Write with Julie in Morocco
 
13 NIGHTS WRITING & PHOTOGRAPHY ODYSSEY
ACROSS the MAGICAL and MYSTICAL MOROCCO
with Julie Stafford

Morocco offers the traveler the ultimate experience. It touches your heart long before you understand why. Its people are warm and inviting. Its land is an intoxicating contrast of snow-peaked rugged mountains, lush fertile plains surrounded by desert dunes, forests of date palms, valleys of roses, and coastal paradises.  Much of the country remains raw and authentic while the rest chases a modern world, and it is succeeding far better than many others have.

 

TV satellite dishes compete for space with minarets and ancient rooftops. Restaurants and cafes wouldn't look out of place in high-end London, New York or Paris. Moroccan fashion, interior design and architecture now compete with the best in the world. Its influences are many. Its colors are vibrant. If you love dry heat, you will love from April to July and from October to early December. Moroccans love music: their traditional music, 'Gnaoua', will live as a rhythm in your footsteps long after you arrive home.

I was drawn to travel to this exotic country because of the bedtime stories of my father. He had a passion for Arabian horses and for the magic of life. His stories sent me to sleep, dreaming of dark-eyed, fetching men robed in long white dress, racing horses across a scorching desert as whispering winds shaped the mammoth dunes, like a slow moving tortoise. 

In my dreams there were camel caravans disappearing into orange sunsets and nomads passing around platters of fresh dates by an oasis. Copper merchants made cooking utensils, and the smell of saffron filled the air. My dreams made me yearn for a slower pace of life. 

I wondered about the culture and a cuisine known for its aromatic spices. On my first day there, I knew it was always a given that I come and fall so deeply in love with this country. Trying to find words to explain my passion for Morocco leaves me speechless because words that aptly describe Morocco today are not yet written.
 

Why Morocco
In a country that remains authentic, spiritual, exotic and the number one destination on the minds of global travelers, Julie Stafford leads you on an unimaginable journey of personal transformation through her writing and photography adventure across Morocco. Designed to awaken the voice of your heart, your experience will impact every aspect of your personal and professional life.
Your 13 nights
Writing and Photography Odyssey
across Morocco, is like no other you might imagine.
After thirteen years of global travel, and eight separate visits to Morocco, travelling more than 12,000km from the rugged, wind-swept Atlantic coast, crossing over the High and Mid Atlas through the Dades Gorges and the Valley of the Roses; before stepping bare foot onto the warm sands of the Sahara, and lingering in the lane-ways of Imperial cities and ancient Medinas, guided there by expert guides, Julie Stafford's heart has been touched deeply by the spirit of authentic Morocco and she desperately wants to share it with you too. 
 
Julie's experiences in writing include formula writing ( the best-selling series,'Taste of Life' cookbooks that sold more than 2.2million copies worldwide), motivation ('Stepping Out') a memoir ('The Seagull, An Unexpected Love Story') and a debut fiction novel ('Seagulls on the Ganges'), plus she writes travel reviews for TripAdvisor (with 22,000+readers) and blogs.
Julie is an avid photographer, capturing the essence of her surroundings and allowing her camera to be instrumental in telling her stories. Julie will teach you how to be proficient with your iPhone camera and she will share her photo editing secrets.
Words connect us to something larger than ourselves

DAY 1

Your odyssey begins in what is for so many  - Morocco's favorite city. Fes is certainly a journey back in time. We'll stay at the grand Palais Faraj Hotel which overlooks Fes el Bali, listed as a World Heritage Site.

 

You'll be collected at the airport by the Luxury Tours Morocco team and transported to your luxurious accommodation, where you can relax and unwind sipping a Moroccan Mint Tea with Moroccan pastries in the comfort of your surrounds. This is your home away from home for the next 3 nights.

 

The hotel has an impressive African art collection and an elaborate architectural style. Visit the library. Relax by the pool. Enjoy a drink at the bar that overlooks the Medina. The tile work alone in this elegantly restored hotel is extraordinary.

 

Explore Fes as a sole adventurer or perhaps enjoy some Haman and Spa pampering at your own pace at the hotel. Your first day is your day to rest after travel or plan as you wish.

 

Introductions and pre-dinner drinks overlooking the past as it creeps into a new and modern world.

 

Dinner at the renowned L'Amandier.

My suggestion is to order a Moroccan Salad. You won't be disappointed and you won't go hungry!

To survive, we must tell stories  ... Umberto Eco

DAY 2

After breakfast we explore the Medina of Fès el-Bali (Old Fez) with our expert guides. It's a labyrinth of narrow lanes and covered bazaars of food and spices, crafts and wares, colliding cultures of locals in traditional costume and tourists in shorts and T-shirts. Donkeys remain the main form of traffic in the Medina that is home to the University of Al Quaraouiyine; the oldest continuously functioning university in the world, founded in 859.

 

Be prepared for sensory overload. The noise and smells can be overwhelming.

 

Mosque minarets compete in the sky with satellite dishes and ancient rooftops. Old and new crash together and align. Blind alleys lead to spectacular, intimate squares with ancient tiled fountains. In the background you'll hear a rhythmic-hammer like music, created by the the copper beaters. Traditions are everywhere.  

 

After lunch, we gather for our first writing and photography session. Your writing is about supporting your journey of personal transformation rather than it is a masterpiece for publication. Having said that, there is a best-seller in each of us and this just might be the right time to discover your title!

 

You might follow the rules of Hemmingway’s six word story masterpiece, or create masterful diary entries, or perhaps write a short story with a view to write several short stories. Then again, you might be attracted to producing a photo book project. You'll decide the idea, and the length and breadth of your writing based on what comes up for you around writing and photo themes and what you are aiming to achieve on our writing and photography odyssey across Morocco.

My role is to inspire your creative imagination for you to create the bright lights in an existing project or in a project you are beginning whether it is a written project or a photographic project.

 

When words stop flowing and your camera battery needs recharging you can choose relaxing, reading, meditating, or you might like to choose an extra Fes Adventure supplied by the Luxury Tours Morocco team before we come together for dinner.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write ...Somerset Maugham 

DAY 3

Today we rise early and watch the sun dance on the rooftops of Fès el-Bali (Old Fez). Women will be baking the daily bread and children will be rushing the unbaked loaves to the communal bakery in the heart of the Medina.

 

We'll enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the terrace before choosing between a visit to the ceramic factories or the Chaouwara tanneries or the Jewish Cemetery & Habarim Synagogue, or, more meandering and photography in the Medina

 

After lunch, we return to the terrace and begin our second writing and photography workshop developing on from the previous day. Today its all about photography and editing apps.

 

Local music and a gastronomic finish to our Fes experience await us.

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any ... Orson Scott Card

DAY 4

Today, after breakfast, we leave Fes to travel to the famous blue city (Chefchaouen). There are several stories about why the houses in the foothills of the Rif Mountains in the north of Morocco are bathed in various shades of blue and we'll discuss this once we arrive there. This city is on every traveler's list of places to visit because of its striking, blue-washed buildings, but also for its leather and weaving workshops that line its steep cobbled lanes. It's also an ideal location to get in an early morning walk.

 

Along the way, we'll stop at Meknes. Known for its imperial past, with remnants including Bab Mansour, a huge gate with arches and mosaic tiling. The gate leads into the former imperial city. The Mausoleum of Sultan Moulay Ismail, who made the city his capital in the 17th century, has courtyards and fountains. 

 

We'll arrive at Chefchaouen by night to experience this fairy-tale. Our luxury accommodation is in the heart of the city so you will have easy access to all attractions and local experiences. Chefchaouen is a photographing dream destination.

 

Dinner at our accommodation

ONE ON ONE PRIVATE SESSIONS WITH JULIE

Today, we begin our one on one private sessions.

Each traveler will be given a 2hr one on one session with Julie to discuss writing, writing outcomes, photography, editing, Instagram and life in general ...

You were born with wings. Why do you prefer to crawl through life? ... Rumi

DAY 5

Those who love the early rise will find joy in the many walking tracks around Chefchaouen. After breakfast we explore this otherworldly city. Founded in 1471, Chefchaouen served as a Moorish fortress for Spanish exiles. Over the centuries, the city grew and became a hub for Jews and Christian converts alike. But the city is best recognized for its powder-blue buildings that mirror the cloudless Moroccan sky.

 

Stepping back in time, into another world, we taste Chefchaouen’s charming Medina. Beware the bargains and prepare to haggle. What will your bounty be - brass teapots, ceramics, tagine clay pots decorated with delicate artistry silver plates, jewelry, blankets made from sheep’s wool or camel hair, shawls, or Aztec-patterned bags and Moroccan slippers?

 

We’ll taste the town’s signature tagine: a typical Moroccan-style dish made with fish, vegetables, a combination of the warmest, aromatic spices and oil served on a bed of fluffy couscous. And, we'll talk about the idea of including food narratives to color your writing.

 

After lunch we travel to Casablanca, arriving in time for dinner at the famous Rick's Cafe with the movie, 'Casablanca' on our minds.

Anything is possible if you have enough nerve ... J.K.Rowling

DAY 6

We wake in the city famous for being home to the second largest mosque in the world - Mosque Hassan 11. The mosque stands on a prominent piece of land rising spectacularly out of the Atlantic. King Hassan II gave a directive for the mosque to be built on its precarious location because of a verse found in the Qur'an, which reads, "God's throne was built over the water." He wanted worshippers to be able to see God's great natural creations like the ocean and the sea.

 

After lunch, after we have visited the Mosque, we take to the road along the picturesque coast to the city of Essaouira. By late afternoon we will have arrived in the former Portuguese ancient, walled city once called Old Mogador. This is a sea side city like no other. Think the biggest seagulls you've ever seen and the typical blue Portuguese fishing boats. The Medina here has crafts and wares that you wont find anywhere else. 

 

We'll undertake a photographic exercise here of the blue wooden fishing boats and seagulls. The rest of the afternoon is for your personal discovery and writing time. Haman and spa options are available here also.

 

Your luxury accommodation is set in the famous walled city, right on the edge of the sea. Dinner at your Riad.

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames ... Rumi

DAY 7

After breakfast, you have a day to explore Essaouira and develop writing themes. Walk the ancient, walled city and its maze of narrow lane-ways. We’ll make time for decadent pastries and coffee at the famous Chez Driss. Essaouira has often been called the spiritual home of seagulls. Thousands of the biggest seagulls you have ever seen fill the sky here testing wing skills on blustering breezes straight off the Atlantic.

 

Today’s photographic exercise is called, ‘Outstretched Wings’.

 

Afternoon for personal discovery, and one on one sessions with Julie.

 

Horse riding along the beach and Haman and spa options are available or book an adventurous activity with the Luxury Tours Morocco team.

 

Dinner in a local restaurant.

 

Tonight, drift into your dreams on the perfumes of spices warm and aromatic and the salt of the sea air.

Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself ... George Bernard Shaw

DAY 8

On the way to our luxury retreat, set at the foot of the spectacular High Atlas, in Asni, a little village and marketplace inhabited by friendly Berbers, we'll stop to taste and hear about the famous Argan Oil.

 

Your resort, the award-winning Kasbah Tamadot, was bought by Sir Richard Branson during one of his famous ballooning expeditions. 28 rooms and suites have been individually decorated to reflect the beautiful architecture of the building and features antiques from all over the world.

 

Tonight, as we dine, you'll be enthralled by a story of fate for how Richard Branson came to be the new owner of this magnificent property. 

Words like  - 'synchronicity' and 'serendipity' will be discussed and, meaningful coincidences and whispers of the heart.

Feel your spirit re-awakened and hear the whispers of your heart like you've never heard them before. If this place doesn't get your creative juices flowing, nothing ever will!

Dinner at Kasbah Tamadot.

Fill your paper with breathings of your heart (William Wordsworth)

DAY 9

After a sumptuous breakfast, breathing the crisp air of the High Atlas, smelling the scent of the  eucalyptus  and listening to the song of the river rushing over the stony ground, we'll get to hear about The Eve Branson Foundation that works with the women of the local villages to produce economic outcomes, and we'll get to visit these villages and see the women's work firsthand.

 

In the afternoon you can mountain hike, enjoy the Haman and spa, wander the elaborate gardens, relax, take a cooking class, meditate, write and breathe life simply and effortlessly. After your day of rejuvenation, we'll enjoy dinner on the terrace and late-night writing under the stars.

 

Don't forget no one else sees the world as you see the world, so no one else can tell stories that you have to tell ... Charles de Lint

DAY 10

After breakfast we drive to Marrakesh. The fourth largest city in Morocco, the city is the gateway to colliding eastern and western cultures.

 

Expect to experience sublime architecture and busy, bustling souks; extraordinary palaces, with equally extraordinary histories - like the magnificent Bahia Palace; the Saadain Tombs where Saadainn Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour ed-Dahbi spared no expense, importing Italian Carrara marble and gilding honeycomb muqarnas (decorative plasterwork) with pure gold to make the Chamber of the 12 Pillars a suitably spectacular mausoleum.

 

We’ll visit French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent’s former home and gardens where you can wander among the exotic greenery and cacti and be bedazzled by the blues of the Jardin Majorelle. 

 

Next, the famous Koutoubia Mosque with its stunning minaret and gardens.

Your Riad tonight is the charming El Fenn owned by Richard Branson's sister and her partner. It is a renovation beyond your wildest imagination. Located on the edges of the Medina you'll discover brave colors, bold textures and designs, books, artworks and comforts of another world. Did I mention the rooftop bar?

This Riad will be your home for 3 nights so unpack and get ready to fall in love with Marrakesh. 

You will have the opportunity to add extra highlights to your Marrakesh visit with half-day and full day activities offered by he Luxury Tours Morocco team.

 

Dinner at your Riad.

A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing. It can change your life ... Tobias Wollf 

DAY 11

Marrakech at your pleasure for writing, relaxing, sight-seeing and shopping before an afternoon cooking class where the colors and tastes of ingredients, herbs and aromatic spices collide  and open the doors of a centuries old cuisine. You will eat what you cook for dinner. 

 

We finish our Moroccan experience in the theatre of the famous Jemaa El Fna Square by night, with its snake charmers, storytellers, jugglers and acrobats and we travel home by horse and buggy to capture the streets of Marrakesh at night.

Marrakesh offers a colorful nightlife.

ONE ON ONE PRIVATE SESSIONS WITH JULIE

Today, we finish our one on one private sessions.

Each traveler will be given a 2hr one on one session with Julie to discuss writing, writing outcomes, photography, editing, Instagram and life in general ...

Travel ... it leaves you speechless and then it turns you into a storyteller
... Ibn Battuta

DAY 12

After breakfast our expert guide will lead you through the famous Medina. Surprises galore await you. Smell spices, taste olives, buy local handicrafts and specialties.

 

We explore the souks’.

 

In the afternoon choose between a cultural and historical taste of Marrakesh or follow Julie on discovering Moroccan architecture, furniture, fabrics, art and design in just some of Morocco’s famous hotels that consistently win awards for the best hotels in the world. We will visit 3 hotels.

Tonight, pre-dinner drinks, rooftop, overlooking Marrakesh. Dinner and dancing at a famous Marrakesh restaurant.

 

Fall asleep on your Morocco memories. And before lights out, dare to be Hemmingway and write your six word story that speaks of a moment in Morocco.

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ... Anton Chekhov

DAY 13

After breakfast, depending on your flight schedules, we’ll transfer you to the Airport of Marrakesh and help you with registration formalities and special flight requirements before your departure. Our tears of farewell will acknowledge our deep connection because of an experience shared and a bond never to be broken. Together we will let go the old to invite in the new. We will have tasted our bravery and been witness to the bravery of others. I expect we will remain in each other’s hearts forever.

BUT WAIT, THERE"S MORE...

You are in Morocco, so if there's no rush to get home why not add an extra

FIVE DAYS IN THE SAHARA to your Morocco adventure? This is an exceptional adventure that will have you traveling over the High Atlas Mountains before you arrive at the heart and soul of Morocco ... its desert.

 
LIMITED NUMBERS - EARLY REGISTRATION DISCOUNTS
JULIE'S MOROCCO GALLERY
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THE MOROCCO PROJECT:

MOROCCO HOTELS JULIE LOVES FOR THE SOLO WOMAN TRAVELER...

EL FENN
LA SULTANA MARRAKECH
ES SAADI PALACE HOTEL MARRAKESH
RIAD MIMOUNA
LA MAMOUNIA
SAHARA LUXURY CAMPS
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 Julie's Blogs