the seven mysterious cities of Morocco

the seven mysterious cities of Morocco

If you want to surf one of the best beaches in one day, cross snow-capped peaks and ride a camel over sand dunes in the evening, Morocco is the place for you. The country, whose shores are washed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, stands in stark contrast to other states of post-colonial Africa. Having been to Morocco, traveler Alexandra Ustinova tells what to look for in this country, what difficulties to expect and where to find souvenirs.

If in one day you want to ride one of the best beaches for surfing, cross snow-capped peaks and ride a camel in the evening on the sand dunes, then Morocco is for you. The country, whose shores are washed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, stands in stark contrast to other states of post-colonial Africa. Having been to Morocco, traveler Alexandra Ustinova tells what to look for in this country, what difficulties you may encounter and where to find local souvenirs.

On arrival

The first thing that catches your eye in Morocco is the combination of beautiful architecture, dirty streets, and shabby houses. After the departure of the French, the city centers are filled with spontaneous markets, where they sell directly “from the ground. Merchants are usually located in the medina, the old town, which is usually enclosed by a high wall, making it look like a medieval fortress.

Once in the medina, if you ignore the new gadgets in the hands of the Moroccans, you may get the impression of being lost in time and transported back several centuries. The narrow roads severely limit the Moroccans’ choice of transport, so locals travel on mopeds at best, and usually on donkeys. And in the streets of the medina goats can be found instead of stray dogs. Barefoot and smelly children wandering around the city complete the picture.

However, the first impression is deceptive. The standard of living in Morocco, as well as prices for goods and food, are many times higher than in Ukraine. The income per capita is 3 times higher than the Ukrainian indicator, and a dinner in a cafe or restaurant will cost 20-30 euros per person.

The level of service, however, leaves much to be desired and does not correspond to European prices. Having ordered a car rental “pie”, we were told at 3 am that we will be given a Nissan Qashqai. It would have been fine, but having 4 adults, 4 huge bags, a portable hemodialysis machine and 10 boxes of supplies for it, to say that we were shocked is not to say anything. But in the rental we were told “if you do not like it – goodbye,” at 3 am anyway nothing else does not work.

Later it turned out that the car is not working one headlight, as we learned at the first police post, of which there are many, and instead of one of the wheels is a spare.

Relationships between people are mostly organized in a “haggle” or “screw” format. You have to be ready to haggle everywhere, check everything, and put all the arrangements in writing. For example, we almost missed our return flight when they didn’t want to take the car back before the appointed hour, and demanded money for it, although we had a prior verbal agreement to return the car earlier.

Do not believe the “kind people” who come up to you in the middle of town on a scooter, welcoming you to Morocco. Then it is bound to turn out that you are on your way, and you can no longer tear yourself away from the intrusive escort. For him. Then they will definitely demand money, and you will have to explain for a long time that you were not following your companion, but on the GPS. Usually such tricksters meet you at the first traffic lights at the entrance to the city. This is their favorite meeting place for foreigners, who are hard to miss. In extreme cases, we said we were going to call the police, and as a result, we were left alone.


The southern cities are very different from the rest of the country. Agadir, for example, is more like our Odessa. All young people come here on weekends to “hang out” in nightclubs, and in the morning to ride the surf. The city is perceived quite European – with piers, harbors, stores along a wide promenade. There are many Russian tourists in Agadir.

One of the most striking and memorable southern cities was Essaouira, or Essesouira. It is one of the main places on the African coast for surfers. That is why the town is very pro-European. Essaouira will be remembered for its wide promenade, where they play soccer in the evenings, bicycle paths, a beautiful medina, with a good European selection in the shops and, of course, unforgettable seafood. You can buy them from fishermen right at the port at the entrance to the old town. They have everything from lobsters to sea urchins.

In Essaouira you can go to small local restaurants, not very presentable in appearance, but with incredibly delicious food. They give you a choice of fresh seafood and grill it in front of you. The cost of the dinner for four people 4, after which you will have a hard time getting up, will cost about 300 dirhams (30 euros). But be prepared that you will be asked for a separate tip, both for service and for the kitchen.

Big cities in Morocco


To be honest, the world-famous Casablanca was the biggest disappointment of the trip. The city is memorable for the dirty, broken French architecture in the center and the lack of a normal promenade, which seems to have been about to be built but never finished.

The only two sights worth visiting are the beautiful former Sakrekker Church, which is now a vacant building, and of course the Hassan II Mosque. If you can spare 20 dirhams to climb up to the roof of the former church, you will get a beautiful view of Casablanca. Spending 40 minutes before going to the mosque is worthwhile.

The highest mosque in the world is the Hassan II Mosque.

 It stands right on the oceanfront. Pompous, beautiful, but only Muslims are allowed inside. Only by signing up with a guided tour, which is only available a few hours a week, can non-Muslim tourists go inside.


It is a city of many tourists, the only one where we encountered horse-drawn carriages that take tourists to hotels.

a huge, probably the largest market in the country. Here, apart from a lot of fake famous brands, you can buy cheap things for which Morocco is famous: leather jackets, bags, purses, all kinds of lamps made of metal and colored glass, an incredible amount of body oils, spices, dried fruits, nuts. The most popular, of course, is argan oil, as in Morocco it is produced on almost every farm. You can even safely stop on the highway and buy from the villagers cosmetic oil and all sorts of sweets made of nuts based on honey and oils.

The main rule of all markets in Morocco – bargain and bargain again. As a rule, the price drops by a factor of 2 to 3 from the original.

The market is open until 9 p.m., and then on the square in front of it begins the nightlife of the city. Here you can watch dancing snakes, street fights and betting, listen to local folk music and even watch belly dancing. Many food courts open in the square towards evening.


One of the largest cities in Morocco with the largest medina is Fez. The city subsidizes the people who live in the medina, so it is quite large and bustling with life. Here is the best selection of leather goods and it is here, on specially equipped terraces, on which you will be lured by the local baiters, you can see how the hides are hand dressed, dried, dyed.

By the way, it is very popular in the city to impose a guide to foreigners, which is not strange, because in the medina is very poor GPS signal, so you can easily get lost.


Rabat is the capital of Morocco. It is quite a small city, but with one of the most beautiful views of the ocean. Along the coast, near the beaches, you can see a large Muslim cemetery. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter there.


Merzuga is a small village on the border of the desert. It is the desert, which any traveler imagines – with dunes, dunes and camel caravans.

But in fact, the desert is many times larger – the sand is only a small part of it. For the most part, it is stone steppes, through which you can drive endlessly, occasionally encountering oases with settlements.

It is better to come to Merzuga in the evening to meet the stars here. You will scarcely ever see sky like that over the desert.

You can leave in the morning for a four-hour camel ride across the Sahara. I was amazed at the intelligence of these animals and their feet. It turns out that their feet are very similar to the pads of cats – soft, designed only to walk on the sand. In the Sahara you will certainly be led into the “tabor” and shown how they usually live the local nomadic Berber tribes and give tea with cookies. You can also ride quad bikes, skis and snowboard. True, the sand is coarser than the snow, respectively, higher friction and lower speed, so if you come to go skiing or boarding from the barkhan, you must choose it higher and with the steepest slope.

Goats in Trees.

Since food on the ground, particularly grass, is sometimes quite scarce, goats graze in the trees. Driving along the trail you can safely see trees that are lined with goats munching peacefully on leaves.

Forest Monkeys.

On the way to the desert and crossing the mountains, don’t be surprised if a monkey walks up and cheekily takes your bag of nuts from you after a couple of minutes. They live here in the woods, but are very socialized by the locals, who make good money on them, selling nuts and other goodies as their food.


Morocco is a country of freshes, which you can buy on any corner here, especially orange ones. The prices are ridiculous, around 5-6 dirhams ($0.25), but the drinks are delicious.

Everyone here, especially the men drink tea. They laugh and say it’s their aphrodisiac, which is why they have so many children in their families. The tea is mint tea, based on green tea. In fact, green tea is brewed and then a lot of fresh mint and sugar is added to it. The latter is only refined, and you usually get one lump of sugar per small cup, which will take up half of that cup. At the same time there is no black tea anywhere.

Every day, since lunchtime, you can observe a situation where most of the café terraces are occupied by men. This is the standard pastime of men: with a small cup of tea or coffee they can sit for hours, watching the street and passersby. You will never meet a woman there, it’s an exclusively male ritual.

Do not be guided by the name of the cafe – except for coffee and tea you will not be served anything.

At the same time you can hardly find alcohol anywhere in the store. In some provinces, such as in Fez, its sale is prohibited, and in several others it is allowed only for tourists.

But at one time the French taught the Moroccans how to make wine, especially in the north of the country. The most popular here is the so-called “gray” wine, which is very similar to young wine. However, the Moroccans have excellent wines of Cabernet, Merlot and other standard varieties.


The local food is not teeming with variety. But Morocco makes delicious couscous (Berber food) and tagir (stew with vegetables). It is better not to take tajir before evening, because the tradition is to cook it in the afternoon and it will be ready just in time for the evening.

Moroccans have enough different street food. Especially popular, in addition to the classic burgers and fries, are the local fish burgers, which are cooked right in front of the customer in a few minutes.

All of the fruit we bought in Morocco was incredibly juicy and sweet. Whether it was watermelon, melon, or strawberries the size of half a palm. They cost pennies here. The only disappointment was the apples.

For lovers of oysters and other seafood, this is also a paradise. You can buy oysters or boiled snails in the local markets or sometimes just in the street from a bucket.


It’s part of the local culture. The only place you can find such a variety as in the local markets is in Istanbul. In fact, it’s part of their life, because everyone sells everything.

The Sahara and Fossil Remains

Much of the Sahara is dead earth, on which, if you look closely, you can see a variety of fossilized remains of mollusks and insects. This is one of the most common souvenirs tourists will be offered to buy. Usually they are already polished fossilized beetles or shells.

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