Lily shares her ultimate travel tips on where to go, what to eat and how to haggle like a pro
The best way to pack
After 15 years on the road, I’m pretty good at it. I have different bags within my bags. I have a bag for lingerie, a bag for trousers, a bag for tops, a bag for chargers, a bag for swimwear, a bag for suntan lotion, a bag for everything.
Try something new
Fes has really good energy. I used to go to Marrakesh 10 to 15 years ago but it’s really expensive and tourist-focused now so it was really nice to visit Fes and Safi because that’s what Marrakesh used to feel like. In Fes, I stayed in the Riad Fès which was absolutely stunning with old-school décor and zellige tiles everywhere. I was upgraded to the royal suite so I had this massive balcony overlooking the whole of the city. Beautiful.
What to eat
I went on an organised food tour of Fes with Plan-it Morocco (planit-morocco.com) where a local woman called Meryem took us into the souks to try all sorts of foods. We started with coffees, then had prickly pears, grilled lamb koftatype sandwiches and sweet pastries. We did a honey tasting, too. There were some deep-fried chicken livers which I didn’t try – I don’t eat much meat when I’m abroad. My friend Nicole had them but thought they were disgusting. I tried some fried potato patties instead, which were delicious. Our guide also introduced us to amlou, which is an almond butter spread mixed with honey and argan oil, and it’s the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. I had it on toast and pancakes the whole time I was in Morocco.
How to shop
In Safi, which is famous for its pottery, I bought some really cool big plates with Arabic writing in glitter on them. I did some noodling around a souk in Fes too and bought these laser-cut geometric wooden shapes that look like coasters. It’s untreated wood, so I got them for my daughters to play with and they’ve been colouring them in ever since I got back. I don’t plan my shopping. I like to see what catches my eye. But I am having a caravan renovated at the moment so in the souks I was looking for textiles for upholstery. The colour palette is going to be browns, oranges and blues with little fluorescent bits popping out everywhere.
Haggle like a pro
My tactic is to show absolutely no interest in whatever it is I want, then low ball massively on the price. If they say something is £200, I say, “I’ll give you £12 for it”, then go from there. My other tactic is to pretend I like everything. If you like two things, pull 10 things off the shelf then start shaving things away. They’ll start panicking because they thought they were going to sell 10 things so when you offer to buy the two things you wanted from the start, they’ll feel good and agree to a good price.
Hire a car
I love the freedom of driving abroad. You see more of wherever you go if you drive the car yourself. I love driving in foreign countries, I don’t find it terrifying at all. I did get two speeding tickets though. And things didn’t always go to plan. I was out driving from a village called Azrou in the Middle Atlas mountains to Oualidia on the coast when part of the undercarriage of the car I’d rented fell down and started dragging along the road. It was making this really loud horrible noise. I then had to spend an hour driving on this coastal road that wasn’t very well tarmacked, so that was interesting.
Shop big or go home
It was in Azrou that I ended up buying seven rugs for £300 from a guy we met in a backstreet. You can never have too many rugs. I only have one flat in London but I guess in my head I must be interior designing the fantasy castle that I’m going to move into with my very rich husband who doesn’t exist. At least I took an extra two suitcases with me so I could get them home afterwards.
See the sea
After being in the city in Fes, I stayed by the ocean at La Sultana in Oualidia and it was absolutely beautiful. It was like Game Of Thrones in the way that the coast goes on for miles and you’re really high up on these cliffs and the waves are crashing around, it’s just mad. Swimming in the sea is overrated. I like snorkelling but I’m not massive on free swimming, I like to know what’s under there, you know? Touch the ground.
End on a high
I did something after my Morocco trip that I’ve never done before but I’m definitely going to do it again – I organised a massage as soon as I got home. So when I was all stressed-out from travelling – I get real travel anxiety – I had a massage in my own home then felt like, “Ahhh, I’m home, relaxed.” An hour-long deep tissue massage after my holiday? Thank you very much.
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