Team Onetimefashionista visited the Royal Kingdom of Morocco in December 2014 to spend Christmas, New Year’s Eve and days in between in this astoundingly beautiful country in Northern Africa; getting soaked in the exotic and nothing short of energetic, lively and colourful Chefchaouen, hopping souks and Medinas- namely the Jemma El Fena, Islamic art, handicrafts in Marrakech, getting to know the Berber tribes inhabiting the Atlas mountains and getting rejuvenated on the last day of 2014 at the famous Moroccan Hammams and what an experience that was! As you know by now from our detailed account of experience and the photos we take, we never settle for the ordinary when we go out to travel. While we do get to see and do the typical tourist like activities but we always make sure we go off track and experience something unique. Same happened in Morocco. While we will definitely be making you yearn to visit this country soon with our upcoming travel blogs, here is a quick list of top 10 must dos you need to experience to make sure you immerse yourself in the Moroccan experience. So read on.
1. Enjoy Caleche ride in Marrakech
This is the most unique and authentic way to explore Marrakech. Ideally the first thing to do early in the morning to avoid rush hour traffic and usual chaos that ensues later in the city. Read now here the detailed experience of our Caleche ride taken on the 1st day of this year. Next time you are in Marrakech, make a point to get this activity done.
2. Experience Royal Hammam at La Maison Arabe
Do not leave Morocco without doing this. Do this preferably the day before you are returning home. And don’t do it elsewhere – you have to do it at La Maison Arabe to understand how to get ported back in time and be treated like royalty. Again, we have shared our royal scrubbing experience with you in more detail here. So read now and reserve your hammam bath before you start for Morocco.
3. Get lost in the offbeat fairytale blue town of Chefchaouen
Beat the blues in blue at the blue town Panoramic view of the blue town of Morocco- Chefchaouen. This small and relatively quiet town built on the upper slopes of a valley in the Rif Mountains proved to be a mountain paradise; by far my favorite location in Morocco
If you are a tourist, go to Marrakech and come back. You are ordinary. If you are a voyager, you need to see for your eyes this blue town of Chefchaouen. You are extra ordinary then. Situated some 6 hour drive from Marrakech up north, this town was painted in only blue and white in 1930s by the Jewish immigrants. Blog to be published under Voyage category in coming weeks.
4. Take a day trip near Marrakech: Visit the Kasbah at Ait Ben Haddou
UNESCO World Heritage Site Aït Benhaddou is a fortified city, or ksar as they call it Watching the sun going down overlooking this fortified city situated in Souss-Massa-Drâa on a hill along the Ounila River was a visual treat
The harder a place is to get to, the mesmerising it is. The remotes a place is to get to, the rewarding that experience is. Although most would go to Essaouira or Agadir as a day trip from Marrakech but we suggest you head south-east towards Ourzazate to see the Kasbah at Ait Ben Haddou. You need to visit for yourself to find out why in this UNESCO World Heritage site so many international blockbusters were shot here in recent years which include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara. Blog to be published under Voyage category in coming weeks.
5. Do Souk hopping while getting lost and found in the Medina of Marrakech
The souks thread north from Jemaa el Fna and continue in a winding labyrinth until they hit the Musée de Marrakech. Open from around 9am to 9pm, the best time to visit is in the cool of morning, or in the evening when the sun seeps through slatted roof shades, illuminating a million golden dust motes. Nowhere is the fusion of Africa and Arabia that so characterizes Marrakech more apparent than in this vibrant, colourful, chaotic, ancient spice square.
With an open mind but firmly guarded pockets, you have to make a plan one day to get completely lost in the labyrinth of the old Medina at Marrakech. The UNESCO heritage site is an amalgamation of colours, sounds, chaos. If you have to get back to square one, just ask someone where the big square is, you will be found again. You have to see for yourself the spice markets, the leather handicrafts, the colourful babouches, ceramics and traditional Berber jewellery here. A full-fledged post to be published in coming weeks.
6. Enjoying the sunset while sipping mint tea overlooking the Jemaa al Fena
At the terrace of the Cafe de France- Shehzaad sipping away the Moroccan mint tea while the last sun of 2014 sets overlooking the bustling Jemma el Fna square We saw the last sunset of 2014 overlooking the bustling Jemma el Fna square, the heart of Marrakesh.
There are several restaurants overlooking the Jemaa al Fena and very naturally seats get filled up especially before sunset. You can decide to go to the terrace of Café de France to book yourself a good spot from where you can not only see hustle and bustle of the Jemaa al Fena below you but you will be witnessing the astonishing sunset behind the Koutoubia Mosque. The minaret will stand tall while the sun will kiss goodbye to another day. Blog to be published under Voyage category in coming weeks.
7. Visit mosques and Madrasahs
Night view of Hassan II Mosque Casablanca King Hassan II mosque is situated on the atlantic coast of the city Casablanca, listed as the largest mosque in Morocco and Africa and 7th largest in the world Courtyard of Ben Youssef Madrasa Named after the Almoravid emir Ali ibn Yusuf, Ben Youssef Madrasa (allied to the neighbouring Ben Youssef Mosque) is arguably the oldest and most important mosque/madrasa in Marrakesh Koutoubia mosque and minaret ground, Marrakech
It should be taken for granted that in order to explore the spiritual aspect and the Islamic art of Morocco, you have to spend some quiet time to reflect on the Universe and all its creation. No place will give you that much serenity other than a mosque. While they are aplenty all around this country, the one we certainly recommend would be the Grand Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. The grandeur, the architecture, the might will overwhelm you once you stand outside its doors, once you step inside it will transform you to a different zone. This is the largest in whole of Morocco, in Africa and the 7th largest mosque in the whole world. Blog to be published under Voyage category in coming weeks.
8. Have an afternoon drink in a Riad
La Maison Arabe’s courtyard is full of Moroccan charm-a traditional riad setup with beautifully ornate decorations and a variety of tranquil common spaces Moroccan Mint Tea, or what Moroccans will jokingly call “Moroccan whiskey”, is the national icon for hospitality
Even if you are not staying in one yourself, it is imperative that to explore the stay in a typical Riad, you have to grab a mint tea in one of the many Riads. In Marrakech, there are Riads right in the heart of the Medina and outside it. The unique ambience, the gentle sound of the fountains, the calmness is really worth an experience to have over some aromatic fresh mint tea. Blog to be published under Voyage category in coming weeks.
9. Eat Moroccan street food, traditional dishes
It’s always chicken Tagine O’clock while in Morocco! Cooked in a clay pot of the same name, this classic dish is in my list of top 2 dishes from Morocco Moroccan Couscous with Seven Vegetables- this famous Moroccan dish features a mound of steamed couscous topped by stewed chicken or meat and vegetables Harira is the most important soup in Morocco as it serves as the breaker of the fast. Traditionally served with couscous, Harira is considered as a traditional Berber dish, like couscous Ms. Celebrity posing awkwardly with her juice-maker fan;)
Yes it is the land of couscous and you will have to try out various couscous dishes may be in every other meal you will be having here. You must also try Tagine and Moroccan Kebab. It is mandatory tip to have orange juices when you are at Jemaa al Fena square.
10. Dine under Berber tent and enjoy breathe-taking performance at Chez Ali
A must have experience preferably to have towards the end of your travel in Morocco. This place is fantasy kingdom just 10 minute drive from Marrakech towards the route to Casablanca. You can call this dinner-performance experience to be the Moroccan attempt at Cirque du Soleil. Traditionally dressed characters, colourful Berber tents and the amazing desert tunes in the background convert the whole evening atmosphere into magic land. Especially the food – the size of the dish, the amount of food they will serve you – may bring water to your eyes after watering your mouth! The open air performance that follows dinner is equally stunning with horsemen, fireworks and belly dancers. Blog to be published under Voyage category in coming weeks.0