This year was the 6th year I have celebrated a birthday outside of the USA. My readers know that I’ve spent my last 3 birthdays in Paris, France. This year I had the opportunity to go there again but decided I should give Paris a rest go back to one of my new favorite places: Morocco.
I first visited Morocco a year and a half earlier to attend my friend’s wedding there. She is American and married a Moroccan. I really enjoyed my time there and said I wanted to get back. I mulled it over in my mind for some time but didn’t actually make any arrangements until the week before I left.
I booked my flight and paid the deposit to stay at the hostel that my friend owns. I arrived at the airport in Marrakech and she had a car waiting for me. After a brief ride we arrived at Mama Marrakech. I spent the afternoon walking around, grabbed some lunch and then had dinner catching up with my friends. That evening I booked a trip to the Sahara desert right at the hostel. The “concierge” made a quick call on his cell phone and I was told to be up early as I would be picked up for my excursion between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. They also mentioned that breakfast would be served before we left. SCORE!
That Friday we left bright and early for the desert. After hours of sightseeing along winding roads and driving toward the Sahara desert, we finally arrived to a group of camels. There was no ceremony. We mounted the camels and took off into the desert. At first I was holding on for dear life but by the end of the ride I was taking pictures of my new friends and even snapping selfies!
The next day (my birthday) I rose early to watch the sun rise. I was so relaxed. I was a little sore from hours of camel riding but I felt incredible. The desert does something to you. It’s hard to explain so I recommend everyone to head to Morocco. This birthday definitely topped ALL the others. I had to out-do Paris. Mission accomplished. It will be hard to top this next year.
Until next year ….
My roommate from college has a family beach home at the real jersey shore on Long Beach Island. I was first invited there about 5 years ago. It was during the summer and the island was packed full of people. Everyone was so friendly and nice. and dressed in tank tops and shorts. For the evening, it was a tank top with a hooded sweatshirt on top, and shorts.
My latest invitation to LBI was for Chowderfest 2013. My friend even offered to pick me up in Newark on her way down south. I was so excited to go back to the island. After our road trip we went straight to Kubel’s Too for dinner. We ordered a crab cheese dip for starters and I had the chicken sandwich with cheese and mushrooms. The food was delicious. We did a little more catching up and then fell in and out of sleep pretending to watch a movie in the living room.
The following morning we got up really early to beat the crowd at Marvel’s for donuts. They have a really old-fashioned machine that makes the donuts and there are only about 3 or 4 choices: plain, powdered, cinnamon, and glazed. I had glazed. It was really good. I highly recommend eating donuts for breakfast if you’re going to get them from Marvel’s.
Later we did some shopping and window shopping. All the vendors were set up under large white tents. We were able to find t-shirts and jewelry for good prices. We had lunch at The Chicken or the Egg (locals call it the Chegg). This was also the restaurant for an episode of tv show Man vs. Food. I didn’t have hot wings or anything. I had an amazing breakfast platter for about $8. Dinner was take-out from Barry’s Do Me A Flavor. Another delicious eatery on the island!
Sunday was CHOWDERFEST! I was so excited. Not sure if I was even a chowder fan or not, but what better place to find out? I think I had tasted chowder twice in my life before this day. Chowderfest consists of a “white” tent and a “red” tent. You pay an entry fee and are allowed to taste chowders all day and then vote on your favorite white and red flavors. There is live music and vendors also in the same area. We started at the white tent. After 2 booths, I was a fan of new england clam chowder. We actually tasted all of the flavors except Friday’s. We just weren’t particularly interested in their idea of chowder. Under the red tent, I was not really a fan. There were a couple that had good flavors but I don’t care for manhattan clam chowder. I tried them all though. Afterall, Chowderfest is only once a year and I wanted to be educated on what good chowders should be!
Before we left I cast my votes for Howard’s under the white tent and The Gazebo under the red tent. I later found out that Howard’s won! So I really know white chowder. The Gazebo did not place however, so I am not a red chowder expert. If you are anywhere in the NJ, NY, CT, or PA area, you must go to Chowderfest next October! It is a fun and filling experience.