The experience at the airport was tiresome but our jovial driver Haji, made up for it with his good humor during the long drive. Being the biggest city in Morocco, Casablanca is gritty. I’d say a confluence of Cairo’s Arabic essence and Mexico City’s energy. It is also well known as the city encircling the famous Hassan II Mosque.
After I booked our trip to Turkey, I started researching the lamps I was looking for. I realized that they weren't Turkish lamps at all. They were Moroccan lamps. Oh boy, I should've done my research first. So, now I had some explaining to do to my hubby. "So, the lamps aren't Turkish, they're Moroccan. We need to go to Morocco," I said. He laughed, "And you already booked our trip to Turkey? Ok, well, what are we going to do?" This is where I'm grateful to be married to a man who embraces my crazy. "We're going to Morocco, too. I'm going to add it to our trip," I replied.
#SwipeRightToTravelI was in Morocco for a month, volunteering for an organisation called Rotaract. I also got the chance to explore the colourful place, and got to learn about their culture, which is a charismatic confluence of spanish, arabic and african cultures.Travelling through the cascading blue waterfall of Akchour, the majestic desert of Sahara in Merzouga, the snow capped mountains of Efran, the blue city of Chefchaouen, or the black beach escape of Essouira, Morocco has everything a traveller is looking for.During my travels there, I once stayed in a hostel in the Medina of Rabat. The Medina is basically the old city, or the market, and every big city in Morocco has its own Medina. That was where I met John. John Rocher Sorriano, 19 years old (same as myself) was a Spanish computer science student who was backpacking alone through morocco for 2 weeks. Our shared love of travel, drones and books got us talking, and soon, we were sitting at the rooftop, drinking Moroccan mint tea, and talking about life. We talked about politics and trump and science and travel and hobbies and jokes and love. He shared his stories of using Tinder to meet his current 3 year long girlfriend. I told him about my ex girlfriend. He told me all about his travels in morocco, and we talked about how travelling broadens your horizons. We talked about books so much. Meeting a person from a different continent, who had found pleasure in the same books you did, is a truly poetic moment. We laughed together till we couldn't stop, and he talked and I listened and I talked and he listened. It didn't matter we came from, but where we were. Our countries don't define us, our actions do. I was not an Indian, and he was not Spanish. We were just two guys hanging out. It was for one fleeting moment in time that we forgot their past and were engrossed in the moment, enjoying the warmth of the tea in the cold night.The next morning, we decided to go surfing. The hostel provided surfing lessons, and it was the first time for both of us. Waddling through the water, following the instructions, getting our stance right, it was difficult, yet amazing. Being our first time, just standing on the surf board was a big thing, and at the end of two hours, we finally nailed it. It was exhilarating. We clicked some photos after that, and he then had to go to Meknes, another city. We exchanged numbers, facebook, but we both knew, in our hearts that this was most probably the last time we were gonna see each other. His thoughts on religion and science had made me think. We'd shared pristine moments when we were learning to surf together. It was goodbye after all. It wasn't like crying and sentimental, it was two mature adults realising that not all things are meant to last forever. We understood each other. And that made it even better.One of the hardest parts of travel is knowing that you're gonna meet people who're gonna influence you in ways you've never imagined, and then you're never gonna see them again for the rest of your life. My father had once said to me, "Some friends last for a lifetime, and some friends last for a season, and that's okay." John was there for just 2 days, but it is an injustice to the experience if I try to put into words the simple yet defining moments we shared.
Tangier is a crowded city with a small but nice Medina (means city, the old city) close to the coast and a great spot called Hafa Cafe with the Mediterranean sea in front of you while you drink a cup of mint tea. From the CouchSurfer living room we were staying in ,we were pretty fortunate to look at this beautiful view of Tarifa (Spain) and Gibraltar in front.
Known as a good side trip from Fes, Meknes was the next spot on our schedule. It is also renowned for the many creations of Moulay Ismail, the most popular of them being Bab Mansour, which is a great gateway.
Mystical and magical Essaouira, history breathes hauntingly through the streets of this town. Dark, small alleys and the many arches whisper tales of times long gone by and it only needs a little imagination to visualise the caravan trade from sub-Saharan Africa that once arrived in this eighteenth century port. Essaouira has inherited a wonderful blend of cultural influences from the diverse ethnical groups that have inhabited the town.
After breakfast in your riad, you will leave for the southeast following the Caravan roads to Merzouga. During this journey you’ll experience glimpses of the Middle Atlas and Higher Atlas mountains. Stopping in the Cedar forest, the largest in Morocco, over the Middle Atlas Mountains– where you may well see Barbarian apes. After lunch in Midelt, you will continue through the large, high desert, and notice how the scenery changes to reveal hints of the desert as you approach the city Errachidia. Your journey continues along the luxuriant Ziz Valley and the Tafilalet date palm grove, famous for date cultivation. This area is the foundation of the Alaouite dynasty - the current ruling royal family in Morocco. You’ll arrive at Merzouga at the end of the afternoon – to be welcomed with a glass of mint tea before you check in to your riad.
As we got down from the bus and walked towards the Bab Souk, we noticed a lot of hustle bustle at the main square. The vegetable market had been set-up and the locals were haggling for a fair bargain of groceries & fish. We dragged our tiny carry-on suitcases and meandered through vendors, people, cats and dogs at the main square and entered the Bab Souk - the main gate or entrance to the Medina. Suddenly, we could feel a sort of calmness building up, as if we were entering another world. There were a thousand shades of blue and white coloured traditional Moroccan houses with beautifully decorated doors along the narrow alleys..... Chefchaouen, was magical, to say the least.
We decided to spend the Sunday afternoon in Assilah a small and cozy town, long time ago belong to Portuguese and yes, you see Portuguese influence in the buildings. Just to visit one afternoon is enough, but if you need a retreat of one week this is a great place to relax and renovate energies.
After breakfast in the hotel, we’ll drive through the Dades Valley towards Kalaat Mgouna and Ouarzazate. The route through Dades Valley is the way of the thousand Kasbahs – providing numerous opportunities to take some of your best photography shots of the trip. We’ll stop at Kalaat Mgouna, "the rose city", to purchase rosewater, which will make your linen smell good for a long time after your trip is over. Continue to Marrakech via the Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah. Built by Et Hami El Glaoui, one of the last Berber chieftains during the 18th century, now the Kasbah is a house of many Glaoui people. Your journey will continue through the majestic Tizi n'Tichka Pass (2260m) over the High Atlas Mountains, before arriving at your accommodation in Marrakech.
Far beyond Marrakech and across the High Atlas Mountains lies a world of a thousand Kasbah’s, green palm oases and yellow desert sand.The picturesque scenery of the landscape and the sweetness of the friendly locals is enough to win you over.
Did you know that you can ski in Morocco? It takes about an hour and a half to drive from the heart of Marrakech to the ski resort of Oukaimeden. From Dar Zohra it is just forty minutes but you may want to make a few stops to marvel at the fantastic scenery along the way! For those not so much into skiing it is still a very worthwhile day trip to this beautiful winter wonderland. On a clear day the horizons of the High Atlas Mountains are spectacular.
Imilchil is a village where Imilchil Wedding Festival takes place every year .The collective wedding ceremony takes place on the first day of the market. It has become a widespread myth that the woman of the surrounding Berber clans come to the wedding ceremony in search of and to choose a husband. Perhaps the bitter-sweet legend of the two young lovers and the mythical (unthinkable) female liberty to choose a husband has encouraged the international fame and allure of the Imilchil wedding festival from which this desolate region greatly benefits. Nevertheless, the marriages are pre-arranged by the families according to tradition.