When traveling, especially alone, I try to let go of expectations to understand where it is I am. This creates the mystery of adventure and the unexpected. Planning as little as possible except for where to go, I like to live in the spontaneity of what presents itself as opportunity.
Even though more liberal and women have more rights than conservative muslim countries, I made sure to have my shoulders covered and wear trousers. As soon as I landed, unsure of where to go I found the people were very nice and helpful and customs was easier than many countries I’ve traveled to. It just so happened that I arrived in Morocco during their holiday, Eid al-Adha. Which I’m told is like Thanksgiving and they slaughter rams to commemorate. Most stores and restaurants are closed for 3-5 days. My taxi driver proceeded to tell me how it is a celebration. Gratitude. Life.
C’est la vie.
I had a taxi tour guide take me out to the Hercules cave the following day, he was very nice and I highly recommend him if you’re in Tangier for an honest tour. The scenic drive winded around the way, stopping at Cap Spartel and seeing where the Atlantic and Mediterraanean oceans meet, across the way is Gibraltar, Spain. The medina in Tangier along the coast is a spectacular spot inside the medina walls, the Casbah is a well known artists spot with winding narrow streets painted in different colors on the coast.
I took the train from Tangier to Fez which was easy to navigate and went through the beautiful countryside with olive trees and melon farms along the way. I stayed in a restored Riad, which means palace, that was built in the 1300’s in the medina. Fez is one of the largest pedestrian only old cities in the world. I had a tour guide assigned the following day who was incredible and if you’re in Fez I highly recommend him, his name is Med.
I was taken around the outside of the city to see the wall, and structures and views of the medina, along with another of the King’s palace, museums, parks and Jewish quarter. The mosaic work and architecture are astonishing throughout the city. Everything seemed to be moving and bustling, busy and active once the holiday passed. Loving the handmade ceramics and rugs in the markets, one of a kind pieces can be found.
Another of the tour guides assigned to me then took me to a local home. I was given a taste of the celebration of the holiday, eating amazing Tagine with a family of 4, a husband, wife their child and friend and I, completely Moroccan style. Such a cool experience! I fully stuffed myself with the richness of the flavors, saffron and herbs and oil in which the meat has been cooked in for hours and falls right off the bone, with french fries on top. It is a sensory and tactile experience, eating with the hands, using chunks of bread to pick up the dish with. Relishing the moment.
I took a night bus from Fez to Marrakech, arriving at 4am. Even though the girl sitting next to me didn’t speak english, she shared with me her sandwich and help with where to go. Arabic and French are the main languages of Morocco many also speak Spanish, Berber and English. Navigating was easy through the country, especially when I would ask for help.
I stayed at Riad Palais des Princesses. The inside had gorgeous detail of Moroccan mosaic and colors and felt luxurious in the comfort of the room there. The people were exceptionally helpful and friendly and the breakfast delicious choices from cheeses to crepes and yogurt to fresh figs and juicy apricots. I had a Hamman and massage while there which was so luxurious and relaxing. The medina in Marrakech square was easy to get to and navigate around. I become a flaneuse while traveling, perusing the markets and strolling the sights.
The way people would come together whenever I would ask a question to help me figure it out, was the epitome of what I feel Moroccan community is. People really work together to help.
Advice: As a solo female traveler, it’s important to know boundaries. My advice is to be aware and smart when out in the medina or anywhere. It takes firmness to walk away and say no thank you.
With a blend of African, European and Arabic cultures which make up Morocco, I found it to be a fantastic, exotic experience. I’m so happy it was part of my grand adventure, I would definitely suggest going there.
I’ll be back with my adventures in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem…..