The world is a pretty place to be! All across continents and in countries, exotic locales and dreamy destinations abounds that serve to take us to every nook and corner in pursuit of the most delightful travel experience ever. But despite of all the many tourist attractions that reside in their own unique might, there still exist some really quaint places awaiting our arrival. These places that we call quaint are charming in their very princely allure no doubt but there is also something very very special about them. It is almost as if these are not places, but rather characteristics we can allude to in a singular description. Very ideal tourist hotspots in their very identity, splashing across our social media feeds with an exuberance unique to them, often encountered in all their gorgeousness yet never failing to awe in person the very first time we manage to secure our entry into their unworldly premises, these are but places that dwell in an aura radiating with the charm of their peculiar existence.
Cappadocia in Turkey is one such dreamy place that has been a favorite on the tourist radar since forever. In its very mention, Cappadocia conjures up an image of numerous hot air balloons flying up there in the air. Prominent in its fairy chimneys and clusters of tall, cone-shaped rock formations, this is a place very worth of being enlisted among UNESCO’s famous World Heritage Sites having cemented its place in 1985. But that’s not even all the intrigue this prettiest of place harbours. Home to quite a few underground cities, precisely 36 of them, the region is as much an abode of secret charms as it is of fairytale- like fables. But what we know the most about this surreal promenade of balloons loitering in the air is what our Instagram feeds have been feeding us all throughout. It indeed is the very vision of flying balloons with a mountainous facade backdrop that spells identity for this utterly touristry region of Cappadocia.
Similar to this Turkish wonderland, an equally spectacular vision of prominence throughout our gram feedings and on travel savvy customs of Pinterst, Tumblr et al is a place in another Arab country Morocco. One of the most exotic travel destinations that you can ever venture into, Morocco features distinctively in the 2020 Forbes’ compilation of Ten Bucket List Trips making it one of the most coveted countries as far as touristry preferences are concerned. Magic and mysticism rules large the meanderings in Morocco that sees tourists flocking in hordes owing to its offbeat allure. There’s of course the might of the Saharas beckoning you within even as the treasure trove Medinas are no less a wonder to have you enchanted. There’s also the Atlas mountains in tow while the Moroccan carpets weave their vibrancy and charm all through the country with its expansive coverage. All in all, Morocco is the best bet for adventure enthusiasts and also for aesthetic scouters so if you are either or both, you know where to check in to satiate your spirit and senses.
Within such a country mystified already with the myriad musings of magic, there rests a place equally steeped in the charms of the occult. Chefchaouen or the blue pearl of Morocco is a small town radiant in its blues. Indeed, a color coded city even in its history, this quaint existence in Morocco is however not a phenomenon unheard of in other parts of the globe. Closer home, we have the royal land of Rajasthan where many of its cities are color coded. In fact in Jodhpur, we have our very own Blue City that is a hearty sight of pristine extravagance. Chefchaouen then, should not be any extravagant discovery as far as aesthetic allure is concerned. And yet in its assortment of the many shades of blue that presents a spectacular sight in symbolic synchronisation, this is one town that has rightly taken over Instagram with its stark ruling of the color. And just like the whole town being painted blue, the myriad manifestations of this spectacle also reside equally in the charms of the old world- cobbled streets, laidback lives and a sanctity that derives from the pristine presence of this land of the happy blues. Whitewashed houses and buildings with really prominent streaks of blue, set amidst the spectacular setting of the Rif mountains present an extraordinary visual of the bright and the brazen, complimenting each other in an intensity alluring enough to have anyone with as much as just a feeling glimpse of its contrast, totally and completely in awe of it.
As much as the aesthetics however, the blue rakes up also the interesting history of Chefchaouen. Founder several centuries back in 1471 as a kasbah or fortress, this present day bright and blue medina supposedly acquired its color from the Jews who made it their home after fleeing the atrocities of Adolf Hitler. Their tradition of painting things blue to mirror the sky and remind them of God perhaps have withstand the test of time, not just in the hue but also in the pristine sanctity of the place. Other theories allude to blue being a color that can repel mosquitoes from the town and keep it cool through the warm days, and have prevailed in their own distinction. More modern day theories say that the town begun to be painted blue only during the 1970s as a means to attract tourists. And if the validity of this particular ‘truth’ is anything to go by, Chefchaouen sure has climbed the tourism ladder real high. Ask anyone who intends to do a Morocco trip sometime in their life and they will inevitably have the country’s blue city feature right up there in their itinerary.
Corresponding also to this more recent explanation of Chefchaouen’s blue presence is its most famous and oldest building that isn’t any shade of blue. The kasbah that was built as the foundation of the city still stands a solid whitewashed structure, with linings of some earthy brown. In fact, early accounts state that Chefchaouen had mostly been a traditional Muslim green town till the electrifying blue took over and made it the pretty phenomenon that it is. And today this is a town so marked by its existence in the blues, in beauty and exuberance, in captivating catalogues of Instagram worthy clicks that you will inevitably find tourists busy with their cameras around every turn and in every nook, capturing the spectacular unleashing of the hues in a setting that is picture perfect, rendered even more radiant with the bright sunshine having it all alit, as if it were some portrait right out of a canvas, so perfect and immaculate where every element stands in its true place like they have belonged there for ages. No any specks of aberration, nor one of clamour dots this place even when it is one buzzing with wandering tourists and beauty seekers, adventure enthusiasts and wannabe influencers who meander along its narrow alleys of picturesque renditions, ravishing absolutely in the beauty of it yet resting in an endearing calm that not most places on earth can lay claim of pride in. Even in its buzzing physical presence and Instagram explorations that can almost stand to ruin it, Chefchaouen persists in its bluish prominence much like a fairyland of yore, albeit as one the gorgeousness of which can indeed someday spring a tiny elf surprise or spell a magical fairy tale in its own promenade.
The alluring vision that the very mention of Chefchaouen brings to mind is one that however can very well span beyond the beckonings of the blues. Translating literally as the view of the peaks, the town was originally called Chaouen alluding to the peaks of the Rif mountains that overlook it. With such topography that spans the mountains and its peaks, Chaouen was already no less a world of wonder than the one its present blue setting seats in. Built into the side of the mountain, the medina today is a view also of rugged staircases, steep but not intimidating at the very least. The steps make as prominent appearances in the many blue tinged Instagram photos that chronicle the blue city and serve in fact as quite a stark vision in their placing amidst the cobbled streets and the quaint architecture of the town.
Meander however into the inner reaches of Chefchaouen, and masquerading behind the alluring steps and peculiar hues of existence is a life rooted in the traditional Moroccan vibes. Laidback and simple, life in Chefchaouen is as basic as can be. Even when this is a place quite flamboyant in its many ‘public appearances’, discovering life in Chefchaouen will likely make for an experience not very touristry but very, very authentic indeed. As locals eke out livelihoods of the booming tourism scenario even as old age trades continue unhindered among the 2000 old people calling this dainty dwelling their home, Chefchaouen persists still in a vibe very elementary. Untouched by its Instagram famousness though in no way unaware of it, locals usher in tourists and make them feel at home, manifesting a beauty as extravagant as the blue clad aesthetics of its existence. A visit to Chefchaouen then isn’t just one steeped in the exclaims of prettiness, it also is one rooted in the beauty of goodwill. And of course the beauty of the numerous handicrafts that tourists return from with Morocco. From handmade leather bags to ornate copper lamps from woolen shawls to cloaks, Chefchaouen crafts range of beauties that fill the souks of Morocco in gay abandon, making for traditional servings of remembrance from a magical place in a country that is as grand as can be. And of course there’s also the intoxication on offer from the many cannabis fields that surround the region of Chefchaouen. With the allure of the aesthetics dressed in the garb of gorgeousness and some intoxication to have you enthralled, isn’t Chefchaouen the dreamiest places of them all?