- Amazing Landscapes
- Ocean View
When you hop from a country engulfed by the what so-called western culture to another, you pretty much feel familiar, since almost everything, stands on the same mentality. You are not, actually, stepping out of your comfort zone. On the contrary, travelling anywhere else is nonetheless mind challenging. You are submerged to a totally different world. Almost nothing is considered as given or known, scenery is taken from movies and people behave in a strange way; that’s exactly what makes discovering every corner on the earth exciting. Let’s take a sniff of the scent of Morocco.
We picked Morocco for a group trip in late October last year (2016) since it offered an affordable nearby destination, but at the same time an example of an utterly distinctive culture. We did travel with Versus tour operator and we were satisfied enough in total. Violetta, our guide, managed to keep everything in balance and was definitely a key player on that trip.
Morocco is located on the north west edge of Africa. It is characterised by a unique diversity since it is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlas Mountain and the Sahara Desert. Moroccan culture is a blend of Arab, indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan African, and European influences. Muslim is the dominant religion and economy relies on phosphate exports and its strong tourist industry. People on the north were quite rude with strangers; on the other hand, on the south were friendly and helpful.
Upon our arrival in Casablanca we met our local guide. We drove through the streets of the city and we had a stop to watch the sunset at Hassan II Mosque. We settled to our hotel,- merely a disappointing one. Although, time spent there was limited I wasn’t impressed by Casablanca-honestly; the only exception, some buildings in a combination of Hispano-Moorish and Art Deco. Casa was, also, the setting of the 1942 film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Early in the morning, we headed to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. We visited the Mohamed V Mausoleum, the Royal Palace and the Kasbah of the Udayas. Early in the evening, we arrived in Tangier. Things there were way different. Investment on tourist industry was profound. A walk by the sea is a must. Royal Tulip hotel was brand new and well-worth.
Next stop was in Chefchaouen; quite unique for its blue painted houses. A few hour stroll along the alleys and off we went to Meknes. Short visits in the mausoleum of Moulay Ismail and the Imperial Royal Stables. Overnight stay in Fez.
Hotel Barcelo was not exactly a great choice and we have to stay an additional night anyhow. Fez is definitely one of the places to be if you ever visit Morocco. Wandering around the alleys of Medina is quite an experience; that’s why UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage. Fine dining at Mb Restaurant. End of the day.
Ski center in Morocco; yeah probably sounds like a bad joke but it isn’t. Do you remember when I was talking about diversity? Well, that’s exactly what I meant. Crossing the Middle Atlas we met Ifrane, a small swiss-like town. We reached early in the evening in the Gate of the Sahara Desert, Erfoud. We get on 4X4 vehicles and we headed to Merzouga; it was about time for us to meet the Sahara. Later at night, we did enjoy the hospitality of Kasbah Hotel Xaluca.
Since it was our more distance-covering day, we spent more of it on the bus as we crossed the amazing Todra Gorge and we visited Tinghir. We arrived in Boumalne Dades in a rainy evening so we stayed in the nonetheless beautiful hotel, Xaluca.
Travelling through the valley of a thousand kasbahs in order to reach our first stop of the day, Ouarzazate. Short after a brief visit to Atlas Studios. Perhaps, the highlight of the day was the Ksar of Aït-Ben-Haddou, another world’s heritage site by UNESCO; nobody wondered why! Early night we arrived in Marrakesh, last stop of our trip where we would spent our last two days.
Marrakesh probably has a unique mix of tradition and luxury; from walking through the souks and Jemaa el Fna up to the Majorelle Garden and La Mamounia. Honestly, there are no words to describe this city and it is certainly worth spending some more days here than elsewhere in the country.
We had a daily trip to the the Atlantic coast, in the small town of Essaouira. Walking around the open market and the fort was a unique experience. On our way back, we had a stop on an Argan oil small factory.
Nothing to declare! Our flight back home through Rome. Once again, too many papers to fill in and even more checkpoints to pass.
All in All
Profoundly, it is a memorable trip. If I ever visit Morocco again, I will certainly aim for the south part of the country; between fabulous Marrakesh, the Sahara and the Atlas mountain. I totally loved that region! As far as the north part of the country is concerned, Tangier is the only exception as it has its own special beauty.