On our one full day in Chefchaouen, (YES we’re still on this. One, two and three here if a. you’re just joining us and b. you care) we followed Begoña’s instructions and headed to the far side of town, where a path leads straight up the mountain’s side. We were tempted to head up, but didn’t have the right shoes. Chefchaouen is located in Morocco’s Rif mountains, right next to two national parks, and just walking around the medina is a pretty good workout, between the steep hills and the well-worn, slippery cobblestones.
We came out of the medina at the river, where washhouses are set up and every day local women come to wash their clothes, spreading them out to dry on the bushes and rooftops. The river is channeled into the washhouses and joined by a tributary waterfall or two on its way down the mountain.
We wandered our way downstream,
eventually crossing back into the medina and coming up near where our car was parked. It was Friday afternoon, and we rested our feet a while in the square, watching the mosque empty out.
We decided to lunch at the famous Casa Aladdin, which offers a commanding view of the town square from its 3rd-floor terrace.
Unfortunately it was too cold to sit outside, so we opted for an enclosed space on the 2nd floor, and I fail to see how it was any less charming.
Looking straight up at the ceiling and lamp hanging from it.
Aladdin definitely lives up to its name, although I did feel a little sorry for the waiters dressed like Arabs as Hollywood might have imagined them in the 50s.
Like the fireplace, complete with fire?
This is the seating area on the second floor
I know you care what I had for lunch. Aladdin only offers a 3 course menu. Donn started with the
zaalouk (eggplant and garlic salad; if you like, sometime I could post a recipe and pics) and I had harira soup…lovely on a cool fall day. Next Donn had a pastilla, which is a traditional Moroccan dish of chicken and almonds in a flaky pastry with cinnamon and powdered sugar on top and is absolutely incredible. (note: ok to be TRULY traditional we’d have to use pigeon…) I had chicken skewers with saffron rice and cauliflower on the side. He finished with fruit salad; me with mint tea and a patisserie. We were incredibly full and relaxed. Our total was around $20.
We wandered back out into the fresh crisp air. The weather wasn’t bad at all; cloudy and cool, but no rain and intermittent bursts of sunlight. We had pretty much exhausted the medina, so we wandered into the non-touristy area, viewing cheap clothes made in China and eyeing bright pigments, sold in powder form and available in bulk, used to create Chefchaouen’s unique blues, turquoises, and even pinks and violets. We bought a blanket.
Not one of these blankets…
Yes, okay, you’re right–these pics were taken in the touristy part.
That night we split a small but excellent pizza at one of the restaurants which line the square.
(pic coming tomorrow. I give up. It’s Friday night and I don’t want to be on my computer anymore!!)
Each restaurant spills out into the square, with table and chairs set up and ropes delineating where one café ends and the next begins. Waiters would stand at the edge, where their tables began, trolling for customers as if they were fishing. Even just walking by and not even glancing their way wasn’t enough to avoid them, and woe betide anyone who actually stopped to examine the large colourful menus posted in the square!
They were fairly easy to shake off, though, unlike the men in the shops or trying to encourage us into their shops. We would explain, “We’re not tourists; we live in Rabat; we’re not shopping now.” They would be shocked! Of course they didn’t care if we bought anything! We had to just look, just look, come in, sit down, all the rugs in the store will be shaken out before us.