Morocco or Manchester – why I’m staying local this year

Atlas Mountains

La Palmerie, Marrakech. The first week of January. I’m sitting in a chic, riad-style guesthouse and pondering freelance life.

Palm trees sway above the open roof, Moorish stylings set the mood and a waiter pours mint tea with the extravagant histrionics that come with years of practice.

The setting could ideal but staying in La Palmerie feels like a hollow experience.

Major reservations

Maybe it’s the perennial poser of the travel writer living beyond their budget and finding myself counting secretly Euros while perusing the lunch menu.

Maybe it’s the way a brief stroll outside the ornate gates contrasts raw poverty with the hushed reverence of the dining room back within the compound.

Or maybe it’s the simple fact that there is – dammit – no saleable angle on this place.

Hometown holidays

Before I left for Marrakech, I was reading a post at the blog Tourist vs Traveller. One of Fiona’s resolutions that caught my attention was Fiona’s ideas about hometown tourism.

The much-hated word ‘staycation’ is pure dark arts but there is a lot to be said for building specialist local knowledge and uncovering backyard gems that mainstream media overlook.

The Art of Travel

Then, while feeling underwhelmed in Marrakech, I was re-reading Alain de Botton and thinking about new directions for Hit the North, the previous incarnation of which you can refer back to here.

The waiter poured the tea, the palm trees swayed and dogs howled outside. As the sky darkened, I read the section where de Botton quotes Nietzsche.

‘… we are in the end tempted to divide mankind into a minority of those who know how to make much of little, and a majority of those who know how to make little of much.’

All points North

Manchester Airport

So I decided which way Hit the North will head this year with its new home and reworked format.

From the floods in western Cumbria to regeneration in Blackpool via the new walking trails of North Wales, there’s plenty to talk about right on my doorstep.

A week in Morocco is all very well. But I’ll be making much of little and keeping it close to home this year.



Filed under Tourism

4 responses to “Morocco or Manchester – why I’m staying local this year

  1. Well done for daring to say what few travel writers do: travel can be a “hollow experience”.

    Some hotels and experiences feel like desperate attempts to make something of nothing and make you believe that that particular ‘nothing’ is essential to your wellbeing.

    I’m currently travelling from Brazil to Canada, but after my return to the UK in June I’m seriously contemplating holidaying a lot closer to home – no flights for a few years. The more I travel and see the damage caused by global warming and my rather significant contribution to it (even though I’m travelling overland all the way), the less I want to be a part of international tourism. It’s too guilt inducing. Drought in La Paz whilst I shower in a hostel there, abject poverty in India whilst I lord it, protected from the slums in five-star accommodation – none of this is essential.

    And anyway, home and its surrounds have a hell of a lot to offer. Cheers to that!

  2. Thanks for the blog toot. Really liking that you are experimenting with new ways of doing ‘stuff’. Will you be doing this mostly on the blog do you think? Personal editorial independence really is joyous! Like seeing places through fresh eyes.

  3. Thanks for your comments so far. I’m making a fresh start with this blog and using it as a place to try out some new ideas, so glad you’ll be coming along for the ride.

  4. Pingback: Does anyone still care about tourism in England’s Northwest? | Hit the North

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