A Morocco Family Adventure! Part 1 of 2
As a former backpacker, and now a Mom to a 2-year old boy, travel has always been an important part of my life and I never wanted this to change but I knew it would be different. As I get older, the destinations on my travel bucket-list are becoming more and more adventurous but I am limited to where I can go because I will never be alone. Morocco has been on my list for a long time, and when I did my research and learned that this destination was known as one of the friendliest places in the world…I thought this would be great for my family. I have now discovered that Morocco is a great place for families to travel to and I am thrilled to share my experience.
We landed in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, and started our adventure by negotiating a taxi ride. Bargaining is common practice in Morocco so it is a must if you want to do or buy anything. Don’t be afraid to bargain, once you try this and get familiar with how much things cost you will get used to doing this. Moroccans speak Arabic and French (you will notice a European influence here with many signs in French), in Rabat they didn’t know much English but if you brush up on some French and just know some typical Arabic phrases you are good. We were staying in the Medina (Medina is the old quarter and a walled part of the city, filled with narrow maze-like streets) which meant the taxi could only take us until the entrance of the Medina and we would have to find our own way. With backpacks, carry-on bags and a stroller, searching through the laneways would be a challenge. Thankfully, the moment I asked for help there was no hesitation and we were escorted by a local to the front of our riad, (a riad is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard and serves as guesthouse).
We arrived at our riad (I highly recommend staying in a riad when in Morocco, they accommodate a small amount of guests so service is great and you feel like you are staying in a mini Moroccan palace and not a typical North American style hotel) and were welcomed with Moroccan mint tea and my son Frankie got the most special welcoming with hugs and kisses. Morocco is a child-friendly culture and there is great value placed on children. Having a child while travelling here was the gateway for getting to know the locals and will help to have a smoother trip overall. People will approach your child and kiss him/her on the cheek so it’s good to be aware of this and not feel uncomfortable about it, you will just feel your child is loved!
When exploring the city with a toddler, it’s best to use an umbrella stroller. Also, at times our son wanted to run around and we found that locals really didn’t mind letting him run around in their shops or restaurants as local children do this as well. Even when our son would have a tantrum, the locals were so patient and understanding and would take the time to even briefly watch our son while we were browsing the markets and would play with him which made looking around really easy. Food and drinks are also really easy to find for your child with many fruit and food stands, mini convenient stores, and patisseries (just like the bakeries in France).
Here are some of our trip highlights in Rabat:
- Watching the locals enjoy their time along the harbour…eating from the food stands, playing and just hanging out.
- Hearing the call to prayer (adhaan) for the first time made me feel emotional in a good way, just so beautiful
- Eating the delicious Moroccan food, every meal was amazing and we always looked forward to eating
- Visiting the The Kasbah of the Udayas, this place looks like a fortress and is situated in the oldest part of the city along the Atlantic ocean and serves as a residential area. The Almohad gate of Bab Oudaia, built in the tenth century, is a grand entrance to the Kasbah. The homes are white-washed and lined along the narrow lane ways, the colours make you feel like you’re in Greece.
- Witnessing Le Tour Hassan, a tower (minaret) built in 1195 and it’s majestic height and design is just beautiful to see
- Visiting the Mausoleum of Mohammad V, near Le Tour Hassan, this is where the present King’s father and grandfather are laid to rest. It’s built in a traditional Moroccan style and just a magnificent sight.
- Meeting the friendly locals from our riad and their hospitality
- BONUS Highlight: exploring through the medina and finding singer Rihanna shopping for jewellery on our first day in Morocco! We didn’t know she would be in Morocco for their music festival called Mawazine.
Our next stop to visit was Fes, the oldest of all the imperial cities in Morocco, and this city was just amazing! It really felt like we were going back in time with all the old architecture and life here seems unchanged. There was so much beauty and rich history here and it felt as if we were the only foreigners in the city. We arrived at night and when we entered our accommodations we were in awe as it was such a beautiful riad in the middle of the medina. We were able to enjoy dinner in our riad upon arrival and we ate a Moroccan feast, dining on lamb tagine and many appetizers with Moroccan mint tea and dessert…it was all so delicious. When we woke up the next day, we enjoyed having breakfast on the roof top patio and the views of the city were just so surreal, I really felt amazed to see a place like this.
While we were in Fes we took a day trip to Volubilis and Meknes, located just a short drive outside of Fes and both must see places when you are there! Here are my trip highlights for Fes, Volubilis and Meknes…
- Visiting the oldest Tannery in the world, this is a must thing to do when in Fes! This is where leather is made in real traditional way dating back to the 14th century. The stench here is strong, but you’re given mint leaves to sniff to handle the smell.
- Going through the extremely narrow alley ways in some of the 9,000 laneways in Fez’s medina, you’re definitely going to get lost in this maze of a city!
- Trying Pastilla (sweet & savory Morrocan meat pie) for the first time! Just too good to describe, a must eat. We ate this in the middle of Fez’s medina on a balcony and just watched the locals…noises and smells were really interesting.
- Exploring the souks in the Medina and seeing really unique stands having everything from dates, mint leaves to camel head!
- Our son literally went on a carpet ride, as we searched for a neat Moroccan rug , the locals played with our son and had him in a rug and swung him around, he loved it!
- Viewing the Roman ruins of Volubilis and enjoying the serene view, felt like we were in the middle of Tuscany with cypress tress and olive farms
- Driving near the city of Moulay Idriss, the view is gorgeous! This is a beautiful hill top city and known for Moulay Idriss who arrived in 789 and brought the religion of Islam to Morocco
- Shopping in the medina in Meknes, less hectic and seemed much easier to bargain!
August 14, 2014