Darija Arabic Phrases to Use in Morocco

With the help of my friends in Morocco, I learned a good amount of phrases to use during the three months we lived there. These are the Darija Arabic phrases that have been most useful in Morocco, all tested and approved.

Note: Many of the phonetic spellings that are written here are not the official spellings, but the ones  that I feel are easiest to understand and say.

Hello. People in Morocco greet each other by saying Salam Alaykom. In friendly situations this is followed by a kiss on both cheeks. This literally translates to peace be with you, and the correct response is Wa-Alaikum Salaa. You can also shorten this phrase and just say Salam.

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Boat ride in El Jadida

If god wills it. Inshallah is one of the most commonly used phrases. You can say inshallah pretty much whenever you like. “I’ll see you later, inshallah. ” “I’ll come on the trip, inshallah”. I’ve also discovered that this can be used to get out of awkward marriage proposals and third dinner invites.

Thank god. Where as Inshallah is used for things that might happen in the future Al hamdullah is used to express happiness or gratitude for something that has just happened. It literally translates to “with thanks to god.” similarly, Mashallah, is an expression to show the same feeling of thankfulness at something that someone else shares.

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Kathryn and I in traditional Moroccan dresses

Sorry/Excuse me. Another very important word that can get you out of many situations is smeh-lia.

How are you? Labess? Means “how are you?” The correct response is Labess, wenti(wentu for a man). This translates to “good, and you?”

Beautiful. Zwina.

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Seen in the Atlas Mountains

Delicious. Bnine. You will definitely be using this word often because food in Morocco is always delicious.

A little bit. ShwiyaThis word technically means “a little bit” but I’ve heard it in so many different contexts that I think it has a multitude of meanings. You can use it for asking for bread at the bakery “Shwiya khobz, afaak”, when someone asks how you are, if someone asks if you speak Arabic, and ect. 

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Dates for sale in Fez

Please. Afaak

Thank you. Choukran (“No, thank you” is La, Choukran)

Colors and Culture of the Moroccan Medinas

Shoes for sale in Essaouira

Ok, enough, ect. The word Safi is constantly being used in many different situations. It can mean anything from “ok” at a cashier, “enough” at the bakery, or if said in a harsher tone, “leave me alone”.

How much? Bshhal. (say Bzeff if the price is to high)

Morocco travel and markets

A market in Berrechid

Numbers 1-10. One, wahed. Two, jooj .Three, tleta. Four, arba. Five, hamsa. Six, sita. Seven, saba. Eight, tmenia . Nine, tisa. Ten, ashra.

Simple foods. Chicken, djej. Vegetables, khodra. Bread, khobz.

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Moroccan Breakfast

1/20/17 – Morocco: The Atlas Mountains

Morocco, mountain travel

I felt the chilly mountain air brush against my face as I stepped off the bus. It was two a.m. and we had just arrived at a Berber homestay in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. I looked over my shoulder only to find myself staring into a snowy mountain range illuminated with the glowing light of sky filled with stars. I’ve never felt so awake at two a.m. in my entire life.

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Staying warm with friends

I heard the others laughing and breaking into excited conversation as they too saw the gorgeous scene.

We walked into the house and I chatted with my friends Salma and Shaema for some time. Then,  the Berber family that hosted us for the night carried into the room a delicious dinner of cous cous. We ate around a gigantic shared clay dish, and then ran to the roof to see the stars and mountains again.

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Dinner!

The view was impossible to be captured on camera. Sparking snowy peaks, the glow of the moon, and a million stars over our heads. Words can’t describe it. Soon after, I was asleep sandwiched between all three of my sisters on a bed inside the house at around four am.

The next morning we woke up early, quickly bundled up in all the layers we had and ate a Moroccan breakfast of msamen, which is a type of fried pancake, and bread with cheese, honey, olive oil, and sweet tea.

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my Moroccan breakfast

After breakfast we traveled for another few hours through the Atlas mountains to a ski resort called Oukaimeden. Bus travel with Moroccans is no ordinary experience. Five hours through the mountains we clenched our teeth and gripped our seats as the bus raced around sharp turns. Meanwhile Arabic pop music played in the background at full volume. Surprisingly none of the Moroccans actually seemed to notice the crazy driving. There was dancing in the aisles, singing, and a lot of laughter of course.

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the ski hill

The skiing ended up not being what we anticipated, but more of a giant ice-covered sledding hill. My family separated from the group to go on a hike. The view from the top of the mountain was unreal. Miles of steep, blue mountain slopes spread out before our eyes, and jagged, snow-cloaked peak lined the horizon. I stood motionless, entranced by the dramatic beauty of a scene unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

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It was soon time to go, we hiked back down the mountain to find our friends and shortly after drove to Marrakesh to experience the Jamaa El Fena square and medina at night. The square was a cultural experience, but also loud and chaotic so we explored the back alleys of the medina and found a quite Hammam spa, with a restaurant upstairs. We spent three hours sipping wine, which is pretty much a forbidden luxury in Muslim Morocco, and eating a nice tajine dinner.

On the way home I gazed at the twinkling stars that blanketed the sky outside my window, a stunning finale to an amazing trip.

What we Did in Denmark

Denmark was the first stop along our travels through Europe this year. We stayed for a week in Tolne, which is a tiny train station town in the northernmost part of Denmark.

We arrived at Tolne Gjaestgivergaard, a pottery studio which attracts most of the visitors to the town.

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Life in a pottery studio/ house

We discovered this place on Workaway, and despite not being all that artistically inclined we found plenty do at their annual international ceramic arts conference.

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In the kitchen

For a week we helped with cooking and cleaning in exchange for lodging in the middle of a beautiful forest, and delicious Danish food everyday. Even better, we were able to make friends with a ton of amazing potters and ceramic artists! The studio is well-known for its resident artist programs, where artists from all over the world come to live and learn full-time at the studio. And they are always hosting many volunteers from workaway,  so there was always someone to talk to.

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New friend Lea in Skagen

On one day all the volunteers and some artists went to visit Skagen, a larger city on the northern tip of Jutland, Denmark. Skagen is one of the most visited places in Denmark . The city has some historical background as being a very popular gathering place for artists in the summers of the 1800’s and 1900’s. Many Scandinavian artists came to paint the beautiful scenery and lighting. Much of the art has been preserved and can be seen at the Skagen museum.

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The famous art of Skagen

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Yellow streets of Skagen, Denmark

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Kathryn eating a Danish danish

After the museum we visited famous Grenen Beach, the place where the North and Baltic seas meet. Supposedly, during the summer on a clear day you can’t tell where water ends and sky begins; the whole place looks like a huge blue dome. The day we went was rainy and grey, but dramatic and beautiful nonetheless.

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Grenen beach, the northern most part of Denmark. In the distance you can see the North and Baltic seas meeting in forever clashing waves

Our time in Tolne was probably the most authentic Denmark experience possible. Everyone was extremely nice and welcoming, and we felt like a part of the family almost instantly. I’m sure we will be back next time we are in Denmark, but until then I won’t forget the amazing people and memories made here.

Thanks for reading and happy travels! XX -Izzy

(P.S. if you want to learn more about Tolne Gjaestgivergaard and possible stay in their inn yourself you can click here. And if you want to learn about and donate to their resident artists project you can click here)

 

 

 

Norway: Langedrag Nature Park

Langedrag Nature Park is a magical place where humans can get up close and personal with animals and nature in the middle of beautiful Norwegian scenery. The park is located in Nesbyen, Norway (1,000 meters above sea level) which is two hours by car, or three by train from Oslo. People from all over Norway and Europe come to the park all year. Every week they are home to a new group of visiting school kids. Here you can meet wild wolves and listen to their howls, pet an arctic fox, feed a moose and reindeer, and even more fun activities.

Mountain lake scenery at Langundrag Nature Park

The view from the park

When to go:

The park is open the entire year, with every season offering new and exciting. adventures. Summer is the high season. During these two months the park has over 1,000 visitors every day. It is very busy, but the most activities are available. After summer the rest of the year is quiet. There is also a special off-season discount on tickets. We went on a weekday in September and were 6 of 10 visitors that day. It was wonderful. The park was quiet, and the leaves were beginning to turn a brilliant shade of yellow. We were able to participate in farm life, horseback ride in the mountains, and meet all the animals, who were clearly enjoying the chill air and sunshine. In the winter the park becomes a winter wonderland. Cross country skiing,followed by warming up with a delicious bowl of homemade stew , is popular.

Langundrag Nature Park

The park entrance

It’s best to arrive early so you don’t miss any thing.

Hours:
Naturepark: 10am-6pm all year
Cafe: 11am-5pm all year

Worried about the commute from Oslo? Overnight stay in a their lodge or cabins is available.

Prices: Click here to view the costs for entrance, special activities, and overnight stay  at the park (in Norwegian Kroner)

Daily programs (these change occasionally depending on the day and season):

  • 12-2pm : pony riding
  • 11-12:30 : Horseback riding tour
  • 12:00 : Moose feeding
  • 1:00pm-2:00pm : Voltige. Learn to balance on horseback
  • 2:00pm : Wolves and lynx feeding. Interact with arctic fox and reindeer.
  • 3:00pm-5:00pm : Pony riding
  • 3:30pm : Foxcamp, a 30 minute up close meeting with the arctic foxes inside the enclosure.
  • 3:30pm: Tour inside the wolf enclosure
  • 4:30pm: Tour inside the lynx enclosure
  • 3:30pm-5:00pm : Horsebackriding tour
  • 3:30pm-5:00pm : Zipline through the forest
  • 5:00pm : Goat milking

The activities listed in italics where all available on the day we were there, during the off-season. Some of them, including horseback riding and tours inside the enclose, have an added cost. Click here to view more activities that may not be listed above.

 

The park was founded as a farm in 1978, with the intention of creating a place where people can have a unique closeness with animals. They have 300 animals from 20 different species.

Langedrag is not a zoo. Many of the animals like the goats, horses, and occasional reindeer roam free out of enclosures. The lynx and wolves have enclosures so massive, they are still considered wild.

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Our day at the park was wonderful. When you enter, the first thing you see are twenty  goats and fifty rabbits  wandering around.

Then, we met the horses we were going to ride. The horses at the farm are a small Norwegian breed. Our instructor gave a five-minute lesson which involved patting our horse on the rump to make it trust us… learning a few commands, and then hopping on. The actual riding was only for an hour. We started out on trails and then on the “off-road” path, which involved crossing streams and other small obstacles. The landscape surrounding us was unbelievably beautiful. The trees were beginning to turn yellow, and a golden morning light was cast though the open space.

feeding moss to a reindeer at Langedrag nature park in Norway

Feeding the reindeer

Later in the day we went on a few tours to visit the wolves and lynx, and feed the moose, arctic fox, and reindeer. The man guiding the tours talked to us in English the entire time about all the animals and the history of the park.

Finally, it was time for the goats to be milked. The park is also a sustainable dairy farm. In the cafe you can try their homemade goat cheese. My sister’s and I unsuccessfully tried to milk a goat (it’s much harder than it looks). So instead, a nice lady, who works a the park, offered to squeeze goat milk into my mouth 🙂

All in all I would definitely recommend this park to families or anyone really. It was a great experience that we will not forget for a long time.

Happy travels xx -Iz

 

London and thoughts

It was a crazy travel week, but I finally got around to writing about leaving Mexico.

After spending a day packing our bags (to six kilos… Thomas Cook’s carry-on restrictions are tiny), a ten hour flight, and two hours of sleep, we arrived at London Gatwick Airport at 8:00 AM on Tuesday. The jet lag was brutal as it was 1:00 AM our time.

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By 9:00 we were en route to Victoria Station, in the center of the city.  We had a quick, healthy breakfast and some coffee at a chain cafe called EAT. Around ten we began our self guided eight mile tour of the city. I saw the Buckinham Place (and a double decker bus), ran though the Green Park (it was freezing), and took some pictures in telephone booths at the Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. You know, the touristy stuff. The London Eye had a line for hours so instead we took a free CPR class from some on-strike British med students. Unfortunately, Google maps led us to the wrong London Bridge, but we saw it from afar. The end of our walk was the Liverpool station, and at 2:30 we took the train to Rayan Airport where our next flight would take us to Zadar, Croatia for two weeks.

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Had we had more time we would have explored more, been a bit more relaxed, and gone to museums, but I think that in four hours we saw much of what tourists see on week long vacations. I hope to come back in the future ( maybe when the pound is a bit kinder to the dollar) to England to stay for longer and see more of the country.

Also, thoughts on the terror threat at the moment:

Right now, like many other European countries, the terror threat of the UK is at severe. Most travel websites would advise against traveling to London because the chance of a terror attack is ‘inevitable’. So should this stop you from travelling to the area? I don’t think so. In London people seemed to be just going about their daily lives. They are aware of the threat but they can’t and don’t let it control their lives. We went to all of the places that are considered targets of terrorism (tourist sites and large subway stations) and tried to be alert – but not afraid. Terrorism is a scary thought, and to be afraid and to have fear stop you from doing something is go give the terrorists what they want. It’s important to keep fears in perspective, few people are afraid to get in their cars yet over a million people die in car crashes every year. Many however are afraid of planes. If you do travel be alert, don’t get caught up or trapped in a large crowd or protest. The police force is everywhere so report anything that feels suspicious and most importantly trust your instincts and use common sense.

Thanks for reading 🙂 safe travels! Comments are really appreciated so feel free to leave one if you’d like 🙂 – Izzy