10/23/12Travellogue: Nicole Valentine Don’s journey through Morocco
When Nicole emailed me a few months back to ask for tips on where to shop in Morocco, I’m afraid I wasn’t much help. It’s been about ten years since my last trip over there, and with Ida on the scene now–I’m not sure when I’d get a chance to go back. With that in mind, I asked her if she wanted to take some pics to share on the blog while she was traveling. I love Nicole’s style (just check out her Pinterest boards and Etsy shop to see why) and I had a feeling she’d take some inspiring snaps. As you are about to find out, I was right.
On my recent around the world trip that took me to Canada, France, Spain, Morocco and Hong Kong; Morocco was expected to be the most stand-out adventure- and it was. Everything you’ve ever seen in a photo of Morocco or what these photos suggest, is exactly what you get when you are there. It’s incredible! The colours, the smiling faces, the achingly beautiful wares-silver, textiles, ceramics, leatherworks-the food, the architecture (!!!) complete with every finishing touch you can imagine down to the last tile, to a gold hand-shaped knocker on a door or a fresh rose accent in a vase.
The main square in Marrakech on day one was rather overwhelming for me, but it is safe and exciting and has been around for almost 1000 years! All around you there are snake charmers, donkeys, motorbikes, horse and carriages, musicians, stand upon stand of fresh squeezed orange juice & moroccan mint tea (yum) and my favourite- a man with a school sized little desk, selling a collection of single teeth and full dentures under a big umbrella.
When you step into your Riad it is as if you are stepping into a sanctuary from the crazy streets of the Medina. The service for my entire stay was second to none, but not over the top; you feel right at home right away.
We also ventured into the desert for 3 days…I could not go to Africa without riding a camel in the Sahara! The long drive there which we were semi-dreading turned out to be the best part of the whole desert trip. The landscape was constantly changing and like nothing I had ever seen before. First there would be Berber villages built right into the mountains, then you’d come across kasbahs (castles) that look like actual life-sized sandcastles, then a tiny town that looks as if it were a hollywood set built specifically for a spaghetti western- and it probably was. The changing colours of the earth from light sand, to rosy-hued, to deep red informed the colours of the town with all the homes being built mostly with mud and hay; so stunning. Along the way you would see the women working the land, men shepherding sheep and proper nomad families on the move with their camels, donkeys and chickens. The Sahara did not disappoint- it’s just like in the cartoons! We trekked for one hour into the dunes where there was a camp set up, rectangular style tents draped in Moroccan rugs and Handira (wedding blankets)- ridiculous! The guide makes you a beautiful feast in the make-shift camp kitchen, plays some drums and then we got set up on cots with fresh sheets to sleep under the stars. This was a highlight, just little you with the one you love in the big wide open and the brightest night sky above you- I saw at least ten shooting stars!
Then back to Marrakech for a delectable hammam and feeling more comfortable cruising the streets in search of more allure and delicious food (it’s easy). I’m almost ready to go back!
Thank you so much Nicole!
Photos by Nicole Valentine Don, Layout by J. Blakeney
Here are some ‘souvenirs’ I collected inspired by Nicole’s trip.
Going somewhere amazing? I’d love to share your fantastic pics and travel vicariously through you! Submit photos to hello (at) justinablakeney (dot) com