beauty spot in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Back from Morocco

Fés – Atlas – Chefchaouen

If I work a lot, but the result is less and less, that is usually an unmistakable sign that I need a vacation. And this I did now. First I thought of Italy or Greece but that’s too dangerous. Both countries are known for their good wines 🙂 It’s already too cold for swimming there anyway. And since my body is making it clearer and clearer that the time for adventure vacations will be over all too soon, I wanted to take the opportunity once again.

“Adventure vacation” is of course a flexible term and hardly possible in our time of booming tourism industry. As a compromise, Morocco seemed to me to be a pretty good solution. It actually was more an “adventure holiday light”-thing, for an old sod with one or the other ailment who appreciates the amenities of a good hotel. And above all with a large pool. And a good cup of coffee in the morning. And of course wifi and good room service 🙂 (So I have stayed in a 5-star hotel that has all the amenities one would want and that is not a contradiction in my thinking).

Traveling to large western cities has long since lost its attraction for me. And my point of view was confirmed not long ago when I heard an interview with a well-known writer who said: “Why would I want to fly somewhere that looks just like my home”. She was talking about fast food chains, the “standardized” hotel rooms, the marketing of sights…


I came across the city of Fès as a child and since then I have had an image or two in the back of my mind. I just wanted to see it and have no regrets about the choice. (I’ve been to the Maghreb several times before (Tunisia 5-6 times and Egypt 4 times), but never to Morocco which has preserved a lot of its original cultural heritage).

There is a certain danger in having certain images and expectations of your travel destination in advance. Since today, with our technical possibilities, we already know what our bathroom in our hotel will look like there even before we travel, this danger has become even greater as the providers are adapting to the changed circumstances. This is even more true of vacation packages, which are often tailored to a specific audience. So I prefer individual trips to get halfway away from it. Adventures, if you are looking for them, cannot be planned, they will find you if you are open and ready for them.

(Of course, there are organized trips and they are a lot cheaper. But traveling alone has its advantages: no tourists standing in your way when you want to take a photo, sightseeing according to personal preferences, and something I’m most proud of: I brought no rugs, no brass jugs, and no 5-year supply of oriental spices). That gave me the idea of a new business model: “outfluencer”. Someone who saves others from buying lots of useless stuff.

So this time, too, I undertook my excursions alone. Well, not really alone, because I had a local guide who showed me what was of interest to me in the medina of Fez. It’s easy to spend a lot of time there and still miss a lot. So I made a rough pre-selection first. My guide was an elderly gentleman, calm and sympathetic, and very educated, and he really enjoys his work, especially when he recognized my genuine interest in the history, culture, and special features of his city. I learned a lot from him. For example, why the streets in the medina are so narrow.

As early as 7-800 years ago, Fès, being a wealthy town, was often attacked by gangs of robbers. So the streets were made narrow then, that only one man could get through. And I learned that the local people since they usually live in extremely small apartments and hardly have a kitchen, knead the dough themselves and then take it to “bakers” who then bake the bread. And then, around noon, a fantastic scent wafts through the narrow streets. Many alleys of the medina smell fine at all, since certain shops are located in certain alleys.

And also new for me was that the medina of Fez is also home to al-Qarawīyīn University, which according to the Guinness Book of Records is the oldest surviving educational institution in the world.

And yet the most beautiful palaces are often hidden behind the simplest of walls. Some can be recognized by the fact that there are 2 knockers on the doors: one for family members and relatives, one for others.
And he told me how much these wonderful columns and basins from the 13th century (Carrara marble) cost: they were weighed with Moroccan sugar.

The gap between rich and poor has not stopped in Morocco either. Lots of poverty in the medina, the old town, and occasional luxury in the new part of town.

After a day in the medina, where poverty is the most striking thing, it might be surprising to find a restaurant like this in a nearby part of the city, which does not need to shy away from comparison with an upscale restaurant in a western metropolis. Stylish, cool elegance, and exquisite food and wine.

My favorite dish: A kind of pie with pigeon meat and lamb shoulder, dates, nuts, a couple of chickpeas, and finely chopped Bergamot blossoms. We know these as flavorings for Earl Gray tea.

I was very lucky with the weather, hot enough to get a sunburn but partly cloudy for 2 days. I used one of them for a trip to the Atlas Mountains to visit my brothers and sisters. (Based on the habits of the monkeys in the Atlas Mountains, it is easy to observe how climate change is also changing their behavior. In search of food, they now come to villages where they had not dared to go years ago.)

There are also lions in the wild in the Atlas Mountains, but rarely in the part where I was.

Chefchaouen, The Blue City

Above all, I always wanted to go to Chefchaouen and the place was even more beautiful than I thought. What a lovely idea to paint an entire city in blue!

For centuries, Chefchaouen was considered a holy city, closed to foreigners under the pain of death; this has helped preserve medieval architecture. Today it is still legal to smoke hashish in this area, which is one reason some younger people are drawn to it.

Of course, Marrakesh would have appealed to me as well, but I didn’t want to miss out on the relaxing part of the trip – maybe there will be another adventure holiday – but then “extra light” 😊

Extra: For the painters and animal lovers

Fés and Chefchaouen are cities for painters, I think. Even if there is no modern art to be taken seriously, one is overwhelmed by the splendor of color, which surprises one again and again.

One or the other little kitten is the dot on the “i”.







59 responses to “Back from Morocco”

  1. aparna12 avatar

    Wow. Very beautiful. 😊😊♥️

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you! Yes, it was a delight 💙


    “outfluencer”……👍👍😎 Thanks for sharing your wonderful vacation!

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Yep, the right job for me 😄 You are welcome ❤️

  3. Ana Hernandez avatar

    Thank you Friedrich Zettl for sharing your wonderful voyage and amazing photos.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      I thank you, Ana Hernandez, for your kind reply. 🌹

  4. rose kern avatar
    rose kern

    Dear Friedrich, back from Madeira,first time, good experience, especially Atlantic 24 Grad.
    I have been several times to Marocco and never to blue Chefchaouen,what an impression! May be my next trip.
    Special thanks also for your fotos, they are the painters very special eye!

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Dear Rose, Madeira sounded great. Good idea for next time. Going to Chefchaouen can be tiring and I do not regret I had a good car. Lots to see if one takes time and explores a bit off beaten tracks. Enjoy a great weekend 🌞

  5. Edith avatar

    Auf welch wundervolle Inspirationen du doch getroffen bist. Danke fürs Mitnehmen.
    Am Stand der vielen Gewürze und der gefärbten Stoffe hätte ich sicher Stunden ausgeharrt, geatmet, die Farben aufgenommen, lächel…
    Das war sicher ein Urlaub, um Kraft zu schöpfen, trotz der vielen, vielen Eindrücke, die du aufgenommen hast – danke dafür…
    Herzliche Grüße von mir zu dir.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Ich danke dir, liebe Edith. Ja, es war mehr eine Gewuerzwand und alles kleine Schaechtelchen und Doeschen, was mich an die Kaufmannsläden erinnert hat, mit denen die Kinder unserer Jugend gespielt haben. Die Gegend mit den Faerben ist umwerfend…..Geniesse Dein Wochenende 🌞

      1. Edith avatar

        Hier regnet es und ich stricke althergebrachten Strümpfe, lach…
        Dir ebenfalls feine Wochenendstunden.. Heut Abend gedanklichen anstoßen mit einem Roten??

      2. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

        Meine Mutter hat in den letzen Jahren ueber 3000 Paar Socken gestrickt 🙂 Sie war sehr solz darauf – “doppelte Fersen): Und das mit dem Roten machen wir 🙂 Morgen lade ich – auf besonderen Wunsch – mehr Photos von der Reise hoch. Schoenen Abend 🙂

      3. Edith avatar

        WOW, bei mir wird es erst das 306te Paar, mit nur zwei Nadeln 😀
        Ich freue mich schon auf morgen!
        ❤ lichst, ich

  6. sharmlakarrispaintings avatar

    Such a beautiful write… transported me to the glorious city of Fes….. thoroughly enjoyed it ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      You are more than welcome and I am happy you enjoyed the trip! So much to see there….❤️🌹

  7. wanderlustig avatar

    Sehr inspirierender Bericht und danke auch für die wunderbaren Fotos.
    Marroko würde mich auch interessieren. Hast du Führer und Ausflüge vor Ort organisiert?

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Danke! Ja, ich habe sie vor Ort organisiert, aber es ist schon deutlich billiger, wenn man in Kleingruppen reist. Vor- und Nachteile habe ich angedeutet. Ich hätte sicher nicht so gute Photos machen können und die Guides lotsen dann die Gruppe in Geschäfte, weil sie Prozente bekommen….

  8. wanderlustig avatar

    Das kenne ich sehr gut, ein weiterer Grund, warum ich nicht mehr an Gruppenreisen teilnehme.
    Es wäre schön, wenn du noch weitere Berichte zur Reise posten würdest. Mich interessiert so Vieles, z.B. warum du Fes als Ausgangspunkt gewählt hast und wie es mit coronabedingten Einschränkungen steht etc.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      ad Gruppenreisen 👏 ad Fes: bin schon ein älteres Semester, dem Wärme und trockene Luft gut tun und ich bräuchte Schwimmen wegen Kreuz…bin aber nicht der Typ, der eine Woche am Pool abhängen kann. Und alter Jugendtraum und und. Corona absolut kein Problem, nicht einmal im Flugzeug müsste man Mundschutz tragen. Ich war in einem Marriott, um sicher zu gehen, dass die Hygiene stimmt.

    2. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Noch was: die Auswahl der Photos mag taeuschen. In Fes wurde (Unesco) bereits begonnen, Teile zu restaurieren. Gute Arbeit. Dort gibt es mehr Touristen und Laeden fuer Zeug aller Art. Ich wollte bewusst den eher weniger beachteten Teil der Stadt erkunden.
      Auch Chefchaouen hat seine Touristen-Hotspots mit durchaus malerischen Stellen. Aber die sind meist speziell “zurechtgemacht”. Jetzt ist Nachsaison und daher weniger los.
      Was Motive betrifft: jeder sieht was anderes, aber das kennst Du ja als erfahrener Globetrotter.

      1. wanderlustig avatar

        Hast du den Guide über das Hotel gebucht oder hattest du eine Empfehlung?

  9. Bon Repos Gites avatar

    An enjoyable read with great photos! Pleased to see that you had a good break!! 🙂

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much! Yes, I needed this break for sure. Still too much of a workaholic…..

      1. Bon Repos Gites avatar

        You are most welcome!! Enjoy!!! 🙂

  10. swabby429 avatar

    The ethereal blue of Chefchaoen is intriguing. I wonder if the inhabitants tire of the color or if they don’t notice it after awhile.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thanks! You probably get used to it. When I arrived I was almost paralyzed by the colors and almost in a trance. When I left it was “only” nice.

      1. Edith avatar

        Ich glaube, das Blau ist nicht grundlos an den Häusern. Blau zählt zu den kalten Farben und damit bleiben die Bauten sicher innen gut kühl…

  11. The Sicilian Storyteller avatar

    Wonderful! I appreciate not only your amazing photos and accompanying descriptions but your approach to holiday getaways and vacations. I, too, am at that stage in life where an adventure no longer appeals to me – in fact, it is no longer comfortably possible – so staying in a 5 star hotel that has all the amenities one would want sounds ideal. 🌟

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Absolutely! Our health/condition should tell us. When I was younger I was less demanding. Once I stayed in a monastery in Sechuan – for $1. Simplest equipment. 2 years later (business) $500! in Dubai. I can hardly remember Dubai, but the night in the temple will be unforgettable forever.

      1. The Sicilian Storyteller avatar

        Very good point you make. Years ago my parents took me and my sister to Italy and Sicily; my parents relatives lived in Sicily. The decision was made to go to Sicily first to get that part of the trip “out of the way”. My parents were sure my sister and I would be bored with the Sicilian towns, ancient ruins and outdoor markets and would have a much better time in the big bustling cities in Italy. We spent two weeks in Sicily and when it was time to go, we did not want to leave. We loved the people, the simple lifestyle, the gorgeous Mediterranean, picking fresh fruit, olives and nuts right off the tree – all the things we never experienced at home. When we arrived in Italy, as wonderful as it was, we were not overly impressed. Rome and Milan were just like NY and we wished we were back in Sicily.

      2. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

        I’m not at all surprised that we feel the same about this! I’ve always been attracted to authenticity. The big cities are hardly any different. The tourism industry is a leveller. A few years ago my ex and I spent Christmas Eve in a Vietnamese village plowing the field with a water buffalo. Ok, not a field but 2-3 meters. All this cannot be weighed in gold.

  12. rose kern avatar
    rose kern

    nochmals lieber Friedrich.Ja,dieses Blau ist hypnotic.
    weiss man,welche blaue Farben verwendet wurden, indigo , oder was noch?

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Vorwiegend Ultramarin, das in der Gegend gewonnen wird. Durch Variation in der Beigabe von Weiß, verschiedenem Untergrund, Bleiche durch Sonne usw. entstehen magische Töne. Ich werde morgen viel mehr in einem neuen Beitrag bringen, das das Interesse groß ist. Und dann werde ich Influencer und setze mich in Fès zur Ruhe 🙂

  13. luisa zambrotta avatar

    Such a beautiful article!
    The photos are really gorgeous💙💙💙
    Thanks a lot for sharing them

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you Luisa, for your kind words! Have a great weekend! 💙💙💙

      1. luisa zambrotta avatar

        You’re more than welcome 🙏🌸🙏🌸🙏

  14. Graham Stephen avatar

    lots of very interesting sights! I went to Morocco in the 1987 and your photos have sparked some lovely memories of that trip.


    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      I am happy to hear, Graham! I am sure certain things have not changed that much since 🙂

      1. Graham Stephen avatar

        Yes, those scenes of street life looked very familiar. One image that stuck in the mind was of butchers’ stalls with cuts of meat out in the open air in the heat…

  15. linhah avatar

    Lovely Saturday morning tour.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you! Sunday comes more of the same 🙂

  16. Martha Kennedy avatar

    What a wonderful, wonderful trip! Thank you for sharing your experiences and the pictures — this painter is very grateful.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      You are very kind, Martha! Yes, I too think that painters may like it there. Still very authentic.

      1. Martha Kennedy avatar

        Back in the antediluvian times, I had an ideal man. This man would be ok with finding a note on the fridge that said, “I’ve gone to Morocco. I love you. See you soon.” I never met that man. I joined the Peace Corps (ended up working in China instead) and my goal was Morocco. For that, I started taking French in summer school. The Peace Corps had a job in Thailand, which would have been great, but we know where I ended up going and it couldn’t have been better. But Morocco. In 9th grade I did a BIG oil painting of a woman standing by a well in my fantasy of Morocco. Not a bad painting — particularly a laden donkey walking up a staircase in the middle-background — but the woman’s hands were too small to do her any good.

      2. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

        Ha, those old phantasies! Next Wednesday I will bring a donkey just for you. And another one tomorrow. Watch out 😀🍸

      3. Martha Kennedy avatar

        Yay! I love donkeys!!!!

  17. Rosaliene Bacchus avatar

    A fascinating world! Love your photos. I imagine a blue city would be quite calming on the senses. Not sure about the narrow streets: I would find them claustrophobic, but I guess its residents are well-adapted.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you, Rosaliene Bacchus, for your kind words! Yes, it’s a fascinating world on the one hand, but it’s not one I wanted to live in for long. As an enlightened humanist of the 21st century, certain philosophies of life do not seem desirable to me, especially if they are backward-looking. Yes, the blue has a calming, almost intoxicating effect. But you certainly get used to it. As for claustrophobia, many of the residents of Fez rarely go out into the streets. They live their lives almost in isolation, mostly very modestly, sometimes in palatial surroundings.

  18. Linda Grashoff avatar

    Thanks for taking us on your vacation. I had a wonderful time, especially in the blue city.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      I thank you, Linda, for joining the trip and your kind words 💙

  19. elvira797mx avatar

    Wow! Wonderful post! So besutiful places! Love the color!
    Thank’s for share, Zetti.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you Elvira for your kind words! I am very pleased that you liked the photos. All the best!

      1. elvira797mx avatar

        You are welcome, Zetti.
        Thank’s for your kindness.
        Best wishes too!

  20. loujen haxm'Yor avatar

    Great post!

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much! I am glad you like it 😌

  21. artsofmay avatar

    What a great post! Your excursion sounds wonderful. The magnificent blue in the blue city reminds me of the blue I saw in some of Gaudi’s work in Spain.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very mauch! Yes, it’s a town for painters – in their Blue Periode 🙂

  22. brilliantviewpoint avatar

    You are right, it was a wonderful idea to paint the city blue and such a lovely blue — like a lake or the sky allows your mind to have cheerful thoughts. Beautiful. Their clothing/architecture/carpets, etc is beautiful in the bright vibrant colors as well. Enjoyed your photos.

    1. Zettl Fine Arts avatar

      Thank you very much for your kind words! I am glad you like the photos 😊

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