Welcome to Africa
The Southern coast of Spain and the Northern coast of Africa practically touch, with only a short strip of the Mediterranean separating them. Stepping off the ferry at the port of Tangier is only the first move you’ll make during your adventure on the African continent, but right away you will see how Morocco’s cities and its people represent a cultural blend different from anything you’ve experienced previously.
On the bus into the city, young Moroccan boys will run alongside, blowing welcome kisses up to you. Along the streets, you will see the signs transform from Spanish to Arabic to French to English, it seems as though Morocco can’t make up its mind about which language to speak. In fact, it doesn’t have to, because nearly all of its inhabitants speak Arabic as their first language, but are also fluent or conversational in French, Spanish and English. There’s definitely something exotic about Morocco, but something real and understandable too. You will see houses painted bright blue, ride camels across a cliff by the sea, and taste couscous piled high with sweet and savory spices. You will have the incredible opportunity to experience how Moroccan people live their daily lives, and you’ll start to really appreciate the beauty and excitement of northern Africa.
The Blue City
In the middle of the white and blue streets of Chefchaouen, there are times you won’t be able to distinguish between the city walls and the cerulean sky. You will be guided by an exuberant Moroccan wearing a tiny knit hat and a djellaba, a long robe Moroccan people wear all year long to keep themselves both warm and cool. Take a moment to stare up at the tangled city streets and the imposing mountains. While you take it all in, the Moroccan guide will tell you about the origins of the city’s blue paint and share what it is like to live in the shadow of such incredible mountains.
The DiscoverExcursions guides will be nearby during the tour, but when it is finished, they will give you free time to explore the city for yourself. It is incredible to walk through the streets and take in every new sight and sound surrounding you; vendors selling souvenirs that scream “I went to Morocco,” children saying hola from their doorways, and mothers holding babies while buying bread and spices, you’ll have to pinch yourself to remember you are in the midst of a lively Moroccan city and not in a dream.
Asilah and the Mediterranean Sea
Asilah is a beautiful coastal city known for its folk art, which draws travelers from all over the world. It won’t be the typical art that you’re used to seeing in Europe, like the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel; it’s more personal, painted directly onto the city walls. The whitewashed stucco is splashed with bright color, and there is even a mural where you can add your name to an enormous collage of past visitors.
Vendors share their art and handmade goods with you right out on the street and, like in Chefchaouen, you can bargain with them for a few souvenirs. Out in the square, you can get warm, sweet Moroccan mint tea or get your hands decorated in traditional henna. When you and your friends venture farther into the city, away from the main square, you will find the stunning overlook where you can watch the waves splashing up against the rocks below. You’ll find an artist working in his tiny studio making paintings inspired by Arabic letters. He will have a glowing cigarette between his fingers as he carefully writes your name. You will feel at peace here, as if you could walk down the white corridors forever.
Camels! (You Probably Just Skipped Right to This Section, Didn’t You)
Maybe you’ve seen a camel before, behind bars at a zoo or in someone’s Facebook photos, but that doesn’t compare to the moment you pull up to the coastal hillside and see the line of camels waiting for you in Morocco. The baby camels will be lounging in the sand; perfect for crouching down to get your obligatory camel selfie. The babies love to have their ears scratched and if you do, they will rub their head against your legs like a giant cat. When the adult camel first stands up with you on his back, it will be like going up a roller coaster backwards and a jolt of excitement will fill your chest. It will be surprisingly comfortable on the back of the camel, and looking out between his ears, you will be able to see out across the bright blue Strait of Gibraltar.
الباب الذي يأتيك بالريح سده واسترح
“Close the door that brings in the wind and relax.”
After each day of exploring and the constant barrage of beauty and new sights, there is nothing better than getting back to the comfort of food and sleep. DiscoverExcursions knows this, and each night you will return to an array of meats, vegetables, rice, potatoes and, in your hotel room, a bed that is debatably made of clouds. If you’re not ready to sleep quite yet, still energized from the day’s adventures, you won’t be the only one. After your delicious Moroccan feast, you’ll spend the evening socializing with your fellow travelers. Sangria in hand, you will have the opportunity to talk about where you’re from, where you hope to go next, and relive your favorite moments in the Blue City together. You will talk, dance, and then laugh when you find out who is terrible at flip cup. Hours will pass this way, and when you finally consider going back to your room to sleep, you won’t want to. Meeting these people would not have happened without the DiscoverExcursions trip, and now you will have new friends studying in Barcelona, Rome, and Berlin from all corners of the globe. You’ll keep in touch long after you step off the ferry back in Spain, discussing all your new experiences, and you may even meet up again in another exciting new place. In this way, your journey continues long after your DiscoverExcursions trip comes to a close.