Suitcase and World: September 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Meknes. مكناس

Founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids as a military settlement, Meknes became a capital of Morocco under Sultan Moulay Ismaïl (1672–1727).

The sultan turned it into a impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style, surrounded by high walls with great doors, where the harmonious blending of the Islamic and European styles of the time are still evident today.

Chefchaouen. شفشاون

Chefchaouen ("chef-show-un") is situated in the heart of Morocco's Rif Mountains.

The name Chefchaouen comes from “chauen”, which is Spanish for horns, and refers to the shape of the twin peaks overlooking the settlement.

Chefchaouen or Chaouen as it's commonly called, was founded in 1471 by Moorish exiles from Spain as a small fortress to fend off the attacks of invading Portuguese forces in northern Morocco. After the Spanish Reconquista, the town became one of the largest Moriscos and Jewish refuge sites.

In 1920, the Spaniards seized Chefchaouen to form part of Spanish Morocco and returned the city after Morocco declared its independence in 1956.

Morocco. Itinerary.

Generally speaking, I adjust my travel style according to what makes the most sense given where I'm going. In some places, independent travel is the best whereas in other places, a conducted tour is the wiser option. In most cases, a mix of travel styles works best. For Morocco, the majority of the trip will be independent travel.

To make it a bit easier on us, I will arrange for tour to take us from Fes to Marrakesh as we'll be traveling through the Sahara Desert and the High Atlas Mountains and I want to have someone sweat over the transportation and accommodation details in these remote areas. Planning the itinerary has been pretty easy overall because we're not going to be going to that many places. Instead, we'll be spending more in Fes and Marrakesh - taking a more relaxed approach to the trip than I have done on previous travels.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another dream comes true.

Photo by neiljs
Morocco has always, always been a place that I dreamed of going to and now, after years of dreaming, I'm finally going to do it!  And, I hope to be going with my brother and a couple of friends.  A nice foursome!

As usual, I'm excited beyond words to be going.  Morocco has always seemed like such an exotic place despite the fact that I really know very little about it.   Of course, names of places like Marrakesh and Fes are familiar but Chefchaouen??  Never heard of the place.  I know that Morocco is a land of desert and sea but I had no idea there were mountains as well...very tall mountains at that.

For some reason, when I think of Morocco, I think of the color blue.  Turns out blue is a very popular color in Morocco and so I decided to name this blog after it.   I also decided to pay a bit of homage to the French influence in Morocco.  After all,  a good part of what is geographically Morocco today was a French protectorate from 1912-1956.  Bleu is the French word for "blue" and Maroc is the French word for "Morocco".