Did anyone NOT like Morocco?

Oct 31st, 2019, 07:05 AM
  #1  
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Did anyone NOT like Morocco?

I've been excitedly planning a trip there for next spring, but now I have some niggling doubts. Several acquaintances have said they wouldn't go back to Morocco if you gave them a free trip. Now, granted, they were there in the late 90's and I know things have improved a lot since then. They cited unfriendly people who try to rip you off at every opportunity, dirtiness, getting sick from the food, etc. However, most of the trip reports I've read have painted a very positive picture and I want to hear about both sides. So, if you really didn't love your trip, please tell me why.

About us: A retired couple, we're not inexperienced travelers having visited over 90 countries mostly independently but with private drivers in India, China and camps in southern Africa. However, I'm also not the most intrepid traveler either...for instance, I felt uncomfortable walking the inner streets of Stonetown, Zanzibar and I don't like to visit local people's homes and eat food prepared there. So, this trip would include private drivers between locations and day guides inside the medina.

What attracts me to Morocco, other than never being there, is its exoticism, staying in a beautiful riad, light hiking and taking in the scenic beauty of the Atlas mountains and valleys....visiting the coast. Taking the long journey to the desert is probably out due to no interest in a camel ride or climbing sand dunes.
I look forward to your comments in helping me decide whether we should take this trip or not.
barefootbeach is offline  
Oct 31st, 2019, 07:21 AM
  #2  
 
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" Now, granted, they were there in the late 90's and I know things have improved a lot since then."

It improved a lot. I had a friend who was there in 1995 and was schocked at the filthiness and the hassle. After more than 20 years Morocco is much cleaner and more developed(Let just mention thay have more high-speed railways than the USA, since the USA has nothing and Morocco had recently inagurated its first high-speed railway between Tanger and Casablanca using French TGV technology).

Some hassle still exists, but that has always been the feature of many Arab countries. It's up to the individual to learn how to deal with it, but having a personal guide will make it much easier.

" They cited unfriendly people who try to rip you off at every opportunity"

If you're a fool you'll be ripped off. Inform yourself of the prices and haggle.

"dirtiness"

Much cleaner than it used to be, but it ain't Japan. If you visited 90 countries chances are that you already visited countries which are dirtier than Morocco. Morocco is a kindergarten compared to India both in terms of hassle and filthiness.

"getting sick from the food"

Peel it, boil it, cook it or forget it.
BDKR is offline  
Oct 31st, 2019, 07:27 AM
  #3  
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thanks BDKR...we're careful about how we eat...and don't plan to buy much anyway...
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Oct 31st, 2019, 10:22 AM
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Consider Algeria and/or Tunisia instead of Morocco. We went to Algeria and Tunisia earlier this year, and decided to skip Morocco. Algeria and Tunisia seemed like much less touristed versions of Morocco, and we were turned off by a lot of what we read about Morocco (overtouristed and all the ills that come with a place being overtouristed). Algeria and Tunisia were excellent, and you'll be able to do the same kinds of things there as you would in Morocco.
LAX_Esq is online now  
Oct 31st, 2019, 11:30 AM
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As great destinations Tunisia and Algeria are, they're not a subsitute for Morocco.

Parts of Morocco are certainly suffering from overtourism(in case of Marrakech to the point where it pretty much ruined its former atmosphere), but it's a big country and offers plenty of options to escape the worst of the crowds.
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Oct 31st, 2019, 01:14 PM
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Thanks LAX Esq and BDKR for your thoughts. The person that told me or to go to there also recommended Algeria or Tunisia instead. I know nothing about those countries so will take a look.
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Oct 31st, 2019, 03:07 PM
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"What attracts me to Morocco, other than never being there, is its exoticism, staying in a beautiful riad, light hiking and taking in the scenic beauty of the Atlas mountains and valleys....visiting the coast."

I would say Morocco is probably the most exotic of the 3, the Algerian Sahara is probably at least as exotic if not more, but you said that you're not interested in the desert.

Beautifully restored riads are a speciality of Morocco, you may find something similar in Tunisia, but probably nothing in Algeria.

The highest and most spectacular parts of the Atlas are in Morocco. The mountains in Tunisia are much less impressive, hiking is not a well developed activity, and some of the best parts are off limits due to terrorist groups. The Algerian parts of the Atlas are lower than Morocco, but still spectacular, but again trekking is much less developed than in Morocco. The Hoggar and the Tassili n'Ajjer mountains are out of this world, but it's not light hiking, but serious desert expeditions by 4wd or camel.

The coast of Algeria is amazing.https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_national_de_Gouraya

It has to be said about Algeria, that international tourists are still a rarity, which is a blessing. but it also has some drawbacks. The first hurdle is getting a visa, which is a PITA. Than changing money on the black market. It's not too difficult, but it's still an illegal activity, not sure if you're OK with that. Buying local currency on the black market makes Algeria very cheap, changing at the offical exchange rates makes it very expensive.

Check out this online guide to the Maghreb: LookLex / Morocco

I'd go with your original idea and choose Morocco. It's easier than Algeria and better than Tunisia(unless you want to see Roman ruins).

Last edited by BDKR; Oct 31st, 2019 at 03:30 PM.
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Oct 31st, 2019, 03:16 PM
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Tourism is Morocco's main industry so as the infrastructure is upgraded there will be more tourists and, consequently, more opportunities for those inclined to rip off the tourists. You can't have it both ways, sanitized & upscale as you seem to like, and also "authentic" without hassles directed at tourists. There are places and neighborhoods in otherwise tourist towns but they likely aren't up to your standards so you have to choose. Maybe Morocco isn't for you.

My first trip of many was in '98, in those times your friends thought it was bad. I think it was better then. So it's the old story of taste in places being highly subjective, maybe more than 2 sides to this conversation. And regarding "Peel it, boil it, cook it or forget it" - I was only sick in Morocco 1 time and none of those rules would have saved me. You can get sick anywhere in any sort of place, even when you're "careful about how we eat."
MmePerdu is online now  
Oct 31st, 2019, 03:17 PM
  #9  
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Thanks so much BDKR...you’ve convinced me that Morocco is the best option.
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 1st, 2019, 01:53 PM
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I loved Morocco, and I was there in 1995. I don't remember it as being especially filthy, but then, I had already done a lot of "third world" travel. I stayed in some wonderful places, especially the riads. The food was fabulous, I remember.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 09:42 AM
  #11  
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thanks Kathie!
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2019, 03:12 AM
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We have been to Morocco three times, ending up in Marrakesh each time, but have visited Tangier, Fes, Casablanca, Essaouira and Rabat as well as smaller places in between. It is a fascinating and worthwhile place to visit providing you are sensible about where you go and the times of the day that you move about. We hired a car each time and found that the police are corrupt there on each occasion. We were stopped for "speeding" each time when we weren't, indeed we got singled out of a line of slow moving traffic for speeding. We were asked for a "fine" of 1000 dirhams but told them we only had a 100, which they accepted. One officer said, "This is for me" quite blatantly. I'm not sure if you will hire a car, but be warned.

You will get ripped off if you're not careful, so avoid taxis that won't quote a fare in advance. The petit taxis are particularly fond of this.Tangier is not a particularly pleasant place and not representative of Morocco and we avoided it after our first visit. Casablanca is OK, don't miss the Hassan II mosque, it's quite spectacular. Essaouira is well worth a visit as are Fes and Rabat. Agadir was more or less completely rebuilt after the earthquake in the 1960's and parts of the city were flattened, but still worth a visit.

Plan your itinerary carefully and you'll have a great time.
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Nov 3rd, 2019, 05:32 AM
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Thanks for sharing your experiences, Rubicand. We definitely would not rent a car...rather hire drivers.
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Nov 5th, 2019, 06:54 PM
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I spent 2 1/2 weeks in Morocco in spring 2016 and loved it. I visited Casablanca (my arrival city) just for the overnight but (as Mme. Perdu has heard me say many times) saw the highlight of my trip with the stunning Hassan II mosque. I stayed in a beautiful riad in the Fes medina and bought a beautiful carpet, day tripped to the Roman ruins at Vulubilis, stayed in another lovely riad in Marrakech, hiked in the Atlas Mountains one day and spent two nights in the hippie beach city of Essaouira. I found the people to be friendly and charming. Yes, they want to sell you stuff. If you want to buy it, negotiate. If you don’t, a simple “non merci” will suffice. Put me squarely in the “go to Morocco and have fun” camp.
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Nov 6th, 2019, 02:58 AM
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I dream to visit Morocco. I have friend they have just visited this place and they really liked. There is relatively safe if you are not going to walk on the streets at night. They told Morocco is really exotic county. So, i think to need go)
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Nov 6th, 2019, 05:56 AM
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Thanks Minnbeef...I remember your earlier comments...especially about loving that mosque!
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Nov 6th, 2019, 06:28 AM
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My single traveller friend is there right now and she arrived a day early of her tour. She had a cab driver from hell and learned her lesson. He refused to take her where she asked to go but took her to his contacts. She ditched him but he over charged her for the ride. She lives in Europe full time but first time there and lesson learned. She is sticking with her group.
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Nov 6th, 2019, 06:44 AM
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Macross...you know, I'm really not up to being that hassled either. I think I'll always arrange to have a guide provided by hotel and transportation from place to place with a private driver. The older we get...the less drama we want in our lives.
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Nov 6th, 2019, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by barefootbeach View Post
Macross...you know, I'm really not up to being that hassled either. I think I'll always arrange to have a guide provided by hotel and transportation from place to place with a private driver. The older we get...the less drama we want in our lives.
Amen to that. us too. No hassles or drama. Easy does it.
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 6th, 2019, 09:18 AM
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I just returned from two weeks in Morocco, and really liked Morocco, her people, the incredible diversity in landscape, a very different culture and the wonderful food.

I travelled with two other women and we hired a car and driver and local guides throughout. This buffered us from enthusiastic vendors and provided an easy introduction to Morocco but I think it was also a somewhat glossed-over experience.

We had 3 days in Marrakesh including a day trip to Essouira. Our car tour then started with 1 night in Ait Ben Haddou, 1 night in the Dades Gorge area, 1 night in a Merzouga area desert camp, 3 nights in Fez including a day trip to Volubilis, and 2 nights in Chefchaouen. Our group then split up with my friends spending 2 nights in Tangiers and myself two nights in Casablanca.

I offer our itinerary as a very typical first-time itinerary and what NOT to do IMHO. Although we had a good overview of the country, for me it was too much time spent in a car and not exploring on foot. Too rushed, too superficial. I can't recommend Chefchaouen (now tacky in a tourist crush), liked Casablanca which most travellers apparently don't, and would return to Marrakech and Fez. But I can't overemphasize the beauty and diversity of the countryside which was a surprise to me.

If you are interested I have recommendations to riads in Morocco and Fez, which we loved, and the name of a terrific driver who was also an informative and interesting guide, a safe driver and a proud and modern Moroccan.
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