The post you’ve all been waiting for: details on TIME’s Moroccan excursion to Midelt, Erfoud, the Sahara desert, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, and Essaouira! Let me tell you, this post is a long time coming. I’ve been putting off writing it because there is so much to say about excursion! So to save myself sometime, I’m going to do this the lazy way: with bullet points!
- LOTS of driving. And who knew that Moroccan landscape resembles the American Southwest?
- We stopped for a breather in Midelt, described in our itinerary as a ‘typical Berber city’. Not sure what that means, but it was fun to bop around the souks and snap some pictures of the town.
- We drove all the way to Erfoud, which also was nothing particularly special and more of just a jumping off point for desert camping. The hotel was…questionable to say the least. We had some critter friends in our bathroom when we first checked into our room (critters being cockroaches, not something cute and cuddly).
- Desert camping! Read about it here.
- After coming back from desert camping (and the most amazing night/morning of my life) we headed off to Ouarzazate, an oasis town near the mountains.
- We ate lunch at a cool albeit very touristy restaurant nestled in between the mountains and next to a babbling brook.
On this day we literally rocked the kasbah (or rather, kasbahs). We went to Kasbah Tifoultout, Kasbah Taourirt, and Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou.
- Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou was by far the coolest – it was basically a little city built into a mountain. Also, they were filming Game of Thrones there and we got to walk right up to the production tents and hang around like groupies for a while. Though I haven’t watched the show (but plan to!), I felt a bit giddy at the prospect of being so close to television magic.
- We also went to the Atlas Movie Studio and got to see a bunch of different sets from various movies, like Passion of the Christ (not the Mel Gibson version), City of God, and Prince of Persia.
- More driving! Notice a theme? We then arrived late and checked into our (surprisingly nice) hotel in Marrakech.
- Our hotel was in walking distance of the main square, so a group of us set off to explore the souks and see what Marrakech had to offer. The main square of Marrakech is a bit crazy – there are men playing music, men with cobras, men with monkeys, and tons of fruit juice and food stands. It was pretty hectic and a bit terrifying, due to the fact that the snake-men would try to sling snakes around your shoulders and then demand money.
- The souks proved to be a better time than the main square. It was cleaner and the roads were wider than the Fez medina, and there were many more interesting shops to choose from.
- AFter the whole group met up at the Jardin Majorelles. Read my post on Her Campus St. Olaf about the garden here!
- Tour of Marrakech! We saw the Bahia Palace, the Badii Palace, the Saadian Tombs, and the Koutoubia mosque.
Days 7, 8, & 9
- We mournfully checked out of our amazing hotel and headed on to Essaouira, which is on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. On the way there, we stopped at an argan oil cooperative that employs rural women to shell and grind the nuts by hand, which are then turned into beauty products and delicious treats. While there, we sampled the most delicious spread I’ve ever had – called Amlou, it’s a mixture of argan oil, almonds, and honey. It’s better than Nutella. I’m not even lying.
- We checked into our hotel in Essaouira, which seemed nice judging from the lobby and the dinner we had, but its secret horrors soon revealed themselves. There was no AC and the rooms were hot, humid, and musty (thanks to being right on the ocean). Opening the sliding doors only let in a barrage of killer mutant mosquitos. We also found out later that the rooms had open vents to the outside, letting in even MORE mosquitos. We all awoke with huge itchy bites, some of us worse than others (one guy had his eyelids swell up!)
- I really enjoyed Essaouira, apart from the crappy hotel. We had fun walking around the small town and eating as many Nutella and banana crepes as we could hold. We never went swimming there (the beach was questionable) but had a good time regardless.
Overall Moroccan excursion was a fun one. Despite it’s pitfalls (crappy hotels abound!) we all had a great time and enjoyed seeing more of Morocco.