Morocco was an experience for all the senses. It was gritty and potent and sticky and flavorful - all tangled up in an adventurous holiday. We traveled to North Africa for one week in June and ate our way through Fes, Marrakesh, and the High Atlas Mountains. We started our journey toward Fes, stopping at the ancient Roman ruins of Volubulis, and then onto Moulay Idriss, the holiest Muslim site in Morocco before reaching our resting place of a few days in Fes.
Fes functions much in the manner it did years and years ago, serving as a time capsule into the culture, history, and life of Morocco. Littered with awe inspiring mosaics, hidden gardens, religious importance, and cats, lot of cats, Fes evokes old world charm with hearty doses of reality. Walking through the maze-like medina is unlike anything else, having a guide is highly recommended. It is crowded, cramped, and full of colors and scents with quick glimpses of majestic courtyards filled with intricate tiled mosaics and exquisite wood craftsmanship. Ancient mosques, a thousand year old university, the tannery, food stalls, and even a synagogue make up this incredible ancient city.
Marrakesh is the more hip sister to Fes - more modernized, yet peppered with old world charm. Colorful souks filled to the brim with assorted goods, ranging from jewelry, carpets, pottery, and spices, make up the seemingly never ending marketplace. Marrakesh is also home to Yves St. Laurent's Majorelle Gardens, a bright and vibrant cactus-filled respite that should not be missed.
From the cities, we retreated to the High Atlas Mountains and relaxed at an eco-friendly Kasbah running on solar panels and locally grown-produce.
A huge thank you to my go-to travel specialist, Beth Jenkins, who always makes every adventure seamless. I highly recommend Beth for any trip, large or small.
Sleep - Raid Laaroussa is an authentic Raid in the heart of the medina with large and comfortable rooms, a beautiful and relaxing courtyard, and a lovely roof terrace for meals. The hosts were extremely warm and welcoming, and the food was very good. We stayed in the grey suite, a spacious room with a lovely view of the courtyard.
Eat - We had four meals in Fes. The first dinner and breakfast were spent on the rooftop at Raid Laaroussa. Breakfast was a multi-course affair with many sweet and savory options. For lunch, we sought out the hideaway, The Ruined Garden at Riad Idrissy for some modern Moroccan food in a beautiful setting. Our last dinner at Fes was at the highly acclaimed Restaurant Numero 7, a very modern space that features rotating chefs utilizing local ingredients in contemporary ways. I typically love a more authentic and home cooked experience, but the food at Restaurant Numero 7 was very respectable and good tasting. I had a laundry list of places to try but alas, our time was short and stomachs only so big.
Shop - Fes is known for carpets, pottery, tiles, and leather. Haggling in the souks is exhausting, but part of the cultural experience.
Do - Bou Inania Medersa, the shrine of Moulay Idriss II, the tanneries, Al-Attarine, the gates of the Royal Palace, and R'Cif markets.
Sleep - La Mamounia is a luxurious and extravagant resort located outside the medina. From the gardens, pool, courtyard, restaurants, gym, and spa, every detail is ornate and carefully curated. We stayed in a garden view room with a balcony, slightly small in size, but very comfortable and well appointed. Service was exceptional, food was delicious, yet VERY costly. The medina is approximately 15 minutes by foot.
Eat - Despite limited time and a long list of places we wanted to eat at, we managed to fit in some great meals. My favorite meal of the trip came as a result of a fantastic cooking class at Dar Les Cigognes. I highly recommend this experience to anyone traveling to Marrakesh. The class begins with a walking tour of the market, provisioning for the meal curated by you and the affable host. We learned how to make classical couscous, tagine, and cold salads - all of which were enjoyed following the class on the rooftop terrace of the Riad. Breakfasts were had in style at La Mamounia. Prior to a relaxing stroll through the Majorelle Gardens, we had a healthy and satisfying lunch at Kaowa. A modern healthy Moroccan dinner was enjoyed on the rooftop of the Nomad Restaurant in the spice section of the medina.
Do - Majorelle Gardens, Medersa ben Youssef, Dar Cherifa, Badi'a Palac, and the vibrant souks of the medina.
High Atlas Mountains
Sleep - Kasbah Bab Ourika is a gorgeous eco-friendly oasis nestled in the High Atlas Mountains. We stayed in a deluxe room which was a bit dark and cavernous, but the gorgeous, well-curated, and manicured retreat made up for it in many many ways. The common areas were exceptionally designed, utilizing local and traditional craftsmanship featuring Berber designs and textiles. Despite wifi being nonexistent, the lush gardens which grow food for the restaurant, secluded pool, and breath taking views, produce an "unplugged" worthy environment.
Eat - All our meals were enjoyed at Kasbah Bab Ourika. They were all incredible and memorable and featured ingredients from the property or near-by village.
Do - Hike through the mountains and Berber villages or relax poolside.