Since travelling through Morocco we have gained about 10kgs each and not just in our backpacks but also around our stomachs! Morocco is an absolutely beautiful country to visit, the food is just amazing and sometimes it just keeps on coming out, so naturally we all gained a tagine belly by the end of our trip.
Now I’m not exactly sure how to write this entry as our 2 week tour of Morocco has been one of the most amazing experiences in our lives and there isn’t really any way to describe our trip so I’m going to try and do a brief outline which won’t do it justice but I’ll put up a bunch of pictures to try and compromise.
Firstly we started in Casablanca as per our previous entry and met up with group. We did a quick day trip to Rabat from there and experienced our first medina and Kasbah (I would definitely recommend seeing the Kasbah in Rabat, the white and blue washed walls made us think we were in Santorini!). From Rabat we headed to Meknès which is a gorgeous imperial city to discover and get lost in. We went and checked out the Maousolem aka a big palace and walked down this never ending road that looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. After surviving this strip of the road without bird poop in our hair and both eyes intact we rehydrated with some noss noss (Morocco’s local caffeine drink of choice) and fresh orange juice. Of course a city tour isn’t complete without making your way through the medina which is always an experience in itself and here we got to try our first ever camel burger! Yes that’s right, we ate camel and we somewhat liked it – well I’d rather you not mention camel burger again but that will soon be explained (sadly).
After spending some time in Meknès we made our way to Volubilis which hosts roman ruins. Unfortunately I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I got a touch of sun stroke and ended up vomiting on some ancient ruins – oops. It was realllly hot!!!! We then made our way to Fès and we had quite an interesting car trip – let’s just say there was projectile vomit involved, an extremely embarrassed Michelle and pieces of camel burger – good times!
Unfortunately I actually missed out on Fès as I was still quite sick (although I’m sure my wallet thanked me) so Renee shall take over from here.
Fes is an amazing city and the medina is even more amazing….the oldest and largest in Morocco to be exact. We started the day with our rather eccentric and entertaining guide Mohammed giving us a brief overview of the city and we were all captivated viewing the old part of the city from a mountain top. Following Michelle’s departure from the lookout (actually it was more of a group executive decision that she be forced to go home…the poor darling was resembling the colour of the rolling hills of Scotland!!), we made our way to a ceramic factory and viewed the whole ceramic process and emptied our wallets…there were lots of purchases. We then entered the hustle and bustle of the medina and emptied our wallets even further. It was here that I got the nickname, given by the gorgeous Mohammed himself, “Fatima” (and the proposition to be his third wife) and my obsession for any hand of Fatima jewellery pieces began (note – this name then evolved to “Fatima Indiana Cous Cous by the end of the trip) – Indiana because of my funky hat I purchased haha. We spent the rest of the day in the Medina and then went and had a home cooked meal (best meal ever!) at a local family restaurant while the slightly less green Michelle got that extra bit more of rest at the hotel.
So after our Fès visit we then made our way to Midelt which was an amazing experience in itself. We had a pit stop before Fes and purchased some local produce – cherries! The sweetest and juiciest cherries we have ever tasted. We also had a second pit stop and spent some time with the Barbary apes (native to the area) and fed them lots of peanuts. We arrived in Midelt and were lucky enough to be able to go through the local mud brick village and spend some time with the local children. I must stress that photos should not be taken unless you have asked for permission first (preferably from an adult). It was the most amazing experience because you are all of a sudden swamped with kids all wanting photos of themselves and with you and next thing you know your camera is being passed around kids who all want a go at taking photos. It’s so hard to describe but just the energy and entertainment the children get from simply taking photos is just incredible! Just to see them all smiling, laughing and having a really good time with the group was truly something special. It was quite hard to leave the village as the people were so beautiful and we were even getting invitations for our group (who are complete strangers to them) to have dinner with their families. These are quite poor people but they are more than happy to share what food they had with us and it’s something that we would definitely not see in Australia and I’m sure you wouldn’t see it in many countries. To top off our visit to Midelt we were privileged enough to have our own special local entertainment of a band and dancers and we both donned the local Moroccan dress and danced the night away.
(So at this point I’m realising I need some new words other than experience and amazing – perhaps just amazeballs?)
Anyway from here we headed to the Sahara Desert and of course with our luck we actually got there in the middle of a sandstorm. We had to wait out the sandstorm before we hit the Sahara Desert but it was worth it. We trekked through the desert on camels (yes ironic as a few days earlier we were eating camel) and after 1.5hrs and newly created thighs of steel we made it to our Berber camp. Unfortunately we didn’t really get to see a sunset, sunrise or a starry night but we still had an amazeballs night filled with sand, drums, singing, food and cats (note – there are LOTS of cats in Morocco, strays everywhere and everyone seems to own 6 cats and it was here that I discovered Renee’s slight fear of cats, which made for some entertaining times).
From here we made our way to Todra Gorge which is quite a beautiful city and our hotel was really nice too equipped with a pool and we all pretty much jumped in with our clothes still on when we arrived (don’t judge us – the Sahara was damn hot!) There are quite a few activities to do in Todra, Renee went for an easy walk through the village and I opted for rock climbing. For any rock climbing fanatics out there – you will love Todra! It was here we discovered our love for Moroccan cheeseballs (aka like Cheetos) and cheap Moroccan wine (very sore heads in the morning!).
Moving on, from here we made our way to Ait Benhaddou and stayed with Mr Action and his family. Mr Action has appeared in a lot of movies (as an extra) and his guest house has also been voted as one of the best. Mr Action also loves being in photos…..once the camera was out it and he saw it, it was all over. The Kasbah here in this town is definitely something to see and the view from the top is amazeballs, especially at sunset!
We then drove through the High Atlas mountains and saw some really spectacular views and our next stop was Imlil in the Toubkal region where we hiked for 45mins to a small village called Aremd where we stayed with a local family. We hiked up Morocco’s highest mountain (Jebel Toubkal) which was a bit off putting at first as you see all of these tourists in hiking boots, poles, navigation gear and here we are in jeans, joggers and in one case pluggers. Yep, who needs fancy hiking gear when you have pluggers and jeans!
(Persevere – I’m almost done!!)
We then made our way to a seaside town called Essaouira. For any of those ladies that have a badonkadonk like myself and Renee and need a confidence boost – come to this town (but not by yourself!!) The first things I heard in this town was “wow that’s a big ass”, now at first I was actually insulted but turns out it’s actually a compliment and they like the badonkadonk. Of course after a few comments, stares and stalkers you kind of get over it as these boys aren’t subtle about it and they will let you know if they like what they see (we experienced it most in this city and not so much elsewhere). Now the city itself is quite beautiful and the medina here is really good especially if you know how to barter! It was here where I was almost sold but luckily Renee was kind enough to say I wasn’t for sale, no matter how many camels and magic carpets he was offering. We were lucky enough to be here during the Gnaoua Music Festival too which probably made for a more interesting time. While here we opted to try out a Berber massage (2hrs people!!) and immersed ourselves in the culture by going to a hammam and stripping to almost nakedness where we got scrubbed and oiled by pretty much naked Moroccan woman…they obviously wanted to stay as cool as possible. This was actually something I would definitely recommend while here. We got over our fear of being naked in a room of people and just enjoyed it. We went to a very traditional Hammam so I think it really added to the experience and we can honestly say that we have never been so relaxed in our lives to a point where you have no thoughts running through your head.
The last stop on our journey was Marrakech where we hit an insane 47 degrees!! After experiencing what we did in all the smaller cities Marrakech didn’t really live up to the hype. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to do and if you only visit Marrakech then it won’t disappoint but it is quite touristy. We visited the square that was within the Medina in Marrakech for an included dinner of an assortment of goodies (but definitely not Sheep’s head which was the stall most of the locals seemed to be at). The next day we had a guided tour or other areas of interest in Marrakech but by about 10am we were over it (had consumed about 5 litres of water….it was already in the high 30’s!!) so we went back to the hotel to have some much needed rest. We had a pretty good couple of days there and of course we had to go out on a bang on our last night with dinner, drinks and a local ‘disco tech’.
Along the way we made a new family with everyone on our tour including our tour guide and trainee tour guides and it was actually really difficult to say farewell to them all (Renee and I both started crying hysterically in the taxi following the farewells). Of course it just means we will have to have a Noss Noss reunion in Morocco (or Townsville??)! Morocco definitely stole both of our hearts with the people, culture, landscapes, simplicity, way of life, food and just everything and we are already missing the big ass comments. We definitely recommend Morocco as a country to visit for anyone that wants to immerse yourself in a really beautiful culture and experience things ‘off the beaten track’ (you eventually get over your fear of squat toilets and crazy taxi drivers). It was definitely an experience that we will never forget and we still reminisce each day.
Next stop……Spain!! Filled with tapas, bull running, football fanatics, sangria and of course too much shopping!