Will you see BREASTS?

BREASTS

What is your take on them?

How do they make you feel?

Do you support them?

Do you use them?

Do they offend you?

How do you feel when you see them?

Have you ever had an incident with them that would cause a movie to be made?

We’re all human here so let’s digress a bit.

The topic of discussion for using the word Breasts in this post is the biological reason for why us women have them. Thus being…… Breastfeeding.

Moreover, breastfeeding in the workplace, leading us to the premise of Breasts The Film.

While I’m not a mom, as of yet, I’m passionate about this topic and working on this short film is powerfully moving. It’s based on a true story about a working mother who is slapped with a sexual harassment complaint when she explains she must pump her breasts to a coworker. Just imagine this scenario for a minute and the underlying implications of that happening.

The first thought when one hears breasts may be laced with an idea perpetuated from what it means to our society and collective mind frame. We live in a society that we’re blasted with images of T&A every day, yet a mom feels lambasted for saying a word that’s meaning is usually construed in a sexual way.

While this topic may feel that it’s centered around gender, as breastfeeding is an inherent part to being a female, this topic is a discussion for everyone. Moms have the capability to feed their babies milk that is designed for the biological makeup of each child. Quite genius of the body if you ask me.

Now this brings up the question of.

Where does the discomfort from this subject stem from and why is it stigmatized to an extent in our current society?

We have been receiving emails from women all over the country sharing their breastfeeding and pumping stories. It’s amazing to read the varying experiences moms have whether facing adversity or support for their choice, in the workplace and otherwise. Some feel supported by their colleagues and businesses, yet many feel slighted and stigmatized for their decision.

Whether one chooses to breastfeed and pump, or not, do you think there should be rights to protect and support moms in that decision?

It is, I imagine, a very personal and delicate decision, one that is intertwined with a feeling of vulnerability due to our current societal ideas and positions around it.

 

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I’m working with a brilliant team for the film, predominantly made up of women. Including director Eva Contis and producer Kerry Cahill. We’ve been building the vision, creating momentum while creatively collaborating with one another in the multi-layered process that making a film entails. All the pieces are coming together, from special effects, to directing, to location scouting and event planning. It’s happening. Locally in New Orleans.

There is a movement of women in film that I find quite profound. Sophia Coppola just became the first female director in it’s 70 year history to win “Best Director” at the Cannes Film Festival. The female directed phenomenon Wonder Woman is taking the world for a wonder ride. While Ava DuVernay is taking Hollywood by storm.

Call it big or small, BREASTS has joined this women’s revolution, it feels grandiose in its breadth. Breasts is a film with a statement that has perhaps lain dormant, we’re giving voice to women, in the way we can, through it .

We’re doing a fundraiser on Seed and Spark, which is a fundraising platform for filmmaking. When we have 500 followers on Seed and Spark we get an awesome film incentive package. We don’t discriminate, little and big donations to Breasts are accepted. What size donation can you do? ; )          Seed and Spark for Breasts

Meet our incredible team and see what we’re up to and share your stories at Breasts The Film

 

xo,

Nicole

 

Finding Peace and Light in Senior Years

Written by featured writer Sally Perkins

Our children become us. We become our parents. Our parents become grandparents. The continuity and circularity of life is something that we can all observe, and while it sometimes provides comfort, we cannot help but ask where does it lead?

The quintessential picture of a peaceful retirement in which we can sit back, enjoy all that we have achieved and take pleasure in a slower pace of life as the next generation takes the reins sounds ideal, but the reality can be completely different. The 21st century is a complicated and stressful time to be a retiree. Today’s seniors have more to worry about in terms of finance, healthcare and changing family dynamics.

As the new, responsible generation, it falls to us to ensure the senior members of our families and communities receive the support they are owed. And the only way to do that is to see the signs that all is not well.

Signs of senior stress

The problem is that as we get older we do not get any better at asking for help. If you have elderly relatives, they still feel that they need to protect and support you. It falls to you and nobody else to make this a two way street.

Common signs of stress include the following:

  • Isolation, and a reluctance to get involved in social activities that they used to enjoy – whether it is attending a club or simply having a chat over the phone.
  • Mood swings, sadness, irritability or signs of depression.
  • Deteriorating concentration or forgetfulness.
  • Different eating habits – either loss of appetite or binge eating on snacks and unhealthy food.
  • Chronic health problems, including aches and pains.
  • Sleep problems – either problems sleeping or sleeping longer than usual, or dozing off during the day.

What can you do?

There are a variety of measures you can take to help your loved ones live a stress-free life, from dietary considerations to healthy exercise such as yoga. However, be careful that you are not just trying to ease the symptoms instead of the cause.

It is essential to find out what has triggered the stress in the first place. In some cases, it is something as tangible as concerns over a medical, financial or family problem. Oftentimes, though, the reasons behind feelings of melancholy and worry are far more difficult to pin down.

The important thing is to get your loved ones talking, draw them out and provide the love and support they need. If they are still reluctant, remind them of this – we will all be in their shoes one day.

~ Sally Perkins

Knowing Unknown

If one does not take a step into the unknown, will one ever know?

Wisdom is a culmination of knowing and experience.

Which sometimes takes stepping into the uncomfortable.

In facing the unknown, challenges may appear. Like roadblocks, these challenges once overcome become epiphanies. It is through the layers unraveling that self-growth becomes apparent and makes the presence of the unknown, known.

Trusting instinctual guidance as a course of action has not always been the easiest process. Yet, in hindsight proves to be exactly what is needed.

Right now, I am taking on a challenge for myself; to live and creatively express in a new place, new way, new form.

Yet always coming from source, creating force.

Therefore, trust is the imperative word right now. Trust in self, life, universe, expression and unity within reality. Authentically.

Even when the path is unknown.

What does it look like to reveal the unseen?

xo,

Nicole

I’ll be back with a New Orleans post next.

Vipassana

To see things as they really are.

Observation.

A 10 day silent meditation course stemming from Gotama Buddha, over 2,500 years ago. Which, simply stated, is concentrating on the body, its sensations and the insight that this provides.

As a serious meditator for the past 10 years, having first practiced when I was 11 years old.  I could feel my discipline in practicing had been slacking for about two years. I signed up for Viapssana, knowing that 10 days with 10 hours a day of meditation would switch my discipline button back on.

I have done over a decade of inner growth and well being work, varying practices as a way to gain inner insight. Whether it be meditations, leadership and communication courses, detox regimes, Kundalini and Hatha Yoga,  Native American healing work, energy and sound therapy, Guru work……. I could go on….. 😉

Yet this was different than most anything I have undertaken.

It was putting effort into observation. Focus on respiration. Mindful of the sensations of the body, without allowing aversion or craving to take over, to allow old mind patterns that cause suffering and misery to become eradicated.

It sounds simple, sitting for hours, almost like a reTREAT.

Not quite. It was extremely hard work, training new parts of the mind to  work in a different way than what one is inherently programmed with.

 

The first four days were cold, stormy and rainy, trudging across the soggy grounds it felt miserable, synonymous with how my mind felt.  I couldn’t fathom how we could get through the rest of the course. It felt like one day was a week and my body felt uncomfortable sitting for so long. What gave me solace was the food. Vegetarian, delicious rice and curries and veggie dishes, soups and salads, prepared fresh every day.

At times I felt like

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Other time I felt a quality of beautiful inner

 

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Focus. Equanimity. Awareness. These were key words for the process, one that became intensely beautiful, with profound self-realizations. The technique is a practice which creates a foundation for self transformation and awareness.

The facilites we stayed at were simple, clean and nice. The break from the phone and internet to tune into the natural world was a relief, one that was much needed for my mind without any tech distractions.

The last 5 days of the course seemed to become lighter. The sun finally came out and at night the stars were vivid on the magical lands close to Yosemite. The 8th and 9th day something profound was happening, it felt as though my senses were super heightened and everything took on a technicolor hue, like a 5 dimensional quality. The silence became solace and I felt an unburdening of my layers of consciousness, which created a lighter, buoyant sense.

Vipassana is a practice, of mindfulness and awareness every moment. To be present, now. Relinquishing normal reactions to self or situations and taking a step back to allow observation to keep the mind in a place of equanimity. With discipline I feel this technique has the potential to enhance life immensely, I can sense a transformation from the 10 days.

My intentions when I left were to live a life of more joy, inner peace while radiating compassionate love.

 

xo,

Nicole

LAnniversary

Today is an anniversary for me. Of falling 18ft over a balcony onto cement only to have a broken arm. On a full moon nonetheless. Friday the 13th, 2013. On a whim had I had moved to LA a few weeks prior.

A catalyst to a new start. I know I chose to stay alive and live my purpose. One I’ve worked intensely for and the pieces all seem to be falling into a place in such a profound way, all at once. Like a puzzle what I didn’t know, I didn’t know.

Now.

I feel exceptionally grateful for what is happening in my life currently, the people in it and the momentum to imaginatively create my dreams. I’ve allowed ideas to flourish while working relentlessly towards them in the pursuit of purpose.

Since living in LA my experiences have been at times, exceptionally surreal. I strive every day towards my greatest and best. Even through my setbacks and perfectionism of questioning if there is a different way to be than the wayward, free-spirited way I am.

Yet, I know that’s only societal conditioning and surrender it when it comes up, to total self acceptance of the now. Knowing there is a meaning to the path I’ve chosen.

Destiny is taking me along its course and the people in my life astound me, I feel so fortunate. The experiences that I’ve had throughout life, have shaped who I am and for that I’m grateful. I feel deep love in my heart for living, life and what will come.

I’m elated for what the future holds.

xo,

Nicole

The Dead Sea

It was as though time pulled me into itself. Standing still in such mud-filled, salt floating wonder I beseechingly asked the question. “Aware of awareness, where does it arise from, how is it we consciously experience this finite existence?

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The hot dry emptiness and sun’s bright gaze burning away all shadows of doubt. My spirit strengthened as I eclipsed certain parts of myself while wandering. Walking through Masada I questioned how it was such a place was built.

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Ein Gedi’s waterfalls enlivening what felt to be joyful liberation and tranquility. Finding a hidden spot to relish the freshness of the waterfalls I felt the ease of the environment soak into me. Such exquisiteness.

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I chose Abraham tours for this day of sightseeing. The drive down to the Dead Sea winds with the pressure of going lower and lower and a quiet awe took over everyone on our bus. The dead sea comes into sight it’s cerulean blue amidst the sandy mountain terrain. A place of grandiose beauty filled me with awe struck wonder as the bus went lower. Surreal,  it felt like another world, with caves dotting the mountains that hid many secrets.

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Sinkholes made the roads impassable at certain points, detouring to new roads that were made. We were duly informed by our fabulous tour guide, that over the past 20 years, due to global warming, the Dead Sea has been drying up 3 meters a year. Spas built 15 years ago are now far away from what once was the shore.

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My DIATRIBE:

Such a stunning sea while floating in it, the health benefits from the sulphur to salt to mud are numerous. Yet 100 years from now, will it still be here? It put global warming into a very real perspective.

Because it’s drying up, at the beach I was at, plastics and non biodegradeble materials were stuck in the mud. I went around plucking them up and filling the garbage can, to help in the way I could, to preserve the gorgeousness of the sea.

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My mind started reeling. What is happening to the dead sea reinforced the notion that we are not prioritizing for 100-200 years from now, or our next 7 generations. How is it we have allowed the plundering of our resources to such a damaging effect on our planet?

We are polluting our air, soil and water, due to our reliance on fossil fuels and chemicals with no real solutions being offered.

What will happen to our resources? How is it they’ve become privatized and corporatized? Our reliance on fossil fuels is the biggest detriment to our environment and future, yet big money still wages itself in it. There are many more sustainable and green measures we as a race could and should be taking with our current environmental problems.

Hoping we could move into a more sustainable future in the upcoming years, to preserve the beauty of our gorgeous planet.

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xo,

Nicole

Jerusalem

“You’re not scared to be in Israel based on what they say in the news about the conflict?” I was asked many times. My answer “No, not at all.” My heart felt at home in Jerusalem, a feeling that felt like a deep surge of ancient wisdom. Knowing is hard to explain. Trusting it even more of a challenge. Explaining it can become nonsensical. This journey became a reclamation.

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Old City Walls

Old City:

The roots in Jerusalem go deep, winding throughout history with many ideas originated there still circulating throughout our world. Quite an unbelievable place given it’s the epicenter of Abrahamic religions.

Within the old city walls, there are quarters; Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian. A representation of everyone living and working amongst each other within the ancient walls.

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I am not religious, but honor the core spiritual tenets religions encompass. I’ve questioned throughout my life what I believe in, which is constantly evolving as I do. Many of the prophets which are at the heart of religions have similar messages: To be a good human.

I felt a release in my heart as I walked by a church singing prayers in Aramaic, such a beautiful sound, it rang like a song. Seeing some of the stations of the cross, feeling the intensity, I was lead to the Western Wall. I didn’t plan to go, it called me to it. Here there were deep prayers happening and some singing, before Shabbat started Friday night.

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Touching the wall, leaving my note, I prayed for peace and the thought came to me:

What does peace look like? Honoring traditions and still collectively moving beyond mindsets that separate and cause wars for our future generations to have a healthy existence. Including the mindset of greed that perpetuates the corporate stronghold on our planet which is destroying our natural resources.

I felt a reclamation of unity and what has been lost and fought in the name of religions. I know in my heart there is a peaceful way for us all to live in harmony and many things are collectively dismantling so we can see what the solutions will be.

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I found a spot that had wine and cheese, people were gathered outside at tables. Here I met a group of  Palestinians. While talking I asked them about the conflict, which from a perspective in the west seems extremely tense. I was told “We’re like cousins, we work together, live together, we come here every day from Bethlehem, the sensationalism in your news is not the way it is over here.”  I was invited to go to Bethlehem, next time I visit I most certainly will.

I heard from local Israelis as well a resounding “We all just want to live our lives, hopefully in peace.”

The Holocaust Museum: 

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The building itself is ingeniously designed, leading from one room to another in a zig zagging way. Inside, the videos, pictures and remnants are intense, sad, horrendous yet important to be seen. Honoring the past and victims, so as history never repeats itself in that way.

I saw this quote, which has been circulating recently, bringing tears to my eyes:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

  ~ Martin Niemöller

Perfuniq:

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I had my own custom made perfume at Perfuniq, which my flatmate from my airbnb, whom I’ll call Mariella who is so sweet, warm and hospitable, brought me to. Here I met the owner who makes all the scents and his wife, both incredibly nice. It took about an hour, tailored for me to what I liked and my preferences,  based on my answers. A proper scent-sation. Such a brilliant place, I loooove my perfume, we decided the name is “The Painted Veil”

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Local Jerusalem:

On Saturday to honor Shabbat many places are closed. I went to a local place that was open, meaning not Kosher. I had a delicious dinner and met another American. Our discussion ranging from biology to dark matter, to the quantum enigma and more. Mind blown would be an understatement, my mind was righteously bent after conversing.

Local Jerusalem life felt like home. If you’re ever in Jerusalem I highly recommend staying at Mariella’s place, contact me if so. At this Airbnb, I was invited to eat homemade food with friends and family members of Mariella’s and learned new Israeli recipes which were so scrumptious. Like Israeli salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olive oil and lemon, so refreshing and tasty. Pita sandwiches with flavorful tahini, pickles and tuna with eggs, veggies and fresh herbs. Pasta that was so fresh tasting, most of the ingredients from the local market with a bit of spiciness that lingered in the garlic sauce.

Sai Baba.

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From experience, I understood that family is important to Israeli culture. People have migrated there from all over the world. There is a merging of cultures with similar values; cherishing family, community and tradition.

I talked love, relationships, dating, the world, culture, customs and the process of coming into self-love as a woman in our modern age, with Mariella. Even though we live thousands of miles away, our ideas were of a similar nature. Love in a relationship coming from a healthy place, being patient for the right “him’ to come along. Even if not, being happy with self no matter what. When self care is honored, it means caring for others at full capacity. Reciprocity.

I left at the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, with a sendoff of beautiful wishes and a fresh pomegranate. My intentions were to release all the ways I blundered the past year and welcome with an open heart what will enter for the new year.

Toda Raba

xo,

Nicole

I’ll be posting soon about the Dead Sea and Eilat. Much more of what I experienced  will be highlighted in my memoir.

Tel Aviv

In getting lost, I tend to find more of myself. It’s beyond wandering, it’s a soul calling. Leaving Morocco on an energized note, I had a fabulous, culture-drenched time in such a unique country. The flight to Tel Aviv, I struck up conversation with the person sitting next to me, he was great and gave me a list of local and touristy things to see and do in Tel Aviv. Taking the train into Tel Aviv from the airport was clean, quick and affordable.

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I immediately felt an ease being in Tel Aviv. I found my favorite coffee spot, City Cafe which I frequented every morning. Sipping the rich, strong flavor of Israeli coffee one morning, to iced latte the next. The fantastic people there got to know me by name. My vagabond nature grounding in to the habitual aspect of every day living. Sometimes being thousands of miles from home, makes me realize that ultimately home is within.

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I had many plans of places to go, yet my spirit needed the sea. The beach had a calming strength to it, one that called me to it day after day. It felt warm and nourishing floating and swimming in the softly rolling waves as the salt, sun and air soaked into me. I had lunches at spots on the coast, watching kids learn how to surf and people enjoying their time. Everyone was super nice and loved showing me what they could about the city, and inviting me along with what they were doing.

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On my way to the beach I visited Camel Market, wandering through stands offering gifts, jewelry, fresh foods, juices, olives, cheeses, souvenirs and the likes. Each stand having a unique vibe, playing different music that perks the ears up. Stopping at some to buy fresh foods or little trinkets.

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Value was noticeably placed on fresh, seasonal foods, herbs and spices. The freshness and quality of the food blew my mind. I ate at so many phenomenal restaurants. The flavor profiles were fresh, rich, spicy or sweet, with herbs and spices that left lingering taste sensations. There were so many amazing places I stopped at, to go through them all would take up pages. I’ll highlight a few:

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North Abraxas: Usually you have to make reservations to eat here, luckily there was one spot at the bar in which I shared conversation and appetizers with those around me. The ambience was perfect, the fish so succulent and moist, freshly caught in a tomato sauce with melted cheese and veggies and scrumptiously spicy. Dipping oven baked bread into the sauce, it was so delicious I couldn’t get enough. I relinquished my normal eating habits of gluten and dairy free while traveling, it was so worthwhile.

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Supra: I decided to walk Rothschild Blvd and picked a spot that suited my fancy. I walked by Supra, then came back to it. Walking in it was quiet, I sat at the bar chatting with the awesome staff who were setting up for a party. Within an hour of eating a Georgian dish with meat and rice and blends of spices, the place was packed and there were dancers who took over the place.  Inviting me to dance up on the bar, which was AMAZING and way out of my norm.They thought I was professional contemporary dancer and kept inviting me to dance with them, for everyone. What a compliment and so fun!

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Emilia Romagna: I was strolling by on my way back from the beach and heard music playing, which was a burst of new tracks that were house,  soft bass, disco-ey middle eastern sounding. Ears piqued, I had to stop in. Here I ended up watching the chefs work their magic with chopping, mixing, cooking, breads and mediterranean freshness. I had a salad like a Caprese but with a ball of Buratta cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil and sweet yet tangy Balsamic vinaigrette and oils. Mmmmm.

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The old city,  Jaffa Port, is 4,000 years old. Walking around, soaking in the ancient grounds, feeling the depths of something deep within remembered. How long humans have created ways to connect to other parts of the world, by sea and ground, importing and exporting, to bring gems of different lands. It’s a gorgeous sight on the sea, from the old city to new city.

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I felt such a beachy yet edgy ease in Tel Aviv, so much culture and Hebrew sounded melodious and grounded. If I were to compare to America, I found it to be a blend of NYC, Miami and San Francisco totally Israeli style. Most people spoke English making it easy to get around. The music, wow, the music. Everywhere I went, it was so diverse and dynamic sounding, I was told it’s the music capital of the middle east.

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Trusting my instincts meant understanding which step to take next through listening to my heart, mind and soul, when they’re in complete alignment it is like a song, or flow. One that has a different hum and tune wherever I am.

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My mind whispered “move, go, stop, talk, play, eat, relax, process, take in the sun, or shade. Do what it is your heart is called to as you venture lands unknown yet familiar, for your inner compass always knows where to go, following it will lead you to your calling.”

 

xo,

Nicole

 

I’ll be back with more of my travels through Israel…

 

 

Morocco

When traveling, especially alone, I try to let go of expectations to understand where it is I am. This creates the mystery of adventure and the unexpected. Planning as little as possible except for where to go, I like to live in the spontaneity of what presents itself as opportunity.

TANGIER

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Even though more liberal and women have more rights than conservative muslim countries, I made sure to have my shoulders covered and wear trousers. As soon as I landed, unsure of where to go I found the people were very nice and helpful and customs was easier than many countries I’ve traveled to. It just so happened that I arrived in Morocco during their holiday, Eid al-Adha. Which I’m told is like Thanksgiving and they slaughter rams to commemorate. Most stores and restaurants are closed for 3-5 days.  My taxi driver proceeded to tell me how it is a celebration. Gratitude. Life.

C’est la vie.

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I had a taxi tour guide take me out to the Hercules cave the following day, he was very nice and I highly recommend him if you’re in Tangier for an honest tour.  The scenic drive winded around the way, stopping at Cap Spartel and seeing where the Atlantic and Mediterraanean oceans meet, across the way is Gibraltar, Spain. The medina in Tangier along the coast is a spectacular spot inside the medina walls, the Casbah is a well known artists spot with winding narrow streets painted in different colors on the coast.

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Fez

 

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I took the train from Tangier to Fez which was easy to navigate and went through the beautiful countryside with olive trees and melon farms along the way. I stayed in a restored Riad, which means palace, that was built in the 1300’s in the medina. Fez is one of the largest pedestrian only old cities in the world. I had a tour guide assigned the following day who was incredible and if you’re in Fez I highly recommend him, his name is Med.

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I was taken around the outside of the city to see the wall, and structures and views of the medina, along with another of the King’s palace, museums, parks and Jewish quarter. The mosaic work and architecture are astonishing throughout the city. Everything seemed to be moving and bustling, busy and active once the holiday passed. Loving the handmade ceramics and rugs in the markets, one of a kind pieces can be found.

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Another of the tour guides assigned to me then took me to a local home.  I was given a taste of the celebration of the holiday, eating amazing Tagine with a family of 4, a husband, wife their child and friend and I, completely Moroccan style. Such a cool experience!  I fully stuffed myself with the richness of the flavors, saffron and herbs and oil in which the meat has been cooked in for hours and falls right off the bone, with french fries on top. It is a sensory and tactile experience, eating with the hands, using chunks of bread to pick up the dish with. Relishing the moment.

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Marrakech 

I took a night bus from Fez to Marrakech, arriving at 4am. Even though the girl sitting next to me didn’t speak english, she shared with me her sandwich and help with where to go. Arabic and French are the main languages of Morocco many also speak Spanish, Berber and English. Navigating was easy through the country, especially when I would ask for help.

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I stayed at Riad Palais des Princesses. The inside had gorgeous detail of Moroccan mosaic and colors and felt luxurious in the comfort of the room there. The people were exceptionally helpful and friendly and the breakfast delicious choices from cheeses to crepes and yogurt to fresh figs and juicy apricots. I had a Hamman and massage while there which was so luxurious and relaxing. The medina in Marrakech square was easy to get to and navigate around. I become a flaneuse while traveling, perusing the markets and strolling the sights.

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The way people would come together whenever I would ask a question to help me figure it out, was the epitome of what I feel Moroccan community is. People really work together to help.

Advice: As a solo female traveler, it’s important to know boundaries. My advice is to be aware and smart when out in the medina or anywhere. It takes firmness to walk away and say no thank you.

With a blend of African, European and Arabic cultures which make up Morocco, I found it to be a fantastic, exotic experience. I’m so happy it was part of my grand adventure, I would definitely suggest going there.

I’ll be back with my adventures in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem…..

 

xo,

Nicole

 

 

Spain

I left London with a bit of nostalgia, the people of the city were so kind and friendly with their charming English way. Yet I would not let feelings of comfort get in the way of my grand adventure. Onwards to Spain.

I was presented with some difficulties arriving at the airport, flying with Ryan Air. I knew I had to pay for my extra baggage, which I was fully prepared to do. Yet I was charged over 200 euros for both flights for not checking in online and my baggage, twice. I let Ryan Air know that was outrageous and thankfully they reimbursed me for half of it.

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I arrived to Barcelona on the extremely affordable Aerobus that goes from airport and back for 5-8 euros. I was dropped off near the Gothic center where I was staying. It was warm and sunny with bustling activity in the square with fountains and throngs of people moving every which way. Walking through the small streets in the Gothic area I felt transported into medieval times with the winding, narrow streets with no cars felt like a maze of antiquity. I loved the location of my airbnb, right in the heart of Gothic center.  Sleeping like a baby the first night, I ventured out the following morning.

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My first stop was La Familia Sagrada, one of the reasons I chose Barcelona as a destination point, being a lover of Antoni Gaudi’s style of modernista and his ingenuis designs. I found the trains in Barcelona relatively easy to use, the people in Spain were nice and warm once they warmed up, and the Spanish there sounds different to the ear then what I’m used to, I found more ease with situations when speaking Spanish, which I know a bit of. Stepping out of the train stop Familia Sagrada meets you and is beyond mammoth and quite astonishing in large towers with carved, intricacy in the facade. I opted for the inside tour, which was mesmerizing with geometrical colors, fractal lights, carvings and intricate braids in the detail. It almost felt like a magical palace in some fantasy land. Quite unreal.

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I went to Guell park, on my way there was charging my phone in a cafe and met sisters from Algeria. We sat talking about our travels while our phones charged. One of the many reasons I love traveling, to meet people from all over the world who have their brilliant stories to share. Quell park had more of Gaudi’s colorful architecture. I walked around to take in nature and the quirky, unique structures.

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I decided to test myself that evening and made it a commitment to let go of my quick, expectant, insta-have it and went to dinner at a beautiful place that had an outside terrace, phone-less. In this gorgeous upper area I sat, looking around, feeling a bit awkward at first, I relaxed and took in the whole of the environment, seeing how much everyone was enjoying company and the setting. Myself included. The table sitting next to me and I started up a conversation, two couples visiting from Germany.  They were exceptionally gregarious and fun. We kept great company for the remainder of the evening. The food was exceptionally fresh seafood that tasted like it was caught that day, our server was sensational. What a brilliant place, taste and experience.

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To the beach I must go, I thought to myself, one outside of Barcelona city. There was a train that went to areas along the sea to Sitges, that took about 30 minutes. This became the first time I had actually missed a stop on the train, I realized after a lady came by asking where I was going. It wasn’t just me, there were two girls from South Korea who also missed the stop. We grouped together determined to get to Sitges and hopped on a train going back that way. We AGAIN missed the stop and ended back up in Barcelona, realizing the first train we took didn’t actually stop in Sitges! Quite the back and forth yet once there it was more than worth it.

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Sitges was like out of a mediterranean dream, walking through the Catalonian streets to find the beach, I was taken aback by the beauty along the sea, with the softly rolling waves and sun and restaurants, shops and homes up on the hills. A friend had mentioned to stop in Garaff on my way back. Which I’m so pleased I did. It had smaller beaches with less establishments, just as beautiful with cliffs and little cottages. I stopped at another Gaudi structure called Gaudi Garraf which I walked up and through, this was more like a small castle with interesting structures and design.

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I walked through the city that evening, in appreciation, for life, for living, for now, and everything bringing me to it. I had released stress I didn’t realize I was carrying until it dissolved. The stress of doing my best to make my life work, so I am my best for self, life and others. I relaxed into the feeling of contentment with exactly how life is, right now, instead of how I’d like it to be different, or in some future reality. For what is meant to, will be. As someone recently said “Work smarter, not harder”

I’ll be back with my adventures in Morocco….

xo,

Nicole