Morocco is currently one of the most popular destinations for a holiday, especially if you are based in Europe. Flights to the beautiful country are not long, and you can go direct from London, only about two hours. Yet despite the short travel time, there is a huge change in climate, culture and scenery. Most people have heard or been to Marrakech, or Casablanca, or even Rabat, but I had the unique experience of entering deep into the heart of Morocco, to a blue pearl of a city called Chefchaouen.
The trip started strictly as a lay on the beach and do nothing trip, but by the third day of lying around, a few of us were up for exploring a new city. As I was lounging back after a swim in the Alboran Sea, I was approached with the idea of Chefchaouen. After a quick google of the location, I was immediately on board, and you can see why below. I wanted to see with my own eyes, would this city be as blue as the pictures, or had it been photo shopped like so many things on the internet these days.
The drive from Kabila on the Mediterranean coast up into the mountains was a tad long but this was made up for by the friendliest driver ever, who was proud of his country, and I believe felt a measure of dignity. I say this because at times he slipped into the role of elder and guide; advising us where to stop or go, and if was tired didn’t mind taking a break. Although my French is poor, between the Arabic I knew and the English he knew, we all had a great ride up in his old battered Mercedes Benz.
When we did arrive, all I could say was….actually I was speechless. The pictures do not do it justice. Chefchaouen is a sea of different blues, with strong pops of colours scattered throughout. It felt surreal, almost like I had stepped into a smurf’s dream.
However the more you walked, the more you realized that this was a living, breathing, modern city with residents going about their lives, despite its ancient origins and medieval architecture.
Their homes were adorned in fabulous Islamic décor with Arabic text over the top of doors, winding staircases, and picturesque alleys through which cats and children darted, seemingly on furtive missions, or ducking into shadows to avoid the oppressive sun.
From the restaurant where we ate lunch, a delicious tagine of chicken, at the top of the city’s steep hillside, you stare down into the Souk and can see the minarets of its stately mosque.
Relaxing with a glass of mint tea (no alcoholic drinks on offer unfortunately) I was treated to the call to prayer echoing through the valley as business ground to a halt that particular Friday. This and the heat served as a wonderful flashback to my high school years in Abu Dhabi.
As the day trip came to a close, I noticed that I had managed to find my bearings and the shades of blue walls, blue doors, blue floors and blue skies seemed more familiar. Some say that the color blue has a calming effect yet can be perceived as cold, I believe both feelings were at play in my heart.
So although my mind at first was stimulated to the hilt, the peace found in observing the everyday activities of the residents helped me see how normal the choices the people living there were to them. The city illuminated thoughts within me about the endless ways of decorating one’s home, and one’s city. So returning to London, I don’t think the buildings are up for a change soon, but perhaps a little more color adventure could be introduced in my corridor? I came home ready to chuck out the five samples of greyish creamish white, and take inspiration from Chefchaouen. I hope you can too, it could lead to new affair with bold colors not only during your holiday but in your home.