Morocco is a vivid country (find out why in Part I) with many new places to discover:
Marrakech feels like hell when you get there for the first time. Everything is loud, chaotic, overwhelming, a little frustrating. Inhale, exhale. Take your time, reduce your pace and lean back. Wander the streets without any stress, sit down at a café. I really enjoyed the rooftop café ‘Jad Jamal’. But please, do not go to the ‘Nomad’ café or the ‘Café des épices’. They are very unspectacular western restaurant with no Moroccan features, even though they are reckoned to be a gem. Visit the museum of Marrakech to get an insight into the customs and architectural features. I personally adored the Tombeaux Saadiens (tombs of an old dynasty) as they were set beautifully and connected to the Mosque Moulay El Yazid, which is more special than the main Mosque Koutoubia at the market square in my eyes. (Note: The Medersa ‘Ben Youssef Madrasa’ is closed due to renovation works until 2020.)
Fés is often described as Morocco’s spiritual and cultural capital. The original city was built in the 8th century, expanded in the 13th and finally the French also built their ‘Ville Nouvelle’ (fr.: new town) in the 20th century. Fés tends to be a little more popular than Marrakech because of its authenticity, it is more traditional and not as modern as the other cities. The ‘Chouara Tanneries’ are a very impressive. The Medersas are universities or other educational institutions which you can admire – but check first if Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the building. Also the city garden ‘Jardin Jnan Sbil’ gives you a break from the heat of the medina.
Mirleft is a rather unknown destination in Morocco. It is perfect for spending a few days ta the ocean and an alternative to the touristic hotspot of Agadir. You will find unique beaches and an empty cove every now and then. Also musician or artists bring a charming vibe to the city. But be sure to travel there whilst it is still a locals tip – ocean and watersports lovers are discovering the place as well and bringing tourism to Mirleft.
A trip to the Atlas Mountain will teach you a lot about the mindset and way of life in Morocco. The more tradition Berber people live in the mountains and obviously, being far from a structured city, they do not have much. You can an insight into a completely foreign world where they e.g. still have open kitchens made out of clay. Little pathways with potholes which lead through the towns are your only way of transportation. Poverty yet still happiness and therefore reality can be seen in the Atlas Mountains.
When visiting Morocco, you should definitely dedicate 2 – 3 days to visiting the Sahara. There are plenty of companies you can find throughout the cities in order to book an appropriate tour meeting your expectations. Every traveler who has been to the desert says it is exactly as the movies portray it: vast, empty, fascinating. The clear sky will leave you stargazing for nights. Frankly, I regret not having had enough time to do such an excursion to the Sahara…it is a once in a lifetime experience in a way I cannot imagine. But now I know what is on my bucket list 🙂 Is it on yours as well?