When I told my parents I was going on the the next backpacking adventure they didn’t say anything. I assume they are getting used to me going around the world all the time. However when I mentioned I was going to Morocco they weren’t very happy. They were very concerned about all the terrorist threats happening in the last few weeks and they were trying to convince me to go somewhere else. Well, I was very excited for my next adventure and nothing was going to stop me.
I travelled with my friend and we started off in Marrakesh where we spent a couple of nights, walking around the markets, visiting couple of palaces and discovering the mysterious and narrow alleys of the Old Town. We stayed very close to the heart of the city – Medina in the ‘Young and Happy Hostel’ which got 10/10 from me on booking.com (17 USD for a twin room with breakfast). Fantastic budget hostel with very friendly and helpful staff. We chose that place so we can experience as much local culture as possible. I believe that staying outside the ‘walls’ in secured, well maintained resorts defeats the purpose of experiencing the city.
We wondered a lot through the narrow alleys of the city to find good local places to eat. Unfortunately, the local cuisine didn’t impress me that much and we did try a few different places from cheap street food to well established restaurants. My friend who visited Marrakesh 5 years earlier said that it has changed a lot, for worse. The city became very tourist orientated and the quality of many services has lowered.
On the third day we travelled South East of Marrakesh towards Ourzazate and then to the Sahara desert. Ourzazate is famous for the film studios where they filmed Star Wars, Troy and Gladiator to name only a few. I think it was more exciting for me than my friend since she was always waiting for me outside while I was walking around the museums and rooms. However, not being a Star Wars fan at all I found it a bit meaningless walking around the house where they filmed a few scenes – mainly because I couldn’t even imagine them. But I’m sure the real fans will find the place very fascinating!
We used public transport, shared taxis as well as we hitchhiked a lot. And the latter mean of travelling left us with the funniest moments of the trip. We joined very random people from a group of labourers, groups of students, an old man to carpenters transporting their goods to a different city. We also met a cyclist who was travelling around the country on his bike just after he finished exploring Burkina Faso and couple of other countries around.
To our surprise not many people spoke English. In the Southern parts of the country the most common language apart from Arabic is French. Luckily for us I speak some French. I just had to brush up on my knowledge and remind myself a few words. After five days I was able to argue with taxi drivers and get us to right places without being fooled. A lot of people asked me after we came back if we weren’t scared of hitchhiking. Well, there is always a chance you going to end up with a psycho no matter what country or continent you travel around. But we had a big trust in the local people as they were very nice and always tried to help (apart from people working in public services – Oh my God! How rude they were!) even though we couldn’t have communicated in their language.
We made it to the edge of the Sahara desert where we jumped on few dunes and took some photos of the famous sand. Then we headed with an overnight bus onto the other side of the country – the coast. We visited the famous rock arches which symbolise the Atlas mountains touching the Ocean. Such a fantastic place.
We met a lot of solo travellers on the way and some of them became our friends ‘for the day’ and we shared some backpacking moments with them. Definitely trying to commute like the locals helped us to experience the real side of Morocco. We also did a lot of people’s watching – almost like the Parisian way and trust me – you can spot a lot of funny situations!