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  • Writer's pictureProfu'

"Enjoying Shisha" in Morocco

Updated: May 7

On March 13th, our anticipation and excitement had reached a peak. The long-awaited day for our departure from Bucharest suddenly arrived, but it did not start in the simplest way. The challenges began with me, who, due to an unmissable meeting at the office and some last-minute motorcycle repairs, delayed the start of our group of four HaiHuieni from Bucharest, planning to meet with two more HaiHuieni from Craiova.

After the rainy reunion at the OMV gas station and the delayed departure, our adventure truly began. The rain that accompanied us in the first part of the journey added a layer of authenticity and dampness.

In Craiova, we met up with the rest of the group, a moment that officially marked the beginning of our adventure. Craiova, with its history and tradition, was the perfect backdrop for this new start.

From Craiova, our journey took us through Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, each country adding its own story to our trip. Crossing the Danube at the Iron Gates was a symbolic moment, marking our transition from the familiar to the unknown. In Serbia, we had the privilege of stopping on the Serbian bank of the Danube, where we celebrated the first day of our journey with a traditional Serbian dinner and šljivovica, elements that contributed to the well-being of the group.

In the heart of Slovenia, Ljubljana welcomed us with open arms, offering an oasis of peace and beauty in the middle of our journey. Although small compared to other European cities, this capital pulses with a vibrant energy, a harmonious blend of history, culture, and modernity. Its cobblestone streets, picturesque bridges over the Ljubljanica River, and impressive architecture took us through the pages of history, providing a captivating perspective on Slovenia's cultural richness.

An evening walk through the lovely center of Ljubljana was just what we needed after days on the road. Before leaving Ljubljana, our group took care of one of our riders, carefully applying "citrus powder" on his wounds. This unusual but effective remedy was a testament to the ingenuity and adaptability of two-wheel travelers. In the spirit of kindness and care, we ensured that "circulation" would be smoother and "staying" more comfortable for the next stages of our journey. Each moment spent together, whether exploring a charming city or caring for a colleague, reinforced our unity and reminded us that the essence of our travels is camaraderie and shared experiences.

Leaving Ljubljana did not just signify another step in our physical journey but also added a precious memory to our collection of unique moments, a testament to the beauty of discovery and the bonds formed on the world's roads.

On March 15, the third day of our journey, brought with it a deep sense of accomplishment. Arriving in Genoa, the city welcomed us with open arms, allowing us to explore its historic streets in the warm afternoon light. Our walk through the city culminated in a memorable dinner, where, guided by hunger, we ordered an impressive amount of fresh seafood, a culinary indulgence that exceeded our gastronomic capacities.

The following morning, with plans to visit the Genoa Aquarium, we were unexpectedly redirected to the Harley Davidson dealership. There, we were pleasantly surprised to be invited to a "countryside meal" by members of the Genoa Harley Owners Group. The friendly interaction, the exchange of flags, and the shared stories added a note of human warmth to our journey.

Our attempt to return to the aquarium was quickly abandoned in favor of a spontaneous adventure through the narrow alleys of Genoa. This unplanned odyssey, the result of an incorrect setting in Waze, showed us that sometimes the most memorable experiences are those that are unexpected.

Restricted by the larger sizes of our motorcycles, only two of us managed to navigate through the labyrinth of narrow streets, while the rest of the group decided to head straight for the ferry.

The two days spent on the ferry were, surprisingly, a mix of boredom and revelation. Being distanced from the world we had left behind gave us the chance to reconnect with work and loved ones, but also offered precious moments of introspection and deep connection among us. The long conversations and exchanges of stories transformed this crossing into an unforgettable experience.

Sailing towards Tanger Med, our discussions on the ferry were enriched with fascinating details about Morocco and its people, the Moroccans. Learning that Morocco is strategically positioned south of Spain and just 349 km southeast of Portugal, we realized the proximity and deep cultural interconnection between these regions. With a population of nearly 33 million and a vast area of 446,550 km², Morocco stretches from the Atlantic Ocean coast, through the Strait of Gibraltar, to the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. As a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, Morocco presents a balance between tradition and modernity. Additionally, the linguistic diversity, with Arabic, Spanish, and French recognized as official languages, along with the predominantly Berber and Arab cultural heritage, gives the country a unique identity.

Landing in Tanger Med marked the beginning of a new phase in our adventure. Meeting up with Doc and Chuck, completing our group, renewed our enthusiasm. Divided into two teams, we headed towards Chefchaouen, a scenic route of about 120 km. As night enveloped Morocco, the distinct sound of Harley engines began to echo in the surrounding silence, announcing the presence of the HaiHuieni on its roads. It was as if our motorcycles were shouting in unison: "We are here, in our adventure, ready to explore!"

The journey to Chefchaouen was a revelation. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of police checkpoints along the way, but even more impressive was the kindness and hospitality of the law enforcement officers. OmBun and Doc, in particular, couldn't stop waving at the policemen, who in return, warmly greeted us and facilitated our passage. The quality of the roads and the towns we passed through in the dead of night left us feeling as if we could be anywhere in Europe, so impeccable and welcoming they seemed.

Arriving in Chefchaouen felt like stepping into another universe. Although it was late, the city buzzed with energy, its streets brimming with life at a time when we least expected it. The hotel booked by our guide, Hassan, located right in the heart of the old town, was simply spectacular. With its picturesque architecture and details that seemed more suited to a museum, every corner of the hotel left us in awe.

Despite our fatigue, the desire to savor the city and the expectations for the next day propelled us to venture out in search of dinner. The culinary moment, although devoid of beer due to Ramadan, was perfectly tailored to our needs, ending on a note of satisfaction and anticipation for what we were about to discover.

The plan for the next day included exploring the city of Chefchaouen on foot, with plans to resume our two-wheeled journey to Fez in the afternoon. We intended to take the route through Volubilis and Meknes, ready to enrich our Moroccan experience with new adventures and discoveries. Thus, with hearts full of enthusiasm and cameras ready to capture new memories, we retired to rest, thinking about the days of exploration that awaited us.

On March 17th, our awakening in Chefchaouen came with the echo of the imam's call announcing Al-Fajr, the dawn prayer, a vibrant reminder that we were in the heart of Morocco during Ramadan. This spiritual call, resonating over the sleeping city, added a profound layer of authenticity to our experience, reminding us that we are not just observers, but participants in the local rhythms of life.

After a royal breakfast, we set out to explore Chefchaouen, the blue city, a hidden gem in the Rif Mountains. Chefchaouen was founded in 1471 in the Rif Mountains by Jews and Moors fleeing the Spanish Inquisition.

There are several theories about why Chefchaouen is blue. Some say that the Jews who sought refuge here in the 1930s started using blue, believing it represented the sky and paradise. Others say that blue was used to keep mosquitoes away and prevent malaria. The city, known for its vibrant shades of blue, captivated us with its beauty. As we wandered through its narrow and winding streets, the vivid colors guided our steps, each corner revealing a new story, a new perspective on life in this vibrant city.

The streets of Chefchaouen, with their irregular paving and houses painted in shades of blue, create a delightful labyrinth that seems to unfold endlessly. Beyond its unique aesthetics, the city is an important center of Berber culture, preserving traditions and customs that date back centuries. The central square, with its ancient fountain and traditional shops, offered us a window into the soul of Chefchaouen, where time seems to flow differently.

Physical exhaustion, the result of our relentless exploration of this enchanting city, signaled that it was time to resume our journey. Chefchaouen had provided us not only with an unforgettable visual experience but also a lesson about the importance of color, tradition, and community in preserving cultural identity.

With hearts full of the memories we had gathered in Chefchaouen, we prepared to continue our journey to Fez. Expectations were high, with the promise of discovering new historical and cultural horizons in another emblematic Moroccan city. Surrounded by history, culture, and ancient traditions, each step we took brought us closer to the heart and soul of Morocco.

Continuing our journey, we headed towards Fez, leaving behind Volubilis - the UNESCO site that houses the largest Roman ruins in North Africa. It was a difficult decision, but the winding roads and the landscape changing with every curve kept our enthusiasm alive. By evening, arriving in Fez was a revelation. Contrary to the saying "all that glitters is not gold," our discovery in Fez was the opposite. The modest facade of our hotel concealed an interior of remarkable beauty. The narrow and seemingly dubious street led us to a courtyard that left us speechless, with its spacious areas and authentic Moroccan decor.

The vast rooms, far from being just simple resting places, seemed to be architectural masterpieces in themselves. After settling in, we set out to explore the city, hoping to find a refreshing beer. Eventually, a waiter secretly offered us the much-desired beer, a small victory celebrated with humor and satisfaction before returning to our steaming table.

On March 18th, full of eagerness and a thirst for adventure, we ventured through Fez under the guidance of our tour guide. With its many narrow and tangled streets, the city is a labyrinth where it's easy to get lost without a local guide or GPS.

Exploring Fez revealed the architectural richness and diversity of its traditional dwellings: Dar, Riad, and Palaces.

A Dar is a traditional Moroccan house, modest on the outside but richly decorated inside, built around a central courtyard.

A Riad is a house or palace with a garden or an inner courtyard. Riads are known for their refined architectural elements and lush gardens, offering a space of tranquility and coolness in the heart of bustling medinas.

Moroccan Palaces represent the pinnacle of luxury and space. With numerous rooms, expansive gardens, and a keen attention to decorative details, palaces reflect the status and wealth of their owners.

With each day spent in Morocco, our journey was enriched with new meanings, bringing us closer to the heart and soul of this fascinating country.

After exploring Fez and its maze of streets, we returned to our hotel, which, with its spectacular interior, reminded me of the animated tales of Sinbad.

Once we checked out, we headed to the dark and dusty parking area to retrieve our motorcycles.

We then headed to the highest hill in Fez to look over the city one last time. The visibility of the city from above in the morning light was a moment of profound contemplation. It was a symbolic farewell before continuing our journey towards the Atlas Mountains. After a brief photo session, we set off, relishing the mountain serpentine roads that always offer a special pleasure to motorcyclists. The journey was animated by rain and dense fog, adding an element of adventure and mystery to our travels. Along the way, we took a break to feed the monkeys and enjoy a coffee in Ifrane.

The evening found us arriving at the hotel in the wilderness just at sunset, a visually stunning spectacle. The large hotel, isolated in the middle of nowhere, was a pleasant surprise, offering us all the necessary comforts after a day filled with varied landscapes, changing weather, and fun with the monkeys.

The next day, with the spirit of adventure still alive, we continued our journey towards Merzouga, eagerly anticipating our encounter with the desert. The landscape began to change, signaling the proximity of the desert with the presence of a sandstorm. As the sands shifted around us, the excitement and challenge of navigating this new environment added a thrilling layer to our adventure.

Visibility was drastically reduced, turning each kilometer traveled into a unique experience shrouded in sand. This added an element of mystery and intensity to our ride, as we carefully navigated through the swirling sands, each of us feeling the vastness and the raw beauty of the approaching desert.

Once we reached the motorcycle parking area, we reflected on the challenges we had overcome, with our engines seeming almost relieved to have survived the ordeal. Deserving of a well-earned rest, we left our motorcycles and opted for a camel ride to the hotel tents situated in the heart of the sand dunes. This transition from mechanical to animal power offered a slower, more rhythmic pace of travel, allowing us to fully absorb the serene and vast landscape of the desert.

The slow and rhythmic journey on camels was a welcome contrast to the noise of the motorcycles, providing us time to absorb the desert landscape and enjoy the profound silence that only the desert can offer. This tranquil ride allowed us to reflect on the journey so far and anticipate the unique experience of spending the night surrounded by the endless sand dunes, under a canopy of stars.

The evening was spent around the campfire, under a starlit sky, enjoying music, stories, and everyone sharing their impressions of the experiences so far. The night in the luxury tents was magical, a perfect way to end a day full of adventure.

The next morning, waking up in the quiet of the desert was unparalleled. Barefoot, with a coffee in one hand, I walked on the fine sand to savor the last moments in this impressive landscape. This serene setting provided a moment of reflection and connection with the natural beauty surrounding us, making it a profound and memorable start to the day.

Reluctant to leave this oasis of peace, I made a silent promise to myself that we would return.

The return journey on the camels was equally memorable, giving us another hour to contemplate the simple and enigmatic beauty of the desert. After packing up everything, we mounted the camels again, ready to follow the path we had come on, for an hour. This slow departure allowed us to gradually transition from the tranquility of the desert back to the more bustling world beyond its boundaries.

This time, I chose to experience walking and navigating through the desert on foot. Initially, it was quite challenging, but it didn’t take long before I figured out the most efficient way to walk economically through the sand and how to orient myself. Learning to read the subtle contours of the landscape and the position of the sun, I slowly adapted to the rhythm of the desert. This personal challenge added another layer of connection to the environment, deeply embedding the experience in my memory as I physically and mentally engaged with the vast, serene expanse around me.

Once we reached the motorcycles, we mounted and headed towards Ouarzazate. Our journey then continued towards this destination, ready for new adventures and spectacular landscapes that awaited us along the way.

As we moved away from the parking area that had sheltered our motorcycles, the road led us to places that seemed torn from an ancient tale. One such place was our encounter with the Gnawa music group, "Pigeons du Sable" from Khamlia, a small village near Merzazouga in the Sahara Desert. The deep vibrations of Gnawa music, with its roots deeply embedded in African history and culture, enveloped us in a mystical atmosphere, connecting us to the spirit of the place with a rare intensity.

This musical experience, combined with the visual majesty of the landscape, provided a profound sense of place and history, further enriching our Moroccan adventure. As we continued on our motorcycles, the rhythmic pulse of the Gnawa music seemed to echo the beating heart of the desert, reminding us of the deep cultural tapestry that forms the unique character of this region.

Continuing the journey, we reached the Gateway to the Sahara, a monument standing as a guardian at the edge of civilization. The imposing structure greeted us with deep symbolism: here, it seemed to say, the known ends and the infinite sands begin. Passing through this gate felt like an initiation ritual, marking our transition from the material world into the vastness and mystery of the desert.

Our route then took us through the Dades Gorges and the Valley of Roses, where the dramatic landscapes reminded us of Morocco's diverse beauty. We couldn't miss passing through the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass, which we nicknamed the "Moroccan Transfăgărășan." It's a winding road that crosses the Atlas Mountains at an altitude of about 2260 meters. Known for its spectacular landscapes and the challenges it presents to drivers and motorcyclists, the climb up the Tizi-N-Tichka serpentine brings a dramatic change in scenery.

As you ascend, each turn offers a new vista, unfolding layers of mountain ranges and deep valleys. The air cools and the environment transforms, revealing rugged terrains and occasional patches of snow, contrasting sharply with the desert's heat and aridity we had just experienced. This part of our journey was not just a geographical transition but also a passage through diverse Moroccan ecosystems, each with its own character and beauty.

Tizi-N-Tichka Pass

Our adventure continued through this impressive pass, each curve revealing a new perspective on the vastness and diversity of Morocco. Driving on Tizi-N-Tichka was not just a test of our navigating skills but also a profound experience, leaving us with a richer appreciation for the natural beauty of Morocco.

As the day drew to a close, we hastened towards Ouarzazate, driving with the sunset ahead, a true visual feast. The kilometers seemed to melt away under the warm lights of the slowly setting sun, in a breathtaking display of colors. It was so beautiful that we barely noticed when we arrived at our hotel, Riad Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate.

Thus ended another wonderful day in our Moroccan adventure, filled with discoveries and natural beauties that left us with unforgettable memories and the profound feeling that Morocco is truly a country of overwhelming diversity and beauty.

The next morning found us ready to depart, even though the day's schedule at first seemed to hold no great surprises. We had about 200 kilometers to go until Marrakech, with stops planned at a film studio in Ouarzazate, dubbed the Hollywood of Africa, followed by a visit to Aït Ben Haddou, and finally, arriving in Marrakech.

Our first stop was at the Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate, where famous films like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Gladiator" were filmed. Initially, the visit seemed less captivating than we had expected, particularly because our guide wasn't very engaging. However, the atmosphere quickly changed when he staged a mock filming, involving us all in this "movie play-acting." What appeared to be a monotonous visit turned into an hour full of fun and laughter, thanks to the guide's creativity. Without this interactive moment, the studios—with their sets made of cardboard, plastic, and styrofoam—would have seemed just a barren backdrop. This unexpected turn made our visit memorable and added a playful twist to our understanding of movie magic.

Leaving the studios with smiles on our faces, our next destination was Aït Ben Haddou. This ksar, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is renowned for its impressive architecture and for serving as a filming location for numerous cinematic productions, including the series "Game of Thrones." As we explored its labyrinthine streets and the buildings made of mud and straw, we could feel the history of the place, which dates back to the 11th century, and understood its significance as a transit point on the trans-Saharan trade routes.

Walking through Aït Ben Haddou, the sense of stepping back in time was palpable. The ancient defensive walls that encircle the ksar and its crenellated towers stand as testament to its historical importance. Each corner and alleyway seemed to hold stories of the caravans that once passed through this place, carrying gold, salt, and spices across the desert. This visit not only allowed us to appreciate the architectural beauty but also to connect with the deep historical roots that have made Aït Ben Haddou a crucial part of the cultural landscape of Morocco.

After leaving Aït Ben Haddou, we headed towards Marrakech, stopping along the way for lunch at a traditional Moroccan restaurant.

The evening found us in Marrakech, where we relaxed in anticipation of the next day, filled with urban explorations.

The day in Marrakech began with enthusiasm, but the city proved to be a true commercial labyrinth, with an endless flea market where it seemed you could find anything for sale. Although I was not completely impressed by the city at first sight, I decided to remain open-minded about discovering its beauties on a future visit, hoping to find more things to appreciate than shortcomings.

The swift passage of time brought us to the end of the day, and I was already thinking about the next destination: Essaouira, on the western coast of Morocco, by the Atlantic Ocean. This promised to be a welcome change of scenery, moving us from the urban hustle to the tranquility of the sea.

That morning was filled with anticipation as we saddled up and set off for Essaouira. The journey promised to be shorter than previous days, with only 180 kilometers separating us from our new destination. Along the way, we encountered rain and passed through towns filled with Dacia 1310s, which amused us and stirred childhood memories.

Arrival in Essaouira was swift, and after changing, we went out to explore the city and catch the sunset. Essaouira, known until the 1960s as Mogador, boasts a rich history, believed to have been founded by Hanno the Navigator, a Carthaginian explorer, in the 5th century BC. The Medina, the historic center of the city, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2001, recognized for its preserved beauty and authenticity.

Walking through the Medina offered us a glimpse into the vibrant history and culture of the city. The narrow alleys, flanked by white and blue walls, revealed their charm as the sun dipped towards the horizon. The sunset in Essaouira is truly spectacular, illuminating the old center in shades of gold and orange, creating a perfect backdrop for a relaxing evening with friends.

As the evening drew to a close, we enjoyed a cold beer, refreshing ourselves and sharing impressions about our journey. The atmosphere in Essaouira, combined with good company, made that evening memorable.

We retired late to the hotel, preparing for the next day when we were set to depart for Casablanca. This new stage of our journey awaited to reveal more of Morocco’s diversity and dynamism, with each day bringing new adventures and unforgettable stories.

The morning found us full of energy, ready to leave Essaouira and head towards Casablanca. The route along Morocco’s Atlantic coast was simply stunning. The wild beauty of the landscape, with the ocean stretching to the horizon, made this drive unforgettable. Words fall short when trying to describe the sensations provided by the Moroccan coast; everything was simply "Wow."

The beauty of the route captivated us so much that the approximately 370 km to Casablanca passed without us even realizing it. Once we arrived, our first stop was at the Harley Davidson dealership in Casablanca. For us, it has become a tradition to visit each Harley Davidson dealer to buy badges and custom t-shirts, which remind us of the places we've traveled.

After completing this little ritual, we headed to our hotel to drop off our luggage and rest for a bit. We didn't stay long, though, as the excitement of exploring the city quickly drew us out of our rooms. We started with a walk near the impressive Mosque in Casablanca, one of the largest and most beautiful Islamic places of worship in the world. The structure's grandeur and the intricate details of its architecture were truly awe-inspiring, offering a deep sense of peace and magnificence that urged us to reflect and appreciate.

The evening found us savoring dinner at a local restaurant, where we had the opportunity to taste traditional Moroccan cuisine, ending the day on an authentic and delicious note. As night fell over Casablanca, we retired to our hotel.

The last day in Morocco was laden with significance and emotions, as it was the day we were to bid farewell to this land full of color and adventure. The morning found us prepared to leave Casablanca, but not before taking advantage of the last moments in this vibrant country. We spent our final hours soaking in the city’s atmosphere, visiting a few last landmarks, and reflecting on the incredible experiences we had enjoyed. Each memory was a reminder of the journey’s impact on our hearts and minds, promising that we would carry a piece of Morocco with us forever.

Our route to the Tanger Med port included a stop in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, where we had the honor of being received by the Romanian Ambassador to Morocco, Mrs. Maria Ciobanu.

The visit to the Romanian Embassy was a profoundly symbolic moment, marking our transition back to our roots. The ambassador shared fascinating details about Morocco, thus completing the picture of our experiences. We exchanged stories and impressions, and left with wide smiles and souvenir photos, feeling reconnected to our homeland.

With renewed spirits, we hurried to Tanger Med, passing through Rabat, which impressed us with its cleanliness and exemplary order. Rabat shone, comparable to any city in Western Europe, whether it be Luxembourg or even Monaco.

Throughout our journey in Morocco, we encountered all types of weather conditions - from rain to sandstorms and dense fog. We only missed the snow, which we narrowly avoided, as the snowfall began just a day after we left the mountainous areas.

On our way from Casablanca to Tanger Med, we couldn't escape the strong wind, which made us lean into our motorcycles. Upon reaching the port, we experienced a bit of tension when we learned that, due to the wind, not all ferries were accepting motorcycles on board. Nevertheless, we managed to find a vessel that would allow us to cross to Spain.

So, we boarded the ferry and in two hours we arrived in Algeciras, where, ironically, we were greeted by rain - a reminder that the fickle March weather is not limited to Morocco.

The next day was to mark the beginning of our great journey across Europe back home to Romania. A long road of approximately 4000 km awaited us, and although we anticipated the challenges, there was also a tinge of sadness, knowing that the ride was coming to an end. Moreover, we were to part ways with Doc, Chuck, and Varu; out of eight riders, only five of us would remain.

Thus, the evening in Algeciras was a special one, spent in an atmosphere of camaraderie and reflection, preparing ourselves for the final stage of our incredible journey.

The following day, from the early hours of the morning, we bid farewell to Varu, who chose a different route, marking the first separation of our journey back. We left behind Algeciras and headed towards Alicante, where we made our first stop on our way home. The atmosphere was filled with emotion and anticipation, yet tinged with sadness because the ride was coming to an end.

On the road, in Malaga, it was time to part ways with DOC and Chuck, who decided to send their motorcycles by container and return home by plane. The parting was profound, intense, but at the same time unifying, strengthening the bonds that had formed between us during this adventure.

Continuing our journey, the five of us remaining headed towards Alicante. There, not surprisingly, we met a fellow countryman who pointed us towards the most beautiful route to take. Accompanied by the scent of orange blossoms from Alicante, we traveled towards Barcelona, my beloved city.

Even though our passage along the coast of Spain was quick, I thought it was imperative to plan a future ride dedicated exclusively to this region.

In Barcelona, the motorcycle experience was less enjoyable due to the unsynchronized traffic lights, which forced us to stop every 100 meters. The following day, we continued our journey from Barcelona to Sanremo, crossing the French Riviera, with brief stops in Saint Tropez to pay homage to the spirit of Louis De Funes and in Monte Carlo for a nighttime visit.