Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Magical Morocco: Chefchaouen

Nestled into the Rif Mountains in northwest Morocco lies Chefchaouen, the “blue city”. Known for its monochromatic appearance, almost all of the city’s buildings are painted in varying shades of blue. It takes about 2.5 hours to drive through the winding mountains from the port city of Tangier to Chefchaouen, but the destination is absolutely worth it. 

Although I only spent a few days in Chefchaouen, it was one of my favourite places in Morocco. I stayed at Hotel Madrid, located right in the middle of the city and only a short walk to the Kasbah. Both the lobby and rooms feature ornate, traditional decor which adds to the ambiance. The showers were pretty chilly, but this was more of a minor inconvenience than anything else. 

Sunset view from the hotel room

We spent a morning hiking through the Rif mountains with a knowledgable Berber guide, which was definitely an experience to remember. Along the way, there is a lookout point with an incredible view looking back at the blue city. You'll probably run into some farm animals and friendly locals along the way (if you're lucky!). Keep your eyes peeled for fig trees— you’ll never taste a better fig.

Once you get hungry, I recommend checking out the Aladdin Magic Lamp restaurant. It’s super affordable and features a wide variety of Moroccan dishes such as tajine, kefta, and couscous. Make sure to climb all the way to the top (the stairs are a great way to work up an appetite) for a nice view of the city. Don’t forget to order a Moroccan mint tea to finish off your meal!

Since we visited during Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday, very few of the market vendors were open. I still managed to pick up some cool stuff like a handmade leather backpack, but be aware of the time you choose to travel. Also, haggle with every seller! Haggling is expected in Morocco, and if you don’t negotiate, you’re going to get a bad deal. 

Cats everywhere in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Chefchaouen was our first stop in Morocco, and will always have a special place in my heart. I hope to return one day and be awe-struck all over again!

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