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Trip Report Spectacular, exotic Morocco- a few observations from a much too short family trip

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We have just returned from a family trip to Morocco We only had 8 days and spent them in Marrakech, the High Atlas (Toubkal area), Fes and saw Volubilis, Moulay Idriss and Meknes with the final night in Rabat. Loved everything (with the possible exception of a wasted day taking the train from Marrakech to Fes as there are no direct flights). Wonderful, exotic, holistic experience.

Highlights: Too many but I will point out a few. The sense of time standing still and mystery in the interior souks in Fez, the incomparable atmosphere of Jamaa –el- Fna square in Marrakech, the spectacular YSL Majorelle gardens which are an oasis in the new part of town (which by the way did nothing for me), our absolutely wonderful trek in the high Atlas with perhaps the best meal of the trip at Kasbah du Tokubal (definitely most scenic eating outdoors surrounded by snow capped peaks and deep valleys), perhaps the finest Roman ruins I have ever seen at Volubilis, the Sultans granary in Meknes , Badia Palace, the stunning Riads we stayed it, the cosmopolitan elegance of Rabat, the list goes on and on.

More thoughts: Beautiful, medieval town centers in Fes, Marrakech, Meknes with architecture that reminds one of the Arabian nights, the snow -capped mountains just outside Marrakech, the souks echoing with calls of the vendors, the sound of Belak-belak, to get out of the donkey carts way, the sounds of the artisans, metalworkers, leather craftsmen etc, yet just a few streets down from all this cacophony is our Riad(s), an astoundingly luxurious oasis where there is complete serene silence, with a beautiful bar and drop dead panoramic views from the roof.

The food was amazing, I can still smell the fragrances and taste the flavors floating from the food stalls and tajines – both savory and sweet, spicy and exotic, some recognizable but mostly unfamiliar and provocative. Almost overwhelming in the souks (sheeps heads, camel cheeks!) but exquisite and sophisticated in the luxury of the riads and their gardens. However our culinary highlight was not the many fancy meals, but a morning spent with the street vendors in the bowels of the Fes souks.
See my review here:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g293733-d2615214-r198524228-Plan_It_Fez_Day_Tours-Fes_Fes_Boulemane_Region.html#REVIEWS

I regret missing out on the desert experience but the logistics did not work with our itinerary. For next time.

King Hassan II described Morocco as “a tree whose roots lie in Africa but whose leaves breathe the European air”. My impression from the places we visited was that Morocco is a place with African-Arabian mystique interspersed with French influence . Where else can you see a Berber man wearing a djellaba sitting in a café with all the chairs facing the street scene (very much like a café crowd in any French village square) not drinking coffee, but Berber whisky, tea with a large amount of sugar and mint leaves!

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