Posts filed under ‘Travel’

Dans Le Noir – London

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I was reminded today about a fun restaurant in London that I wanted to share with you.  I have been there several times but most recently I was there with our software development team to learn more about accessibility! 

This restaurant provides an unbelievable experience: eating in the pitch darkness. For sighted people it is a little strange but this restaurant provide an experience that everyone can enjoy. 

With the help of blinded guides you will completely re-evaluate your notions of taste and smell. 

Dans le Noir

30-31 Clerkenwell Green
London EC1R 0DU, UK 
+44 (20) 7253 1100

August 1, 2009 at 9:03 am Leave a comment

La Grand Place and Manneken-Pis in Brussels, Belgium

DSC_0005After taking the Eurostar from Kings Cross Station I arrived in Brussels at about 6pm (18:00 hrs) with three members of the Questionmark team (Ivan, Kate and Leila).

It has been a long few days and although we have an early start tomorrow for our Questionmark Belgium User Symposium we were keen to visit the Grand Place.

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La Grand Place is the central market square of Brussels. It is surrounded by guild houses, the city’s Town Hall, and the Bread House.

There are curious statues that all point at each other from the building around the square. 

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We then remembered the Manneken Pis which is a statue of a little boy who I believe put out a fire by urinating on the flames and saved the city.  Some Belgium eccentricity:

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We went back to the square and had dinner in a cute little restaurant called Restaurant ‘T Kelderke.  We started to try and eat outside but it started to rain so we moved inside and had a much friendly waiter for the evening so I ended up being thankful that it rained!

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When our lingering dinner finished the Grand Place was waiting for us in all of her glory:

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I hope that you enjoyed the pictures – I’m off to bed now after another very long day!

May 13, 2009 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

Le Berbere Palace

DSC_0020Le Berbere Palace is in Ouarzazate which is considered the “door way to the desert.  This hotel is about half way from Marrakesh to Rissani which is on the western edge of the Sahara Desert.

There appears to be this “palace” and a new Palace which I assume is as luxurious and enjoyable as this one. 

The lobby has an area for tea, a cute fountain, friendly and helpful staff, but more important ‘high speed wireless’.  Unfortunately I could not use wi-fi due to a hardware problem with my laptop but my trusty AT&T cell modem carried me through to the internet.  So that was the good news, the bad news was that my emailed synced and so I spent the next 3 hours dealing with that! DSC_0006

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After catching up on email I felt like I deserved to enjoy the pool area, some sculptures that have been used in some famous (locally filmed) movie productions and some fine dining (buffet style).

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My kind and generous host picked up the bill (it is wonderful to have friends in high places) and so I can’t share those details but I can share that this hotel was previously used exclusively to entertain guests of the king. 

One word of caution, with this hotel, and as with many others around the world, don’t trust their wake up calls. I carry two phones use those alarms to make me and it was just as well I did!  Apart from that minor hitch this is a great, luxurious hotel and the area is historic, interesting.

Le Berbere Palace
Quartier Mansour Eddahbi,, Ourzazate, Morocco
Tel: +212 24 88 31 05/88 21 39/88 29 67
Fax: +212 24 88 30 71
Email: mberpala@menara.ma
Web” www.palaces-traditions.com

May 11, 2009 at 8:13 am Leave a comment

The Sahara Desert

DSC_0219 The Sahara Desert (Arabic: الصحراء الكبرى‎,) is the world’s largest desert and covers most of Northern Africa.  The Sahara it almost as large as Europe and almost the size of the United States.

We started out from a hotel in the late afternoon, when it wasn’t too hot and rode camels in for a couple of hours till we reach a Bedouin style camp. 

DSC_0545Two of us had come in with our guide and there was a Moroccan couple that had come in with their guide.  With the local cook we made 5 people staying in the camp that night.

The resident cook made it for seven of us staying in the camp that night. 

DSC_0520 The local guides and chef made us feel welcome and we played the drums together for a while and then I went climbing up a rather large sand dune which was a tough workout!

I just made it to the top to see the sun go down and the slide down was really enjoyable after the struggle to the summit!

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DSC_0428Water is obviously precious in the desert and our well served us well and here is our chef lifting the water for our tea!

Arabian tea is sweet, black and refreshing. It is offered everywhere and well worth drinking to keep yourself energized and hydrated. 

DSC_0502After a wonderful dinner we retired early (10pm) and in the morning we rose early to watch the sunrise.  As you can see the desert brings out the best in our planet and it was well worth the lack of sleep to enjoy. 

 

I hope that you enjoy the pictures:

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May 10, 2009 at 8:02 pm Leave a comment

Kasbah Hotel Aaluca

IMG_0169A true oasis in a desert.  This fabulous hotel has all the amenities (except a gym) but in the middle of the desert.

This hotel was on the journey from Marrakesh to the Sahara and so it was after a long drive that we arrived. 

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I have never had a camel come to dinner and animals in US/European restaurants would be unheard of but here is was charming, thoughtful and somehow appropriate.

We all enjoyed the trick (drinking water from a plastic water bottle), the photo op, and having dinner with my soon to be “ship of the desert”.

The pool, as you can see has a different aura by day and by night, both refreshing in the heat of the day and with the romance of the night: IMG_0162 IMG_0159   IMG_0165 IMG_0166   

Kasbah Hotel Aaluca
Address: Route d’Errachidia, Km 5 – Arfound, Morocco
Tel: + 212 2 35 57 84 50/51/52
Fax: + 212 2 35 57 84 49
Email: xaluca@xalucamaadid.com
Web: www.xaluca.com
GPS: N31 29’ 208” W 004 12’ 784  – it needs a longitude and latitude trust me!

May 10, 2009 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

Marrakesh, Morroco

The Guest House, Riad Basin, was located within the 11th century city wall of Marrakesh.  As we walked from the street to our riad I felt concerned in the same way I felt when I was introduced to the Favelas of Rio de Janiero.  Narrow streets with potential danger lurking at the next corner and then I realized I was in a neighborhood, everyone knew everyone’s business, the people were engaged in conversation, I was a stranger amongst friends.

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After checking in we dropped our luggage and quickly returned the the street to take our car for a tour of the city.

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Marrakesh is full of energy where you drink culture through a fire hose. A place where you can learn about yourself, history, relationships, and how generous our world is to us.

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And here are all of my new friends by night:

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If we are the questions that we ask ourselves I ask how I missed this place for so many years. Marrakesh wasn’t on my Bucket List but it should be on yours.

Tomorrow we’re off to Ouarzazate, driving south through the Atlas mountains.

May 7, 2009 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

Marrakesh Express

DSC_0007 DSC_0010 I took the train from Casablanca to Marrakesh yesterday and was simple too tired to get this posted yesterday.  Please forgive me! 

Morocco is a Pandora’s Box of delights.  The languages (French and Arabic), the people (warm, friendly and engaging), the culture (few rules but lots of forgiveness) and warm inviting weather. This is a place where I had to let go of my British reserved and my American materialism and embrace the experience from a place of innocence.

The train was pretty well on time.  People were patient although station staff seemed to communicate in an overly aggressive fashion the announcements were pleasant, professional, informative, timely and the sound system audible (which is more than I can say for some European and American train stations).

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The train was clean, fast and efficient.  We never seems to slow down and so most of the pictures are blurry due to the speed but they capture the countryside so I thought that some would be worth sharing.

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And after 3 hours of a pleasant journey we arrive in Marrakesh:  DSC_0037

May 7, 2009 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

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