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Nothing compares to the pleasure of visiting exotic lands. During a tour of Northern Morocco, you might arrive at a small village painted in sublime shades of blue and receive a marriage proposal from an octogenarian Berber chief. This kind of things happens in Morocco, a breeding ground for stories and anecdotes that can be minimized or embellished when getting back home. If you have a globetrotter spirit, fill your suitcase with maps of the most stunning spots to visit in Morocco, and you will experience the generosity and hospitality of a people who sometimes lives in the past.
The sea and the ocean come together in Tangier, and for that reason the city is known as “the fusion of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.” Ten miles from Tangier, a monument erected in the late 19th century in Cape Spartel reminds us that we are at the crossroads of two continents. The views over the cliffs of Gibraltar are unparalleled. You should not miss the caves of Hercules, with a natural window to the ocean. Two magnificent places stand out for food and lodging: the hotel and restaurant Nord-Pinus, a prestigious riad; and La Tangerina, with exclusive views of the Straits of Gibraltar from the terrace.
About three miles from Tangiers in white Tetouan, a motley crowd strolls through the colorful stalls of the souk, its famous market. The medina of this Moroccan city is overcrowded: when in the past one family lived in each house, now seven occupy the same space. But the tourists are scarce, and sellers show them the respect they will not get from traders in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, for example.
In 1913, Tetouan became the capital of the Spanish protectorate for the north of Morocco. The Andalusian-Islamic architecture and the Spanish references you see everywhere, such as the Spanish Theatre and the Cervantes Institute are clear influences of the time when Northern Morocco was administered by the Spaniards. Spanish is spoken in the north, although French is more ubiquitous.
Morocco’s charm is not limited to the big cities. Chefchaouen, the city, painted blue, is intended to welcome tourists. Even the souvenirs are neatly arranged. High on the hill and in the heart of the medina, the small but cozy hotel Casa Hassan will captivate your adventurous spirit. ■