Last month, we opted to stay in continent and travel to the Kingdom of Morocco. The three of us spent hours and miles traveling around the country by car over the course of 12 days. We made several stops along the way and we thought it would be fun to share a memory that stands out about each location.
Potentially the city with the most name recognition, Casablanca wasn’t exactly at the top of our list for must sees while in Morocco. And if that wasn’t enough to keep us from really digging deep into the city, Benjamin was also SICK. The morning of our flight we took his temperature and it was a glorious 102 degrees (that’s almost 39 C, for you metric folk). But did that stop us? For better or worse, no, it didn’t. The memory I will always have of this place is driving around the city, contemplating whether or not we should take Ben to a see a doctor. Between the aspirator sessions (thank goodness we packed it!) and Ben’s crying in the back seat, this was the first time as parents that we really weren’t sure what to do for our son. This made enjoying any part of the beginning of our trip next to impossible and certainly put a damper on Casablanca for us. After much deliberation, we decided to not take Ben to a doctor and instead dosed him with Tylenol and drove 6 hours into the countryside to the “Blue Pearl,” Chefchaouen. Because that’s what good parents do, right? (Spoiler alert: he DID get better within a couple of days. And some Tylenol suppositories.)
Chef, as it is endearingly referred to as, was hands down the most unique city we visited on our trip through Morocco. You’ve undoubtedly seen pictures of the city of blue printed within in-flight magazines or tucked between other remarkable sights on “top 10 places to see” articles online. Despite still feeling ill, we managed to get Ben out of our small Airbnb room in order to explore the labyrinth of narrow alleyways and winding staircases that made up the town. We enjoyed a few hours just exploring and excitedly anticipating what we’d see around each new corner. Chef isn’t the type of town with a lot of tourist sites for visiting. The town IS the site. And of course, being the photographer I am, it was all eye candy from behind the lens of my camera!
If you don’t already know what a “riad” is, then you ought to look it up. They’re all the rage in Morocco and any travel site worth its salt will tell you that they’re a must to stay in when visiting Fez. Our riad, Riad Sheryne, was modestly priced but had a fantastic location within the old city. Fez is one massive pedestrian-only zone (save the constant zoom of motorbikes around every corner), so getting a place to stay in the city is a huge plus for exploring and feeling more a part of what it was like to live there over 1,000 years ago. The manager of our riad was exceptionally kind and went out of his way to make us feel at home. Both mornings we were there, he made us a simple, yet delicious breakfast. Additionally, we had one of the best rooms in the building as it was on the top floor (top as in, it was literally a room built on the roof) with an incredible view of the city’s rooftops just outside our door. I’m very thankful to have had the experience of staying in a genuine riad and getting a taste of traditional style of living that dates back several centuries.
Nador, a northern city on the edge of the Mediterranean, was unexpectedly beautiful. All of Morocco was, but something about the combination of the sea and fresh air does something to make your soul a bit happier. We ended up meeting our friends Stephen and Hannah there, and they even graciously offered for us to stay with their family in their home as they were there spending the Christmas holidays together. It was the most relaxing 2 days of our trip! No plans, no agenda, just bike rides along the coast, walking across the border by foot into Spain for the day, a girls-only henna party, and playing lots of Settlers of Catan. THE best.
I’m not gonna lie, Marrakech was not my favorite city. For a lot of people it is, but for me it just kinda rubbed me the wrong way (maybe it was the monkeys and squirrels on leashes in the main square? Who knows.). There were, however, some highlights. Like the souq market, or the beautiful park, or the AMAZING lunch spot we found. But if there’s one thing Caleb knows about me, he knows I’m a sucker for pottery. And boy, did Marrakech have a lot of nice pottery! Mugs, plates, bowls – you name it, they had it. Caleb already knows I have too many random pieces of pottery as it is, but I had my eye on this onneee ceeerrrrtain thing I wanted. I promise, Caleb really tried convincing me I didn’t need it, but I DID. (Isn’t that how marriage always goes?) And I told him that only if I could barter down to a specific price and get the EXACT one I wanted would I buy it. And then I DID (Picture: Me – standing in the shop really excited I’ve just bought more pottery; Caleb – off to the side, downcast eyes, shaking his head, handing over the money). And that is my Marrakech memory. Walking around scouting out the perfect salad bowl. I love my salad bowl.