A warm welcome to Morocco!
We're taking to armchair travel to satisfy our wanderlust, and this week we're whisking you to Morocco. Here's how to explore this magnificent nation from the comfort of your own home.
Make yourself a Moroccan tea
Mint is one of the oldest culinary herbs known to mankind. A refreshing dash makes almost anything more tasty. And its medicinal properties have made it one of the most commonly used herbs. Benefits that many have seen with mint include aiding with digestion and improving breathing disorders, as well as keeping your breath fresh longer. (And with all of us in the house on top of one another, who doesn’t benefit from that?) Here’s how to make the best cup of mint tea ever. (Trust us; we’ve drunk a lot of mint tea.)
What You’ll Need: 8-10 fresh mint leaves, 3 tablespoons of green tea leaves (or a green tea bag), 3 tablespoons of sugar, boiling water.
Pour half of the boiling water into a mug or teapot. Add mint leaves, green tea and sugar, then pour over the rest of the water. Let it brew for about 3 minutes and pour from a height into a glass or mug, just like they do in Morocco.
Then sit, sip and enjoy the rest of this blog.
Have a Hammam At Home
As soon as we land in Marrakesh or Fes, the first thing many of us at Classic Journeys do to overcome the fatigue and stress of jetlag is to head straight for the hammam!
Originating in Morocco, the ancient bathing ritual of the hammam aims to cleanse your body with pampering baths and massages set in a peaceful environment. This easy DIY five-step process will help you cleanse, nourish, and rehydrate your skin, while being profoundly relaxing and rejuvenating. You can recreate the hammam experience today, by simply following these easy steps to enjoy the bathing experience of a lifetime in your own home.
STEP 1: Get steamy
Start by creating steam room-like conditions in your bathroom by insulating windows and door gaps with towels so no steam can escape. Run a hot shower and drench yourself in the water, which will help relax any tension in the muscles. Feel the steam soften your skin.
What You’ll Need: A scented candle
Rituals have a Hammam scented candle we also like Tocca's Marrakech-inspired candle.
STEP 2: Soap up
Apply a thin layer of black soap all over your body and let the product work its magic for about 10-15 minutes before rinsing it away.
What You’ll Need: Black hammam soap
Kahina's version incorporates eucalyptus, Aynara make a traditional Beldi Black Soap and the Parisian brand Cinq Noir also sell a version.
STEP 3: Scrub away
Prepare your kessa glove prior to the bath by soaking it in warm water for about 30 seconds and letting it dry. Rub the glove in circular motions all over your body to remove dead skin cells. Don’t rub too hard, though – kessa gloves are abrasive and over scrubbing can hurt your skin.
What You’ll Need: Hammam kessa glove
Zakia's do rough and smooth versions, both made in Morocco. Rituals also make a glove.
STEP 4: Clay time
Are you the potter or the clay? Time to find out! Add Moroccan red clay powder, also known as rhassoul clay. Mix it with a splash of water and apply it to your whole body, including your hair. Leave it to dry for 15 minutes and rinse off. Fun fact: rhassoul clay can be used as both hair mask and shampoo.
What You’ll Need: Moroccan red clay powder
Shea Moisture make a Moroccan Red Clay Powder, as do Now Solutions.
STEP 5: Oil it up
Liberally apply argan oil to your skin while it’s still moist to allow full penetration of oil goodness. Massaging your body with oil helps combat dehydration and will keep your newly soft skin smooth and supple.
What You’ll Need: Argan oil
The Ordinary do a bottle and Moroccanoil is a popular brand for this.
Morocco was the first country to recognize the U.S. as a sovereign nation. On December 20, 1777, the Kingdom of Morocco became the first country in the world to recognize United States independence, only a year and a half after the U.S. Declaration of Independence was issued.
Goats climb Argan trees! These cleverly climbing animals can be best spotted around Essaouira and Agadir. There they try to nick the fruits and happily chomp away before the fruit's harvest season in early summer.
Morocco exports wine… to France! Due to its high mountains and cooling influence of the Atlantic, the Moroccan wine industry is experiencing a revival and expansion not seen since the colonial of French occupation before 1956. While wine making in Morocco dates to the Phoenician settlers and grew rapidly in ancient Rome, large-scale viticulture was introduced into Morocco by French colonists. Then in the 1990s, several large Bordeaux-based wine companies entered into partnerships with Moroccan winemakers and these have been successful in reviving the Moroccan wine industry. In fact, the Castel brand Boulaouane is the best-selling foreign wine in France! And the wine is not just going to France. Moroccan law does not prohibit the production of wine, beer or alcohol, just their sale to Muslim customers; and wine can be purchased in supermarkets and restaurants.
Morocco is roughly the size of California and has about the same number of people: 36 million in Morocco to 39 million in California.
The oldest university in the world is in Morocco. Education is hugely important to Moroccan people. In fact, the Karawan mosque in Fez is the oldest university in the world, built in 859 AD by Fatima al-Fihri.
Cook a traditional tagine
Tea mastered, take things up a notch and cook an authentic Moroccan tagine. Whether you use a skillet, crockpot or traditional tagine pot, this delicious dish transports you straight to the streets of Morocco in a fruity, meaty stew infused with African spices.
Best of all, it's super easy to make! Find the Classic Journeys all-time recipe for chicken tagine with caramelized apricots here.
Meet a Moroccan
This is Classic Journeys guide, Saida.
And here's her account on what life is like in Morocco right now:
“In Morocco, social distancing is like torture to us. We love to be together and hug each other all the time, even if we don’t know each other. When walking with a friend, we are close to each other a lot, to the extent sometimes, we hold hands with each other like lovers, even when we are not.”
Travel through the TV
Many of Morocco's sights can be enjoyed from the comfort of your couch—the nation's varied landscape has been used for all kinds of TV show and movie settings over the years.
On the Netflix show "Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner," Episode 2 follows David Chang and Chrissy Teigen as they explore the foodie wonders of Marrakech.
Amazon Prime has the movie classic Casablanca, which follows the story of American ex-pat and nightclub owner Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogard) as he decides whether or not to help his former flame and her husband escape Morocco during WWII. The same streaming service shows Gladiator—parts of which were filmed in Ouarzazate which you can visit on our Morocco family tour or Fez to Marrakech culture + walking tour.
Watch (or re-watch) HBO's Game of Thrones. The Moroccan city of Essaouira was used as the filming location of Astapor, home of the Unsullied. You can visit this as part of our Marrakech, Coast & Desert Multisport trip.
Call friends and family with our Zoom Travel Backgrounds
While people all over the planet are practicing social distancing, video conferencing tools like Zoom and Facetime have become a lifeline.
They allow us to communicate with colleagues as we work from home, hang out with friends for virtual happy hours and keep in touch with family.
To incorporate your video chats with armchair travels, we’ve developed some Zoom travel backgrounds of Morocco for you!
Here’s how to change your background in Zoom:
1. Right click on any of the backgrounds we’ve created here and select “Save As” to save to your desktop.
2. Once you’re video chatting in Zoom (make sure you have the most up-to-date version), select the small arrow to the right of the “Stop Video” button on the bottom control bar.
3. Click “Choose Virtual Background,” select the “+” button, and upload your saved background image from your desktop. Un-check the “Mirror Video” button.
Suddenly, you'll find yourself in the middle of a Medina, on the back of a camel or overlooking Marrakech's bustling main square.
Visit a Moroccan Museum
In the country's capital, Rabad, the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is open virtually for tours of the Face a Picasso’ exhibition. Begin your virtual tour here, then use the drop down in the top right corner to view the different rooms.
More in our Passport To The World series: USA National Parks, New Zealand, Canada