It’s been over a year since I’ve gone to Morocco and I still can’t believe that I got to experience a place like that. Like anyone heading off to a very foreign country, I had my reservations. I had heard some pretty bad things about Morocco, so bad that I thought about cancelling our honeymoon. But, guys, the people are incredibly nice and accommodating.
Yes, the men can be kind of assholes towards women, like when they ignore me and speak only to my husband, and yeah, I’m sure there are lots of terrible Moroccans out there just like there are lots of terrible Canadians out there. Like, those who drive vans. I’m kidding. Sort of. They’re wonderful, warm people and while I was so glad to get out of Africa and into Europe, I was equally, if not more, glad we went. It was an experience that was both everything and nothing I could imagine.
Jetting off to Africa takes more than just a seat sale, it takes a lot of planning. So, hopefully, this helps make your plans a little easier.
Casablanca was a whirlwind of honking horns and loud city noises. Casablanca is the only place we could fly directly into and is a really great place to start because it doesn’t drop you into a huge culture shock right away. To be honest, the airport was more of a culture shock than Casablanca was; the city felt much like any other metropolitan place.
Our hotel, though equipped with a pool, spa and beautiful view of the city, was very city-centered. Well, duh. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe something a little more crazy, but after getting a taxi to the beach (a ridiculous experience where we drove through what I assumed was a small landfill to get away from a traffic jam), I wished we had splurged and gotten a hotel right on the beach.
Instead of as much honking (because you will never escape honking in Casablanca), you had the roar of the ocean and a view that went on for miles.
If you want a slightly quieter vacation of walking the beach, having picturesque dinners and enjoying a boardwalk-like strip close to a huge mall, then go with the beach. If you’re looking for something in the middle of the hustle and bustle, go for city-centered hotels.
I so wish we had more time and ended up spending a few days in this sleepy little village. The hotel was clean and nice with an outdoor pool and adorable garden you could walk around. It had views of the city and views of sand dunes off in the distance.
The staff were ridiculously friendly and even though the kitchen had closed by the time we got to the hotel, one staff member graciously offered us an entire plate of fruit free of charge. He wouldn’t even take a tip!
If you’re heading to the desert, Errachidia is the town you’ll be stopping in before you get on your way. Don’t make our mistake, take a few days to explore this beautiful place.
The desert is what got me when we were in Morocco. While Casablanca is a must because that’s where you fly in and it’s nice to get acclimated in a city where its more metropolitan than the rest of the country, it did nothing for me especially once I feasted my eyes on the vastness of the desert.
I searched and searched for a place that would tick all of my boxes for Merzouga and Riad Madu did ALL of that.
I wanted a pool where when I floated I could view the sand dunes. ✔
I wanted to feel like I was in the middle of nowhere, like we were plunked down in the middle of the dunes. ✔
I wanted a balcony where we could view the sand dunes and feel luxurious and wonderful. It was our honeymoon, afterall. ✔
This place was better than I could have imagined with the friendliest staff and excursions you can do. We went on a 4×4 sand duning expedition where we checked out some sweet fossils, played in dunes on foot and by vehicle (our guide’s favourite thing to do…something he did barefoot that I thought crazy until I stepped out into the hot sand and immediately rid myself of runners. Runners! The fuck was I thinking). We got to see some sights, check out a Berber family’s home, have some mint tea, check out there amazing desert camp, and enjoy some Berber pizza and music.
If you’re really there for the desert experience, they also have a camp they take you out to where you sleep in fancy tents complete with running water and full bathrooms.
It may seem like you’re going to be taken and kidnapped as there is literally nothing around when driving out to the desert. We paid whatever was stated and didn’t even try to talk our driver down, taking the recommendation from the hotel. For about $100cad we got a ride out to our hotel and made touristy stops along the way.
Fez was something else. We ended up getting a riad in the inside of the old walls and it was the best decision. First off, staying in a riad is something else. It’s absolutely gorgeous and filled with colour and beauty in every little corner. Second, I never knew how close this particular riad was to the souk and it was so easy to walk down to peruse beautiful wares and head for lunch.
We arrived at 4:30am (timing isn’t the best in Morocco) by bus and took a cab to our riad. We couldn’t find it and finally our cab driver called the guesthouse and woke the manager up. He pointed us the way towards a creepy looking back alley (proper lighting isn’t a thing in Morocco so it always looks creepy even though it is most likely fine) that turned absolutely charismatic in the daytime (see photo above) and we sent him on his way by overpaying him. Our doing, not his. He told us whatever we felt necessary and we handed him a 200dirham note. Which is 20$ to us and more to him. It was all we had, but he called our riad and helped us more than he really needed to. Plus, he just stood back patiently waiting for us to get off the bus and collect ourselves before getting in our faces, asking if we needed a cab. So, yes, please.
Anyways, we arrived much earlier than anticipated by both us and the manager. Our room, obviously, wasn’t ready yet so we slept in one of the private dining rooms. Too tired to care, we laughed about it and fell asleep, waking to morning light and the bustle of breakfast (y’all gotta experience a Moroccan breakfast).
The blue city. The influencer bucket list. This city is ALL stairs. It’s exhausting, but so flippin cute and very laid back. We stayed at an adorable riad that you could easily miss when heading up one of the lengthly flight of stairs. Our hotel room was about the size of my bedroom, including the bathroom, but the courtyard and view from the roof was beyond worth it.
Remember to pack earplugs as the Call to Prayer is sent out across the city and I don’t know if it echoes off of each tightly knit building more in Chefchaouen, but it seemed louder than other places we had visited. While oddly comforting and beautiful to hear during the day, at sunrise you do not want to hear it.