When people visit northern Morocco they often visit Tangier but skip its neighbor, the small artsy town of Asilah. Up until this year I was one of those people who skipped over Asilah, as well, passing through the train station but never stopping to get out and explore. I finally took the opportunity this April to spend a night in Asilah with a friend. We went up from Fes by train, a short 4 hour journey through scenic countryside and towns.
You might even get the chance to see some camels grazing on the hills nearby. Being April, everything was quite green still. It seemed odd to see camels grazing in bright green patches of grass when my mind is use to seeing them in sand dunes, surrounded by golden colored sand.
On the day we arrived, we could not have asked for a more beautiful day: the sun shining brightly, a huge clear blue sky above, and not too hot or too cold. After setting our bags down in the guest house, we headed off to find some lunch. Meals are cheap in Asilah and tasty, too. We decided since we were along the coast to have seafood. My friend ordered a fish tagine and I got sole. Both were cooked in a delicious blend of spices–and for around US $3 a plate who can complain?
We were both surprised to find that most people wanted to speak to us in Spanish. Asilah often gets quite a few Spanish tourists who come down to enjoy the beaches and a Moroccan experience during summer holidays. Several of the old city walls are painted with large colorful murals. I heard these murals change each year as there is an annual art competition where artists paint murals on the walls. The favorite paintings get to stay up all year.
If you are in the old city around sunset time, there is a great lookout point along the outer wall near an old cemetery. It is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to gather and watch the sunset over the ocean with the sound of the waves crashing against the rock walls.
So next time you are planning a trip to Morocco and looking towards the Atlantic/Mediterranean coast, be sure to include a stop in this quaint artsy town.
Article by: Michelle Mellinger