Morocco

When

  • October 2011 for two weeks

Places

Marrakesh

  • The Jamaa el Fna night markets in Central Square are amazing. Gone during the day but come alive at night. Be stern though as you will get hassled by everyone to come into their shop;
  • At the night markets, head to a rooftop restaurant for a drink and check out the view below of the busy markets;
  • The Koutoubia Mosque is cool and the surrounding ruins;
  • From Central Square head into the medina and get yourself lost in the jumble of cool shops;
  • The Jardin Majorelle is apparently one of the most visited places in Marrakesh – it’s a cool garden designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle;
  • Check out the old school train station here – pretty impressive and grand.
The Jamaa el Fna night markets in Marrakesh
The Jamaa el Fna night markets in Marrakesh

Rabat

  • Capital City of Morocco;
  • Hasan Tower and opposite is the Mausoleum of Mohammed V which has constant guards around the building which you can get your photo with;
  • Royal Palace has an 18-hole golf course within the Palace grounds – could not go inside but have photos at the door – cool doors;
  • Hasan II Mosque in Casablanca;
  • The Kasbah of the Udayas is stunning!!! Blue and white walls and a picturesque site for the setting sun (apparently this is where couples meets up at dusk!).

Fes

  • We went to a viewing spot to check out the obvious difference between new and old Fes;
  • We went into a tanneries here which had an amazing view of where the men died the leather all different colours;
  • Fabric shop to try on the full Berber get up;
  • Went to a delicious lunch spot in the middle of the medina here – just walking around the winding streets of the medina taking your time and checking things out is a highlight for me;
  • Ceramic factory where they showed us how they made mosaics.

Sahara Desert

  • We stayed at a guesthouse on the edge of the Sahara for a night and had the most spectacular welcoming performance followed by a massive buffet of local cuisine;
  • Going on a full day 4WD excursion was a lot of fun. Went to a local village where we had lunch and danced along to their music, to some charcoal mounds where they make their eyeliner out of,  oasis and a local house where the lady showed us around her riad and made us some of the traditional green tea with mint;
  • From the guesthouse we rode camels out to our desert Berber Camp in the middle of the Sahara (and back) which was amazing, we were surrounded by sand dunes. They served us dinner and we had an early night but got to lay there and look up at the stars through the (mesh) tent ceiling;
  • Up early to climb up one of the sand dunes and watch the sun rise over the desert – incredible.  And then leaving the camp via camels again.
Our amazing Berber camp in the Sahara Desert!
Our amazing Berber camp in the Sahara Desert!

Atlas Mountains

  • It was cold here so take a jumper (high altitude);
  • Lovely spots to walk around and such a contract from the Sahara Desert;
  • Ait Ben Haddou is the set of movies including Cleopatra, Gladiator The Hills Have Eyes etc which is on the way from the Mountains back to Marrakesh;
  • Massive steep and windy road from the Atlas Mountains to Marrakesh (very long too).
Sahara Desert
Sahara Desert

Accommodation

  • Accommodation was organised on the tour for all of Morocco but I remember staying in Hotel Corail in Marrakesh which was fine

Language

  • The official languages are Arabic and Berber, although the second language is French, English is spoken in tourist areas and amongst younger locals.
  • Hello: Salām (Arabic)
  • Thank you: Shukran
  • Good bye: bāy bāy
  • Yes / No: na’am/lā

Visa

  • Visas not required for Australians and a stay of up to 90 days is allowed (no working)

Money

  • Moroccan Dirham (8.25 MAD = $1 USD)

Food

  • Beef Tagine served usually with vegetable and legumes (chicken, lamb or just vegetable tagine is also common);
  • Couscous;
  • Olives!!! I didn’t like olives until I went to Morocco;
  • Bread and olive oil is served up for every meal;
  • Traditional green tea with mint (usually served after your meal);
  • I tried camel here for my first time – not bad;
  • Lots of delicious vegetable dishes here especially with chickpeas and eggplant;
  • Baklava and other similar pastries for dessert!
Delicious Tagine..
Delicious Tagine..

Tips and tricks

  • There is a high population of Muslims here so cover up here for unwanted attention. If you are a solo female or even a girls travelling together just be aware of your belongings and be respectful. If you are traveling with a guy you will be a lot more comfortable but sometimes this is just not feasible. Just be weary and have your ‘street smarts’ – common sense!
  • You will notice that men sit in the cafés all facing towards the street which make it a little awkward when you walk past in short shorts and a singlet so just be respectful and cover up – best thing to carry on you at all times is a lightweight scarf – trust me it helps even in 40 degree heat! I always carry a shawl with me as well to drape over my shoulders. Better to wear loose-fitting shorts/pants that go below knee-length and covering your shoulders would be best.
  • Stop and buy the local food on the side of the streets – we would buy some local cookies or pastries off a little boy who would wrap them in newspaper and hang them us for next to nothing – best thing is they were delicious!
  • Just smile and be friendly but stern. Haggle but don’t go too far. As a rule I half what they are saying and start my haggling at just under the half way mark – smile and joke around with the locals – show your softer side but don’t let your guard down too much.

Morocco blog posts

Me and my Kiwi boys :)
Me and my Kiwi boys..

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