In western stereo-type Morocco was always a part of East world, Morocco brings to our imagination Sahara’s sand, Nomad and Camels, Rainbows of Color, Spices market smells, an urban orchestra of sounds, in fact Morocco is not so far from western Europe, is lying 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the coast of Spain, this wonderful North African country mixes Middle Eastern magic, Berber traditions and European flair, their common language is Darija which borrows many terms from West and East beside Berber.
Statistics of 2011 showed up that tourism has more than doubled since 2002, to nearly 10 million visitors. The government wants to increase the annual visitor numbers to be more than 18 million by 2020.
Here you’ll find things you may need to know before you arrive:
- The right place to socialize are Cafes. People meet to have sweet mint tea and discuss how people go about their affairs.
Cafes dominate life in all Moroccan cities and Tangier was one of them, due to its status as an International Zone (1923-1956).
This brings to Tangier a history of literary bohemianism and illicit goings on, in this period the city had brought writers, rock stars and eccentrics flock to its cafes. One of the most famous expat is El Hafa offers a magnificent view of the Gibraltar strait, it was a favorite hangout for Mohamed Choukri and Paul Bowles who sipped more than one mint tea at this popular cafe clinging to the cliff.
- Almost mosques are out of Access of non-Muslims.
Nearly 70% of the population in Morocco is Muslim, while you discover this towns you may hear the muezzin’s melodic call to pray, if it was for your first time it would seem like a spine tingling moment.
Even most of Moroccan mosques are unavailable to non-Muslims, one exception is the great mosque of Hassan II which is located in Casablanca on a promontory over the Atlantic Ocean, the mosque construction was finished in 1993 and now can hold 105,000 worshipers inside and out.
Tradition, technology and impressive Islamic design sit side by side, with colorful Zellij (mosaic), intricate stucco and heated flooring and carved cedar complementing the retractable roof.
- Moroccans have consciously or unconsciously a multilingual, they will put you to shame.
Constitution of 2011 considered both Arabic and Berber the official languages, but you’ll also hear French, Spanish, Italian, Berber and various dialects. you will hear the Moroccan dialect, Darija, spoken on the street.
French is used to be the language of high education so it is widely spoken in cities, while Spanish is still spoken in Tangier and northern cities.
Berber also has three main dialects spoken by majority: Tashelhit, Tamazight and Tarifit.
English is becoming popular language nowadays in Morocco too.
- You want to travel through time, there is empire cities.
Marrakesh, Fez, Rabat and Meknes have all, at some point in history, been the capital of Morocco. These cities have palaces, churches, mosques and museums that provide a glimpse into Morocco’s history. The medinas in these cities can be crowded and confusing and many people hire a tour guide to ensure they hit the highlights without being overwhelmed by the vendors selling goods.
Marrakesh is justifiably popular and more known than Casablanca in whole the world, the city that will make you laugh from your heart in “Jama’a El Fena” .
Fez it’s just amazing like a Medina, fabulous foodie scene and annual Festival of World Sacred Music and don’t forget “Dar debagha” traditional industry of clothes using animal skins.
Meknes ,is not so far from Fez, features a museum devoted to Moroccan art and lovely gates such as Bab Mansour. While you’re in Medina, you may want to check out For quiet contemplation, Morocco’s holiest town, Moulay Idriss, is hard to beat. Plus, you’ll have the nearby Roman ruins of Volubilis –an outpost of the ancient empire that has been remarkably well preserved and represent the remains of a complete town in the middle of the Moroccan countryside.
For a slice of the Sahara, there’s the desert town of Merzouga, near the impressive Erg Chebbi sand dunes, accessible via camel treks.
You can hike between Berber villages where you will be welcomed from most families in the high and middle Atlas or to the blue Andalusian town of Chefchaouen (blue city) you will be able to explore the nature in Rif Mountains.
- Cumin is the most popular spice if you don’t like it , you may starve.
One of the main spices used in Moroccan cooking is Cumin, a pungent powder used to dress everything from Tagines , Bissara( soup of dry peas) to BBQ.
Cumin is used along with salt and chili. It’s also a popular natural healer of diarrhea.
Most Moroccan believed that Cumin has anti-parasitical properties, so if someone got an upset tummy, a spoonful of cumin followed by water will help.
- Most subway was built in colonial period, but Trains are too cheap, comfortable and reliable.
Train company called ONCF, is one of the best train companies in Africa, is making it so easy to travel between cities, and services is highly awesome. they stock up on snacks, or buy them onboard, as it’s customary to share food. But, when it comes to traveling to smaller towns and villages, buses that they have their own stations and grand taxis that usually exist close to bus stations, they often use old Mercedes sedans that can seat six, are best.
- Friday usually smells as couscous.
every restaurant menu serves couscous on Friday, traditionally, couscous is served on Fridays, when families meet after prayers.
You can buy it already rolled or you can make it with hand-rolled into small granules and put it in a special container to steam and fluff it three times. Its color is pale and served with vegetables with meat or fish.
Bread is the staple crab and is presented with every meal, one exception is couscous, It is baked in communal and traditional ovens that fired with woods, and it tastes really delicious when it’s warm.
- Top Surf Beaches in Morocco :
Town of Taghazout is located in South West and 20 km far from North of Agadir, it’s full of surf shops and interesting local stores. It is a very safe area that has for years embraced the surf culture of foreign travelling surfers, it has a beautiful golden sand beach which gets its name from the fresh water springs bubbling up from onshore rock formations, It is rarely busy which is what you want out of the best surf beaches in Morocco.
ESSAOUIRA beach has a soft sand bottom, and it is best at high-tide with a light north wind because it creates both left and right peaks, a curved beach that offers great views of both the port and Isle de Mogador. It is the perfect place to spend time because you can explore the old town between sessions in the waves.
Sidi Kaouki Beach in Safi, This spot has excellent waves because it is a long sandy beach that offers a variety of peaks to choose from. It’s best at high tide as the conditions glass out and serve up some of the best surfers in Morocco.
- you will hear ‘balak!’ Several times in souks it means watch out.
The small alliance of Morocco’s souks are full of hagglers, hustlers, drivers and motor scooters
faint hearted are not in the petfect place such Morocco’s souks for shopping, when you hear “Balak!” It means watch out and you must lean to safe area because there’s a loaded handcart or mule down on you.
You may get lost, and maps won’t lead you out of small alleys that make up the Souk, taking snaps of landmarks with your smartphone can help you find your way back to your direction.
- Have you ever been bathed by a stranger.
There are plenty of hammams, and most signs are written in Arabic, better ask about yoir direction Hammams are not mixed. You don’t need to bring toiletries with you, everything you need you can shop it inside Hammam, I suggest to stock up on black olive oil soap, ghassoul (clay used as hair conditioner), a kiis (exfoliating glove) and a mat to sit on. Visitors need to take their own towels, comb and flip-flops. Women usually strip to their knickers, and men used to wear underpants. Then you’ll be steamed, scrubbed and rubbed until you’re brightly clean.