Morocco inspired me to start blogging
Surprised? If you have been to Morocco, you are probably not surprised that this beautiful and interesting country inspired me to start this blog. I love exploring new places and to destinations less traveled. Lately, it seems when I go to a place less traveled, it starts picking up with tourism. Examples include my travels to Colombia in Spring 2016, Cuba in Spring 2016, and Morocco in Fall 2017. I have seen lots of interest in people wanting to travel to Morocco since my trip. So here we go...
Morocco is one country that will have a piece of my heart always. It was the first Muslim country I visited. We flew into Marrakech and stayed at a couple of Riads throughout the medina to see behind the doors to these beautiful accommodations. One of my favorites was El Fenn. The owner is Richard Branson’s sister, Vanessa Branson. The staff members are very friendly and accommodating. The rooms are plush with Moroccan style. The rooftop has a tasty lunch pre-fixe along with some personal pools to soak in. Marrakech has a buzz about it.
There are beautiful accommodations, never ending souk markets, and some tasty meals. Plus, the proximity to the Sahara Desert and to some chill vibe coastal towns make it an easy place to fly into and explore Morocco’s vast country whether you have 5 days or 2 weeks. While in Marrakech, be sure to dine rooftop. We enjoyed Terrasse des Epices for dinner with the classic dish of Morocco – tagine. Their lantern lights were IG worthy. For lunch we enjoyed taking a break from shopping the souks to eat rooftop at NOMAD.
There are so many beautiful tile and mosaic buildings in Marrakech. A few to explore are: Ben Youssef Madrasa, Bahia Palace, and Badi Palace. Be sure to take a break from the busy medina and take in some peace and beautiful gardens at Le Jardin Secret. Another way to unwind from the busy medina is to take part in a hammam. The most amazing spa day for me was at La Mamounia. Now I couldn’t afford the $800+ per night price tag, but I could see the grounds and indulge in the most beautiful spa of my life. You will leave feeling squeaky clean.
From Marrakech, we headed to the Sahara Desert with Mouhou Tours Company. The trek takes you through Dades Valley via the High Atlas Mountains, the heritage site of Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, African Hollywood of Ouarzazate, and berber villages. Once we arrived in Dades Valley we sat poolside to enjoy the night in peace and quiet. The next day we trekked from Dades Valley to the desert. This had us stopping at Todra Gorges which was a beautiful canyon then onto the desert where we took camels to our campsite. It was sunset, and the sand looked like gold flakes. The camp was way better than I could have imagined. We had running water! They fed us a Moroccan meal and we hung out by the campfire listening to our guides play instruments and sing. Waking up the next morning in the desert, we packed up and rode out to start our trek north to Fes.
The journey to Fes from the Sahara had us stop in Midelt for lunch, then through the cedar forest where there are wild monkeys you can stop and feed, the last area we stopped at was the ski resort area of Morocco which is known as “Little Switzerland” in Ifrane. Once we arrived in Fes, I was feeling exhausted and starting to feel sick. The bustling city was overwhelming to me. The medina is easy to get lost in compared to Marrakech and the people were more aggressive. I was also coming down with a head cold or sinus cold. We hired a local guide through our Riad to take us through the medina and talk about some of the history there. We also took in the souks and tanneries which seemed to focus on leather, lanterns, and trinkets.
Again, like Marrakech, get to a rooftop to eat. We enjoyed lunch at Café Clock where they serve the famous camel burger and dinner at Dar Roumonia which was a fine dining experience in Morocco. From Fes, we continued north towards Chefchaouen, known as the blue city in Morocco. The first thing I noticed about this beautiful mountain city is that most of the shopkeepers were women. That was not what we were familiar with when in Marrakech and Fes. This city has many rumors as to why it is painted blue. I would suggest you ask your Riad staff or host as to why and see what answer they provide.
While in Chefchaouen, do yourself a favor and visit Local Berbere Artisanal rug shop. Now, if you came to Morocco to purchase a rug, this is the place to do it. We sat in the shop for hours looking at all sorts of rugs and decided on two. Then the negotiations take place which typically include a solid 30 minutes to over an hour with many cups of mint tea or nous nous from the owner. We happily found a price we were willing to pay for the two rugs and were on our way further north to the coastal city of Tangier. We made it in time for sunset, and our driver insisted we see it inside this cave by the ocean. Take 5 minutes to walk down and around this cave to an opening to the ocean that is the shape of Africa. It was a very cool sight and perfect timing as the sun was setting right in the middle of the Africa shape. We ended up staying in Asilah, another beach coastal town before trekking back to Marrakech for our final night before leaving Morocco.
All the sites we saw throughout the country from medinas to mountains to desert to valleys to coast were remarkable. On top of that, we had two amazing Moroccan drivers that we were able to learn about the country and culture. My boyfriend also got to discuss politics and religion, which he loves to do in all countries we travel to. All in all, it is a country I want to go back to and explore more of. For now, I will have the memories, stories, and pictures to reminisce on.stories, and pictures to reminisce on.