A Travellerspoint blog

Volubilis and Meknes

sunny 34 °C

Today we rose to a taditional breakfast of Moroccan pancakes, bread, mint tea, olives, butter and oil. Our tour guide, Mohammed, Moh for short, told as that in Morocco, breakfast is not a big meal, with bread and mint tea being the most common combination.

We left Moulay Idriss after breakfast for the Roman ruins of Volubilis, a town that was built by the Romans in the 3rd century BC. The town features the ruins of a Basilica, Temple, Olive press, public bath, villas and the homes of the poor. Due to the town being buried for so long, many features of the town floor plan have been preserved by the dirt, including the mosaic floors in the villas. The floors depict images of Romans Gods, mythalogical scenes and sea creatures, and are generally found on the floors of the dining rooms. The Romans were extremely sophisticated, using the pull of gravity due to their position next to the mountains to bring water into the town. There's still evidence of sewage pipes, heated flooring and courtyard pools used for cooling oneself down on a hot day. If only they'd still been in tact - it was with very little shade!

After Volubilis, we headed for Meknes, once the capital city of Morroco. A local artist showed us around the old royal palace and market, which was full of sweet almond and honey sweets, spices, people and bees. Yes, bees. They were on everything; the fruit, the sweets, you name it. He also showed us the old dungeon, where prisoners and foreigners caught by Moroccan pirates were kept. It was dark and long, containing just one chamber where everyone was kept in shackles. It smelt as all old underground places smell and many of the walls were covered in graffiti engravings by teenagers who were declaring their love for one another. Perhaps we are not all so different as we may think...
We also visited a Berber (the indigenous people of Morocco) craft shop, where young men were beating silver into black plates, and tablecloths, serviettes and cushion covers made of linen that were hand stitched by local girls from an orphanage nearby, were on display. Most of us bought souvenirs, I myself bought a cushion case, and then we headed off to lunch. For lunch we went into the market in the old city and ate camel burgers in a restaurant draped in colourful silks and carpets. Camel tastes a little like mince meat; however, it was so full of spices and herbs, I probably wouldn't recognise it if we ate it again.

Next was a train to Fes, missing our first one because it decided to leave early and luckily only waiting 20 minutes for another.
Once in Fes, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and walked to the 'Mall', where we were shown the local supermarket, which is like a
small version of what I imagine Wallmart to be like. Their shops and brand preferences are much the same as ours, with Hungry Jacks, McDonald's, Nike and Lactose being quite popular. We then went with Moh to get some street food for dinner. He walked us 5 minutes down the road from our hotel, which is on the main road of the city, to a tiny streetside restaurant where we had Turkey and Liver skewers in sandwiches. The group then relaxed in the hotel lounge and laughed about language differences, as we have seven Australians, one American, one Englishwoman and a Mexican on our tour..

Tomorrow we explore more of Fes!

Posted by Laurena and Sam 12:46 Archived in Morocco Comments (1)

Moulay Idriss

sunny

Today we woke up early to visit the Hassan II Mosque. The mosque is the third biggest in the world, taking only 6 years
to build and costing over 60 million US dollars. We arrived early for our 9 o'clock tour so that we could photograph the building and all the
sleeping stray cats (Morocco is full of stray cats!!)
Inside, the Mosque is as grand as you'd expect. Full of Moroccan sourced wood and marble, and venetian glass chandeliers,
the interior is marble-lous...thankyou, Sam, for that ridiculous pun.

After the Mosuqe, we boarded a train to Meknes and then taxied to Moulay Idriss. Nestled between two mountains, Moulay Idriss is a
white-washed village of around 20,000 people. It's one of Morocco's most important pilgrimage sites due to it having the mausoleum of the first king of morocco, who was supposedly the fourth decendant. Only in 2005 were non-muslims pedmitted to stay overnight.
We stayed with a local family who lived in a large house converted into a raid. First on the agenda was a walk with the group through the mint green, grey and yellow alleyways. The village is full of stairs, donkeys and even more stray cats. We were shown around by a local guide, who painted a picture of village life and explained the intruiging local traditions. He told us how almost every Moroccan village must have one of each of the following buildings to survive:

-A bakery, where dough from each home is taken in the morning to be baked
-An Olive Press, as Moroccans eat and cook with it every day
-A Prayer Place
-A Public bath, used as much for socialising as it is for bathing. Men bathe in the morning and women in the afternoon.

Upon returning to the guest house, we were served a homemade four course feast of couscous, soup, bread, olives, fruit,
meatball tagine and traditional mint tea. Mint tea is everywhere in Morocco. It's made by boiling gun powder green tea, before adding handfuls of fresh mint. Moroccans generally drink it with plenty of sugar; however, if the green tea isn't too strong, i'ts fine without it.

Moulay Idriss is definitely one of the most intriguing and beautiful villages we've ever visited and we look forward to exploring Meknes tomorrow.

Posted by Laurena and Sam 15:37 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Casablanca: Day 1..ish

sunny

Today we woke at 5:30 to the sounds of the prayer call and the locals starting to go about their day. The day before, we spent a couple of hours in a taxi driving in circles trying to find the right apartment building and then relying on locals to walk us around and call our contact. We were then greeted by the friendly face of Fatima (Fati, pronounced Fashee, for short) who showed us around and bought us pizza for dinner. She was a friend of the owners of the apartment we were staying in. Having gone to bed at 7:30pm due to sheer exhaustion, I was awoken by a knock on the apartment door at 10:30pm. Slightly startled and extremely drowsy, I shuffled over to open it, only to be startled by a lady in a hijab staring back at me, looking just as surprised at my presence as I was of hers. With her speaking not a word of English (and I speaking even less of Arabic or French, which are the local languages), I let her in with the decision to work it all out tomorrow. It turned out her name was Kaltoum (pronounced Kaahltchoom), a primary school French teacher. Fati brought over some traditional breakfast in the morning and then took us into central Casablanca for the day. Casablanca certainly isn't my favourite city, but it offers a diverse impression of the people of Morocco. Crowded with people, particularly men who stare with very little shame, the occasional hippy, tourists who stick out like sore thumbs and an abundance of cats, this beach city is certainly good for people watching.
We spent the day looking at local shops, walking through the market in the bazaar and eating grilled fish.
Come the evening, we said our goodbyes to Fati and met our tour group at the Hotel Transatlantique, a beautiful hotel (with shocking WiFi) that has been around since 1922. The d├ęcor is traditional Moroccan, with green tiles, lion statues and chandeliers galore.

Next stop, the Mosque and Moulay Idris

Posted by Laurena and Sam 23:13 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Casablanca

sunny 30 °C

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Sam and Fati_635784159072583157_Afterlight_Edit

Sam and Fati_635784159072583157_Afterlight_Edit

Salam! Well, we have arrived, but there are very few places to connect to the WiFi so we apologise for the delay in our posts!

The window's open and we can hear children playing soccer outside on the common, whilst old ladies yell across at each other from their apartment windows. the sun is out, the weather mild and all we feel like doing is napping. After 22 hours of flying, a quick train ride, a hairy trip in a red taxi and with the help of a half dozen locals, we finally arrived at our airbnb
apartment. Morocco can certainly never be described as dull or regular. filled with more languages than we can wrap our heads around and an abundance of noise and movement, our first impression of Morocco is that life is focused around community, food and a slower pace in life.

We look forward to exploring this vibrant arrican country further.

Posted by Laurena and Sam 07:52 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

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