Draft itinerary for Morocco

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Jun 4th, 2016, 05:05 AM
  #21
 
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12, 13 - drive to Marrakesh with night stop somewhere - where?

If you're still thinking of a kasbah stay, this is one we really liked:

http://kasbahaitbenmoro.com/

It's between Ait ben haddou and Todra gorge, in Skoura.
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Jun 4th, 2016, 09:25 AM
  #22
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Wow, happy to see this post got some more life into it.
Stu, I agree about the “touristy” places. I feel the same, that’s why we all go there, although I admit, I would love to have them all to myself, with less people, ha-ha-ha. I guess that’s not possible, and we are trying to mix places/areas of both flavors, some more crowded, some less. It's a matter of the time of the trip and where we are going, having to accept less infrastructure if we go off the beaten track, but we always end up enjoying it.
I always appreciate your insight and advice, thank you!

Traveller1959, I was thinking of skipping Meknes, but your description of its souk makes me reconsider that thought. As we are not big shoppers and terrible at bargaining, souvenir stores are not high on our list. We prefer places where we can see the stalls, admire the merchandise and the craftsmanship, but not be pressured into buying. Seems that Meknes might be one of those places…

CC, that kasbah looks very nice, but all the links (except for the main one) are broken. I see it on booking dot com though, and it gets great reviews. Definitely an option, thank you so much!

I am still wondering if driving from Merzouga to Skoura, with stops to see Todra Gorge and Dades Valley in 1 day only is not too much…I really need your opinion on that. Do we need to split this drive in 2 days? And then have a 3rd day for the drive to Marrakesh? I would prefer to keep the entire Merzouga to Marrakesh drive in 2 days. What do you think?
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Jun 4th, 2016, 01:00 PM
  #23
 
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XYZ...we drove from Merzouga to Rissani (great market place...authentico!) (see my pix) then onto Todra and Dades gorges...still found plenty of time and daylight to get to Ouarzazate to stay at the posh (but not overly expensive)La Berbere Palace..as you can see, we shared it with a hundred Harley Davidson bikers (Paris to Casablanca rally...see pics)and were invited to the massive buffet...which went on to the next morning...so no cost for meals!

The drive to Marrakech without the overnight in Ouarzazate would have been much too much. The next day we had a good visit to Fintt as suggested in my above post, Atlas Studios, and Ait Benhadou enroute to Marrakech.

Good response Traveler 1959....certainly agree with your assessment of Marrakech and the Djemm al Fina (sp). Definitely a case of touristy overshadowing the enjoyment.
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Jun 4th, 2016, 05:45 PM
  #24
 
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xyz, yes - for some reason a working website seems to have always been a low priority with them. They had a whole different broken website when we stayed there. Fortunately, they're much better innkeepers than webmasters. Not super plush, btw, but comfortable we thought and atmospheric. And being away from everything, it was appreciated that their restaurant was pretty good. Most memorably - the stars from the still warm rooftop! Like being at the planetarium.

We drove to Merzouga, near the (seasonal) lake, from Skoura, making plenty of stops as well as a lazy drive up Todra Gorge and had lots of daylight left. But I am glad we had the time for a sunset dune climb and weren't driving off piste at dusk. Coming the other way, I don't know you'd need as much evening time in Skoura so shouldn't be a problem (not as sure about the Ouarzazate area).

Another agreement on d'Jemaa el Fna. I mean, it IS a wonder and I suspect it was *always* geared around reeling in the $$$ through snake charming, story telling and overpriced eats. So in that way, maybe you're part of the ongoing history. But man, is it tiring because people do constantly come at you for your attention... and more to take advantage of your inattention. Lots of "la, shukran" and you move off. One evening, around the transition time to food carts, two guys jump in front of us as we're trying to skirt quitely towards the edges as we enter the square. Literally bang twice on their makeshift instruments and yell "Money!", with their hands out. "For what??" we said, still not sure what is even happening yet. "For the music!"... Uh, lol. No. It's a fun time (for awhile), but it does help to be pretty good at looking people in the eye and telling them no, in no uncertain terms.

In the end, Marrakesh sort of wore us both down. We loved Morocco, but both agree that when (not if) we return, it will be Fes we revisit and that we're not in a particular hurry to get back to Marrakesh.

If you'd like a few more pictures to add to Stu's wonderful collection: (Morocco is SOOO photogenic)

http://www.travelisfatal.com/gallery...=show&gazgal=5
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Jun 4th, 2016, 08:20 PM
  #25
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Great to hear that the drive Merzouga - Skoura, with several stops, is doable in one day. This works wonderful with our schedule.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but the way things are planned now, we'll leave Merzouga on a Monday...and that's not a market day in Rissani. Need to see what we can do about that...

Stu, that Harley Davidson encounter must've been something...what time of the year was it?

I really need to make sure we have time to stop in Meknes. Is a quick stop, a couple of hours enough? That would be on the day we drive from Chef to Fez, with stops in Volubilis and Meknes. Doable? Or do I need to re-arrange things and have a full day there?

Hmm, Marrakesh...you don't make it sound too good. We are planning 2 full days there, should we have just 1? Sounds sooo exotic, but it will be after 2 weeks of Morocco...

CC, those pics are amazing! How did people feel/react about having their picture taken? I am not talking about portraits, but general street scenes... do you ask for permission? Do you "steal" the picture, by pretending to look somewhere else? Ho do you do it?
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Jun 4th, 2016, 09:41 PM
  #26
 
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I would not cut back Marrakech from 2 days to 1. Yes, it's intense. Yes, it's full of touts and the d*****ags that try and get you lost so that they can charge you who knows how many dirham to take you back to where you were in the first place. But it still is a fascinating city to visit. The Djema el Fna,both during the day with the snake charmers and henna tattoo ladies and then at night with all of the grill stands; observing the Koutoubia mosque and hearing the call to prayer at dusk; the Badi palace, the food (I did a great food tour with Marrakech Food Tours-highly recommend them!)--there is MORE than enough to enjoy 2 full days there. Do not cut it back to 1.
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Jun 5th, 2016, 03:48 AM
  #27
 
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Nah, I agree with MinnBeef. Even with the hassles, there's a lot to see and do in Marrakesh and once wasn't enough. And really, not everyone selling something is horribly aggressive either. We met some nice locals there.

On the pics - usually if a street shot and someone was walking through, I tend to hold the camera long enough to get an objection. Or make a "may I?" motion with the camera if they're more or less the sole focal point. In Morocco, it's a mix of yes and no answers. I was told by a friend we made in Marrakesh that the divide on that is often Arab (no) or Berber (they don't have the same view of captured images). Not sure if true but it held up in our experiences.
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Jun 5th, 2016, 06:47 AM
  #28
 
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I think that if you have already spent two weeks in Morocco, one day/two nights in Marrakesh would be enough. I was glad to head to Essaouira for a change of pace.
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Jun 5th, 2016, 07:36 AM
  #29
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Great, we'll keep the 2 days in Marrakesh, especially that I would love the food tour (thanks MinnBeef, Moroccan food is one of my favorites, I'm sure we'll enjoy it).

CC, I am a landscape, city architecture, wildlife type of photographer, in other words, no people. But I'll try to change that in Morocco and add some people to the scene. I will try not to offend anyone and respect their custom...wish me luck.

If you ate at the food stalls in Djema el Fna at night, how did you decide where to stop? Do you have a full meal at one only, or just sample small plates at various ones? Better on the edges? Better inside? Is there any knowledge to be shared about that, or is just about what looks/smells good to you at the time?
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Jun 5th, 2016, 09:39 AM
  #30
 
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xyz...my photos of one of the food stalls with my wife at the counter and me standing with the "crew"...was the best we encountered. No name. I'll post below again.(Harley Davidson invasion was April. We bumped into them again in Rabat a few days later. One of them offered wife and me rides...she said "no thanks," for both of us...I guess falling off a bike would have been a bad ending for a great trip. Always best to travel with someone smarter than you!

Clifton...so good to see your post...(Australia, NZ or USA??)
I admittedly am a rank amateur photog, but somehow my results are somewhat helpful as overviews for travelers..you are a decided Pro! Great shots, every one of them. Daughter must be a big girl now!!
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Jun 5th, 2016, 09:49 AM
  #31
 
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xyz (you are in for a fun-filled, illuminating trip...share pics when you return). Favorite word in your Maroc vocabulary..."LA" meaning "NO"

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...43858721650978 Click on back arrow to see the rest of the scene at stall. It was in the middle of the square...wish I had a name but many do not.
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Jun 5th, 2016, 10:06 AM
  #32
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Just go to a stall that smells the best (and has seats available). Some specialize (snails, offal) so that will narrow the field as well.

On the subject of Marrakesh, it is bit of a sensory overload but your 2 days will be necessary to soak it all in. The further you get from the square, the more real the souks become.

Add Jardins de Skoura to your Skoura possible list.

Ian
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Jun 5th, 2016, 07:33 PM
  #33
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Stu,
I asked about the stalls because of your pics
It will be so hard to pick one, but that sounds like a wonderful experience. We would not miss that for the world!

Interesting, the stalls have names? Do they have their set place in the square, every night? I suppose so...and can we have just a taste at a stall? This way we could sample more than one; or do they only have full meals? I suppose no alcohol, right?

He-he, I would've said 'no' to a motorcycle ride, but I would like to try a short ride once. I've never tried one before...

Ian, thanks for the Jardins de Skoura idea, someone else also recommended it to me. Can't wait, Morocco sounds better and better the more I learn about it.
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Jun 5th, 2016, 07:39 PM
  #34
 
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xyz - I couldn't tell you the stall we went to in the square. Pretty much followed our nose, but also did the old street food trick. Going to the busiest place we could get into, assuming more customers meant more turnover meant fresher food and maybe less chance of coming up with food ailments. Seemed to have worked except for that the meal was still really just average and unmemorable. I'd say you do it mostly for the experience.

We made a friend of a shopkeeper while out in the souks (they really are great businessmen, but they're decent people too, most of them). We ended up hanging out over a couple of days, him showing us behind the scenes in his neighbourhood. He fussed at us when he found out we'd eaten in the dJemma el Fna. lol. "No good quality, too expensive!". But then, he lives there. On the upside, to make his point, he showed us to a dreary, hole in the wall place about a block off the square and up some unmarked steps that served an awesome rabbit tagine for a pittance. Sorry to say, I don't think I ever knew what the name of the place was. (I'm horrible at collecting details like that - which is why the chances of getting the VN/Laos trip report posted is becoming ever more unlikely)

Lots of luck with the pics. I think it just comes down to feeling a bit bold on the day (hey, when am I going to see this person again?)... but not that obnoxious tourist, aggressive style of bold. Raising the camera as a question but also really interacting with the person, which often comes with its own rewards, photo aside. Craftspeople are great subjects to start with, because they come complete with context and it gives a chance to show sincere interest in their talents, if you observe a few moments before the question is presented. Just my thoughts on it.
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Jun 5th, 2016, 07:40 PM
  #35
 
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stu, you're so right - those photos were a real inspiration when we were planning and you'd sent them in email. Appreciated to this day. And I really like them... a real sense of place. I'm just winging the photography thing too. It's all about snapping something interesting, after all.

We're all settled in Melbourne, Australia. Probably won't move back to the US, I think. Yes, our daughter is 8 now and starting to have her own travel wish list. She really loved Vietnam, took some cooking classes with us, ate pho everyday. And when we were invited back to a young waitress's home in the country outside Hoi An, she got her first motorbike ride (albeit verrrry slow). She'd like to visit Moscow again to see where she was born and go to Kyrgyzstan to learn about her heritage. Of course, we'd like that too (though have my misgivings about Russia at the moment)
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Jun 6th, 2016, 03:31 AM
  #36
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All the stalls in the square are numbered. This was (still is?) # 1 Chez Aicha.

https://flic.kr/p/eqp5UT

We filled those empty seats in the middle.

For taking people pictures, a small pocket camera can give you an edge. That said however, this woman hissed at me as she went by. I took a long shot of the alley buried deep in the medina heading toward the tanning area.

https://flic.kr/p/eqp53r

Ian
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Jun 6th, 2016, 06:02 PM
  #37
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CC, good advice. We'll go for the experience, I'm sure it's something we will remember years after. We generally try restaurants that seem busy with locals, and we had found some gems in our past travels. We'll employ the same "it looks busy, must be good" attitude and see what we'll find this time

I hope you'll make some time for that VN/Laos TR...VN was the original destination for next year's trip, but DH decided he'd rather go to Morocco. As it's his big birthday, he won. Maybe VN in 2018? Who knows...

People pics, that would be a "new" for me, I will give it a try and see what happens. I love markets, craftsmen doing their thing, we'll see.

Ian, thanks - great idea to number the stalls. Now...finding a certain number, that must be fun

I confess, I checked your other picks and enjoyed them (we stayed at Kelebek too in Goreme - would go back tomorrow in a heart beat....
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Jun 7th, 2016, 03:34 AM
  #38
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Turkey was a highlight for us as well. Here are the stories to go with the pictures:

http://imcarthur.weebly.com/travel.html

Ian
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Jun 7th, 2016, 03:36 PM
  #39
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Wow, thanks!

Some of places we've been to (Italy, South Africa), some on the short list (all the rest, ha-ha).
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Jun 7th, 2016, 04:23 PM
  #40
 
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xyz, still juggling but hopefully will find a little time to do a TR, summary style. Keep VN on the list - we just fell in love with the place. Enjoy Morocco in the meantime, it's extraordinary in every way.
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