Prior to visiting Morocco, Mr. T and I had preconceived notions that it would be similar to our experience in Egypt. While we enjoyed the historical and cultural aspects of Egypt, it was rowdy, at times crowded, full of hagglers, and no joke – covered in smog. Even the buildings were all a “sandy” color purportedly because paint just doesn’t last there due to the pollution. Without doing much research on Morocco, we assumed that the countries would be similar. We couldn’t have been more wrong!
Morocco was unlike any other country we’ve been to. The big cities of Marrakech and Casablanca were just as developed as any first world country (tall buildings, wide streets, city parks, etc.).
The medinas in Fes and Meknes had commotion similar to walking through an Egyptian souk but these “old towns” had more character. The locals washed their hands in public fountains, the mosques were intricately decorated with tiles and carvings of religious symbols and stories, bakers sold freshly baked bread, local men carried about their day leading their donkeys through the medina, and vendors sold everything under the sun from tangine pots to those gorgeous moroccan lamps.
If you wander into the market, you’ll find barrels of mint, clucking chickens in cages, stray cats in search of their next meal, olives galore, and lots of freshly hung meat.
Duck into a riad (traditional Moroccan house) and you’re welcomed into an oasis with a courtyard and a place to rejuvenate and escape from the inevitable commotion in the medina.
Outside of these cities, the roads are paved but long and even lonely at times. If you drive to the south eastern part of Morocco, you’ll be surrounded by red rocky landscapes, towering gorges, ancient kasbahs (some still in use today), and random spurts of palm trees marking a palm oasis.
The locals in these remote parts are so friendly, too! If you stop by to chat, it’s not uncommon to be invited to tea and Moroccan mint tea is so good! If you make your way to the Sahara, you’ll find camels, endless sand dunes, and the most hospitable Berbers who will teach you how to tie your scarf to protect yourself from the wind and heat.
Nope, none of this is similar to Egypt. Or anywhere else I’ve ever been to. Morocco is distinctly Morocco.
That is just the tip of the iceberg, too. We found that overall, Moroccans were a friendly bunch and the country itself has no shortage of cultural and historical attractions – although a different kind of culture and history than Egypt. There’s also plenty to learn about the Muslim religion since Islam pervades most of Moroccan life. Unlike in Egypt where every vendor asks for a tip, tipping is not as big of a deal in Morocco. Haggling, however, is common but this is true of many places around the world.
If you’re lucky enough to consider a visit to Morocco, I wholeheartedly recommend it, and I recommend you visit several towns to get a feel for the country. Every town we stopped by was distinctly different from the previous town. Lastly, don’t forget to spend a night in the Sahara!
PS – If you’re looking for a guided tour, we loved the private one we had and it was only slightly more than the the price of a group tour. Email me if you need recommendations.