View from Salon Bleu in Tanger
We flew into Tangier, a port city on the Straight of Gibraltar. You only need an afternoon here to walk through the Medina (old city) and petit/grand Socca. Do not fall prey to the men who will offer to lead you to your hostel or hotel, as they expect payment. The next day we took a 3 hour shuttle to Chefchaouen or Chaouen, known for it’s blue-washed buildings situated in the Rif Mountains. It is one of most unique and stunning places I have ever visited. It is rumored that Jewish refugees introduced the blue walls to symbolize the sky and the heavens. Now, people also believe that the walls are painted blue to repel mosquitos. Regardless of the reason, this blue city is not to be missed!
Local paint in Chefchaouen
On the outer edge of the Medina in Chefchaouen
Now, on to the food! Moroccan cuisine is characterized by ras-el-hanout, a typical North African spice, which is a blend of around 30 spices including cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and cardamom. You must try tagine, a signature Moroccan dish consisting of meat and vegetables cooked in Moroccan spices and served over couscous. Afterwards, enjoy the traditional Moroccan mint tea, made by boiling water with mint leaves and adding a generous amount of sugar. Tip: ask for the sugar on the side. The dishes are also served with bread and olives. The bread is cooked in a wood-fired oven giving it a crunchy outer layer and doughy inside.
Beldi Bab Ssour
Fresh Moroccan Bread!
Medina (old town): You can spend a whole day getting lost in the maze-like medina, where we stayed. The dazzling blue walls are lined with vendors selling patterned blankets, jewelry, and pastries.
Outa el Hamma Square: Main square where most restaurants and hotels are located. There is always something going on from religious processions to people dancing on the street.
Spanish Mosque: The Spanish Mosque is located about 20 minutes (by foot) outside of the medina and offers beautiful views of the city.
Cascades d’Akchour: A beautiful waterfall hike about 45 minutes from Chefchaouen.
Where to eat:
All the restaurants have a similar menu, but here are the ones I recommend:
Beldi Bab Ssour (Chefchaouen, Medina): A local spot that gets very crowded. It is around 3-4 euros for a main dish. We sat a communal table and met a local artist who gave us recommendations on what to order. The tagine is excellent.
Restaurant Aladdin (Chefchaouen, Medina): Located in the main square and a bit more expensive. The atmosphere and décor alone are enough to eat here. The rooms are lined with with colorful tapestries and patterned cushions. You feel like you walked into another world. Plus they have two outdoor terraces with panoramic views of Chefchaouen. However, the food was mediocre. I recommend going for mint tea or appetizers to enjoy the ambiance.
Snack Assada (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another cheap local spot that offers outdoor rooftop seating.
Restaurant Al Kasbah (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another delicious restaurant off of the main square. They have colorful tables and chairs on the street that are surrounded by plants. You feel like you are eating in the jungle.
Salon Bleu (Tanger, Medina): A beautiful restaurant that has a rooftop terrace with unbeatable views of the city. I recommend going at dusk and watching the sunset. It was our most expensive meal of the weekend, although still affordable—we paid 15 euros for an appetizer, main course, dessert, and mint tea.
Homemade local pastries in Chefchaouen
Moroccan pastries (avec my temporary henna tattoo)
Fresh juice in Chefchaouen
Drinking fresh juice in Chefchaouen!