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Oujda

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Oujda is the capital city of the Oriental Morocco region, and is in the eastern part of Mediterranean Morocco.

Understand[edit]

The city is located about 15 kilometers west of Algeria and about 60 kilometers south of the Mediterranean. It is the capital of the Oriental Region of Morocco and the birthplace of the current Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Oujda is served by "Oujda Angad airport". There are direct flights to Casablanca every morning and evening. Direct flights to and from Amsterdam, Paris, Marseille, Madrid, Eindhoven and Brussels Charleroi are available as well.

Taxis are usually waiting outside the airport. From the airport to the city center is usually a flat fare of 150Dh, no matter the number of passengers. For this price you will be dropped off directly at your destination of choice.

By train[edit]

Three trains a day arrive from Western Morocco. From Fez, the trip will take about five and a half hours and cost exactly 158/108 Dirhams (First/Second class). From Casablanca the trip will take about nine hours.

A direct night train is available, with either seats in first or second class, couchettes, and beds in double (480Dh) or single rooms (690Dh). The beds include a bottle of water and a bag of toiletries for during your trip, as well as a small breakfast in your arrival station. In Oujda this breakfast is served in the only cafe in the train station and consists of tea or coffee, a pastry and a glass of fresh orange juice.

More details and timetables are available on the site of the ONCF (oncf.ma, oncf-voyages.ma).

By car[edit]

Oujda is accessible from the North via Melilla / Nador as well as from the West via Fes / Taza. Arriving from the South is also possible from Figuig and Bouarfa. Currently, the Algerian border is closed which prevents land travel to/from the East. There are grand taxi's to many destinations including: Taza, Saidia (1h10, 30 dirhams), Nador (2h00, 60 dirhams) Berkane, Jerada, Ain Beni Mathar.

By bus[edit]

The bus station is located next to the grand taxi station in the South of the city. Many destinations are possible. From Oudja to Taza is roughly 30 dirhams, Oujda to Fes around 60 dirhams.

By boat[edit]

Boat service is via Nador / Melilla, both around two or three hours away.

Get around[edit]

By petit taxi[edit]

Small red taxis, most often Fiats or Dacias, are easy to find almost anywhere at any time of day. They take up to three passengers, traveling together or independently.

Hail one from the roadside and tell them where you want to go (or the nearest well-known point). Depending on the destination of fellow passengers already in the taxi, they will accept or refuse your demand. During any trip, you will encounter several of these short stops for people on the roadside or detours for other passengers.

Rides are metered, and taxi drivers refusing to use this or trying to cheat are rare. Rides cost a minimum of 6Dh, and most rides around the inner city will set you back about 10Dh. There is a 50% surcharge after 8PM.

By bike[edit]

Not for the faint of heart, as there are no separate bike paths anywhere in the city, and cars and taxis often honk, cut you off or pass by agressively close.

By bus[edit]

Buses are seen stopping in most places in the city, but I have not been able to find a map of the routes.

See[edit][add listing]

  • The place Bab Sidi Abdelwahab and the gate into the Medina with the same name.
  • Le Horloge, on Boulevard Mohammed V and place 16 August (Août).

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Walk around in the Medina and visit some souks.
  • Take a stroll through Park Lalla Meryem, perched along the southern walls of the medina. There's a comfortable and calm terrace hidden downstairs, right below the entrance of the park.
  • Go to the Park Lalla Aicha, just under 1 kilometer south of the Medina, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It's fully pedestrianized and even bikes are prohibited. There's a pool which opens in summer and a cafe that's open all year round where you can enjoy a coffee or tea.
  • Go hiking or running in the Foret Sidi Maafa, south of the university.

Learn[edit]

  • Université Mohammed Premier
  • Smaller private schools focused on languages: Most of them are focused on German, as most opportunities to work in Europe for Moroccans with higher education are found in Germany.

Work[edit]

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

As a general rule of thumb: stick to local dishes and you will rarely be disappointed. European, American or Asian dishes are generally a bit more risky.

Budget[edit]

  • Roadside stalls are found in multiple places around the city. A notable spot to find many of them in the evening is the 'rond point de la fac', the roundabout at the entrance of the university campus.

Sandwiches with kefta (mixed minced meat), turkey or ground beef are the most common choices available. Most sandwiches come in 'sizes', meaning different amounts of meat used (often 7, 10 or 15Dh). Added into the grilled filling are usually a disc of grilled potato and an egg. Depending on your taste, a slice of cheese or tomato sauce (Solis) can be added.

Stalls selling fruit, vegetables or fresh fruit juice are a regular sight as well. More leftfield choices are available too: sheep heads or paws, ...

===Mid-range

  • Restaurant Nacional (on the corner of Bd Zerktouni and Bd Allal Ben Abdallah): chicken and other meat dishes. Choose your meats from a butcher-style shop and they are freshly grilled for you, and top it off with a 'salade marocaine' (chopped tomato and onion salad).
  • KSN (on the corner of Rue de Sahara and Rue Abou Obeida Ibn Al Jarrah): seafood. Start with a fish soup and choose a fish you like as a main, or go for the 'friture poisson' if you have difficulty choosing.
  • Espace al Hanine (Parking Sidi Abdelwahab): possibly the broadest choice available, good for smaller snacks or breakfast as well.

Splurge[edit]

Drink[edit][add listing]

Cafés serving tea and coffee are easily found all around the city. Noteworthy ones are:

  • Café Colombo (Boulevard Mohammed V): retro French interior, waiters in dark red suit jackets and a display of possibly the best pastries in town.

N°1 recommendation to eat breakfast or brunch: take a seat on the sunny terrace with your choice of pastries and a 'café nus-nus', translating as 'half and half', a cafe latte with equal parts espresso and milk.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

There are various decent hotels around the Place du 16 Aout, but two of the best are

  • Hotel Tlemcen (+212536686533), which is attached to a women-friendly patisserie and cafe. 80 dh (around 10 usd) will get you a single room with a hot shower. Friendly staff.
  • Hotel Hanna (+212536686003) has public hallway showers, but is slightly cheaper.

Mid-range[edit]

As all over Morocco, the Hotel Ibis is a safe and well located bet. Always right next to the train station, the Ibis offers wi-fi, hot showers, white sheets, a lovely breakfast buffet, a pool and bar. Even if you aren't staying here, just pop in for an afternoon cocktail poolside (even during Ramadan!)

For a more authentic local experience but with most modern comforts, Dar Al Fassia is a good option. Family-run, and with a host always there to answer your questions or help you, this is possibly the closest to staying with family you will come without actual family living in Oujda.

Splurge[edit]

Another option in Oujda is the Spa and Hotel Atlas Terminus, again, right next to the train station. Swank and brand-new, it's even got a night club (or at least a sign for one).

Stay safe[edit]

Oujda is generally a safe city, though the usual warnings apply. Be aware of possible pickpockets in crowded places (mostly the medina), keep a small amount of cash (20-100Dh) in a easily reachable spot for impromptu purchases and hide larger sums away safely. After dark, stick to the larger streets and crowded places. Avoid the small, winding streets of the medina once the shops are closed. One part of the city that's better in this regard (more lively later into the night)

Cope[edit]

Get out[edit]

  • Saidia: the Mediterranean resort town of choice for most local people venturing to the seaside in summer. Mostly known for the nice sandy beach and warm water even after the summer season, though the town center is absolutely empty outside of high season. 1h10 by grand taxi from Oujda.
  • Ras El Ma (also known as Cap de l'Eau): a smaller, more authentic seaside town.

The center mostly consists of seafood restaurants, I had a very positive experience eating at 'Marhaba'. Walking further, past the fisherman's port, there's a rock protruding into the sea where locals come to enjoy the wind and (unusual for the Mediterranean) strong waves. There's also a view onto three small islands belonging to Spain. To get there without a car, the easiest way is to ask for a grand taxi to Nador and tell the driver you want to go to Ras El Ma. This will cost you 60Dh. For the return trip, there are usually a few grand taxis waiting in Ras El Ma, either going to Nador or Saidia, from where it's easy to change over to other destinations.

  • Zegzel gorge: a deep river gorge in the Beni Snassen mountains, the most eastern part of the Rif.

This river gorge is a green oasis, and great for walking, picknicking, visiting the 'Grotte du Chameau' (Camel cave, named after the shape of the mountain it is in). The people living here live mostly off agriculture of citrus trees or beekeeping. If you are interested in buying honey, ask any of the beekeepers you see working, as they will happily show you their produce. The honey is not cheap (120Dh for 1L), but really really good.

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