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Honeymoons in Africa

Honeymoons in Morocco

Honeymoon in magnificent Morocco, the North African country where bright colors dance under the hot desert sun!

Morocco is different, unique, timeless.

Different because you see the beauty of a scenery that changes from the snow capped High Atlas Mountains, North Africa's highest range, to scorching desert dunes, from the luxuriant valley of the Dadès River with almond and fruit trees in full bloom to the beauty of the beaches washed by the Atlantic Ocean or touched by the Mediterranean Sea.

Unique because of its past. The native people, the Berbers, have seen their country invaded by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Portuguese, Spaniards, French and consequently the culture of their country is now complex, intriguing, built on different tongues, religions and ethnic groups.

Timeless. You will see donkeys, still the favorites beasts of burden, pulling carts and carrying all kinds of merchandise and watermen in their colorful attire - relics from medieval times. The ritual of preparing and drinking mint tea is fascinating: do not refuse to sit down and have several glasses of the sweetened brew if a very hospitable Moroccan family invites you! Sheep graze among olive trees under the eyes of their shepherds and children with intense brown eyes play hide-and-seek in the towns' narrow streets.

If you want to start your romantic honeymoon in the most exotic city in Morocco, situated in the geographical center of the country and meeting point of African and Arab cultures, take your bride to the imperial city of Marrakesh where the locals are friendly and the visitors come in search of the winter sun. Called " the pink city" for the ochre color of its walls, it stands among lush gardens and palm groves. The Jardin Majorelle, a famous two acres botanical garden created in the 1920s by the French artist Jacques Majorelle, is now owned by Yves Saint Laurent, whose private villa is near the garden.

Here very special fresh beauty masks are made from the petals and pollen of the wild poppies picked in the countryside and macerated in lemon juice for several days until they become a soft paste. Your bride will love to be pampered in this way and she will feel like and look like a fleur.

Essaouira, a small, enchanting coastal city only a two-hour drive from Marrakesh, is for lovers of what the Moroccans call "plages sauvages" or wild beaches. Unspoilt, sandy beaches thickly fringed by argan trees, found only in Morocco and small white and blue houses give to this quaint fishing port a very romantic atmosphere. The dyes used to produce the purple color, symbol of imperial Rome, were extracted from a local shellfish.

Casablanca, further up along the coast, is Africa's second largest city and Morocco's economic capital. Modern high-risers and office towers define the skyline. Art Deco architecture, public parks, wide boulevards reflect the influence of the French city planners from the thirty's. King Hassan II built a magnificent palace in the middle of Casablanca and a spectacular mosque along the corniche. A shopper's paradise because of its textile and clothing manufacturing industries, you will be able to find the best bargains, especially in women's fashion factory surplus stores. The most refined designer shops and exclusive boutiques will please the discriminating buyer.

Rabat, Morocco's capital and Salé, its twin city, are attractively located around the mouth of the Oued Bou Regreg River. Dating to the third century B.C., a few monuments from Rabat's celebrated past still exist along with a picturesque medina and the Tour Hassan, the city's symbol. The most recent of the four imperial cities and now a modern metropolis with embassies, businessmen and a fast paced lifestyle, you can enjoy good restaurants and hotels. The Archeological Museum and the Royal Palace are surely worth a visit!

English travel writer Nina Epton describes Fez, the oldest of the four imperial cities, in this romantic way; "Fez is ancient and noble, a voluptuous and subtle charmer, overpowering the soul, lulling one's senses with the poison. Here there is no sense of time and space. Here magic carpets are woven, love filters are brewed...No one can spend a night during Ramadan under the moonlight ramparts of Fez, submitted to the aphrodisiacal influence of Arab music, and still remain entirely European". Called the Athens of North Africa, Fez is the intellectual, religious and artistic capital of Morocco. Life has a distinctively medieval flavor in this city and the medina with its mosques, bazaars, narrow streets, can also boast the best artisans in the country. If you like to bargain, this is the place to sharpen your skills since the Moroccans excel in this art. Shopping in the open markets with the aromas of incense and spices, among all kind of
exotic merchandise is an unforgettable experience.

Meknès lies with Fez in the fertile plain of Saïss, protected by the Rif and Middle Atlas Mountains. In the sixteen hundreds it was the imperial city of sultan Moulay Ismail, a close friend of France's Louis XIV. They shared the same passion for building and grandeur. Visit the impressive ruins of thirty castles, twenty gates, mosques and whatever is left of the sultan's dream.

Since ruins are for the truly romantics, the remains of the Roman Volubilis nearby should not be missed. Marvel at the mosaic floors in the private homes and public baths, admire the Basilica, the Forum and the Capitol. The low hills surrounding the plain are the heart of Morocco's wine country and the French set up the industry.

Bob Dylan once sung; "if you see her say hello - she might be in Tangier".
Tangier, known as " the gateway to Africa", is located on the Strait of Gibraltar, in a strategically important position that caused the city to have a turbulent history.
The weather in Tangier is an everlasting attraction, never too hot in the summer and warm until late fall. Even if mainly Moroccans choose the city as their sea resort, it is one of the few places in the country where English is widely spoken. The British love the shining white Tangier, Matisse found there the "clarity of light" he was looking for when he painted, Barbara Hutton had a house resembling a palace in the medina. This is a city of contrast and diversity; one that draws different reactions from people.

Asilha, thirty miles of golden sand south of Tangier, is a well-kept model town with a perfectly restored medina and citrus trees lining the streets. Recipient of the 1989 Aga Khan Award for architecture, the ambitious renovation project started twenty years ago is quoted as an example to other African cities The old Spanish architecture has been the inspiration for the new buildings and the uniformity of style gives this costal center a harmonious atmosphere. In the summer Asilha becomes the gathering point of eminent artists, writers, poets during a two months long art festival that draws 150,000 visitors on average. Now a chic vacations spot, the resort's seaside houses are very desirable real estate investments.

The coast on the Mediterranean Sea is backed by the Rif Mountains, a location where you can find some of the most beautiful and rugged landscapes in the country. Visit the blue and white city of Tetouan, Spanish in flavor, where the people still consider themselves true heirs of the Andalusian culture. The Riffians of Morocco are famous for their fierce and independent spirit.

Chaouen, set in the foothills of the Rif, is very picturesque with whitewashed buildings and red tiled roofs. Trellises of violet clematis add color to the town where the housewives still bring their loaves of bread to be baked in the wood fired ovens of the community bakeries. Celebrated for producing different kinds of honey with medicinal properties, dictator Franco of Spain used to buy marjoram honey from Chaouen.

Morocco: land of romance, people with history, culture of diversity - a perfect place for honeymooners!