Morocco Afterthoughts

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Jul 27th, 2000, 04:01 PM
  #1
gpotvin
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Morocco Afterthoughts

We just returned from a quick side trip to Morocco from Spain. I did alot of research and am fairly seasoned, but this was an adventure. One caveat: I really enjoyed the experience and I will go back, but I wish I had known a little more about what to expect. So here are some thoughts after the fact:

Ferry: We rode from Algeciras to Tangers. If you have a Eurrail pass or an Interrail you are eligible for a discount on the ticket. You can buy a round trip in Spain which I would recommend. The ferry terminal is about 4-5 blocks from the train station.

Time Change: Morocco is on GMT so they are one hour behind Spain and they do not do daylight savings, so in the summer they are 2 hours behind.

Tangers - All of the warnings are true. The guides are persistent and painful, but harmless. The train station has moved several kms (5-7 I'd guess)from the port - you can walk but I wouldn't recommend it. You should be able to bargain a cab ride for $5 or less (they take pesetas and will take you to an ATM to get dirhams too). There are no services at the train station except a kiosk outside selling water, soda and a few eats. There is no ATM there - only back in the town center I believe. The clerk at the train station was very helpful and spoke very good English.

Train Rides: The overnight train to Marrakech costs $14 second class and $5 for a couchette (6 to a berth). It is around $9-10 for a first class sleeper (4 to a berth). These are purported to be the "best trains in Africa" but they are stark and not maintained, so bring supplies.

Marrakech: Very interesting and very busy. Seemed quite safe, but there are a lot of people wanting to "help". We had a map of the souks and only got lost a couple of times. Most of the shop owners will point the way to the "big square" (Jemma el Fna) anytime you ask. Bargain, bargain, bargain, you can usually buy for 25 to 50% of the first offer. It is very hot, but not so humid in July (110+F) so be prepared.

If you have specific questions send me an e-mail and I'll try to respond.
 
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Nov 14th, 2000, 07:39 AM
  #2
LisaJ
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Hello,

We are planning a trip to Fez & Marrakech in Jan. via ferry from Algeciras to Tangiers. I found your message interesting and wanted to ask you about the hustlers I continue reading about. Can you give me an idea of just how bad the situation is?

About fifteen years ago, we travelled to Peru/Boliva and was hassled constantly. Twice someone tried to rip us off by cutting off our backpacks. Two women at our hotel in Cuzco were robbed (back packs were cut off). We were so "on-guard" we had difficulty enjoying ourselves.

Don't want another experience like that, but we also consider ourselves "seasoned" travellers and like the adventure of travelling by bus or train.

Please give me your thoughts if you have the chance. Thanks, LisaJ
 
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Dec 6th, 2000, 04:59 PM
  #3
gpotvin
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Once we got off the boat we were immediately approached by "official" guides who wanted to help us find our way. We walked several blocks to get away from the water front and hailed a cab who took us to the train station after a stop at an ATM. He charged 100 dh (about $9.50), which was about twice what it should have been. While we waited for the train we watched as people vied for money. They will pick up your bags and carry them even if you don't want them too.

It was frightening at first, but after we got used to it we were okay. This was our first trip to Morcco, but we have been all over Europe 4 times, so we are seasoned. This was still a little more than we had expected and we had read a lot before we went.

We were never fearful for our safety and all in all it was a great experience. We will go back and will be more at ease.

Go and have a great time!
 
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Dec 7th, 2000, 07:14 AM
  #4
usflyer
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I did a day trip to Morocco a couple of years ago from Spain. I will never go back. It is dirty, boring, full of people trying to sell you garbage and intimidating.
 
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Dec 12th, 2000, 05:45 PM
  #5
Nancy
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A day trip to Morocco which only lands you in Tangiers is not indicative of Morocco. I loved it. Tangiers is not that great and not a lot to see, but, Fez and Marrakesh were wonderful. We visited a Berber village out of Marrakesh and it was great. I would go back to Morocco in a second. And I've been to a lot of countries and am partial to developing countries.
 
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Dec 25th, 2000, 08:00 PM
  #6
Norma Lammont
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I am a seasoned traveller in Morocco and have been going there since the 1960s when it was not really a tourist destination. Unfortunately mass tourism brings hustlers which are prevalent in heavily touristic areas like Tangier and Marrakech. Yes - there is a lot of hustling in the souks of cities like Marrakech - especially if you are a solo female. I usually wera hijab (Islamic dress) bought from an Islamic shop in Uk and have never had any problems dressed like this! Also I speak fluent French and a but of Arabic which helps. Most people would not want to go to such lengths but I like to kind of blend in when I travel solo in Moslem countries. The best you can do is stride around very confidently like you know exactly where you are going, wear mirror lense glasses to prevent eye contact, and practice holding oout your hand in a palm-outward "barring" motion on when you see someone homing in. For all that don't get paranoid. People who get robbed are usually careless carrying all their money with them in one of those silly little "belly" bags which are a magnet for thieves.
 
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Aug 14th, 2001, 03:17 PM
  #7
xxxxxxx
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Just returned from Marakesh and hated it. went to my hotel room and read a good book until I could get a train out of there.
 
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Sep 3rd, 2001, 05:48 AM
  #8
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Topping
 
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May 1st, 2002, 11:53 AM
  #9
MK
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We went to Morocco a few years ago for two weeks. Flew from Paris to Marrakesh, then took the train to Meknès and Fez. We returned to Marrakesh by first-class bus running along the base of the Atlas mountains. We went in late November, and had wonderful weather although a little cool during our outing to Azrou (to do on market day). There were very few tourists, so we were the meat that attracted the flies. It takes a couple of days to adjust. If wandering on your own, do not accept the kind help of anyone for even a small distance--that person will consider that you engaged him as a guide. Hiring an official guide will avoid these annoyances, but will not prevent visits to shops (rug, ceramics, leather, etc.), no matter what you say. If you do not want to buy, just be firm and never ask the price (asking is expressing a willingness to bargain, which must end in a purchase) or express too much interest in an item--even wandering eyes are noticed. We had an unofficial guide who understood and took us to only one shop during our entire stay in Meknès, which include a side trip to Volubilis and Moulay Idriss. I recommend getting a guide, and you will be offered one as soon as you step out of your hotel. We took a guide for only one day in Fez, and by the third day, the unofficial guides posted at the main entrance of the medina no longer bothered us because they recognized us and knew that we were not going to engage them. We refused a guide when we went to see the ruins of the Al Badi palace in Marrakesh, and for that we were locked in the grounds for a couple of hours during the lunch break--had lunch on the tangerines that are in the garden. The personnel claimed that they could not find us, which is why they locked us in. Pickpockets (young boys) are annoying, but we discovered that if they follow you as you enter an alley, doing a 180 degree turn does wonders because suddenly the shop keepers in that alley realize that they are losing potential customers. More than once they chased the boys away. These pickpockets were found mainly in Marrakesh.
 
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May 17th, 2002, 06:38 PM
  #10
Matthias
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Remember....in Marrakesh, you can take a minimum of 50%, and usually more like 80% of of anything.

They'll complain......so what. If you still don't like the price, start walking out....they'll instantly come down to your price plus 5-10%.

 
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Nov 29th, 2002, 12:39 PM
  #11
gpotvin
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Topping. These are still our thoughts. Hope they help.
 
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Feb 1st, 2003, 06:30 AM
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Oct 9th, 2003, 06:19 PM
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Oct 10th, 2003, 03:39 AM
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Oct 10th, 2003, 03:34 PM
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We love Morocco. Did not have problems with hustlers because we did hire a guide. With the guide, we were "off-limits". After a few days, we did not use the guide and we still were not bothered. We traveled with a 2 year old child. It is the custom in Morocco for small children to kiss when they met. Even if they are total strangers, they still kiss. You can guess how we felt when the first child toddeled over and gave our child a kiss on the mouth. Later a very well dressed European woman took part of a donut from her child's mouth and shared it with our darling. Our child loved it and there were no harmful afteraffects. When in Morocco...
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Jan 13th, 2004, 03:53 AM
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My wife and I travelled to Andalucia this Oct. 03. She was punched by one man riding a motorcycle in Granada. I have thought about going to Morocco this fall, 04, but do not wish to be a target for further attacks.I was in Morocco 20yrs ago, but that experience is probably ancient history
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