This post is a review of the wonderful Muslim women friendly Moroccan retreat I did with The Big Reconnect Sleepover along side ten things you can do on your Moroccan holiday. It was like going on a sleepover with a great group of other Muslim women. We got to unplug, enjoy a hijab free hotel, swim in the pool freely and get pampered with traditional Moroccan food. It was a trip to remember.Read More
One of my favourite spots in Marrakech was the Jardin Majorelle. I think the bright colours make it really interesting. The mix of the sunshine yellow and the Majorelle blue is very energetic. The garden is fairly small. Going around it, taking photos and completing took me about an hour. The cafe is really nice to chill and have a bite. There is also a pretty shop, but granted it was very pricey. It is a cute place to spend the afternoon.
He grabbed my arm and wrapped it with his big heavy hand and pulled me forward. My shoes sunk in the muddy puddle underneath. The terror raised in my eyes. I tried to pull back and free my arm from his strong grip. Panic was arising and my heart started beating faster. I am sure the rest of the group found it funny and even adorable. After all, all the poor old guy wanted was for me to kiss the camel not realising that I grew up away from all natural forces and creatures in a comfortable isolated little town. In fact, that was the first time I saw a camel that close. The group found it strange that my first camel encounter happened at the age of twenty-six and over 5000 kilo meters from my home. As a Saudi, I was expected to be best friends with camels and other desert animals. The old guy gave up on me when he saw my fear and was happy with me taking a close up photo instead.
After that unsettling encounter, we hopped back in the van and we were taken higher up. That was only the start of our mountain excursion. Shortly afterward, we stopped at a surprising rest stop for lunch that did not look clean or well kept. They served mediocre Moroccan food neither the group nor I were impressed with. We thought we are going to take the car forward after the meal, because we could not see mountains in site, but the guide surprised us seeing the rest of the journey by foot. We were not told how long we would be walking for or how high and all our questions were answered with “Little bit.” “Not long.”
An hour later, we were still walking. In fact, we were hiking up without any gear. In the middle of complaining about the unexpected hike, the sky started raining. It was all light rain that I would not have minded in other conditions, but on top of the Atlas Mountains, it meant muddy route and uncomfortable breathing. With every step we took up, more beauty was uncovered and majestic mountains welcomed us with their luscious green. Half way to the top, we reached the viewpoint that the guide was after to see three waterfalls seemingly connected in harmony. The site was beautiful and beside it there was a little café sitting conveniently facing it. We were served green tea with mint to warm us up but the breeze was colder than expected and made us shiver in that September day.
Needless to say, I was down with a huge cold afterwards and spent a whole week recovering, but the views I witnessed and the photos I took made it all worth it.
One of the reasons that tempted me to visit Morocco was the Islamic sights that are still protected and open to visitors. I stayed in the Madina (old city) to be close to the sights, but they could all be visited in a day. I would have preferred staying in the new part of town and taxi-ing there. The Medina is extremely busy and touristy. I still enjoyed my visits to the main sights: Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia Palace, The Ben Youssef Madrasa and the Museum of Marrakech (same order of the photos).
I was not very impressed with the Koutoubia Mosque. It was very plain inside. I found the outside minaret and the little green court yard inside to be the nicest parts. I was hoping for more patterns, but I there was not any. Thankfully, my pattern craving was fulfilled in the following sights. The Bahia Palace was really pretty, but very crowded. I had to wait for people to leave to take few clear shots. The Ben Youssef Madrasa was my absolute favourite. I just wanted to stay there and inhale all the beautiful patterns. I ended my sights visit with stopping by the Museum of Marrakech, which is impressive for a museum. At first, it all seemed like a normal contemporary place until I walked in to the courtyard. It was covered in Islamic patterns.
Enjoy the photos! :)
While I was walking around Marrakech, I was welcomed by an abundance of bright, finger licking colours. They were just so gripping and beautiful. I couldn't resist taking endless photos of them. Here are some of my favourite colourful shots from the trip. Hope you find them inspiring! :)
There is a thing inside of me that likes the beach. It could be the fact that I grew up by one. When I go to the beach I like to swim and every single time I regret it. The salty water, the sea creatures attacking me for invading their home and my swimming attire. I know when I wear my fully covered swimming suit (aka burqini burqa/bikini) I look like a cross between a seal lion and an alien. It takes a while to muster up the courage to wear it and walk in full confidante with it on publicly. I have to give myself a pep talk before every time. I usually get starred down and made unwelcome. To make myself feel better I just imagine those unwelcoming stares of disprovable as looks of praise and aw of how amazing I look even when I am fully covered. You can call me delusional but it works. I do not want to compromise on neither my beliefs nor my fun, so I just make it work. Thankfully, when I wore it on the beach in Agadir in Morocco no one cared. The people who were there wore basically everything from the usual bikini to baggy t-shirts and hijab. I know people assume that this will be the same attitude in every Muslim country, but let me assure you it's not, so when when no one cared or even looked I felt great!
Agadir is three hours drive from Marrakech. The plan was to take a bus, but it was fully booked when my friends and I went the same morning to the bus station. It turned out that people should book the day before at the latest, so we just took a taxi. After a long discussion with the taxi driver, he agreed to charge 700 Moroccan Dirhems per person for a round a trip. It was a ripoff no doubt about it, but my friends really wanted to go, so we did. He turned out to be a cool old guy who kept telling us the most random stories. The way to Agadir was really dusty and bumpy. There was so much hype about Agadir, their beach and how amazing it is. I was a little disappointed when we arrived. Maybe the resort beaches are nicer, but the public one was average and full of teenagers playing football. The water was clean and refreshing, so I guess that was the whole point. The restaurants facing the beach had below average food and they were there just for tourists. Even the fish there wasn't fresh. All the locals ate in places inside town. The drive back was even more tiring. It was a good day trip, but spending a night there would have been more comfortable. It was lovely regardless.
When I went to Fez for the second time, I attended a really cool workshop I didn't know about in my first visit. I went to Craft Draft for leather embroidery. Taking arty workshops that relate to the city, fills my heart with a whole new level of love for the city I am visiting.
Hamza Elfasiki, a second-generation brass worker, is the founder of Craft Draft. He is an educated Moroccan with a master’s degree. Perusing crafts was a conscious choice he made. He currently gives various craft workshops in Fez and internationally. It's worth checking with him if you are visiting Fez. Not to mention that his studio is the cutest ever and worth a visit just for the vibe.
Two months ago I went to Fes/Fez/فاس , Morocco for a week. I went there for the Art of Islamic Pattern study abroad short course. I didn’t know what to expect from Fes. All I knew was that my friends who visited loved it and highly recommended it. One of them told that Fez was the most beautiful city they visited.
I think you can pack everything in and make it a lovely weekend or a three day trip.
There are few more activities that you could do or surrounding cities that you could visit if you are staying longer. Check Culture Vultures Fez, Plan-it Fez and House in Fez for some more things to do and places to see.
If you are going there during the summer, make sure to pack light and modest wear with you. I took six outfits with me. You can take a look at Six Summer Hijabi Travelling Outfits for ideas. If you are going during winter, take warm clothes with you because it could get really cold -London cold- and rainy. Many Riads and flats are not heated well so keep that in mind.
Ps. if you don't wear hijab, that's totally fine, but try to be modest because the more you show the more you get bothered. T-shirts, jeans and sandals are totally acceptable for women.
- Do most of your photography during guided tours with an official touring agency such Culture Vultures Fez or Plan-it Fez.
- Ask permission to take photos of objects, shop fronts people and even animals.
- Avoid taking photos of locals or even pointing a camera at them because they get angry and extremely irritated, older men and women especially.
- Dress to blend because if you stand out you will get harassed.
- Avoid standing aimlessly or appearing lost because the second you stop walking many people will come and try to "help" you and that will probably lead you to their own shop or restaurant.
- Have an open mind and an accepting attitude towards some of the locals who will treat you like a walking wallet. It is inevitable and there is no point getting upset about it.
- Fez has a lot of beauty and heritage so try and focus on that and block all the other negative factors that might bother you.
- Have fun! You are on holiday and you owe it to yourself to make the most of it :D
Feel free to add more tips in the comments below! :)