“It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.” Wiston Churchill said this about Russia, but I am sure if he would have visited Morocco he would have said the same about this country.
This wonderful country, land of kings and ancient dynasties, has four former imperial cities: Rabat, Fez, Marrakech and Meknes.
I arrived to Casablanca from Rome and the moment I stepped out of the Casa Port station reality slapped me across the face. I come from South America, but years living in the US and Europe spoiled me. Apparently, the flight not only took me across the Mediterranean but also through time. I walked into another world. Another time.
In Morocco time goes slowly. Here everything slows down, and life just unfold naturally.
Casablanca is the economical Capital of Morocco and the permanent residence of Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, son of Hassan II, grandson of Mohammed V, and according to him, descendent of the prophet Mohammed itself!
Casa, as Moroccans call it, is recognized for the 1940s movie, although neither Bogart nor Bergman ever put a foot in the real Casablanca. Don’t get me wrong, I love original and local life, I don’t like touristy crap. But this is not my favorite city of Morocco. Honestly I didn’t find much to do, however…. In Casablanca you will find the only mosque where non-muslim can enter (Mosque Hassan II).
I took the train from Casa Voyageurs stations to Marrakech, the journey lasts about 4 hours. Be mindful that trains are usually delayed (more than usually), mine was one hour late. So instead of 8.50 the train showed up at 9.50. I was feeling fancy, so I bought a first class ticket. I recommend first class for the air condition, but second class is not bad (147 Dirhams, about 14 Euros) and sat down to wait next to Moroccan ladies.
The train ride was through Moroccan rural areas, passing by villages and cattle, people working the fields under the sun, and mostly earthy colors.
At about 16.30 I took my first steps into the imperial city of Marrakech (read about my beloved Marrakech here). Outside the train station a hoard of taxi drivers will be playing a desperate dance to get your attention and you inside their taxis. But I was one step ahead this time and knew where to take the bus 4 dirhams and let the adventure begins! To take the bus just exit the train station to the right and take the bus across the street, all lines go to the famous Jemaa el-fna square. The trip costed 4 dirhams, paid directly to the bus driver, who will give you a ticket).
In a few words: Marrakech, stole my heart.
When I got off the bus into the Jemma el-fna square… all the life, music, sounds, screams, people and even monkeys and cobras came over me like a wave. Whoa! that was intense! But like everywhere else in Morocco, you must learn to go with the flow. There is no other option, life here just takes you away.
I walked to my hostel diving into this sea of colors and noise. Overwhelmed yes, but amazed at this new world in front of me. How amazing that we all share this world. Full of amazing things, like Marrakech.
I never wanted to leave Marrakech, I wish I was born there, so I can grow up in this labyrinth of stores and colors. Surrounded by shiny tea kettles and precious stones. Marrakech has so much passion, so much heart. It took mine away. And now it is there forever. Marrakech has so much going on at all times. Pure Intensity.
I am already planning to come back. I feel I am taking so much with me from this place, I just hope I left enough love and gratitude for these people who taught me so much in so little time. Because no time is enough in a place like this.
Read my story about Marrakech here.
After a week in Morocco I took the train again, from Marrakech to the majestic Fes. This trip takes about 8 hours long, do yourself a favor and buy first class for 100 dirhams more (a total of about 30 Euros). Believe me, you want AC during that long trip.
I have been waiting to see Fez for many years. Just the name makes it enigmatic. Fes is a land of mysteries, sensuality and confusion. It surrounds you and traps you. It takes you in and never lets you go, like a passionate lover. It gets under your skin. You always want more. See more. Walk more. Buy more. Know more. I want to know every little street of this amazing Medina. That by the way is the oldest in Morocco, and the second largest in the world.
Fes is the heart of Morocco, where the first imperial city was founded. And the biggest University of the Arab world was located. A quarter million people lives in Fez el Bali, the old town, or Medina. But Fez is huge, and is formed also by Ville Nouvelle, and the Mellah (the old Jewish Quarter).
Every corner of Fez holds secrets passageways. Thousands and thousands of streets and alleys form this Medina worth getting lost in. There are about 9 thousand streets in Medina, which is formed by 30 different neighborhoods. Every neighborhood in the Medina has 5 essential things that the community share: A mosque, an oven, a hammam, a school and a fountain.
Fes more than everywhere else it is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.
Read about my adventure in Fez here.
After about 10 days in this incredible, surprising and enigmatic country, I find myself being caught by it. Absolutely taken. So in love, that I wouldn’t doubt for one second to come back, and be happy lost in its labyrinth of streets forever.