TWO HEART COUNTRIES

INTELLIGENT, ELEGANT, PROFESSIONAL TOURS FOR THE MIND & SENSES

At the recent Jaipur Literature Festival, the zen-like author, the Man Booker prize winner, Ben Okri offered this view of travel – “travel breaks up the surfaces of over familiarity with the self and how your mind works…travel restores us to a freshness of self, especially when not in your own culture, so everything looks new… turning the surfaces, soil and soul of our spirit …restoring our mutual richness together on this planet”.

Indeed, the cultures of Mexico and Morocco are very far from our own, yet both countries in recent years have stolen some of my heart, and I look forward to sharing the journey of discovery, as much as prising open these vibrant destinations that so differently represent a melting pot of history and culture – where the ancient past and contemporary present blend to create a unique synergy with a foot in both worlds.
Join me in a vast buffet of multiplicity.

VIVA LA MEXICO

25 April – 12 May

Mexico has more World Heritage sites than the US or Britain and arguably is more colourful than India. It is the most exhilarating collision of epochs and ‘invading’ cultures with vestiges of this evolution to the modern day, to be experienced at every turn.

Our journey begins in Mexico City that boasts more than 280 museums and a burgeoning contemporary arts scene. We have curated the highlights to include the ‘spiritual’ architecture of Luis Barragán, the ancient pyramids of the Moon and the Sun at Teotihuacan, Frida Kahlo’s home and studio, the Dolores Olmedo Museum that is the former hacienda of the famous patron of Diego Rivera, and the incomparable and fabled Museum of Anthropology.
Of course, great dining experiences are included, some of whom are ranked in San Pelligrino’s Top 50.

Next, the towns of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato – splendid Spanish conquistador towns with bittersweet histories and lavish baroque architecture, now also home to artistic aspirants who have ‘crossed the border’.
From here, travel to the Mayan heartlands of Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Oaxaca is elegantly laid-back with outstanding food and ancient crafts. San Cristobal, high in the central highlands is more bohemian and nearby are the dramatic Sumidero Canyon, and the villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan, each with their quite distinctive customs, regional dress and styles of syncretic worship.

Enjoy a cooking class to learn all about about the intricacies of mole sauces and visit an authentic farm/distillery to understand the age-old artisanal process of making Mezcal.

The Tour ends in Merida, the suave capital of Yucatan, and a great jump off point for Cuba. En route visit some of the great monuments of Mayan civilisation such as Toniná and Palenque.
Accommodation throughout is in gorgeous boutique hotels and meals will highlight the rich regional variations and modern interpretations of Mexican cuisine. And yes, Mexico now produces lovely wine.

MARVELLOUS MOROCCO

31 May-15 June – Now in its 3rd Edition

Love affairs take time. Mine with Morocco started many years ago when it was a ‘wilder’ place that had been tempting and seducing travellers for decades. I love places that give you reasons to return to explore deeper. Last year it was the thrill of seeing the much anticipated YSL Museum. This year we are hoping for the opening of Rabat’s Grand Theatre, the creation of the famous late British architect of Iraqi origin, Zaha Hadid, known for her avant-garde designs and prestigious architectural works. I have also learned of the storytelling/performance tradition of Hikayat, vessels for the imagination that range from fables to morality tales that we hope to include in Marrakech. And last year I discovered a sublimely tranquil property on the edge of the desert, not far from Marrakech that would be the perfect place to stay still and reflect on the the journey and what you wish to carry from the experience before catapulting yourself back to familiar lives.

The program starts in the modern day capital but former Imperial city of Rabat with its grand monuments and ancient kasbah.
Then onto Tangier, Africa’s gateway that was a mid 20th century global drawcard that lured expatriates from Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Barbara Hutton, Malcolm Forbes to English and French designers and gardeners – now undergoing a revivification.
Then spend three nights inside the feudal UNESCO medina of Fes with side trips to the impressive ancient site of Volubilis, the Imperial city of Meknes and the holy city of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun.
Sleep under the stars and ride camels in the lunar-like Agafay desert before gentle trekking in the Atlas Mountains where you encounter the enormous warmth of Berber hospitality and the tradition of tagines.
Repair to the Atlantic coast for two relaxing nights in the charming walled harbour town of Essaouira before the last three nights in energy-fuelled Marrakech, the city that embodies opulence and sensory mayhem in the most stimulating ways.
Throughout the trip, mostly boutique riad accommodation has been selected for ambience, style and supreme comfort.
You will be surprised by the quality of Moroccan wine.
You will dine in private gardens and on magical rooftops.
You will be tempted by heady spices, argan oil, luscious carpets, exquisite ceramics or just relish beauty all around – ravishing landscapes, grand architectural monuments, the daily ceremony of mint tea, deeply appealing aesthetics….

 

Our recent trip with the marvellous Marieke certainly delivered “Morocco the Magnificent”! In true Marieke style the itinerary was wonderful, thoughtfully researched and cleverly curated to ensure an experience that delighted all of the senses. We returned home feeling enlightened by what we had learned, inspired by the welcoming, knowledgeable local
people we met, and enriched by the exposure to so many fascinating aspects of Moroccan culture. The diverse accommodation was part of the appeal and the culinary delights nothing short of amazing! Marieke made sure all our needs were met and that each day held something special and memorable – always with a smile, an entertaining tale or two, boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm for the joys of travel!

A+C Blake – Melbourne October 2018

FEBRUARY NOTES

Indeed, the cultures of Mexico and Morocco are very far from our own, yet both countries in recent years have stolen some of my heart, and I look forward to sharing the journey of discovery, as much as prising open these vibrant destinations that so differently represent a melting pot of history and culture – where the ancient past and contemporary present blend to create a unique synergy with a foot in both worlds.
Join me in a vast buffet of multiplicity.

Check out our other gorgeous journeys in 2019 – if you’re looking to escape the southern winter and pine for a culturally rich and varied tropical paradise then consider these luxury journeys:

Gems Sri Lanka will be offered in the second half of June
Pearls of South India runs in August

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BOOKINGS & ENQUIRIES

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