Morocco

by Katia M6 August 2018

Before we dive into the Moroccan vibes, you have been a few asking if Mauritian citizens needed a visa to go to Morocco. The answer is YES, and to get it done is easy too. It takes around 10 days to 14 days to be processed. All of my travel documents and bookings were handled by you know already, Itineris Travel agency. Get in touch with one of the agents that you will be visiting Morocco soon and to send you the Visa papers and the documents that you will need to provide along. Once all documents are ready, handle everything to a travel agent along with Rs 4,700 is the DHL cost and the Visa fee because the Visa is done in Madagascar.

Link to Itineris website: https://itineris.travel/home

 

Morocco has been on my list for a while now – Tagine, atay, riads, hammam, souk, medina, spices, woven rugs, leather, Royal Palace, Madrasa… are the words that came to me when thinking about Morocco. The currency they use is the  Moroccan dirham.

I have read so much on the Arabic culture that I to be part of it and live it. It all started in the UAE, then to the South of Spain, the whole Andalucía and now I am in Morocco where my first stop is in Tangier.

Once you are in Morocco, I suggest that you buy a local sim card to get your way around the country if you plan on moving to other cities.

Tangier, the White City

The city of Tangier has already got me from the first day, most probably due to the area we decided to stay, the Kasbah of Tangier, the old town. We stayed in a Maison d’hotes called ALBARNOUS, find the link below.

https://booki.ng/2vCHP9D

Ideally situated, I was pleasantly surprised with the fine interior decoration and the tiles on the wall in Albarnous. The common areas like the dining room, the library and the terrace are so welcoming. I could not think of a better place to stay in Tangier. The bedrooms are so comfortable with an exquisite taste in decoration, you quickly feel like you are at home.

What is there to see around Tangier?

Well, this city is full of history and myth too. The most well-known one is the Caves of Hercules and you know what perfect because I just love Greek mythology.

The cave of Hercules is an emblematic site that combines great natural beauty and historical interests; it is surrounded by many legends and traditional stories. The cave is one of the most visited sites that attract a large number of visitors from all around the world, it has an opening to the Atlantic Ocean that almost looks like the “African continent” when viewed from the sea, we can even recognize Madagascar! Another story is that this form was created by Phoenicians as a map of the local area. His passage in Tangier is apparent through legend and rooted by the discovery of trace of his footprint engraved on a rock near.

The first traditional Tagine I had was in Tangier at the El Morocco Club. Short but sweet, one night in Tangier, we then moved to Chefchaouen. The option that offers to you are either you go by coach or you go by taxi but you have to bargain on the price.

The El Morocco Club restaurant terrace having a Chicken Tagine with olive and lemon.

Chefchaouen, the Blue City.

The blue medina has got my heart. The walls and the stairs all with different tones of blue a unique place with so warm people. Very beautiful streets to wander and great for pictures. I really loved this city and the food there. One of the cities where local food is relatively cheap. Chefchaouen is found in the mountains, at night it might get a little chill, so prepare something warm just in case.

What is there to do?

Walking the medina and the souk itself is an activity. Then later in the afternoon, take a walk on the mountain where you will see the Spanish Mosque and also enjoy a panoramic view of Chefchaouen. The other things to do also once you are there are the waterfalls around, ask the locals. Roughly, 1-2 nights is more than enough to do in the Blue city.
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Fes – The Imperial City

The King has numerous official residences all over Morocco for when he and other members of the royal family visit a city. A Royal Palace in each city: Rabat, Marrakech, Tangier, Casablanca, Fes, Meknes, Agadir… While visitors can only admire the entrance with heavily guarded buildings from the outside with imposing walls and high gates, there are some of the former palaces around Morocco that are open to the public.

Dar el Makhzen, the royal palace gates – golden gates

The oldest part of the city, Fes El-Bali, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stunning Bab Boujloud (Blue Gate) is the main entrance to the medina. The medina is a car-free zone and walking the maze itself is an adventure sometimes you can encounter mules on your way. Some tourists rather have a guide to help them walk through the Medina as there is so much to see; the argan oil shop, the tanneries, the ceramic factory. Inside the medina, besides the rugs, lamps, leather products, there are two of the most awe-inspiring madrasas (Islamic schools): Madrasa al-Attarine and Bou Inania Madrasa. Stop at either (or both!) and admire the precise work of carvings and beautiful design.

Below is the Bou Inania Madrasa.

 

The charm of the old medina is thanks to the people who preserved the century-old rhythms of handicraft industries and methods of past generations. I had the chance to watch closely a weaver at work, creating patterns with this large wooden loom operated solely on manpower, really fascinating.

Mules and donkeys serve as a shuttle between the tanneries and the leather artisans in the souk, their backs piled high with dried and stretched animal hide. Locals artfully turn the leather into bags, babouche, leather outfits and puffs for the interior decoration. In the souk, sophisticated copper lanterns and piles of handwoven carpets are abundant.

Meknes

After two days of roaming in the Medina and around Fes, one day we also went to Meknes which is 1h30 mins by car from Fes to see the Historic Roman site of Volubilis not from Meknes. Covering an area of 42 hectares, it is of outstanding importance demonstrating urban development and Romanisation at the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The archaeological vestiges of this site bear witness to several civilizations. All the phases of its ten centuries of occupation, from prehistory to the Islamic period are represented. The site has produced a substantial amount of artistic material, including mosaics, marble and bronze statuary, and hundreds of inscriptions. All of this in the open air, you could see still this beautiful work of mosaic.

The features of the site reveal some monumental sector like the triumphal arch, the Colosseum, the Capitole, houses that you could still feel how it was back then. A place rich in history.

Afterwards, we drove to the mountainous village of Moulay Idriss and just off the main square is the Mausoleum of Idriss, a sacred destination where only Muslims are allowed to go. If it’s about lunch time, please have a barbecue stop, a local speciality.

Kara Prison – an underground prison that could hold up to 60,000 prisoners. As you enter the square, you can see vents that let in light and air to the chambers below but everything happened underground. I suggest you do some reading on Kara prison to better understand the history of this place. Usually, you will find a guy who will walk you through and give you a brief history of this underground prison. Worth a stop.

Also, not far is the Hri Souani, another great construction of the Moulay Ismael in Meknes. Back in time, this place was the King’s immense granaries and stables, this building provided stabling and food for 12,000 horses. The Hri Souani was ingeniously designed – massive walls and a system of underfloor water channels kept the temperatures cool and air circulating, you can actually feel it while walking through the chambers.

You can still see the original cedar wood doors leaning against the walls.

Casablanca

Casa, is the largest city and is considered as the economic and business centre of Morocco, even though the capital is Rabat.

Casablanca is a great restaurant city. Casablanca has a buzzy restaurant scene fueled by both locals and visitors. Take a stroll down the Ain Diab Corniche, the city’s waterfront boulevard, lined with umbrella-shaded beach cafés, chic lounges, and ocean-view restaurants. Unparalleled Atlantic views have made Le Cabestan the reservation to score on La Corniche.

Fascinating Architecture.

The Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco. It took more than seven years and as many as 10,000 artisans to complete the complex masterpiece. Built partly on the sea, it is a religious and cultural complex, built on nine hectares and includes a prayer room, ablution room, baths, a Koranic school (madrasa), a library and a museum.

Marrakech, the Red City

Commonly referred to as the Red City, because of the shade of the walls surrounding its old town district. This city is full of history and culture, it is quite reputed among the tourists for its well-known places like the Jardin Majorelle, the Jamah El Fna (more lively at night, with all the lights turned on), the Bahia Palace, the Saadian Tombs and the Ben Youssef Madrasa. These are my top 5 to visit while in Marrakech.

People in Marrakech during the day are either in Riads or by the pool to relax and later enjoy the nightlife. More of a relaxed and laid back atmosphere in the red city.

Besides discovering the beauty of these places, the culture itself is hard not to fall in love with. The food – the tagine, the couscous, pastilla, kefta, Harrira, Moroccan salad and all the sweet delicacies mentioning a few. But the experience that I really enjoyed overall is the Hammam. The experience is more than about you getting scrubbed clean with the Savon noir and having the ghassoul clay mask all over your body. It goes further than this, I felt like I was taken back in time when my mother used to give me baths. It felt so good. Hammams can be private or by sharing with other people. Definitely a thing to do while in Morocco.

Here it is, 7 amazing days I had. If Morocco is not on your bucket list I hope what I’ve been sharing with you, will make you want to go. As for me, there will be a next visit…pretty soon.

If I can help with any questions you might have, please do not hesitate. I’ll be more glad to help.

If you love this post or you have been to Morocco, please share your experiences and your favourite places in the comment box below.

P.S Many thanks to my talented friend Shain Ramjan who did transfer my travel Itinerary for you guys so as you can follow the same route if ever you visiting Morocco.

 

With Love

xxKatiaxx

 

 

 

 

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