Morocco

Let’s start the travel stories with my latest trip 🙂 Morocco !
I bet quite a few of you have been and be like “nah, another story about Morocco”. If so, you can stop reading here 😉 If you’re still curious how I liked Morocco, then keep reading 🙂

Traveling Morocco left me … well, let’s put it different. I am not blown away by Morocco. It is a beautiful country but there are a few things I did struggle with.
So here’s my story.

June 19th 2019. Early bird, rising at 5:30am to catch the train from Berlin to Hamburg. The flight was half the price so it’s worth the lack of sleep, right ? And I do love train journeys. So that wasn’t a bad start. Plus, no delays with the Deutsche Bahn – happy Tinka.
At Hamburg airport I was meeting the friend I’m going to travel with for the next few days.

Two women, 10 days in Morocco 🙂

We did fly with Ryanair from Hamburg to Marrakesh for roughly 150€ return incl. drop of luggage. As I said before, that was half the price of what I would have had to pay if I had flown from Berlin.
Morocco in general is pretty easy to get to. Budget Airlines go from any major city in Germany to Casablanca, Marrakesh or Agadir really. We chose Marrakesh.
The 4 ½ hours flight went by quickly – thanks to books, podcasts, a Moroccan guide book and friendship – the major advantage not to travel alone !

In Marrakesh we stayed in a Riad and had pre-booked transport. I am usually a fan of finding my way around by myself, using buses, taxis, tuk tuks or whatever is the local way of transportation. For Morocco though, we decided to get an airport pick up, which was rather expensive (18€ for two people) but totally worth it. Marrakesh is a maze. And it would have taken us ages to find our way around at the start (after a few days we’re considering ourselves as experts).
For us it was the best choice. But there are a lot of taxis at the airport so that’d work as well.
Next time I’ll just probably grab a taxi at the airport and get a drop off somewhere near the Riad/Hotel/Hostel and walk myself to the accommodation – it certainly helps to know your way around a bit.

So, we arrived safe and sound at our Riad in Marrakesh and didn’t leave it for the night though. Ooopsi.

A Riad is such a peaceful place. As soon as you walk through the door and it closes behind you, there‘ silence. Peacefulness. Calmness. It’s quite. The hassle and the noise from the Medina is blocked out. Completely. It is just beautiful.
Plus the offer of great food, a hamam and a massage – sorted. Life is good.
And perfect after a day of traveling or exploring the buzzing city.

The two (of the four) we’ve stayed in and I want to recommend are: Riad Noos Noos and Rias Miski. Two beautiful places with lovely and helpful people.

Marrakesh has quite a lot to offer – just wander around the Medina, visit the Merdesa Ben Youssef (school and unfortunately closed when we were there, sadly; but we got it recommended thousand times and it looked amazing when we checked on it) , the Bahia Palace, El Badii Palace, the tombs, the big square Jamaa El Fna, the big mosque (although non-Islamic people aren’t allowed in), Cyper Park, Jardin Majorelle and the Ensemble Artisanal.
I’d say two or three days in Marrakesh are enough – personally. You can easily spend a day in a Riad (or even a Hotel if you fancy to stay posh in the new part of Marrakesh), chill, eat, and get a massage, or two 😉

Our trip took us to the desert after a day in Marrakesh. For that you need a tour anyway so we decided on booking a five day trip with „busabout“ which also included a trip to Essaouira.

The desert was for sure my highlight of the whole trip !
Magical !

The drive from Marrakesh takes you through the Atlas Mountains offering stunning view. And also twisty roads – take drugs if you suffer from motion sickness.
Lots of buses and tours stop in Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Morocco. The film studies are here and films like Gladiator or James Bond as well as Game of Thrones were filmed in the studios.
It is quite nice to get of the bus for a bit as the drive takes a fair bit.
We went as far as Zagora and were put on a few camels just outside of the town. The ride to the camp took about half an hour.

Have you ever ridden a camel ? I’d say it is a pretty awesome experience – smooth and slow.

Anyhow, the evening and the night were pure magic ! We watched the sunset over the desert sitting on a high sand dune (we had to climb obviously), soaking in the evening heat, dipped in sunset light, smelling the sand, surrounded by like minded travelers.

And it got better ! The stars – the stars are incredible. Never ever have I seen more stars., the milky way any clearer or the moon brighter (and it was just half moon – as bright as a flash light). Best thing: We slept outside under the stars, in the moonlight. Can it get any better ?
Not quite though buuuut the sunrise was just as magical.

So, if in Morocco, DO NOT miss a trip to the Sarah desert ! Must Do ! MUST !

Next stop Essaouira. Essaouira is a small town by the coast (scenery for Game of Thrones as well #nerd) with a beach and also a Medina to explore. Essaouira in comparison to Marrakesh or Fes is super chilled and relaxed.
Unfortunately we just stayed here for a day – I’d wish we stayed longer. More opportunities to watch the stunning sunset <3
Essaouira is really a place to chill and calm.

After Essaouira the trip with busabout ended. And it was just us two again … The tour was okay. It was great for the people we met but you can easily book a desert trip when in Marrakesh and just jump on a bus to get to Essaouira. Easy.
The tour was actually to expensive for what it offered and the stay in the desert was for sure to short. If you have the chance, stay longer than just one night !

After a couple more days in Marrakesh I was done. I needed a change. I just knew if I stay here until we’ll fly back home (which was 4 days away), I’d go mad. But, my travel buddy wasn’t well and didn’t want to travel anymore. Dilemma :/ So ehm what we did is, we split up. That is incredibly tough when traveling together but the best for us two.

So while she stayed in Marrakesh (and explored heaps more than I did), I got on a train to Fes.

Due to rail works in 2018 the journey takes about an hour less as it has done before. So after almost 6 ½ hours ish you arrive in Fes.
The train trip was smooth and soothed my soul. Much needed calmness – rattling on.
Especially going to Fes. That is even more of a buzz and a maze than Marrakesh. Escaping one, coming to the next.
But to a totally different one. The Medina of Fes is a lot older, the lanes narrower and busier. Less tourists though. A big mosque, old schools and (smelly) tanneries.
One day did me. This place is – wow !
Make sure you’ve your GPS going, as you will get lost. And don’t get fooled by people who are trying to show you the way. They’ll want money for that. If feeling insecure, get a guide who is showing you around. I did it by myself and I made it out in one piece 😉

Unfortunately ten days aren’t enough to see it all … We missed out on Tangier in the north, the blue town Chefchaouen as well as Agadir, the beaches and surfing. Casablanca as well as Rabat.
So maybe that means, I have to come back some time …

Useful to know (I think):
Foooooood ! Food in Morocco is just yummy ! Note, we two are veggie/vegan, which is not the easiest choice when in Morocco 😉

Our favourite restaurants in Marrakesh were:
– Cafe Kif Kif
– Henna Art Cafe
– Nomad
– Cafe de Espices
– Zeitoun

Yummy places in Fes are:
– Clock Cafe
– Made in M
– Le Tarbouche

All of them had meat, veggie and vegan option.
And despite of having veggie Tagine and Couscous for ten days I’m not yet sick of it.
Also, try Pastilla. Veggie or meat filled pastry – yum!
The dates in Morocco are divine and so is the orange juice. My tummy normally doesn’t agree with it but it is so sweet and not at all sharp.
For breakfast you’ll get some already mentioned juice, bread, different jams and honey (omg – this honey is just heaven) as well as different pancakes, like Msemmen and Baghrir.

Our chosen way of traveling through Morocco was by bus or train. We did not think about hiring a car. I haven’t been too sure with the Moroccan way of driving and I was also told by a friend (who did rent a car) that it was insane and his only advise was not to drive when in Morocco. So I took that advise.

Being a woman and traveling. This is an aspect which put me off. Which I struggled with the most and I want to completely honest with you.Y
ou hear these reputations about a few countries, like Morocco, and the attitude towards tourists and especially women. I don’t consider myself as too sensitive towards being addressed and stuffed. Usually I’m quite good at just ignoring it. Which was impossible. People, especially men, just men actually, are pushy and intrusive, won’t stop talking to you even if you walked by, ignored them or even said “no”. People constantly try to sell you stuff or want to show you the way (for what they’ll ask for money afterwards). They’ll shout “hello, hello, sorry miss, sorry, there’s nothing this way, just the exit. Sorry miss, hello, hello […]” even if you’ve walked past them for meters. I actually got offered not just a kiss but also sex, was harassed and visually stripped to the bone.
Some of it happens to every tourist. Fair enough. It is annoying but okay. What got me is the treatment of females/female travelers. It was shocking actually. Disrespectful in my eyes. Which is a shame though. This country is beautiful and has so much to over. Not just culture wise but landscape wise also.
Nothing happened to me and I felt more than safe on the train for example (which I took just by myself). So I still say that you should go to Morocco and explore this beautiful country. Just be warned and prepared.
And it doesn’t seem to make a difference what to wear. I tried to cover myself as much as possible, sometimes even with a head scarf. Nothing made a difference though. Neither did walking around by myself, with the (female) friend I traveled with or even a group … We got addressed, harassed and followed sometimes anyway.

What does that mean?

A Riad used to be an ordinary house where people lived it – usually the wealthier part of the population. Riad is Arabic and translates to “garden”. Nowadays most Riads are used as hotels for visitors.

The Medina is the old city, the oldest part of the city. Marrakesh’s Medina dates back to the 11th century while the one in Fes was build in the 9th century. The lanes are super narrow and as mentioned before, a total maze. You’re sharing these lanes with shop owners, locals, traders, tourists, horses, donkeys, carts and – most importantly – motorbikes !

A Tagine is a traditional dish in Morocco. Food is placed on a clay plate and then cover with a clay cone. It then goes in the oven and bakes for roughly 45min. It is served with bread and so yummy.

A Pastille is a veggie or meat filled pastry – so yum.

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