morocco.

DSC_0912Morocco. Where to begin? Our first “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore” moment happened after getting out of the taxi a few blocks from our riad (the Moroccan equivalent of a bed and breakfast).  As we were about to turn down a narrow alley to find out where we would be sleeping for the next few nights, our wonderful guide, Fettah, signaled to us to hang back. A large group of men emerged, all in street clothing, and we then noticed that some of them were carrying something large on a plank of plywood above their heads.  The ‘something large’ turned out to be a body, covered by a thin fleece blanket with some sort of cartoon pattern. A funeral procession, Fettah explained.

There would be many more of these moments, some of them startling (i.e. our traditional hammam spa treatment), but more often than not they were enchanting and magical. While there are a few must-sees when in Marrakesh, the majority of our time was spent meandering the labyrinth-esque souks and eating multi-course leisurely lunches of olives and the best chicken with lemon and couscous you’ve ever had (that cost no more than $15 USD).  There was also more than a couple of hours spent in the basement of rug shops, sipping mint tea and telling the shop owners “la choukran” (no, thank you) to hundreds of rugs before finding the right ones. (Thank you to Soph, my patient travel companion/negotiation coach.)

One particularly memorable day involved accompanying our riad owner and manager, two stylish, eccentric, and overly-tanned Italian women to their ‘country club’ for the day. As we left the clay walls of the old medina and ventured out into the countryside, we weren’t totally sure what to expect.  We were delighted (and relieved) upon arriving at the Beldi Country Club where for around $25 USD we spent the day exploring the stunning grounds, swimming, lounging poolside, and enjoying a three-course lunch.  Plus, we had the Olympic-sized swimming pool all to ourselves.  It was a dream.  (We later learned that this was the site of Poppy Delevingne’s Marrakesh nuptials.)

We then took the 7-hour train ride to Fez where we relaxed for a few more days before flying to Madrid.  From Fez we hired a driver to take us on the 6-hour round trip journey to Chefchaouen, the Blue City.  You cannot believe this place is real, and surprisingly, not that touristy. Chefchaouen is hard to get to and fairly isolated, but worth the trip if you can swing it.  We wandered the streets, ate more chicken and couscous, and you guessed it, bought another rug.

Sure there’s no place like home, but even Dorothy would agree that there’s really no place like Morocco.

DSC_0713DSC_0732DSC_0735DSC_0720Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset{Fettah, the Godfather of Marrakesh.}DSC_0731DSC_0744DSC_0725DSC_0718DSC_0702{Lounging on the roof of our riad in Marrakesh.}DSC_0724DSC_0719DSC_0721DSC_0723DSC_0714{THE chicken}DSC_0712DSC_0706DSC_0745DSC_0747DSC_0750{Jars of braised meat, often brought to wives by their husbands as healing/comfort food.}DSC_0753DSC_0756DSC_0759DSC_0764DSC_0767DSC_0768DSC_0763DSC_0769{Chicken Bastilla – the ultimate savory and sweet dish.}DSC_0770DSC_0774{Jardin Majorelle – the final resting place of Yves Saint Laurent.}DSC_0778DSC_0779DSC_0780DSC_0786DSC_0792DSC_0789DSC_0804DSC_0809DSC_0815DSC_0823DSC_0826DSC_0834DSC_0847DSC_0848DSC_0849IMG_8773DSC_0860DSC_0862DSC_0867DSC_0870DSC_0872{The grounds at Beldi Country Club.}IMG_8811DSC_0875DSC_0880DSC_0881DSC_0885DSC_0882DSC_0886DSC_0888{When in Marrakesh, don the hats the restaurant server gives you…}DSC_0894DSC_0895{One of many stunning vistas en route to Chefchaouen.}DSC_0896DSC_0901DSC_0903DSC_0907DSC_0910DSC_0911DSC_0913DSC_0918DSC_0920DSC_0922DSC_0930DSC_0935DSC_0938DSC_0945DSC_0956IMG_8801IMG_8771IMG_8784Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

IMG_8857{Mint tea on the rooftop of our riad in Fez.}IMG_8859IMG_8860{Not looking touristy AT ALL.}Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

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