Lately I've been dreaming about what is my favorite country that I've visited so far: Morocco. And with those dreams grew a desire to share the beautiful trip that I made through the country on this blog. It may have been over three years ago already, but it's so worth it! Of course my opinion in here is not very reliable: so far I have not visited that many countries at all. My trip to Morocco in 2013 was actually my first time being outside of Europe! After that, the United States, Curaçao, Hong Kong, and Thailand is all that I've traveled to. But of all those places, Morocco is by far my favorite. I could tell you why, but I'd better just show you!
I took a tour with Isropa (and this is not sponsored, it's just factious) and thanks to this travel agency I had a marvelous trip! On the group there were around 12 people, and we crossed the country in a minivan over the course of 10 days. Our guide was a local who happened to speak Dutch, among four other languages, and he told us much about the country's customs and habits. Every morning we woke up early, often took a drive for an hour or so, sometimes stopping on the way at some worthy sights, and participated in a set program until four in the afternoon, after which we were free to go wherever, or just relax at the hotel pool and cool down from the burning heat.
The tour took us to all four imperial cities (of which every one had been the country's capital in the past, each one for a different king) - Marrakech, Fes, Meknes, and Rabat - as well as the largest city, Casablanca, and through the beautiful mountain area to the Sahara dessert. It was an intensive trip, but we got to see so much of the country in just ten days, that for a long time I felt that I would not have to come back there because I had seen everything already! As now my mind has changed, I feel like there is much more to explore, and even if there wasn't, I would love to come back to such a beautiful country, in both culture and nature.
I was impressed by the cities, as they are so different from the ones that I'm familiar with, and I took pleasure in just strolling around the dusty streets, along market stalls, old taxi cars and narrow alleys dating back to Medieval times. It was all so very different from the West, and that's what I loved most about it - the way it is still so very authentic at many places.
There were plenty of markets, filled with fruits and spices, causing a pungent odor to float in our nostrils that I can vividly recall when I look over these pictures again. At other places Moroccan teapots, lanterns, rugs, and ceramics were being sold - oh, how I wished I could take everything home! I could come back to this country to buy home decoration only! All I took home this time was a beautiful small white rug from a carpet shop where locals told us a fair lot about Moroccan rugs and the way they are being made, a pouf, a teapot, and some handmade bowls that I'm still very attached to till this day. But if I could I would decorate my entire house in Moroccan style, with mosaic on the walls, hand-painted dinnerware in the cupboard, rugs covering every single square meter on the floor, and colored lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
I remember Fes being my favorite town of all. It was authentic, lively and very interesting as we visited a couple of places where people still make things by hand, like the leather tannery Chouara, and the ceramic workshop Art Naji. At Chouara tannery, people put large chunks of leather in vats to color them, which they do in the most remarkable way: not only do they put the leather in the vat, sometimes they almost disappear in these vats themselves! It's incredible to see these people at work and learn more about how leather things in Morocco are made. At Art Naji, we saw people making pottery, painting pottery or decorating pottery with mosaic, all of which they did with utmost concentration. Both places were very impressing and worth a visit.
Besides a tannery and a ceramic workshop, the tour took me to other places where other things were being made as well, like a place for weaving clothes and shawls. I remember some other place where jelly was extracted from type of nuts, and another where rose water (I think that's what it must have been) was prepared for all different kinds of use. And all this too was very interesting to hear and learn about.
We had lunch together every day at noon in a tucked-away local restaurant, which was often beautifully decorated in Moroccan style (little poufs, colorful lamps and lanterns, handmade ceramic tableware, mosaic design covering the walls), and where a Moroccan-style lunch was served for us. For a year after the trip I did not want to eat a single spoon of couscous anymore, but now I LOVE it again!
As I was in the country during Ramadan, I saw a lot of men (as there were not many women in the street during this period) fast asleep in the streets, probably exhausted from the lack of food and water in combination with the heat (close to 40 degrees celsius!) and this may also be why some people appeared slightly grumpy sometimes - our guide, on the other hand, who was also fasting for Ramadan, was the most cheerful person, showing up in traditional Moroccan clothes every day, lugging around a bunch of curious tourists, and most importantly, watching us eat eagerly after a whole morning of sightseeing! Their dedication is surely extraordinary!
Besides people, stray cats and donkeys were wandering around the streets, and at that time, these animals were of my particular interest as they appear to be the object of many of the photographs that I took there.
One of my favorite places that I visited in Morocco was the blue and white medina in Rabat. All buildings, painted white and blue, lined up in a maze-like kind of way, and I had great fun going around the narrow alleys of this tiny wonderland.
Of course there were many sacred places to be visited, like mosques and mausoleums. Naturally all these buildings were very impressive and beautiful to see, from the outside as well as from the inside. There was often a lot of mosaic on the floors and walls, and marble, pillars and fountains everywhere. Morocco is certainly a country that should be visited if you are interested in architecture. For now there's not much more left for the eye to read, but only to see.
There were also a couple of ruins that we visited. As I was not quite aware of the historical facts back then and neither am I now, I won't go to deep into that, but as a Latin and History class lover, I could no else but feel pleased about the way that many Roman mosaic floors have been preserved, while everything around it is pretty much destroyed. I especially loved the second ruin town, where Roman architecture can still be distinguished quite well, and where the surrounding landscape adds a pleasant atmosphere to the demolished stone.
After the cities we took the road through mountains - an hours long drive through uninhabited area (except for some tents of nomads every few kilometers), where nothing but untouched nature could be seen. When we first left the cities behind us, we saw fields of green from the van windows, then green colored mountains, and then mountains solely made of orange rock. A couple of times an oasis, a lake, or an entire town popped up between the mountains out of nowhere, creating the most splendid views. The heat was hardly bearable right there, as it felt much like a hairdryer continuously blowing in your face, but it was absolutely worth it.
Then we reached the Sahara dessert. And I, not having seen anything like this before, was struck by the endlessness of sand that I observed. This was the dessert, the actual dessert that people talk about in stories and on television! This is actual real! It is a proof of the amazingness of planet earth! It was more amazing and more frightening than I could have ever imagined, but I loved the experience. We took a ride on a dromedary's back through the dessert, and I loved every single minute of it. We even watched the sun go down behind the dunes of sand, but unfortunately we did not spend the night here (although this is certainly possible!), and went back for all that we could wish for right then: a swimming pool.
Morocco might have been the country that shaped my love for traveling. In my life I have not been to many places yet, as when I was a kid I never made it out of Europe with my parents, until at the age of 16 it crossed my mind that I could actually have a say in where our next trip would go to - and I persuaded the rest of the family to go to Morocco, for our first roundtrip and our first out-of-Europe trip ever. And it was the best choice! After Morocco I could not wait to see more of the world. After having a taste of Asia in Thailand and Hong Kong, I desire to visit other parts in Africa and South-America as well, but I wish most to visit the Middle East someday. There are so many places I want to go! I only need to figure out which one I will visit first...
Hope you enjoyed this post! Have you ever been to Morocco?