When a friend proposed that we took a trip to Morocco in search of some winter sunshine, I jumped at the chance to visit this hitherto (for me) unexplored continent. I knew Morocco would be a good place for me to start exploring Africa because (a) I speak one of the languages, (b) I knew something about the country, and (c) there is a well-established tourist industry so I wouldn’t have to figure everything out from scratch.
We arrived and it was raining. Not the plan. After leaving the airport, our first experience was to get ripped off by a taxi driver who proceeded to drop us off in entirely the wrong place. Not the most auspicious start but, hey, it could only get better from there. And it did.
I loved Morocco the most when I was stationary, be it through the window of a train, sat at a pavement cafe, from a scenic point or simply from the rooftop of my riad. This didn’t totally come as a surprise to me – I don’t exactly love hustle and bustle. Other people may come to Morocco for the chaotic souks of the medinas, I came for the sights, savors and sunshine.
Moving on every few days using Morocco’s excellent rail service gave me a feel for some of the different parts of the country. Being introduced to Marrakech on a dark, rainy evening was probably not the best start but venturing out of the riad the next day revealed many things to be explored. Conversely, Casablanca was love at first sight – like being back in my comfort zone of Europe but with an interesting twist. Fez was incredibly scenic with fabulous views from our riad and the medina was colorful and fascinating.
It’s hard to pick a favorite but it would probably come down to the food and the biggest travel lesson I’ve learnt this trip – sometimes you should follow eating recommendations from a guidebook.
Other lessons learned:
- if it’s your first time in Morocco and your riad offers meet you at the airport, it’s worth the additional cost – independence can wait till you get your bearings
- food in Morocco is amazing – eat breakfast every day
- you will need some warm clothes in January
- dressing modestly covering knees and shoulders may be the advice given but I felt more comfortable covered from elbow to ankle
- mint tea is incredibly addictive (and I’ve now unfortunately developed a taste for sweet tea)
The sad thing for us was that there weren’t many tourists around. The riads we stayed in were not full and the fabulous restaurants we ate in were mostly empty (apart from some locals). Morocco is a beautiful and affordable country (with great weather) and definitely worth visiting.