Our G Adventures Group left Spain behind to go on to spend a week in Morocco. First stop was Tangiers, after crossing the strait of Gibraltar, a narrow strait that separates Spain from Morocco. Once in Tangiers our group had a guided tour through the local Medina. I really enjoyed this tour, as the medina centres on the life of the community, there are several “essentials” in a Medina, a school, a Mosque, a well supplying water, shops and places to buy food. I think I remembered everything!
From Tangiers we drove to Chefchaouen, founded in 1471 and located in the northwest of Morocco in the Rif mountains. The name of this town refers to the surrounding mountaintops that resemble the two horns of a goat (“Chef Chaouen” comes from the Berber word for horns). It was a festive day in Chefchaouen, as it was school holiday time and many families were taking time off to visit this site with its mountainside mosque.
As our group climbed the towards the mosque, the sun was slowly dipping down below the horizon, spreading a lovely faint glow over the town of Chefchaouen, and just above, at the top of the hill at the mosque, I could see the silhouettes of people, captured in the sun’s diminishing light. It was a lovely site to behold, calm yet joyful as I observed the daylight slowly fade on this beautiful scene and encountered many people on this narrow, rocky pathway soaking up the tranquility and enjoyment of the moment.
From Chefchaouen, we went on to Fes in Northeaster Morocco, where we stayed two nights. The drive between Chfchaouen and Fes was full of green fields, in fact, I was surprised to see how green Morocco was at this time of year. The countryside was coming alive with the spring and the crops were coming up.
Fes is often referred to as the country’s cultural capital and particularly known for its Medina of Fes, Fes El Bali, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by a wall and founded in the 9th century, it is home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Al-Karaouine. It is reputed to have 9,000 streets and believed to be the largest car-free urban area in the world—we were cautioned not to venture in the medina ourselves, as we were sure to become lost, however, I believe in getting lost, so if I had been on my own, I probably would have ventured in, perhaps part of the time with a guide.
It is brimming with medieval architecture, souks of every kind offering clothing, leather goods, wooden products, food stuff of every kind from dates nuts and pastries, to meat products., in fact various sections of the medina carry various wares such as the food area, leather, clothing. It is a hub of activity that I found totally amazing.
From Fes we took a train to Casablanca where we visited an incredible mosque. Although Casablanca has a romantic ring to it, it’s not that interesting as a tourist destination. It is a seaside city, so one can walk along the boardwalk, along the sea, but the mosque there is a site to behold. It has a sliding roof that opens up the mosque to the sky above. is the largest city in Morocco, located in the central-western part of the country bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest city in the Maghreb, as well as one of the largest and most important cities in Africa, both economically and demographically.
Casablanca, made famous by the film by the same name certainly has a romantic ring to it, but does not have much in the way of a tourist destination. Casablanca is Morocco’s chief port, on the Atlantic Ocean, and one of the largest financial centers on the continent, and is considered the economic and business centre of Morocco with main industrial facilities located here. It has a population of about 4 million.
A big focal point, and something I visited, in Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. It is the third largest mosque in the world, accommodating 25,000 people on the inside and another 80,000 in the outside courtyard. Its minaret is 690 feet tall, the tallest in the world and faces Mecca. It was an amazing place to visit. One very interesting feature was a sliding roof that opened up to the sky above.
A highlight of the tour in Morocco was visiting the famed Marrakech, another city that has a romantic ring to it. It is a city with a great amount of hustle and bustle, horse-drawn carriages mixing with regular traffic, mosques, gardens and a very interesting medina. It is the fourth largest city in Morocco after Casablanca, Fes and Tangiers. The highlight of visiting Marrakech was a visit to its Medina, with its vendors, terrace-topped restaurants, souks lined along narrow walkways and snake charmers in an area outside the maze-like area.