Just returned from Morocco

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Nov 27th, 2005, 07:14 AM
  #1
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Just returned from Morocco

My daughter and I just returned from a WONDERFUL 2 week trip to Morocco. We kept it simple and visited only 3 cities - Marrakech, Fez and Essouira. If I am fortunate enough to go back again, I'll go to the dessert. There are some tips I have for travel. Talk to the people - they are welcoming, warm and caring. We had some very interesting conversations with shopkeepers, waiters, etc. even though our French isn't great and neither is their English. Some cautions:
1. Make sure you wash your hands with antibacterial stuff and dry with toilet paper - not the towels they leave for everyone to use.
2. Bus rest stops have toilets that are holes in the floor. Just don't be shocked.
3. When you buy a train or bus seat, it has a reserved place. We made the mistake of just plunking ourselves down and it was a mess to straighten it out.
4. Stay away from the huge leather store in the Fez souk right at the tanneries. They are rip off artists and their merchandise was ripped before we left the country. (Terrasse de Tannerie)
5. ATMs are available and are the easiest. Travelers checks can only be used to cash at a bureau de change and hours are limited. Most riads and all shops in the souk wanted cash.
6. Carry a lot of change with you. They have a hard time giving change for anything larger than a 20 dh note.
7. When you start the dance of bargaining, start at less than half their original asking price. Decide what you are really willing to pay and go for it.
8. Try not to shop with a guide. The shops give them 40% commission which you pay for.
9. Do not stay at any riads-hotels near any mellahs - they are the most divey parts of town.
We loved our trip, the people, the tile work, bargaining, medinas, tajines, all of it. The above would have made things a bit smoother but I'd go back in a flash. Have a great time!!! Goldie
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Nov 27th, 2005, 10:03 AM
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Can you recommend/ provide details on accommodations, restaurants, good guides and stores?

THANKS
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Nov 28th, 2005, 07:13 PM
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I'm so excited to be able to share info with you. We stayed at Riad Magi in Marrakech. it's a short walk from Djamma el Fnaa. The room was clean, breakfast was lovely in the garden. Ussama, who runs the place met us at the taxi and walked us over. It's not easy to find your was alone the first time. We ate at La Marrakshe on the square and it was one of the best mels we had there. Riad Tamsna was a magical place but the food ws just so=so. Chez Chegrundi was wonderful for good food, cheap and quick - also right on the square. (I must say that you'll get tired of tajine and cous-cous by the time yor trip is over) In Fez, we stayed at Riad al Bartal - GO THERE- it is FANTASTIC the cook there makes dinner every night if you book by the morning and that was great food too. We found ourselves having a snack every afternoon at sundown at the Kasbah, a very casual spot near Bab Boujouloud. It's the tall restaurant and affords a great view. I can't recommend any shops because we shopped everywhere. There are similar things all over but we found the greatest variety in the souk of Marrakech. Shop around A LOT because you want everything and the more you see, the more you'll know what you want and the quality of things. Prices are negotiable everywhere so bargain like mad. When are you going? Make sure you get to a hammam - it was a fascinating experience. If you go to al Bartal, please give my warmest regards to Abdul. We used Lonely Planet and the Fodor's guide. DO NOT stay at Villa Bagdad in Essouria - it's a beautiful hotel in the seediest part of town and we were prisoners there after dark. In fact, do not stay in any hotels near any of the Mellahs. Have fun. goldie
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Nov 29th, 2005, 12:38 AM
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Thanks Goldie!
I've been to Morocco before so I remember the wonders of shopping in the souks and I'm lucky that I really good at bartering whilst keeping it fun and friendly. I seldom pay more than half of the original opening price, usually much less!
I'm hoping to do a trip next year but it may be 2007. Will definitely visit a hammam. Didn't do that on the last visit there but on a more recent one to Jordan where two of us went with our guide to a tiny little local hammam and got steamed and pounded. Wonderful!
Thanks for the recommendations!
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Nov 29th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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How did you travel between Fez and Marakkech? Would you recommend train or bus? And which airports did you use? I am planning to do Marakkech to Fez to Tangiers for the ferry crossing to Spain.
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Nov 30th, 2005, 06:35 AM
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We took a bus (?RFM) to Fez from Marrarech and a train back down en route to Essouria. The bus ride was beautiful - the topography changes every 2 seconds and is gorgeous. It is about a 7 hour ride but the bus stops, often at small towns and for bathroom use and food breaks, made it almost 10 hours. The train was about 7 1/2 hours and also a pretty ride but not as beautiful as the bus. 10 hours is a looooong time. Am glad I did it but wouldn't do it again. Train, 1st class, was very comfortable and it was fun to talk to passengers who shared the compartment with us.
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Nov 30th, 2005, 06:37 AM
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Dear intravel,
Sorry I forgot to tell you that we flew in and out of Marrakech - not the most efficient way to go about it.
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