3 Cities, 3 Days; How to REALLY Do Morocco!
Jan 28, 2018
Looking back at it now, I was hella crazy to think I could pull this trip off in such a short time frame. But I did it, so I guess I’m as crazy as they come!
Morocco seems to be the new Instagram craze; it’s famous Blue City, the jaw dropping architecture, the color oozing out of every corner, it’s a travel blogger’s dream! It recently climbed up the ranks on my bucket list after being bombarded by these fantasy-like photos I kept coming across.
After doing some research and learning more about the place, I knew I had to find my way there and my New Year’s trip to Barcelona was the perfect opportunity to tack on another trip and visit Africa for the very first time.
I was super excited to visit this picturesque country that I’d been researching and ogling over for months. I had limited time and so much I wanted to see and do!
Look at a map and see how big the country of Morocco really is. The cities are literally days a part and trying to jump from place to place seemed near impossible.
Here’s how I trekked through 3 cities in about 3 days and got to see (just about) everything I wanted to on this trip to Morocco!
Our flight landed in Tangier around noon and we were on a mission. The most important thing for me on this trip was to see Chefchaouen, The Blue Pearl of Morocco, made uber popular my hundreds of thousands of photos on Instagram featuring its almost magical landscape and playful hues. The sole purpose of flying into Tangier was because this was the city closest to Chefchaouen. The airport was two hours away from the Blue City and it was a ride I knew would be worth every single mile. We negotiated with a crew of taxi drivers and one agreed to make the journey with us. We drove through the mountainous and hilly landscape that is Tangier, passing small shops and stores along the way. This area of Morocco is more country-like and doesn’t really have that big city feel to it.
With limited time, but armed with a plan to see the Blue City and get out, we stopped to the train station on our way to Chefchaouen to purchase our tickets for the ride into Marrakech later that night. About $70 gets you a prison sized cot in a sleeper cabin that houses four. I’ll tell you about my unexpected cabin mates later. After making that pit stop to purchase our tickets, our drive resumed. Tangier is beautiful. I got a glimpse of its splendour as we zipped by buildings and homes and open earthy green fields and farms that led us for miles. As we approached Chefchaouen I literally saw the landscape go from green to blue and I knew we’d arrived.
I finally made it to the Blue Pearl of Morocco and instantly checked off yet another bucket list item! Our driver hooked us up with a friend of his who ended up being our tour guide through Chefchaouen. He walked us off the main road through a little corner where vendors were selling fruits and vegetables. The more we walked, the more blue I saw. Walking through the Blue City is almost like walking through a maze in which your only guided by color. The camera ready city winds up a hill and tucked in every nook and cranny was someone’s home or business. There are restaurants, schools and mosques.
I felt like a predator, rummaging through this tiny community in search of the perfect photos. I could tell some of the residents hated that tourists stomped through their homes all day, everyday. The boyish blues were endless. The walls, the doors, the flower pots, the clay powder, the curtains, the chairs, the carpets. Everything was blue and accented by loud and vibrant accessories. It’s literally such a magical place, my phone and camera shutters went into overdrive.
I vaguely remembered our guide explaining how the city got blue. He mentioned something about it being inhabited by Jews and then something about blue keeping the mosquitoes away and being a shield against the cold. Something. I was too busy taking photos. As soon as we got there, I found a bathroom and changed into a blue dress I knew would photograph perfectly against the blue washed walls.
We stayed in Chefchaouen for about two hours and I swear I could live there. It reminded me of every Disney fantasy I’ve ever had; coloful, bold, magical, so beautiful it looks unreal.
Dark was falling and it was time to head back into Tangier to catch our train. It was time to head to Marrakech, the big city! During my research, I read glowing reviews of the train system in Morocco; always on time, dependable, safe and efficient. I was excited to ride an overnight train for the first time. We booked a double cabin that had two sets of bunk beds in it. The space was very tight, closed, but surprisingly comfy. I thought we’d purchased the entire suite; all four beds just for the two of us. But to my surprise the train conductor brought two guys to our cabin and showed them to the beds. Listen, I got annoyed instantly! Apparently, we had to purchase all four tickets if we wanted the whole suite to ourselves. I could’ve sworn this is what we ordered, but…language barrier. With no wifi, two dead phones, no sockets and a strange man sleeping above me, I lost myself in the pages of a book and scrolled through the photos I’d just taken from The Blue City.
The train ride from Tangier to Morocco was a whopping 10 hours! We boarded at 11:45 p.m. and we arrived in Marrakech at around 9:00 a.m the next day. Thankfully our hotel was a mere five-minute drive from the train station and it allowed for early check in! YES! I needed a shower like a sinner needs Jesus! We stayed at the Movenpick Hotel which is an amazingly luxurious resort. I’ll tell and show you more about it in another blog!
P.S. I partnered with Going Places Travel on this trip! Check back with me in a few for the details on the amazing hotels they hooked me up with!
After checking in, showering and getting ready, we hit the town to see what Marrakech had to offer.
The city bustled. There was activity everywhere and at every turn someone was trying to sell you something. This was definitely my least favorite part of Marrakech. The chill and laid back vibes in Tangier and Chefchaouen did not prepare me for the hassle, aggression and near assaults I faced while shopping in Marrakech. I literally was near tears at some point as we moved through the Jema el Fna souk. I felt crowded, overwhelmed, sometimes attacked and discriminated against. As soon as we entered the area, a swarm of vendors and sellers had rushed us showing us their wares, some performing for us on the spot in hopes that they could make a quick buck.
We somehow shook that crowd and sought to find our bearings and figure out the landscape. The deeper into the souk we went the more we were bombarded. As content creators, of course we travel with cameras and take photos. Not in Morocco! The minute a store owner, snake charmer or fruit vendor sees you taking a photo, they cover their items, stand in the way to ruin the pic or just tells you to pay up for snapping the photo. It was so annoying! I tried taking a few shots of this gorgeous lighting store. I had already seen the culture there and was prepared to pay. I also wanted to buy a tea pot I saw. As I approached the owner to ask for the price of the tea pot and tell him about wanting to pay for the photos, he shouted at me, “No pictures get away, get away!” So I got away and he lost what could’ve been a damn good sale that day! He and his co-worker paced the shop ensuring I didn’t get my photo. See below!
I did manage to get some photos in another light shop, though, and yes I had to pay for them. My fiance took a few photos with his DSLR camera but wanted to get some with the phone camera. The minute he picked up his phone to get the shot, the owner started angrily shouting at us in Arabic. I shouted back at him asking him what the problem was, we had just paid him and were there for literally three minutes. I’d had enough and we just stormed off.
We found a restaurant in the souk and ran inside to escape the drama outside. Unfortunately, most restaurants in Morocco don’t serve alcohol due to their religious beliefs, so any chances of us taking a shot of something dark and strong to shake the culture shock was pretty much impossible. We were screwed lol!
Soon after lunch we headed back to the hotel to regroup and sleep.
Our last full day and we still had so much to see and do! We linked up with a taxi driver outside our hotel and told him to take us to all the hot spots. His name is Abraham and he turned out to be such an amazing person. Our first spot was at the uber popular La Mamounia, which is a palace turned hotel and boasts of the most beautiful pools and spas. Its architecture is astoundingly beautiful and just puts you at ease. There are flowers galore and an obvious ode to nature with orange trees, plants and other natural beings. I’d planned to get a day pass and chill out by the pools and get a massage, unfortunately, they’d put a freeze on passes that day so we resorted to just walking around the property and grabbing a few drinks and chilling out…AND THEY SERVED ALCOHOL!
Abraham picked us up about two hours later and drove us around the city. We stopped at the largest mosque in Marrakech, Koutubia, visited a pottery barn and tried to get into the Jardin Majorelle, which is a beautiful botanical garden owned by Yves St. Laurent. The line wrapped around the building and we had time constraints. We opted to visit a smaller garden just around the corner. We ended the day riding camels…and yes I changed my clothes about four times that day to get the most (photos) out of the experience!
You know that person in your life who’s your cross: they piss you off every chance they get. They annoy and anger you in ways you didn’t even know existed but yet still you love them beyond words?
You’re mesmerized by their unmatchable beauty that sucks you into a trance, making you forget their antics and silliness. And just as you’re about to love them unconditionally…they piss you off again…then they make you fall in love again…
This is my relationship with Morocco, and I can’t wait to go back!
Photos by the amazing Farreno Ferguson