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When I was a backpacker (10-15 years ago), I didn’t want to visit the same country I already went, as i wanted to know other contexts as much as possible. However, the more I travelled, the more I realized that it is quite difficult to generalize a country as each city, and sometimes each village has something different.
That’s why I decided to travel Morocco (where I went once) and managed to visit 5 major cities although I just had 4.5 days of vacation.
Summary of itinerary
Day 1: After work in the morning, flying in the afternoon (That’s Friday!)→⓪ Casablanca (arrival at night) → travel by night bus via Fez →① Chefchaouen
Day 2: ① VIsit to Chefchaouen (blue city) → transport by bus → ②Tetouan (white city where people speak more Spanish than French)
Day 3: ②Tetouan → transport by bus → ③Fez → transport by night bus → ④Marrakesh
Day 4: ④Marrakesh → transport by bus →⑤ Essaouira (seaside city) → transport by bus → ④Marraakesh (busy city)
Day 5: ④Marrakesh → transport by train →⓪Casablanca → return to Mauritania
I considered this journey successful (although there are thing to improve like investigation of airline service). Without preparation mentioned below, I could not have done it.
Preparation of trip
First of all, I actually thought of traveling either to Tunisia or Morocco, and by looking into some info and photos, the decision was made in favor of the latter as I felt like visiting the following cities (in the order of priority). My objective was at least visiting the first 3 cities.
- Merzouga (Dessert)
Research on how to get
To narrow down the places to visit in a realistic way, I did some research on how to get each city via official sites or blog.
In terms of research, it is recommendable to do so in different languages as there is a diverse interest from one culture to the other (Chefchaouen, the blue city, is so famous among Asian people whereas European people seem to prefer different cities such as Essaouira, Tetouain or Merzouga. In the end, I verified the ways to get to at least 1, 2, 3 and if time allows, 4 and 5 as well
Logistic before traveling
Once you have some ideas on where to go, it is time to prepare logistic before travelling, as someone once said “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Download CTM app to travel by bus : most people who went to Maroc talked about usefulness of the CTM (Compagnie de Transport au Maroc-national bus company). Although personally I don’t prefer booking domestic transport in advance, as there was not much time to waste, I decided to book some touristic bus route (e.g. FezーTetouain). And the easiest way is to book via phone App or web site (here), which let you know about the bus schedule, price and seat availability.
What to bring: regarding stuff to bring, I recommend as few things as possible. For example, as I was going to spend 2 nights in a bus, I brought cloth for 2 days, battery charger, travel kit (to sit and sleep comfortably in a bus/train), tooth brush, camera and some cash (100 USD / day just in case).
Logistic during trip
There are only 2 things I would recommend when arriving at the airport:
SIM card: if you have unlocked smart phone, it is very useful to buy SIM card on arrival, which allows to facilitate trip especially you have limited time.
Cash exchange: although exchange rate tends to be worse than the city rate, you’d better exchange at the airport to gain some time. It is recommendable to figure out approximate budget par day, and get a little bit extra.
Flexibility and adaptability
There is no perfect plan as there will be always some unexpected event, so it is better to have some flexibility and adaptability (which needs some practice!). For example, to manage to go to all the cities as I planed, I could not lose any hour. However, the flight got delayed by 2.5 hours, which made me take plan B (instead of taking economic train, I had to get on an expensive taxi). In the end, I arrived at the bus terminal in advance (but the bus itself came late by 40 min).
If the plan B didn’t work, I was going to take my plan C (taking early morning bus the next day and skip some non-priority cities). If you have some flexible and adaptable mindset, everything will work out eventually. As I was a bit nervous about my schedule, it took me awhile to realize how comfortable outside temperature was (23-25 C).
In the end, in addition to my priority 3 cities, I could manage to visit additional 2 cities (in total 5). The below photos are some highlighted photos.
Chefchaouen (blue city with lots of cats)
Tetouain (Whilte city) ←it was the same day (I changed the T-shirt)
Fez (leather coloring factory)
Essaouira (cost city with blue, white and lots of artists)
Tree with sheeps (on the way between Essaouira and Marrakesh)
Marrakesh, night market
Detail of expenditure
In addition to flight and some bus tickets I booked in advance, my expense was around 200 USD (total less than 900 USD). The exchange rate at the airport (USD → DH) was 9.03
Jours 1: SIM card (50 Dh), taxi (250 Dh), dinner (25 Dh)
Jours 2: Breakfast (23 Dh), bathroom (1 Dh), lunch (23 Dh), orange juice (15 Dh), hotel at Tetouain (80Dh) juice and desert (16 Dh), beer (100 Dh!),
Jours 3: Breakfast (18 Dh), taxi (20 Dh), juice (12 Dh), shirt (70 Dh), dinner (60 Dh), taxi (20 Dh), orange juice (8 Dh)
Jours 4: Breakfast (21 Dh), lunch -tajin calamari (50 Dh), seafood (15 Dh), juice (7 Dh), hotel at Marrakech (60 Dh), fruit juice (10 Dh), dinner (54 Dh),
Jours 5: Train ticket to Casa (138 Dh), orange juice (4 Dh), yogurt (2 Dh), taxi (10 Dh), museum (50 Dh), garden (70 Dh), taxi (20 Dh), lunch (50 Dh)
In conclusion, although it was a bullet trip and tiring, I could know a bit about Morocco. And as you can see from the above list, orange juice was so good and cheap.
The learning of this time
I learned that to enjoy traveling with limited resource including time, it is important to plan well and leave some flexibility to take necessary measure in case of unexpected event. That is the traveling That is the life.
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