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Spectacular, exotic Morocco- a few observations from a much too short family trip

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Mar 26th, 2014, 01:24 PM
  #1
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Spectacular, exotic Morocco- a few observations from a much too short family trip

We have just returned from a family trip to Morocco We only had 8 days and spent them in Marrakech, the High Atlas (Toubkal area), Fes and saw Volubilis, Moulay Idriss and Meknes with the final night in Rabat. Loved everything (with the possible exception of a wasted day taking the train from Marrakech to Fes as there are no direct flights). Wonderful, exotic, holistic experience.

Highlights: Too many but I will point out a few. The sense of time standing still and mystery in the interior souks in Fez, the incomparable atmosphere of Jamaa –el- Fna square in Marrakech, the spectacular YSL Majorelle gardens which are an oasis in the new part of town (which by the way did nothing for me), our absolutely wonderful trek in the high Atlas with perhaps the best meal of the trip at Kasbah du Tokubal (definitely most scenic eating outdoors surrounded by snow capped peaks and deep valleys), perhaps the finest Roman ruins I have ever seen at Volubilis, the Sultans granary in Meknes , Badia Palace, the stunning Riads we stayed it, the cosmopolitan elegance of Rabat, the list goes on and on.

More thoughts: Beautiful, medieval town centers in Fes, Marrakech, Meknes with architecture that reminds one of the Arabian nights, the snow -capped mountains just outside Marrakech, the souks echoing with calls of the vendors, the sound of Belak-belak, to get out of the donkey carts way, the sounds of the artisans, metalworkers, leather craftsmen etc, yet just a few streets down from all this cacophony is our Riad(s), an astoundingly luxurious oasis where there is complete serene silence, with a beautiful bar and drop dead panoramic views from the roof.

The food was amazing, I can still smell the fragrances and taste the flavors floating from the food stalls and tajines – both savory and sweet, spicy and exotic, some recognizable but mostly unfamiliar and provocative. Almost overwhelming in the souks (sheeps heads, camel cheeks!) but exquisite and sophisticated in the luxury of the riads and their gardens. However our culinary highlight was not the many fancy meals, but a morning spent with the street vendors in the bowels of the Fes souks.
See my review here:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...n.html#REVIEWS

I regret missing out on the desert experience but the logistics did not work with our itinerary. For next time.

King Hassan II described Morocco as “a tree whose roots lie in Africa but whose leaves breathe the European air”. My impression from the places we visited was that Morocco is a place with African-Arabian mystique interspersed with French influence . Where else can you see a Berber man wearing a djellaba sitting in a café with all the chairs facing the street scene (very much like a café crowd in any French village square) not drinking coffee, but Berber whisky, tea with a large amount of sugar and mint leaves!
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Mar 28th, 2014, 04:29 PM
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AKR1, we leave in less than three weeks for a 15 day adventure to Morocco. Your account makes me even more excited. Other than the souks and medinas, are there other must-sees in Marrakech or Fes?

Ellen
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Mar 30th, 2014, 05:34 PM
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Lots to do in Marrakech and Fes in addition to the Souks- in Marrakech the Bahia palace, the Koutoubia, the Mederesa Ben Youssef and the exceptional Majorelle gardens. In Fes, the Dar Batha Museum, the Bou Inania Mederesa, hiring a car and doing a drive around the ramparts of the Medina with panoramic views, day trip to Voulibilis, Moulay Idris and Meknes, if interested in wine, winery tours in the Meknes area. And of course this is just scratching the surface.
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Mar 31st, 2014, 04:50 PM
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Thanks so much. Some of these I knew about, other I didn't so I'll continue reading.
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Apr 2nd, 2014, 04:54 AM
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For things to do and not do in Marrakech this is a great thread
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g2...And.Donts.html
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Apr 3rd, 2014, 03:30 PM
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Yes, I agree with AKR1 about the sites mentioned in Marrakech and Fes. These are for specialized interests, but I really liked the Museum of Photography in Marrakech -- the historical photos showed how so much has changed, and yet, how so much has NOT changed in the way of life there. Also in Fez, if you like ceramics, a visit to Art Naji factory is interesting. You can watch them decorate the pieces by hand, and also watch them lay out the tiny tiles for table tops and other items (top side down!)
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Apr 3rd, 2014, 05:24 PM
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We missed the Photography Museum in Marrakech due to lack of time, but did see the Art Naji factory in Fes. Have to say it was fun seeing the craftsmen at work, but the prices for pottery were very high and I felt we got better buys in the Souks. However, if you want a very large piece, like a garden fountain that obviously has to be shipped, this is the place. They also do one of a kind pieces based on your specs.
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