This past September I was lucky enough to spend ten days in Morocco with some members of my family. While not nearly enough time to see everything, I did get to explore Casablanca, Chefchaouen and Fez.
Casablanca? Wasn’t really there long enough to get a good feel. It’s busy, loud and has a real cosmopolitan feel. I loved walking the streets searching for food for our luncheon fair. Bread from a French patisserie, olive vendors, cheese shops. Each storefront had a hidden delicacy inside. Aside wandering the streets and visiting the Hassan II Mosque, we did not see much more in Casablanca. Other ports of call were beckoning us to visit. Fez was amazing and will be talked about in another post. The highlight though? The city of Chefchaouen.Chefchaouen, or as we called it, the city the Smurfs, is perched in the Rif Mountains of northwest Morocco. Known for the unique, artsy and strikingly blue-washed buildings of the medina (the old, walled area within the city), Chefchaouen was a pleasant change from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities.
We spent the majority of our time exploring the old medina and found ourselves stopping every 10-15 steps to peek down a narrow hidden alleyway, listen to the call to prayer or gaze up at the blue-washed walls and red-tiled roofs (Chefchaouen’s medina is a combination of Moroccan and Andalucian influences).I loved exploring the kasbah; walking through the cobbled lanes, stopping into the one of the many shops selling scented argan oil and peering into the leather workshops. At the centre of it all is the main plaza with restaurants, vendors and a museum or two greet you. We never felt hassled or pressured to buy, which was a nice change from some of the other cities.
MUST STAY: Casa La Palma. This gem of a riad is a wonderful place to park yourself for a few days. Carlos has created a warm and welcoming environment with a roof-top terrace overlooking the medina and surrounding countryside.MUST EAT: My two favourites were Lala Mesouda, located near the top of the medina along a side street or Café Sofia in the plaza square. While Lala Mesouda had more traditional fare then Café Sofia, both served amazing tagines. Be sure to order the tea when at LalaMesouda, and watch how high they can pour from. Both offer local cooking lessons.MUST LISTEN: We ended one of our days listening to music at Moulin’Arte, a wonderful café hidden between doorways along a narrow street . The service was slow, the tea over steeped but the music was wonderful. We spent a few hours relaxing and savouring every moment as we listened to the jamming of four local musicians.