Category Archive for Fashion

Inside with Palina Rojinski: hosting a Hong Kong travel TV show for Pro7! Farfetch Style Reinvention.

Palina Rojinski fashion, hair, makeup

At last, I can show you footage from my latest Hong Kong travel TV show shoot! (I’ve filmed two more times in Asia since then, but it takes forever for shows to come out… hence the old hair color.)

If you live in Germany, perhaps you saw me on the new ProSieben series, “Inside – Unterwegs mit Palina.”  I was the fixer and on-camera host for this new TV show, which takes Palina Rojinski around the world in search of local experiences.

But fist, I want to share with you a new Style Reinvention project with Farfetch, where I reinterpret boy-style for a female wardrobe.

korean male fashion, kpop boys

It’s always fun to film TV shows in Asia, since this lets me see the latest fashion and trends up close.

Right now, Kpop style is everywhere. I’m particularly keen on the sleek, black, rocker clothing worn by Korean boy bands such as Excite (above).

kpop fashion moodboard, collage

Kpop male idols have always leaned towards an androgynous look — so why not mix up your wardrobe with some menswear pieces? I teamed up with Farfetch to create a “Style Reinvention” moodboard. I had fun breaking out of my usual zone, and browsing the men’s section for ideas.

Clockwork from left, I created a K-pop rock star look with:
– Issey Miyake black studded backpack
Off-White top (this type of black/white contrast is very Kpop)
– Rick Owens blazer with shawl collar, stud cuff, and zip leather boots
Raf Simons black skinny jeans

kpop boy band fashion, 24k

Now, I feel like I can fit in with the Korean boys of the band 24K!

How would you reinvent your style? Farfetch is inviting you to build your own moodboard (like I did), and share it on your blog and social media with the hashtag #myfarfetch. The best outfit, chosen by Farfetch, will receive a £250 voucher to spend on their site. The competition ends Oct 31 — Halloween — so get to it. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

la carmina tv hosting, pro sieben

And now, back to the travel TV shoot in Hong Kong.

It was a pleasure to work once again with Pro7, the biggest German TV network. I previously filmed with them for Joko vs Klaas in Vancouver (where we sewed Joko’s lips together), and Tokyo (where we gave Klaas a bagelhead).

While I can’t release the whole episode, I put together some of my TV clips in the video above and on YouTube. I also have behind the scenes photos and stories to share — so read on for martial arts, horse racing and snake soup!

waiting hong kong airport arrivals

I was Palina’s on-camera guide to Hong Kong, in this episode of “Inside.” For the first scene, I met her at Hong Kong airport.

(My company, La Carmina & The Pirates, did the fixing for this TV program, meaning we arranged all the permits, casting, story ideas and more.)

Palina Rojinski german tv host

If you’re from Germany, I am sure you’re familiar with Palina Rojinski. She’s a DJ and popular TV host, and we hit it off straight away.

Palina Rojinski travel tv show

The concept of the show is that Palina wants to get offline, and travel around the globe without the help of cell phones, computers, or money. As her Hong Kong local insider, I was excited to show her the city’s wildest nightlife and food.

hong kong race course

We filmed a thrilling scene at the Hong Kong Jockey Club race course, in Sha Tin. People placed bets on horses, and cheered like maniacs when their favorites galloped by.

hong kong horse race spectators

This photo gives you a sense of the excitement in the grandstands, as betters cheered for their favorite horses and jockeys. Horse racing is a popular attraction in Hong Kong, a former British colony.

happy valley race track, hong kong

My friend John Skeleton and I were the odd Goths out, in this racecourse filled with older men! John was my fixing partner for this German TV show, and led all the scouting and first day’s shoot.

hong kong horse races betting

On this turf, jockeys paraded their horses for the spectators.

chinese watching horse races bets

I’ve only been to the Hong Kong horse races once when I was a child, as it’s not exactly my scene. However, it was fun to film here with the TV show. Palina placed a bet on a horse — and with the magic of TV, she won!

bunny face balloon

After the races, we paid a visit to our X-mouthed friend Miffy. (Or as we call her, “Miffeeehhhh!”)

miffy halloween costume

Oh Miffeh, always getting into shenanigans. (The TV crew filmed the balloon, and you can see it in this video.)

Palina Rojinski hong kong offline

This was a very special scene… because it starred my cousins, uncle and aunt! As you probably know, I have many relatives in Hong Kong, and they generously opened up their apartment to Palina and the TV crew.

cute asian bear toy

Palina and my family chatted about growing up in Hong Kong, and all the cultural quirks. They offered her local snacks, and let her sleep in my cousin’s bed… surrounded by cute stuffed animals.

tv show filming equipment cameras

The B-roll camera did a time lapse of the sunset. My uncle’s apartment has a marvelous view of the harbor.

hong kong harbor reflection lights

Can you imagine looking outside, and having this as your view? Palina loved meeting my family members and learning about their cosmopolitan lifestyle in Hong Kong.

Palina circus halligalli television

Palina Rojinski insisted on taking selfies with all of us, and left adorable notes for them, written in Chinese.

villain hitters, causeway bay

On another day, I arranged for Palina to visit a villian hitter. These women set up stalls beneath the overpass of Causeway Bay, around Hennessey Road. They offer a menu of spiritual rituals that drive out negative feng shui. 

chinese gods statues

This lady set up an altar with incense and statues of the Chinese folk gods, including the red-faced warrior Guan Yu.

Villain hitting, hong kong

My aunt appeared in the TV program, as Palina’s Cantonese translator and guide for this scene. She introduced her to the villain hitter, who performed a dramatic ritual that stamps out bad luck.

chinese folk rituals, spells

She burned papers and beat an effigy, to vanquish Palina’s enemies. It’s quite the ritual, and worth witnessing if you’re in Causeway Bay.

hong kong construction workers

Talk about bad timing… We ran into a traffic jam, near the Hong Kong government buildings. A huge crowd had gathered there. What was going on?

central protests, occupy hong kong gas masks

Later that evening, we looked up at a TV screen… and couldn’t believe our eyes. The Hong Kong protests had broken out into chaos, with police firing gas into the crowds. This was the start of “Occupy Central,” and we had missed it by a hair.

hong kong snake soup restaurant

Regardless, the show must go on. Palina was up for a food challenge, so I set her up at Sher Wong Yip New Snake Restaurant.

bizarre foods hong kong andrew zimmern

Look who else has eaten snake soup here… My friend Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods (Travel Channel)! Remember when I took him around to Tokyo restaurants for his TV show?

hong kong china cat

At the entrance, there was a big glass case filled with writhing snakes. This cat sat right next to the snakes, and didn’t seem at all scared.

Shai Wong Yip New Snake Restaurant

The owners held up snakes, for a teaser shot. In Hong Kong, people traditionally ate snake soup to “warm up the body” and for its supposed medical benefits.

snake soup restaurant hong kong

The taste of snake soup? Just like chicken with herbs. I bet you wouldn’t even know you were eating a serpent.

hong kong martial artist, fighter

We ended the Offline TV shoot with a bang. Palina had to fight one-on-one with martial arts expert and filmmaker, Sam Leong.

He taught her some killer moves at his Kowloon fighting studio.

sam leong hong kong muy thai

Then, we drove to this epic location overlooking Hong Kong, for a kung fu death match!

Take a moment to watch my German travel TV show appearance, and let me know what you think. Thanks to all my friends and family for making this episode a success. We couldn’t have done it without you.

la carmina travel tv show host

PS: We were so busy running around that it was hard to take photos. Here is a clearer head-to-toe of the outfit I wore on this travel TV show. These were shot at Pacific Cebu Resort (more photos here.)

Visiting The Alhambra in Granada, Spain: Royal palace & gardens of the Moors. Cover of Where Magazine.

where magazine cover, vancouver travel

Where in the world is La Carmina? Before I take you inside Spain’s Alhambra palace, let me share with you a recent milestone. I’m currently the cover girl for Where Magazine Vancouver, Oct/Nov edition!

This travel magazine is found all over British Columbia (such as in hotel lobbies), and contains guides to the best dining, shopping, entertainment and culture in Vancouver.

mister zimi print dress

Where Magazine interviewed me about my work in travel TV and writing. Love what they said in the lead: “Never judge a book by its cover – or a travel blogger by her hair color.” 

(I’m posing in a dress by Mister Zimi, a Bali-based label known for its vivacious prints.)

vancouver travel magazines, blogger

It’s an honor to be profiled by a magazine based in Vancouver, my hometown. In the cover story, I talk about my favorite Goth fashion boutiques, sushi restaurants, and places to relax in the city.

(Hair by Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Vancouver, and leggings by Kill Star.)

vancouver fashion blogger, magazine

This blog tends to focus on far-off destinations, at the expense of my own backyard — but there’s so much to see in Vancouver. I should do more shoots and stories here.

Above is an image by Kristin Thorogood, taken in Stanley Park.

granada alhambra tickets, tours

But for the time being, let’s fly away to the Alhambra, the famous fortress of Granada, Spain. 

I wore my Mister Zimi dress here because I knew the pattern would complement the colorful zelig tiles. 

alhambra castle, fortress

Visit Spain sent my film team and me to discover their beautiful country. We started in Barcelona, and used Eurail passes to take the train south to Granada.

As you can see, Granada has a very different vibe. This was the palace city of the Moors, the Medieval Muslims who came into Spain from North Africa. (Or, if you’re a Seinfeld fan as we are, you might call them the Moops!)

exterior moors palace, granada alhambra

The Alhambra was the Moors’ fortress and royal palace. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and a gem of Islamic architecture. 

If you want to visit the Alhambra, you can’t merely show up and get in. Tickets sell out well in advance, especially if you want to go inside the palace (and not just the gardens). I recommend making a booking at least several weeks in advance. Alhambra tickets are available through Ticketmaster Spain; you must choose an exact date and time slot, and if you miss it, chances are you won’t get to see “the Moops.”

l'alhambra palace gardens

We lined up under the sun (thankfully, I had my floppy hat and sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen). At our appointed time, the staff let us through the main entryway…

spanish moors architecture, tiles

… and into this “pearl set in emeralds,” as the Alhambra was described by Moorish poets. When you see the painted tiles on the walls of the palace, it’s obvious why.

alhambra courtyard, pool

The Alhambra’s design is a mix of Islamic and Western. In one of the many courtyards, I admired the twisting arabesques reliefs and intricate mosaics. 

granada tiles, alhambra walls

We moved from room to room, taking in all the design details.

Court of the Lions alhambra fountain

For me, one of the highlights was the “Court of the Lions.” The long outdoor pavilion has a fountain with twelve lions in a circle, each with a stream of water coming out of his mouth!

muslim islamic architecture spain

Much like a lion, the Alhambra has a calm, grand majesty. I let my imagination run free as I walked through the columns and arches.

arabic carved wall, writing

A close-up on the carved Arabic words, set amidst swirling arabesques.

(My nail art has similar patterns — each stroke is drawn by hand, by Glam Nail Studio in Richmond, BC.)

fortress of moors, spain history

When you leave the fortress, you end up in a labyrinth of gardens. The crisp hedges and flowers reminded me of the Red Queen’s garden in Alice in Wonderland.

I’m very glad my team and I went to see the Alhambra, an enthralling palace rich in history and beauty.

albayzin granada streets

Granada, Andalusia has a very different feeling from Madrid and Barcelona. My team and I stayed in the ancient Albayzin district, which still looks like a scene from a bygone era.

Be prepared to do a lot of uphill walking, on cobblestone streets and steps that are closed off to cars.

El Albayzín, granada spain

Look for charming elements in the streets, such as tiny doors that seem to be made for cute mice! (Designer iPhone case from iPhoria.)

granada spain airbnb, rental house

We always try to stay in unique accommodations, and were overjoyed to find Casa Alef — a 16th century Moorish house. Our host, Rob, lived several doors down and is fluent in English and Spanish. He went out of his way to help us, and gave plenty of local suggestions such as where to eat delicious tapas. 

screen printed shift dress, blue white

It was incredible to stay in a historic house that dates back to the era of the Moors. The owners preserved the traditional design, while renovating the amenities and putting in WiFi.

I looked over the inner courtyard, in my blue and white print dress by Mister Zimi.

moors era house for rent

With three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen and living areas, we had plenty of space to share. One room has a staircase that leads to a roof terrace, with glorious views of the Alhambra.

spanish moors vase, painting

The Moorish vases and paintings added to the atmosphere.

Instead of staying in a generic hotel, I encourage you to rent unique houses such as Casa Alef for a more immersive experience. If you’re looking for accommodations in Granada, I encourage you to contact Rob for a stay!

Restaurante Las Tomasas, Granada

Rob recommended that we have dinner at Restaurante Las Tomasas, rated one the top restaurants in Granada. The view of the Alhambra fortress alone gets 5 stars.

(Address: Carril de San Agustín, 4, 18010 Granada, Spain)

best granada spain restaurant, tapas

We started with wine, and unique tapas. I was all over the sardines, served with soft cheese and tomatoes on bread.

Food is so fresh in Europe… I always eat my fill while I’m on the continent, knowing that it simply isn’t the same anywhere else.

octopus spanish food, fine dining

Las Tomasas restaurant serves the highest quality seafood, lightly prepared with local flavors. We chewed on an octopus tentacle, and I ate every bite of my squid-ink blackened rice. 

granada historic neighborhood

What else is there to see in Granada? Tourists often go to the markets and city center. I preferred wandering around the historic Albaicin neighborhood and looking at all the architectural details.

dream catcher tank top

I can never resist taking a photo with an epic door. I’m wearing a backless halter tank top, from Pretty Attitude Clothing.

 Do you like this look? Shop for dream catcher tees and tanks below:

carmen restaurant, spain

As I walked around, I noticed that my name was everywhere. Why are there so many Carmens in Granada? 

granada spain architecture

I found out that “Carmen” refers to a house with a lush garden. There were plenty of these in Granada…

spanish gardens, flowers

The warm climate encourages cascades of leaves and flowers.

tile balconies, granada spain

Details, details: tiled roofs, shuttered windows, and even star-shaped tiles beneath the balcony ledges.

granada Sacromonte District, caves

Rob suggested that we visit the Sacramonte district, about a 15 minute walk from Casa Alef and the Albayzin.

“There are Roma gypsies living in caves here. It gets weirder, the further you go up,” he said. That was enough to convince us.

Museum of Sacromonte in Granada, gypsy caves

We passed a flamenco dance center, and some sketchy-looking individuals who made their home in the caves.

At the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte, we learned the history of the people who made these natural caves into homes. 

cave homes, Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte

The Sacramonte Cave Museum had various displays that we could enter, to see how the Roma lived. Can’t believe that entire families could fit into these low-ceiling dwellings.

open back tank top, dream catcher print

Have you heard of Granada, or the Alhambra palace? I hope this travel diary encourages you to visit this lesser-known region of Spain.

(PS: If you like my dream-catcher tank top, shop by clicking below.)


Vietnam Food Tour of Hanoi! Authentic, local cooking lessons & what to wear in Southeast Asia.

girl wearing vietnamese pointed hat

A few of my friends have been to Vietnam, and encouraged me to visit. They gushed: “The food is out of this world, and everyone is so nice.”

After spending time in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, I must wholeheartedly concur. “Hat’s off to Vietnam!” 

I wanted to have an immersive, authentic experience (as always) — so I went on a custom journey with Vietnam Food Tour.

hanoi best cooking lessons

Thanks to our bilingual local guide, we were able to travel to small villages where we talked to locals, and learned how to cook Vietnamese food!

Read on to see how I made spring rolls, Nuoc Cham dipping sauce, and other delicious dishes…

Watch our Vietnam video, above and on YouTube.

motorcycles traffic hanoi vietnam night

My friend John Skeleton and I flew to Hanoi from Hong Kong — an easy and inexpensive two-hour flight.

Vietnam Food Tour arranged for a car to take us from Noi Bai Airport to our hotel in the Old Quarter. Along the way, we saw throngs of motorcycles zipping between cars – Mad Max style! 

rain on window bokeh, sony a7

The driving in Hanoi is often a shock to tourists, but I didn’t find  it that different from Cebu or Bali. It’s just how things are in Southeast Asia.

It rained a little that night, which gave us the chance to take bokeh photos from the car window. (This is the fabulous DSLR camera that we use.)

Vietnam is humid and has mosquitoes, so I devised a stylish way to stay covered. I wore a lightweight cotton tank top and leggings, and a sheer lace maxi black dress on top.

If you’re going to a destination with high humidity, such as southeast Asia, I recommend finding a long lace dress like mine, or a short sleeves version to keep cool yet protected. More of my picks below:


vietnamese village, pond

On the first day of our journey, Vietnam Food Tour took us to a village about an hour from Hanoi, along the Red River Delta.

vietnam travel blog

Thanks to them, we were able to see charming parts of North Vietnam that we wouldn’t have gleamed on our own.

vietnamese men market

We stopped at  Van Giang Village’s morning market. It’s true that the Vietnamese people have kind hearts. Everyone waved and smiled at us, and gave compliments as we walked by.

ciao travels, vietnam food tour

John and I were the only foreigners in sight, since not many travel out to this village. (Vietnam Food Tour specializes in small, custom excursions — meaning that we were the only ones on the tour, with a guide and driver.)

south east asia what to wear, outfit

I didn’t get any mosquito bites that day, thanks to my outfit! (I’m wearing a similar long black lace maxi dress with a sheer long sleeved black jacket on top, for light coverage.)

ciao travel vietnam tours

Our sweet guide, Bao, explained that the villagers grow fresh vegetables in their gardens. They bring their produce to the market, where they greet their neighbors and exchange food in a friendly atmosphere. 

vietnamese poiny straw hats

Many villagers wore Vietnamese pointed hats (get one here!). This conical straw hat is made from natural materials, and provides protection against both sun and rain.

Who wore it best, La Carmina or John Skeleton?

vietnamese child on motorbike

I think this little girl on a motorbike, with a “not impressed” face, wins first prize!

hanoi food tour, market visit

We walked through the wet market, where vendors sold fresh seafood. Some of the ladies prepared Vietnamese dishes for you right on the spot. 

hanoi meat market, bizarre foods

John left his bloody heart on this tray.

zombie chickens, weird food

As fans of The Walking Dead, these chicken-zombies caught our attention.

hanoi vietnam market, street food stalls

Tropical fruits, fresh flowers, Vietnamese conversations… What a joy to experience the sights and sounds of this local market! 

colorful store signs hanoi

Our driver took us from the colorful village center, criss-crossed by electrical wires, to a more rural area nearby.

vietnam cow on road

Even the cows are laid-back in wonderful Vietnam. They were hanging out on the roads, and didn’t blink an eye as the cars weaved around them.

vietnam tet fower, Yellow Apricot Flowers

Our guide Bao went out of her way to show us the culture and beauty of her country. She stopped to pick up a yellow apricot blossom, or hoa mai, and gave it to us. This noble flower is integral to Vietnam’s new years celebrations, called Tet. 

vietnamese girl, fashion

The countryside pond and trees look like something from an ancient painting.

Van Giang village, vietnamese tour guide

Our guide, Bao, took us to the 300 year old house of Mr. An. He graciously invited us to meet his family, and learn how to make Vietnamese dishes.

ancestor worship, shrine vietnam home

We were in awe at his beautiful garden and open-air traditional house. We stopped to admire the family altar, which honors Mr. An’s ancestors as well as the Buddha (since much of Vietnam is Buddhist, followed by Taoist).

vietnamese garden, traditional house

Mr. An has some of the most impressive Bonsai trees in the entire region, which he displays along the winding path to his home.

drinking tea vietnam

Mr An served us green tea, prepared in the traditional way (by pouring it several times back and forth, and then serving it in small cups). Although he only spoke Vietnamese, we could feel the warmth of his hospitality. 

vietnam war historical house

We were curious about the bullet holes that marked the outside of his home.

Mr An revealed that before 1946, his ancestral house has three separate buildings. However, when the French occupied northern Vietnam, they set up camp nearby. During an attack on the Communists, the two front buildings burned down, and a gunfight left traces in the remaining walls.

vietnam food tour, cooking

The Indochina Wars (and American Vietnam War) caused hardships during the mid-20th century. However today, the country is at peace, and very safe for tourists. And despite these conflicts, the Vietnamese people are remarkably open and kind to visitors.

making spring rolls, rice paper

Even though Mr and Mrs An didn’t speak a word of English or French, I was able to connect with them through the universal language of humor!

(The rice paper that we used to make spring rolls reminded me of a moustache, hence this funny moment.)

female food tv host

Mrs An kindly walked me through each step of making Vietnamese spring rolls. I learned how to prepare and mix the ingredients, and roll them up. She gave me and John thumbs up, as we got better at the process. (See this cute moment here!)

rolling paper spring rolls

Perhaps not every spring roll is as tightly packed as it could be… but we had such fun, working under the tutelage of Mrs An.

snake wine, bird wine

John noticed a shelf of spooky liqueurs, flavored with dead snakes and quails. We had never seen alcohol made with birds before.

John wanted to try the snake potion, but Mr An warned him that it was only for those aged 50 and up! 

vietnam fish sauce recipe

Mrs. An took us into her family kitchen, to cook the spring rolls and stir-fry green vegetables. We put together a Nuoc Cham dipping sauce to accompany our feast.

(We made a vlog about our cooking class. I hope the video makes you smile.)

vietnamese salad

She brought out a salad made with seaweed and vegetables, as well as a seafood soup and other side dishes.

hanoi authentic food, restaurant

And then, it was time to sit down and eat until we were ready to explode! The spring rolls were so delicious — better than any we had ever had — that John said he could eat about 20 of them. (And proceeded to do so.)

In classic “village generosity,” as our guide put it, Mr An freely poured us the herbal-infused liqueur that he brewed himself. Before leaving, he insisted that we take a bottle back with us!

hanoi vietnam food tours

This turned out to be one of the most memorable meals of the entire year, and gave me a new appreciation of Vietnamese cuisine. We were grateful to get to know Mr and Mrs An, and hear their personal stories of the wars.

com viet restaurant hanoi

Vietnam Food Tour also arranged for us to have dinner at one of Hanoi’s top restaurants, Com Viet. 

We walked across a bridge surrounded by leaves, and past a display of Asian art.

twisted roll up hairstyle

On the restaurant’s outdoor terrace, I said hello to a little bird.

(My off the shoulder black silk top is another way to stay covered without getting overheated, in humid South East Asia.)

hanoi top restaurant

The female staff wore traditional silk tunics and pants, known as the Vietnamese aoi dai. 

(All photos by John, Bao of Vietnam Food Tour, and me.)

vietnam live music, string instrument dan tranh

Com Viet felt like a walk through Vietnam’s elegant past. As we ate, we listened to classic songs played on this string instrument called a dan tranh.

fine dining vietnam

We tasted several courses of traditional cuisine, starting with bun thang soup and fresh rolls with prawns and vermicelli.

hanoi traditional authentic restaurant

Loved the fresh flavors and presentation of the dishes, including appetizers in two baskets on a pole (a miniature version of what street vendors carry).

By now, I understood why my friends raved about Vietnamese food. It’s light, healthy, and never over-seasoned or spiced.

vietnamese statues, art

Vietnam is often an overlooked Asian destination, which is unfortunate. My local food tour turned out to be one of my favorites of the entire year — I wouldn’t have had these experiences if I came here on my own.

(You can check out Vietnam Food Tour’s various Hanoi excursions here — we did the Savour four-day package, and I recommend it with all my heart.)

Much more to come, including our Pirate boat trip through Halong Bay… For a sneak peak, take a few minutes to watch our Vietnam travel video.


Morocco art & culture tours with Plan-It Fez: Drum-making workshop in the Medina! Palais Faraj hotel.

fashion blogger morocco door

Those majestic doors can be found nowhere else… We made it to Morocco!

I have to admit: I felt a bit of trepidation before arriving in Fez. I’d heard quite a few stories from travelers who felt uncomfortable in the markets, especially if they were women traveling solo.

It turned out that my experience was the exact opposite. I felt relaxed walking through the souks: nobody bothered my filmmakers and me, or called out comments harsher than “Nice hair!”

I now realize how lucky we were to have Plan-It Fez Tours with us. Thanks to our Arabic-speaking guide, we were able to meet artisans and discover the rich culture of the medina — without ever feeling lost, or at the mercy of touts.

fez morocco archway door

In this photo diary, I’ll expand more on what we did and saw in the Fes medina. And I’ll take you inside Palais Faraj, the most palatial hotel in the city.

old medina rooftops view

This view of the Old City gives you a sense of what it’s like to be in this labyrinthine market: it’s an Aladdin or 1001 Nights fantasy come to life.

Fez (or Fes) was the medieval capital of Morocco, and feels preserved in time. Spice markets, twisting narrow alleys surrounded by high walls, hidden prayer halls, and ornamental doorways add to the mysterious atmosphere.

fez medina blue gate, Bab Boujloud

It’s easy to get lost in the sprawling pathways, so use the Blue Gate (Bab Boujloud) as a landmark. The blue color on one side symbolizes Fez, and the green represents Islam. This area is surrounded by street food stalls and restaurants.

moroccan carpets, market vendors

From the Blue Gate, you can explore the many winding side streets — and maybe take a magic carpet for a ride. 

street art morocco, murals

Let’s go back to the safety question for a moment. I’ve spoken to travellers who had unpleasant experiences in Morocco: scammers would aggressively approach them, try to lead them to dead ends, and even yell or spit at them. My friends Cohica Travel wrote about the difficulties they encountered on their trip (which took place one month after ours).

fez fruit sellers, morocco

I was surprised to hear this, since we felt entirely at ease in Fez’s medina. We were able to browse shops at leisure, and not a single tout came up to us or pressured us into following him.

(If someone comes up to you and offers something, or wants to take you somewhere, just say no immediately and be firm.)

fez headscarves, scarves

Upon reflection, I realize what a difference it made to travel with Plan-It Fez ToursThe business is run by two women, and they specialize in private, custom trips that immerse you into Moroccan food, art and culture. 

Since we had our local guide with us, we never drifted into sketchy areas and the “unsavory characters” left us alone.

old city walls morocco fes

Plan-It Fez took away the stress of watching our backs at all times, meaning we could relax and learn about the rich heritage of the Medina. Their tours are customized for every client, so we got to explore at our own pace, and focus on the topics that interested us the most.

Having a driver and car also meant we didn’t need to worry about Moroccan public transportation, which travelers can find challenging (I’ve heard unpleasant tales of bus and train rides).

long black goth dress, egyptian eye

A note on dress code: Morocco is a Muslim country, and the local women generally wear headscarves and cover their arms and legs. Out of respect, I’d suggest wearing something that at least covers your limbs (I brought a light scarf for my shoulders). At the same time, don’t stress too much about wardrobe, since tourists in revealing outfits are a common sight here.

The weather is almost alway hot, so I recommend wearing a long maxi dress made of lightweight cotton fabric. My outfit is from Pretty Attitude, who also sent me the pentagram swimsuit that I wore in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon!

● Shop my favorite”Rock the Casbah” dresses below:


fez ceramics, painted bowls

Some people assume that a tour takes away from a local experience. That’s not at all the case, with Plan-It Fez. Through their private workshops, we got to meet Moroccan artists, bakers, beauty experts and more — and communicate with them, through our bilingual guide.

plan it fez tours, guides

If we had explored the Medina on our own, we would have never wandered into this workshop — let alone sit down, speak to the artisans, and join in their work!

fez drum making painting workshop

Our guide took us to try a unique activity: a drum-making workshop. We learned how to make traditional Moroccan drums from start to finish, beginning with painting the ceramic jugs in the Berber style…

morocco tannery, animal hides

… then scraping the hides and adding the leather “skin” on top, which is bound in place with needle and thread.

guided cultural tours morocco

Filmmaker Melissa and I are not the most “handy” people when it comes to tasks like these…. We had a lot of laughs while we attempted to paint the drum! 

fez medina tour guide

What an incredible feeling, to be crafting a musical instrument in the traditional method, right in this UNESCO heritage site.

painting art vases, morocco market

We learned how to draw blue decorative lines around the jar, using a manual pottery wheel and brush. 

plan it fez morocco tour group

Then, I used a brush to draw X shapes, circles, and other Berber designs. Don’t laugh! It’s harder than it looks to create an even thickness.

(My gold temporary tattoo is from Tattoo You. More designs found below, including a pack of 15 tattoos.)

moroccan children

A child peeked around the corner and watched me work. (Photos by Borderless Media.)

fez medina apartments

I looked up, and saw more children waving at me. They live in apartments that overlook the Medina.

moroccan blue white painted ceramics

My drum is a little shaky, but finished! Our guide suggested that we paint half of it in the traditional way, and half in our own style — so I added a certain Scottish Fold cat.

fez camel hide drum

Filmmaker Melissa completed the other drum, and the two were bound together with camel skin and leather ties. You also have the option of putting goat or fish skin over the drum, which creates different sounds. And of course, you get to take the instrument home with you.

morocco guitars, string instruments

We ended this happy day by playing drums with the musicians. One of them was a percussion marvel — we’ll soon release a video that shows off his skills!

So happy that we were able to experience music and life in the Medina, thanks to our guides Plan-It Fez. I now realize how easy they made it for us to meet artisans and explore the marketplace.

Palais Faraj, Fez 5 star hotel

Time to take a break from the hot weather, and relax back at our glorious Palais Faraj hotel.

I adore Moroccan art and architecture, and staying here felt like being in an enchanted Arabian palace. The front entrance alone is a work of art, with royal horseshoe arches and thousands of colored tiles. 

lavender ombre hair, light purple haircolor

My Egyptian eye and pyramid dress, from Pretty Attitude Clothing, adds to the magic and mystery.

You can shop for more spooky long dresses by clicking below:

luxury fez hotel, palais faraj suites

Palais Faraj is designed by Jean-Baptiste Barian, a famous architect and interior designer known for his Andalusian Arabic style.

moroccan henna on hands

The orange henna on my hands matches the giant double doors. I got henna for the first time in a beauty workshop organized by Plan-It Fez (I’ll show you the entire process, in an upcoming story).

palais faraj suite bedroom, interior

Every room at Palais Faraj is decadent, but nothing beats the Suite Royale, where the Rockefellers stayed. High ceilings, stucco lace, heavy drapes, and even a private terrace that overlooks the Medina.

zellige, moroccan tile pattern floor

The floors and walls are brilliant examples of Moroccan zellige, or terra cotta tiles that are painstakingly set in plaster to form mosaic patterns. 

top morocco luxury hotels

Everything in the hotel reflects the culture and history of Fez. At the same time, the amenities are ultra-modern and WiFi is free.

L'Amandier Palais Faraj, Fes restaurant

Every evening, we looked forward to dinner at L’Amandier Restaurant. As the sun set over the hilltops, we watched the old city light up while we dined on Fassi cuisine (the local flavors of Fez).

moroccan salads, appetizer

My new favorite appetizer: Moroccan salads. The waiter brought out this rainbow spread of vegetarian dishes, including eggplant and carrots in the highest quality honey. We loved this assortment so much that we immediately ordered it the next day.

L’Amandier is one of the top-rated restaurants in the city, and for good reason. The menu included Moroccan favorites such as couscous, tagines and pigeon pastillas, paired with local wines. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, it’s well worth coming here for dinner with a view.

landscape, old medina fes

Palais Faraj treated us to traditional massages and hammans (a steam and scrub, similar to a Turkish bath), which left me smiling.

fez rooftop bar, panorama view

One of my favorite moments: reflecting on life’s possibilities while relaxing at the Sky Bar. There are no words to describe drinking a cocktail made from fresh peaches, while taking in this 360 view of old Fez, and listening to Berber music… Perhaps the St Augustine quote puts it best. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

ancient moroccan market, architecture

Thank you to Palais Faraj Hotel and Plan-It Fez tours for opening up a new chapter in our lives!

fes morocco plates, artwork

Have you been to Morocco, or heard stories from travellers? How did your experiences compare with ours? 

goth fall fashion collage moodboard

PS: I couldn’t resist letting you know about Shopbop’s crazy annual sale. From now to Friday, you get 25% off everything with the code INTHEFAM25! Mosey over to Shopbop’s site to start shopping.

I picked out some of my favorite Gothic fall fashion for you. I’m all about dark lace dresses for holiday parties, and chunky black shoes.  Remember, it’s all on sale!

1) Off the shoulder lace dress with scalloped edges
2) Cameo Gothic dress with embroidered lace and transparent panels
3) For Love and Lemons dress with zig zag mesh panel
4) Rock star buckle boots
5) Black buckle creeper shoes