I’ve been absent for three weeks now. Rather than a traditional hen’s night I’d requested my Maid of Honour to do something a bit different. She came up with the brilliant idea of travelling around Morocco for 10 whole days! I left Belfast on April 2nd and just returned this afternoon. As I was coming through the arrivals hall there was a gaggle of girls with the thickest, most bogan of English accents crowded around.
“Were the Vamps on your flight?” one asked. I made her repeat the question twice because I couldn’t understand her for the life of me. No. My flight wasn’t coming from Glasgow. It was coming from London Heathrow. And even the Vamps can’t make me happy. I’m depressed that my tour of that beautiful, spicy, north African country is over. Now to console myself by filtering through photos.
Brigette and I travelled to Morocco with our friends Aidan and Claire the day before our G Adventures tour was due to start. We landed in Casablanca on the afternoon of my birthday. I went away 26 and came back 27. It was a great birthday. We checked in to our urban, airbnb apartment, and immediately fell asleep.
The city was very hazy and smoggy for both of our two day stay. It was a bit miserable walking about in urban areas under a grey sky, but once we reached the Hassan II Mosque on the waterfront we really loved the mystery that the low fog leant to this amazing structure. The mosque is the 7th largest in Africa and we couldn’t make out the full 210 meters of the minaret until just before we left. I love the distinctly Moroccan style of this mosque. The arches and the mosaics are very different to anything I’d seen in Egypt or in Brunei. It’s a very special place.
We didn’t have extensive plans in Casablanca. As the economic centre of Morocco it was important to simply check off the list. Tagine and mint tea was on the top of everyone’s list and we found what would be the first of a daily dose of the sugary elixir.
On our second evening we met the thirteen other people we would be travelling the country with. They all seemed friendly as we went off for a group dinner. The guide ran down out travel plans, to Fes via Meknes and Volubilis, on to Mergouza and into the Sahara for a night under the stars, Todra Gorge, Ait Beni Haddou, finishing up with a walking tour in Marrakech. It all sounded very exciting. I knew before we booked we wouldn’t be visiting a personal bucket-list destination, Chefchaouen, but I guess I need to save something for future visits. Even after a day and a half I was already certain I’d want to come back to Morocco again.
Morocco uses the Moroccan Dirham, which you cannot buy outside of Morocco. I travelled on quite a modest daily budget of MAD150 (€14). Accommodation and breakfast paid for through the tour.
- Moroccan tea costs around MAD10
- Couscous or tagine in a local restaurant costs around MAD70.
On our first night as a tour group we went to a restaurant aimed at tourists where dinner and a drink cost MAD120 which seemed exorbitant after our previous cheap night out. But MAD70 for a meal set the standard for the rest of the trip.
Casablanca is an international city. Local men and women can be seen in a variety of outfits from the traditional kaftan and djellaba to jeans and long shirts. Many of the women we saw covered their heads.
It seems that t-shirts and a knee length skirt would be fine here, but if you’re looking to blend in you should be prepared to be fairly covered. At the mosque we saw tourists in booty shorts and spaghetti straps, but in my opinion this is very inconsiderate of the religious site and just the Moroccan people in general.
On our part, the girls of the group covered up while in Casablanca with long sleeved, loose blouses and trousers. I wore tighter jeans with a long shirt and cardi, as you can see in the photos above. We all carried scarves, but I was the only one who used it to cover my head.
And that was Casablanca! I plan on doing daily posts and maybe going over budgets and travel fashion advice as we go along. Let me know what you think?