Essaouira is one of a kind. It’s a breath of fresh air among the bargaining and tour guides in the rest of Morocco. The sea breeze squeezes its way through the small streets of the city. Its main street is filled with little shops that sell juicy dates, oranges, olives, and traditional clothing. The blue prevails on almost all the doors and louvers, mixed with the dried up white paint on the walls. Gnawa music resonates from the music stores and the souks, adding a soundtrack to this movie-like scenery. Art galleries are everywhere you look and the wood carving artisans welcome us in their shops that rather look like museums.
The Atlantic offered us a magnificent show of waves dancing and crashing on the big walls that keep Essaouira safe. All the tourists are hypnotized and among them, few locals come to enjoy the show too. I find fascinating how these old Moroccans are still amazed by this spectacle that they’ve been seeing all their lives. They stand still and become one with the moment, which a reminder of the joy that one should experience in this scrolling era.
Imlil – the High Atlas Mountains
In Imlil, you have it all, from dry land to snow and green terraces. This is the place where mountaineers start the trek to the Toubkal peak (4167 m). Even in the middle of nowhere, the locals push it and insist on being our guide and it’s exhausting. Luckily, the lovely kids make up for it with their gentle “Bonjour, monsieur” and their warm smiles.
Marrakech, the most popular city in Morocco was a bit overwhelming for us. It is a mix of everything: kind-hearted locals, amazing food, great architecture combined with con artists, yelling taxi drivers and horrible traffic.
Road to the Sahara
The road to the Sahara was a long and tiring one, lasting one day and a half with many stops. Aït Benhaddou was one of them. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage, this ancient village with houses made out of clay is famous for the movies shot here: the Gladiator, Star Wars, Game of Thrones.
The Sahara Desert
After one day and a half spent in the car, getting close to the desert woke me up with excitement. The road just ended in Merzouga, covered in sand. We paid for a dromedary ride, but since they were mistreated, we decided to walk our way to the camp. The desert exceeded my expectations by a lot. The mandarin sand and the sunset in the dunes turned this place into a magical one. The temperature decreased significantly and we felt like freezing, but I just couldn’t go to bed. The 3D sky and the magnificent Milky Way kept everyone outside like in a trance.
It’s morning and Fes is covered in mist. Empty taxis fill the streets, waiting for tourists, while all the merchants slowly come back to the market, unveiling their products hoping for a good day. Fes’ medina is a labyrinth made out of 9000 streets and alleys. Scooters and donkeys who can barely walk due to the big bags they are carrying are slowly finding their way through the sea of people.
Madrasa Bou Inania is one of the most theological schools in Fes. Being the only place of worship where non-Muslims are allowed to enter, we got the chance to see its amazing architecture. It was restored in the 20th century with colorful geometric mosaic tilework (zellige) and carved plaster, with massive brass entrance doors.
Chefchaouen – the blue pearl of Morocco
In the North of Morocco, Chefchaouen sits in the Rif Mountains. It’s well known for its buildings painted in hundreds of shades of blue. The medina, painted in a blue gradient is a unique place. People say that the city was painted due to the Jewish refugees that moved in the late ’30s, with blue representing heaven. Others say the color is meant just to keep the mosquitos away. During the Christian Reconquista, the rulers of Morocco decided to build a fortified city in order to protect the region. The fortress sheltered the Muslims and the Jews running away from the Spanish Inquisition.
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