Country Review & Recommendations: Morocco

My Morocco Review

After a week in beautiful, warm and sunny Portugal, I headed off to beautiful, warmer, sunnier (and also hotter) Morocco. I landed in Marrakesh, where my two favorite Brits (Vita and Emma), and I were meeting up to start another G Adventures trip (we’d met the year before in Croatia). Right off the bat, I got ripped off by the taxi driver at the airport. So, if you ever go to Morocco, make sure to check the fee of the taxi ride from the airport to the medina, it is written on a sticker on the taxi’s windshield! (something like 70 Moroccan dirhams, not 140).

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Jardin Majorelle (Marrakesh, 2015)

After a happy reunion at our slightly dodge (sketchy) hostel, we headed out into the medina to explore and find some lunch. We happened upon Kafe Fnacque Berbere, which ended up being my FAVORITE MOROCCAN RESTAURANT (I ate there as many times as I could). Everything was so fresh, delicious and cheap; it was wonderful. But, more on the Moroccan food in my next post. After lunch, we headed out to le Jardin Majorelle, designed by Yves Saint Laurent. That evening, we checked out the medina at night, which was in full swing (during the day it’s pretty quiet).

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Goats at hard at work collecting argan (Morocco, 2015)

The following morning, we headed out on a day trip to Essaouira. Essaouira is a beautiful coastal city, with winding streets full of art, boutiques and restaurants. Unfortunately, the weather was quite cold and windy (especially in comparison to humid Marrakesh) so we didn’t spend much time at the beach (although I think it would have been a tad awkward to strip down to our bikinis anyway).

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2. Chouara tannery (Fès, 2015)

After this, we caught a train to Casablanca (which we almost missed, my bad) and began our G Adventures trip. Overall, it was a great trip, but with a few logistical points to improve. The tour began in Casablanca and took us to: Meknes, Volubilis, Fès, Merzouga, the Sahara Desert, the Todra Gorge, Aït Ben Haddou and ended in Marrakesh. I stayed a couple days on my own, mostly relaxing by pool sides and eating at my favorite restaurant and then flew back home.

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5. Hassan II Mosque (Casablanca, 2015)

My Morocco Recommendations

11. Traditional hamman  

Having two days to kill in Marrakesh, I decided to try out a traditional hamman. This was an interesting experience, as it basically entails being washed (yes, you read that correctly. I was washed by a woman). She scrubs you from top to bottom with different soaps, two or three times, with rinses in between. Afterwards, they serve you some mint tea and let you soak in some sun on the rooftop lounge. I decided to splurge and also got an hour long massage afterwards. Although it was pleasant, it didn’t feel like my bather was a qualified masseuse. Nonetheless, a fun, interesting and relaxing experience, with obviously, no photos of me during the activities.

 10. Essaouira

 

As mentioned, Essaouira is a beautiful coastal town about 2-3 hours from Marrakesh. If weather permitting, take the time to check out the beach and if not, make sure to walk through the town (it’s very small) and check out the art shops, boutiques, the fortress and all the seafood restaurants by the ocean.

 9. Ouarzazate

 

On our way to Aït Ben Haddou, we stopped by the road to take a look at Ouarzazate, which resembles a desert oasis with its many green trees in the middle of rocks and sand.

 8. Tajine cooking class

 

Since I love food and cooking, this was a perfect activity for me. All of the ingredients were already prepped for us, so all we had to do was pick and choose which ingredients we wanted in our tajines (don’t forget the essential spices! Ginger, cumin, garlic, onion and coriander powder).

 7. Aït Ben Haddou

 

Aït Ben Haddou is a beautiful little city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (also used as a filming site for GoT). Take the time to walk up and down the many staircases, as well as heading to the top to get a view overlooking the city.

6. Moroccan doors

 

If you like beautifully decorated doors, Morocco is the place for you. Every time I saw a pretty door, I would stop and take a photo; it became kind of a running gag with my friends.

 5. Hassan II Mosque (Casablanca)*

 

A very beautiful mosque and sight to see from the outside, with its many patterned tiled surfaces. I believe there are specific visiting hours for non-Muslims, but we missed it and thus didn’t get to see the inside.

 4. Fès medina

 

We had a local guide take us through Fès’ medina, which is full of narrow and winding streets, with restaurants, butchers, boutiques and all sorts of other vendors. Make sure to stop at the mosques and take a peak from the outside (as you must be Muslim to enter).

 3. Marrakesh medina

 

Marrakesh’s medina has all of the same components as Fès’ (boutiques, restaurants and vendors) but the streets are larger and thus it feels less hectic. Make sure to stop by at night, as that’s when the Jemaa el-Fnaa square comes to life.

 2. Chouara tannery (Fès)

 

The tannery was quite a sight to behold and smell; thankfully they give you some mint branches for your nose! It was really cool to see what a tannery is and looks like, from our vantage point above it. As well, if you like leather, then this is the place to buy it. I ended up buying my leather jacket and handbag from here and they are of excellent quality (make sure to haggle hard!).

 1. Overnight by camel to the Sahara Desert

 

This was my favorite part of Morocco. We arrived in Merzouga after a long day of driving and hopped onto camels almost right away. The camels proceeded into the Sahara Desert, which, surprisingly, wasn’t that hot (ok, it was about 5pm when we started off). We arrived at a campsite, where we stayed overnight and slept under the stars; it was magical (and just perfect temperature for sleeping). The next morning, we hopped back onto the camels early enough so that we could see the sun rise over the sand dunes. Definitely my favorite experience in Morocco and I would recommend it to anyone visiting!

UP NEXT: yep, more tajine and all of the Moroccan foods.

*All photos are my own, or taken by someone with my device. Exceptionally for this trip, some photos were taken by or belong to my friend Vita, as I experienced some phone issues while in Casablanca and Fès. Thanks Vita 🙂

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