Morocco: Marrakech, Rabat, Fez, Casablanca. 01.05.2010
For Marianne’s 30th birthday, Børre surprised the whole family with a surprise holiday to Morocco!! Jippi!!
Since this was our first travel with our baby, Samoa (4 months old) we decided to upgrade our accomadation a bit, and pre online booking turned out to be a great deal. 1/3 of the price when we booked thru expedia or norwegian. So FIVE STAR hotel for us!!
Our first stop in this wonderful country was the amazing city of Marrakech.
Marrakech is a city full of life: cars, donkeys, people and horses everywhere! And lots of smells, like spices, food, horseshit and so on.
In Marrakech we enjoyed staying in a five star hotel, by eating delicious food, swimming in the huge pool and relaxing in the sun, before we explored the city.
We had some great walks in the old Medina, having a laugh in the famous Djemaa el Fna (the big square), looking at snake sharmers, tarot ladies, henna drawers, people selling teeth, yes human teeth(!!!!) and lots of people selling food, pressed juices, fruits, nuts and all kinds of stuff!
Exploring and getting lost in the souq is essential when visiting Marrakech, and we got lost severeal times in this caos of narrow lanes filled with all kinds of people, shops, donkeys and fun!
Next to Djemaa el Fna is the city’s major landmark, the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque. And on the other side of Jemaa el Fna you’ll find the main souqs, lots of mosques and shrines.
Rabat (Capital city):
After some great days in Marrakech, it was time to see more of this amazing country, so we jumped on the train to Rabat, the capital. The trainride was great! We traveled first class(wich makes room for our babypram), and shared cabin with 4 others. And traveling with Samoa, our baby, made it extremely easy to get in touch with people! All Moroccon people loves children, and they all wanted to see her smile!!
In Rabat we hadn’t booked a room, so we walked around looking for places to stay. We had to pay almost the same for a crappy old room as for the five star in Marrakech!! So we learned!!! Preebook online in Marocco!!!
Rabat has some really beautiful colonial architecture and the palm-lined boulevards are not full of crazy traffic as in the other cities in Morocco. The lack of tourists gives the quiet Medina an authentic feel to it with good shops and no hassle. And soooo much cheaper than in Marrakech!!!
The picturesque kasbah, with its narrow alleys, white and blue painted houses and magnificent ocean views is a highlight worth seeing in Rabat! So is the Le tour Hassan, Rabats most famous landmark, a large mosque that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755.Today its a bunch of shattered pillars, but the tower is rebuildt.
After a couple of days in lovely Rabat we jumped on the train again, this time to Fez!
Fes is the spiritual and cultural centre of the country, and in resent years the city has boomed as a tourist destination. But we can soon see why! The Medina, old Fes, is the city’s great drawcraft and was Moroccos first World Heritage site. Its also the world’s largest living Islamic medieval city and the biggest car free urban enviroment on the planet!! The Medina has thousands of narrow lanes and covered bazars filled with aromatic food stands, craft workshops, mosques and never ending lanes with people!
The main way of transport inside the Medina is still men with donkeys and it’s quite an experince meeting them in the jammed narrow lanes with a babypram!!
Fez reveals its charm in most unexpected ways. Seemingly blind alleys leds to squares with exquisite fountains or filled with the rythm of copper beaters. It’s an amazing place!
After some great days in Fez, we’re back on the train and the next destination is the big metropol of Casablanca!
Casablanca is not as exotic as other cities in Morocco, but its the economical capital of Morocco. This is where the money is made, where industry are, and where the people are more open towards a western lifestyle. Casablanca is a city full of contradictions, it has suffocating traffic jams, lots of social problems and slums, as well as wide boulevards, well kept parks, fountains and some amazing colonial architecture.
The Medina is small and not very nice. Quite a disapointment after we’ve seen the others, so we didn’t spend much time here. Instead we went for a nice walking tour (recommended in Lonely planet), where we saw some of the best Mauresque buildings and other treasures including the Cathedral du Sacre Coeur.
The highlight must be the impressing Hassan II Mosque. The Mosque rises above the ocean on a rocky outcrop. The 210 m high minaret is the tallest building in the country, and it’s the worlds third largest mosque. It can accomodate 25 000 worshippers inside and another 80 000 outside in the courtyard.
Inside, the mosque is filled with astonishing woodcarvings and tilework. All handmade by some 6000 mastercraftsmen! The mosque is open for non-mulims and you should definietly take a tour inside!!!
All in all we had a good time in Casablanca as well, although it didn’t really match up with our expectations.
Back to Marrakech:
Our last train ride in this amazing country, and we’re back in Marrakech for a couple of days before heading home.
The last days we spent by the pool relaxing, but we also had time for some really good shopping in the souqs of Marrakech, leather and ceramics! And yes, Marianne made a promise that she would carry all the havy ceramics all the way home… but did she?? haha!
It’s been really nice and interesting to see so much of such a beautiful country !
Morocco; A cold country with a hot sun! Wonderful people! Delicious food! Amazing sights!
Our tips to other travellers in Morrocco:
The Moroccoan food, Marrakech Medina, Fes Medina, the impressing Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.
Expensive accomodation, even if you want a crappy «cheap» room.
Prepare to spend at least 400 dhiram for a rom (dobbel room). Food is really good and cheap if don’t have to eat in fancy restaurante. Train rides are cheap and confertable,1’st class costs just a few dhirams more and you’ll have better space (train tickets has to be bought in the train station in front). ex. Casablanca to Marrakech 2 adults 280 dirham.
Hotel search: www.expedia.com , www.booking.com , www.laterooms.com , www.finn.no , www.norwegian.com
Babyfriendly ( barnevennlig ):
We have a kid beeing only 4 months during our travel in Morrocco, and brought dipers from Norway for the whole trip. We looked after babyfood,dipers,milk powder etc, but could not find anything (we didn’t ask anyone though) . The streets were definitely NOT made for baby trollyes, thats for sure, and we had problems even getting a petit taxi the few times we needed one (because of the baby trolly). However the people loves children and it’s really easy to get in toutch with the locals when you have kids.
The best trolly would be a very small folding trolley(easy if you need a taxi). A baby carrier for the narrow and crowded lanes in the souqs is a really great thing to have with you as well.
Bring some warm clothes for the chilly evenings, yes it’s actually cold after the sunset some places( a cold country with a hot sun)..