I have just purchased a one way ticket to Morocco and onward to a playground of amazing mountains and rivers. I am meeting my nephew for a whirl-wind adventure. You should join us along this journey. Its gonna be a CRACKER! A scramble up the highest mountain in the Atlas range in Morocco. Beating a path around Italy’s magical country and island of Corsica. Join us as we hike up to base camp on the Matterhorn in Zermat, Switzerland. Rail into Stuttgart, Germany in the middle of October fest. Hike and swim along the Mediterranean in Croatia. Drive into the delicious mountains in Slovenia and finish on an electric scooter in Budapest. Well I better get crackin, on with my packin. As I am going super lite this trip. No check in luggage. Wish me luck!
Marrakesh, Sleepy Locals
I arrived in Morocco after a bit of a altercation in Singapore airport. The check in chic at the gate to board the aircraft was not going to let me go without a return ticket to Australia. I called the Australian embassy before purchasing a one way ticket and they said it was totally fine. So you can imagine my prickly attitude when the plane was about to close its doors, I won!
Marrakesh is predominantly Muslim, 99%. But has a more relaxed feel about it than most Muslim countries I have visited. However,it is one of those fanatical places with numerous humans,tourist and locals and some rather unusual animals. Moroccan entrepreneurs in tourism are either in your face or slumbering off in a corner. Nothing is free, not even photos. everyone has their hand out for cash. Difficult not to get pulled along by the incredible vibe of the place like it or not. Which consist of snake charmers, monkey profiteering, donkeys pulling carts and multitudes of locals on mopeds and hoards of tourist.
This place sports centuries of crumbling buildings, whilst glamorous shops get built up along side. Colours and textures grab your attention, and smells that either allure or offend your senses. Its all here in this ancient city originally built on salt trade by a very lucrative King, Mansa Musa and is said to be the richest man that ever lived. Whilst agriculture has a stronghold, it is drought driven and tourism is now Morocco’s major income.
The Zagora Desert, a young indigenous Berber and his camel
It was a very early start and a long hot day 353km or 6.5 hrs across Morocco to explore an ancient castle dating back further than the 1600s. Called Ait Benhaddou (Yunkai) where Lorence of Arabia, Gladiator and Game of Thrones to name a few were filmed. Then travelling further on for our date with a camel trek into the Zagora Desert of which we were made to purchase an expensive scarf. however I liked mine. Not really much of a desert getaway as most of the camel trek followed a highway that you could hear and see cars. Not long after our arrival at camp, we watched the sun set over our little spot on the edge of the desert and the full moon rose instantaneously. A stupendous moment by anyone’s standards.
We drank sweet tea and ate copious amounts of beautiful Moroccan traditional dishes like Chicken Tagine and Khobz, a traditional crusty loaf. Whilst tending to our sore arses after our camel trek. Full and tired the chill soon crept into the desert. I tucked myself in to my sleeping bag in our little shared tent for the night. I was lured to sleep by the rhythmic sound of Moroccan Berbers beating their drums to some melancholy tune. During the night I heard wild dogs yipping close to our tent and camels arguing in the distance. Not to mention my nephew, Andy snoring. lets just say the ride back in the morning was a bit ouchy.
Essaouira, an ancient seaside village off the Atlantic Coast of Morocco, Gastronomes Dream
We left the desert for the sea. Another long bus ride of 182km from Marrakesh, where tourist pay to take photos of goats in the trees and another hotspot where Game of Thrones was filmed. Upon arrival at Essaouira, we were greeted with a beautiful constant sea breeze from the trade winds. In comparison to the heat in Marrakesh it was divine. Fish mongers stalls were everywhere, trying to sell their fresh bounty from the sea. The abundance was overwhelming. Young Essaouirian boys clowned around on the docks doing crazy diving acrobats, in lets just say less then desirable swimming water.
We soon spotted a fresh catch stall set up for dining. We chose our fresh catch seafood as it was trying to get away and it was cooked in front of us on the spot. So fresh the cray fish tried to crawl out of the basket and the fish were still moving. We jumped at the chance to savour the seas fruitful bounty and went all out, choosing crayfish, giant prawns, red snapper, and unfortunately sea Urchin, as I found it was lets just say liken to
slurping fowled, muddy water out of a prickly egg, not that palatable. After our satisfying lunch-in we then found a quaint little roof top terrace with views of the sea and kite surfers abound while listening to mariachi singers below our balcony. We enjoyed the midday sun and polished off a bottle of local red vino and solved the worlds problems. The day finished all too soon and we were back on the long bus ride back to Marrakesh.
The highest mountain in North Africa, Mt Toubkal, Atlas Mountains, Morocco