Morocco

Chefchaouen – the Blue Heaven Continues

Waking up in a blue heaven was like in a dream, doesn’t it sound familiar? Yes, it sounded like my favorite place in this world – Santorini. But this time, it was Chefchaouen! This blue town that looked too storybook like to be real! We got up at 7:30 and headed out to take more photos of this fairytale land and it was a great decision because hardly anyone, no tourists, not even locals, nor those annoying kids were out this time! Also, we booked the private transfer to pick us up at 4pm to leave to Tangier so we only had half a day!

We enjoyed the serenity during the morning, doesn’t this look dreamy? The only thing missing was the sun but still Chefchaouen was pretty in cloudy days!

 

Even the cat was still asleep 🙂

Almost cartoon-like but all those houses are real and lived by locals!

It wasn’t hard to find something match to wear, shades of blue so easy to find!

 

More photos of unique blue doors added to my collection!

We walked to the square where we had breakfast, plenty of restaurants were open this early in the day to serve breakfast; it was a relief because breakfast has been the hardest meal of the day to find restaurants that serve breakfast early! In Chefchaouen, you’ll have no problem! Usually, we also tried to avoid having a meal in one of the restaurants in the main square as those tend to be for tourists – expensive and not good in quality. However, this wasn’t the case for Dar Mounir! Their inexpensive breakfast menu:

We ordered our favorite Moroccan pancakes of course and mint tea, perfect combination! Jason added an egg as well.

After the delicious and cheap breakfast, we continued on to explore the hidden corners of Chefchaouen. Also, we did some research the night before to see if there are other beautiful spots that we missed. We found a photo with a very nice white and light blue mosque tower and showed to the restaurant waiter. His English was limited but sounded like far away? We didn’t give up and started our journey to find this place!

On our hunt, we didn’t stop taking photos of any cute houses we passed by 🙂

The color blue and the Moorish architecture were a perfect match!

This street was filled with souvenir shops but it was too early so they were not open yet…but it made a great spot for photos!

As we were taking photos, we heard a Chinese old lady screamed loudly to her friend “come, come, take a photo of this!”. The Mandarin she spoke with accent sounded like she is from the Shanghai region. It turned out it was a Chinese tour group that just arrived and then that corner filled with Chinese tourists screaming at each other. Our peaceful time was gone 🙁 We felt very bad for the locals who were sleeping; they had no respect, it was unbelievable. They really made a bad reputation for all Chinese tourists!!! We decided to head the opposite way of where their tour guide was heading to avoid them as much as possible and we did successfully!

As soon as their group left, it suddenly became so quiet!

Time to repair the door?

The shops started to open…

We skipped the shops for now, continued with our photos!

Super cute backdrops for photos 😀

This house looked different than the rest!

Then, back to the blueness…

Every corner, every turn was Instagram-worthy!

Those windows were so cute decorated with flower pots!

The square started to fill wth locals and tourists….

The sign pointed to Casa Aladdin, where we had dinner last night.

We found the postcard place with the colorful flower points but not the right timing 🙁

More street with colorful flower pots but the flowers were not in bloom.

More cat!

This one is a sign hahaha!

Chefchaouen was a mini maze but no need to be scared of getting lost because you can easily find your way back down to the main square! We kept walking and making turns by our instinct and found some cute places that if you ask me now where they are, I have no clue! That was a charm of Chefchaouen, navigate and explore on your own pace! We found this narrow blue house surrounded by green plants!

And this “shell” doorway, reminded me of The Little Mermaid the underwater castle 🙂

And then we found the place we were looking for, yes, this white and light blue mosque tower!

We saw a photo online and tried to take from the exact spot to get this photo; too bad it was cloudy day instead of the blue sky!

Mission accomplished, we felt so proud of ourselves LOL!

Blue door….this one is tiny compared to the others!

Another door!

You can get one of those doors home hahaha! It was made by locals so it was the best souvenir gift we bought in Morocco!

We got the key hanger one on the right:

More cats…

I like this door!

This one had some purple color and it totally matched my dress, don’t you think?

For lunch, we went to Restaurant Populaire Bab Ssour, it was packed with tourists and we thought it’ll be tourist. However, it turned out the food to be pretty good. We had good tagine for only 50 dirhams per person!

After lunch, it was time for souvenir shopping!

Guess what those are?

Those are soaps but stored inside those cute hanging containers! The shop smelled so good as soon as we entered! We also bought pashmina scarves, they were the same price as the ones we bought in Marrakesh but without the bargaining! I mentioned earlier in my post that if you are visiting Chefchaouen, best to do your souvenir shopping here! Chefchaouen sell the same items as Marrakesh but might have fewer choices, however, it saved the hassle of bargaining. Especially if you are not good with bargaining back and forth, do your shopping here! The vendors here were mostly honest where their starting prices are already reasonable. We didn’t even want to waste our time to bargain to save a dollar or two because we know they already gave a low price!

After our souvenir shopping, we headed for a 2nd lunch before our 2.5 hours ride to Tangier. This place was hard to find and it is very local – Cafe Restaurant Sofia, right on the back of the square but when it was closed, you never thought this is a restaurant. It only has a few outdoor tables for seating!

They made yummy grilled sardine, a plate was 6 grilled fish! We tried both the grilled and tagine…both were good but we much preferred the grilled fishes! It was only 40 dirhams per person with drinks!

After our 2nd lunch, we headed back to our house to get our luggage and leave, on our way we saw a cute, bigger sized door hanging on the wall for sale. I was debating and kept walking…..then as I started to change my mind, we saw this guy who was making the “door”! We went in and asked how much, he gave us a good price, we forgot exactly but around 150 dirhams? It was not done yet and he said will take 10-15 minutes. The clock really ticking LOL! After 5 minutes of wait, I asked Jason to go back to the house first to get his luggage and then we took turn. We had all our luggage outside this shop waiting for our door to be finished hahaha, we were a little bit crazy! The freshly made door finally finished, he even wrapped with a plastic wrap. It was our favorite thing we bought from Morocco, now hanging in our living room 🙂

We returned the key to the pizzeria owner and our driver came to pick us up. He wasn’t really sure where our hotel located – Hotel Ibis near Tangier Airport, and he barely speak English urg! I showed him the name and he made few calls to his friends to confirm. With his broken English, he wanted to confirm the hotel is near the airport and not in the Tangier Medina, I said “aeropuerto, no Medina”; my French was just as bad as his English LOL but he seemed to get it! I turned on my Here Map that I downloaded the Morocco map in case I need it and it located the hotel! Also, Sokunna has the Google Phone so she has service in Morocco and was able to load the map as well. We helped our driver to locate the hotel when we were near Tangier. When almost reaching Tangier, he said “dix dirhams”, I still remember my numbers so gave him 10 dirhams; it was for the toll. We reached our hotel in Tangier just before the sunset. We paid the driver and he headed back home.

The hotel was an airport overnight hotel….nothing fancy…at least it was clean for OCD like me!

There was really not much choices for dinner near-by in the “Tanger Free Zone”. And we didn’t want to venture out to the Medina; the police patrolling the place made us think the city might not be as safe to venture out at night? We walked across to the other Hotel Ibis for dinner. The waiter there gave us the menu and a card for a fixed menu. The fixed menu included a main and desert. There were some choices of main but it turned out only the chicken was available. Sokunna ordered from the fixed menu and I ordered a-la-carte. I ordered a chicken as well but with different description. Guess what, the fixed menu turned out to be exactly the same thing!!!! LOL!!!!

My chicken:

Sokunna’s chicken! Looked the same? We tried both of our sauces were the same too!!

Jason ordered the beef steak, it was better:

The fixed menu dessert…only one choice available was the ice cream and the chocolate cake. I did the calculation, it was cheaper to order both plates from the a-la-carte menu than the fixed menu by 10 dirhams LOL! It was so funny how they even try to make more money out of the “fixed menu”!

The bill came to be 210 dirhams for both of us, it was more expensive since we dined inside the hotel but for the convenience!

This concluded our Morocco trip and next we headed to Italy a place that might look familiar from the Windows wallpaper in advertisement!

My final thoughts about Morocco…..

Landscape-wise, it is such a beautiful country ideal for photographers but too bad the people made a bad reputation of it. My favorite moment in Morocco? It has to be the overnight stay in Sahara Desert, it was such a once in a lifetime experience! Also, Chefchaouen did live up to my expectation of being a fairy-tale, storybook like town, it was very photogenic! Will I recommend Morocco to you? Sure but with caution notes so you are mentally prepared to handle those scammers and what to expect. I think it still worth the hassle to get to Sahara Desert. I just wish that Chefchaouen and the desert to be closer so don’t need to go through Marrakesh or Fes!

Also an important note, if you have Moroccan dirhams left and you are departing from Tangier, make sure you either spent it all or exchange it back to your home currency before going through the security checkpoint. Remember to save the receipt when you first exchange to Moroccan dirhams, you’ll need to present the receipt so they exchange back to your home currency at the same exchange rate. After security, inside the “duty free”, they don’t accept any Moroccan dirhams as it’s a closed currency!!! So don’t plan on using up the Moroccan dirhams in duty-free shops!!!

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