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My First Big Trip in Years! (Morocco is Amazing)

Just in case you don’t follow me on social media (where I’ve posted hundreds of pics), I just returned from a long awaited trip from Morocco.

When I say long awaited, I mean LONG awaited. This was a group trip, scheduled pre shut down, and was rescheduled multiple times. But prior to that, Morocco was at the very top of my “must see” list from the time I was 15. Waiting that long to do anything puts a ton of expectations out there, but to say it met and exceeded my expectations is really any understatement.

I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite thing about it, but here are a few:

  • The people. The ones I traveled with (who I did not really know before I went, but who were so absolutely fantastic they just made the trip exponentially better than I could have imagined.) Find you a group of people who cause you to push yourself, ask good questions, and make your muscles sore from all the belly laughs. 10/10 recommend.
  • The locals. All of the people we met were really welcoming, kind, and helpful. Culturally, I think, just fantastic people.
  • The food. Wow. I could go on and on about the food. Orange and olive trees everywhere, and so many wonderful spices and flavors. I’ll definitely be replicating, exploring, and recreating Moroccan foods for years to come. (I’m including a great recipe for a delicious, traditional Moroccan Harira Soup HERE. Perfect for the winter, or any time, and easy to freeze for later.
  • The colors. Rugs, baskets, pottery, brilliant tea glasses, mountains of olives and herbs, and so many wonderful, brightly colored doors (that blue!). So much natural beauty and vibrancy. I’m definitely bringing color back into my home as a result.
  • The architecture. We stayed in Marrakech, in the heart of the Medina (the original, fortified city- founded just after the year 1000), characterized by winding, labyrinthine cobblestone streets filled with studded wooden or often blue doors. Some magnificent, and some very discreet and unassuming. Traditional homes are called riads, and are built around a center courtyard. There are often (certainly in the old city) no exterior windows, but rather windows opening to the center courtyard and some sort of outdoor space on the rooftop. Really magical, actually.
    • Other notable elements- lots of nature (trees, plants, and fountains), natural wood elements, lots of color and texture, beautiful tiles and plasterwork. ( I could go on!)
  • After almost a week in Marrakech, we moved on to Essaouira, which is another fortified city, on the Atlantic coast. We all fell in love with the slower pace, wider streets, and ocean views of Essaouira, and it’s no wonder there were so many Europeans there on holiday, even in January.
  • We did a lot of moving in Marrakech, too, with no “free day” (thanks for the delay, Delta), so getting to the sea was a great way to relax and slow down a bit before the journey home.

Take a look at some of my photos, and if you’re planning to head to Morocco, or even thinking of it, scroll down for a quick rating of the events and things we did!

  • Yves Saint Laurent Museum and Jardin Majorelle 7/10- Beautiful gardens and a very interesting (though not terribly large) museum about YSL and his time in and inspiration from Morocco. 7/10 if it’s slow with no line. If the line is around the block like it was when we left, I think we’d all agree it would have been a 3/10.
  • Souk shopping with a guide. 10/10- I highly recommend having a guide to give you the lay of the land, help with finding the “good stuff,” and if needed, help with pricing/negotiating. Honestly, I feel like I’m a top notch negotiator (I’m in real estate, after all!), but I 100% know I paid more than I needed to for a few things. For example, one of our group paid ~$28 for a tagine cooking pot, and we all thought that was a great deal. On our last night, the Abdou, our cooking instructor, informed us we should not pay more than ~$5 for one. Our collective jaws dropped, and another gal promptly went out and purchased 2 for $5. (I’ve done the conversions here)
  • Visit to the Ourika Valley and the Atlas Mountains. 10/10- Absolutely stunning vistas of the mountains, and so striking to see snow atop some of them. We hiked up the mountain to the waterfalls with a wonderful guide (@ourikatours on Instagram), but we were not well prepared for the rigor of the hike. (I had a handbag and a bottle of water, and was wearing athleisure. I could not have felt more ridiculous immediately.) Aside from that, learning the history and culture of the more rural area at Setti Fatma, eating lunch right on the rushing river, and catching the views? Definitely a 10/10 experience.
    • We had dinner at Kasbah Bar Ourika, a luxury resort in the valley, and it was the perfect, luxurious end to our energetic day.
    • Visit to the Berber EcoMuseum. They don’t have a website, but if you’re in the area, it’s definitely a great learning experience- info about the Amazigh people (the indigenous people of Morocco, often referred to as Berber), how they used to live, how they live now, stories of how rugs are made and why. (Watch out to get bombarded with requests for money by teeming hordes of children. They can spot a tourist at 40 paces.)
  • Agafay Desert. 8/10- We visited Be Agafay, a new luxury clamping resort, and had lunch there. It’s very beautiful, and the drive there is fantastic. It would be an interesting place to stay for the night, although it’s not inexpensive (~$300/night) Lunch was delicious, but it appeared they were working out the kinks, because it took forever.
    • Camel ride. 0/10- (This would be lower, but I wanted to make it visually clear that we universally hated this.) It seems like this is something you’d have on the “must do” list, but trust me- if you have any heart for animals, do so at your own risk. There may be places that care for their animals well, but we did not feel like that was the case at the place we stopped. They were chained to the ground, seemed very stressed, and it felt terrible. We actually cut the hour down to maybe 20 minutes, and it was only that long because we could not get the man leading the camels to understand we wanted off.
  • Essaouira. 10/10- Take a walk to the ocean, the blue boats, wander the the shops, and have some seafood tagine. Definitely catch the sunset over the Atlantic.
  • We booked a cooking class through Airbnb experiences, and it was absolutely fantastic. Unfussy, laid back, and so much fun, with great hosts. (@weloveessouira on Instagram.)

Are you thinking of planning a trip? Ask me questions!

Want to know if you should go? You should!