Did anyone NOT like Morocco?

Nov 6th, 2019, 10:28 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 833
Oops, I forgot about Chefchaoeun. I had 2 nights there and really enjoyed it, although it is time consuming to get there. It really is as pretty as the photos one sees.
MinnBeef is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 10:37 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,001
I must have been in the Other Chefchaouen. Chinese-made crafts, people slapping blue paint everywhere including rocks, to me the arch-typical tourist trap. But that's me...
BowenLinda is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 10:49 AM
  #23  
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 1,438
Originally Posted by barefootbeach View Post
They cited unfriendly people who try to rip you off at every opportunity, dirtiness, getting sick from the food, etc.

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.
Bolded sections above are relevant to your decision I think.

In my opinion, the "about us" part of your post basically refutes the top "reasons not to go" part. You've doubtless been places with similar aspects -- not a "first world" country, a lot of rural areas and colorful locals. A lot of touts trying to sell you guides or things. The occasional less-than-A-plus health notice on a food stall. Given that you've traveled so widely, I can't imagine you two are still put off by these things -- in fact it feels like you embrace them as part of an adventure!

Which is probably not true of the folks who gave you the bad advice about Morocco. That sounds like people who want the "exotic" without the baggage it comes with. They wanted the Disney Morocco, not Morocco Morocco. Good for them - there's Epcot!

I think the things you want out of Morocco, you'll find in droves. Go to Fes, above all. It's small and wonderful. If you don't want to camel trek, you can still visit the edge of the desert and take a short SUV ride. Go to Todra Gorge. Go to Ait Benhaddou outside of Ouarzazate. These are must-sees.

I have a complicated relationship with Marrakech. I am not sure why people like it, but I suspect it's because they never got to Fes. To me, Marrakech is Fes plus 10x the tourists, 10x the touts, and very little of the charm.

I stayed at a wonderful, inexpensive little Riad in Fes called Dar Gnaoua. The rooftop patio at the evening call to prayer time is one of my all time fondest travel memories, and the staff is 5 stars.

Enjoy your trip.
ibobi is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 06:15 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 149
Originally Posted by ibobi View Post
Bolded sections above are relevant to your decision I think.

In my opinion, the "about us" part of your post basically refutes the top "reasons not to go" part. You've doubtless been places with similar aspects -- not a "first world" country, a lot of rural areas and colorful locals. A lot of touts trying to sell you guides or things. The occasional less-than-A-plus health notice on a food stall. Given that you've traveled so widely, I can't imagine you two are still put off by these things -- in fact it feels like you embrace them as part of an adventure!

Which is probably not true of the folks who gave you the bad advice about Morocco. That sounds like people who want the "exotic" without the baggage it comes with. They wanted the Disney Morocco, not Morocco Morocco. Good for them - there's Epcot!
I disagree with the notion that an experienced third world traveler shouldn't be put off by annoying touts, scammers, shenanigans, etc. I've been to ~85 countries (including places like Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, etc.) and I'm still very much put off by places where it's a big problem.

I have no problem dealing with the touts and scammers and shenanigans. I know how to say no or ignore them, I know all the scams they try to pull and never fall for them, I would never let a taxi driver rip us off, etc.

But we're much less likely to want to visit a place (or return to a place) where the touts and scammers are a big problem. Why would we want to spend time in Country A visiting a market where we have to be on our guard and avoid making eye contact with everyone and having to say "no" every 10 seconds when we can visit Country B where people will leave us alone (or, better yet, genuinely strike up a conversation with no ulterior motive). The touts and scammers don't make a place authentic; they strip the place of its authenticity.

And by no means are all destinations in third world even close to similarly plagued by touts and scammers. The touts and scammers are a huge problem in certain places, and literally don't exist in other places. Often, the government/authorities are big part of the problem because they condone and enable the bad behavior; in other places, the authorities take active steps to minimize the problem.

The bottom line is that I think a seasoned traveler would reasonably want to avoid places where touts and scammers are prevalent.

Last edited by LAX_Esq; Nov 6th, 2019 at 06:17 PM.
LAX_Esq is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 05:03 AM
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,448
BowenLinda, I think I’m actually up for a “glossed over” experience there! I agree totally with you about too much time in the car. We just got back from Ireland where we only spent mostly 2 nights per stop and it was too much car time.
As a result, I’m modifying my initial itinerary to Marrakech, the Ourika Valley (for the views!), Skoura (with day trip to Dades) Taroudant and Essouria in two weeks. I did want to photograph the blue city and see Fes, but that just adds to the drive time.
i would love the contact info for your driver and the name of your Marrakech riad.
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 05:09 AM
  #26  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,448
Ibobi, I agree with you that a bit of adventure is what keeps us interested in traveling. Perhaps that’s why my recent trip to Ireland left me a bit “underwhelmed”...should have been one of the first countries to visit, not the 97th!
As you see my my reply above, I think we’lll be missing Fes. I actually have read that the men are more aggressive and nasty there towards women and the Medina more overwhelming. Thanks for your insights.
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 05:14 AM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,448
LaxEsq...you’ve stated it so well. I agree that being constantly bombarded by unscrupulous people takes away from the enjoyment of a place. That’s why I was seriously evaluating whether the pluses of Morocco were worth the hassle. I do think we’ll go but I’ve dropped a week from original plans.
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 10:16 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 149
Originally Posted by barefootbeach View Post
LaxEsq...you’ve stated it so well. I agree that being constantly bombarded by unscrupulous people takes away from the enjoyment of a place. That’s why I was seriously evaluating whether the pluses of Morocco were worth the hassle. I do think we’ll go but I’ve dropped a week from original plans.
Yep, yep. And if you're a seasoned traveler, you should seriously consider Algeria and/or Tunisia in addition to Morocco if you're dead-seat on going to Morocco. Algeria is a totally hidden gem. The visa is easy enough to get, and there is no hassle once you're there. Read everyone's trip reports about Algeria (including mine); nobody has a bad thing to say about it.
LAX_Esq is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 10:46 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,001
Hi bfb,

To me, removing Chefchaouen from your visit is no loss whatsoever but Fez? It was my favourite city but I did enjoy Marrakesh, and understand that you are trying to reduce your car time.

In Marrakesh, we stayed in the Red House, www.theredhousemarrakech.com , [email protected] , +212 5 24 43 70 40 /41 and really loved it. A converted prince's palace, the building itself is gorgeous with a lovely pool / garden area. It has eight rooms if I remember correctly with an excellent restaurant. The staff was incredibly welcoming and attentive. A note - one side of this large property is on a busy road. I never heard it from my room but my friends did so I would request a quiet room. It has a rooftop suite which is what I would request next time around.

I can strongly recommend our principal driver/guide - Redouane, [email protected] , [email protected] , +212 0 661 92 09 98, +212 0 667 56 770 60 . He drives anywhere in Morocco and was extremely helpful and accommodating, well-informed and a safe driver in the Moroccan traffic chaos.
BowenLinda is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 11:33 AM
  #30  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,448
I'll check on Algeria but don't want to complicate the trip.
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 11:34 AM
  #31  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,448
thanks for the info, BowenLinda. Where did you stay in Fes in case we add it back in. Why did you like it better than Marrakech?
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 11:45 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 17
Originally Posted by barefootbeach View Post

As a result, I’m modifying my initial itinerary to Marrakech, the Ourika Valley (for the views!), Skoura (with day trip to Dades) Taroudant and Essouria in two weeks. I did want to photograph the blue city and see Fes, but that just adds to the drive time.
i would love the contact info for your driver and the name of your Marrakech riad.
Barefootbeach - I agree with BowenLinda that it would be a shame to remove Fes and the opportunity to visit Volubilis from your itinerary. You can solve the distance problem by flying from Fes to Marrakech and then picking up the rest of your itinerary there. It is not an expensive flight and if you are still in your planning stages, you can just gear your days around the Fes to Marrakech flight schedule. Our Riad Laaroussa was so lovely and, like BowenLinda, we enjoyed Fes more than Marrakech -- not because of any safety issues or anything else, it was just a smaller, more authentic experience for us. We had zero interest in going to Chefchouen. You will get fantastic hues everywhere you go, particulalry in Essaouira with the blue boats -- IMHO, your time is much better spent there.
So, I would do Fes - Marrakech (but just to get there) head out to Ait Ben Haddou/Skoura area (its interesting but a day or two is fine here), the desert (it would be an absolute shame to go to Morocco and not go to the Sahara), Taroudant (just to break up the long car ride), Essaouira and end in Marrakech. Some may say this is crazy, but you can do Marrakech in two days, particularly if you are not interested in shopping and have already seen the souks in both Fez and Essaouira. As others have offered, I can put you in touch with Ibrahim, our guide in the Atlas who I am sure could do a custom tour for you and cut out all of the middle agencies. Also, I have the information for our driver from Tangier Taxi and I am sure you could book directly with him for your driving portions.

One thing to mention for Fes and Marrakech and other cities -- don't let the guidebooks that are full of descriptions of multiple mosques fool you - - many of these mosques are not open to non-Muslims (even with a guide) and so you do not need to set aside hours to "tour" them. I think we misjudged how much time we would "need" in Marrakech because of all the mosques. Most of them are not open to the public. You will spend most of your time at the Bahia Palace.

As to the debate about aggressive touts, etc. I don't really understand basing a decision on not going to an entire country on the possibility that you may have a few less than pleasant experiences with locals -- By that measure, one would be advised not visit New York or San Francisco because you will be asked for money by homeless people and yelled out by people on the street with mental health issues. You would not go to Paris or Rome for the same reasons -- there are homeless and women on the streets in both cities asking for money, often with their children. There are young men hanging around the street corners in Prague and women who beg for money in Dubrovnik -- Life is life. Be prepared. If it makes you feel more comfortable, hire guides. In Fes and Marrakech, our hotels offered to send someone with us to our restaurants or to walk us back. We found it totally unnecessary and declined, but the hoteliers want tourist to be safe, comfortable and have positive experiences so they will offer that to you.

You will have a great trip!!
bolderite is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 12:30 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,001
In Fez I heartily recommend the Jaouhara Maison D'Hotes riad, +212 35 74 03 03, Fax +212 35 74 00 88, [email protected] , riad-jaouhara.com . It is located just inside the medina which I'd suggest is where you want to be in Fez but very close to a main gate so we felt very comfortable walking about and easily finding our way back. There will be other equally (or more) fabulous riads but they may be located in the bowels of the medina labryinth. My friends and I each had a suite, and mine was the largest, and was about CAD $300 per night. Perhaps you have a healthier budget but I'd just question any riad about its location. The rooms were beautifully appointed, air-conditioned, the staff was welcoming and extremely accommodating, and the included breakfast was extensive. The staff also cooked a dinner for us one night when we were feeling lazy, beautifully presented and served in the courtyard, which was one of the best meals we enjoyed in Morocco. The only issue was that there is not an elevator and you may not enjoy the number of stairs from the interior courtyard to your room. But if you are reasonably fit and don't have any mobility issues, that shouldn't pose a problem. I would advise them that you do not want the suite with the loft (required a ladder).

And absolutely do visit Volubilis from Fez.

I do agree with bolderite that you could very easily fly from F to M if you have limited time and want to reduce car time.

My highlights were Marrakesh, High Atlas Mtns, Ait Ben Haddou, Fez and Volubilis.

bfb, you have traveled much more extensively than I have but I found that a smile and a polite "no" worked for me just fine in Turkey and Morocco. I am in my 60's though and that alone may have scared off many ...
BowenLinda is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 05:16 PM
  #34  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,448
bolderite, I would love to have your contact info for Ibrahim (but there's no way we're doing hiking like you did...I have 10 years on you and my feet and knees don't always cooperate with what I want to do!) And, also Tangier Taxi, who I never heard about before your TR. I've looked at flights from NY and it looks like we could fly into Marrakech and out of Fes...or vice versa...and possibly do the inter city flight. I also want to add 5 nights to a stopover in Portugal (thanks again for mentioning it in your TR) since we haven't been there since 1987. I do think we'll skip the desert experience since that appeals to neither of us...and also skip Volubilis since we have seen so many ruins and mosaics before (Villa Casale in Sicily, especially good) and they don't really appeal to us. And, I really don't want to visit Meknes which would be added on. So, the two imperial cities...a little Atlas mountains and Skoura/Dades Valley...the coast with Essaoria...and I think I'll love Morocco.
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 05:21 PM
  #35  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,448
BowenLinda, Thanks so much for giving me the information about the Riads. I like the idea of it being near the main gate as easier to get in and out. I understand that Riads don't have elevators and hopefully stairs won't be an issue on this trip. I also am in my mid-60's and it's seems that something seems to go wrong on a trip when I least want it to! I will look into flights from F to M. Thanks for sharing your highlights...I want to see all but Volubilis.
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 05:26 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 17
1. Ibrahim in on Whats App at +212 653-274190. His email is on his website . https://berber-magic-tours.com/. I would trust him implicitly to come up with a tour that would suit you and he probably could also handle arranging the drivers. You should just explain your needs and level of comfort you want.

2. Tangier Taxi is https://www.tangiertaxi.com/. They were very responsive to email requests. Our particular driver was Aisa on Whats App. +212 707-032425. I am not sure he would remember us but he took us from Imlil to Skoura.

3. I think traveling in either direction is fine, but if you are adding on Lisbon, I would suggest you start in Marrakech and then fly to Fes as then you can take TAP Airlines from Fes to Lisbon. You may be able to arrange a Lisbon "stopover" on to your final US (?) destination. If you have been to Lisbon before -- we would highly recommend Porto, and of course, don't even get me started on the Azores.

Feel free to PM me about that portion.
Also, for anyone wondering about me, I am also on here under AmyH, but it had been so long from when I last was active, that it couldn't find me. I am going to ask them to try and combine my accounts.

Best
bolderite is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 06:28 PM
  #37  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,448
Bolderite...thanks again. I was thinking of Porto because we haven’t been there before. ...did you find Azores airline as old and dilapidated that I read?
barefootbeach is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 07:20 PM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 17
Originally Posted by barefootbeach View Post
Bolderite...thanks again. I was thinking of Porto because we haven’t been there before. ...did you find Azores airline as old and dilapidated that I read?
No, they have a new fleet. No frills, but new planes, very spacious. We paid a little more for exit row from Ponta Delgada to Boston. They have new A321 Neos on most of the long haul flights.
bolderite is offline  
Nov 15th, 2019, 10:09 AM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 10
I just got back from Morocco and had an amazing time. I would highly recommend going. The culture is just different than ours, but if you like to travel I don't know how you wouldn't like being there. We saw so much and had beautiful accommodations. All of our meals were excellent. I would stay away from street food, as I do in most countries, just because I like to be on the safe side. But definitely go and experience the wonder of an incredible country
caryndubrow is offline  
Nov 15th, 2019, 11:02 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 9,136
Originally Posted by caryndubrow View Post
. . . I would stay away from street food, as I do in most countries, just because I like to be on the safe side.
I realize that this is one way to cope with the uncertainties of eating in countries with which we are unfamiliar. But I'd add, after extended trips in a number of countries to which this rule might apply, when I've been sick from food it has invariably been after eating in respectable restaurants, including once in Morocco, never from street food. I'm sure I'm not alone in this regard. Street vendors' hygiene is more apparent as their kitchen is open for everyone to see, restaurant kitchens are a mystery. Without vigilant health department inspections, restaurant kitchens are only as good as their management demands and I think profit often dictates the condition of the meat & dairy we're served, most often the culprits of routine illness.

So, yes, we all have out coping mechanisms but I think it can be the length of time we're in a place combined with luck. Morocco is famous for their salads & many people who follow the "peel it, cook it or don't eat it" rule miss out. In the months I've spent there, as far as I can tell I've never been sick from salads but have been from restaurant meat (I presume). There are just no guarantees in my experience.
MmePerdu is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:37 AM.