Morocco, A Visual Journey

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May 26th, 2018, 03:41 AM
  #1
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Morocco, A Visual Journey

Morocco, A Visual Journey

For reasons that are still not clear to me, it’s been hard to capture the complex feelings of our recent 2-week+ trip to Morocco. In many ways, we loved it yet it was also very challenging, overwhelming in its intensity, partly because of the very aggressive hustle and constant startle of its surprisingly traditional culture. As a photographer, it was often difficult as there was often a strong negative reaction to photographs being taken. Not always, but often enough to make it uncomfortable. Yet we were buffeted from this by having a driver for the 2 weeks we were away who was a gem, and whose companionship made our trip a much more personal one had we gone on our own.

I wanted to see the very popular sights and cities in Morocco, and having a limited time, I wanted to hire a driver who would be with us for the entire trip. I looked for a company to provide this service, but this wasn’t as easy as I thought; what I ended up with was a series of agents who provided total service – booking the hotels as well as providing a driver. It may very well be possible to find a driver alone but I wanted the reassurance of a travel agency. After contacting multiple agencies, I chose a small, family-run operation that compromised with me and who agreed that I would books some of my preferred hotels while he would book the others. And provide a driver for our entire stay.

Our itinerary:
Arrive, Casablanca, travel to:
Rabat - 1 night
Chefchaouen- 2 nights
Fes - 3 nights
Merzouga- 1
Desert - 1
Boumaine Dades - 1
Ourzazate - 1
Marrakech- 2
Essaouria - 1
Marrakech - 2

This gave us a “sampler” tasting of some of Morocco’s highlights, and though it was a lot of driving, I was glad to have the range of experiences that we had. We loved our driver, his companionship made the trip. We made many small stops along the way, and got to know Morocco through his eyes.
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May 26th, 2018, 03:46 AM
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We flew into Casablanca, and drove directly to Rabat, Morocco’s capital city and a surprisingly pleasant city to start the trip. We stayed in the small but sweet Riad Zyo within the medina which we explored in the afternoon. In contrast to the medinas we visited later, this was a relatively relaxed experience and very much a local shopping district. We also visited the Kasbah of the Udayas and the Andalusian Gardens, later visiting the Hassan tower and Mausoleum of Mohammed V. A good first day!



Riad Zyo


In the Medina


In the Medina


Mohammed V Mausoleum


At the Mausoleum


View from the Mausoleum
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May 26th, 2018, 03:50 AM
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Hmm, and these are resized! They still are large, at least on my desktop!
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May 26th, 2018, 03:58 AM
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With our wonderful driver, Salem Karaoui
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May 26th, 2018, 04:10 AM
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A few more from Rabat...


In the Kasbah


Somewhere in the Medina


The water view
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May 26th, 2018, 04:49 AM
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Lovely photos. Keep ‘em coming.
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May 26th, 2018, 04:54 AM
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Thanks, althom! I'm working on it! I'll post as soon I can! I'm thrilled to know that someone is actually looking at them!
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May 26th, 2018, 05:33 AM
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Based on my own experience reading and writing trip reports there is strong interest among many infrequent posters in hearing both what you liked and what you didn’t like about your trip. I know I look forward to both.
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May 26th, 2018, 06:08 AM
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Hi, x-country,
i will comment about places as I go along. I thought I was pretty clear that some of the things we didn’t like were the overwhelming and intense retail culture and the intense reactions by some when we were photographing, which I mentioned in the first post, and have commented on other threads as well. It colors the trip in many ways. On the other hand, we had wonderful experiences, many of which are thanks to our lovely driver.

The overall impression of Morocco, having visited such diverse places, was one of color and texture. And that was wonderful.

Last edited by progol; May 26th, 2018 at 06:26 AM.
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May 26th, 2018, 06:21 AM
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A few more from Rabat, just because....

We enjoyed our visit to Rabat - in many ways it is a gentle introduction to Morocco, not nearly as intense or dramatic as our visits later to Fes or Marrakech, and has some lovely sites to visit. We had just arrived so we couldn’t yet compare, but in retrospect, we found it a worthwhile stop.




In the Medina


The modern Medina


The Andalusian Garden at the end of the Kasbah


Doorway

Last edited by progol; May 26th, 2018 at 06:23 AM.
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May 26th, 2018, 08:11 AM
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Your photos, as always, are beautiful!

We were in Morocco at the same time as progol. We spent a month mostly on our own. I share the same feelings that she has expressed in her OP. I thought the culture overly aggressive and hyper masculine (my husband's words not mine.) All of that got very tiring esp spending a month in the country. Our time in towns & cities was spent in the medinas primarily. It is a beautiful country, wonderfully photographic and many of the people we met were enjoyable and kind.

Last edited by yestravel; May 26th, 2018 at 08:31 AM. Reason: typo
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May 26th, 2018, 10:37 AM
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Thank you for posting this, Progol.
Very much enjoying the photos, and interested in your general impression of the country. Who took the photo of you and the driver? Where was it?
Agree---a great driver (anywhere) is so much more than that role, and gives friendship and great one-on-one insight into a place!
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May 26th, 2018, 03:51 PM
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yestravel and CaliNurse, thanks so much for the lovely words about the photos! More to come when I have time.

yestravel, the description of the culture as hyper masculine really captures it, doesn’t it? Walking through the medinas was definitely challenging at times!

CaliNurse, we stopped along the road driving through the Mountains where we stopped at an overlook. One of the vendors that Salem knew took the photo of us. The nice thing was that he knew all the vendors along the route.
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May 27th, 2018, 12:22 AM
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Thank you Paule. I will be following along with great interest. Morocco is a country I hope to visit, although I've put it off as I feel like the hyper-aggressive culture you described may make for a stressful holiday. The challenges with photography don't help either.
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May 27th, 2018, 02:54 AM
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My pleasure, tripplannner! I do think Morocco is a very worthwhile to visit. Having such a lovely driver definitely made it a very personal experience, and going from sea to mountains to desert in 2 weeks was amazing!

I'm glad you're enjoying this - it's good to know that there are others who are following along!
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May 27th, 2018, 04:48 AM
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From Rabat, to Chefchaouen, by way of the coast

We spent the first night in Rabat because it would be easier drive to Chefchaouen. Salem suggested that instead of driving inland, we drive north toward Tangier, stopping first in Asilah, then seeing the Caves of Hercules and Cape Spartel before driving eastward Chefchaouen. Asilah is a pretty town along the coast, known as an art hub, with a medina enclosed in the well-preserved 15th Century ramparts and gate built by the Portuguese, with lots of murals on the walls.

From there, a stop at the Caves of Hercules, a subterranean series of caves open to the Atlantic; the opening is said to be in the shape of Africa. This is also the location of Cape Spartel, where the Atlantic and the Pacific meet. We didn’t really find the caves to be noteworthy, but we both were thrilled to stand at the meeting of the 2 great bodies of water. There’s something magical about these type of intersections

Photos to followers
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May 27th, 2018, 04:54 AM
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In Asilah (mostly inside the Medina)





Outside the Medina

Inside the Medina













Last edited by progol; May 27th, 2018 at 05:37 AM.
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May 27th, 2018, 05:14 AM
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And a few more from Asilah because they’re fun.....













Last edited by progol; May 27th, 2018 at 05:38 AM.
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May 27th, 2018, 05:36 AM
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And off to the Caves of Hercules and Cap Spartel








Last edited by progol; May 27th, 2018 at 05:38 AM.
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May 27th, 2018, 05:46 AM
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And now, Cap Spartel. It's not the type of place to travel out of the way to visit, but it was a place we were glad to have seen.









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