It’s almost summer, which has me thinking about upcoming travels and reminiscing about my trip to Morocco and Spain last year! Many of you know me as a portrait photographer, but travel photography is really how I started as a hobby, and I try to go somewhere new every year (I’ve been to 16 countries in the last 10 years)!
If you’ve never been to Morocco, I HIGHLY recommend it because it’s an amazing cultural experience, the history, architecture, food, shopping, and music is incredible.
Originally, I planned to take a ferry from Algeciras, Spain over to Tangier, visit the magical blue city of Chefchaouen and head to Fez. However, flight delays proved to be disruptive and long story short, I ended up spending time in Casablanca, Meknes, and Fes, with zero regrets!!! Scroll on for more about what makes each of these cities so breathtaking!!!
Casablanca: the coastal city
Casablanca was an extremely modern destination, with a whole sector on the coast that had restaurants (with the most delicious ceviche) and beachfront chairs and shops.
Probably the best thing to see, though, is the Hassan II Mosque. It’s relatively new (completed in 1993), and it is the largest mosque in Africa, 5th largest in the world! It’s right on the water, so you always feel a fantastic breeze. You can people watch as Moroccan families and visitors fly kites, socialize, and enter to worship there. The magnificent columns, giant door, and interior will take your breath away. You can tour the mosque, but you will have to remove your shoes first! It is not required for women to wear head coverings, but I would recommend it out of respect.
The call to prayer was also so interesting here, as men carried their rugs out and swarmed their place of worship, sitting outside in the hot sun for prayer if necessary.
Meknes: the historic tour
In Meknes, I hired a guide named Abdul, who was fluent in Arabic, English, French, Italian, and some Spanish, much like many Moroccans! He led me through old Moroccan schools with a special type of door where women on the inside could see out, but the person on the other side could not see back in; onto rooftops, through the medina with all the aromatic spices and mint carts, even to the royal palace and stables. It was an unexpected, but beautiful, stop on the trip.
It was here I saw the outside of the King’s Palace, which is in every major city in Morocco, as well as strolling through a very lush private golf course with some adorable kittens. The palace is hidden from view, and drones are prohibited in Morocco, so I’m not sure many people actually have seen the palaces!
The Medina is, in my opinion, one of the most magical places in any Moroccan city. Here, you can find just about anything you want to buy – haute couture, custom made bridal gowns, spices, shoes, argan oil, rugs, fruits and vegetables, nuts, or any type of food. Shopaholics could spend some serious time here!
Fes: World Music Festival
Last stop in Morocco was Fes, which also has a beautiful palace door like all of the main cities do. Did you know it’s illegal to take a picture of the king’s guard? Fes is known for the palace door, the royal blue gate, as well as its medina. You might get lost walking through this windy labyrinth if you’re not careful, but thankfully Google Maps is pretty reliable here. You can find anything you want to buy here, like rugs, spices, argon oil, a bridal dress (custom made), and leather goods.
There also happened to be a music festival the night I arrived, which I could enjoy from the rooftop of my amazing Airbnb! My host was a Spanish woman who married a Moroccan and had since moved to Fes to start their family. She gave me a lot of insight into Moroccan culture, which is probably the most liberal in the Arabic speaking world. Women’s outfits would range from complete head to toe covering, to young girls wearing shorts and tank tops. They also have a lot of religious diversity and freedoms there as well. My host was also SO hospitable and made a full, traditional Moroccan breakfast for me the next morning!
My top two favorite things in Morocco was a dish called Bastille and Moroccan mint tea. The mint tea is full and sweet, perfect for relaxing on a Moroccan rooftop after a long day’s walk. Bastille is a mix of chicken, egg, parsley, and onion (among other spices) baked inside puff pastry, topped with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon. It sounds very random but was the best meal I ever had.
Thanks so much for reading, I’ll definitely be having wanderlust the next few weeks, so look back for more travel posts!!!
Johanna Elise | Frames & Letters Photography | Louisville, KY
Planning a trip to Morocco? Looking for an elopement photographer? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions!