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Chefchaouen & my last weekend in Morocco

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OK so remember how I was raving about Fez the other weekend?
WELL – I think I have now fallen in love with another part of Morocco – Chefchaouen!
Granted that it’s one cracker of a name, so lemme break it down for you ❤ :
CHEF + SHA + O + UN (like ‘1’ in French) – not so hard now, is it! 😉 The wonders of syllable segmentation!

ANYWHO – a little tidbit that I didn’t know about Chefchaouen till I got there is that it is practically the Amsterdam of Morocco IF YOU KNOW WHAT IMMA SAYIN’ 😛 I mean, you could practically smell it in the air. It was revolting but also added to the unique character of this little town. Despite that, however, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Chefchaouen with my French Canadian ‘gazelles’ (as they like to call themselves). The company was great, the views were spectacular, and the whole city was painted in numerous (and absolutely stunning) shades of blue!

Famously referred to as The Blue Pearl, Chefchaouen is certainly a diamond in the mountains, where there are so many beautiful and nature-filled spots that would counterbalance the stench of 420 and make the trip / ride there worth it.

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We caught a bus from Rabat to Chefchaouen, which was 200 dirhams (~$20 return). While I was not looking forward to the bus ride due to potential motion sickness, I was pleasantly surprised at how well I fared during the 5 hour journey. Accompanied by some seriously breathtaking views on the way, listening to Panic! At the Disco on my iPod, surrounding myself with some excellent company, and catching up on some much-needed sleep, I found this bus ride to be super relaxing!

Upon arriving in Che-town, we caught a cab to our hostel – Aline Hostel – where we were greeted by a rather stoned guy and his friend, who checked our passports…

OH YEAH – CARRY YOUR PASSPORT AT ALL TIMES WHEN TRAVELING INTERSTATE IN MOROCCO BECAUSE THEY WILL NEED YOUR VISA STAMP DETAILS

and then took us to our 8-bed dorm room. OK so before I forget – I refuse to carry my passport anywhere in Morocco, especially being a young woman who is traveling solo (for the most part), so I just took my Proof of Age card from Australia as an ID and I would make a note of the following (for future reference, as I couldn’t remember the stamp number but had all other details memorized):

  • passport number
  • visa stamp number
  • photo of the Moroccan visa with the stamp
  • date of issue / date of expiry

ANYWHO, after we checked in, we were famished, so we decided to freshen up and head to a pizzeria down the road from our hostel. Now, don’t get me wrong – we appreciate Moroccan culture and cuisine to the max, but every now and then, it’s nice to #treatyoself with some good ol’ greasy, finger-lickin’ junk food, like pasta and pizza 😉 which is exactly what we did!

After we filled up our bellies and had a restful first night, we were greeted the next day with a fantastic view of the mountains and the buildings in this city that are painted in shades of blue. For breakfast, we were offered tea and coffee, followed by khubz (okay, so “khubz” or bread is had at EVERY SINGLE MEAL here in Morocco – ALL THE CARBS!) with apricot jam and butter. While the brekkie was simple, it was enough and plentiful for us to take on exploring this beautiful city.

(PS please excuse the awkward af pose HAHA – I don’t do well with solo shots, thnx) 😛

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We decided to explore the Blue Pearl and even did a mini-hike up to a famous mosque on a hill, from where the view of Chefchaouen is absolutely priceless.Throughout our walk through the medina, I couldn’t help but notice that we were attracting a lot of attention. Being foreign, white and/or heavily tattooed (who decided to be silly and not wear a cardigan), this is going to be an issue, so be forewarned about this, should you decide to visit literally *any place* in Morocco.

Almost the entire city is caked in varieties of blue. You walk into a lane – any lane – and you will be welcomed by the cool and calming color. And if you’re carrying a camera or using your phone, make sure you bring all the spare batteries and SD cards, because you will want to photograph every single part of this lovely city!

13239119_10153534079346806_7613316624804938165_nI love how beautifully structured this city is. It has the perfect balance of chaos and order and that’s what made this city so enjoyable to explore with my gazelles. Saturday night, we were invited to enjoy the sunset from Hotel Parador – a top quality and fancy restaurant and bar that provides picturesque views of the mountains and offers fantastic options of fine dining and drinking. Seeing how alcohol isn’t much of a thing here in Morocco, we decided to share a drink together with each other and loosen up a bit, while we’ve been working hard through the weeks with our placements and getting used to the Moroccan lifestyle.We got dolled up (while still maintaining a level of modesty) and enjoyed some brilliant food and sweet poison in the form of beer, G&Ts and good ol’ red wine. It was a fantastic night with my lovely girls and I couldn’t have asked for a better final weekend in Morocco.

Sunday was hiking day, where we walked 5 hours up and down a mountain to see a waterfall. This was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but I’m glad that I pushed myself and with a bit of assistance and motivation provided by the girls, I was able to accomplish the seemingly impossible and make it to the top (and back to the bottom). There were several moments of “I wanna die” and “Feeeeck this” and “what even if life rn” but I’m glad I made it to the top (with a LOT of water and electrolytes and Oreos and apples). But, nothing is going to change the fact that I’m a Tema Tato. SO 😀 here are some tips for beginner hikers (like myself who scoff at the idea of exercise) HAHAHA :

  • Bring a 2L bottle of water. It doesn’t matter if it’s heavy – you’ll be surprised at how quickly you go through it, especially on long hikes
  • Make sure you wear some A grade quality shoes, especially if you’re gonna be hiking up a hill or a mountain. It’s amazing how spending $$$ on good shoes will take you a long way (literally)!
  • Carry a range of snacks if you’re the kind who skips brekkie or doesn’t have enough – you need all the sources of energy you can get. Almonds, apples, berries, and / or chocolate should do the trick
  • Go hiking with people – it’s so much more fun and motivating, especially if you’re like me and tend to quit within 5 metres 😛
  • Wear something that’s comfy but also hike-appropriate. Shorts and a tank top should do.
  • SUNSCREEN ❤
  • A mini first aid kit, for minor scrapes and bruises that you may/probably will encounter along the way

Btw, this was the view that we were welcomed with after our strenuous 2.5 hour walk (so I guess all that turmoil and emotional stress was worth it in the end HAHA):

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Despite a challenging end to our weekend, it was the perfect way to celebrate new friendships, new cultures, and the beauty of a truly exotic land!

A special thank you to my gazelles for making my final weekend an unforgettable one! xxx

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