One of the things I love doing the most in Morocco is being able to travel to the lesser-known cities around the country. One of my very favorites so far is a city called Asilah. The name Asilah translates to “authentic,” which I would say describes it quite well. It’s pretty small and there were close to no tourists there, so I feel like I could get a clear stream of the good vibes that radiated from inside the city walls. Actually, the walls themselves were some of the most interesting things in the medina because most of them are decorated with giant murals. There are music and art festivals every year, and even a mural-painting festival in the summer, and that’s where all the murals come from because the best ones stay up on the walls. Even aside from the murals on the walls, there was so much art all over the place. I saw a lot of artists painting either inside their little workshops or on the street.
Asilah is in the very north on Morocco, about an hour away from the very tip at the Strait of Gibraltar. It was a nice train ride there, especially since our large group found an empty compartment, which is quite rare. Every other time I’ve taken a train in Morocco, it’s crazy packed with people, and you have to either squeeze into a compartment of strangers or stand in the little hallway. Though anywhere you are on the train, it’s always nice because of the awesome views. The landscape here is so diverse. You may see farmland, cacti, grassy hills, or rocky terrain whizzing past you out the window.
Anyway, the city itself has a super long history, going back to 1500 BC. when it was a Phoenician trading base, it was conquered by the Portuguese, then even served as a Pirate base before it was part of the Spanish colonization in Morocco. Now, it’s more of a seaside resort, which isn’t surprising because the beaches there are beautiful. There’s a big break wall you can walk along and see fishermen trying their luck with their long fishing poles. Walking along the beach, a few of us came across some kids playing on the sand. They had taken one of those huge buoys and half buried it in the sand, using it as a sort of springboard to do flips off of. Of course, I joined in for a few turns.
Since it is so close to Spain and it was part of the Spanish colonization, the people there are more inclined to know Spanish more than French, like I’m used to in Rabat. The food there is definitely also Spanish-inspired. In the restaurants, they had paella, Spanish tortillas, and lots of seafood since it’s on the coast.
Overall, it was a great weekend trip, and so relaxing. The old medina was bright, colorful, and easy to explore, and it was so nice to walk along the beaches and feel the waves wash over your feet. And it was just a relatively short train ride away. I think it’s definitely worth visiting again, and especially now that it’s getting warmer, I hope to go back soon!