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Trip Report Seven day solo trip to Morocco

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I have been checking frequently on this forum and Trip Advisor for information on Morocco, and while I didn't initiate a posting, all that I read on both sites had been very helpful. Thought I would post my recent trip experience in case it might be helpful to others. Seven days was not enough time, and I already know that I will be back!

Traveling solo I wanted to visit the Imperial Cities of Morocco (Rabat, Meknes, Fes and Marrakech)to see the historical sights and stay in riads within the medinas. However, I only had a week and knew some on the ground guidance was needed. Also, while I realize public transportation between the cities is available, I wasn't ready to tackle that aspect of travel with no French/Arabic language skills (plus being of a certain age!). And I was not interested in a group tour company (too much desert time, which I have experienced in Egypt and Namibia). So I contacted various agencies mentioned on this site and TA. I found Liz Williams of Authentic Morocco the best fit. Liz was very responsive to my numerous questions, and her agency holds pre-paid funds in trust until the end of the trip, which I felt was a valuable feature. We worked out an itinerary that stayed within my timeframe and budget (though I might have adjusted it for a few splurges in lodging!), and she arranged my transportation with a driver from her in-country staff. In each city guides were scheduled (all outstanding), and my driver for the entire period was both a safe driver and personable.

In addition to an afternoon stop in Meknes, a stop was added to the Roman city ruins of Volubilis. Guides were available at the entrance, but I felt my Cadogan guidebook chapter and suggested path met my needs. Also it was scorching hot (in November!), and I wasn't up to a long winded guide!

I really enjoyed staying in the suggested lodgings (Dar el Kebira/Rabat, Ryad Salama/Fes, Riad Adore/Marrakech, and Hotel le Doge/Casablanca for my last night before an early morning flight heading towards home). By staying in the medinas, I felt I was in the midst of such an exotic cultural experience. Each riad/hotel provided an evening meal at extra reasonable cost in addition to the included breakfast, and all meals were delicious! Breakfasts were large, and meant I could easily skip lunches. However, I did want to visit the historic Hotel La Mamounia, so lunch on my last day in Marrakech was a splurge! Beautiful gardens on the property, and lunch on the patio was relaxing (and expensive!).

I found the Fes medina challenging; much too easy to get lost. There are numerous historic sites in Fes, and definitely a city not to be missed. One note - the Chouara Tannery is under reconstruction, so only the leather shop is open! I only had two nights in Marrakech. This medina seemed more easy to explore with the Jamaa El-Fna square and the Koutoubia Minaret as landmarks, however I didn't go out on my own as my city guide really covered all areas of the medina quite thoroughly and included an easy stroll through the various souks. After the city tour, I was taken to the Majorelle Gardens. Beautiful gardens and very interesting Berber ethnological museum.

Of course, shopping opportunities abound. I'm not good at bargaining, so made sure to stop by the Ensemble Artisanal in Marrakech - fixed prices in this government 'compound' of individual stores. One riad guest mentioned bargaining hard in the souk to arrive at a price for leather slippers - mentioned the best quality leather to buy (goat) and price. At the EA store, I paid half for what looked like the same style and goat leather!

As previously mentioned, I'm already planning a return to Morocco in a few years (likely to only Marrakech - much more to see), and have alerted Liz to this new trip! If you have any questions, let me know. Janet

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