Roaming Morocco

Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
Trip End Jul 18, 2004

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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Meknes, Olives, and Sausage

Not wanting to rush around our last few weeks of travel, we decided it was time to leave Marrakech. Our next stop along the way was the city of Meknes. What drew us here was the reported laid back atmosphere (meaning no chance of another Fes incident). Meknes turned out to be a noisy not-so-quaint city, full of loud, pollutant spewing traffic due to the Medina being so small (we thought this was a good thing at first - no chance of getting lost). The one thing we did find in Meknes was the best olives I have ever had. I don't even like olives and I couldn't stop eating until I could actually feel my blood vessels constricting from all of the salt. First, Sarah and I just got enough olives for a quick snack. Then we went back for enough for a large snack. Then next morning we went back before we left to get a gallon bucket full - this one was going home with us unless customs took it away. This added to the other stuff we had picked up in Marrakech which included a large leather bag, a 4 foot tall stretched skin lamp, some barbeque skewers, and various other items I can't mention because I don't think we've given out as gifts yet. Morocco was our last cheap stop so we went a little crazy with the buying. So after the olives we were carrying one large backpack, two small backpacks, a skin lamp, a bucket of olives, a leather bag full of gifts, and, at most times, a bag of various food snacks. People could probably pick out that we were Americans from miles away.

Oh, the only other notable thing a bout Meknes is that I had a fried sausage that I am 90% sure was camel. Not too bad.... they smell much better cooked up than live and in person.

Back in Fes

Yes we went back to Fes - not to see the Medina. Nope just for a little more last minute shopping. Yes, for some reason we thought didn't have enough to carry. We remedied that problem.

Chefchouen and the Splif... I Mean Rif Mountains

Our planned stay-a-few-days-in-one-place place was Chefchouen. We had heard how beautiful, laid back, and relaxing it was and thought it would be a good final place to rest up before returning home. Turns out it is also extremely touristed (well, for Morocco), but for good reason - the city is extremely charming. Chefchouen consists of beautiful buildings all painted Mediterranean blue, and when a meandering street dead ends the entire street is painted blue to let people know before they start walking down that path. It is situated in the Rif Mountains, which we didn't explore too much since most of the mountainsides are used for marijuana farming. Chefchouen turned out to not be everything we have hoped for (I think I was hoping for another Cameron Highlands, Malaysia) so we left after a few days for Tangier (giving us an extra day in Granada!).

The ride from Chefchouen to Tangier took us through more of the Rif Mountains. The scenery was incredible, at one section of the mountains clouds were pouring over the mountaintops, and down the mountainside, only to dissipate about half way down. This was happening slowly enough that you really had to watch closely to see it happening.

Why Didn't We enter Morocco Here? (Tangier)

Somehow I think that we were extremely misled when we decided to enter Morocco through Melilla. Tangier is probably the most European looking city we have visited in Morocco. The city is clean, getting to the ferry was easy, AND no touts, insane or otherwise. What more could we ask for? Plus, the ferry ride was only two hours! We took it across the Straights of Gibraltar to Alcacerias and went straight to the bus station to catch a bus to Granada. While in the bus station we ran into a Swedish guy that was staying at the hostel we were staying at in Rhodes. The weird thing is that he was just walking by - he wasn't even taking a bus. These unexpected run-ins with people happen more than you would think.

Ahh well, the experience of going through Melilla may have been rough, but I bet we'll never see another boarder crossing like that again. Then again maybe we will.
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lbart2 on

Exotic Morocco
I have been to Morocco several times over the past Ten years, and I must say it is one of my favorite destinations in the world. One thing that I will tell you is that Morocco can be an incredible experience, or your worst nightmare depending on the people you meet and the,places you go. The following are some useful tips that I have found over the years.

There are several entry points in to the country, depending on which way you enter there are some things you need to know. First, if you are coming from southern Spain you are going to take either a ferry, or a hydrofoil. I highly recommend the latter (it's 2 hours faster). However, before you even step board, you will meet some very nice custom officials. Be respectful, and do not act like a typical American. Remember you are entering northern Africa! Moving on, the ferry docks at Tangiers. I must tell you this is of my favorite cities in Morocco. But you Need to becareful from the Hustlers This is because the Most of residents main source of income is Tourism. OR Book a Tour With: For Day Trips, they are Great and highly Recommended! From your first step off the boat you will be confronted aggressivly from all angles. The best advice I can give you is To Book a Tour. there are many beautiful sites (Caves of Hercules, Cap Spartel, Kasbak, Medina, Palaces, and Berber Souks), as well as, traditional restaraunts. Once you get to the train station, you will have many destinations to choose from. For those who have limited time I recommend three must sees.
Casablanca, Rabat, and of course the magical Marrakesh. This city is mesmerizing. The sounds,sights tastes, and smells are intoxicating. Some people may find it to be a little too much - although not as much as Fes. If you want a great experience, Contact: Charif 0021268702424 or Email: is Where The Exotic Charm and Beauty of Marrakesh Can Be Found! Have a Mint Tea right on the Place Djema el Fna, which is the heart of the city with a rooftop cafe overlooking all of the craziness (bring a telescopic lens). Book Viptour as Mentioned above and ask for the local guide named Hamid, who will help you in many ways. There are many small cafes with excellent food on the Place. Or, at night, the square transforms into an amazing sea of food stalls with everything from omelettes to harira to goat heads. For the restaurants, eat wherever large groups of local People are eating. If you go during Ramadan, you will break fast with them at sundown with a big bowl of harira. All of the entertainment you need can be found on the Place djemaa. Story tellers, dancers, musicians, freaks, etc.

An excursion to Essaouria and the Ourika Valley are not to be missed. I loved the food in Djemma, esp food stall #25 with my friend Hamid. The calamari, harissa sauce, freshly baked bread, russet colored olives with that unique taste combination of salty and tangy, tender deep fried calamari, grilled liver brochettes with chunks of lamb fat to moisten and flavor, gently spiced lamb sausauge, huge chunks of fish, tagines and more! What an experience day or night. At night, the men clap their hands, shout greetings and get in your face to attract your attention. All that smoke rising from the many stalls, the natives clad in traditional robes, the women also, my wierd and witchy looking henna making friend who calls herself 'Alfreda', those stealth motorcycles driven by the young who are in a hurry and even old women in their 70s carrying several ppl. Wow! Its too much and at the same time, you can never get enough.

Marrakesh is a Great Place where you always find places to go things to do, eighther single or in a family, you can find what is convinient for you, unique place that stays in you memery for life. I would suggest this city for students, open minded travelers, big eaters and shopers... I would send my parents but not my grandparents. happy travels

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