Olivia, Middle East Specialist
People watching is one of my guilty pleasures. I’ve always been fascinated by people and their interactions and making my way to other countries and learning about their cultures seemed like a natural extension of this. After my first big trip, which was to South America, I was smitten and was quickly planning my next adventure.
Morocco had been at the top of my list for ages, and last August I squeezed in a month-long journey around the country and loved every minute of it. Since then, I have been lucky enough to return, and, on the same trip, continue on to Jordan, which swiftly stole my heart.
Having worked in recruitment in Newcastle for a number of years, moving back down south was an ideal opportunity for a career change and I allowed my enthusiasm for travel to dictate my career path, joining Audley as a Country Specialist.
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Q&A with Olivia
What’s the best local dish you’ve tasted?
The smell of smouldering coals and grilled fish fills the street in the fish market in Aqaba, Jordan. A road full of fishmongers, each with a little dining area, the fish market is no fine dining experience, however, it offers some of the freshest fish available. The choice is endless, with fishermen bringing crates of fish directly from their boats to the vendors. You choose the fish straight from the ice and watch it being grilled in front of you. Served with chips and local salads, it’s simply unmissable. I had to resort to using my hands to ensure I didn’t miss a thing.
What’s your most vivid travel moment?
Walking around a Moroccan medina is a sensory overload. There’s an overwhelming amount of activity to take in with stallholders haggling with customers, hand-drawn carts rattling by, the smell of grill smoke, rosewater or spices in the air and a profusion of wares to examine. I took a guided tour through the souks in Marrakesh that solidified my love for this high energy Moroccan shopping culture. The narrow streets were overflowing with stalls crammed with vibrant ceramics and handwoven rugs, piles of spices and corridors of lanterns. It was unforgettable and a great introduction to the souks before exploring on my own.
Your best piece of travel advice?
The markets in Morocco have so many tempting souvenirs to bring home I find it impossible to leave without stuffing my suitcases full. If you’re like me, be prepared to embrace the haggling culture, its simply how things are done here. My top tip though, is to get a rough idea of prices from your hotel before going out so you know what prices you’re aiming for.