06 December 2015

Meandering in Morocco

So I did it again. I went on vacation yet again. This time, I went to Morocco, my 42nd country. I spent a total of three weeks here, which is a first: this is the longest time I have spent on vacation in a single country. My previous destinations definitely didn't last this long. Sure, I once spent three weeks on the road, when I went to Myanmar, Malaysia, and Thailand December last year. However, those three weeks were divided into several countries, with the longest leg (in Myanmar) only lasting 14 days. So this current trip is indeed the first time when I entered a country, and exited it only after spending 3 weeks. And because of that, the things I have seen in this visit were quite varied. In this trip, we saw ancient medinas, the desert and sand dunes, the sea, little villages, and cosmopolitan cities. So how did this all begin?

We left Berlin on September 12, flying to Marrakech by way of Brussels, on Brussels Airlines. Our flight left Berlin late morning, and by evening we were in Marrakech. This was quite an interesting and intense introduction to the country. As soon as we got out of the plane, we immediately knew that we were in a developing country. The airport, for example, was the essence of chaos. People didn't know how to queue up. That red strip of paint on the ground, telling you to stand behind there until the person in front of you is finished, nobody paid attention to that.

Anyway, immigration procedures were done, and we spent three nights in Marrakech. The city was beguiling, amazing, and had plenty of interesting things to do for the visitor. We ate very good roast lamb, we saw snakes, we saw palaces, and gilded tombs.

On September 15, we left Marrakech early, for our next destination, Zagora. We initially wanted to buy a direct bus ticket, but unfortunately, they didn't have any more seats, so we opted to break it into two legs. We first took a bus to Ouarzazate, where we had lunch, and then we took another bus to Zagora. It was a long day and only involved travel. We stayed in Zagora for one night.

On September 16, after spending the night in Zagora, a 4x4 jeep picked us up, and took us to the desert. We drove south, and at the end of the paved road, there was this little town called M'Hamid. From here we picked up our camels and we went camel trekking. After a few hours, we found our camp, and spent the night there. The following day, we took a 4x4 again and drove across the desert, until we reached another camp, near the great sand dunes of Erg Chigaga. We spent the night there, as well.

On September 18, after having breakfast in Erg Chigaga, we took the 4x4 again, and drove back to Zagora. We spent another night there, and the morning after, we took the bus to Ouarzazate, where we spent two nights. In the meantime, we visited the Atlas Film Studios and wandered around old movie sets, and also visited a kasbah.

We took a flight from Ouarzazate to Casablanca, and then a train to Meknes on September 21. This was probably the first time in which we walked to the airport, since where we were staying in Ouarzazate was really a fifteen-minute walk to the airport, and we figured it was better than taking a taxi, no matter how cheap it was. After the train, we found ourselves in Meknes in the afternoon, where we stayed 3 nights. During this time, we explored the city, and we did a day trip to Volubilis as well.

On September 24, we took the train and headed east, to Fes. We stayed here for two nights. The city was incredible, there were nice and not so nice things about it, and additionally, the Muslim Eid was also in session, so we saw plenty of dead sheep all over the place.

On September 26, we then took the bus to head to Chefchaouen, which is a small town in the Rif Mountains, famous for its blue medina. We spent two nights there, wandering around the medina, climbing the nearby mountains, and generally having a good time.

On September 28, my partner and I parted ways; he took an early bus to Casablanca, as he had a flight back to Berlin the next day, while I took an afternoon bus to Tangier. I arrived in Tangier early evening, and I spent three nights there checking out the cafes in the city, as well as looking across the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain.

On October 1, I took the train again and this time traveled west, heading to Rabat. I was in the capital for two nights. I liked Rabat, it is a cool city, there are modern amenities, and the city is more or less orderly, compared to the ancient medinas that we have visited so far.

And finally on October 3, I took the train to Casablanca, where I stayed for one night. Of course, I wouldn't leave without checking out the Hassan II Mosque, which I visited that afternoon. It was marvelous. The day after, on October 4, I went to Casablanca Airport and flew back to Berlin, by way of Brussels.

So yes, this was a great trip. I enjoyed every bit of it, even though there were aspects of it that were challenging. It definitely is outside my comfort zone, but overall it was an incredible experience.

Pictures are going to be shared shortly, so stay tuned.

2 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures. Three weeks is plenty to get a good introduction to a culture!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zhu,

      Three weeks is plenty indeed! Photos will of course appear in the next posts!

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