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Travellive 4 - 2018

travel Text and photos:

travel Text and photos: Thu Giang ESSAOUIRA MOROCCO'S UNIQUE BEACH CITY Prior to my trip to Morocco, the only thing I knew about this north African country was through the popular song Casablanca during my youth, and the image of colorful Arabian carpets in the old stories. It turns out that this beautiful port city offered me a much deeper insight into Moroccan culture and way of life. 4 TRAVELLIVE

VISA ñ You can apply for a visa at the Embassy of Morocco at 9 Chu Van An, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. The Embassy will issue a single entry visa for your intended travel dates to Morocco. The visa application fee is 508,000 VND per person. GET THERE ñ From Vietnam, you can fly to Morocco on Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, or Emirates Airways at a price ranging from 800 - 1,300 USD for a return trip. Flights often transit in Istanbul, Doha, or Abu Dhabi before landing in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city. From here, you can take a bus or train to Essaouira. RELIGION ñ Morocco is a Muslim country, so keep that in mind when traveling to Morocco. You should not use your left hand to do anything in public because it is offensive to local people since the left hand is considered unclean. Moroccans do not like their pictures taken, especially women and older people, so permission is required before you take any pictures of them. Most of the mosques in Morocco prohibit foreign tourists from entering, so stand outside. THE WORLD'S FIRST SARDINES PORT Essaouira was one of the world's first sardine ports discovered in the 16 th century by the Portugese, and is formerly known as Mogador. Since its opening, Essaouira rapidly became a major international seaport, linking Morocco and the Sahara with Europe and the rest of the world. Once a fishing village, Essaouira was later built into the city we know today by Emperor Mohammed III in the 18 th century and featured a large harbor, making it an important commercial hub connecting the nation to the then powerful European countries. You could easily catch a glimpse of the fish market's bustling scene, and hear the sound of boats making their way in the early morning. When dawn breaks, groups of large boats arrive at the port, and are full of freshly caught sardines. A fish market is set up right on the stretch of the sandy beach next to the harbor. It was exciting to join in with the locals for such an amazing experience. The higher the sun is, the more crowded the port gets. Hundreds of people were spotted around piles of fresh fish of all kinds, whose jobs were to identify, weigh, preliminarily process, and load them onto the trucks that carry them to wholesale markets across the city, just in time for the locals' morning markets. Many seagulls could be spotted in the sky flying around the harbor, creating a truly picturesque sight for visitors. Be careful when holding a sardine in your hands since these aggressive birds can quickly snatch them from you! LOST STEP IN THE “LABYRINTH” MEDINA Medina is what the old quarters in Morocco and other north African nations are called, and Essaouira's Medina is a truly spectacular world full of colors. The Medina here, like most, is surrounded by a long wall, though this one is made of red desert stone, and is a striking characteristic of Medinas in Essaoiura. To explore the "maze" of local Medinas, I enjoyed my slow walks around town to admire the ancient architecture of Essaouira. From narrow streets with no names to street signs with long Arabic characters, Essaouira's beauty is so captivating that the more you explore, the longer you want to stay. After wandering the streets, I visited a number of colorful stalls that sell handmade items. Sometimes you can catch the probing glances of the locals as they watch tourists. TRAVELLIVE

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