After exploring one of the biggest cities in Morocco, Fes, I was happy to head to a smaller town to get a feel of the small-city local culture for a few days. Plus, our tour guide promised that the hotel in Chefchaouen was one of the nicest that we would stay in, so I couldn’t wait to fit some R&R into my 3-week backpacking adventure through (the very hot) Morocco.
Chefchaouen, also called “The Blue Pearl”, has become Instagram famous recently, and for good reason. It just takes one search of the #chefchaouen hashtag to see why I desperately wanted to visit this town while I was in Morocco. In fact, the biggest reason that I chose this particular Intrepid tour was because of the stop it provided in Chefchaouen. After driving through some very windy mountain roads, we arrived at an outlook over the town which, I must admit, didn’t look particularly blue.
Not that it doesn’t look beautiful- I was just expecting a lot more blue. But, we continued down the mountain road into the city to find our hotel for the next two days, and things started to become much bluer! After checking into the hotel, Darechchaoeun, we began our short walk into the city center to see how blue the Blue Pearl really was. Well, it was very blue. And very beautiful:
Actually, even the streets that weren’t this blue were incredibly beautiful. I loved walking around the medina to explore all of the beautiful colors, talk to the shop keepers, and enjoy the company of the true Chefchaouen inhabitants.
Spending two days in this little town was absolutely incredible. While there aren’t any true “sights” to behold, really, the town itself is one of the most beautiful places I visited during my 3 weeks in Morocco. Around every corner I found beautiful architecture, people, and colors like I’d never seen them before. It felt as if I was actually wandering through a painting.
While visiting Chefchaouen, I visited a rooftop restaurant with an incredible view overlooking both the city and the sunset behind the mountains: La Lampe Magique. The restaurant is situated directly above the central square of the city, but the rooftop provides a hidden getaway to enjoy the ambiance of Chefchaouen without the commotion of the square below. There are a lot of restaurants in the main square, but it was pretty clear that almost all of these are geared specifically to tourists. While La Lampe Magique also hosts many tourists each evening, the prices are right, the location is great, and the views are amazing- I would recommend a stop for a dinner at sunset! In particular, listening to the evening call to prayer resonate through the valley over the city’s rooftops and bouncing off the walls of the mountains was a surreal experience, and one that I will certainly never forget.
These two days in Chefchaouen essentially ended my visit to northern Morocco. After departing from this beautiful, blue city, I headed north to Tangier where I took an overnight train to Marrakech after a few hours spent at the northern coast. My overnight train experience, which was my first overnight train experience, was incredibly interesting! The train left in the late evening, and we were assigned to “bedrooms” that were incredibly small cabins with two bunkbeds and plastic orange mattresses. We were 4 girls to a room, and it was certainly an adventure climbing over one another to make our beds and sort out our bags for the next roughly 11 hour journey south to a more desert-y terrain.
Overall though, it was a great experience, and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to take a more local form of transportation through about half of the country. I loved going to sleep in the most northern part of Morocco, surrounded by Spanish influences, and waking up surrounded by orange sand just outside of the cultural capital of the country.
Next up? Look out for my posts about my journey through the High Atlas Mountains, Sahara desert, and the southwestern coastal city of Essaouria. I’ll also be throwing up a story about my traditional Moroccan hammam experience in Chefchaouen, as this story deserves its very own post!
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