Morocco or Bust
Taking my almost 70 year old mum to Morocco on an Intrepid trip was not for the faint hearted and certainly an adventure. Pleased to say we survived the long haul flights and mum has crossed Morocco off her bucket list.Stopover first
Meeting friends in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we whizzed around the sites, Burj Kalifa, Burj Al Arab, Emirates Palace, and the Sheik Zayed Mosque where we donned Abayas, shopped at the biggest shopping centres in the world and ate far too much food. Finding air conditioning was the order of the day as the heat outside was a roasting 36 degrees, rather a shock on pasty white winter kiwis, leaving behind a dump of snow of Desert Road in New Zealand.Morroco!
Arriving in Casablanca, Morocco to slightly cooler temperatures of 28 degrees we immersed ourselves in the exotic colours and cultures that define Morocco. Enjoying mint tea and Moroccan coffee in El Jadida an Old Portuguese port watching camels and Arabian horses plod along the beach after catching the local train down the coast.
We started our North Morocco Adventure with the Intrepid Tour Company who guide groups of no more than 12 people through the imperial cities old Meknes and Rabat to the blue and white washed walls of Chefchaouen, where you would almost think you were in Spain when exploring the cobblestone streets, with a bohemian ambience Chefchaouen was a beautiful place, rich history and ancient laws of the land were mind blowing.
Riding local trains and buses, discovering hidden delights in the medieval Medina of Fez was a highlight. Fez dates back to the 7th Century, the most complete medieval city in the Arab world, full of shaded squares, a labyrinth of alleyways that lead to one souk and another, you could be lost forever if you didn’t have a guide. We explored the spice markets, vege markets, watched tinkers tinkering and tried to imagine if much had changed in hundreds of years... it was like taking a giant step back in time to the middle ages.Make sure you're insured
We visited the Roman ruins in Volubilis, had the option of a camel meat burger for lunch in Meknes and rode camels on a beach in Tangier, a highlight as mum got to ride a camel and didn’t fall off and break her neck! I’m glad she had Insurance.
In Moulay Idriss a sacred pilgrimage village in the rural countryside, we were hosted by a local family in their home stay, this was a beautiful old family Raid with mosaic walls, and a view of the village from the roof, paying local donkeys to take our bags up the steep narrow stairs to their door. A traditional dinner was cooked by the mum of the house; lentil soup, tagine chicken with lemon and prunes, couscous with vegetables and watermelon for pudding then watched the sunset behind the village below.
Sleeping in an over night sleeper train from Tangier to Marrakech, we arrived in Marrakech early morning. A feast for the senses we were enticed by the alluring scents, brilliant colours of the spice markets and souqs, sounds of musicians, singers, dancers, snake charmers, fortune tellers, the rich colours of carpets, delectable foods like cooked snails!, acrobats and perfumed gardens, tradesmen working on pottery, woodwork, copper, leather with basic tools you would be forgiven if you though you would see a flying carpet with Ali baba the snake charmer fly over head. Or see Sarah-Jessica Parker doing her shopping or filming Sex and the City 3!!What to wear... or not
Don’t expect to wear your shorts and singlet’s in Morocco. Most of the women wear Jalabas and Moroccan slippers, heads are covered with scarves. Show respect for the culture, cover your shoulders and knees. The people are friendly, the music terrible, dates and olives are plentiful. If you are up for a bit a culture shock- exposed to poverty, squat toilets and your lack of bargaining skills, then Morocco will give you all that and more.'May your morning be filled with flowers, sugar, henna and dates.' - An old Berber saying.
We are now official Intrepid travellers......