Seven destinations for travelling alone
You can travel with friends, as a couple, with the family... yes, we know that it's nice to share experiences, but those of us who love travelling recommend that everyone should travel alone at least once in a lifetime! Why? You can get around without having to wait for anyone, make your own decisions and choices, get away from it all... In short, you will be your sole companion. Which are the best places for this? Here is a list of destinations for travelling alone.more info
Rabat is a little known destination and one not much frequented by tourists heading to Morocco. This is precisely one of its major attractions – the chance to enjoy its monuments and spots full of atmosphere, minus the stress associated with other cities like Marrakech, Casablanca or Fez.
The city lies on the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, on the Atlantic seaboard, and is a curious blend of the old and new. The old medina and the city walls contrast with the new city, home to the country’s administrative facilities. It is not overly big, so you can see it all in a couple of days. Following is a selection we have made of the essential sights to see when visiting Rabat.
The Hassan Tower – Splendour Cut Short
The Hassan Tower is one of Rabat’s major landmarks, the unfinished fruit of the city’s greatest age of splendour. In the 12th century, Sultan Yaqoub al-Mansour decided to build the largest mosque in the West, to which end he commissioned the same architect who had designed the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, and La Giralda of Seville. Unfortunately, the sultan died before the mosque had been completed, and construction work came to a halt. The most striking architectural feature is the minaret with its geometric designs. It was scheduled to be 86 metres high, but only 44 metres were eventually completed. The rest of the complex comprises the columns built to support 21 naves.
Alongside this ancient mosque stands the Mausoleum of Muhammad V, where the remains of the Alawite monarchs, Muhammad V and Hassan II, were laid to rest. Built between 1961 and 1971, it is a commendable example of contemporary Moroccan architecture. The project was assigned to the Vietnamese, Vo Toan, who successfully captured the essence of the country’s architectural and decorative tradition.
In Search of Origins – the Chellah Necropolis
The Chellah is a fortified precinct located some 2 kilometres from Rabat. Its interior houses, among other things, remains of the Roman city – after the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, they were the first to settle the area. Preserved in this early urban nucleus are the remains of the forum and temple of Jupiter. There are also vestiges of the early Islamic era. In the 15th century the precinct was reconverted by the Arabs into a necropolis, and features remains of tombs and a mosque.
The Kasbah of the Udayas – Rabat’s Magical Corner
Rabat is well worth visiting, if only for a tour of this walled quarter, made up of labyrinthine streets full of houses painted blue and white. The Kasbah was built in the 17th century by the Udayas on a cliff sited on the south bank of the river mouth to defend the coastline from a possible Spanish invasion. This is evident in its fortress-like character, with numerous battlements and lookouts, which now make excellent viewpoints for sightseers. In addition to wandering through the streets, soaking up the atmosphere in all its corners, you should take the chance to visit the Museum of the Udayas, located in the Andalusian Gardens, which boasts one of the finest jewellery collections in Morocco.
City of Gardens
Rabat is also known as the “city of gardens”, so make sure you stroll leisurely through and relax in one of them. Most noteworthy are the Nouzzah Hassan Gardens, located opposite the city walls, designed by the French general, Lyautey; the Jardins d'Essais Botanical Gardens, with exotic fruit, ornamental and Mediterranean trees, and Rabat Zoo, for those who fancy seeing animals, apart from plants.
Shopping in the Souq
The word souq, associated with tranquility, might sound like science fiction to the traveller in Morocco, but this is true of the bazaar in Rabat. With hardly any hustling by street vendors, you can tour the Souq in search of food, spices, craftwork, garments, carpets and a host of other goods.
You’ve noted everything you can see in Rabat, right? Take out a Vueling and enjoy a visit to this city.
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
Street food in Marrakech
These days street food is really trendy among most European countries. What used to be considered unhygienic now sweeps away everyone in Europe and gets new supporterss all the time.
In fact, it’s difficult to imagine other countries without street food stalls. In the United States, for instance, food trucks are an institution, even a showcase for new entrepreneurs cookers sometimes, who use these stalls to introduce themselves before they can get a place in an actual restaurant. In other countries, like Turkey, China, Nigeria and Pakistan, or around Latin America countries, street food is part of the daily life.
To eat in a street food stall is such an experience anytime you travel; that’s the way to try the most popular food in the country without the finery of a restaurant, hanging out with locals and getting to meet them, and is much cheaper.
The exotic Marrakech is the culinary capital in Morocco, and the main spot is the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square and the surroundings, where there is activity all the time.
By the morning, stalls with fruit juices share space with tattoo artists or snake - and tourists - charmers. For about 4 dirhams, you can try orange juice freshly served that will help you on dealing with the warm weather.
Early at night, it’s time for the stalls full of tables and cooking tools. The grill i son and the square of Jemaa el-Fna becomes a big dinning room. There is a sea of smoky food trucks offering all kinds of food at all sorts of prices. Un mar de humeantes puestos callejeros con ofertas para todos los gustos y bolsillos. From the delicious lamb kebabs or chicken, cookies and sweets made of honey, almonds and dates are sold at stalls all around the square.
The spots are numbered (but messy) and you can find many recommendations, like the fresh fish at 14, best mint tea at 5 or the spot number 31, famous for serving the best sausages.
The golden rule for a traveller says, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and you can apply that here, too. Not all the food stalls have the greatest quality, though. Ideally, then, you should go wherever you see Moroccans eating.
This is a list of what you can find at food trucks and stalls in Marrakech.
- The crunchy bread (Khobz) is one of the basic elements on Moroccan gastronomy, usually cooked in a wood oven. Among the different kinds of bread, there is the baghrir (like a crêpe, a fluffy pancake with holes), harsha (made of semolina) or rghaif (semi-crispy rectangular bread), usually accompanied or fill in some garrison.
-Tajine, is a lamb stew with lemon and spices.
- Merguez, a spicy sausage with an intense flavour.
- The steamed lambs head or the snails’ soup are two of the most “exotic” options to the traveller looking for new gastronomic adventures. They are considered true delicacies among locals, but not the favourites for the tourists.
- Morocco is one of the largest exporters of sardines, and you can find this fish at most food stalls. They are cooked in the grill and usually filled with a spicy chermoula paste, which has tomato, cilantro, chili, lemon and garlic.
- For the veggies, the smoky and tasty fried eggplant slices can a good choice.
- Sweets like briwat ( fried triangles filled with almonds) and shebakia (sesame cookies in a flower shape).
- All kinds of nuts! Dates, sugared almonds, walnuts, raisins and figs.
- To drink, mint tea is good anytime, this is the most famous drink in Morocco, often referred “Moroccan or Berber whisky”, as a joke and because it looks similar even, obviously, mint tea has no alcohol.
So you feel like visiting Marrakech, do you? Book your flights here!more info
Tangier – A Journey of Inspiration
Some destinations attract visitors for their museums; others, for their beaches or mountains, for the energy they give off or, simply, because they are fashionable. In the case of Tangier, the journey is inevitably related to the inspiration and yearnings for the past which it harbours like some muse of the arts. Myriad artists and scholars have passed through that city, located on the northern tip of Morocco, and have become spellbound by its charms.
The Light and Colour of Tangier
The first artist to be captivated by Tangier was the French painter, Eugène Delacroix. In 1832 he journeyed there as part of a diplomatic mission and ended up being seduced by its light and colour, as masterfully portrayed in such paintings as Jewish Wedding in Morocco.
The Spanish painter, Mariano Fortuny, who was familiar with Delacroix’s production, also went to Tangier in search of that magic, which infused a host of sketches and notes for his Orientalist works.
Henri Matisse reached Tangier in 1912. There, not only did he encounter “the landscapes of Morocco just as Delacroix had depicted them in his paintings”, as he himself stated, but he also discovered a new palette of colours for his own works. He took up lodgings in room 35 of the extant Grand Hotel Villa de France, where he painted such works as Window at Tangier.
Paul Bowles, Tangier and the Beat Generation
Tangier became a veritable beacon for writers, particularly in the 1950s and part of the 1960s. And, no wonder, as from 1923 to 1956 the city was a demilitarised zone under joint administration by various countries. This measure was implemented on account of its strategic position in the Strait of Gibraltar and the ensuing international disputes over its control. Known as the Tangier International Zone, it became a place of passage for many people – diplomats, adventurers, artists, spies and others. Functioning as “everyone’s city” or, if you will, “no man’s city”, it enjoyed an unusual status as a place of freedom and tolerance which would be difficult to find elsewhere.
One of the best known regulars in the city was the writer and composer, Paul Bowles, who arrived in Tangier in 1947 and was completely swept off his feet by its charms. It was there that he wrote his first novel, The Sheltering Sky, so masterfully ported to the cinema by the director, Bernardo Bertolucci. Then ensued the arrival of other creative figures, including Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Francis Bacon. And, he was also instrumental in spawning the Beat Generation – William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who succumbed to the allure of a place where they could give free rein to their imagination and – there’s no denying it – their vices, too.
What remains of all that past now? While a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, and the city is in the throes of a process of renewal, the spots which resonate of those artists are still standing.
A visit to the Grand Socco provides a suitable introduction to the city. Its pleasant ambience and colourfulness are guaranteed, as is your likelihood of (literally) getting lost in its streets. You will eventually end up willy-nilly in the Petit Socco, a square in the heart of the Medina, packed with cafés and restaurants. Another square, the Place de France, is also a must-see, as it is the site of the Grand Café de Paris, with a history of its own. This is where our protagonists spent countless hours chatting and observing the passers-by.
The Fondation Lorin, housed in a synagogue, boasts a fine collection of photographs, documents and posters that give you a good idea of what Tangier was like in the first half of the 20th century. Then there is the Tangier American Legation Museum, a visit not to be missed by enthusiasts of Paul Bowles as it features a section dedicated to the writer which displays photos, portraits and Moroccan musical scores which he recorded himself.
The Villa Muniria – now reconditioned as the Hotel El-Muniria (1, Rue Magellan) – was the favourite lodgings of the Beat Generation. Tennessee Williams and the Rolling Stones themselves were counted among the guests that stayed there. It was there, too, in room number 9, that William Burroughs wrote his seminal work, Naked Lunch.
Another landmark of literary Tangier is the Librairie des Colonnes (54, Boulevard Pasteur). It was a meeting place for writers and artists, while nowadays it continues to host cultural activities.
Like the writers and artists of yesteryear, allow yourself to succumb to the charms of this inspiring city and plan your trip with Vueling!
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación