Moroccan Vacation: Photo Albums

Cat Siblings + Fake Fountain, Chefchaouen yummy cous cous and pretty tiles Showered Jess (Rare!) Plays Vendors of fresh orange juice in Djemma el-Fna, nighttime. Lamp, Door, Tilework - Hotel Sherezade, Marrakech Pigeon, Saadian Tombs - Marrakech Three hennaed hands (Jess 1, Sarah 2)
The Faces We Make When Trying to Get People to Please, Finally, Stop Staring at Us (El Jadida) Jess and Sarah - Fez a little friend jess made on the bus Yassine at the abandoned mosque, Rif in the background, Chefchaouen Window, Door Lonely Olive Tree 2 Sarah, Sarah's hat, and the wall were roughly the same color.

So the three of us finally got it together and compiled our Morocco photos into a semi-coherent Flickr mass! You'll find them below sort of in order (some of my personal favorites are above). Sarah and I actually kept paper travelogues and had ambitious plans of putting them online, illustrated by our photos. Maybe before vacation is through, if we get bored enough, that will happen. But for now what's below will have to do. I've broken the sets up into our destinations, with brief descriptions.

Someday I hope to go back to Morocco (and Barcelona, too!). Until then, these photos must suffice! I recommend perusing them place-by-place, but the whole shebang is compiled there if you feel like a marathon viewing session:

(Knitters: Skip to the bottom for some destination knitting content!)

Morocco & Spain (Entire Photoset)
Here are the photos for the entire trip all in one place.
Ice cream = good times Barcelona & Malaga
Barcelona was an unplanned stop, since we missed our connecting flight in the morning and couldn't get on another until late at night. We could almost forgive Delta our lack of sleep for stranding us in such a beautiful city! Someday in the not-too-distant future I hope to return there for more than 10 hours. Malaga was nice too - we spent two nights in a fancy-ish hotel right down the street from the beach and across from the bull ring. Spain was the first of many phases of our vacation where we spent a lot of time sitting around in cafes.
Terrasse des Parrasseux (Idlers' Terrace) at dusk, Tangier Tangier
As Lonely Planet put it, Tangier has a reputation as a place with "seedy charm," and a few people told us we probably wouldn't want to stay there very long. As it turned out, we liked Tangier a lot. Maybe it's just because it was our first stop in Morocco. Maybe we're seedy people. But it seemed like a real place to us, not a tourist place, but still with plenty to see and do.
Three hennaed hands (Jess 1, Sarah 2) Marrakech
Once we (okay, Dena and I - Sarah slept almost the entire ride) recovered from the 12-hour overnight train from Tangier, we settled into Marrakech. In my opinion, the best thing about Marrakech was Hotel Sherazade, the fantastic riad we stayed in, just off the Djemma el Fna, the city's main plaza near the labrynth souqs. This part of our trip was also the first of many valuable opportunities for Sarah and I to practice our French skills, which came in very handy. As for Marrakech itself, I found the city rather commercial and overstimulating, and we got ripped off just about constantly. Sarah also struggled with a nasty case of something she got from some water she drank, so it wasn't her favorite phase of the trip. But am glad we stopped in Marrakech nonetheless - it was worth seeing. We took more photos there than anyplace else, that's for sure.
Fountain at the heart of Residence el-Medhi, Essaouira Essaouira
Essaouira tops my list of the places we visited in Morocco. It's a relaxed seaside town that attracts vacationers from both Morocco and Europe, with an attractive, manageable medina, decent beaches, tons of fresh fish to eat, and a chill bohemian vibe. I was actually prepared to find it overrated and crowded based on what we'd heard beforehand, but ended up loving it. The beach was fun, people were friendly. It's the first place we ended up having any real, substantive conversations with Moroccan women. We also had our first hammam visit there. As is sometimes the case with places you loved, we took very few pictures in Essaouira, and the ones we took were not necessarily representative of our time there (for instance, we took no beach photos!). We also stayed in another lovely riad - Residence el-Mehdi in the medina.
Skyline Sundown, Cité Portuguese - El Jadida El-Jadida
In contrast to Essaouira, we took quite a few pictures in El-Jadida, considering we were only there one night. Ironic, considering El-Jadida was unquestionably our least favorite stop on the trip, for a number of reasons. Logistically, we hadn't planned our stop there very well - it was really a pit stop on the way to take Dena to the airport in Casablanca. But the vibe there was weird. It was the one place where the street harassment was so persistent and agressive that we couldn't ignore it, which was the main problem. It was also the one place anyone tried to physically touch us (which to be fair only happened once when a guy grabbed Dena by the arm after she wouldn't talk with him). We really did not feel very welcome in El-Jadida. Maybe it was a product of our only staying there one night - sometimes you need to settle in to like a place. Our hotel was also very bizarre - there were a bunch of half-naked dudes sleeping in the lobby. You had to walk through a window to get to our turkish toilet-slash-shower, and the first time I did so a (no exaggeration) 3-inch long cockroach fell from the lightbulb when I turned it on. Aaaanyway, we were glad to leave.
Sarah and her new BF Fez
After we dropped Dena at the airport in Casablanca, Sarah and I headed north toward Chefchaouen. We intended only to stay in Fez overnight as a pit stop along the way. But we ended up meeting a new friends Hamouda and Said who convinced us to stay a day to see the sights in Fez with them. They grew up in Fez but were then visiting on vacation; Hamouda lives in Sweden now and Said is a UN Peacekeeper living in Agadir. Said's brother had a car, so we were able to see a lot of the city and even the surrounding countryside (which we saw when we drove out to a roadside... the best way to describe it is a "Meat City" where we, what else, ate a ton of meat!). We spent the whole day with them just driving around and hanging out, and thought about staying longer, but we needed to head north to get the ferry back to Spain in a couple of days. (A pity, since if we had been able to stay a few days longer we could have attended Said's sister's wedding!)
Secret Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen came in second to Essaouira in terms of favorite Morocco destinations. Chefchaouen is famous as Morocco's "blue city" - the walls and streets of the medina (and a few other places in town) are painted the most beautiful shades of blue. It's nestled in the Rif Mountains, and has a feel common to all mountain towns I've ever been to - there was something a bit Lake Placid about it, strangely enough. Chefchaouen gets its reputation abroad as a place to smoke hash, and is full of hippies and digeridoos and dreadlocks, there to do just that. But that was not exactly our goal in going there - we just wanted to hike and spend some time someplace semi-rural and laid back before heading back to New York. Our visit there got off to a rocky start, or rather, our attempt to get there did when our bus from Fez kept filling with thick black smoke due to an overheated engine, and in the end kicked us out by the roadside about 5 miles outside of town. But after that it was great. Luckily once we got settled we made friends with Yassine, a university student who was helping out at our hotel for the summer. Yassine is probably the only straight-edge guy in Chaouen, and as fellow semi-puritans, we really hit it off. He grew up there, so knew absolutely everyone. He took us hiking and for dinner at his family's house, gave us a few bang-up tours of the city, and generally let us tag along with him for a couple of days. The town is beautiful and relaxed, with clean air and clean mountain water. If you can get past the hippie throngs, Chaouen is definitely a worthwhile stop.

Oh, and here are a few shots just for the knitters out there:

Jess Knitting, Cafe @ Plaza Uta el-Hammam - Chefchaouen Huge, ginormous balls of yarn for weaving and knitting

sheep!  chefchaouen Pigments and other dyes

Weighing Fleece, Chefchaouen

Posted by jess at September 2, 2006 10:56 AM | TrackBack

Hotel Sherazade looks familiar...I think that where the episode of Absolutely Fabulous that I mentioned earlier was shot.

This entry was amazing! Amazing I said!

Posted by: chica at September 2, 2006 2:50 PM

I've always wanted to go to Barcelona ever since I saw the movie, Barcelona (have you ever seen it, the Whit Stillman film? Brilliant.) Lucky. I wouldn't mind getting stranded there for a day or two or twenty. . .

fabulous pics all around. quite the photographers you guys are. i seriously need to do more traveling myself. *sigh*

p.s. love your sunglasses!

Posted by: Sandra at September 2, 2006 3:32 PM

It just looks like such an amazing trip!

Posted by: Scout at September 2, 2006 3:44 PM

I feel as though I was right there with you! Fabulous photos and recap of your journey. And that cockroach would have made me leap out of my skin, screaming!

Posted by: Karen B. at September 2, 2006 3:57 PM

these photos are SO awesome! it looks like you guys had a lot of fun. those giant balls of yarn...were they for sale? on one hand, I can imagine the crazy urges I'd have to buy one in every color if they were...but then again, you'd have to wonder what kinds of looks the crazy tourist with 5 yarn basketballs stuffed in a wheelie suitcase would solicit :-D

Posted by: salamander at September 2, 2006 8:39 PM

Great photo travelogue...thanks for sharing!

Posted by: bee at September 3, 2006 4:09 AM

You must go back to Barcelona and spend a week there. There's so much to see and do. I love that city, if I could move there I would.

These are amazing photos, makes me want to travel more. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Aimee at September 3, 2006 7:48 AM

Great pics! It's so neat to see other parts of the world through, non-advertising eyes. You get a better idea of the place.

Posted by: carol at September 3, 2006 11:46 AM

i think you are living my dreamlife. the photos are lovely!

Posted by: sonia at September 3, 2006 3:24 PM

Just been looking at some of your moroccan photos, they're beautiful. Love the light and the colours. Did you pick up any textiles while you were there?

Posted by: Carson at September 3, 2006 7:03 PM

*WoW* Incredible journey! The pics you took are so amazing and rich and lively...I love it. thanks for sharing, it looks like you had so much fun! It makes me want to travel, and soon. =)

Posted by: Julia at September 4, 2006 1:16 AM

Your pictures are fabulous, and how fortunate to get a serendipitous stop in Barcelona! Thanks for sharing your travels!

Posted by: nova at September 5, 2006 2:26 PM

your trip looked amazing!! it's great to see that you were able to incorporate a mini fiber adventure during your trip. Can't wait to see more pictures!

Posted by: KnottieKnitter at September 6, 2006 12:53 AM

I just saw all of your pictures and they're gorgeous! I got home 3 days ago and now I want to leave all over again--Morocco looks amazing! Next time, next time.
Can't wait to see your bamboo razor cami, too :)

Posted by: Jessica at September 12, 2006 10:27 AM
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