Posts Tagged ‘Travel Exploration Morocco’

Trip Advisor Awards Travel Exploration 2015 Certificate of Excellence

Thursday, May 28th, 2015
Travel Exploration Morocco Trip Advisor 2015 Award Winner

Travel Exploration Morocco Trip Advisor 2015 Award Winner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TripAdvisor has awarded Travel Exploration Morocco Private Day Tours the 2015 Certificate of Excellence. This achievement is a direct result of Travel Exploration’s consistent great reviews from Morocco travelers who have shared their experiences on TripAdvisor’s website. The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award is a testament to Travel Exploration’s High Standards and Service provided for couples, family, and small groups tours who have visited Morocco with Travel Exploration.  The Trip Advisor award is given annually to exceptional travel agents and Morocco tour operators. TripAdvisor places a spotlight on businesses that are focused on delivering great service to customers.

Travel Exploration specializes in private, hand curated tours to Morocco. With offices in, Marrakech and Ouarzazate, the company offers on the ground full services inclusive of private, luxury transportation, local guided site seeing tours, stays at luxury riads and options for the active travelers.

The owner of Travel Exploration, Alecia Cohen, is a former magazine publisher, of Global Rhythm magazine and an executive who established Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours with her Berber partner to show travelers the best of Morocco.  Inspired by her passion for Morocco’s combination of natural wonders, Imperial cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Berber villages, she delights in organizing comprehensive and personally curated original travel itineraries for cultured and educated travelers.

Mrs. Cohen  has lectured at the World Bank on Culture & Sustainable Development in Africa and has been featured in various print and television venues, including CNN Financial News, Entrepreneurial Edge, Crain’s, Entrepreneur, and The World.

With Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours guests visit Arabo Andalous architectural sites in the Imperial Cities, majestic palaces, glorious houses of worship, opulent gardens and a breathtaking Sahara desert. You will taste Moroccan hospitality in Berber Villages and enjoy exquisite cuisine and elegant accommodations.

Our team of expert, licensed Multi-lingual guides and drivers will set in motion a memorable journey. As a member of the American Association of Travel Agents, Travel Exploration takes pride in our impeccable service and reputation. The company also donates 5% of all proceeds to Berber Villages through our charity Project Feed.

For More Information about Travel Exploration Morocco’s Private Tours to Morocco

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco’s Rural Markets, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
Sidi Mokhtar, Souk, Breakfast - Photo by Lynn Sheppard

Sidi Mokhtar, Souk, Breakfast – Photo by Lynn Sheppard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even if your trip to Morocco is mainly centered around the major cities, it is worth getting out for a day into the countryside to see rural life. Although the majority of the Moroccan population now officially lives in urban areas, many retain an attachment to the land and their native town or village. It is worthwhile, therefore, seeing Moroccan life in a different context, as it is still lived by many people. Despite increasing urbanization, the agricultural sector in Morocco still employs around half of the workforce and there is nothing quite like the hub of activity on a Moroccan market day!

On any day of the week, a market (or souk) will take place somewhere in each Province (a region like a State in the US or a county in the UK). The souk often takes place in one of the larger towns or in a village which acts as a hub for the surrounding rural area and local farms. The weekly market is so ingrained in local culture that many towns include the day of their souk in their name. Take a look at a map of Morocco: any town with “el had” in its name has the weekly souk on a Sunday. Likewise, “khamiss” means the market is on a Thursday.

Souks and Markets, Morocco

Souks and Markets, Morocco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rural markets provide several essential services for local people. As well as being an opportunity to buy and sell essential items, the souk is a weekly meeting point. Unlike in other cultures, it is mainly men who attend the souk, picking the shopping according to the strict instructions of their wives and mothers. While they are at the market, they take the opportunity to pause for a cup of tea or three and catch up on local gossip with their friends and the itinerant traders.

The weekly souk might also be a chance to use services that we might be more accustomed to accessing on a high street or in a mall. Dotted around the edge of any souk are the barbers’ tents, doing a brisk trade in haircuts and close shaves. And whereas in the West we might park our car in a multi-storey parking lot or leave it with a mechanic for a service, Moroccan farmers tether their donkey at the roadside and catch a taxi to the market, or bring their donkey along for a once-over by the vet or blacksmith.

At the larger markets, for example the Sunday market at Had Dra between Marrakech and Essaouira, early risers will be rewarded with the sight of cattle auctions and camel trading. On-site abattoirs ensure that sheep, cattle and goats traded that morning are slaughtered according to Muslim customs before being sold by the kilo or as a quick barbecued snack for those needing some sustenance before the journey home. People travel long distances to reach the souk and public transport is always packed on market days.

If you have the opportunity to visit a rural market, it is unlikely you will find much of interest to buy. Unless you are self-catering, the heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables are more likely to be of photographic interest than for purchasing. If you do buy something, make sure you buy a sack or a woven basket to carry it in. You will marvel at the recycling ingenuity of rural people, who upcyle tires into feeding troughs, plastic into grocery baskets and old jars into storm lanterns. Pause for a beldy (authentic, rural) breakfast – buy all of the ingredients for your breakfast by weight (a couple of dirhams of tea, a few ounces of sugar and a bunch of mint) and take them to one of the pop-up cafes to have someone brew the super sweet tea. Pick up a freshly baked loaf, a packet of homemade cookies, handful of olives, a half pound of fruit or some grilled nuts. If you dare, grab a couple of bits of meat or offal and have them grilled over charcoal. Your cafe host will supply plates and – depending on your region – some olive or argan oil for dipping your bread in.

If you are based in Marrakech, nearby souks worth a visit include Asni (Saturdays) or Tahanout (Tuesdays). Around Essaouira, as well as Had Dra on Sundays, you can visit Smimou (also Sunday), Akermoud (Saturday), Ida Ougourd or Sidi Mokhtar (Wednesday) or Meskala (Thursday). Depending on your route, these might be a convenient stop-off on your way to/from Marrakech or Agadir. If you are travelling in the Middle Atlas, the Sunday souk at Midelt is large and well-known for local carpets and – in season – apples. Travelling up the coast to Casablanca, the Saturday souk at Oualidia is also worth a visit.

Remember, rural folks live simple, conservative lives. Always dress appropriately (no short shorts or skimpy tank tops) and be discreet when you take photographs. The weather-beaten faces of rural people are fascinating, but the owners do not always welcome the attention of the lens.

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about Moroccan Souks and Markets outside Marrakech

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Travel Exploration Morocco Awarded 2014 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

 TRAVEL EXPLORATION MOROCCO AWARDED 2014 TRIP ADVISOR CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE

Recognised as a Top Performing Travel Exploration Morocco as Reviewed by Travellers on the World’s Largest Travel Site 

Travel Exploration Morocco today announced that it has received a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Establishments awarded the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website.

When selecting Certificate of Excellence winners, TripAdvisor uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the honorees that takes into account reviews ratings. Travel Exploration Morocco and Businesses must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, volume and recency of reviews. Additional criteria include a business’ tenure and popularity ranking on the site.

Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is a true source of pride for the entire team at Travel Exploration Morocco and we’d like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor,” said, Alecia Cohen, Director of Travel Exploration Morocco and Expert on Berber Culture and all things Moroccan. “There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by one’s customers.

With the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on customer reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business and our continued commitment to excellence.”

Travel Exploration Morocco is an in-country Morocco tour operator and maintains offices in Marrakech and Ouarzazate, Morocco. Travel Exploration specializes in private tours to Morocco’s Imperial Cities, the Great South and Sahara Desert regions and Jewish Heritage tours. Travel Exploration is a key member of (ASTA), the American Association of Travel Agents.

Our staff has lived and worked in Morocco for over twelve years and ensure our Morocco travel clients a carefully planned, smooth vacation. Travel Exploration Morocco designs each Morocco holiday step by step with our guests. Our detailed Morocco itineraries can be found on our website at www.travel-exploration.com and will offer a variety of Morocco tour possibilities for people of all ages.

For more information about Morocco Private Tours with Travel Exploration  

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco Jewish Heritage Tours, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Star of David Essaouira

Morocco is one of the ancient intersections of civilization. Boldly situated on the far northwestern corner of Africa, Morocco’s expansive shoreline stretches from the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Mediterranean. The cultural diversity of contemporary Morocco reflects its historic vantage point as a gateway to Europe and the world. Morocco’s heritage offers visitors an encounter with an exotic society and its customs, an incomparable cuisine, and a shopper’s paradise of magnificent markets.

Morocco Jewish Heritage Tours offer a unique combination of Jewish History, Culture, Architecture & Gardens for the sophisticated traveler. In the northern reaches of Africa, the 2,500 year old Moroccan Jewish community has a magnificent and little-known history and culture rooted in Africa and the Muslim world. A moderate, pro-western country, Morocco offers millennia-old lessons in peaceful co-existence.

Travel Exploration has a wide range of  Jewish Heritage Tours to Morocco with varied itinerary offerings from Imperial Cities Jewish Heritage Tours to those that venture to Morocco’s great South.  Jewish Heritage Tours to Morocco are all inclusive of historic synagogues, cemeteries, architectural sites, and natural surroundings of each region along with options to attend a Jewish service or have dinner at a Rabbi’s home. Also offered are Casablanca Jewish Heritage Tours.

The Journey through the Maghreb’s most private Jewish and public heritage places is a must for American Jewish travelers. Jewish Heritage Tours of Morocco are an ideal way to discover sacred sites that have left an indelible mark on Moroccan Jewry. Expert licensed Historical guides on Morocco’s Jewish Heritage will impart history and information in great detail that tells a story of Moroccan Jewish culture and heritage.

Temple-Beth-El-Casablanca

A Snapshot of 10 Jewish Heritage Sites Visited on the Jewels of Jewish Heritage Imperial Cities Tour:

1. Jewish Mellah, Marrakech & Marrakech, Cemetery

2. Jewish Synagogue, Marrakech

3.  Ibn Danon Synagogue, Fes

4. Jewish Mellah, Fes

5. Jewish Cemetery

6. Tomb of Solica, Fes

7. Maimonides, Fes

8. Old City of Jewish Seffrou, Fes Region

9. Beth- El Synagogue, Casablanca

10. Jewish Musuem, Casablanca

For More Information about Morocco Jewish Heritage Tours

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

 

 

 

Films to Watch before Traveling to Morocco, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Casablanca With Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman

Two older well known films featuring Morocco are Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much which features James Stewart and Doris Day and was made in 1956. It has all the tense drama of a Hitchcock thriller and has a scene on the Jemma El Fna square where Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance looking at acrobats on the Place in a cafe as a man is stabbed nearby. The French built fortress like police station on the square features prominently in the film. It was made in the same year as Morocco gained independence and captures some of the excitement of the period.

The film Casablanca in 1942 starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid and features Claude Rains as the French police officer, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson. All the scenes were shot in a Hollywood studio but the Moroccan street scenes are not too bad and the romantic drama won 3 Academy awards. The hero Humphrey Bogart has to choose between the woman he loves played by Ingrid Bergman and helping her husband in the Czech resistance escape the pro Hitler Vichy forces in Morocco. The picture accurately portrays the war time drama and the plight of refugees in Morocco during the Second World War and was rushed out to coincide with the Allied landings during operation Torch in North Africa in 1942. It is one of the great romantic films with some of the greatest cinema actors of all time. Casablanca still basks in the glory and today’s Rick’s Bar is well worth a visit, you can watch the film as well.

Morocco, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich & Adolphe-Menjou

Josef Von Sternberg’s production of Morocco in 1930 with Marlene Dietrich and a very young Gary Cooper who is serving in the French Foreign Legion. The film opens with a legionnaire column marching into Mogador . The column stops in the souk and waits as the call to prayer rings out and the people pray, the scenes are very well observed. The shots of life as a legionnaire give an idea of what the period under the French Protectorate was like. This is the film where the young Marelene Dietrich caused a sensation by singing in the local nightclub in top hat and tails and kissing a woman who gave her a white rose after her performance. Both the heroine and hero have a troubled past and a are trying to found a new life in Morocco. It again explores the theme of Morocco as a land of eastern mystery where the characters can find themselves. In the end she follows the legionnaire column into the desert to be with her true love despite the wealth and security offered by another suitor.

The film Hideous Kinky came out in 1998 starring Kate Winslet and Said Taghamoui. In 1972 Jane’s two daughters Bea and Lucy move to Marrakech to escape the boring routines of London. The film captures the hippy period in Morocco. Both Kate Winslet ‘s character and her two daughter’s also go through a voyage of discovery aided by Said Taghamouti’s character who helps them to return to London.

Paul Bowles

The American novelist Paul Bowles narrates Bernado Bertolucci’s version of his great novel The Sheltering Sky starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich and Campbell Scott. As often happens the novelist did not like the film, the novel was perhaps too stark for a Hollywood extravaganza. There are great desert scenes and Paul Bowles appears in a cameo part as well as narrating the film. He spent 52 years living in Tangier writing and thinking about Morocco during his own personal journey of discovery. He was the best known American expatriate in Morocco of the period and introduced many writers of the period to the country.

If you search on Youtube you will find films of old Morocco in 1920,1930,and 1950’s and vivid street scenes and it is thrilling to see places as they were then and are now in modern Morocco. You can also find historic pictures of Mohammed V, Churchill and De Gaulle reviewing French troops in Marrakech during World War II as well as the historic Casablanca conference with President Roosevelt.

Morocco is a very photogenic country because of its string scenery and great films such as David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, Orson Welles’s Othello shot in Essaouira, Martin Scorsese’s, Kundun and also the Temptation of Christ. Many international films continue to be made in Morocco and Morocco has its own burgeoning film industry and film stars.

For More Information on Films to Read before visiting Morocco or a Morocco Tour 

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Best Books to Read before Traveling to Morocco

Thursday, September 26th, 2013
   

The Caliphs House

Before visiting Morocco there are some must read books that will enhance your travel experience. From guide books to fiction and non fiction taking hold of a vacation whether you are traveling on budget or a luxury private tour is easily done. It is also important to have a good guide book to inform and orient you when taking a  Morocco tour. With a wide range of guide books available the ones that come out on top are the Rough Guide to Morocco and Lonely Planet Morocco. Both serve as a reliable and practical introduction to the history of Morocco along with its urban and rural life. Both guide books also offer travelers information about Morocco’s souks, historic sites, best places to eat and shopping options.  There are a growing number of guide books to Morocco and local city guides as well however Rough Guide and Lonely Planet are generally reckoned to be the best and most up to date available on the market.

Rough Guide to Morocco

The best cultural and historical introduction  to Morocco with the emphasis on joie de vivre and an appreciation of Morocco’s Malakite spiritual rite of Islam and the way it influences daily life, is Barnaby Rogerson’s Cadagon Guide. It captures the essence of locations both urban and rural and relates their history and cultural value. It is more of an introduction to Morocco than a simple guide but it is the best account of the adventure and excitement to be had from north to south.

There are also a number of authors who have related their impressions of Morocco as it used to be which are useful for understanding Morocco and its history in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Barnaby Rogerson’s publishing house Eland also publishes a number of anthologies of writers on Morocco such as Marrakech the Red City, which contains George Orwell’s impressions of Marrakech, amongst other well known writers.

Lonely Planet Morocco

Eland also publishes important authors on Morocco which would otherwise be out of print including The Lords of the Atlas by Gavin Maxwell which is an account of feudal Morocco from before the First World War to Morocco’s independence in 1956 and the rule of Thami El Glaoui and his family during the French Protectorate. Moroccans remain ambivalent about the Glaoui’s role but it is an important part of Morocco’s history as Churchill and Roosevelt and many other personalities came to Morocco before and after the Second World War.

The book which Lords of the Atlas is said to have partly relied on is Morocco That Was by Walter Thomas correspondent for the Times in Tangier relates many amusing stories of intrigue in the court of Sultan Abdelaziz in the 1890’s and early 1900’s.

In Morocco written by the American novelist Edith Wharton published in 1920 tells of her visit to Morocco at the invitation of the Resident General of the French administration in Morocco the famous General Hubert Lyautey in 1917. Edith Wharton had been decorated by France for her work with refugees during World War 1 and her book is said to be the first travel guide of Morocco. There are vivid encounters with the wild Berber tribesmen in the Medina of Marrakech and in the houses of the gentry with their restricted role for women in the household and harems of Rabat and Fez. She is sometimes criticized for being too pro French but in truth the colonial administration did much for Morocco under Lyautey, particularly with regards to preservation of Morocco’s historic buildings, finding and saving the Saadian tombs in Marrakech for instance.

Also published by Eland is A Year in Morocco by Peter Mayne which recounts the author’s experiences as he interacts with the local and foreign inhabitants of Marrakech and is useful for understanding some of the foibles, customs and pitfalls for trying to set up house in Marrakech.

The American novelist Paul Bowles spent 52 years in Tangiers and he writes about the city he loved in his collection of travel writing Travels published by Sort Of Books. His novels and short stories also include Morocco often and he played an important role in recording Berber tribal music which is now preserved in the US Library of Congress. A good description of Tangier from 1962 to 1979, which features Bowles and his friends and the Beat generation is The Tangier Diaries by John Hopkins.

The novelist Tahir Shah wrote The Caliph’s House about moving to Casablanca and the challenges he and his family faced in renovating a derelict palace infested with Jinns (Moroccan evil spirits) with whom he has frequent encounters. In his other novels he blends his Afghan heritage and knowledge of the east of his forefathers and their long experience of Morocco to produce an exciting and dramatic read. His infectious enthusiasm for Morocco and Casablanca is also evidenced by frequent travel articles in the international press.

Laila Lahlimi is a Moroccan novelist who published her novel Sacred Son in English in America, being the first Moroccan to do so. It provides an interesting view of different generational attitudes and clashes in today’s Morocco.

A good introduction to the finer points of the does and don’ts of Moroccan society is Culture Shock by Orin Hargraves. Different attitudes to timing and the primacy of family life and the necessary white lie figure prominently.

Moroccans speak their own dialect, darija in everyday life and the best way to really connect with Moroccans is to learn some greetings and phrases in their dialect. Lonely Planet’s excellent little phrasebook Moroccan Arabic with useful words and phrases is an essential companion on your Moroccan tour.

A List – Best Books to Read Before Traveling to Morocco

HISTORY 

  • Morocco That Was – By  Water Harris
  • Morocco Since 1830  –  By C.R. Pennell
  • Lords of the Atlas: The Rise and Fall of the House of Glaoua  –  By Gavin Maxwell
  • The Conquest of Morocco – By Douglass Porch

FICTION & NON- FICTION  

  • Culture & Customs in Morocco – By Raphael Njoku
  • In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams – By Tahir Shah
  • The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca – By Tahir Shah
  • The Spiders House – By Paul Bowles
  • The Sheltering Sky – By Paul Bowles (Book & Film)
  • Let It Come Down – By Paul Bowles
  • The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco –  By Richard Hamilton
  • Their Heads are Green & Their Hands are Blue – By Paul Bowles
  • Dreams of Trespass: Tales of A Harem –  By Fatima Mernissi
  • Berber Odes: Poetry from the Mountains of Morocco – By Michael Peyron
  • The Hamadsha: A Studio of Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry
  • A House in Fes –  By Susannah Clarke

For More Information traveling to Morocco

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

10 Street Foods to Eat When Traveling to Morocco, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Eating Moroccan Street Food in Djemaa El Fna Square

Moroccan Street Food is a great way to discover Morocco’s local culture.  While the best Moroccan food is said to be found in a Moroccan home, very reasonably priced  street food is available in small stalls and roadside cafés all over Morocco. Eating Moroccan Street Food in the old medina of Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira allows for a great opportunity to meet Moroccans during breakfast, lunch and dinner or just for a snack. Moroccan Street Food is also the best way to discover local Moroccan fresh foods that are well cooked and full of flavor.

For breakfast small stands provide an array of pancakes like  beghrir (spongy bread, a bit like crumpets), harsha (buttery bread made of fine semolina) and rghaif (flaky, layered flat bread). Topped with honey or goat cheese, they make a good breakfast  snack with oven baked bread called Khobz.

During Ramadan you can break the fast at Iftar around 7 pm as the sun goes down with dates and the delicious tomato paste soup harira with chebakia, which are flower-shaped cookies soaked in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Moroccan soups are hearty fare to be savored at any time including bessara which is fava bean soup with oven baked khobz, small eateries serve it for lunch with lemon-infused olive oil and a sprinkle of cumin and chili. Stalls selling steaming vats of snail soup are popular throughout Morocco. You pick the snails out of their shells with a toothpick and then drink the broth which is served with a concoction of spice which Moroccans believe is good for  a fever and aids digestion. hssoua belboua is barley soup with milk. It combines barley grits with milk to yield a rich, creamy soup that’s both nutritious and satisfying.  There is also Semolina  soup with milk, anise seeds and honey.

The overpowering smoke rising from various eateries on the Djemma el Fna at night is from brochettes of chicken , lamb or beef. The meat is rubbed with salt and spices, such as paprika and cumin. Spiced ground lamb or beef (kefta) is impaled on a skewer and grilled. Brochettes are served with khobz, harissa (red pepper sauce), red onion, cumin and  salt. Other delicacies, not for the faint hearted, include sheep’s heads which have been steamed for five hours sold as either a half or a whole head with or without eyes. During the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) sheep are slaughtered by the head of the family. It is a reminder that meat tends to be a delicacy. You see sheep being born home in cars, on bicycles, mopeds and any vehicle that can be utilized for the purpose. A whole sheep’s carcass will last for a month. Also served are  calves’ livers, crumbed and fried. You can also sample camel burgers, Café Clock in Fes serves it as a speciality of the house.

In many coastal towns sardines are served with stuffed with a spicy chermoula paste made of tomato, coriander, chili, garlic, paprika, cumin, olive oil and lemon juice. They are coated in a light batter, fried until crisp and often served with a fried green chili.

Vegetarians can enjoy sliced aubergine dipped in sweet smoked paprika batter and deep fried or spicy lubia (white haricot beans stewed in tomatoes, cumin, paprika, garlic and ginger) or fresh salad. Moroccan farmers produce the best quality organically grown vegetables.

You will also find sweet pastries,biscuits and cookies  in abundance especially during Ramadan as sugar is an important source of energy, diabetics do have to beware. However seasonal fruits are also served.

Makrout with Dates and Honey is another special occasion sweet which is popular in Ramadan. A mild date paste is enclosed in a log of semolina dough, then the  cookies are sliced, fried and dipped in honey.  There are baked Moroccan Tea Biscuits known as fekkas scented with orange-flower water. Try   m’hanncha, called “snake cake” for its concentric circles.

Another favorite is triangular or cylindrical phyllo briouats. Briouats, are pan-fried to golden perfection. Some are savory, stuffed with fresh cheese and finished with a drizzle of honey, while others are sweet, filled with crushed almonds, sugar, and spices. Almond Briouats are made by folding almond paste flavored with orange flower water and cinnamon within warqa dough. The pastries are fried and then soaked briefly in honey.  Cheese briouats are served with cream cheese filling. Herbs or hot peppers can be added for more flavor.

Sellou is a  Moroccan sweet  served during Ramadan made from toasted sesames, fried almonds and flour that has been browned in the oven.

For More Information about a Fes Food Tour of Moroccan Street Food

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Getting to know Morocco for the First Time, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Gnaoua Musician, Marrakech

Morocco has a diverse and vibrant culture close to Europe just 13 km from the coast of Spain yet with growing ties with the Middle East where the oil rich Gulf countries are investing substantially in Morocco’s tourism industry.

Morocco also has close contacts with Africa. It is at the crossroads of many cultures absorbing  the  commercial dynamism of the West  in building its growing  tourism industry with  enhanced infrastructure such as  auto routes , trains, airports and ports whilst maintaining its  ancient traditions and  Arab and Berber culture. It still has an aura of ancient oriental mystery and originality whilst also being highly accessible and attractive to tourists.

Tourism has more than doubled since 2002, to nearly 10 million visitors in 2011.  Under the Vision 2020 Plan King Mohammed VI wants to increase the annual visitor numbers to 18 million by 2020. It is the only country in North Africa to have successfully maintained its tourism industry in the face of the global recession.

Morocco is a stable and peaceful country . It is the only country in North Africa to have enacted a new constitution in response to the  Arab Spring and King Mohammed VI remains central to the lives of his subjects.  It is important for tourists to respect Morocco’s traditions and culture.

Morocco is a Muslim country committed to allowing other religions to practice their religion freely , particularly Christianity and Judaism which are recognized as  religions of the book, to practice their religion freely. Morocco is a conservative society but its people are very welcoming, friendly and easy going. During Ramadan whilst you can always have a meal in restaurants in the tourist cities it is best not to eat and drink in public during day light hours as muslims cannot eat or drink or smoke until they break the fast when the sun goes down.

Moroccan men treat their café is their local club where they meet socialize and discuss business while drinking coffee or mint tea and watching the world pass by. If you buy pastries or cakes in a bakery it is ok to eat them in the café at no extra charge.

 

Royal Couscous with Raisins

Moroccan cuisine is renowned for its delicacy and abundance with traditional tangines, couscous, mechoui (lamb) salads and desserts and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. In the main cities there are also French and european cuisines available, a multiple choice is available.

Most Mosques are closed to non believers however you can visit the impressive Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the Berber mosque at Tin Mel outside Marrakech on the way to Ouarzazate, the former Islamic college the Medersa Ben Youssef in the Marrakech Medina and  the old Medersas in Fés Bali, the Bou Inania  and the El Attarine . These sites will give you some idea of the glories of Moroccan Islamic architecture.

Most Moroccans in the cities speak French as well as Arabic or the Moroccan dialect Darija. The French Protectorate was established in Morocco in 1912 and lasted until 1956.  French remains the language of business whereas Darija is spoken in the street and at home, Darija itself is a mixture of languages including French words and Moroccans happily switch from one language to another in conversation. Spanish is spoken in the north and south as there was also a Spanish protectorate. However there has been a marked increase in the number of young people speaking english as it is taught in schools. Those working in tourism will probably speak good english and the business centers of Casablanca and Tangiers  also has more english speakers.

On a first trip to Morocco it is important not to try to do too much in a limited amount of time. The ancient  Medinas  of Fes el Bali of Marrakech can be combined by other nearby locations in the case of Fes, the imperial city of Meknes and the ancient  roman ruins of Volubilis, or in the case of Marrakech, the nearby  fishing port and beach resort of Essaouira, no hassle and cheaper than Marrakech it is just  two hours drive away, Agadir can be combined with the Sous Draa valley with its Kasbahs  or the desert town of Ouarzazate. Further South  you can visit the desert at Merzouga and the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Tangier can be combined with  trips to Tetouan and Chefchaouen Morocco’s blue and white town and the Rif mountains.

There is an infinite choice which is a tribute to Morocco’s development of its tourism industry and you should try to plan your trip with your travel agent.  On your first visit it is best  to avoid driving hire cars yourself as Moroccan traffic is very different from driving in Europe or  America. A car or 4X4  with a good Moroccan  driver is a better  bet or  you can  travel on Morocco’s ONCF railways  in first class airconditioned carriages.

Many tourists like to stay in small guest houses called Riads to be close to the ancient Medina which have been restored by local  berber craftsmen . Roof top views offer an insight in to the life of the Medina.

In Marrakech,  Vanessa Branson’s Riad El Fenn has prime views of the Koutoubia Mosque minaret lit up at night with a laser beam nearby , whilst  five-star La Sultana overlooks the Atlas Mountains.

Palais Faraj, Fes

In Fes  three riads are Dar Roumana, a traditional restored Anadlusian palace style Riad with library and Chef that specializes in Moroccan cuisine, Dar Roumana is well-located in the central medina, Riad Maison Bleue and Riad Fes are other luxury guesthouses comprising e beautifully restored riads. They both have a pool and Spa.

Others prefer  the many fine hotels in the modern part of town many of them from well known international hotel  with restaurants,  swimming pool and gym and there are a number in most cities. The choice is yours. The Accor group has Sofitel properties located in Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech, there is a Four Seasons in Marrakech and a new, modern boutique hotel in Fes called Palais Faraj.

When visiting the souks in Marrakech and Fes  for the first time you can pay an official tourism  guide from the government  ONMT tourist office who can help fend of hustlers and take you to shops of interest, although he may take a commission from the shop which will be added to the price you pay. You may want to memorise the Arabic phrase “La Shukran” , No thank you.

After the first visit when you know your way around in the souk and the maze of the medinas of Fes and Marrakech you can enjoy the adventure but be sure to keep to the side of the narrow streets and derbs, as the narrow alley ways are called, to avoid motor scooters and donkey carts who may cry “andak!” which means watch out.

For More Information about a Morocco Tour or traveling to Morocco for the first time. 

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Souks Outside Marrakech, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Souk Amzmiz

By  visiting local souks outside Marrakech you can experience local Berber country life and absorb the character of the marketplaces where they meet each week. This is an important social occasion where local producers sell their wares including, fruit, vegetables and livestock. Merchants from Marrakech sell essentials such as: tea, coffee, sugar, packaged foods, cooking items, clothing and electronics. You can also come across carpets, jewelry and pottery generally cheaper than in Marrakech. There are many things available to buy from in Moroccan souks: henna, spices, rugs, Berber slippers and sandals, pottery, Berber djellabahs for men, dresses for women and handmade wooden kitchen utensils.

Amizmiz has the best Berber souk  in the region on a Tuesday as well as sampling the local wares, it is a good starting off point for treks in the surrounding Atlas Mountains and meeting the Berbers in their home environment for mint tea and a meal served in their homes.

Set against the majestic backdrop of the High Atlas, the picturesque village of Tahanaout attracts visitors with its landscape and attractive sturdy Berber red clay buildings.  The village which is 30 km from Marrakech is surrounded by olive groves, orange  and lemon trees. Its souk is also held on a Tuesday. Pottery making and cooking demonstrations are on offer from the inhabitants of Tahanaout,  you  can learn how to make homemade bread, makoda, couscous and other traditional regional dishes.

Terres D'Amanar

There are good opportunities for bird watching whilst strolling along the riverbanks, where you can see  Moroccan wagtail, white stork and cattle egret. You can trek to the Ouirgane, N’Fis and Ourika Valleys and the waterfalls at Setti Fatma. You can also ride donkeys or hire a 4X4 cross country vehicle. If you want to stay in Tahanaout  you can book into the Terres d’Amanar an extensive eco lodge with gardens and stunning mountain views on the outskirts of the village. The Kasbah Angour is also nearby both establishments can arrange local tours including trekking on foot or by donkey and  4×4 overland vehicles for further afield .

Other centers for weekly souks include  Tnine Hem on Monday,Sidi Ghiat on Sunday and Aghmat with its ancient ruins on Friday. Asni   also has a large market on Saturday, Ijoukak on Wednesday and  Khemis Ouirgane on Thursday. Ouirgane itself is a delightful place to spend a few days for trekking and relaxation. It is close to the Tiz N’Test pass, Mount Toubkal, Toubkal National Park and the Tassa Ouirgane National Park. This is trekking and ecotourism country at its best. It is possible to travel around by 4×4 but if you are up to it by foot, donkey or horse is best. The air is clean the mountain scenery and the Takherkhoute forests are enchanting.

One of the of the best places to stay in Ouirgane is the idyllic Domaine de la Rosaraie, set in sixty acres of  parkland with a  large garden filled with roses .

Domaine Malika is new on the scene in Ourigane and for an upscale and chic mountain experience there is none better than the Domaine Malika. .

Chez Momo is a charming auberge, Moroccan country style home overlooking the High Atlas. They are also known for the excellent cuisine and elegant dinner setting. If staying in Ourigane dining at Chez Momo is a must.

Au Sanglier Qui Fume  has been in existence since 1945. It started by catering to Foreign Legion soldiers working on the bridge and acquired its distinctive name because it was used by wild boar hunters. Its restaurant has great character including the heads of wild boar hanging from the walls. The food is a blend of French and Moroccan cuisine. It remains a classical French establishment.

The Tassa Ouirgane National Park and the Toubkal National Park provide great trekking opportunities in amongst the valleys and local Berber villages hamlets and fields with the Atlas mountains towering above them. You can visit the salt mines at Marigha. Here the Berbers have been mining salt by their traditional method unchanged for centuries. They transport the salt by donkeys and sell it locally.

For More Information about the Souks outside of Marrakech

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

The Art of Yahya Rouach: Modern Elegance and the Riches of the East

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Moroccan Art, Lighting by Yahya Rouach

Lamps in ornate brass covered with intricate designs thrown into relief as shadows on the wall, huge lamps hanging from the ceiling, framed wooden Arabic calligraphy and the finest metalwork hangs on the walls of Yahya Rouach’s show room in Marrakech’s modern quarter, Guéliz. It feels as if you have entered the splendors of the golden age of Islamic art with the clear precise lines of modern design. It has the western elegance and economy of style as well as the richness and exuberance of the East. There are silver nickel boxes and superb wooden creations using Arabic geometric and floral Moroccan designs and calligraphy. Elegant proportions, subtle imaginative and effective use of light, sobriety and richness of design, nobility of materials and a jeweler’s meticulous precision characterize the work of  Yahya Rouach.

He was born in London in 1972 and his father came originally from Meknes, his mother is Anglo German. He came over to Marrakech in 2005 with his wife and six children from London after an earlier visit in 2004. He was fascinated by the brass work and silver designs he saw in the souk. He began by exporting artifacts to London and started drawing and experimenting with his own designs, he was having fun and then he began to take it seriously.

Up Close Design, By Yahya Rouach

Yahya’s creations are a mixture of East and West. He was selling his work to Harrods and other outlets and night clubs in London and Nieman Marcus a US company which gave him his first substantial order that really set him up. In six weeks he ran out of stock and realised the importance of taking time to create artistic excellence, so clients were encouraged to come to him rather than the other way round. He works strictly to order due to demand.  He is entirely self taught and had no formal training. He does what he likes and each creation is entirely original. Each piece he creates from the smallest to the largest specially commissioned works of art becomes a collector’s item transcending time and fashion. He is driven by his passion for design and creative imagination.

Yahya Rouach selects young craftsmen and trains them.To produce such treasures he needs highly qualified and creative staff. The process is different from the craftsmen in the souk because their work is essentially repetitive whereas Yaha Rouach  is  drawing out the abilities of our people so that they create original work. He does not believe in pushing people beyond their limits but he encourages his  workers to extend their abilities and this works. Yahya has his workshop in Sidi Youssef with two hundred craftsmen.

The work is intricate and takes weeks and months of dedicated work to complete, hammering and chiselling the brass or nickel silver or wood with the delicate patterns that start their life on paper. Often more than one craftsman works on the design and it becomes a team effort. It is not something that can be rushed and his clients know this, so they are prepared to wait because perfection such as this cannot be mass produced to order. Yahya is well known for his metal work.  His team design and create collections that are diverse in terms of materials and style using glass, wood, stone and fabrics. From lighting and furniture through to decorative accessories and  objet d’art. He is always exploring new materials and forms of artistic expression in order to develop his style and vision.

Many royal families and important personalities in the Middle East  particularly like Yahya’s  work and he has many clients in the United States and Europe and of course Morocco, so he has an international clientele for whom we we work on private commissions. He won the contract to provide leading pieces and decoration for the Royal Mansour Hotel in Marrakech which is owned by His Majesty King Mohammed VI. Yahya does not normally work for hotels but this was special and a great honour. They gave him a completely free hand on what his team did for the project and it was a fantastic project to work on. Yahya Rouach’s  clients know his work and come to him when they want something special, of the highest quality and totally original. Each project  Yahya’s team  works on is unique and has its own special ambience.

Artistic creativity is flourishing in Morocco and Yahya Rouach does everything he can to support it. He has acted as a judge at Riad Art Expo in Marrakech and he  creates the prize called “Les Palmes de Marrakech “ for the Biennale for Contemporary   Arts in Marrakech. He encourages participants to strive for excellence, creativity, originality and quality. He reflects that Moroccan artistic creativity is endless and has an infinite variety and the craftsmen’s role is alive and well and rooted in history. It needs nurturing in turbulent times. Turkey , Iran and  conflict  torn Syria have superb craftsmen in brass, nickel silver and wood but Yahya Rouach has said that Morocco is definitely the best and Moroccan craftsmen are sort after all over the world

For More Information the Art of Yahya Rouach or Moroccan Art 

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.