I had no idea that visiting a Moroccan shop on one cold day in March, would manifest into me actually visiting the country. It was a random Saturday that babyboo and I were hanging out in D.C. and we came across a Tibet shop. Literally across the way was the Moroccan shop. So we journeyed on over and immersed ourselves in this shop. We found some of the most awesome artifacts that I did not expect to see in there. Morocco is North Africa and many of the inhabitants are Arab. The artifacts that we saw in the store were far from Arabic, they looked more like West African tribal objects. Then I had to remind myself that many inhabitants of parts of Africa these days were invaders and not the true people of the land. I’ll leave it at that.
Let’s fast forward to about May when my cousin Bianca and I began planning for our trip to Abidjan, CÔte d’Ivoire. While looking for flights we noticed that most of them stopped in Morocco before going to Abidjan. Most times layovers are a thorn in my side, but depending on where the layover is, it can be a chance to visit another location for free. We figured if we were going to have a layover, why not make the most of it? So, when we booked our ticket, we originally set up our flight to have a layover in Casablanca, Morocco for 15 hours. Basically a day trip. Eventually, that turned into a more grand idea because as we were researching, we saw more and more things that attracted our eye. It became clear that we wanted to spend more time in Morocco than a day. The original plan was to be in CÔte d’Ivoire for 2 1/2 weeks, so we had the days to spare.
We started creating our itinerary and thinking about the multiple cities that we wanted to visit in Morocco. On the list were Marrakesh, Fez, and Chefchaouen. These were the cities that we found buzzing on social media and in many of the blogs we read.
Our itinerary in Morocco:
June 24 New York to Casablanca, Morocco (flight)
June 24 Casablanca to Marrakesh (flight)
June 28 Marrakesh to Fez (flight)
June 29 Fez to Chefchauoen (bus)
June 29 Chef to Fez (bus)
June 30 Fez to Abidjan, CÔte d’Ivoire (flight)
Like many places we’ve traveled, once you’re in the country it can be easy to travel domestically. For example, a flight from Marrakesh to Fez was very inexpensive. The bus from Fez to Chefchaouen was about $17.00. (bus details below)
(in Morocco) a riad is a large traditional house built around a central courtyard, often converted into a hotel. “Riads are generally small, personally run “boutique hotels” or B&B’s with small staff who look after guests personally. They generally have less than 10 rooms. By nature, they are multi-level in design, built around an open courtyard with trees/ plants and a water feature (small pool or fountain, or both) and usually have a rooftop terrace. They are made to offer peace, calm and tranquility amidst the havoc of the city. A real escape.” Not only that but riads are pretty affordable. Our Riad, called DAR TEN was in the heart of the Souks(markets) which can be really noisy. However, it was super peaceful and calm in our space. To REALLY experience Marrakesh, stay at a riad in the medina. Forget about the closed-off hotels.
We really enjoyed our days in Marrakesh. We spent a lot of our time exploring the city and watching the people during their day to day. Sitting near Mosque Koutoubia where you can hang out in the plaza and the square, gave us a glimpse of the culture. I really loved how they would congregate around the mosque. The women and children were out hanging in the Plaza and the men were often times working nearby.
We did a road trip on our first day to Ourika Falls. We were picked up by a tour group which was set up through our riad. We did a tour and then had lunch before getting back on the bus. The tour gives you great information about the community and you see some interesting wildlife along the way. The waterfalls were captivating and a sight that I could’ve gazed at all day. This location is still within Marrakesh, but I believe it was about 2 hours there and back. We also went to The Jardin Majorelle which is one of the most visited sites in Morocco. This is more than just a garden because it entails a museum of the Berber people and some rich history. A must do if you visit the country. Another must do (for the ladies) is, of course, getting a henna tattoo! The best place to go for this is Henna Cafe. You can get fresh juice, appetizers, and get your henna done all at the same time. My favorite part was probably the turtle that was freely sliding around. I kept calling him Franklin (those that watched Nick Jr. know who I’m referring to LoL!)
Fez was our stop to get to Chefchaouen. So we were only in Fez overnight. We got there around 11:30 pm, went to our Air BnB, got up the next day to head to Chef, returned back to the Air BnB in Fez that evening, and then flew out to CÔte d’Ivoire the next morning. As you can see, we only saw Fez in the evening and didn’t get to explore at all. I don’t think we missed much though. From what I’ve been told, it is much like Marrakesh.
Listen. I’ve been to many cities but this one right here! To see this blue city was well worth the ride! Chef is the blue pearl of Morocco and a must-see for many travelers. Not only can you capture great photos, but the scenery from the Rif Mountains is breathtaking. All of the homes and shops are blue and give an almost magical feel. Add this blutiful city to your list! Chef was just a day trip from Fez. We took a bus which is like an equivalent to our Greyhound, and the ride was about 4 hours there and 4 hours back. We paid no more than 17 bucks round trip. The best thing to do is book your tickets online prior to leaving the states. The CTM bus fills up pretty fast and you wouldn’t want to miss out.
The centers for shopping are called Souks. The shops are delightful and can make you want to purchase everything. They are always super busy, and can go one of two ways. Either you can have a great experience with them or a terrible experience. These are small vendors that sell a lot of the same items so they are in heavy competition. When they see you coming it can feel that they are being a bit aggressive in trying to get you to their shop. Ladies, kind of prepare for the aggression, but still draw those boundaries so that you don’t feel any pressure. We kind of noticed that the men were a little more aggressive with us than they were with women that were accompanied by men. Once you see something that you are interested in, you can bargain the price. Don’t get overcharged because you are a foreigner. Nonetheless, while it can be slightly stressful, it is a part of the Moroccan experience.
For any further questions, feel free to drop a comment in the “comment section”.
I can’t wait for you to visit Morocco!!!!
To the #traveltribe,
Love Carmi & Bibi