Friday, December 21, 2018

شفشاون (Chefchaouen)

Dawn over Tangier from the 13th floor was beautiful:

We had to get rolling early to get breakfast and meet the tour guide van by 9am. The hotel breakfast was amazing! The van showed up right on time and we were the only people on the tour today. The rolling hills outside of Tangier as we headed south to Chefchaouen (The Blue City) were green and lush:

The driver stopped at a small cafe about halfway to Chefchaouen. There, Rachel and I befriended one of the ubiquitous stray dogs:

There was a reservoir there too. I took this from a bus shelter along the highway:

 And, this is the actual cafe:

Ric said the coffee was awesome. After about a 2 hr drive up and down many winding roads, we arrived at Chefchaouen and met our on-the-ground guide, Mohammed:

 Chefchaouen is called The Blue City because many of the buildings and adornments are blue:

The blue is actually a legacy of a time when Jewish people populated the town 500 years ago.

Here Mohammed, our guide, graciously allowed a photo:

It almost looks as if he's in a refrigerator. Similar to the Tarifa tour, sales pitches seem to be built into these things. We stopped at this rug/blanket weaver's shop. Here's a loom:

Kathy and Ric bought a couple of smaller pieces. Here are few samples out on the street:

The nooks and crannies, all blue, were so homey:

We broke of Chefchaouen long enough to get this view of the city sloping up the mountainside:

There's a stream/river that comes out of the mountains and flows through town. People do their laundry and hang it along the banks:

Stray cats about here in Morocco too. These two kittens found a great vantage point on a light above the street. Kings of all they survey:

We enjoyed lunch at the Riad Hicham Restaurant in Chefchaouen. The cheese salad was soooo gooood! Our timing was a bit off with our driver, so we kind of hung around outside the restaurant looking dangerous:

We reunited with our driver and he took us to the second stop on our tour, Tetouan. There we met Jamaal, our on-the-ground guide. He's off to the right in this picture of Kathy and Rachel in front of the royal palace of Tetouan:

Jamaal took us around the Medina (market) neighborhood. The buildings here are all state-owned and rented to vendors. We met a leather worker, still plying his trade at 87 years of age. He has been in the same stall for over 50 years. Each green door is a different establishment. It was quite today because Friday is the sabbath for many of these folks:

Jamaal took us to another carpet/blanket vendor in Tetouan. The proprietor took us up on the roof of his building to see the city. As a bonus, the nearly full moon was just rising. Beyond this scene, about 5km, is the Straight of Gibraltar:

In exchange for access to the roof, we politely looked at some of the weavings:

It's beautiful work and hand-made on the premises, but we weren't buying. In a spice shop, I liked this view the numerous jars of spices and the glimpse of the passageway to the interior courtyard catching the late afternoon sun:

Safely transported back to the hotel in Tangier, we closed the day at the hotel bar with Badr tending:

Back to Sevilla tomorrow to see Laura and later in the day, Emily!