Next stop: We went to Chefchaouen, Morocco on a day trip with a super-quick visit to Tangier before heading back to Spain.
Here are some answers to some questions you might have:
HOW DID YOU GET THERE? We took the ferry from Tarifa. As of this post for April 2016, it was roughly 50€ per person, more if you take your car over as well. The ferry boat is really a huge two story barge with a large basement area that transports a lot of cars! We walked from our Airbnb in downtown Tarifa which took less than 10 minutes. You have to walk into the port office to purchase tickets. I’ve heard that the timetable isn’t consistently punctual, so they have a cafe at the office to grab a bite while you wait. You then go through a security check for your belongings, and show them your passport. You also have to fill out customs forms. Don’t forget to do this! There’s two of them, and they need to be filled out and submitted to a clerk on the boat before you disembark.
As soon as the ferry arrives to Morocco/outskirts of Tangier (take a deep breath for a second to marvel that you’re in Africa!), your guide or group tour guide (or friend) should be waiting for you at the dock. From there, you have to go through Morocco’s passport and security check, which is fairly painless. Then your adventure begins!
WARNING: If you are prone to motion sickness, I highly recommend taking dramamine. The waters are choppy. I was starting to feel sick and I didn’t have my pills on me because of our luggage debacle. My tip, if you’re sans medicine, is to tilt your head to the side and try to nap or look at a fixed object.
HOW LONG DID THE DRIVE TAKE? From the outskirts of Tangier to the highway getting to Chefchaouen, the drive was roughly 2 hours. People in Morocco drive like the people in Manila, which means they don’t give a shit about lanes or paint on the road. They’re getting to where they need to go and it’s every man for himself. The drivers are used to the chaos and stress, and you’ll acclimate shortly. Once we got on the highway though, it was a nice ride. Sometimes we had to slow down or slightly pull over because the windy areas around the mountains are narrow. Not included in that time was a cafe break midway to soak in the landscape and savor some Moroccan tea. It’s not a joke. That stuff is SWEET!
Morocco is a beautiful country whose landscape is what CA would like without congested highways and drought. The picture below is part of the sights you’ll see.
Top: bus stop in Morocco // Middle: slash and burn farming // Bottom: 3rd largest reservoir in Morocco
HOW DO I FIND A GUIDE? If you’ve never been Morocco and you want to shop safely and learn about the country, it’s best to book a guide. We went with this guy as our guide: Moghit. We highly recommend him. (Again, I have to give props to my awesome husband for finding and booking him.) Tripadvisor has tons of personal guides and also commercial ones to choose from, so find the one that’s right for you in terms of your budget and travel preferences. Some guides will also do camel rides, etc. Moghit was very kind and professional. He was also very knowledgeable, not just about Morocco (a country he was very proud of being a citizen) but of the current state of the world. His English was excellent so there aren’t any language barriers. Another bonus was that he was able to communicate with Yobo via email so he actually customized the day trip for us to go Chefchaouen and then see a bit of Tangier for shopping. We booked him for the day with the last return ferry from Tangier at 9:30pm. Also, Morocco has a one hour time difference from Spain, so keep that into account when planning!
WHAT WAS THE WEATHER LIKE? It was bright and sunny, but still light sweater weather. At night it was chilly, but manageable, especially if you’re walking a lot.
WHAT DID YOU EAT/DRINK? I have to write this next part in all caps, sorry. I HAD THE BEST FUCKING COUSCOUS EVER in Chefchaouen (!!!). My order was tagine meatballs with a poached egg and Yobo ordered the tagine with beef and couscous. While my tagine was delicious, after trying a bite of his dish, I pretty much ate half of it. Every grain of couscous was pillowy and flavorful. The beef was tender and tasted intensely like beef. I daydream about this couscous often now that I’m back. Sigh. (P.S. The two chefs were local girls. Moghit said that Chefchaouen women were excellent cooks and he wasn’t kidding!)
We also had the traditional Moroccan tea. Definitely try it even if you’re not into sweet drinks. There is a tradition with pouring 3 cups from your pot.
|Le premier verre est aussi doux que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l’amour,
le troisième est aussi amer que la mort.
|The first glass is as gentle as life,
the second is as strong as love,
the third is as bitter as death.
I HEARD CHEFCHAOUEN HAS A “SECRET” BUT SOLID MARIJUANA INDUSTRY. DID YOU ENCOUNTER ANY OF THIS? On the way out of Chefchaouen, some teens asked us if we wanted to buy “chocolate,” but Moghit firmly waved them off. So yes, it’s there!
ETC. Before our actual trip, Yobo and I had Googled pictures of Chefchaouen and we saw pictures like these. I’m not going to call anyone out, but what a load of crock!! Here, on the Realness with Jed™, the REAL Chefchaouen looks like the splash photo above that I used to preface this post. It is only the medina that is all blue.While I totally respect creative license to doctor your own photos however you like, those photos are completely misleading for traveling n00bs. So, I just want to say, with all due respect for Photoshopped art, that above picture is what Chefchaouen really looks like. It’s a bit of a letdown when you get there (if you have those other photos in mind), but only for a millisecond. Wandering around Chefchaouen is as magical as you think it will be.
[If you decide that you want to stay in Chefchaouen overnight so you can stretch out your exploring, shopping and dining, I’ve read (and agree) that two nights is enough unless you want an extended quiet stay of tranquility.]
- Stray cats are everywhere!
- Do NOT take pictures of the locals. They do not like you being a paparazzo. I accidentally took a photo of a path to a door at the exact moment that a local woman was getting out of her house and she shrieked a little and jogged off. Our guide had to patiently remind me to be careful where I point and shoot (I had no idea she was coming out, I swear).
- An exception I made, however, is this delightful youth whom was earnestly digging for gold (picking his nose) with such intensity for quite a while that I was transfixed by his fervor. When it finally occurred to me that I wanted to snap a picture of this (bec I figured he’d still be at it), he removed his finger and wiped the evidence on his pants. This is story behind this picture.
Okay, enough yap. Picture time!
Last, but not least, a few fleeting pictures of Tangier!
I hope you enjoyed this post!
Check out: Honeymoon Intro // Tarifa // What To Do If You Lose Your Luggage