May 6, 2012

Holiday photos: The end

The final post about my holiday! (Back in February... can you believe) On our last but one day we rented a car and drove to the Ourika valley, to explore the mountains and waterfalls. The 2 hour drive through the valley was amazing: What a contrast with the vibrant city of Marrakech! I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Yes, that's snow you're seeing! Apparently you can go skiing in the Atlas mountains during the winter.

We had lunch in this amazing outdoor restaurant: you had to cross the river via small bridges in order to get to your table! The food was delicious btw, tajine <3 

After an hour walk  from the little village where we parked our car, we reached the waterfall, it wasn't that impressive but still! The water was freezing btw.

Yeah, midi skirts are very practical for moutain climbing. Ahem. Some Englishmen commented that I was "very brave to go hiking in a skirt." I think he meant 'stupid' actually.

Pretty views on the way back!
We explored the valley some more and then decided to go back to Marrakech. There the most challenging part of the day was waiting for us: finding our way in the city during rush hour! The traffic in Morocco is very different to what we're used to in Belgium: hardly no one pays attention to traffic lights, priority or pedestrians crossing the street. Thanks to my boyfriend and my excellent orientation skills (Ahem) we arrived at the Majorelle garden, where we could relax after the stressful drive through the city. This botanical garden is an oasis of peace, quietness, and amazing flora. Yves Saint Laurent also lived here since 1980 till his death.

We were pretty tired by now, so we returned the car and walked to the Jemaa el-Fna square for dinner:
The next day (our last day, boo!) we packed our bags (if you know me, you know that this takes about one hour at least) and visited the Saadian tombs...

... to end our journey with the Moroccan speciality: fresh mint tea!

And that's our trip to Morocco! It's been an amazing experience, and a trip I'd definitely recommend! Because I like to make lists, I made a 'pros and cons of Morocco' list:

- It's a beautiful country that offers a lot for everyone's taste: cities, history, nature, deserts, the sea, mountains,...
- Th climate: During summer, it can be up to 40 degrees in Morocco! We went during the winter, so it was rather chilly, but still a nice change from the snow and -10 degrees in Belgium... 
- The people are very nice: They are very curious to hear where you're from and want to show you around, offer you tea or just have a chat;
- It's cheap: We payed 160 euros for our flight (everything included) with Ryanair. We did go in the low season, but I'm sure in July-August you won't have to pay much more for a ticket to Morocco than, het's say Italy or Spain. Also, with the help of a budget travel guide with you like Lonely Planet or Trotter (in Dutch), you can definitely survive in Morocco with 20 euros per day per person, hotel & food included! We always stayed in small and authentic hotels and almost never had a bad experience: the staff was friendly, the rooms were small but just enough for two students like us, and everything was cleaned every day. 
If you look around a bit or ask a local, you will be able to have lunch for 2 euros per person and dinner for 4 euros, mint tea included! Try to beat that ;)
- It's not that far: only a 3-hour flight (from Brussels) away from a totally different continent and culture!
- The food is amazing. Couscous, tajines, pastilla, meat, fish, sweets, mint tea, fresh salads,... Everything tastes delicious and is very affordable. I brought some spices with me to re-create the typical Moroccan dishes, so good <3
- The souks: here you can buy anything you want: handcrafted leather bags, natural beauty products, an entire traditional Moroccon wardrobe and much more!

- People can be a little pushy sometimes: they noticed you're a tourist immediately and start talking to you, trying to sell their goods or wanting to take you on a 'guided tour' through the city (for "a special price, only for you!") Beware!
- I wouldn't recommend women on their own to take a trip to Morocco. Sure, if you're in a hotel or planning on visiting the big cities only, you won't experience mayor problems. But Morocco is still a muslim country, and foreign women are a real attraction for Moroccan men. Numerous times they've shouted "hey, beauty", "how many camels for this pretty woman", or "congratulations, you lucky guy" (to my boyfriend) when we were walking around in a city. I've heard stories of girlfriends of mine who went to Morocco by their own, and were harassed more than once. Of course, covering up your cleavage, arms or legs will help a little, but I'd still be very careful.
- There still is a lot of poverty: lots of beggars on the streets, homeless people or miserable living conditions.

Wow,that's a lot of text, but I think that's pretty much it! Now, go and book your flight to Morocco and have an awesome holiday! :D