behind a dividing wall, but there is no door. Marrakech took a bit of getting used to. As soon as you step outside you are being shouted at left right and centre by all the street vendors. The main square has snake charmers, monkeys, henna artists and all sorts of stuff for sale. I even saw some of the henna artist grab peoples hands and just start drawing. They will try to get money out of your for anything (I heard taking photos of the street vendors directly comes with a fee, so I didn't even try it.) But once you learn to ignore all the calls you can move around pretty quickly. What really struck me about the vendors is how they remember you, you walk past a stall first thing in the morning and when you go past again in the afternoon they seem to know who you are. They are all very pushy but harmless and quite friendly when you get down to it. 

We spent an afternoon in the Souk which is basically just a maze of different stalls which was surprisingly relaxing compared to the main square. You have to haggle, something I hate to do but it has to be done. We managed to get a lovely chess & backgammon set down from €160 first offer to €35 by the end. It can be a little stressful but state your lowest price and just walk away. If it is something they are willing to see for they will chase you down to accept your offer. The food was amazing and very varied in Marrakech. You can get traditional food, lebanese, asian, european and of course all the usual fast food options. I hate to be so Irish, but not all restaurants will serve drink and when you do get it, its not cheap. If you don't drink much you can eat for a king fairly cheaply in Morocco, but once you add booze it evens out to be similar enough to home prices. Another thing that is fairly common in some of the restaurants is belly dancing shows and live music. 

I think that 4 days is one day too long in Marrakech, if I was to recommend it I would say 3 days in plenty and if you want to be there longer maybe look into some of the day trips outside Marrakech for the other days. I'm sure there are things we missed but it is a tiring city, and I was done after 3 days. 

I've been back to reality for over a week, and while it took me until my weigh in to get my head back in the game I am ready to hit 2018 running. The gain is behind me now and the important thing is to get back to my normal routine. Life is for living and I wouldn't change my Christmas or holiday for anything. While being 1 stone over goal is not ideal, it is not the end of the world I just need to not keep going. I'll the few pounds down, even if it takes me 5 times as long to lose as it did to gain I will get there. 

So with that said, I have my first meal plan of the year done. Lunches are prepped for the week and nothing standing in my way but myself. 

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