Just seven miles, or a short 45 minute ferry ride away, Morocco is a completely different world from its European neighbors. Medinas and Muslim architecture paint many of the cities, along with street entertainers ranging from storytellers to serpent charmers. As like Spain and Portugal, we breezed through Morocco alongside on the same tour, so much of our experience was tied to that, but we do have a few tips we’d like to share if you find yourself there.
Must know – Interesting facts
- Arabic and French are the national languages.
Morocco is a “dry” country, meaning you won’t find people imbibing at outdoor street cafes. If you’re looking for cocktails, your best bet is within your hotel or indoors at a restaurant.
- Friday is holy day, recognized as the day God created the father, Adam.
- As a result, most businesses are closed.
- Morocco is also home to the youngest population in the world, with more than half of the population less than 20 years old.
- The Berber people are the original native people. Along with the Arabic people, they are the two main ethnicities of Morocco.
- Morocco is the largest producer of oranges in the world.
- Morocco is the largest farmer of sardines in the world.
- In the Islam religion, green is known as the prophet Mohammed’s favorite color. You’ll see it reflected via the green star in the Moroccan flag.
- The star on the flag has 5 points- 1 point for every pillar of the Muslim religion.
- People from Tanger are called “Tangerines”.
- Forbes (the owner of the magazine) bought a home in Tangier for 100,000, and subsequently allowed a James Bond film to be filmed there. In doing so, the house appreciated considerably, and he ultimately sold it for 12 million dollars.
- Morocco is home to NOOR, the largest solar energy farm in the world.
- Primary public school is free. Moroccans are then encouraged to go to university in France, Switzerland or Canada, for which they get a scholarship. If they rather choose to attend university in Morocco, it is free and they are given a small scholarship for food (which many students in turn send straight to their families).
- The Feast of the Sheep is one of the main holidays celebrated in Morocco.
- Jellaba. This is the common garb that most people in Morocco wear.
- The king of Saudi Arabia and the King of Morocco are related via ancestors, so the two countries have close ties.
- Casablanca is home to the 3rd largest port in the world.
The story of “The Hand of Fatima“. Though commonly associated with Buddhism, this hand image extends to the Islamic people of Morocco. The Myth goes that a Berber woman who was sending her husband off to battle, put an imprint of her hand on his back with henna, and he returned home. After she did this a few times and he came home each time, she told her friends. They started doing this with their husbands also, and as each came home, the myth was born that the “hand of Fatima” was good luck for a safe return home.
Must know – food and wine
- Morocco unknowingly to most, produces prized wine. As of late, they specialize mostly in Cabernet and Grenache, so do make sure to try some during your visit.
- Morocco grows and supplies truffle mushrooms but don’t know how to cook with them, so export them at a very low price to their European neighbors.
Must experience – city specific
- La Marrakchi restaurant. Plan to go around 9pm for dinner. A live Moroccan band, dancers with candelabras on silver trays balanced atop their heads, and belly dancers will be out to entertain as you enjoy authentic Moroccan cuisine served in clay plate wear.
- Marekesh Square. Become memorized by the storytellers by candlelight, dancers swirling in all different costumes and colors, rogue musicians, and classic snake charmers. Visit one or many of the food stalls, and try bargaining for a true camel wool, Moroccan-made purse or pillowcase.
- Don’t miss the Medina. This is a centuries old labyrinth of a market, where you’ll find a small shop hidden around every corner. It has maintained a truly authentic feel, selling everything ranging from live chickens, to guitars, but as such, are not keen on tourists taking photos, so keep your cameras and phones in your pockets!
- Have dinner in a riad. This is a traditional Moroccan home, where you’ll enjoy authentic dishes. It’s best organized through a third party, so ask your hotel for help arranging.
- Tea Ceremony. The Berbers love tea, but love sugar even more. At a tea ceremony, you’ll get the chance to watch a traditional Berber woman prepare tea, and then take a sip once she’s done.