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First time to Morocco...where to go with little time?

First time to Morocco...where to go with little time?

Jul 22nd, 2009, 01:12 PM
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First time to Morocco...where to go with little time?

Re-posting this from the Europe board, where a few folks recommended posting here for more accurate advice.


So my partner and I have booked our tix for next May (as a precursor to a week-long trip with the folks in Paris) into Barcelona from LAX. We've got about 6 full days on the ground after our first night in Barcelona before we must fly back to Paris on the 7th day.

I'm having a hard time narrowing down where the 2nd destination should be. We like to move around a lot, so I'm not worried so much about the '2 places in 6 days' thing. What I am worried about is staying in one place for too long actually.

Given that we'll be in a large city (Paris) for an entire week at the tail-end, I wanted to spend the first few days in Barcelona and then get somewhere blatantly different...so, at first, we thought we would traverse around Spain (maybe hit up Seville, Granada, etc.) then we started thinking of going straight up to Cote d'Azur or Aix-en-Provence for the remaining 3 days.

But lately, I have this itch to go to Morocco. We're so close to it already being in Spain and I think it's the difference we're looking for in our upcoming trip. I've been a bit weary, admittedly, about going back to Europe after 3 years straight of traveling to Asia. That culture and experience has captivated me so..and I've been to Europe many, many times (mostly England, Germany, France and the Netherlands) and feel like, even though I admire the beauty of a lot of destinations there, it's all very similar. Or at least what I've experienced. So I'm really trying to find a stark contrast (albeit a great one) to 'mainstream' Europe.

That's why Morocco seemed more of an adventure. A lot of culture to soak in (and perhaps culture shock) ...so the thought was maybe fly to Marrakesh from Barcelona and spend 3 days there. Our folks have been to Morocco and they swear by Fez over anywhere else, but I don't know if, logistically, that's as doable in our timeframe or not.

filmwill is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2009, 02:52 PM
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We have been to Marakkech, Fez and Merzouga (Sahara Desert). Check out the airfare, we were lucky and were able to fly nonstop Barcelona-Marakkech but they only fly that on certain days so you may have to have a stopover in Casablanca and then it would be just as easy to fly to Fez as to fly to Marakkech. We really liked both of them - but if you are only staying in one location I think there is more to see and do in Marakkech.

I agree with your thoughts that Morocco will give you that extra culture. We personally liked it more than our trip to Asia (but we were only in Thailand/Cambodia - which we really liked but overall preferred our Morocco experience more).

Here is the link to my trip report which you may find helpful. It starts out with 5 nights in Barcelona and then 8 nights in Morocco and includes a link to pictures:

jgg is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2009, 03:14 PM
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This is great info, jgg. I just started skimming over your report and I know I'm gonna have to grab a pint of ice cream and go over it with a fine toothed comb tonight.

Question: did you fly Vueling? They seem to be the only direct flight from Barcelona. I figured we'd probably have to connect somewhere to get to Fez, which was my apprehension about trying to make it fit into the 3 days we have there.
filmwill is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2009, 07:26 AM
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We flew Royal Air Maroc which as I recall was operated by Air France. Our flight was a little late but other than that no problems. The only slight issue was that all announcements on the plane were only done in Arabic and French. I understand a little french but just said to hubby - I hope they didn't say anything important!!
jgg is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2009, 01:44 PM
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Just a note to say I would also choose Marrakech, very colourful (we have also been all over Asia and love that too - Europe too actually) so I think you will like Marrakech and it's vibrancy. Spain has similar architecture as Morocco as well....sounds like a good trip.
KJF is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2009, 09:46 PM
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Hi Will, Lynda and I spent four nights in Marrakech earlier this year. We stayed at The Sofitel...nice hotel, good location. Of course, I know you are a seasoned traveller, but my first piece of advice is to brace yourself for an absolute assault on your senses. I think you'll find Marrakech quite different from anywhere you have previously visited. We loved it. Will write more about our experiences this evening, as I'm off to work shortly.
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Jul 24th, 2009, 09:17 PM
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Thanks, Leigh. Looking forward to your input.

I expect it will be quite a shock. Makes me nervous--but I like nervous. That's what makes for memorable travel experiences.
filmwill is offline  
Jul 25th, 2009, 06:29 AM
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I must admit I was a bit nervous before we went (especially since this was our first venture out of North America or Europe), and sometimes would wonder "why am I taking my family here?. But once we got there, I was never nervous again and we had such a wonderful time!!
jgg is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 05:28 AM
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I've been to Morocco on 2 seperate trips for a total of about 14 days. Of all the cities I've visited I prefer Fez, but Marrakech would be my second choice. I don't know if Al Mouana Hotel is still open (I last visited about 10 years ago), It was a large 5 star hotel, away from the hustle and bustle of the medina. It has beautiful, spacious grounds, good service and a lovely diningroom . Marrakech itself is really touristy and crowded, but after spending some time there, you could make a day trip into the dessert to Berber villages, which I found very interesting. The medina in Marakesh is interesting, but not as interesting as the one in Fez, IMO. I have great memories of my trips to Morrocco. I think you would enjoy it.
shelleyk is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 12:15 PM
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Hi Will-

Another vote for Marrakech. I can relate to wanting a dose of the exotic, which will be a nice counterpoint to your time in Paris and Barcelona. I think that 3 days Barcelona and 3 days Marrakech would be a good mix.
With 3 days in Marrakech, you might have time for a day trip out of the city, to either the Atlas Mountains or to Essaiouria on the coast.
Both Vueling and Atlas Blue fly from BCN to RAK. Ryan Air also flies from Girona, north of Barcelona, but a bit of a pain to get to that airport.
cruisinred is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 12:50 PM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions--I think we're definitely locked into Marrakech. Now I just have to find a riad to stay in--have narrowed down to a few interesting choices in my first pass, but price will really play into this. Don't want to spend more than $300USD/night. So that probably scratches off a few of the below I'm looking at:
Riad Farnatchi
Riad Assakina
Riad Dar One
Riad Kniza

Also, any input on which airline is the best to get back to Paris from Marrakech with? Looks like EasyJet, Vueling and Atlas Blue all fly this route...given those choices, I think I'm leaning towards EasyJet--but have never flown any of these carriers, so any advice is appreciated.
filmwill is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 12:53 PM
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Looks like Royal Air Maroc also flies this route.
filmwill is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 01:25 PM
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I flew EasyJet Marrakesh to Paris CDG last fall. As I recall we left late (inbound plane arrived late), but otherwise it was a typical EasyJet flight - fast boarding and deplaning, full load and not a lot of space on board. Usually hard to beat the price, though, even with the charge for using a credit card.

Definitely consider a day trip to Essaouira - makes a nice change. Pix at kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/667854 , TR at http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-medley.cfm?91 .
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 8th, 2009, 11:14 PM
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In your list of suitable places where to stay in Marrakesh I will consider Riyad Al Moussikathat is really a wonderfull place! First I thought that it was a bit dear but then, when I experienced the hotel, I realized it was worth every penny!!! You feel like a pasha and you are treated as one. The service unrivalled. The private taxi came to pick us at the airport, then we arrived in this beautiful historical palace where a very qualified and involved staff was waiting for us.. Our room was a beautiful suite viewing the Moorish court, MAGICAL! We had an hammam with a massages so delightful.
The breakfasts and lunches made by the Chef Khalid were delicious and we discover the real amazing Moroccan cuisine!! We truly had a second honeymoon.
ErikaB is offline  

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