Sojourn to the Sahara Pt 1: Chefchaouen
After doing a Skyscanner search set to “everywhere” I found that a cheap ticket to Morocco that had my name all over it. Two weeks later I was on a plane, with the first destination set to the Blue City.
Day 1 – 2: Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is one of the most famous cities in Morocco because of the amazing blue walls of its city. After seeing pictures of it on a travel blog years ago, I’d been dreaming of going. So the moment my plane landed in Tangier I jumped in a car and headed straight there! The 2 – 3 hour trip gave me plenty of time to relax after the flight and observe the arid landscape of Morocco.
This small city is nestled into the side of the arid Rift Mountains, so the air is clean and you don’t have the pushy merchants of Marrakech and Fes. The people are also very open to chatting and from them I learned that the Chefchaouen means “look at the horns!” of the Rift Mountains… and that the walls were painted blue because each town has its own color, plus the added benefit of keeping mosquitoes at bay…
I was more surprised to find that Chefchaouen is basically the unnamed cat capital of Morocco. I’ve only seen more cats in Houtong, Taiwan (otherwise known as the “cat village”) where I managed to count over 100. While there weren’t quite that many here, on the first day alone we saw several dozen totally fearless felines. Even when we ate in an indoor restaurant, there were 4 cats alone ready to catch any scraps.
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And while it may not seem it, the Blue City is an excellent place to begin your shopping pilgrimage. After meeting a group of women were helping us navigate the medina we stumbled upon an adorable shop called La Botica de la Abuela Aladdin that was nothing like anything I’d ever seen. It was like accidentally stumbling into Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. Handmade soaps were stacked along the walls, strung up from the ceiling, really overspilling across every surface. We couldn’t help ourselves — we went on a spree! They make perfect gifts and had unique, hard to find fragrances.
Ultimately, Chefchaouen wound up being my favorite city in all of Morocco. A fantastic start to a long journey!