South Morocco and Marrakech tour and itinerary

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Judit Llordés
@juditllordes
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Morocco useful tips information places to visit

White House: Today guided tour of the mosque Hassan II a great little place, indeed, the result of the tireless work of thousands of Moroccan artisans and workers.

La mosque it was built with technologically advanced solutions combined with manual work; right now, practically brand new, it is a great sight, and I hope that the photos taken inside do justice to at least the whole, if not the details.



RABAT

A Rabat you arrive after an hour by train, taken at the station House-Port; I noticed that the trains are not very dissimilar to the Spanish ones, except for the fact that the air conditioning works, they are on time, and eight people fit into the compartments.

In August the re Mohammed VI and the capital is all flagged.

People crowd the markets of the medina as much (I have only been in Morocco for two days and I am already sick of markets and flea markets) as well as the beaches.

An afternoon tour in modern Rabat made me almost feel at home, with a Mc Donald's crowded with young people all armed with mobile phones (however, kept in sight, given that lately its degree of diffusion in Morocco has made it a real amenity. obligation), crazy traffic due to the closure of the central city artery due to the demonstrations for the royal birthday, forced into an Audi convertible with techno music.

I know that to see theAfrica which is in the Morocco I have to move from here.


Visit to the archaeological museum: a little out of stock, also because most of it is under construction, but the Sala dei Bronzi quite pays off the ten dirham paid at the entrance (the heads of Juba and Cato are actually beautiful).


As already Casablanca, Rabat is not such an exciting place, even if I noticed - just as a curiosity - that there is a Tae Kwon Do gym and an Aikido gym, the latter unfortunately closed (not that I would have trained, but a lesson I would have gladly seen her).

TANGIER

Tangier is one of Pillars of Hercules, which once represented the end of the known world and is now the stepping stone to the despair of an entire continent.

I arrived there after four and a half hours of a boring train journey, through a parched and flat countryside.

The arrival of the train unleashed the local taxi drivers, real beasts hunting for prey.

The destination was and is very particular.

The Hotel El Muniria is so described by the Lonely Planet: “It looks all its years, but an excellent choice remains common.

Clean rooms with hot water showers cost Dr 110/130. there is something nostalgic in the 50s air of the hotel, the remains of a past that saw Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg staying here, while William Burroughs wrote his Il Meal Nudo in room 9 " .


My room is number 3, with a nice view of the bay (and for once the cost, compared to the indications of the Lonely Planet, is much lower: 53 dirhams): sure, the bed has a bit of a spring. and everything needs to be renovated (I know that nothing has been touched since the Beat Generation), but I think a couple of days should be spent there, at least for the view from the room.

Among other things, I realized that most of the Moroccan cities can be seen in a single day or almost, so the problem arose that, having to return on September 5, I have to find a way to lengthen the journey or a reason to stay longer in one place.


TETOUAN

We are on our way to Chefchaouen on a CTM bus without air conditioning, with a former “hot and humid lead hood” model.

The bus stopped for half an hour in the bus station of Tetouan, intermediate stage, in an indescribable mess.

Imagine a huge covered station, with dozens and dozens of buses, one worse off than the other, many with their engines running and trying to leave at the same time, getting stuck together.

In all this, dozens of people get on our stopped bus selling chocolate, watches, chains, and even smoke.

The air, which is already unbreathable when we are on the move, can be poured comfortably, given the level of humidity, and the running engines certainly do not help.


The beauty is that around the vehicles there is a swarm of people who risk ending up under the wheels with all the luggage at any moment, but who seem to care highly.

Here on the bus the Moroccan passengers have begun to complain about the situation, mainly because of the air conditioning not working, and when a Moroccan starts to argue.

The chorus of screams, shouts, invectives and curses rises stronger and stronger, and reaches its peak when a bus tries to get in the way to pass before us, until we manage to win.

At the juncture, I found the usefulness of the Puzzle Week as a fan.

The journey resumes with a good margin of delay on a very, very bumpy asphalt road

CHEFCHAOUEN

Chefchaouen you have to conquer it.

You have to make an uncomfortable journey by bus, you have to backpack the endless and steep climb from the bus station, you have to find a place to sleep.


I entrusted myself to a local guy who, before finding a free bed (bed?), Made me turn at least ten different pensions.

In the end I found a Sassi di Matera-style niche in the Pension Valencia for 30 dirhams, a little bigger than the bed (bed? Is completely disjointed, without a single flat section!) And with a magnificent (?) Window overlooking the hall.

The presence of bedbugs is highly suspected, given the general hygienic situation, but at least the water from the shared shower is hot and plentiful; the bathroom is Turkish style, with a tub to fill and empty it for cleaning.

The fact is that Chefchaouen, a beautiful white and light blue village dominated by the nearby mountain, of an atypical tranquility for a Moroccan city, with people walking quietly without haste (so, where would they go? the country is really small), with infinite local craft shops, mainly lives from kif.

Here we are in the mountains of Rif, where the marijuana is grown with which all the hashish that invades Europe is packaged.

Kif is the leading economy of the whole region and Chefchaouen, given its pleasant aesthetic appearance, has been elected a destination for young people from all over Eurpoa as a place to spend days smoking what would only arrive very adulterated in their cities.

Here we mainly speak Spanish, but German, Moroccan, French, Spanish, English languages ​​are heard.

A part of tourists, who can afford it, take advantage of the cleanest hotels, side of luxury, while many of the young people adapt to sleep on extremely dirty mattresses thrown on the ground, even on the terraces.

Mine Pension Valencia it hosts the latter type of subjects: very nice but, I must observe, with a sense of cleanliness that is truly detached from mine, which also suits me quite a bit.

I was lucky enough to meet Davide and Arianna, a young couple from the province of Pesaro who were on my flight to Casablanca: we were out and about in the afternoon and evening after which, when I tried to return to my spacious lodgings at 2 am, I found the door closed and no one answered ringing and knocking.

After repeated attempts, someone came down from the terrace and opened the door for me.

Tonight I also attended a wedding procession, preceded by a small but extremely "sonorous" band, with a large group of men who, in the midst of the crowd, were holding up a small sedan chair inside which - I presume, given the fatigue who seemed to suffer - was the bride.

After a sleepless night spent tossing and turning in the humps of the bed I went to Pension Cordoba to look for Davide and Arianna.

They were still asleep, but I discovered that a single one was free: mine! Packed up, I ran out of the Pension Valencia and its single and multi-cell occupants.

Il Cordoba it is precise like few places where I have happened to sleep while traveling: it alternates a purely Moroccan style in the furnishings and finishes with a particularly Andalusian imprint in the architecture, with a large and bright central covered but ventilated patio, and a small room separate with low sofas around a table, all covered with drapes and cushions.

This is as far as the “common” spaces are concerned, to which a large roof terrace must be added: the room is slightly larger than the one I had at Valencia, but what a difference.

Everything is very clean and cared for, the managers are extremely friendly and inclined to chat, the overnight stay will cost me (with breakfast) 60 dirhams. Twelve thousand lire. Six euros. They do not have Internet, but the telephone number should be sufficient for reservations: 062519912 (without the zero if calling from outside Morocco).

We are still here, Arianna and Davide, a couple from Pesaro, and I, while the two Milanese Bruno and Stefano, known traveling by the Pesaro citizens, today will leave for the Mediterranean coast before returning home by train (ah, the times of the my Interrails!).

Davide attacked me with a cold, which I hope will disappear as soon as possible because I have never endured having to blow my nose into paper towels.

We continue to spend most of the time in the very relaxed atmosphere of our beautiful guesthouse, away from the sultry heat of the blue and white alleys that will be so fascinating, but to be frequented in the late afternoon.

Approaching the day of departure, however, we go under a blazing sun to the bus station, where we learn with consternation that the CTM runs up to Fes they are all full up to and including Wednesday; the only alternative possibility, I can understand through a multi-translation of a nice Argentine polyglot, is to go to the station tomorrow and find out if by chance a few passengers have boarded a Tetouan and, if necessary, go back to the hotel to collect your luggage.

We will talk about it again tomorrow, in the meantime we face the steep climb up to the town again and we throw ourselves under a more than necessary shower.

Our hotel is a real seaport, but the young people who pass by are nice, and a chat in improbable linguistic jumble can be done on the most varied topics, from football (universal, as a topic!), To the riots in Genoa. , the world economic situation, travel (of course!). the cold advances inexorably, I switch to aspirin.

I see it badly ... I dine, as usual, at Granada: brochettes, not even bad as a meal, after which a game of "Uno" with Davide and Arianna, with a bright meteor in the starry sky to seal the evening.

EDF

Arrived at Fes at past 20,30 I began the usual pilgrimage in search of accommodation; sold out the first two hotels on the list, I had my first experience with Moroccan Youth Hostels. I'm in a room with four other guys who, from what I understand, are from Scotland: the place doesn't look bad, it costs 55 dirhams including breakfast and looks clean.

Today half day trip (that's enough) to Menes, which is only an hour away by train from here.

At first glance it does not differ much from the other Moroccan cities of a certain importance, with its modern part complete with Mc Donald's (which occasionally tempts me, but for now I resist and eat Moroccan), and the ancient medina.

Apart from the usual souk, with its usual colorful stalls alternating fruit, fake branded clothing, handicrafts, fake branded clothing, junk, fake branded clothing (all sports, with all the latest models) , for the rest of notable a Meknes I saw the Mausoleum of Moulay ismail, great figure of Moroccan history, and the underground granaries of Heri es-Souani, truly immense in terms of size.

Returned in the afternoon to Fes, I did nothing but walk around the new city to gather information on timetables and booking possibilities for buses and trains.

The result was disheartening: my plan was to make the last leg to Essaouira, on the coast, shop there for various objects and souvenirs, then leave at midnight for Casablanca with the CTM bus to arrive in the morning and take the plane.

The evening continued happily in the courtyard of the hostel: there was a group of Americans (some of whom I had already met at Pension Cordobain that of Chefchaouen, while another Josh from Seattle is also studying musical composition, like Sebastian: two in two days, really curious!) also equipped with "Uno", so we joined my deck with theirs and we created a a series of games that lasted until late in the day.

After saying goodbye to the boys at the hostel, I went to the station to leave my backpack in storage so that I was free to wander around the medina of Fes without such ballast.

At the depot, however, they raised a problem: the backpack must be closed with a padlock and, since mine is not prepared, they could not accept it.

The fact is that with the aforementioned backpack on my shoulder I went around the shops near the station to find a sack or duffel bag where to put the backpack; luckily I found (at 22 dirhams) something like a "shopping bag", but large enough and, above all, able to be closed.

Having deposited the burden at the station, already sweating beyond measure, I went to immerse myself in the chaos of the medina of Fes.

More than anything else I had to reject the offers of various guides that would have been of little use to me anyway, since it is never my intention to wander around in search of trinkets or objects to buy.

The medina turned out to be equal to the others already seen for the types of goods offered, even if by extension it is by far the largest visited so far.

As usual, I try to find out about the situation in the country I know by visiting, and I find out that in Morocco there is 20% unemployment, so a lot of people try to do jobs abroad that the local population snubs.

Instead, he wanted above all to know about the mafia (strange, even on other occasions around the world I have often been asked what the mafia is and how it operates).

We took our leave with the exchange of their respective IT addresses (globalization: being on the Net means living around the corner even if you are physically thousands of kilometers away), and I headed to the Museo Dar Batha, which displays a small collection of Moroccan art (wood, ceramic, metal, cloth).

Marrakech useful tips and information

I arrived at 5 in the morning, quite exhausted from the 9 hour train ride, with a compartment changing composition at each stop.

I had a petit taxi take me to the square for 15 dirhams Djemaa el-Fna, which is the heart of this very famous city (for what, it is still to be seen), and I started looking for a room. When I had already toured four hotels, I came across Chris, an American guy who is also a lonely traveler looking for accommodation.

Given the general situation of "sold out", we joined forces and, in the end, we found a room at the Hotel Provence for 125 dirhams each (but we are one step away from the central square).

Still given the situation, we didn't have much trouble and, after a shower, I fell on the bed.

In the morning I went to the Hotel Ali to inquire about the desert trips Sebastian had told me so well about: I booked a three-day tour, a room for the evening of the return, and headed to the CTM station to book. the coach for Essaouira.

I then went for a tour of the souk with Chris, visiting the Ali Ben Youssef medersa (old Koranic school now under restoration).

A Djemaa el-Fna Chris had a snake put around his neck (they say bring good luck), but I drew back in horror, given my aversion to any reptile.

I review at the Hotel Ali and I discover that I am the only one on the list for the three-day tour in the desert (it would therefore cost me 1.900 dirhams), while the two-day tour already sees several bookings; change booking of tour and room, even if i will have to go back to the CTM station to change the booking for Essaouira, and I go back to the hotel to write the postcards.

I have seen worse than the Hotel Provence, even if it has Turkish toilets with a bucket to fill and then clean everything.

The room costs us a lot because it has two beds a square and a half plus a normal one, but we need a lot for one night only.

ESSAOURIA

Finally some beach

After an almost sleepless night due to the comings and goings that reigned at the Hotel Ali, accompanied by a fair dose of humid heat (the air conditioner was there, but it would have resulted in the noise that the use of incompatible earplugs made with the need to hear the alarm at 5,40), I took the CTM bus at 7,30.

After the usual backpacking pilgrimage, I stayed at the Hotel Civilization des Remparts, in a large room for three people, with a large bathroom which however has a non-flushing toilet (there is a special bucket) and a bathtub. whose enamel is eroded by time, all for 100 dirhams.

The beach does not seem bad at all, with light and very fine sand, which with that bit of wind gets in everywhere, as now seems to be a constant in Morocco. The water is cold, but I would also be tempted to take a bath if it weren't for the fact that I don't trust to leave the stuff on the beach, and among other things I know that in the hotel the water that comes out of the shower is insufficient to remove salt.

Essaouira it is a beautiful town, where the colonial architectural element of the time of Portuguese domination stands out in the Medina and in the port (where it is emphasized that Orson Welles shot the first scenes of Othello here).

The predominant colors are the white of the walls and the blue of the windows.

There are a lot of tourists, but you still manage to grasp a local authenticity when you go into the harbor as the fishing boats arrive, unloading colossal beasts, from fish to crabs.

Among other things, I enjoyed a splendid sunset - with customary photos taken of me by unidentified Spaniards from the ramparts of the port

For useful advice on Morocco, refer to "Morocco holidays: useful tips".

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