Chefchaouen was a must-see on our trip to Morocco- even after our extensive research and learning how difficult it would be to get there from Marrakech. It was a process. From Marrakech, we took an 11-hour overnight sleeper train to Tangier that we had to book the day we arrived in Morocco. Halfway through the journey, two men joined the room and slept in the two bunks under us. After the sleepless 11-hour ride, we took a taxi to a nearby bus station to buy tickets to Chefchaouen, the beautiful Blue City. Luckily, the bus was nearly empty and had comfy seats and air conditioning. We had 2 hours to go up a winding mountain and we were there.
Once we arrived at the bus station in Chefchaouen, we had to grab a taxi to take us up further into the city. We got dropped off and with our luggage, trudged up the cobblestone streets in search of our Airbnb, which was difficult to find with no internet (AT&T doesn’t cover international data in Morocco- wtf) and the inability to read a Moroccan map. After our uphill struggle, we found a group of kids and one little boy pointed us in the ‘right’ direction. After walking up and down a couple of very long paths, we realized it was the wrong direction and we were definitely lost. We then encountered a nice man who did not speak English and walked us over to our Airbnb. Unlike some of our other encounters in Morocco, this man did not ask for money or lead us to random rug, silk or spice shops.
Upon our arrival at our Airbnb, we were greeted by Medhi, a young guy running the house. He was so sweet and introduced us to other guests from Switzerland and France. After wandering along the blue paths of Chefchaouen and eating in the plaza, we joined them that evening over good conversation and barbeque on the rooftop. Medhi was particularly interesting. From him, we learned that Tinder changes the lives of many- even those living in this small Moroccan city. From Tinder, he met his girlfriend- a Portland, Oregon native. He also told us about how much (figurative) heat he was facing in the city for putting up a #LOVEWINS photo on his Facebook profile (the ruling for same sex marriage in the US happened that weekend). We all talked about how same-sex relationships in Morocco were taboo, among other topics like dating customs, long-distance relationships and travel. It was so cool to hear how other people of different backgrounds viewed things we thought about every day. After lots of good conversation, we went to sleep early as we had to get back to the bus station the next morning to head to Tangier.
Overall, Chefchaouen was beautiful… but A LOT of trouble to get to and even more trouble to get out of (in our case anyway). The bus ride down was full with standing guests, had zero air conditioning and was extremely windy, making us a very carsick. Our encounter down also included a nice slow drive past hills of trash - which smelled awful in the heat. Because of the smell and the motion, the little girl behind us was loudly throwing up.
After the bus ride from hell, we arrived in Tangier for our 1 day, 1 night stay. We stayed at the La Tangerina Hotel, which is located in the small, pretty kasbah of Tangier. It was relaxing and didn’t feel like a hotel- it felt like a friend’s home. We had a beautiful ocean view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It was the perfect place to end our trip in Morocco.
For the third time in Morocco, we encountered another guy who tried to scam us. We met this boy who carried our luggage to La Tangerina who told us he’d show us a great place to eat once we got settled. When we went down to explore, we were surprised (and scared) to find that he was waiting for us outside of our hotel. After walking with him a bit and seeing that the restaurant he wanted to take us to was outside of the kasbah and down a hill into the city, we (finally) declined and headed back to find a place to eat on our own. Later on, we explored Tangier and encountered a man who called Miranda sick in the head because we didn’t want to take a tour with him. That was cool.
On our last night in Morocco, we had dinner on the rooftop in a restaurant in the kasbah. Miranda and I were all alone except for a single girl in her 20s that we recognized from the hotel. She was dining by herself and we assumed she didn’t speak English since the whole restaurant, including the waiters, didn’t either. NEVER assume someone doesn’t speak English. We talked about everything from the most shallow topics (like Instagram likes) to the most personal things (like family problems). Towards the end of the dinner, we hear someone ask the waiter in perfect English for the check. It was the girl next to us. Surprised, I asked her where she was from. She was from San Diego. We were super embarrassed.
The next morning, we took off for Portugal.