To the Blue City: Chefchaouen

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to venture up north to the blue city of Chefchaouen with some friends. Given that I myself had absolutely no idea where we were going, I thought a little map might be useful. Where I am in Ifrane is A and where we went is B!

Now according to google maps, this trip should in reality take about 3 and half to 4 hours. What I have come to learn quite quickly here in Morocco is that time is a relative term. You say the bus leaves at 1 when in all likelihood it won’t leave until at least 2 if not later. A trip that should take 4 hours really is going to take 5 or 6 when you factor in all the tea breaks and driving skills of the driver. That being said, it was still a fun ride up, albeit a little bit hot and perhaps just a few minutes too long. 

We arrived in Chefchaouen Friday evening and it is indeed a blue city. All the buildings are painted different shades of blues, lilacs and purples. It reminded me a lot of Santorini, which has a similar color pattern. After finding our hostel, the first order of business was food. I was super excited as I had yet to try any authentic Moroccan food!! I was not disappointed as I munched on a delicious chicken tagine along with some traditional mint tea. 

Saturday morning we made our was to Akchour, a small village that sits at the base of a beautiful ravine. Little did we know that what was supposed to be an easy hike would turn into an escapade over rocks, through the water and up a waterfall. I’m not complaining though because it was amazing! The water we waded through was crystal clear and so cold – the perfect relief from the heat of the sun. We made our way up to the top of the river to a natural bridge known as “Gods Bridge.” Since we were in the water so much, I ditched my shoes and did most of the hike barefoot. My feet were feeling pretty sore at the end!!

After Akchour, we continued further north to Oued Laou, which apparently is one of the most beautiful beaches in Morocco. If that is considered the most beautiful beach, there must be some pretty low standards here because it was awfully dirty. Even with the litter and many dead fish in the water, it was still fun to hang out in the water and lay on the beach for a few hours.

Back in Chefchaouen, we had dinner up on a terrace overlooking the city where I had the most delicious couscous in the world. I don’t even remember what was in it, but it was glorious! We headed into the shops of the old medina to do some last minute bargaining before they closed up for the night and I think it’s safe to say that my bags are going to be a lot heavier going home!

It was such a wonderful weekend and some of my friends who have been here a month said that it was one of the best trips they have been on so far!

Welcome to Morocco!

I know I know, I haven’t updated in ages. But hopefully you’ve been following my adventures on another blog that Charlotte and I updated during our recent whirlwind European adventure. Check it out hereThe harbor in Split, Croatia

Onwards to new things now!!!

After finishing out the semester in Paris, which included approximately three days of school and four days in New York, Charlotte and I jetted off to Budapest, which was the the launching pad of our six weeks of training, busing, and boating through Europe. After a fantastic and unforgetttable trip, you’ll find me now in Ifrane, Morocco, a small town nestled in the Atlas Mountains. What am I doing here you might ask? Well, I ask myself that same question, but I suppose the simplest answer is that I’m here for the month to study some Arabic.

I was feeling very reluctant to come at first. After spending 6 months abroad, I was really starting to get a little homesick. My little side trip to New York in May made me realize how much I missed New York, but I’m trying to suck it up and make the best of my time that I have here in Morocco.

I was picked up at the Fes airport on Friday and pretty much dropped into my room with little instruction except to be at class at 8 am on Monday. Since I came in the middle of the summer, most of the students who have been here since May had taken the weekend off to go to the beach. Had I known I didn’t need to be here until Sunday, I probably would have stayed a few more days in Paris, but alas, here I am! 

The university I am at, Al Ahkawayn University, is a Western style school where most of the classes are conducted in English and the campus has a very American style campus feel (although obviously not like NYU! I tried to describe the concept of NYU being in and of the city of the New York and I was faced with some very confused looks). Honestly, this is the closest thing to a campus I have ever really been on since I did college tours back in 2008. My roommate Sofia is from Meknes, about an hour from here, and is studying International Relations. There are about 600 regular summer school students here now and around 1800 who are here during the school year. I’m not quite sure how many people there are in my program, but I guess I’ll find out tomorrow morning!

After spending my first day holed up in my room, catching up a Mad Men and venturing to the gym for the first time in months, I went out into Ifrane today. I really can’t tell you that much about it because unless there is a whole part I missed, it’s quite a small town. It actually snows in this region during the winter, so many of the hotels cater to skiers and many of the houses have a chalet type feel to them. At first I felt like the only person dressed in shorts and t-shirt, but in the center of town there were definitely some tourists dressed in the same garb as me, making me feel not quite as self-conscious. So that’s about all there is to say so far of my two days here! I feel like I speak more French here than I did in France, which is quite comical. After going weeks on a travelers budget, it’s nice to have a dining hall fully stocked with everything to eat, especially salad! Hopefully I’ll have some good updates in the coming weeks. I’m hoping that I’ll find some good tagine or couscous somewhere. It’s Morocco, so it has to be somewhere, right?