Our Family Holiday to Morocco
I’ve been spending these last few weeks reminiscing on some of our great family holidays. There are a few that stand out - seeing seals and dolphins in Shetland, sleeping in the desert with Bedouin nomads in Oman, hiding away in a log cabin in the snow-covered hills of Norway and seeing orangutans in the wilds of Borneo. One of our favourite trips was to Morocco, which is just perfect for a family holiday full of warmth, hospitality, good food and colour.
We decided to travel around Morocco by train to cover vast distances and not be cooped up in a car for too long. We love taking the train and go by railway whenever we can; it’s such a lovely way to travel with kids.
We started our travels in the capital of Rabat, a beautiful city where palm-fringed streets guided us to the souq. We spent our time browsing stalls laden with baskets and leatherware and picking out baklava from sticky, honey-dripping bowls while watching cats dart between stallholders’ feet. It was a friendly introduction to Morocco and the green-filled squares and wide avenues were made for wandering. We drank freshly squeezed lemonade as we walked and watched the world go by.
From Rabat we travelled across the country to the bustling, hectic Marrakech. It was wonderful to watch the scenery change as the train snaked along beside surfers’ beaches before heading inland through dusty plains and tiny villages with children playing and waving madly as we whizzed by.
Marrakech is a feast for the senses and the children were initially overwhelmed. As we walked through Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square in the centre of the city, restaurant owners stood in front of us, blocking our way and trying to pull us into their outside food stalls. There were snake charmers we weaved to avoid, henna artists, gamblers, orange juice sellers and a cacophony of sound that was deafening.
We retreated quickly to a rooftop cafe and sat with cold drinks, watching from afar, and suddenly the spectacle became less threatening and more art. The children watched with growing fascination as dried fruit sellers plied sold their wares alongside the tagine stallholders and countless small-time hustlers. As dusk turned to darkness, we headed down to walk around the market stalls ourselves, feeling much happier at being part of the action now and confident in our place within it.
Our days in Marrakech were wonderful. We mixed time at a beautiful resort with swimming pools and sunshine where we could really relax with trips out to the centre of the action, where the children bartered for their own straw bags and wooden snakes and we feasted on olives and hummus and Moroccan pancakes.
Our next adventure was epic. We took the night train from Marrakech to Tangier. It felt like a romantic journey of the past as the train rattled out of the station and we settled back in our sleeper carriage, watching deep burnt orange shoot across the sky as sunset enveloped Marrakech, fast disappearing into the distance.
It wasn’t the best night sleep any of us had ever had - in fact there wasn’t a huge amount of sleep to be honest - but it didn’t matter. We were on an adventure and there’s nothing more exciting than travelling by rail, drifting in and out of sleep as the train’s horn moans eerily into the darkness.
Our last stop of Tangier was different yet from the other cities we’d visited. We passed white-washed buildings that were reminiscent of Greece and soaked up the atmosphere here, stopping in cafes frequented by the Beat poets and shopping for trinkets in the alleyways of the old town. Tangier is such a picturesque city, full of character and beauty at every turn.
We took a cookery class here with Blue Door Cuisine, learning how to cook a delicious vegetable tagine with caramelised onions and chickpeas. We visited the local bakery where bread rolls were cooked against the flames by the dozen. It was a fantastic experience and gave us so much insight into Moroccan life.
We spent time by the pools again here - a chance to relax in the sunshine as the children ate mountains of rose and lemon ice cream, the essential summer holiday treat.
On our final day, as we stood on the beach in Tangier, the sea lapping gently at our feet and the hazy hilltops of Spain glimmering in the distance, and we reflected on what a wonderful trip this had been. With the buzz of the cities, the peace of the beach, the adventure of the train and the warmth of the people, Morocco is the perfect family holiday and we can’t wait to return.