“The place the sun sets” is the literal translation of المغرب – al-maġhrib – the Arabic name for Maroc / Morocco … so here’s a photo taken at sunset, from outside a cafe on the outskirts of the Medina in Rabat. Taken whilst drinking mint tea, of course.
Chefchaouen is very blue. Really, really blue. Wherever you walk, blue walls confront you. They come in various shades, from deep to slightly faded. Maybe that’s age or maybe the latter are the rebels, trying to tone it down. Certainly, there aren’t many prepared to go against the trend with a completely different colour.
The sky is mostly quite blue too. The blueness of the town makes the occasional white clouds in the blue sky seem even more out of place.
Nobody is quite sure how the blue theme evolved. Was there a good deal on blue paint? Did the local paint factory only do one colour? Or did someone have the bright idea of selling Chefchaouen as a tourist attraction by painting the town blue?
And plenty of vivid colours on display at the tannery in Fes. You know when your journey through the narrow winding streets is near its end, even before you see the leather shops that surround it, there is the unmistakably strong smell of curing leather …
Tanger is just a few miles south of Spain, and is probably the Moroccan city most influenced by northern neighbours. We found ourselves in the middle of the Tanjazz festival. Apparently King Mohammed VI is a big fan. In the evening there was a free open air concert in front of packed terraces of Tangerians, from very young to very old. All dancing. To a band from London.
The Hassan Tower was meant to be twice this height, and would have been the largest minaret in the world, when it was commissioned in 1195. But the Caliph who commissioned it died four years later, and it was never completed. The pillars were the beginning of what was meant to be the largest mosque in the world, but they never got as far as putting a roof on them.
Route: We went to Morocco by ferry from Algeciras. Lots of dolphins and shearwaters on the crossing. From Tanger, the only way to Chaouen was a long bus journey; and then a couple of days later, another to Fes. The next stage to Rabat was relatively fast by train – but nowhere near as fast as the recently opened TGV from Rabat back to Tanger, which for much of the journey was touching 320km/hr (that’s about 200mph). Then another ferry to Tarifa (no dolphins).
The images below can be clicked on and magnified for more detail.