Morocco = Winter Break 2017

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January 5th 2018
Published: January 5th 2018
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Tagine, couscous, dates, mandarines, camels, cats, tile mosaics, cold nights, hot sun, repeat! Since I skipped traveling internationally this past summer, I splurged this winter break. For the first time in years I had two full weeks off of school so I bought my airline and found a great 15 day tour of Morocco with Intrepid and that was pretty much all the planning I had to do. All of my expectations were exceeded by a mile! The Intrepid trip, Best of Morocco, really covered a lot of ground! I'd highly recommend not just the trip but the company (I also used them when I traveled to Turkey in 2011). The only other places I'd still want to explore in Morocco are: Tangier and Chefchaouen which are both near the Mediterranean coast.

Our tour began in Casablanca. However, due to a 24 delay on my flight, as soon as I landed in Casablanca I immediately got on a train to Rabat to catch up with my group. After Rabat we explored the Roman ruins at Volubilis. Then we traveled on to Meknes and Fes and Midelt. I must admit, much of the early part of the trip is a blur! Overall, I was less than impressed with Royal Air Maroc and even less than happy with the booking agency, Justfly, that I used. Morocco itself was well worth those challenges though!

Highlights after Midelt included:

-A very memorable camel ride into the Sahara for a night in the desert!

-Two nights in Todra Gorge where we did a magnificent hike and had tea with a Berber family on the side of the mountain.

-A night in a riad/guesthouse in Ait Benhaddou where after an afternoon of exploring the kasbah and seeing artisans at work, back at our riad we had a couscous cooking demonstration and I walked away with the secret family recipe for Harira Soup, which is a traditional vegetarian thick soup consisting of tomatoes, lentils, pasta, veggies, and 35 spices! Which reminds me, I also did buy a cookbook and some cumin and saffron in the medina in Essaouira!

-Traveling along the High Atlas Mountain Range we walked with a daypack 1 hour up to the village of Aroumd where we stayed with a lovely family and had a gorgeous view of snow capped mountains. A highlight was an impromptu walk through town where our guide brought us into a kindergarten class and he led the kids in a heartfelt song that we later learned was the Moroccan National Anthem.

-Two nights in sea-side town of Essouira where I strolled on the beach (70 degrees and sunny), and got lost meandering through the medina. We stayed in a restored nobleman's mansion that was turned into a guesthouse. It was gorgeous! We visited the fish market which was fascinating, lively, full of well fed cats, and reminded me why I'm a mostly-vegetarian!

- Two nights in Marrakech. Traditional family style dinner in Djemaa el Fna where they just kept bringing out the food! I'm going to have to try cooking eggplant Moroccan style. It was delicious! The next day we walked til we dropped and visited the Saadian tombs, and the Palais Badi and Palais Bahia... in that order with the best for last! Bahia means beautiful and I could have stayed at that Palace all day.

I learned some Arabic on my trip!

Hello = Salaam

Thank you = Shukran

Move over = Balac

Let's go = Ya-la

It took a long time to remember all these numbers and I wonder how long they will stick with me?!

1=Wa-hed; 2=Djoudj; 3=T'letta; 4=Arbah; 5= Hm-sa; 6= Sita; 7 = Saba; 8 = Tamania; 9 = Tisa; 10 = Ashara

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