Casablanca

16099964434_7cb335d99c_bCasablanca was the last stop of our Moroccan trip. The name brings images of romance and adventure but today is the biggest city in the Maghreb region and the economical capital of Morocco. We got to Casa Voyagers station late at night on a train from Marrakech and headed to our hotel straight away. It was near the port, on the entrance of the Medina and I though it certainly had known better times, it had a certain colonial charm.

The next morning we went to the Hassan II mosque. Built on a structure half on land and half on sea, the mosque is the biggest in Africa. Its minaret is 210 meters tall, the tallest religious building in the world. It’s an impressive sight, standing against the sea. Since we couldn’t make it to the visiting hours so we decided to go for a walk along the shoreline. The day was gray and rainy, so we stopped for a snack and afterwards we went to Rick’s Café.

The movie “Casablanca” was filmed entirely in studios, so Rick’s Café is not where Sam played “As...

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Essaouira

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Essaouira has been a strategic port throughout the centuries: traders, pirates, colonial powers, all had used (and fought for) its harbored bay. Nowadays, it may have lost its geopolitical importance but it remains one of the main tourist destinations of Morocco. So, when Fatima from Infinite Morocco invited us to a tour to Essaouira, we didn’t hesitate.

Our driver Mohammed picked us at Jemaa El Fna and we headed west towards the sea. The cities that we passed by (Loudaya, Zoudia, Chichaoua, Sidi Al Mokhtar) had the same red colors of Marrakech but, as we got closer to the sea, buildings gradually changed from red to white. Halfway across our journey, we had a surreal vision of goats climbing on trees. They do that to eat the nuts that produce Argan oil. When we took pictures, the goat herders came asking for some money. An extra income is always welcome, I guess.

Essaouira’s main attraction is its fort. It was built in the 18th century and it’s well conserved...

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Marrakech, second day

kb_ma15_0879aWe started our second day in Marrakech visiting the Bahia Palace. Built at the end of the 19th century, the palace is inside the Medina and it’s one of the few of its kind. Bahia means “Brilliance” in Arabic and any visitor can see why it was given that name: rooms upon room are filled with beautiful mosaics, intricate ceilings and lamps… It is not very well conserved but it is a photographer’s paradise, with its thousand colorful details.

The surrounding area used to be the Jew Quarter. Not so long ago, Morocco had a big Jew community; now what remains are a few brick houses with a slightly different decoration. It’s a busy neighborhood, full of artisans and markets.

Nearby are the Saadian Tombs. Dating from the late 16th century, the tombs were built upon and hidden by the next ruling dynasty and discovered in 1917. Like most Marrakech treasures, they are at the end of a narrow alley and hit you with their unexpected beauty.

With cultural needs satisfied but empty stomach...

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Marrakech, first day

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We arrived in the busy Medina late afternoon. All the roads looked the same, there were hundreds of people moving around, and we got a little lost… After some people trying to trick us and other trying to help us, we finally arrived at Riad Karmela. The first impression when we got inside was very strong: you just left chaos and got into peace, we could sit and relax. And that was exactly what we did, in a gorgeous patio, by a fountain, with mint tea and sweet pastries. Our host, Joel, greeted us and gave us a quick explanation on how to move around, what to see and how much to pay for stuff. He also gave us a simplified map of the city. We got to our room, named Layla, rested for a while and decided to have dinner in Jemaa El Fna.

Jemaa El Fna is one of the most famous places on the world for street food. There’s row upon row of stalls selling meat on a stick, snails, sheep’s head, sweets… Unfortunately, waiters are a little too pushy and that can ruin your experience...

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Toubkal, second day

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For our second day at the Atlas Mountains we had a big walk scheduled: about 14 km/4 hour uphill trek to the passage to the next valley.  After breakfast, we packed our cameras and headed out of the Riad.

We started the walk following the main road. The outskirts of Imlil were busy with locals going on their day-to-day tasks as well as fellow trekkers.  The grey of the houses made the multicolored carpets on sale appear even more attractive. For a brief time, we found ourselves following the tracks of a group of British teenagers that were clearly going in the same direction that us but we let them go ahead so they didn’t spoil the peacefulness of our walk.

After a short time we got to a shortcut, a dry riverbed that would lead us to the middle of a small village. The walk became harder, more uphill, but it also gave us a new look into the life of the Berber people. It was as if we were backstage, watching their lives unfolding before us...

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Toubkal, first day

kb_ma15_0046Invited by Mustapha of Atlas and Sahara Tours, Karla and I started our Morocco trip getting to know the Atlas mountains. So after a night’s sleep in a budget hotel in Marrakech’s Medina, we got to our pick up point twenty minutes earlier than scheduled and were pleasantly surprised to find our driver Brahim already waiting for us. After a short introduction, we got into his brand new SUV and headed to Imlil, at the heart of the Toubkal National Park.

Shortly after leaving the city, the road crossed olive plantations, the main product in the region surrounding Marrakech, and started climbing as we drove through Tahnaout and Ansi. Two hours later we arrived at the village of Imlil and the gorgeous Riad Jnane Imlil.

Berber hospitality, a centuries old tradition, was honored by our hosts: mint tea was waiting for us on a terrace with a breathtaking view of the snow covered mountains...

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Morocco

91588551_4589cda0d4_oI would have a free week in Carnival, so I asked Òscar where he would like to go. He answered straight away: Morocco – because of the movie Casablanca I’d always wanted to know the country.

I have already visited Morocco in Easter holidays on 2002, but the trip was a bit complicated. I got really sick on the very first day of the trip. I was so bad that the hotel had to call a doctor. I was traveling by myself and all in all wasn’t very pleasant. After Marrakech, I took a tour to the desert because I’ve always dreamed of seeing the Sahara Desert. I visited the Atlas, Kasbahs, Dades, Merzouga and slept in camel hair tents on the desert. Then I went to Fez and Essaouira. At the end, I never got to write about this trip in Errante. I came back from my holidays really involved in my doctorate’s work and the memories stayed exclusively in my head.

Now it was time to come back to Morocco, with someone since my experience alone wasn’t that good...

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Izakaya, bar food and snacks

Sorry, this entry is only available in Português.

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Food in Japan

Sorry, this entry is only available in Português.

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Beer in Japan

kb_jp14_0719I’m not an expert in beer, I’m a wine person, but when I travel I drink beer. It’s practical and refreshing.  In Japan I’ve drunk Kirin, Sapporo, Yebisu, Asahi… I couldn’t say which is my preferred one. Asahi and Yebisu are considered to be better and Kirin looks like to be the most popular since it is everywhere. What caught my attention in terms of beer in Japan is that they like it very cold, like us Brazilians. After some moths living in Berlin, where beer is not always very cold, it was good to get a “freezing cold” beer in Japan.

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