Blog Tour: Culture Smart! Greece and Morocco Guides

Today my little blog is the stop for the Culture Smart! blog tour, as they have two new guides coming up Bhutan and Nicaragua, and also new editions on Greece, Austria, Chile, Hong Kong, South Africa, Hungary, and Morocco.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post about my giveaway for the Portugal guide where I also wrote a mini review:

If like me you are the kind of person who loves to learn more about the country you are visiting, this is the guide for you. If like me even when you can’t really afford to travel you still love learning about other cultures, this is the guide for you too.

This guides are like a mini crash course in the cultures and customs of the country, so they are perfect to give you a sense of what to expect when travelling there.

The beginning of the year is usually the perfect time to get together with your partner and decide where you will travel to, especially because in January there are amazing travel deals going on. My boyfriend and I have different ideas of travelling, I love the idea of backpacking and immersing myself in the culture of the country, while he prefers a nice hotel, to relax and with planned excursions. He has a very demanding job so we tend to compromise (not that I need much convincing if a pool is nearby!) and we have had great holidays so far.

With that in mind, when I looked at the list of guides to choose from for this blog tour I asked him to pick two places where he would like to go. No surprise when he picked Greece, as we loved it when we visited Corfu some years back and we talk about coming back again quite often. However, I was very surprised when he selected Morocco (I think my sense of adventure is rubbing off on him), as it’s not a place he ever mentioned to me that he wanted to go to. He said he was very curious to learn more about it and this made me really happy because since I was about 13 years old I was fascinated by the culture during a Brazilian telenovela called O Clone (The Clone, which was set in the country), and I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco.

Alright, I will stop rambling and move on to the point of this post. I wanted to check if after reading both guides if we would be more inclined to go back to Greece on a holiday or if we will try something new and different and decide to go to Morocco.

I actually know quite a lot about the history of both countries so I felt that I wasn’t learning anything new, but for anyone that hasn’t studied classic literature and cultures, or had an unhealthy obsession with Morocco due to a telenovela, these guides have such nice little snippets of History in them.

It will help you turn your visit into a memorable and enriching experience. Contents include:

  • local customs and traditions
  • the impact of history, religion and politics
  • the Greeks/Moroccans at home, work and play
  • eating and drinking, Greek/Moroccan style
  • dos, don’ts, and taboos
  • business practices
  • communication, spoken and unspoken

and many practical tips for managing the unexpected.

With the Morocco guide I got drawn into the Fitting In bit of the guide.  I believe that when visiting a country we should try our best to respect the country’s culture and customs. I’m very glad I made sure to check that part of the guide, because I had no idea that tattoos where haram (forbidden in Islam), and for that reason they need to be covered up. I have two ‘visible’ tattoos, they can easily be covered up but they are also in areas that you don’t really want to cover up when in a hot climate.

My boyfriend made sure to check the Food and Drink section, while I drooled at every single thing, being a picky eater himself he was slightly worried about how he would cope with the food there. He was glad to know that there seems to be quite easy to find a KFC in the vicinity!

The section we both loved was the Festivals and Celebrations. We especially loved the idea to travel in June during the time of the Cherry Festival and the National Folklore Festival. We think it would be a great way to enjoy the culture to its fullest.

When it came to check the Greece guide we wanted to find if there was anything new that will give us a good reason to comeback. For those who don’t know it yet, my handsome man is also very much a train geek. So when he sees a section in the guide with the following: Trains – A Secret World, I knew that Morocco would lose a few points with that one. Yes, his idea of fun is steam trains or in this case it would be the old timer’s trains, the slow ones with rickety carriages.

I find that Greek culture is very similar to mine, all Mediterranean countries have some similarities, in particular awesome people and good food! The fact that I have been there once before, the reason to go back would probably be due to its food and history. Greek food was so delicious and I’m sure there is still a lot I haven’t tried. If we do go back to Greece I know I would like to go to the mainland instead, somewhere like Athens where we could visit more historical places would be lovely.

In the end, these guides gave us so much more information about these lovely countries. I would still pretty much prefer to go somewhere new like Morocco, even though I have a bit of an added concern about my tattoos. However, my boyfriend can’t forget how lovely Greece was and now wants to do the whole of Greece by train!

Wherever we decide to go, we feel that we have more inside knowledge than before due to Culture Smart! to make an informed decision and would definitely recommend these guides for any travellers out there.

You can get Culture Smart! guides at Amazon and at culturesmartbooks.co.uk

Thanks Culture Smart! for sending me the ARC’s of Greece and Morocco in exchange for my honest review, and also for providing the Portugal giveaway guide that will be in the safe hands of our winner Nicola.

Safe travels!

*FangirlSince1988 xxx

Giveaway & Mini Review: Culture Smart! Portugal Guide

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To celebrate my first blog tour with Culture Smart! coming up on the 6th of January, I’m also hosting a giveaway for one of their lovely essential guides to customs and culture. Being Portuguese and all I thought it would be cool to do a giveaway of one of their awesome guides on Portugal.

These guides aren’t your typical guides. It’s not a language and phrase book guide or a places to go type of guide, but more a mini guide into our culture and customs. Like a crash course in how to be Portuguese!

If like me you are the kind of person who loves to learn more about the country you are visiting, this is the guide for you. If like me even when you can’t really afford to travel you still love learning about other cultures, this is the guide for you too.

I had a quick look at the Portugal guide and I think that they got most of it right. The reason I say “most of it” is because the guides are of course generalised and not everyone fits into a specific mould of their own country. Even though I don’t see myself in some of the things mentioned I recognise that it does indeed portray the majority of our population.

The thing I must disagree is when it says that we appear unfriendly to strangers to begin with, because I have had a lot of British people telling me that their favourite thing about visiting Portugal (after the beaches and the food!) was how friendly and welcoming the Portuguese people were. With that in mind I think it’s fair to say we are very suspicious people, and even though we are welcoming, I assure you that we are trying to figure out if you are a good egg or not. I also completely agree that the easiest way to blend in is by joining us at the table! We will show you how to love the simple things in life! Like eating and drinking!

That is why my favourite section in the Portugal guide has to be the Time Out section. Mostly because it goes on about our food! I’m telling you it’s freaking delicious. If there is one thing I miss a lot when I go back home it would be the food. Oh, and the family of course! We live our lives around food, you wake up for breakfast thinking of what to cook for lunch then having lunch and thinking what to have for dinner. And before bed we may just gather around for a glass of milk and some cake (no wonder I’m overweight! Totally worth it!).

I also adore that the guide includes my absolute favourite historical love story of Dom Pedro and Inês de Castro.

“Dom Pedro and Inês de Castro were Portugal’s real-life Romeo and Juliet. Inês de Castro a beautiful Spanish noblewoman become lady-in-waiting for Constance of Castile when the latter traveled to Lisbon in 1340 to marry Dom Pedro, the crown prince and heir to the Portuguese throne. Dom Pedro and Inês fell in love, and though Pedro’s father, King Afonso IV, banished her from the court, their love affair continued. When Constance died in 1345, Dom Pedro settled with Inês in Coimbra, where she bore him four children. Afonso maintained his opposition to the relationship and, in his son’s absence, had Inês murdered. Distraught with grief and anger, Dom Pedro led a rebellion against his father, and on his death, when he was crowned king in 1357, had his lover’s assassins murdered and tore their hears out with his bare hands. This tragic and romantic story is a favourite among the Portuguese, and has been featured widely in classical Portuguese literature.”

The guide however only tells the real story, as guides should do! But I do love the haunting and legend part of their love story. There is a gorgeous place you can go visit called Quinta das Lágrimas, which is believed to be where Inês de Castro was assassinated. Upon her tragic death her tears formed the Fonte das Lágrimas (Fountain of Tears) where at the bottom of the Fountain in the water, you can still see the bloody stained rock. There are also stories about hearing a woman crying in the area, making people believe that the place is haunted to this day by her ghost. Even though I have never encountered the crying ghost of Inês de Castro, I can vouch for the blood stained rock.

The guide is full of little gems like that and is an absolute must for all travel enthusiasts or for anyone with a keen interest in other cultures.

I guess you are now wondering how you can win the guide? All you have to do is follow me and Culture Smart! on Twitter and RT the tweet bellow. It’s open internationally, except for Portugal for obvious reasons. Please no giveaway accounts.

This giveaway closes on the 5th of January at 3pm GMT. The winner will be announced on the 6th of January, the day of my Blog Tour with Culture Smart!, where I will be reviewing their upcoming new guides on Greece and Morocco.

Safe travels!

*FangirlSince1988 xxx

P.S.: Enjoy bellow some snaps taken by yours truly in Portugal.