Tag Archive for: Morocco

Tangier, Chefchaouen and Volubilis

Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” Anonymous


Where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea, sits the bustling port of Tangier. The cross-cultural influences in food and architecture from North Africa, Spain, Portugal and France converse in this fascinating city. During World War Two, spies, businessmen, writers, and artists arrived in Tangier seeking opportunities and adding even more to its diversity.

We had an excellent tour guide on this portion of our trip. He took us to the Kasbah where he explained what a Kasbah is (walled city) and how it has changed over the years. An example of such change is the homes within the walled city.  People have started buying homes and apartments and have turned them into BnB’s and vacation rentals. Families who used to live inside its walls have left for life and opportunities outside the Kasbah.

Our local guide

I love doors and there were so many that were very unique.

We also toured the Medina where there many goods for sale from handcrafted Moroccan artisan ware to typical Moroccan food. One place we stopped was the Café Baba where the Rolling Stones were customers when they were holed up in Tangier while awaiting a verdict from their drug charges in the UK.

photo credit Mat McKeever


I really liked Chefchaouen. It is a quiet and relaxed town. You can wander aimlessly and come across many fascinating sights. There were cats everywhere. In stores, restaurants, and in the streets. However, the first thing that you see is BLUE on every building. All different shades of blue. There are a few theories as to why: one popular opinion is that it keeps mosquitos away; another is that the walls are painted blue to attract tourists. Perhaps, it is a combination of the two?

Our Hotel

Photo credit Mat McKeever

Photo credit Mat McKeever

Photo credit Mat McKeever

Photo credit Mat McKeever



Our group was given a choice to climb up to the Spanish Mosque which is a mile long hike up the hill. I decided that I was not going to attempt it. Instead, I chose to sit and watch locals and tourists alike wander along the river. I loved watching all the people, one of my favourite things to do.

There are plenty of excellent restaurants from which to choose. You could easily spend a pleasant couple of days in this relaxing place.

You will also see cats everywhere. Just like this little cutie.

Photo credit Mat McKeever


Volubilis is a well best-preserved Roman ruin. The walled city was once home to 20,000 people. The buildings were destroyed when an earthquake hit Lisbon in the 18th century which flattened Lisbon. It is incredible that anything survived, but you can still see detailed mosaics with themes of Greek myths on the floors of some of the destroyed buildings.



It was an incredibly hot day when we toured Volubilis. I would have loved to have taken in more, but quickly realized that my priority more was finding relief from the hot sun than sightseeing. I believe the temperature was in the 40’s Celsius range.

It was time to travel to our next destination

Camel Riding 101

“Take every chance you get in life because some things only happen once.” Karen Gibbs

‘They spit, and they smell’ I was told when I mentioned that I was going to ride a camel. I didn’t care. Heck, I even bought what I called my camel riding outfit.

The trip from Fes to Merzouga took 11 hours. The landscape was beautiful and unique. The trip was enjoyable, and we made frequent stops for refreshments and other necessities.

We arrived at the dunes of the Sahara desert. Our desert auberge (simple hotel) Auberge Yasmina, was located at the edge of these dunes. My very generous room included a separate sitting room and upstairs was a private viewing deck. We settled in and had a lovely dinner with entertainment.

The next day a few of us decided to go on a 4 x 4 excursion. I imagined we would travel directly to our points of interest but no. The driver and the rest of the group decided we should try 4 x 4 ing up and over the dunes. The first couple of times I KNEW I was going to be injured or killed. I was terrified. After a few more dunes I finally realized that no, that wasn’t going to happen and started enjoying it. I was whooping along with everyone else.

We finally got to our first destination which was a nomad camp. There was only one nomad family camped here. The man had three wives. At least that is what he admitted. Apparently, three is the legal number of wives men are allowed to have legally. There have been recent laws governing that topic. One law states that the husband must ask permission of the first wife if he wants to take a second wife. I think that with the nomadic lifestyle the laws are a bit looser or he may have had the three wives before the laws changed. One of the wives had just given birth to twins a week previous. I was surprised that she wanted me to take a picture, but I think it was the promise of money that made her so agreeable. A goat was being skinned for the upcoming celebration of the births.


Hard to see the new baby under the blanket



The Kitchen

The Oven

We were invited to have tea, and this gave us the opportunity to ask our local guide a few questions. One person asked how they were able to send out the invitations for the celebration. Now, you should understand that we were in the middle of nowhere: no telephone lines, nothing. We were all thinking the same way. We were caught up in the moment. Our guide responded, “by cellphone.” We burst out laughing.

The next stop was to watch local entertainers. They were all dressed in white and played instruments that resembled large castanets. The cutest little boy was trying to play one of them. We danced a bit, had more tea – tea is the main beverage in Morocco.

Not sure what the heck I was doing but it was fun!

We headed back to the hotel to get ready for our camel ride where it was an hour long swaying ride from the hotel to the desert campsite. The hotel has a pretty efficient system for groups. You pack an overnight bag and leave the remainder of your luggage in a secure room. The next day, you can have a shower and retrieve your belongings before you head out on the road again.

I put on my camel riding outfit, packed an overnight bag and I was ready! My camel did not spit nor did he/she smell that I could tell. My sense of smell is not great.  It was not difficult getting on the camel. The hardest part was when the camel started to stand. The guides tell you to lean back, but I was still not prepared for the sudden propelling forward as the camels started to stand with their hind legs. I, however, did not fall off. That was a good beginning.

Getting ready

We headed out just before sunset. I have no words to describe the intense beauty of the dunes. The views take your breath away.  I wanted the ride to go on forever. Riding a camel is a lot easier than riding a horse, and the hour-long trip was over sooner than I wanted.

My camel.

We arrived at our campsite just as the sun was going down. We settled into our tents, and then some of the group decided to climb up one of the dunes to watch the sun go down. We had a tasty dinner and sat around talking for a bit. Another group arrived just as we were starting to settle in for the night. They were a little more rambunctious than our group talking and laughing most of the night away. We just wanted to get some sleep. It was an early morning rise as we were leaving our campsite at 6 am.  The ride back was just as impressive, and we were able to watch the sunrise. Once we were back at the hotel, we showered and gathered our belongings for the next destination. This adventure is one that I will not soon forget.

Our campsite

Camels resting for the night.

Tables ready for dinner.


Not the greatest picture but part of the group climbed a dune to watch the moon