I fell in love with Morocco. It’s opulent, exotic, and colorful. Morroco was my first trip to an Islamic country. I was there for two weeks with my boyfriend in 2001.
The cities are polluted, hectic, and the touts plentiful, but we were in heaven. We drank and ate our weight in mint tea and couscous. We explored the medinas of the cities, Roman Ruins, Berber fortresses and the beautiful Islamic monuments. With a very loosely planned literary we were able to get lost, be in the moment, and let the adventure guide us.
Our adventure started in Casablanca. From there, we took a train to Fez, then hopped on an overnight bus to Marrakesh (barf bags were distributed by the bus driver at the beginning of the trip because of the windy roads ahead). And, we finished up with a trip to the Atlas Mountains.
We loved exploring the medinas. Medinas are the historic parts of each city; part residential, part shopping center, and part market. In medinas you will find twisting streets where shops, restaurants, markets and homes line the streets in buildings that seem too close together. These twisty, eclectic areas of a city were mazes we loved trying to solve, but the more we tried, the more lost we seemed to get. However, we were travelling, so we just enjoyed the journey and the unexpected places it was taking us..
The interior designer in me couldn’t get enough of the architecture and the rich and detailed interiors. I was in awe of the mixed metal works (brass, copper, iron, bronze), wood carved doors and horseshoe arches, plaster color palettes and amazing level of detail found in tilework. Even in the most modest cafes displayed the most intricate tile layouts.. I was in awe.
The daily calls to prayer added an exotic touch to our trip. And, even though our raid (hotel) in Marrakesh was right next to the clock tower which sounded 5x a day, starting at 5am (and woke us up!) we still relished in the experience.
At the end of the trip we rented a car and headed to the Atlas Mountains for some peace and quiet.. Wow, what a completely different pace from the cities we had visited! The mountains were so relaxing and beautiful. Red earth and sparse dwellings as far as the eye could see. And the people were chill. No one approached us to be our guide or to sell us anything. It was wintertime but we bundled up and and did some day hiking. It was a great counterbalance to the our time in the more urban cities and was the perfect way to end our trip.
I am still amazed at how much I was able to bring home from my shopping trips to the medinas--Berber rugs, brass lanterns, antique tea tables, wooden carvings, leather poufs, baskets, tangines. I must admit, it did not make for easy traveling on our return flight, especially when we missed our connection in Paris. But I am thrilled, even years later, with everything that I purchased. A lot of the items still decorate my apartment today.