Sorry for the radio silence. For the past two weeks I’ve been travelling without my laptop (actually I had it in Nouvelle-Aquitaine but often the wiFi was so terrible I didn’t use it). Morocco was a feast of the senses. Before heading to Morocco, my friend Monique — look out for her ‘Nomads feature soon — sent me this George Orwell essay on Marrakech.
I’m thrilled we had a very different experience than George Orwell. He’d be shocked at the modernity of Marrakesh today. And to Michele and I, it was the people that wove the fabric of our trip. As we sat for dinner overlooking the Atlas Mountains, Michele said, “I miss Mama Hadija!” As we took mint tea on the roof of our riad in Marrakesh he mused, “I wonder what Ale [our trekking guide in the Imlil Valley] is doing right now?” We share a knowing smile when someone asks us about Chefchaouen, thinking about the gnarled faced drug dealer who followed us for 10 minutes outside of our hotel.
I can’t wait to share these stories of the incredible places we’ve seen and the people we’ve met with you. But first, as we’ve been posting on our social media and sharing details of our journey with friends and family we had a few people ask us about our itinerary. It was great, perfectly planned. I planned the accommodations and places we’d visit, Michele took over transportation and logistics (including navigating maze-like medinas). I thought I’d share the basics of our itinerary here with you so you can duplicate it should you choose. It gave us a variety of accommodations, landscapes, locales.
Morning flight from London Stanstead Airport to Fez via Ryanair flight. We got into Fez late afternoon and our riad arranged a car from the airport for us for less than $20USD. Checked into Dar 7 Louyat in the heart of the old medina and settled in and spent the afternoon and evening exploring the medina.
Explored the medina in the morning. Visited the famous Fez tanneries, and peaked inside of the University / mosque. Spent the afternoon shopping for and preparing our delicious tangine with our hosts at Dar 7 Louyat. We planned to buy CTM bus tickets to Chefchaouen today but they were all sold out. Michele’s quick thinking we decided to rent a car. When we told this idea to our hosts, they didn’t hesitate in saying that’s a good idea (vs. hiring a driver), so we weren’t worried.
Driver to Fez airport, picked up our rental car and drove 3.5 hours to Chefchaouen getting there mid-afternoon. We dropped the car off in a paid public parking lot (trust the guys with the neon vest; it cost us 2 euros for him to watch it overnight).
We freshened up at our hotel and explored the old city, dodging busloads of tourists all looking for the perfect shot among Chefchaouen blue alleys. This was the perfect amount of time in Chefchaouen — more details later but it was my least favorite stop.
Early rise and back on the road. The drive between Fez and Chefchaouen is beautiful and I highly recommend it. Beautiful landscapes and you pass the Barrage Sidi Chahed, an artificial lake / reservoir built in the 1990s that is stunning. After dropping the car off at the Fez airport, we were driven to Hotel Sahrai and spent the next 24 hours in luxury overlooking Fez’s new city. A great pool, a lively bar and restaurant, it was great to see this side of Fez.
We spent the morning at Hotel Sahrai and took an Air Arabia afternoon plane from Fez to Marrakesh. We were picked up at the Marrakesh airport by our driver from Kasbah du Toubkal and drove a very narrow and winding 1.5 hours up the Atlas mountains to the Imlil Valley where I spent my birthday evening watching the sunset on the highest mountain in Morocco, with a cake and learning about the Berber people.
Honestly, we didn’t want to leave the mountains. If we could extend this part of the trip by a day we would have. We did a light trek in the morning, came back to the Kashbah for lunch and a hammam session and left late afternoon to head back to Marrakesh. In Marrakesh, we checked into our riad, Riad Goloboy, next to one of the royal palaces. We then took in golden hour views before heading into the medina for dinner.
Explored the major sites in Marrakesh, gardens, Jardin Majorelle, YSL and Berber museums, main mosque and the medina as well as had a camel burger at Clock Café. We had dinner in the medina and took in our last Moroccan sunset this time around.
Morning flight to London. Do get to the airport early as there are a lot of checkpoints.
WHAT A TRIP! I can’t wait to dive in more in the upcoming weeks!
**DISCLAIMER I lucked out having an incredible partner for this trip. From giving me a boost during trekking to being my personal GPS when we were told “Muslims only” in medinas. You’re spending full days with this person so choose wisely!