marrakech city guide

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a siblings getaway

Sitting in London, with the rain pecking against the window, I can’t help but miss my brother dearly. Let me preface this post with how beautiful this trip truly was. The Instagrams, Stories, photographs and videos don’t do it justice at all. There was a moment in one of the very dim-lit restaurants where my eyes welled up with how seamless this trip was going and who better to share it than my younger brother. I was going to list all the locations and places to east in this post at first, but realized that a proper digest of every aspect of the trip was probably what would be more appreciated.
 

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day one

We started with checking-into Riad Boussa, which was a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle that was merely a few minutes away from the door. If there was one thing, we were spoiled by how quiet the riad was considering it’s essential location just a short walk away from the main square and the maze of souks. Instead of diving into great lengths about our incredible stay and new friendships with Brigitte and Ali, I will just guide you to the dedicated blog post here… Shortly after dinner, however, we did take a walk through Djemaa el-Fna, a great marketplace where you will find people charming cobras, playing with monkeys, selling food, drawing henna tattoos and more. My friend Diogo, who studied abroad to Morocco, made me promise to have orange juice on the square. Literally pennies, the orange juice was the most fresh, sweetest juice I’ve ever had. That quickly became a daily routine to enrich our vitamin C intake.
 

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what my brother wore

jeans H&M shirt H&M sunnies MAUI JIM
his instagram @SHYDESAI
 

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day two

On our first full day in Marrakech, we were a bit ambitious and wanted to explore and understand as much of the history, culture and politics as much as possible. The best way to do that was actually taking the cooking class at La Maison Arabe. You can find the detailed historical account of the ingredients and culture plus recipes for a full Moroccan feast on my last post from Marrakech right here.

After the class, and a belly full of food prepared by our own hands, we decided to take a walk through the souks and find Cafe des Épices. Climbing the stairs, we knew we were about to be well-impressed. We sat down and immediately ordered a sugary mint tea. And looking to the left we were greeted to a view of the spice market. Though high up, we were able to smells the subtle smell of rose petals, sandalwood, turmeric and cumin. And with the warmth of the sun, it felt like the perfect place to spend a few moments to unwind.

Once refreshed, we took off to the other part of the old city that felt incredibly residential. In between the homes, were significant monuments that brought the country’s heritage to life. We made our first stop Ali Ben Youssef Medresa. We walked down a dark hallway and opened up to an incredible oasis-one of the largest Islamic schools from the 1100s. The intricate details and scriptures are derived from Quranic versus that sits atop stucco, wood and marble forming geometric print called zellig.
 

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and furthermore…

Playing in between all the hallways and student rooms, we made our way down the street and perused the hallways of Maison de la Photographie de Marrakech, which houses a permanent collection of photographs that depict life and society of Marrakech. Just a tip, I advise you go to the terrace for gorgeous views of the Atlas Mountains and a proper coffee too!

We watched the sunset on the terrace of the photography museum and once the sun was pretty much gone, we made our way out and peeked at the metal shops with lanterns all lit up. Each lantern was intricate and gorgeous with stain glass and exotic shapes. And after getting a few little trinkets for mom, we made our way down the street to Le Foundouk. Upon our arrival, we were a bit early, we were greeted by a massive room with high ceilings and lots of seating. At first, I thought the owner was a bit ambitious on filing the space. To our surprise, by the time we sat and enjoyed half a glass of Moroccan Syrah, we looked around and saw that so much of the restaurant was full and there were many more coming in. Traditional menu, we decided to go for some of the seafood dishes and the pigeon pastilla. It was so beautifully decorated and the portions were extremely generous. The seafood was fresh, still salty and uniquely presented. Frederic, the owner made his way around introducing himself from table-to-table and reassured everything was alright, whilst sharing notes with the staff. It was an experience I haven’t had since being in America. The service was unstoppable and the food had just as much to praise.

* * *

Le Foundouk

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what I wore

skirt c/o BODEN top c/o BODEN shoes – green c/o BODEN shoes – beige CASTAÑER sunnies c/o BODEN
 

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day three

We started the day early to avoid the crowds. Many people have been coming to Marrakech on holiday, but what was mostly baffling was people thanking us for visiting when we told them we were American. My experience in the Middle East has always been interesting. Indians usually come as laborers and Americans are hated because of their egotistical behavior. So the welcome was surprising.

But I digress, so we made our way to Palais de la Bahia. A palace from the named after the word, ‘brilliance’, was built in the 19th century to be considered as one of the most extraordinary palaces of its time. Considering today is the 21st century, I was floored by how beautiful and intricate the details were. From one terrace to an open garden, to a courtyard and then an oasis. It was heaven and a nice getaway from the craziness within the souks. Soon after we made our way to Palais el Badi, but I found myself a bit disappointed after perusing the colorful walkway of Bahia. The stone touches and urban corners made this the perfect scene for my brother to enjoy and play with photography a bit. I think what did make this momentous was the view from the terrace that overlooked Marrakech with its winding orange-peach walls and the sounds of the prayer in the distant.
 

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places to shop in the area

bijoux des 4 tribus
riad zitoune jdid no. 52
+212(0) 676 398 763

chabi chic
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what I wore

blouse c/o BODEN jeans c/o BODEN wedges c/o BODEN sunnies c/o BODEN leather jacket HUGO BOSS
 

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the day continued…

After hundreds of photos and exhausted after spending the afternoon directly in the sun, we found our way back to the souks, through the winding “streets” and then were coughed up to the courtyard where Nomad sat. We were taken to the top floor where we had a view of the cafe from the day before and then spice market. And right after we ordered, the call of prayers started and there was nothing to be heard just the prayers. It was majestic and beautiful and felt so different to the everyday life we’re used to as the people working the restaurant continued on with their responsibilities.

We decided to try the cheese from Essarouia, the fish and the lamb. What I found most impressive was that everything was locally sourced and produced. Each ingredient was fresh and each bit felt like Morocco had truly engaged itself culinarily.

* * *

Nomad

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day four

Our last final day was upon us and there was a somber feeling between my brother and I. It meant our time together was coming to an end and hopefully we didn’t have to wait another year to see each other in the flesh. We made our way to Jardin Marjorelle after a bit of haggling with a taxi driver off the main square. Making our way to the garden, the moment we got to the ticket counter we were so surprised by how much it reminded us a bit like Paris. The street signs labeled as Rue Yves Saint Laurent and then the wide courtyard at the entrance with the fountain. As we walked through, pungent and bold colors were splashed on the walls and there was a large cacti garden. It was breathtaking. And to think that right outside those gates was a city that was loud and highly energetic, this space was controlled and quiet. All you could hear were the faint chats of the tourists and the goldfish in the pond swimming fighting with the food the keeper provided them.

After our a long morning at the jardin, we were feeling just a bit peckish yet didn’t want to over do it. So we made our way to the Le Jardin for a light lunch. We grabbed a bunch of starters, an avocado shake and an iced mint tea. The restaurant grounds was in the middle of a garden and a lush green oasis with many turtles casually sauntering around. After an incredible orange blossom creme brulee, we decided it was time to do some souvenir shopping in the souks.

* * *

Le Jardin

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We seemed to find everything we wanted from Souk Semmarine and the places des epices for all our friends and family. They were the easiest to navigate and the easiest to haggle. After literally hours of perusing shop after shop and row after row, we went back to the hotel for a little late afternoon relaxation. Before our final dinner at Le Tobsil.

When the sun went down and we had another orange juice from the square, we made our way to the other part of the city. We walked into this dim lit alleyway that wasn’t quite so inviting. After a right and then possibly a left a couple of times we made our way to a door with an overpass that even had me ducking. The room opened up to what seemed like a palace. So intimately decorated with rosepetals, nothing but candles and live Berber music-it was the moment where I knew it was going to be a pretty epic dinner.

what I wore

dress c/o BODEN shoes c/o BODEN clutch c/o BODEN belt c/o BODEN
 

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proper luxury moroccan experience

It was a set menu with non-stop flowing drinks and not a pretentious wine list to choose from (only “red, white or rose”). We had the rose as we weren’t sure what we would be served, so it seemed appropriate. People gradually trickled in and there was literally only 8 people, with my brother and I easily being 30 years younger than everyone. At the moment everyone was seated, the first course of 6 different types of salads came out. Moroccan cuisine is known for its array of warm and cold salads, so it was nice to try something outside the roasted aubergine and dig into a variety. Some were set, some spicy, some flowery and some became a quick favorite. And we couldn’t even finish all the salads and by the next point chicken tagine wrapped in a pancake was served. It was absolutely lush. The chicken literally falling off the bone and the light pancake with the crunchy edges made the experience so unique for something we have never encountered before.

Le Tobsil

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The third course came out and I saw another tagine. I looked at my brother and said that there must have been a mistake, but in reality, the lamb was the next course. A slow roasted lamb tagine served with a beautiful couscous that was topped with roasted vegetables and caramelized onions. There was lots to eat, but we ate the meal like kings. Then the final course… of the two desserts. The poached fruit with pears, oranges and strawberries. The orange peel help sweetened everything and it made for a stunning poached recipe and entry to the orange blossom milk pastilla. We started our trip with these two desserts at Riad Boussa and were excited to end on the same sweet note.
 

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moroccan feast with La Maison Arabe

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culinary adventure

My parents cultivated a strong loving bond with my brother and I around the kitchen island. Our home growing up had an open plan kitchen, breakfast nook and family living room-and even the most important guests that came to visit would still be invited to sit in the family room, where we felt the most comfortable and where my mom could seamlessly prepare an incredible multi-course meal whilst entertaining.

My fondest childhood memories always included food, something prepared by the hands of my parents, and still today they tend to cook together. It’s what brings us together…

On mine and my brother’s first full day in Marrakech, we were invited by La Maison Arabe to a private cooking class that truly was unforgettable. Since I lived in the Middle East, I attempted to cook Moroccan ravines, but this 1-day class provided a thorough (thoughtfully done with brevity) course on the derivatives of Moroccan cuisine. What made it truly special from any other cuisine in the world.
 

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base spices & herbs

Moroccan cuisine is a combination of Berber, Arab, Jewish (think preserved lemon) and Moorish (the Islamic empire from Spain) cuisines. The spice trade to colonialism to the tribes have all influenced the gastronomy of such a rich country.

Bread being the fork and knife of the cuisine, you can see where colonialist elements seeped into the Moroccan traditions.

You will find black and white pepper used brought from India, dried and ground ginger that is slightly sweet and subtly spicy, turmeric for color, dried cumin for salads and omelettes and lamb, sweet paprika, harissa chili for a touch more of spice, cinnamon to caramelize dried fruits and onions, ras el hanout is the garam masala of the country with each family and region with its own variations, saffron for a royal layer, orange blossom in the desserts as well as rosewater and argan oil.
 

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what I wore

top c/o BODEN skirt c/o BODEN shoes c/o BODEN sunglasses c/o BODEN

The moment we started cooking in the tagine, a conical clay pot from North Africa that traditionally was cooked inside a baker’s oven is conical clay pot that is filled with meat, dried fruits and spices to create an entree. The aromas of each ingredient flirted with the next ingredient that was added into the tagine. The pungent olive oil, the onion then the garlic. This is the moment where I wish my photos had scratch-and-sniff capabilities.

* * *

La Maison Arabe

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the menu

Moroccan cuisine is known for its assortment of salads, not just the ravines. For the winter months you will find salads that are warm and more hearty. In the warmer months, more pickling is done. We made 2 salads:

taktuka salad

which is a tomato and pepper salad that is earthy and natural. I found extremely refreshing and lovely with extra olive oil.

zaalook salad

a warm aubergine salad with garlic. Not being too big of an aubergine fan, my brother devoured it everytime we had it during the trip.

* * *
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Print on a 3 x 5 index card setting and store with the rest of your recipes.
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chicken tagine with preserved lemon & olives

For our entree, we made a chicken tagine with preserved lemon and olives. This dish drew elements from all the communities that makes the populace so unique in Morocco. With preserved lemon from the Jewish heritage, to saffron from the Spanish Islamic empire, to the olives of the Mediterranean influence. It was a refreshing dish for a warm afternoon meal.

milk pastilla

Finally, the dessert was the milk pastilla. A slightly floral flavored, milky dessert that was topped with almonds, cinnamon and powdered sugar. It was a very simple dessert that had my brother asking for it for breakfast each morning too.

* * *
You can right click on the recipe card to save directly to your computer.
Print on a 3 x 5 index card setting and store with the rest of your recipes.
For more recipe, visit the recipe index here!
 

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time for adventure

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Marrakech with my little brother

We got into an SUV where the driver greeted us with Justin Bieber on the car stereo. We asked him if he could change the station to something in Arabic and the light in his eyes made him really excited to turn something more of his liking on.

Just about 10 minutes into the drive we started seeing bits of the Koutoubia and then horse carriages that lined the lane leading up to Djema el-Fna. We got out of the car and were greeted by a sweet, old Berber man that started walking us through a bustling square. Enchanted snakes on the left, monkeys on the right, men selling selfie sticks and the smell of citrus and schwarma perfumed the air. The square’s edges were ornamented with petit tables and chairs where tourists perched watching the energy evolve and seep into the little arteries that bled into the souks.

Once we hit the opposite end of the square, we entered little streets where markets, cyclists, old women carrying fresh bread from the market all shared little broken pavements. It was worrying at first, but it transported me back to the shanty streets of Jodhpur!
 

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what I wore

dress c/o RIVIERA CHIC belt c/o ANTHROPOLOGIE necklace c/o JLAUREN

And the little streets, opened up to residential areas where you couldn’t hear a thing but the little saunters of the local people living their everyday life. And then came a door marked with Riad Boussa. After three-knocks, Brigitte opened the door and the smile on her warm, friendly face reassured we were going to be just fine.

Each welcome came with mint tea, a sit on the edge of the courtyard that overlooked the small man-made pond in the middle that collected rose petals. We were shown around the riad, essentially a home turned into an intimate hotel, and then situated into our rooms. The rooms were comfortable and quiet, what we sought after walks through the souk to get here. And after a bit of freshening up, we made our way downstairs to dinner.

We were introduced to Ali, another friendly soul in the riad who quickly became one of our close friends and a proper face of what we will remember Marrakech by. He urged us to try the Vin Gris, a Moroccan-produced wine, which tickled our tastebuds to excite us for our first meal in Marrakech (which easily became the best meal we had during the trip).
 

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and so it began…

The first course was a sample platter of Moroccan starters. A warm aubergine salad with garlic, sautéed courgette with preserved lemon and a briouats (meat filled pastry). Light, full of flavor and fresh. The fresh produce got me excited after a winter spent in the UK. Our second course was a chicken tagine with raisins and onions. I started with a fork, but quickly realized that I will need a spoon to eat the entree. The softest and most tender pieces of chicken on the bone, a spoonful of the slightly sweetened broth topped with a helping of raisins-it was a delicacy that I wanted to be served if I had to choose a last meal. My brother, sitting across from me, looked me straight into the eye and said “it will be hard to top this.” And it was.

Before dessert was served, we looked around and listened. Not a chirp from a bird, but just the sound of the fountain and faint North African jazz playing in the background. There was light fighting to get through the holes of a lantern and it was at that moment I finally felt like I was in Marrakech.

Riad Boussa was a blessing. To start this trip with the warmth and service they provided would not have given us the first impression we anticipated. A luxury experience without the superfluous bits and the perfect amount of keeping you excited each day to explore the vibrant, and unbelievable city.
 

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Riad Boussa

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Special thanks to Riad Boussa for providing the incredible hospitality, all opinions and thoughts are my own, as always.
 

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volume eleven

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page-by-page

blouse c/o JOULES silk eye mask STEPHIE ANN DESIGN

I’ll be honest and I sorta fell off the bandwagon and got sucked into Netflix and avoided picking up a book for a good while. I guess when it’s cold, all you want to do is cozy up with a big blankie and comfortable pajamas. I found transitioning into winter so hard, that turning pages seemed like so much work because exposing any part of my skin to my weakly heated flat seemed a bit too much of an investment in a book. No lie.

Anyways, over the last several months I did read a few books, but fallen into the podcast world too {more on that in another post} and I think curating a little collection of books that I’ve read for future literary lust posts seems more logical rather than sharing the thoughts on one book… but I digress…
 

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The Power

AUTHOR NAOMI ALDERMAN

One of my favorite reads of high school was Orwell’s 1984 and my favorite of university was The Handmaid’s Tail by Margaret Atwood. I came across the power in a chat I was having with one of my St. Andrews friends who was a very big fan of Atwood. Alderman’s The Power is a bit of the mix of the former two books I mentioned, a dystopian world where woman develop an electrifying power that disrupts the symbiosis of modern society. The plot follows the story of multiple characters around the world in varied situations.

Without giving away too much, I had a love/hate relationship with this book-this was not a soft, elusive, passive aggressive look at gender equality, but a proper view of society forcing the reader to question the status quo and the world that we live in. From examples of the Muslim World, to promoting protests and movements-it was raw and it was exhilarating. Power is a tangible subject here and they way it is utilized and controlled is the very notion that is materialized here.
 

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Basti

AUTHOR INTIZAR HUSSAIN

I picked this one up right before I went to India, but didn’t get to properly read it until after my trip. It’s actually a Pakistani novel that is so beautifully written that I think I’m going to hold onto it with my Lolita novel as the language could truly enhance the language here on c&é (even though it was translated).

Looking back on the divide between India and Pakistan, Zakir is separated from the love of his life and continues to undergo trauma and the hostility that comes with the birth of a new nation. The plot encompasses the present, memory, dream and mythology-beautifully tying in all aspects of the Partition between India-Pakistan. What makes it interesting, however, is that the novel was written in 1979 during the Bangladesh’s war of independence from Pakistan.

”When the world was still all new, when the sky was fresh and the earth was not yet soiled,
when trees breathed through the centuries and ages spoke in the voices of birds, how astonished
he was, looking all around, that everything was so new, and yet looked so old.”

I’ve read many books and watched films on the Partition and the only difference I really sensed from Basti versus the rest was the prose. A little treat to the genre of historical fiction.
 

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Spark Joy

BY MARIE KONDO

Just to preface this book and the one after, Messy, I only really was interested in reading Marie Kondo’s work to see what all the fuss was about. Messy was a nice competitor to Kondo’s teachings. I’m a minimalist and I am very content with what I have. It’s definitely not hard for me to let go of something, but I’ve never been someone who is attached to material possessions merely because I’ve moved around a lot, lost things on the way, thrown away bags of clothes-it’s really just fine. I guess I’m the anti-blogger, huh?

I loved Kondo’s teachings though. I understand the importance of a tidy space and a world where you don’t need to have to materialize to be happy, but the purpose of her teachings behind this book was to question if something actually “sparks joy”-if it doesn’t, get rid of it. There were cases where I thought, “a took kit doesn’t make me happy, but I do need it.” She addresses that and a lot more. It’s funny because after reading just the first 30 pages or so, I noticed that I was questioning what I had in my room. And though I already have things that make me quite content, it reminded me that everything I have is beautiful and purposeful in its own way-and there is something so beautiful about that.
 

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Messy

BY TIM HARFORD

Though I’m not a messy person, extremely organized in fact, I found this book a joy to read! Harford takes real life samples of messy sitautions and/or environments that real life people have been in and how it has helped them in return. Using examples from a roster so impressive including Brian Eno, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs and more.

I think the underlying message was that even in time of chaos, something wonderful can materialize as your mind is stimulated and functioning in way that can only be advantageous to you. Honestly, a great book for a present and even more exciting read.
 

concrete jungle

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CREATED FOR

J. LAUREN

dress c/o ANTHROPOLOGIE sunnies c/o BODEN purse GIFTED shoes c/o DOROTHY PERKINS

* * *

To feed off of my previous post on about winning and losing at the flatmate lottery in London, cities are extremely dynamic and the people you meet are what engines that. Each person’s priorities, hobbies and interests are drastically different. When I first moved to London, making friends all over again was something I never had to do before. City-hopping in the US was easy as networks had contact to connect me with and there was always a mutual friend or someone I knew. London was the wild and I was just one specimen trying to find the means of fitting and doing my thing.

Making friends was a lot of trial-and-error. I would meet someone and be introduced to someone via them and then realized that the initial “social relationship” was just not what I was looking for. For example, I met my friend Sofiya through an event I was invited to organized by another friend. I realized the other friend who organized it was just not cutting it in terms of what I was looking for and went off on a bestie-affair with Sofiya. See? Lots of trial-and-error.

As time went on, and considering my interest lies in everything that the universe has to offer, I sought close relationships with groups of people. And just like my work calendar, my social calendar has proliferated to the point where weekends become slightly hectic. My approach to the social jungle in cities is quite easy:
 

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different groups of friends

There are times I want to just relax in a cafe and enjoy a piece of cake with a pretty setting, so I tend to do that with blogger friends. Other times I want to have an overindulgent dinner, so I tend to hit up foodie friends. Based on my igniting senses, I tend to embrace certain groups of friends. That has helped undermine inevitable drama and getting tired of people.

draining people

Cut them out or take a major step back. I had a friend come to me about their same issue constantly over the span of 6 months. No matter how much I tried to help, that friend was just not listening. It was becoming exhausting and ended up having negative affects on my personal life. I decided to remove that person, keeping conversation at a minimum/wrapping it up quickly, and things have never been better. Eventually, I will let that person in and it will be more of a catch-up and back to the friendship we once had.
 

{concrete jungle} via chevrons & éclairs
{concrete jungle} via chevrons & éclairs

stick to your schedule

I used to be the type of person that would cut someone out after being late once. Until I moved to London, I realized I couldn’t really afford to do that since I knew literally 3 people. Since then, I adapted the strategy that if someone is late to something important to me (read: work event), I don’t invite them again. If someone is late to just a personal catch-up, I stick to the allotted time I have with that person. Recently, I had brunch with a friend who was 30 minutes late. We were to meet roughly from 12pm-2pm. I kept the brunch until 2pm, but that just meant we had 30 minutes less. This made her realize pretty quickly that I value my time as well.

choose wisely

This may sound extremely selfish, but I tend to stick with people who are uplifting, encouraging, and/or people you can learn from. You must be open-minded yourself and once you are, you will find the beauty and intelligence in each person. I have a group of friends who are younger than me, but their careers are very different from mine and it makes for interesting weeknight dinner conversations.

don’t change

I will admit that I changed my personality just for a little bit over the summer to align with someone I was hoping to get closer to. That failed miserably and in reality I noticed that I didn’t actually enjoy being around myself or that person. I crave fun, intelligent, energetic conversations and that should be what I look for in each friendship.
 

{concrete jungle} via chevrons & éclairs
{concrete jungle} via chevrons & éclairs
{concrete jungle} via chevrons & éclairs