I Went to Morocco and No, I Didn’t Love it

From travel magazines to blogs to Instagram, it appeared that Morocco was a major travel destination of 2015. After seeing gorgeous photos and hearing travelers wax poetic about this foreign land, I was so excited to finally visit this part of Africa. But when everyone asked where we went on our honeymoon, I simply stated, “I went to Morocco and no, I did not love it.”

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I’ve been hesitating to write this post for awhile. It’s hard to admit that you don’t enjoy a particular place, especially considering its popularity. I thought that maybe time would enhance my rose-colored glasses when looking back on our time in Morocco. But there were no magic carpet rides, there were no starry, Sahara nights and there were no moments where I can say that I truly loved Morocco.

There were, however, endless amounts of delicious mint tea, amazing camel treks, awesome sunsets, great purchases and absolutely beautiful architecture and artwork.

A Common Misconception about Morocco…

Instagram would have you believe that Morocco is all…

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When in reality, Morocco is a little more like this…

I Went to Morocco and No, I Did Not Love itI Went to Morocco and No, I Didn't Love itI Went to Morocco and No, I Did Not Love it

Epic spider bite - I Went to Morocco and No, I Did Not Love it
My lovely, swollen arm from a mystery bug bite

They don’t tell you that to get to the pretty tile work and mosques, you need to pass piles of garbage and howling kittens.

True, Morocco is a very beautiful place. It boasts the world’s first University, there are amazing Moroccan treasures to be found and there are some friendly locals. But I guess I walk away feeling lukewarm about the whole place.

Our 8 days in Morocco felt a little rough. I was harassed by men, there were starving kittens everywhere, I almost went to the hospital because of some insane bug bite and I felt like I was constantly getting scammed. And I know being scammed is a major part of traveling, but I felt like I could never have my guard down for One. Single. Moment. That kind of alertness is so exhausting, that it’s very difficult to enjoy a place and get the most of out of it.

(And somehow, I was bullied into paying $40 USD FOR A HENNA TATTOO by a little old lady. My most embarrassing travel moment…)

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And okay, I’m about to rant for a second. But, I just do not understand the allure of getting lost in the Medina. Fez’s ancient Medina claims to have over 9,000 alleyways and travel bloggers will romanticize that getting lost amongst this labyrinth is one of the best activities you can do.

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At first, it seems a little cool… all of the beautiful shops and the goodies to be found. But after about 10 alleyways, you realize they all kind of look the same. I’m sure there were some hidden gems that we missed, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say, “if you’ve seen one overpriced, Moroccan leather handbag, you’ve seen all overpriced, Moroccan leather handbags.”

Everyone told us we would love it for the chaotic and different kind of trip that it would be. Perhaps it wasn’t the ideal honeymoon destination. Or maybe we’re not as adventurous as I thought. I not only felt disappointed in the trip, I felt disappointed in myself.

However, there were some great moments to be had in Morocco.

Kevin and I both went outside of our comfort zones, which was very important for us to do. We made friends with people in a culture that we were not used to. We were moved by the beautiful call to prayer that occurred everyday. We saw forms of artwork that we would have otherwise not witnessed. We learned how people in this far away land live and what they do to get by. We learned about the mint tea addiction and it’s a real thing, guys. And we’re still brainstorming on some kind of a kitten-protection program based in Morocco. Seriously, the kitten epidemic had us crying constantly.

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I did have one moment that made me long for more… After a couple of nights in Fes, Kevin and I decided to enjoy the sunset over the beautiful terrace on the rooftop of Dar Sienna. Ahmed, the caretaker and manager of the joint, sat down with us and we talked for hours over several cups of mint tea. We spoke of Morocco, his life, our travels, and the future. His joy about learning other cultures and his love for his work moved and inspired us. He is the true soul of Morocco.

So, would I go back again? …Yeah. I think so. I would definitely do it differently next time. Who knows, maybe it gets better with time!

Before we left for our trip, my bridesmaids and travel mates gave me some amazing Moroccan-themed gifts as well as the following advice:

Top Tips for An Unforgettable Time in Morocco

  1. Go to a local bath house. Avoid awkward stares.
  2. Befriend a camel that is terrified of water. Preferably name him Moose.
  3. Dye your hair blonde before your trip. Get called Christina Aguilera and Brad Pitt everywhere you go.
  4. Eat all the uncooked chicken you can find, then hop on an overnight bus. Epic shit will follow.
  5. Do it all. It’s an adventure and you’ll love every minute.

A little confused? Don’t worry, this is based on the advice of two women who journeyed on an epic trip to Morocco 5 years prior with strange tales and even stranger inside jokes.

So with those tips in mind, I’d like to include a few others if you find yourself going to Morocco:

  1. Don’t stay in a riad or dar in the medina. Instead, take many daytrips to the medinas.
  2. Always have a map of some kind. Book, iPhone, compass, whatever. But always have one!
  3. Always have bottled water with you.
  4. Constantly visit restaurants. They will help avoid tip 4 above and give you a much needed solace from the hassle of Jemaa el-Fna.
  5. Buy as much stuff as you can, but search for the best bargain from the many, MANY shops around you. Unless you’re sick of haggling (which we did get sick of).

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So yeah. I went to Morocco and no, I did not love it. But should that stop a traveler from returning to a destination for a do-over?

Has this experience ever happened to you? Have you ever visited Morocco? Let us know below!

24 comments on “I Went to Morocco and No, I Didn’t Love it”

  1. This post speaks to us! It’s so lovely to read a grounded view of travel. You’re totally right too – travel is all about a varying range of experiences… hopefully most are good but some will inevitably be not so great.

    LOVED the honesty in your post Sebrin…. It’s very reassuring to see people sharing real life too! 🙂

    Lloyd & Yaya xx

    1. Thank you very much! I was so nervous to write this post because it was fairly negative. But I’ve been getting support for my honesty from readers like you so I really appreciate it. Thanks again for reading and saying such kind words 🙂

  2. The only thing I want to comment on is the Henna. I visit an elderly couple once per year to receive Henna art on my back. This is the only time/place I receive it as I am loyal to their artwork specifically. I have willingly paid $60+ for their artwork as the designs are unique to them and they make their own “ink”/paste at home. This is their way of life and main source of income as they travel to fairs and shows to do just this. $40 for that intricate design on your hands that I am assuming was done freestyle seems awfully generous to me. I cannot speak for anything else in your post as I’ve not been to Morocco however I greatly appreciate your honesty and your ability to show us the real side of Morocco, not just the instagram side.

    1. Thanks for your comment Angie! I actually have no clue if it was expensive or not, but based on friends’ comments and the attitude of the women giving me the henna, something felt off. It felt a tad aggressive which made me feel that the process was not honest. But we shrugged off the experience as having helped their family so all good! 🙂

  3. Hey Sebrin, thanks for your honesty! Actually we are considering going to Morocco (Marrakesh) in fall but now we’re a liiiitle bit unsure if we should do it this year or postpone it to next year. Although you’re right with what you said: maybe it would be better next time and maybe this belongs to travelling as well: the “not so worthy moments” of travelling.
    Well, we’ll see if we end up there or not. But it sure is on our travel-list!
    xx Anna & Vanessa

    1. Hi guys, thank you for your comment and reading! Despite my negative reaction, I highly recommend going (which it sounds like you’re doing regardless) 🙂 I learned a lot of valuable lessons and did some very cool stuff! I think I just learned that not everything is Instagram-pretty. That some places are a lot more terrifying, dirty or sad compared to the beautiful markets and desert scenes everyone takes pictures of. I’m sure you will both have a lovely time no matter what!

  4. Loving this story – it’s good to also see the things that didn’t make Instagram. Definitely gives perspective. I would definitely like to visit Morocco, at least for the experience of it.

    1. Thanks Maria! You should definitely go to get the experience 🙂 I hope I can go back and try it differently. It makes me sad to leave a place with not-so-good memories.

  5. We spent 15 days in Morocco in 2014. The people/ kids hawking little dumb trinkets, that they try and shame you into buying. The food is lamb, lamb, lamb. The roaring motorcycles in 10ft wide alleys in Marrakesh. Everything is small, cup of coffee is an American espresso.
    They are 500 years behind the west in terms of respect for women. These muslims that take the little bruise on their forehead as a badge of how pious they are. “No pictures, No pictures” can’t take pictures of nothing without approval.

  6. Interesting read for sure…the starving kitty part breaks my heart..huge cat lover :(…not sure this is a place Id want to see.. Thanks for sharing..

    Valerie

  7. Pass on Morocco, my trip is winding down and I’m exhausted. The place is not as glamorous. Very dirty and the culture is overwhelming.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Morocco isn’t working for you! I think I learned that when traveling to Morocco, it either needs to be its OWN trip or to stay somewhere kind of nice so you can relax after the hassle on the streets/medinas. Good luck on the rest of your journey!

  8. I just read this and dang!! This is my worst fear. I really have wanted to visit Morocco but I am worried that it’s just a country that people have built up to look amazing over Instagram. We were thinking about going after our Mediterranean cruise next summer but idk. What do you think? Should we go somewhere else thats better close by to Spain?

    1. Honestly, you could probably say this for so many places! Instagram makes everything look so beautiful but there are always bad parts everywhere. I think I just wasn’t prepared for so much poverty.

    2. Is a dump and everyone is out to scam you , honestly there are plenty of nicer places to visit on this world than Morocco.
      I would never recommend Marakkeche just on the fact of how backwards they treat women. Is discussing watching the men harassing the women and girls, the most shocking thing I see was when I was Sat on Mcdonalds terrace having a coffee (Is a nice safe zone, the security keep most the beggers and sellers away) was a girl of say around 5 ish years old dressed like a hooker begging Arab men for money, The security guard was trying to move her on but the men told him she could stay.

  9. i’m an african american woman and i have to agree with your depiction of morocco. You can’t let your guide down for a minute and actually near sundown, after several hours lost in the labyrinthian walkways in Fez, we were strongly encouraged to leave the city before dark, particularly since it was obvious we were 1. westerners. 2. foreign women and 3. wearing shorts in a seriously muslim city. This was in 2005. I would go back but no need for me to get off the beaten path next time.

    1. Did you go with just women? I imagine that’s a lot harder than going with a guy. I was lucky in that sense, but there was still quite a bit of attention on me regardless.

      And I’m glad you would want to go back! Even after all this time I would still want to go back, but I’d go extra fancy so I have a little bit more safety and comfort. Thanks for reading!

  10. I’m currently in Marakkeche and hate the place. Wanted a nice enjoyable holiday and like you say in post all you seem to be doing is trying not to robbed by literally everyone here. They all want Tips too even though they have offered nothing out the ordinary for it.
    I have been to some the most currupt countries in the world but nothing compares to this dump. I think people like to say it’s a cool place because everyone is brain washed into saying it is a cool place. My advice is avoid at all costs, but the biggest disappointment will be telling an older guy at work, who dreams of coming here that I hated it.

  11. Loved the honesty in this post! Usually as a frequent traveler I don’t like mentioning a certain place for fear of backlash that I might get from it and stick to the mantra every destination has something to offer. But I appreciate the honesty especially after reading your post on social media it brings out a different side. I wish all travel bloggers would be more honest when talking about destinations, because in truth there are some blogs that are so generic it gets boring.

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