We caught a bus from Fez to a town called Chefchaouen. About 10km from town, we are told to get off the bus and get a cab...seven people, including the driver are piled into the taxi and make our way into town.
Chefchaouen is the sweetest little town full of white-washed homes with beautiful blue accents. The town is surrounded by mountains and the view from our hotel is picturesque with an abandoned little mosque perched on top of a green hill. The town has little river and waterfall where the local woman gather to do their laundry and wash their carpets in the river. Chefchaouen is the embodiment of almost every Moroccan cliche...
The highlight of our stay was when we met Guido and Emma from Amsterdam. They invited us to join them for a BBQ on the river. We found a perfect little spot beside the waterfall and built a fire pit and fire. We made salads, grilled eggplant, kebab and lamb. It was perfect. We ended the day by drinking mint tea on a terrace in the main square, over-looking the kasbah. Ahhh.
It was time to make our way back to Spain and we spent the next day traveling. We took a bus from Chefchaouen to Tetouan. From there we took a shared taxi to the Spanish frontier, got our passports stamped and walked onto Spanish territory. We were in the EU, in northern Africa with a two hour time difference! We took a public bus into the town of Cueta and caught a ferry across the Straight of Gibraltar to the city of Algeciras. What a day!
We finally made it to Granada, considered the single most worthwhile city in Spain for a tourist. We spent time walking around town, drinking sangria and eating tapas. The Alhambra, part fortress, part palace is remarkable to visit. The gardens and water fountains are beautiful; the carvings and tiles are mesmerizing.
I do believe that Granada was worth the effort to visit and would recommend it to everyone.
I now finally know what The Clash were singing about - a Kasbah is a fortress and Morocco is full of them.
We started our Morocco adventure when we arrived in Marrakech, an imperial city. We walked in the main square of the Medina (old city) and we were greeted by snake charmers, acrobats, fortune tellers and peddlers of all kinds. We also were greeted by very helpful young kids that don't want to do anything but help you find your hotel and take you money afterwards. I gave some but apparently I was a "crazy man" for not giving him enough of a tip...
The Medina is really crazy with lots of people, souks (street markets), donkeys and motorcycles and it almost impossible to find anything. We got lost many times but it was wonderful! We even made it to the Mellah which is the old Jewish quarter of the old city. The Jewish cementery seems to be super old with tombs that don't even have names attached to it.
We decided to take a 3 day tour to the Sahara desert. The tour consisted mostly in driving through windy roads across the Morocco's mountains in a little van. We stopped in a Kasbah where the movies Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator were filmed. Appartently Morocco is booming with the film industry. Many movies are filmed here such as The Mummy, Sahara, etc. And you can find entire replicas of Mecca and Jerusalem on the road.
The second night of our tour was spent sleeping in the Sahara desert. We took a sunset camel ride guided by Berber men dressed in their traditional desert clothes. At our campsite, we climbed the sand dune only to miss the sunset. Our calves were burning! We spent the night drinking Berber whiskey (actually a tea), eating, singing and drumming to the beats of the desert. The tour ended the following morning with the final camel ride back to the van and a very long drive back to Marrakech (12 hours of it).
We spent a final night in Marrakech before taking another long train ride to Fez, another of the imperial cities. Fez seems to be a calmer city that Marrakech and it has it on charm. People seem to be friendlier and the artisans are truly authentic. We had the time to explore the city and we ran into old friends of our Sahara tour. One recommendation, don't take pictures of the Royal Palace. The guards don't seem to like it and made me erase the picture from my camera.
We will go now hunt for a place to eat and decide where to go next. Our plan is to make our way north and then on to the south of Spain until Madrid. We want to make it to Israel before the 28 of April for Yom Ha'atzmaut.