Morocco vol 2. Can I wear a short dress and why is toilet paper luxury?
Dress to impress, but don’t expose too much
As the trip to Morocco for me was a complete surprise, my wardrobe was rather limited. It was 27-35 degrees every day and I didn’t have almost any short sleeve shirts nor dresses/skirts. In general I think in more touristic areas it’s not so strict and you can show a bit more, but I preferred to keep my shoulders covered and my shortest dress was still almost to knee length. Yet I saw enough women with shorts and tank tops, so it’s just your choice how exposed you want to feel and how many pairs of eyes on you. I bought long flowy pants and matched them with different shirts. I would recommend taking long dresses/skirts or flowy/linen pants and shirts that cover your shoulders. As you’re not allowed to any mosques as a non-muslim, the scarf is not that necessary. If you visit Morocco in summer heat, do consider buying a hat or figure out how not to get a heat stroke. And if you go to the desert, take a light scarf, so you’re not tempted to buy one for 5-10€ in the nearby villages.
All the tajines come in vegetarian option as well as with all different kind of meat ones (lamb, beef, chicken). So, if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, it shouldn’t be a problem to find something to eat in Morocco. It should pack a lot of vegetables and sauce. After the trip I felt I have enough of it, but now when I write the blog, it sounds so good.
There’s this funny pie called Bastilla that is usually served with chicken nowadays but historically mostly with pigeon meat. Nowadays, still some places serve it. It’s filled with spices (pepper, cinnamon, ginger, saffron) and layered with crispy pastry. I am not the biggest fan of sweet and savory food, so it was not exactly my thing.
Chicken with preserved lemons and olives was one of my favourites. It was the first time I ever tried preserved lemons and it gives such a flavour to the meals. We had it in a tajine with some olives.
We had lamb or beef with prunes (and honey and nuts) during our last night in Essaouira and it’s really delicious, although I can’t imagine eating the whole thing myself as it can be pretty sweet. The other good thing about travelling together with someone is that you can share the meals, taste both and not go overboard with eating (maybe).
Kefta tajine is hands down one of my favourites. I love minced meat and it has it all – it’s brought to you boiling, as a runny egg on top and this sauce and you can dip your bread into it. If you need convincing after that, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Sardines are really popular in general in Morocco, but especially in the coast line. You can have them different ways – fried or even in a tajine. In the local market it was amazing to see how fast the vendors cleaned the fish fillets in 2 seconds, literally.
In addition to sitting down to eat, you can grab something on the way from the vendors. I thought my stomach is tough and can handle anything, but oh, how wrong I was. The first night in Fez some street food got the better of me. I was just not expecting it at all. In general street food is safe and you can check out before hand how they prepare it, but I guess there’s just some bacteria we’re not used to as much.
As Moroccan sweets are next level sweet, I prefer to indulge in orange and cinnamon.
Forget the environment for a change and stay away from tap water
Or have a reusable bottle with a filter inside. Under no circumstances drink tap water. You’ll just have a aching tummy after that in best case and extensive visits to the bathrooms in worse case.
In general alcohol is not served in restaurants near medina, as it’s not allowed for Moroccans. Our cooking class host said that the police goes often to check in the hotel he works for example that no Moroccans take part of the wine course. Buuuut .. there are bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, but I don’t know if it’s worth the price. It’s insanely expensive regarding the cost of living. For a glass of wine you can easily pay 8-9€.
You can’t leave Morocco without trying at least once its mint tea
I am not a tea drinker in general. And let’s be honest, this one has so much sugar in it, that I mostly tried to weasel my way out of it. But for a person who loves tea and sugar, it should be a treat.
Going to Morocco, means brushing up your French. Big time. I’m impressed how well majority of Moroccans spoke French. In bigger cities you can definitely get by with English and body language, but it’s wayyyy easier with speaking French. Also, the vendors can be nicer to you with prices and you’ll get more information about sights and products.
Ask before taking a photo and be ready to pay
Morocco has been surprisingly difficult to photograph. People are shy and even spiteful sometimes when you take out your camera – this case the bigger the worse. In touristic places remember to ask before if you can take photos and agree on a price also before. Also, many shops have up signs “no photos” etc. I followed the rule that if I buy from the shop, I am allowed to take photos if I’m not told otherwise. And what is the worse that can happen? Someone screams at you.
Are you allergic to cats? Take some medication with you
It’s insane how many cats there are in Morocco and how they’re taken care in their own way. I’d say Moroccans really care for their cats, but maybe not exactly by the standard I’d like to see. Many shops have these small carpets for them and food and water. Vendors and street food places give them leftovers, but still they look mostly in such a bad shape.
If you’re really allergic to cats, take your medication as they’re EVERYWHERE – riads, bus stations, streets, even desert!
Toilet paper is life
When we read some reviews beforehand and someone mentioned ‘Good riad, even had toilet paper’, we were a bit baffled like ‘what a weirdo’. That’s where you are wrong – although most places have sitting down toilets (not the squatting ones), it’s usually still missing this one important thing – toilet paper. And these places include restaurants, bus stations etc. Sometimes you have this woman standing on the door handing you a small piece for some dirhams. I felt every square is counted per person. Also, hand sanitiser is a nice addition to your everyday hygiene.
What did we bring as souvenirs?
We brought for us and our parents spices which we had crushed in a local market outskirts of Marrakech. As we kept them for half of our days in Morocco in my luggage + the trip back to Estonia from Belgium, my luggage still smells like spices. Also, we bought there locally pressed argan oil for my beauty routines and also cooking (it tastes AMAZING in salad dressings). Also, some wooden bowls for serving olives for example and wine from the airport. For ourselves we bought a leather bag and a wallet. I also checked solid natural perfumes, which we pretty nice and moisturising in the same time, but as I’m not fan of musk or lavender, which were really popular, I left without. Although, I think they’re a nice ones to buy either for yourself or for the wardrobe.