Chefchaouen is a good place to chillax. Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rachid El Alami was its founder in 1471. It provided sanctuary for Moorish exiles from Spain and went on to welcome Jews and Christians in turn. Many people speak Spanish as well as Arabic, as opposed to French in most of the rest of Morocco.
Initially we were unable to locate Dar Meziana in the intricate plethora of streets, but they’re used to that! We called them from a café and they sent someone out to fetch us. It was cold, wet and windy in March, so the mint tea and pastries served ‘on the house’ in front of an open fire in the dining room were much appreciated. We ate our breakfast there each morning too although in warm weather one can take it on the roof terrace. I don’t know what the other bedrooms looked like but we marvelled at ours!
The owner speaks excellent English and was keen to enable us to enjoy our stay and answer all my questions. I say my questions because I want to stress that Tim likes to stick to his guidebook and usually (but not always) has the answers already, while I just like having an excuse to talk to people! I did find out one theory as to why the town is painted blue, which differs from those to be found in most guidebooks. Apparently a local businessman decided to paint his property blue and when his luck soon took a sharp turn for the better, hoping for the same good fortune, all the locals decided to paint their homes and businesses a similar hue. The result is striking!
Chefchaouen is compact and apart from exploring the town itself, which is sufficiently interesting, there is scope for both some serious walking and wonderful strolls in the Rif mountains. We did what was probably the easiest walk. The trail begins from Bab al Ansar, the medina’s eastern gate, and passes the Ras el’Ma river, before continuing about forty minutes up the hillside towards the recently renovated Spanish mosque which affords great views back towards the town. It’s possible to continue on the trail and we managed to make it into a circuitous route – always my preference. You’ll likely see locals heading to and from nearby villages and plenty of goats!