The setting was magical: a modern rig of a stage placed at one end of the massive cortyard at the centre of the 16th century El Badi Palace in Marrakech. As the sun began to set, the heat of the day lifted and hundreds of candles set in lanterns around the place began to twinkle. The famous storks of the Kasbah (King’s Quarters) returned to roost on the crumbling ochre walls to watch the scene unfold. We were here to experience the magic – not only of Marrakech, but of one of jazz’s greatest legends, Herbie Hancock. Continue reading
The latest interviewee in the maroc-o-phile series, is UK-based blogger, Heather Cole, a.k.a. The Conversant Traveller. By day, Heather is an outdoor educational specialist, by night she’s a blogger and a part-time traveller. Heather writes the words for Conversant Traveller whilst her hubbie takes the pictures. Together they hope to inspire other independent travellers to see more of the world.
MoP: Hi, Heather. What makes you a maroc-o-phile?
Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to shake Morocco from beneath my skin (and that’s not just the Saharan sand stuck behind my toenails!). I first visited back in 2010, not expecting anything but another enjoyable trip to assign to the memory bank, but to my surprise, when I returned home I couldn’t stop thinking about the overwhelming sensory experience I’d just had. It took less than a week for hubbie and I to decide we’d soon make our very first return visit to a country ever. And we haven’t looked back!
MoP: You’ve been to Morocco 5 times in the last 4 years and you’re planning another trip for 2015. What is it that keeps drawing you back to Morocco?
I could wax lyrical about the friendliest most genuine people we’ve ever encountered, the superb cuisine and the endless landscape photography opportunities. I could enthuse about there always being new and exciting places to discover and the joy of returning to what are quickly becoming ‘old haunts’. Yet the underlying reason is that we feel so relaxed and at home in Morocco. It is one place we can truly unwind. Continue reading
Spring has well and truly sprung in Morocco! The days are warmer and longer and it’s the perfect time to visit.
If you haven’t planned your Springtime in Morocco, there are still deals to be had. Don’t forget, flights from London to Essaouira begin on 1 May.
Take a look at my post for Travel Exploration for some spring holiday ideas!
“Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes
Travelling the train through clear Moroccan skies….
Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind
Had to get away to see what we could find…”
Read my post for Travel Exploration about the origins of those famous lyrics and the Swinging Sixties in Marrakech here.
Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki, aka MarocMama, is a professional writer and world travelling wife and mum of two boys. She is currently an American expat living in Marrakech, Morocco, exploring all that Morocco has to offer.
MoP: Amanda, what first brought you to Morocco?
The first time I heard about Morocco I was probably 12 years old. The TODAY show (an American morning TV show) did a segment called “Where in the World is Matt Lauer” where everyday for a week he’d turn up somewhere else in the world. One day it was Marrakech. I so vividly remember him standing in Djmaa el Fna with a monkey on his shoulder! Maybe two years later, I saw Malika Oufkir on the Oprah Show talking about Morocco and her book. I read the book and Morocco stuck even deeper. When I finished high school, my dad wanted to take my sister and I somewhere, anywhere we wanted in the world, and we eventually settled on Morocco (at my insistence), even though neither of them really even knew where it was. That was 2004. It was on that trip I met my husband in a very chance encounter (you can read about it here) and never looked back. Continue reading
An internet search of “vegetarian travel Morocco” invariably brings up plenty of posts and advice about how difficult it is to travel as a vegetarian or vegan in Morocco. While I’ll admit that it is easier for those who eat meat (or at least fish), and you probably won’t meet a meat-free Moroccan. However, Morocco is a country abundant in fresh vegetables and with a little preparation, you will certainly not only not starve, but you might even have a couple of truly excellent meals!
Read my post for Travel Exploration about meat-free travel in Morocco for ideas.
If you’d like to cook vegetarian Moroccan food at home, check out my recipe for chickpea tajine.
Finally, if you are travelling to Essaouira and want the low-down on the top three vegetarian restaurants, check out my e-guide, The Best of Essaouira.
Vegans might find this list which I compiled on listly useful.
It’s here! The wait is over! Finally, my e-guide to Essaouira, The Best of Essaouira is available online*. Available on a new and improved maroc-o-phile website, The Best of Essaouira helps you make the most of your stay in this boho chic seaside haven.
The Best of Essaouira gives you the lowdown – three choices in each category of the best places to eat, sleep, shop, watch the sunset and grab an elusive beer. Likewise, three ways to meet locals, to give back to the community and to get out into the countryside. And much more: The Best of Essaouira contains over 70 top tips in a concise, downloadable e-book. It takes no extra space in your luggage and it’s all you’ll need. All for an introductory bargain price for maroc-o-phile readers of only £2.99. A percentage of proceeds go to support kids’ education in Essaouira.
Find out more on the dedicated page – and let me know what you think – both of the website and the book.
* Kindle format coming soon! Keep an eye on the website for the announcement!
The origins of Morocco’s traditions in jewellery and silversmithing are a reflection of the country’s position along the routes of the camel trains and its historical cultural diversity. To learn about the Berber silver jewellery of Morocco, the wedding jewellery traditions, the significance of the fibula or the ancient craft of Jewish artisans passed through the generations, read my article for Travel Exploration here.
I’m spending a little time in the UK right now (sans tajine) and we were hankering for a taste of ‘home’ so I rustled up a vegetarian chickpea tajine. My recipe is based on one by Hilaire Walden from the book North African Cooking, but as I am almost pathologically unable to prepare a recipe exactly as it is written, it has a my own twist. Of course, I am not particularly good at sticking to precise measurements either, so give this a go and experiment to your own preferential level of spice! Continue reading