Category Archives: Morocco

Escorted Culinary and Art Tour of Morocco with Caravan-Serai

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Caravan-Serai is one of our favorite outfits for the Middle East and North Africa. Long-time subscribers of our blog will remember that this tour operator tailors unique itineraries for small groups. If you’re looking for trustworthy guides to Jordan, Iran or Morocco, they are one of the best.

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Intricate Palatial Latticework

Today, we’re sharing one of their upcoming tours to Morocco. Though it’s right around the corner (April is fast approaching!), this Culinary and Art Tour is one that’s very unique and shouldn’t be missed. Call WIT to book your Moroccan escorted tour today. 

503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com

WIT Agent Gavi Piper returned from her trip to Morocco a few months ago, so we’re sure she’d love to tell you all about this colorful and delightful country. Attached are some of her photos from the journey!

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Moroccan Rugs

Escorted Culinary and Art Tour of Morocco

April 18 – 27, 2019

Accommodations will be in authentic Moroccan bed and breakfast riads. A riad is a type of traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard, and many have been converted to accommodations for travelers. Local chefs will be doing cooking demonstrations with all local ingredients in each of the four cities to showcase the diversity of Moroccan cuisine. Space will be limited on this special tour, so reserve your space early! 

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Arabesque Archways

Day 1 & Day 2: Arrival / Rabat

Welcome to Rabat, the capital of Morocco, also known as the White Imperial City. After assistance with airport formalities, we will be driven to a group welcome lunch. We will then check into a riad for the evening. Rabat has a rich, long history and we will learn about it in art guided tours of colonial architecture left behind, along with a culinary tour of coastal influences in a group cooking class. Local sights include Hassan tower, the splendid Mohamed V Mausoleum, the Kasbah of Oudayas and the Medina. Overnights at RIAD KALAA.

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Fes Dye Pools

Day 3 to Day 5: Fes

Three days are devoted to the sightseeing of Fez, the Medieval City, the most ancient cultural and spiritual city of Morocco. This medieval marvel has been frozen in a time capsule and houses the world’s oldest university, Karaouine Mosque, a World Heritage site. Art guided tours include a visit through the old medina to see different craftsmen still operating in the old oriental tradition Fes El Jdid & the Jewish district. We will also visit the historic Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts and Batha Museum to learn about geometric patterns that make this area unique. Hammam options will also be made available for anyone interested in experiencing a private treatment. We will have an evening cooking demonstration of Amazigh & Tunisian influences, as Fes cooks are considered the country’s most elegant and gifted. Overnights at PALAIS OMMEYAD.

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Gavi in Chefchaouen, the “Blue City”

Day 6 & Day 7: Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is called the Blue City and is tucked away high in the Rif mountains. It remained shut off from the world for almost 500 years, forbidden to Christians until 1920. Now its narrow, labyrinthine streets, decked in shades of blue buildings with red tile roofs, are open to all. Its relaxed easy atmosphere is a strong contrast to the bustling bigger city life. The art tour will include historical visits to the Medina to relax along the Plaza Uta Hammam. We will learn about the influences of the neighboring Andalucían in the unusual octagonal tower of the Grande Mosque, visit the Kasbah, & enjoy the Ethnographic Museum, stopping for a moment to enjoy the breathtaking views it offers. We will visit the falls of Ras El Maa, and delight in a cooking demonstration of Mediterranean influences. Overnight in PARADOR.

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Moroccan Zellij Tilework

Day 8 & Day 9: Tétouan

Tétouan, sometimes called the White City or The Daughter of Granada is also situated in the Rif Mountains and was built by Muslim refugees from Spain in the 15th century. It is one of only two Moroccan Mediterranean port cities and is known for its craftsmanship and musical gracefulness. We will tour the Hispano-Moorish influence in the architecture of the Medina, a Unesco World Heritage site. We will also explore Tétouan’s culinary influences from local Amazigh, Andalusian and Ottoman cuisine, brought by Algerian immigrants, in a cooking demonstration. Overnight in EL REDUCTO.

Day 10: Rabat / Depart

After breakfast, departure transfer to Rabat–Salé airport for return flight and assistance with boarding formalities. 

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Islamic Symmetrical Designs

Included:

  • 9 nights’ accommodation in bed & breakfast at selected hotels/riads
  • 4 cooking demonstrations showcasing the diversity of Moroccan food
  • A/C minibus with a qualified driver at disposal for the whole tour
  • English speaking art guide for the whole tour
  • Entrance fees to monuments with an exterior visit of Mosques
  • Taxes

Not included:

  • All personal extras, gifts, etc
  • Dinners and lunches, not included in cooking demos
  • Drinks during the meals, mini bar, etc
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Travel insurance
  • Airline tickets

Price per person in a double room is $2200

Single Supplement is $500

Take it from us, the price is incredible for 10 days in Morocco in excellent riads and a peek into the more unique sides of the country. 

Read More:

Conscientious Traveler: Caravan-Serai

Vendor of the Month: Caravan-Serai

Caravan-Serai Recipes: Persian Jeweled Rice

Recipes from Caravan-Serai

Caravan-Serai Sample Tour

Rice Pudding with Caravan-Serai

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Ramparts

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Filed under Africa, Morocco

Client Trip Report: Morocco

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Our clients Julie and Ted V. came back from a fantastic trip to Morocco last Spring with small-group tour company Alexander & Roberts (previously General Tours). They’ve written up some fantastic feedback for us. Click here to read the complete text.

Their visit included Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Meknes, Erfoud, Rissani, Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate, the Atlas Mountains and Berber Country, Essaouira and the lovely Marrakech. Plus of course no trip to Morocco would be complete without a few nights in the Sands!

asilah's painted walls

Stay tuned for more posts on Morocco, coming soon.

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5 el jadidah

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Filed under Morocco, News, Trip Reports

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Tahina Salad

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe is another quick and easy salad from the Petra Kitchen:

Tahina Salad ~ Salat Khodra bil Tahina

3 large tomatoes
3 medium cucumbers
1 hot green pepper
1 small onion
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup tahina
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vinegar
2 garlic cloves

  • Peel and dice the cucumbers and onions
  • Chop tomatoes very finely
  • Mince hot pepper and add to vegetables
  • Crush garlic with salt, stir into dressing of tahina, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt
  • Dressing mixture should be the consistency of cream, if too thick add a little water to thin
  • Pour tahina mixture over vegetables and stir well. Serve with a garnish of parsley sprig

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Filed under Africa, Middle East, Morocco, Travel by Taste

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Baba Ganuj

Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe: Baba Ganuj or Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ganuj

 

2lbs (1kg) eggplants

1 large tomato

1 green pepper

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbs salt

1 Tbs mint

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses

 

  • Roast the eggplant s on a baking dish in medium oven approximately one hour, or until the skin darkens and begins to split, remove from oven to cool
  • When eggplants are cool enough handle, break open and scoop out the insides
  • Mash the pulp with a fork until a smooth puree
  • Add olive oil and lemon juice and set aside
  • Finely chop tomato, pepper and onion, add them to eggplant puree and stir
  • Crush garlic in a pestle with salt and stir into juice and olive oil
  • Add liquid to vegetable mixture and mix well
  • Stir in the mint
  • Serve in a shallow bowl with garnish of tomatoes or parsley sprigs and pita bread

A variation on this recipe is to cook the eggplant on a BBQ, it will enhance the smokey flavor! Enjoy!

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample 5 Day Emirates Desert Adventure with Caravan-Serai would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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Filed under Africa, Egypt, Middle East, Morocco, Travel by Taste, Turkey, UAE, VOTM

Women’s Travel Group: Morocco

Sita Morocco

Join Women’s Travel Group for a Christmastime adventure in Morocco!

The well-established travel group SITA has partnered with Women’s Travel Group to provide this fantastic opportunity for a women-only trip to Morocco. Flying Solo? Pairing options may be available.

This trip is bookable through Willamette Intl Travel, call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com for more details. We can arrange pre-/post-trip travel as well. 8 Days not enough? Extend it with a few extra days in New York or Spain!

Here’s a quick schedule of what to expect:

Day 1: Mon Dec 23. Depart New York for a short flight to Casablanca.

Day 2: Tue Dec 24. Casablanca/Rabat. (L,D). Arrive in Casablanca, be greeted at the airport by an English speaking guide. Drive through to the capital of Rabat. After lunch, enjoy a city tour of Rabat visiting the Kasbah of Oudayas Hassan Tower, the Royal Palace, Chellah Necropolis, Mohammed V Mausoleum, and the city gates. Overnight at the Sofitel Jardins des Roses.

Day 3: Wed Dec 25 Rabat/Meknes/Fes. (B,L). After breakfast, head to Fes via Meknes and Volubilis. Tour the beautiful small town of Meknes and its historic ramparts, stables and the majestic Bab El Mansour gate. Proceed to the well-preserved Roan ruins of Volubilis nearby, from which the lions came for Roman Gladiator fights. Stop in Moulay Idriss, home to the tomb of the founder of Islam in Morocco. Overnight at the Sofitel Palais Jamai in Fes.

Day 4: Thu Dec 26 Fes. (B,D) After breakfast, the English speaking tour guide will take you on a tour of the medina, old city, founded in the 9th century and a World Heritage Site. Take a tour of the University Karaouine, one of the oldest in the world, founded in 859 by a woman. Also visit beautiful fountains, arts and crafts, and the famous tanneries and souks of Fez. That evening, enjoy a dinner with entertainment at the Palais Medina Restaurant.

Day 5: Fri Dec 27 Fes/Marrakech. (B,L). Depart for Marrakech via the Middle Atlas. You will drive through picturesque pine forest, gorgeous hillscapes, and Ifrane, a popular ski and summer resort. Overnight at the Kenzi Menara Palace in Marrakech.

Day 6: Sat Dec 28 Marrakech. (B,L,D). Your English speaking local guide will take you on a tour of historic monuments, including the Koutoubia Minaret, Saadian Tombs, Menara Gardens and the Palais Bahia. In the afternoon, you will be driven to a cooking class at Riad La Maison Arabe (priced separately).

Day 7: Sun Dec 29 Marrakech. (B,L,D). After breakfast, you will visit the beautiful Les Jardins Majorelle, a botanical garden designed by Jacques Majorelle in 1920s from plants imported from all over the world. Then you’ll explore the medina and the world-famous Jemaa El Fna and come face to face with acrobats, snake charmers, fortune tellers, singers, healers, poets and food stalls. Enjoy the evening at a delicious Moroccan restaurant with accompanying folklore show. There is also an optional excursion into the historic Portuguese harbor of Essaouira.

Day 8: Mon Dec 30 Marrakech. (B). Depart Marrakech for New York City.

sita maroc 2

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Filed under Africa, Group Travel, Morocco, News

Casablanca’s Architectural Wonders

As Morocco’s chief port, Casablanca has enjoyed a wealth of tourists, immigrants and traders for centuries. It’s only natural then that the city is a garden of cultural diversity and artistic flavors. Nowhere else is this more evident than in Casablanca’s varied and highly stylized architecture. From the famous Hassan II Mosque to the Art Deco buildings of the new town, the city is a delight to art lovers everywhere.

photo by Laura 0509, creative commons

Hassan II Mosque. Open in 1993, this mosque is one of the few open to non-Muslims. It’s gorgeous lime green and eggshell minaret towers above the ocean. The mosque is the third largest in the world. Tours run frequently through the inner chambers and a tranquil ablutions area.

photo by Khalid Albaih, creative commons

Mauresque Style. Mauresque was an art movement developed by the French that built on traditional Moroccan styles. It was fashionable especially during the turn of the century, and many pre-1930s colonial buildings reflect this. Typical elements include zillij plaster, latticework, geometric designs and arabesque florals, as well as the use of stucco and brass. You can still see these patterns all over the city.

photo by Colros, Creative Commons

Art Deco Style. Casablanca’s Ville Nouvelle was designed by French architect Henri Prost, and his colorful blend of Hispano-Mauresque and Art Deco illuminates downtown. Developed in the 1930s, these buildings are characterized by intricate friezes, stunning tilework and ornate wrought-iron balconies. Some of the best known facades are on Rue Prince Moulay Abdellah—look for Hotel Guynemer and Hotel Transatlantique.

photo by indiepants, Creative Commons

Cathedrale Sacre-Coeur. For a perfect example of stylized Mauresque architecture, check out the old Casablanca cathedral. Designed by French architect Paul Tournon in 1930, it blends a Moroccan casbah look with neo-gothic aspirations. This massive white church lies on the northwest edge of the Parc de la Ligue Arab, and decades ago was converted into a public cultural center.

Interested in exploring the many hidden gems of Morocco? Our agents have traveled throughout the country and sent dozens of clients there. Call us for more details at 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Africa, Art & Architecture, Morocco