Sherma and I spent our 60th birthdays and 35th anniversaries, all of which occur in the same week in Morocco. We began in Tangier – a fairly commercial city and quickly moved on to Chefchaouen. Chefchaouen is known as the “Blue City.” This is a nice photo of us and it is obvious why Chaouen as it is known to the locals is called the “Blue City.”
From Chefchaouen we proceeded South to Fes. We stayed overnight at a beautiful Riad located in the medina (old city). The riad is a converted palace that has about 8 guest rooms. The recent owners of the Riad are a charming French/American couple and they could not have been more hospitable.
The food was very good at the Riad and throughout Morocco – mostly we ate traditional Moroccan food during the trip. The mainstay of Moroccan food is the Tajine. It is a stew of various types baked in an earthenware pot. Usually a meat and several vegetables – quite rich and delicious.
We loved walking through the Medina in Fes, trying to avoid the mules used to transport goods on the narrow streets.
The highlight of the Fes Medina was visiting their famous leather tannery. Here they treat the cow hide in large tanks. Workers walk on the walls between the tanks. For perspective, the photograph of the leather treatment tanks is a kind of courtyard that covers almost a square block.
Sherma bought several pairs of slippers and a jacket. Very nice quality leather and the shop keepers were entertaining to say the least. It was alot of fun to bargain with them. They are a bit resistant to bargain in the tannery but if you are nice and persistent they reduce the price a bit.
I should add that the more you buy the more they bargain. The problem of course is having enough space in your luggage to get you purchases home.
After a few nights in Fes we continued South and after a long journey wound up at the edge of the Sahara desert. It was remarkable. In order to get into the desert your choices are walk, camel or and off road vehicle. So we switched from our car to an off road vehicle and road into the desert. The terrain of the Southeast Sahara begins as a combination of rocks and sand, then as you progress deeper into the desert (either South or East) the terrain changes to smooth sand dunes. The dunes look like a movie set. We pushed very hard to arrive before sunset and we just made it to the desert as the sun was setting. It was beautiful.
We spent the night sleeping under the sky in the Sahara. Unfortunately there were a few clouds so sky was nice but I admit that I was dissapointed. We were awakened at 4 am to take our camels up to a tall sand dune to watch the sunrise.
The sunrise was beautiful in the desert. The sand dunes appeared almost artificial and at times seemed like a photographers backdrop.
Camel rides are fun and very easy. They certainly were one of the highlights of this trip. Sherma is an avid animal lover and camels were no exception.
I have numerous Sherma and animal shots that I will add as I select the best. By the way sometimes she actually tries to get the animals to feed her…
Sherma and I continued our journey South and spent several days in Marrakesh. Marrakesh is a remarkable city. The Medina is interesting and similar to the Medina in Fes. The products in the different souks (part of a market) are interesting to window shop – though of course there are rarely windows. Typical goods include baskets and woven crafts, metal work (tea pots), wool and silk goods.
More interesting to us was the food. We loved the “pancakes” that were cooked fresh over a curved hot iron and folded to make them easy to handle.
But also of interest is the Place Jemaa el-Fina. This is the famous square in Marrakesh and in the evening it comes alive with street entertainers of all kinds and intereresting local street food. Snake charmers, dancers from different regions, fortune tellers, artists, even tooth pullers!
Marrakesh also has numerous restaurants. We visited the famous hotel Mamounia to listen to some jazz at night. Talented band and beautiful place to relax and listen to live jazz.