2 days one night in the morroccian desert

We were suggested a trip to the desert and were both very excited for it since we have never been to a desert before.

The plan for the desert was to get there with a minibus and a group of approximately 15 people. Then we would sleep in a berber tent and drive back the same day. Some camel riding and nice views in the atlas mountains included. We were hooked and booked the package for 50€ each.

It´s funny, usually I am not a big fan of organized group activities where some travel guide is herding you around. But since we only have a week in Morocco and we want to see as much as possible – I was kind of happy about someone taking decisions for me.

Two full days on the bus – yep, that´s what I signed up for

The trip started early in the morning and as we only realized later on the distance to the desert was about 350 kilometers. Driving in a tourist bus with constant pee breaks and other breaks for snacks, lunch and picture taking means the distance was to be covered in the following 8 hours. Nevertheless, the drive was beautiful!

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Winter is winter – even in the desert

We came to Morocco to escape the German winter for a bit. And our gamble was pretty good. During the days temperatures rose up to 20 degrees celsius. Definitely sunglasses weather. What we kind of forgot to put into the equasion of our desert trip was that temperatures during the night went down to freezing. And we were sleeping in a tent. Good that the Berber people gave us one woolen blanket.

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We had a most interesting night with lots of shivers. Eventually we made it to the next day and the Berbers were already waiting in the food-tent for us with hot tea. We all warmed our feet up a bit before getting back on the camel and then back to our bus to drive us to Marrakech. The busride back was a well-used opportunity to catch up on last night´s missed out sleep.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the desert trip very much as an experience. Next time I think I´d rent my own car to drive when and where I want instead of being stuck to a group. And now I know that a desert is not always hot. It can be really cold as well. And then it´s good to have a warm camel in the area to keep you warm.

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Pilgrimage to Yves Saint Laurent´s house in Marrakech

On day 2 of our girls trip to Morocco I got overly excited about Yve Saint Laurent´s house there. Nowadays people can visit the house of the famous french designer and his husband/ life partner in Marrakech together with the garden Majorelle – a collection of plants of the artist Mr. Majorelle.

According to our map the house was not far outside of Morocco´s old town – the Medina. The owner of the riad we were staying in told us we could walk the whole way there and would not have to take a taxi. He estimated our walk to be 30 minutes – or one hour. Who cares, when in Morocco?

We agreed to count the process of getting to our goal as being part of the experience and began the walk right after breakfast. We quickly made it out of the Medina and passed some colonial looking and generously designed parks on our way.

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Discovering the new Marrakech

Then we entered in what the moroccans call the “new Marrakech” – the new part of town. I could not believe my eyes! It was like we travelled through time or something. While the Medina seems really traditional and somewhat historic, the new part of town has all the fashion brands you can imagine. Also the people walking around in the “new-town” looked very european, women did not wear scarfs, the streets were full of expensive car brands and buying a coffee at Starbucks for the regular 4€ did not seem a problem in this part of town. What a contrast!

To be honest, I kind of enjoyed this excursion into the “modern” orient and took it as an opportunity to breath deep and sit in the sun for a couple of minutes.

Then we continued to find Majorelle´s garden and in it Yve´s house. I think it took us 3 hours or even more to get there. Sure, we were also stopping on the way, walking slowly and being touristy… But getting there in 30 minutes to one hour is simply impossible.

Majorelle´s Garden – heaven on earth

Finally we entered into Majorelle´s garden. As soon as we passed through the entrance gate, we were greeted by birds happily singing their songs and playing in a fountain. The garden was everything you would imagine of an artificially planted garden in the middle east. Opulent flowers, plants, jungle like bamboo grew higher than 8 Meters and created a beautiful roof for the little pathway that through the whole garden. The whole garden was well-groomed and there was plenty of staff making sure every leaf is on it´s place. I experienced the garden as very calming and peaceful. I could feel the love with which it was created and is kept the way it was originally created.

In Yve´s house is now the Berber musem where visitors can learn about the traditional berber culture in north Africa. Museum was kind of cool… But the house was even better!

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Arrival in Marrakech

It´s a new year… And a new year can become a great year when starting it off with a new journey. That´s why my friend and I decided to take a girls trip to Morocco!

When we arrived in Marrakesh we were completely overwhelmed by … well, by E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. To be honest, the way from the airport to the little riad we had booked was an adventure in itself. The taxi dropped us off at the “entrance” of the so called Medina – Marrakech´s old town with hundreds of small alleys. Then the driver handed us over to a little old man with a mideaval-looking cart. He put our luggage on the cart and lead us through hundreds of people who were casually strolling over the big market place Djemaa el Fna, dressed-up monkeys, dancing snakes, playing children and pregnant women. On top of all this there is also cars honking, motorbikes weaving through masses of people, and donkey carts transporting goods to shops. We felt lost here.

The old man carrier guy brought us to our riad, a moroccan guest house, and waited for his tip that he already suggested to deserve since we were half-way there. Exhausted we gave him a 1€ piece which he seemed to be happy with. Then, we were positively surprised that the riad Alamanda looked exactly as promised on the pictures.

Oh boy was I exhausted from our little walk. I felt like hiding in the hostel. The world out there just seemed too much. But we decided we needed to get some cash from the ATM and get a feeling for the crazy place out there. So we dared the first walk in the Medina on our own…

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. And I thought it is cute 🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Work – but where?

Since I became a freelancer three months ago one question kept me busy more than others. I love to work and I love my flexibility, but WHERE is the ideal spot to be productive?

I have tried many different locations and work patterns. This is what I experienced the past couple of months. What worked for me and what did not.

The home office

Being single and living by myself, the “home office” was my first go-to place to get my freelance work done. The first couple of days and weeks were great! I felt independent. Oh yes, one does not even have to get dressed and can stay in his or her pajamas throughout the whole day. Can it get any better? However, soon enough I realized that my whole life is taking place in the exact same spot. I got up from bed, moved to the kitchen for breakfast, then migrated back to my bedroom where my desk is located and then I sat on my desk for the rest of the day with long breaks for lunch and dinner. At night I would do the same migration backwards moving back from my desk into bed. Sometimes I would work from my couch which made me feel a bit too comfortable. And somehow my “research” then tended to end up somewhere on youtube with  cute cats playing the piano.

Indeed, there are many distractions at home and one has to be super disciplined to keep up good productive work for a longer period of time.

The home office is really nice every once in a while, but does not serve as a permanent office solution in my opinion. This may be different if you have a separate office room where you do your work. However, in a one-bedroom apartment working from home becomes very isolating and unproductive.

And that´s why my next step was to move to ….

The Café.

After feeling isolated, unproductive and lonely in my “home office” I decided to move to the café down the street. I thought at least there are people and that might put a bit of pressure on me to actually get work done. And sitting in a café requires getting dressed in the morning, which I thought could make for a nice change.

Working in the cafe was lovely. I was glad to see new people around me. I even had some interesting conversation with other freelancers while fighting over the only power outlet in the place. I met a couple of fiction writers and made friends with the waiters. Working in the café, I was more productive than at home.

Nevertheless, the situation was not ideal. Having to order drinks and food all the time felt like a “must” and was not easy on my wallet. And not ordering stuff, I felt bad for using up the space in the café.

The internet connection constantly broke down which was the case in many different public cafés and spaces where several people are using the same WIFI connection. This can be really disturbing – especially to people like me who have to rely on the internet to get their work done.

Cafés can get pretty noisy and screaming kids, coffee making sounds mixed with the constant smell of food and “lounge music” sometimes don´t do the trick of working more focussed.

And so I had to look for another options, and found…

…Co-working spaces

Berlin offers a big variety of co-working spaces. Co-working spaces are like office buildings for start-ups, freelancers and anyone who wants a desk in a professional setting. One can rent a desk for a fixed amount of money per month and use his/ her desk just like in a regular office. The Co-working space takes care of the facilities and makes sure things like a functional internet connection, plenty of outlets, etc. are given. Many co-working spaces in Berlin also have cute modern common areas where you can meet other entrepreneurs and have interesting conversations.

I worked my first day in a co-working space this week. I did not rent a desk, but smuggled myself into the common area where I used the internet and the more office-like vibe to get my work done. I was sitting in a café like environment with the only difference being that the place was dedicated to these laptop-staring-people.

The setting felt more professional than a regular café and more productive than my “home office”. I talked to some people who work there on a regular basis and they told me they liked working there a lot. Sometimes they say, meeting new people can get out of hand and all you want is to be alone and get your work done. Renting desks can be kind of expensive… depending on what you do for a living. But renting a desk is definitely a commitment and a constant cost in the oh so small freelance budget.

Resume

I have not found the perfect place to work yet. But having discovered the different options makes me more flexible to chose the location depending on the day. Some days I just want to be by myself and on other days I think some input from others could be great. Depending on how I feel I then move in between the different locations.

Let me know how you organize your freelance lifestyle. Do you have any questions you would like me to answer? Let me know in the comments below.

The smiling grandma on the train

Do you know that person? The old grandma sitting on the train.

She looks graceful, peaceful and simply full of love.

And she has that smile on her face – a smile that lets you know SHE knows the truth.

In the personal development workshop I attended during the past 4 days, I wrote some notes. A very short diary so to say. While sitting on the train, I wrote comments about my day into my workbook and I would like to share them with you today.

Day 1

I feel VERY unsettled, annoyed, unsatisfied and impatient about the goal of this workshop. They ask us to share and to open up. And when we do they just continue with the workshop. I want answers to my questions and reactions to my sharings. Why can´t you just answer? I can definitely feel some inner resistance about all this stuff. Very sceptical.

Day 2

When did I decide to think my thoughts? Well, good question! I don´t think I actually did. Nobody asked me if I wanted to think about random people´s muffintops or my teacher´s way to pronounce english words. Mh, I wonder which possibilities can open up for me when giving myself the opportunity to make the decision to believe in my mind or not.

Day 3

Maybe I am being brainwashed? Well, maybe. But actually I prefer being brainwashed into believing my dreams can become reality rather than allowing my “reality” to tell me the opposite. I start believing I can create who I want to be. So yes, a new possibility opened up for me today.

Maybe I can be the smiling grandma on the train.

I´ve always wanted to be her.

Maybe your little dream is not as stupid as it seemed.

Saturday afternoon. It was a long day. The four-days seminar I am currently taking requires my full attention – 12 hours per day. This will be a rather philosophical post.

Today, we did a role-playing excercise that really brought me to my limits. The task was to literally move a person out of a room by the power of your voice. Meaning: screaming and shouting from the bottom of your soul to create such rage and anger that the person has no other choice than to leave.

Ehm… right.

Well, I nearly pooped my pants just by the trainer explaining what we should do. After all, I consider myself a pretty balanced and peaceful person. I could not imagine myself screaming at someone like a berserk for no valid reason. And by the time we got started with the excercise and I heard other people scream and felt their anger, tears were running down my face.

Eventually it was my turn and I gave it all I had. I screamed louder and louder and at some point I did not recognize my own voice anymore. It was not pretty. My face turned purple, my eyes nearly popped out, BUT I survived. Not sure if I can say the same thing about my vocal chords, though.

What´s more important – it felt good. Not because there was so much anger stuck inside of me. But just because I did something I would, under normal circumstances, never do. I went out of my comfort zone and tapped into what could become possible if I just decide to do it and stick with my decision.

After the screaming part was over, we all sat down in a circle and closed our eyes. The instructor told us to now picture our greatest passion and take a couple of deep breaths.

That was when it really hit me and I had one of these “AHA”-moments. The first thing, the very first image that came to my mind when closing my eyes and thinking of my biggest passion was: *drumroll* … TRAVELLING!

What? How can that be? After clearing up all the clutter from my mind, all the unnecessary thoughts and the “noise” in my head – what´s left is travelling? Up until today I thought my urge to travel was some kind of instinct to get away from “reality”, or not having to deal with finding out what I truly want to do. I thought it was something my mind made up for me not having to see the “truth”. But what IF actually this is my truth?

What if my little dream is not at all as stupid as it seemed?