I decided to go to Africa 3 days before my trip! Before coming to Spain, it was at the top of my list of places I wanted to visit. However, once I got here I started having second thoughts. Was it safe? Will I feel really out of my element? Do I really want to travel all the way to Africa?
I am so glad I answered ‘yes’ to that last question! While I only got to spend a weekend on a different continent, it was really a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience!
First Things First
Morocco is perfectly safe, especially if you go with a group. I went through a company called Discover Excursions that offered an all included weekend for a very reasonable price. You can check them out here. While Morocco was different, I did not once feel unsafe. The only time I felt a tad uncomfortable was when some sellers at the market tried to pressure me into a deal or asked me to ‘come with them’ to some unknown location to show me around. In these instances I refused adamantly and was not further bothered. I was also offered drugs at some places. Again, I just said no.
I’m not going to lie, getting to Morocco was a bit of a journey. While I had the option to fly there, I decided to take a bus from Madrid to Sevilla (6hrs) to meet up with the group instead. From Sevilla we took another bus (3hrs) to the bottom of Spain. We were then informed that our 40min ferry ride across to Tangier had to be changed because of a stormy seas. We instead had to take a huge cargo ship from the straight of Gibraltar which took us nearly 2hrs. (This is also where I learned that I DO NOT LIKE boats! I am a land person!) We got into Tangier around 12:30am and arrived at our hotel in Tetouan at 2am. It was rough, but I still would say it was worth it! The journey back was much smoother.
My favorite part of Morocco was observing the people. Man, they live very different lives! Many people lived in the middle of these great fields in tiny houses. Our tour bus felt very out of place. It was not uncommon to see women and children walking along the streets with no houses in sight! There were also small vendors on the side of the road selling vegetables. The men in the city all wore these robes with pointed hoods. They really reminded me of the Death Eater costumer in Harry Potter. Everyone in the small city was out and about. No one paid us much attention. In fact, I think I have been stared at more on the Spanish metro than in Morocco!
Chefchaouen, “The Blue City”
This was our first stop, and man was it something! Unfortunately it rained for most of our time here, but we were still able to enjoy this beautiful colored town. Why blue? Apparently the blue walls keep the city cooler during the hot summers!
The views on the bus ride into the city were breathtaking! I didn’t know what to expect of the African landscape, but we ended up seeing some of the most beautiful mountains!
Most of our time on the trip was spent bargaining at the street markets. And, let me tell you, bargaining is quite a sport! It was hard at first, not knowing the worth of any of the objects we were bargaining for, but eventually it felt like a game. The vendors are smart, and obviously know that you’re a tourist. But if you play them at their own game you can find some really awesome treasures for cheap! While the city itself was very much touristy, I felt the shops to be authentic. Everything seemed to be made by hand. Some vendors were very friendly and gave us free gifts, while others were pushy.
The other city we visited was on the coast and had some beautiful views! Again, lots of shopping but it was also nice to see the beach. It was here that I rode my first (and probably last) camel! It was a short camel ride, but just long enough to say that I was on a camel. Some people got awfully too close to the camels, trying to kiss them and all…I was very happy keeping my distance! 🙂
We also made a pit stop at Hercule’s Cave. Not really sure where it was or why it’s called that, but the cave was quite cool! Inside, there’s an opening to the coast that is in the shape of Africa. How cool!!!
I would like to conclude this post by talking about my favorite thing about Morocco…THE MINT TEA! Most people who know me know that I’m a huge tea person, which is why I was so excited to try the famous Moroccan mint tea. It did not disappoint! The fresh mint leaves and loads of sugar make this tea highly irresistible. We were given some upon our 2am arrival to our hotel, but I had to buy some more at the market. SO GOOD!