There is something special about Marrakech. It is charming, colourful, and just the right level of chaotic. There are museums and palaces around the Medina that offer a wonderful respite from the crowds and the merchants while providing insight into Berbere culture and history.

I visited one site a day, enough to break up the maze running through the souks and the luxurious hours spent on various rooftop terraces. I could have filled my days fuller, but I’m trying to do less but better when I travel now. By that I mean that I want to dedicate more time to…

I’m sitting on the rooftop of a local restaurant on the edge of the medina, near my riad. The air smells like fire and mint tea, and it’s an intoxicating mixture.

I have never been to any country in Africa before. Stepping onto a brand new continent is exciting, especially entering a country that I’ve heard such varied stories about. I researched Marrakech more than I’ve researched any city over the past six months of my European adventure. With two European tourists being beheaded mere months ago, I’d me remiss if I didn’t thoroughly look into what I should expect…

A few “European-isms”

  • Police officers playing on their phones and/or smoking while out patrolling on the streets. I understand that they’re humans, but police officers in Canada are so much more discreet about these things. I’ve never seen a Canadian police officer smoking in uniform while strolling down the street. It comes across as so unprofessional.
  • Double-parking in super narrow streets to run in and pick something up from a convenience store or grab dinner. And I don’t just mean picking up a to-go order, I see so many people standing there ordering and waiting for their food to be…

  1. One thing that really makes me miss Canada is how difficult it can be to find the most simple things. I’m used to convenience stores and Walmarts and the constant ease of knowing that it’s almost guaranteed that I will find what I need when I go to a store. Here, I had the damndest time finding a hair brush. If you know me at all, you know that it’s basically an emergency if I don’t have a brush nearby, so the idea of surviving five days without one was one I couldn’t stomach. But do you think it was…

On January 18th, I flew to the city I've been most looking forward to (so far) on my travel itinerary, and Berlin lived up to the hype.

Berlin has a sordid past, but the city has done an incredible job of being as transparent as possible about it. Unlike Madrid, which largely sweeps up its past under a rug, it is impossible to avoid being confronted with the harsh realities of all that has happened in Germany's capital.

One thing I can’t help but notice about the cities of Europe is all the vomit in the steets. Do Canadians just handle their liquor better, or is it because Europeans really know how to party?

I’m not judging, who hasn’t reached that level of intoxication? I did just last Christmas (I blame the shot of tequila coupled with a surprise lapdance and one more shot, but that’s a story for another time). That being said, I was respectful enough to find a garbage can to puke in. Or rather… Six garbage cans.

Europeans, continue partying hard! But at least find garbage cans to aim your projectile vomit into, like a civilized adult.


I’ve been in Europe for five months now. Over this time I have traveled as extensively as my work schedule (and wallet) would allow, I’ve made an incredible friend and met lots of brilliant people, and experienced working in a multinational peace and security environment. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my career aspirations have developed, and I’ve left pieces of my heart in a dozen cities along the way.

Soaking up the sun in Madrid and LOVING it.

Despite all of these positive things, I can’t help but confront myself with the reality that I’m essentially on a six-month vacation from “real" life. The work I’ve been doing…

The Canadians at NATO are really lucky to have a delegation that brings them together on a regular basis in a social setting. On December 1st, about 40 Canadian expats met at HQ early in the morning to hop on a couple of buses to Dusseldorf, a city close to the Belgian border and only a two hour drive away.

Hamburg is a city I’ve never had any interest in and knew nothing about. I knew it was in Germany, but it was shadowed by Berlin and Munich. I had no plan to ever travel here on purpose, but a few days off of work and the cheapest flight from Brussels meant that I was Germany-bound for new year’s eve.

Ashley Materi

Musings of a travel addict.

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