• Morocco,  Travel

    Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech

    One of the top attractions in Marrakech is Jardin Majorelle – a sanctuary of succulents, cacti, and palms developed over decades. This intricate garden in Marrakech was developed over 40 years by French artist Jacques Majorelle.  Majorelle was a painter with a passion for botany.  He cultivated 135 species of plants in the garden outside of his villa studio, creating a beautiful oasis.   “This garden is a momentous task, to which I give myself entirely. It will take my last years from me and I will fall, exhausted, under its branches, after having given it all my love.” Jacques Majorelle The garden was opened to the public in 1947.  Unfortunately,…

  • Morocco,  Travel

    Place Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech

    Place Jemaa el-Fna is the large market square in the Marrakech medina (old city). This square features street performers, snake charmers, and vendors all surrounded by a myriad of alleys full of souks. You simply cannot visit Marrakech without experiencing this bustling area.  I’d recommend visiting both at night and during the day, because it is a completely different experience!   Jemaa el-Fna has been a meeting space since the founding of Marrakech in the 11th century.  The square inspired UNESCO’s  “Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2001.  Place Jemaa el-Fnaa features a lot of aspects of Morocco’s heritage, including storytelling and entertainment. – “The…

  • Morocco,  Travel

    Essaouira: Morocco’s Windy City

    Essaouira, formerly Mogador, is called “The Windy City” due to the strong winds coming off the Atlantic.  It’s a very popular beach for windsurfing!  This vibrant coastal city is a must-visit when in Morocco.   Essaouira was Morocco’s main port until the end of the 19th century.  It was a prominent hippie city, attracting artists including Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens!  You still see lots of backpackers, surfers, and artists throughout the city.  Archaeological evidence shows that the city has been inhabited since prehistoric times! Essaouira Medina One of the highlights of this port city is its fortified medina, or old town.  Inside the ramparts and medina walls, the streets are…

  • Morocco,  Travel

    Exploring the Fez Medina

    Fez is the second largest city in Morocco, behind Casablanca. Fez has different sections, including “Old Fez” (Fez el Bali) from the 9th Century and “New Fez” (Fez el Djedid) from the 13th Century! Yes, you read that right – “New Fez” was founded in 1276!   Fes el Bali, Old Fez, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Inside the walled city, there is a maze of winding streets filled with vendors and merchants.  University of Al-Karaouine, the world’s oldest existing (and still operating!) university is within Fes el Bali.   Fez is still the most intact, least modernized medina in the Arab world and one of the largest car-free urban…

  • Morocco,  Travel

    An Afternoon in Essaouira

    After spending time in Marrakech, my fiance, Reda, his parents, and I drove to the Atlantic coast for a few days along with the family puppy, Paco!  En route to Agadir, we visited Essaouira for an afternoon.  As we pulled into the town, I saw a coastline full of beach-goers and surfers!  My future Mother-in-Law, Rachida, grew up in Essaouira so it was really nice to have her show us around.  We ended up parking right beside her high school! Whereas Marrakech had all red/pink hues, Essaouira had more whites and tans with splashes of bright blue throughout the city.  We spent most of the afternoon walking through the Medina,…

  • Morocco,  Travel

    Marrakech, Morocco

    We stayed in Marrakech for the first several days during my trip.  One of the first things I noticed was the driving – the roads are pure chaos!  Yet, it is an organized chaos.  In traffic circles, no one is following the lanes.  The road is shared by trucks, cars, motorbikes, sometimes even mules.  I don’t know how they all share the road without crashing, but it somehow just works!  The contrast of coexisting extremes also surprised me.  I saw motorbikes with several people piled on sharing the road with expensive sports cars.  That’s not something that I see every day! La ville en rose We all know Edith Piaf’s song “La…

  • Life,  Morocco,  Travel

    My Moroccan Engagement

    In September, I traveled to Morocco to see my (then) boyfriend’s native country and meet his family.  And I got engaged!!  The most popular question I have been asked is if I knew it was coming.  I probably should have read the signs, but I truly was surprised! Preparation I was told ahead of time to bring heels to wear to a “Welcome Party” with his family and that Reda’s mom, Rachida, had a Caftan made for me to wear.  Reda completely played it down, saying they rented out a space because they couldn’t host everyone at his brother’s apartment.  Made sense to me!  He told me that when you…