Sunrise in the Erg Chebbi – somewhere near Merzouga, Morocco

Late last year V and I packed the rambler with her parents and snacks and hit the road for a white-knuckle trip from Rabat past Rissani and back, covering multiple mountain passes in order to catch the sunset and sunrise in the desert before racing back north. The journey took us through snow-capped mountains, cedar forests filled with monkeys, switchback passes (guard rails?  not always) and ultimately into the desert between Rissani and Merzouga. We missed the sunset by minutes (and I admittedly beached the car near the dunes and was bailed out by a crew of Bedouin teenagers), though…

This definitely isn’t Wegmans – a trip into the medina, Fes, Morocco.

V and I recently played hosts to WFD and JBG, two guests yearning for distinctly different experiences in Morocco and with vastly different approaches to travel.  The four of us drove to Fes for a weekend of cooking, shopping and enjoying the craziness of the medina.  WFD and I ran off to the Fes medina during his last visit and ripped through it over the course of a day; we left completely spent with barely enough energy to perform the customary post-mortem on the day’s photographs. V had planned a cooking lesson for the four of us as the center…

Here, everything is good. – Tarifa, Spain

Note – This past summer V had a fantastic idea (as she so often does) that quickly developed into one of the best road trips that I have ever been on – a drive from Morocco to Spain!  The following entry was written by V – enjoy! The stars were aligning, and not in our favor.  I had previously spent 3 wonderful weeks in Southern Spain in 2002 and I was counting the minutes until I could go back.  Being able to get there, door to door, in 5 hours, is one of the many perks of living in Morocco,…

Three men and an illegal tripod – the Portuguese Cistern, El Jadida, Morocco.

While taking a break from a lazy weekend at the fantastic beach resort Mazagan, I broke away with two great buddies for a trip to El Jadida to see the Portuguese Cistern.  From Wikipedia – Built in 1514, this former warehouse (possibly an armory) was converted into a cistern in the 16th century. The underground chamber, measuring 34 meters by 34 meters, was constructed with five rows of five stone pillars. The cistern is famous especially for the thin layer of water that covers the floor, and which creates fine and exciting reflections from the little light there is and…

Just deserts or just a desert*? The road to Merzouga, Morocco.

After leaving our hotel with the fantastic view mentioned earlier we made our way further into the Dades Valley and started to climb.  And climb.  And climb.  By the time we made it to the top, we were greeted with another Top Gear-esque mountain road that would make even the the most seasoned driver / maniac’s palms go clammy.

Hollywoodland in the sand and the one of the best hotel views ever – Ourzazate and Dades Valley, Morocco

A few hours east of the Tichka Pass is Ourzazate, the “Hollywood of Morocco” and a jumping-off point for most of the tours to Merzouga.  While Ourzazate is a sleepy looking town to drive through, the surrounding desert is home to enormous motion picture sets and a sprawling studio complex. The above photo is a small section of a huge series of desert studios.  The studio and surrounding desert are where Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Lawrence of Arabia, Kundun and The Last Temptation of Christ were filmed. Oh yeah.  Two of my personal favorite films – The Hills Have Eyes…

The road to Merzouga – high above the world at Tizi n’Tichka, Morocco

V, WFD and I recently made the journey from Marrakesh to Merzouga.  For the readers that have yet to head to Merzouga this drive is approximately 350 miles east from Marrakesh to a place just miles away from the Algerian border. This is not a drive for those with weak constitutions. In order to make it to Merzouga, you must first proceed through the Tizi n’Tichka, the Tichka Pass.  The mountain roads gradually pick up altitude as you leave Marrakesh, though it’s easy to mistake the beginnings of the upcoming craziness for just an itty-bitty hill.  The gentle curving road…