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If you ask me, Morocco is the most beautiful place in the world. Something about the wide, dustiness of it, it’s mix of old and new, of Europe, Middle East and Africa makes it irresistible.
One of the world’s more out-of-the-way spots, it has everything from beautiful beaches to mountain snow-scapes, crowded souks to the endless sands of the Sahara Desert. Apart from the travel cred associated with venturing outside of the usual holiday hot-spots, this country has a lot to recommend it. The bustling city of Fes alone would keep a traveller enthralled for weeks, weaving through the back alleys of its enormous Medina and tasting tart green olives from the street vendors. Donkeys carry produce and motorbikes whizz past perilously close to the slow moving crowd of shoppers. The larger cities like Marrakech, or Casablanca will leave any visitor awestruck, and there is always plenty there to see and do, but the less hurried vibe of Meknes and Ouarzazate are definitely worth the trip.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Moroccans are the greatest food lovers in the world, beating out even the Italians in their preoccupation with fresh, tasty cuisine. Their markets are full to bursting with fruit on the barrow, piles of cucumbers and beetroot brought in that morning from tiny farms on the town’s outskirts. Whole sides of beef hang in crowded alleys by butchers shops, but are always bought and eaten much too fast to spoil, and fresh squeezed orange juice is sold in the square for around forty cents a cup. The wealth of fresh produce combined with the legendary hospitality of the locals can leave, the unwary tourist feeling like a well-stuffed Christmas Turkey, and everywhere you go huge bowls of steaming lamb tagine are placed before you, always served with fresh rolls, and the obligatory sweet mint tea.
Tea is a way of life here, and is served from silver pots stuffed to bursting with mint. In summer it is served plain, but in winter herbs like fresh wormwood are added to warm the blood. The coffee is also well worth a mention, the Moroccans have elevated this modern staple to something between an art and a science; always perfectly brewed, smooth and black, without a hint of bitterness. Taking an afternoon coffee in a sidewalk café with an almond biscuit from a nearby bakery (you can do that there!) and watching the world go by is an essential part of daily life for Moroccans, and one of the great pleasures of the country, not to be missed.
It is advisable to avoid high summer in Morocco, with temperatures soaring into the fifties (Celsius), but in general the climate is mild. Reliable train and bus networks make it easy to get around, and the friendly hospitality of the people has to be seen to be believed. Put this gorgeous North African country on your list of must-sees, you won’t regret it.