Morocco: an experience that travels within you
THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF MOROCCO
Morocco is a country of multi-ethnic society. As a multi-ethnic society, there is a diversity of culture and tradition which the people hold strongly, protect and preserve their cultural heritage. The country is also rich in history and etiquette. Politically, the country is referred to as an African state and majority of its population are Berber and Arabs. The country is also considered by some as an Arab-Berber country.
The people of Morocco are very hospitable. They are very kind and easy going people. After a Moroccan meets you, he will invite you to his home for a feast no matter how small. They respect people and value relationships. They love to help people not because of their personal gain. To Moroccans, family is very important, you find extended families gathered for meals, tea and visits. Most times, they ask about the health and well-being of your family, even when they have not met them. They are very interesting people.
The traditional attire of the Moroccans is the “djellaba”. This is a long hooded garment with open sleeves worn over their clothes. Women also add the hijab or head covering as a sign of submission to God. For special occasion, men also wear a red cap, called a “bernousse”, which is commonly referred to as fez. While women wear Kaftans decorated with ornaments.
The country is also rich in etiquette. There are local customs that one needs to have in mind when invited to the house of a Moroccan. One should take off his shoes when entering a house. It is also good to take a gift of any sort with you, whether small or big. Moroccans eat most of their food with their hands. When invited to join in a meal with someone, one should eat with the right hand because the left is believed to be used for the rest room.
Moroccan culture is exciting. The people are friendly and the place is colourful.
THE LANGUAGE OF MOROCCANS
There are different languages in Morocco but the two official languages are Modern Standard Arabic and Berber. The Moroccan Arabic is also known as the Darija and is the spoken native vernacular. Arabic in its classical form, Modern Standard forms and the French language are the languages of prestige in the country. Many Moroccans speak French as a second language, though it is the unofficial third language. French is universally taught and serves as a primary language of commerce and economics. Also, it is highly used in education and government.
The country also has a sign language. The sign language is spoken by a large number of deaf men in the city of Oujda and it is different from the American sign language.
RELIGION OF MOROCCANS
The major religion practiced in Morocco is Islam. It is also constitutionally established as the state religion, meaning it is the official religion in the country. Christianity is the second largest religion in the country. The constitution grants religious freedom for other minority faiths. Jews and Christians openly practice their religion. Moroccans are religious people and Islamic practices affect all aspects of life, especially in more remote communities.
MAJOR CITIES IN MOROCCO
The major cities and main towns in Morocco are in no particular order; Marrakech, Rabat, Casablanca, Meknes, Fez, Agadir and Tangiers.
FLYING TO MOROCCO
The country has three main international airports: Casablanca, Tangier and Agadir. One can also fly direct to Fes, Marrakech and Oujda from Paris, Armsterdam, Berhn and other European cities. Most of the long distance flights will arrive in Cassablanca. The Cassablanca airport is the country’s modern airport with many transport options to take you to other destinations in the country. Also, most of the major European airlines fly to Morocco, including, British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Ahtalia, Sabena and Suissair.
If you want to fly from the US to Morocco, your only option is Royal Air Moroc, which has daily flights between New York and Casablanca.
TRAVELING BY SEA
You can travel to the country by sea through several car and passenger ferry services which offer routes between Spain, France, and Italy to Morocco.
DRIVING TO MOROCCO
Travelling to the country by road can be difficult. When driving you cannot pass the border between Algeria and Morocco, because, it has been closed. The border with Mauritania is open but it is complicated to get across, especially if you are using public transport.
WHEN TO VISIT MOROCCO
For most of the year, the weather is hot and sunny. The best time to visit the country is spring which comes up in the middle of March to May. At this time the country is lush and green, followed by autumn which is from September to November, when the heat of summer has eased. For some people, the best time to visit the country depends on what they plan to do and see. For some who want to see a selection of main attractions like Marrakech or Fes, then the best time to go is April to early June, and September through November.
WHERE TO STAY
Morocco is not only known for its rich culture, lovely atmosphere, beautiful coastline and glorious food, but also known for its excellent range of accommodation.
The Hotel Riad in Marrakech is a luxury Riad in the old Medina with spa, liammam, and heated pool.
Also, in Agadir, Maroc, there is the Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay Resort. This is right along the Ocean’s Sandy Beach, in the lush Palm Bay. It is a genuine treasure, an oasis of peace and luxury just 10 minutes from downtown. It is a 5 star hotel and combines refined, contemporary elements with exotic Kasbah- style architecture.
There is also the Pearl Marrakech. This is located in the heart of a vibrant and magical city. The Pearl Marrakech, formerly called Delano Marrakech exudes the mystery and exoticism of another world. It is designed by the acclaimed Jacques Garcia. It also creates an intimate atmosphere with a modern edge.
Another beautiful place to stay is Sofitel Marrakech, Lounge and Spa. This is a recent hotel carefully designed to resemble a Moroccan palace. Its traditional architectural style and ochre walls give it an undeniable charm. It consists of a series of buildings, each with 4 or 5 floors allowing guests to stroll through the lovely garden full of Mediterranean plants and ensuring easy access to the beautiful swimming pool edged with tall palm trees.
Other places one can stay when visiting the country are; Riad Maison Bleue and Spa located in Fes, Jnana Tamsna, located in Marrakech, Hotel Transaatlantique , located in Casablanca, and Dar Ayniwen Villa Hotel, also located in Marrakech. The latter is a sanctuary of peace and tranquility in its 5 acres park, and is revealed in all its splendor.
WHERE TO GO IN MOROCCO
There are beautiful places that one can go to in Morocco. The country is famous for its beaches and some of the best seaside towns include Essaouira, Tangier and Asilah. The best places to visit in the country, include the imperial cities of Marrakech, Fes and Meknes.
Marrakech is situated at the foot of the Atlas mountains. The imperial city is large, noisy, full of history and beautiful. In this city, there is a lot to see and do. There are places like the central square of Djemmael Fna, the Saadian Tombs, Maijorelle Gardens and the Souqs (bazaars).
Fez is the most complete medieval city of the Arab world. Fes is an appealing mix of middle ages. Places you can visit include; the Royal palace, Merenid tombs, and the Mellah (Jewish quarter).
Essoura is a great place to get away from the heat and bustle of the bigger cities. Here, one can stroll through the town’s beautiful narrow streets filled with red and blue painted houses, the ramparts, the beach and listening to traditional music.
Asilah is a wonderful beach town on Morocco’s North Atlantic Coast. The city is very popular with Moroccan Vacationers who flock to its sandy beaches in the summer months. The city walls are covered in colourful murals and the houses are white-washed making this town look like it could be at home in Greece. A popular cultural festival is held here every summer. Other highlights include the beaches, small shops, the ramparts and medina.
Meknes is also another beautiful city, though smaller than Merrakech and Fes. This imperial city has similar charms. The Imperial city built by the powerful Moulay Ismail in the 17th Century is a showcase of Moroccan architecture complete with huge gates and impressive carvings.
The country is beautiful and a place where tourists can relax, explore and experience good relationships among people.