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From Sevilla to Morocco driving with a child

From Sevilla to Morocco driving with a child

Feb 12th, 2007, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Fez to Marrakech is a 7 hour train ride. And, not to burst your bubble, but it is possible that the train from Tangier to Fez will also be sold out. Booking in Fez is a better idea, though, as it is really an interesting city. There are so many people! Oh, but do not shop in Fez. Everything you can get there is more expensive than in Marrakech and you won't have you bargaining down yet.

Essaouira is supreme for shopping.

Laartista- glad you had a great time and I am so sorry it rained! The day we went was so great, but he said that the night before had been a hellish windstorm and rain, so i guess we were lucky. This past time the desert also changed my life, but in a very different way. We were far far South (Laayoune) and I sort of fell (in the existencial sense).
laclaire is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 09:53 AM
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When we were in Morocco, we did all of our travels by public transportation. We started in Marrakech and took the train to Meknès, and from Meknès to Fez. From Fez we went back to Marrakech by long distance (first class) bus. The time and cost for both forms of transportation was about the same. I would recommend public transportation between these cities.
Michael is online now  
Feb 12th, 2007, 12:19 PM
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OK, whoa ( it did burst my bubble) ...this brings up a few more important questions. I have a link to the trains in Morocco but can not read it.

First , how does one get from Malaga to where you catch the ferry to Tangiers? Train , bus, what?

How long a ride is that? Do they run regularly?

I have read the ferry's run regularly.

Is there only one train to Fez from Tangier? How often do they run?

How long of a drive from Tangiers to Fez? Could I have a taxi/driver waiting for me at the ferry port in Tangiers just take me to Fez for that 30 dollar a day fee?

How do I arrange that? I do not care if he just speaks French at this point as I just do not want to be in the dark in Tangiers not speaking the language with a young child.

Should I take the train to some where else going towards Marrakesh ( where? ) that will almost certainly not be full on a Monday?

I am only stopping because it is such a long train ride from Tangier to Marrakesh and there is no guarantee I can catch a night train.

I need to book my riads,but first I have to figure out what is doable.

The kid, the language barrier, starting the morning in Seville, parking our camper at our friends in Malaga...all add to the fun.

I am beginning to wonder if this is doable without a tour under our circumstances as I do not even have a guide book or much time to do serious research.

BUT I have not given up hope yet, and I think I am getting closer thanks to all of you!

WTnow is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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Hmm, now I am thinking just cut out Fez or any first night stop and just get on that night train to Marrakesh.

I know it is long and the sleeper would be nice, but first class is not suppose to be so bad. Is it?

I know it is long, but it can not be worse than our coach flight from SF to Europe and at least we will not waste a day or get stuck some where in the night.

Then a couple of days in Marrakesh,a trip to see the stars in the desert, a couple days in Essouria and then fly home from Marrakesh.

Does that sound reasonable?

And laptop or no laptop in Morocco? Is their any wifi ?

Sorry so many questions, but I am a little desperate at this point.
WTnow is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 03:58 PM
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First of all, no need to be desperate. This is an adventure that comes with all the random drawbacks of being a foreigner, etc. No biggie. Morocco is beautiful because a lot of it has to be on the fly.

Set yourself up a few options. First off, from Málaga to Algeciras, there are tons of buses daily, so that will not be a problem. The ride from Málaga to Algeciras is about 3 hours on the slow bus, just over 2 on the express.

Ferry over to Tangiers (NOT CEUTA! NEVER DO THAT!) and once there, go directly to the train station. Find out your options. Can you get on the night train to Marrakech? Yes? then do.

No? Well, what train can you take and where will it take you? Fez? Casa? Rabat? If you have options, have a hierarchy (I would say that the order is right on) and if you don't really care, choose the one that the following day has train departures to Marrakech. Ask if you can buy your ticket there. If not, purchase it in the layover city once you arrive.

On the Tangier-Marrakech route there are 2-4 trains daily depending on where you are going. Between Tangier and Fez, there are more, same with all the other shorter distances on that line.

The Grand Taxi option is often the most wonderful. Grand Taxis do routes between cities (I have done Laayoune-Sidi Ifni, Ifni-Agadir, Agadir to Marrakech, and then somewhere to Nador, on to Melilla) and they are normally old Mercedes, painted sky blue. When you arrive in Tangiers, have a petit taxi (city taxi) take you to the Grand taxi lot (figure out the price before you get in, and make sure it is not per person), and when you get there, you will be swarmed. Simply say that you want the whole taxi all the way to Fez and they will oblige. Make sure, though, that you get the full taxi. I always rode with others, and there were usually 7 people total (4 in back seat, two front seat passengers, one straddling the gear shift, and the driver). . . sardines in a can.

For the night train, if you can't get the sleeper, don't do it. It is miserable. Been there, done that.

No wifi in Morocco. Taking the laptop is a bad idea. Just have a big memory card. I took hundreds of shots this last time, as well as video, and that did not even fill up my first memory card.

OK, calm down. This is not at all a stressful thing. You will arrive in Morocco and even if you have everything planned, it will be a little nuts. Just know that no matter what, you are going to be fine. Maybe you spend more time than you had wanted in Tangier, but who cares? Tangier is a hub of experiences!

As for the Grand Taxi idea, I think it is a good one. You will not get 30€, as you are asking for a pretty long ride and private attention at that, but I remember that my Laayoune-Ifni one cost me 150 dirham. Multiply that by six and you have the price of an entire Grand Taxi for the 10 hour trip.

laclaire is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 03:45 AM
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Thanks Claire, you are a fountain of great BTDT info!!

OK, desperate might be an exaggeration, it is just harder to plan than most things, so frustrating. I also do not want to get in a compromising position ( like looking for a hotel in the dark in an exotic foreign country where I do not speak the language or know the customs) with a young child.

Thanks for the Grand Taxi idea as it is a good one and I was not aware of how that worked.

I am thinking about just getting on the train to Marrakesh now, no matter what. Were you in first class with your unhappy experience? Is it worse than coach on an overseas flight from SF to Europe? Are there no smoking cars?

I need to set the transportation so that I can at least set my riads. Yes, you are right ,it will all work out.
It is just a little more complicated than I expected.

I am use to the relative ease of our RV which is super easy travel for a family. I am looking forward to our first little dip into Africa!
WTnow is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 08:56 AM
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You might find this thread useful:

Michael is online now  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:25 PM
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Thanks Michael!

Some how I had missed that one and its great. ( I thought she had not written it yet).

I am really glad to hear about her story with the camel trekking as Omar is one of the people I am considering.

I have heard good things before but it is nice to get such detail and see the pics with it.

Has anyone heard of le Nomads?

I really love their pictures and the fact that we can have a private camel trek if we want.

Does anyone know about "black desert"? They have an option where I can stay there with a very special family.

I am trying to find someone who has used this outfit.Do you know where I would get that info.

She sounds very sweet ( she is Brazilian and her husband is Moroccan nomad).They are suppose to offer a very authentic experience and I also like the beauty in the pictures.

They have a luxury "honeymoon" trip that I am tempted to try. I figure this is a good spluge because this will be our one and only trip to the desert camel ride thing so might as well do it right.

We will not be buying anything there because we have no room with our current lifestyle for "stuff" of any kind.( I am already too book heavy,but then we are bookaholics).

I am not really looking forward to the camel ride,( do you think I could cheat? ) but I do want my child to have this rich experience.

I am seriously chubby and 50 something so a little desert luxury sounds good to me.

If you could set up your own itinery in the desert, what would you pick?

WTnow is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 02:11 AM
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How about this itineray? ( forgetting train)

Monday April 9
Seville spain to Malaga, then ferry

2 nights in Fez

2 nights in desert ( camel trek & at least one night out under stars in tent)

1 night half way between Merzouga and Marrakech ( any ideas what place??)

2 nights in Morocco

I night in Essouria

Fly back to Madrid from Marrakesh, 2 nights in Madrid

fast train down to Seville ( and hopefully Malaga..haven't looked at trains yet) then pick up camper and head to Granada for the night.

Next night valencia, next night Barcelona. Few days to a week in Barcelona and then ferry over to Rome heading for Venice and ferry to Greece.

Kind of intense up to Greece, but I think it will work. What do you think?
WTnow is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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Most people stay halfway in Quarzazate- pretty big town. 4 - 41/2 hours from M-kech
laartista is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 08:56 AM
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I have gone trough your posts on Morrocco and I do recomend you to have a car+driver localy or take an organized tour.
I do not think the idea of using public transpotation with a child plus luggage it is a good idea.

car is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 09:04 AM
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Note to my previous post,
I am not saying this because I read it or have being there once.

My experience comes from visiting the country more than 20 times in the past 25 years.

car is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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Thanks Claire, car et al,

I really, REALY appreciate the help here.

Well now that I finally know enough to feel confident with my itinerary, I am so far have a heck of a time booking ANY lodging.

BIG sigh. Life is so much easier in a camper, I have never worked so hard night and day and it seems I am in high season starting on April 9th.

Double sigh. I may have to pass on Morocco unless I get some better luck soon as I am running out of time.

Any ideas on decent places to book for Fez,Marakesh,( 2nights each) and skoura/Quarzazate area during this week?

Would a travel agent here/online be able to help with this?

If I get my rooms lined up, I guess we will take 4x4 or Grand taxi to all locations.

This is going to be a MUCH more expensive trip that I imagined, if I can do it at all.

If I can not get this done by this week end, I will have to drop Morocco maybe and go to my original plan.. which was Italy in April.

I have some serious packing and cleaning I need to get to.I had no idea Morocco would be so time consuming.

At least I know a lot more now,thanks so much for the help and I will keep you posted.
WTnow is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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Having read all of the answers to your queries, I wish to add the following for your benefit.

1. When you disembark in Tangier you will be approached by many touts...and several of these will offer
a ride to wherever you say (train station, bus station, downtown Tangiers, etc)

2.On our most recent visit, we negotiated ($110)with a very pleasant young gentlemen for a ride to Fez. He ushered us and our baggage to his Mercedes parked oin the docks. He had another older man with him who spoke a peerfext English and did most of the talking. First stop was the Police Station on the way out of town where they had to get a permit of some sort (five minutes)..and then on to Fez...an interesting, yet uneventful 4 hours, with a stop at an "Uncle's" roadside restaurant for a delicious chicken lunch. We paid for the two guys also, and the bill came to
100 dhms (less than $10).

3.They took us directly to our hotel (Palais Jamai, now a Sofitel) on the fringe of the medina.

4.After a three day fascinating stay in Fez, we had the hotel call for a rental car at a very fair price, delivered to the hotel..

5. ....and then we went on our merry way to Erfoud/Merzouga (camel ride, etc), the Todra Gorges, Ouarzazate, Finnt, Zagora, Ait Benadhou, to M'kech, and then on to
Essaouria...and finally to Casablanca and Rabat...flew to Madrid from there.
(total three weeks, but we covered a lot of the country and took our time. Both my wife and I drove the car).

6.The driving is very comfortable, plenty of Petrol stations, signage is good, get a Michelin, we found the food offerings to be superb (we have many Moroccan restos in L.A. so we were no strangers to Moroccan fare) and for godsakes, enjoy the adventure and stop worrying!

Stu T.

Note: Hotels we've liked on this trip and a few past trips: La Berbere Palace in "O", Imperial Borj in M'kech, Palais Jamai in Fez, Villa Maroc in Essaouira, Riad Salaam in both Erfoud and Zagora.
tower is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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WTnow: above, in #2, the word is "perfect", of course...typo for these aging eyes.

....and one other thing, we spent Holy Week in Sevilla sevral years back...a word of warning...along the very narrow pedetrian streets in the Barrio Santa Cruz and elsewhere, your little girl may be a bit frightened when you come across hundreds of adults and children in the costumes of the period, wearing large pointed black hoods with eye slits(in some cases white hoods)...just a precaution, but feel very safe as it's all part of the marvelous, colorful celebration.

You will all thoroughly enjoy the remarkable eperience, espcecially the "dancing of the Virgin", large, very heavy floats (pasos)carried by 20-30 unseen (you'll be able to see their feet only)men and boys, who periodically shake the paso (hence dancing).

stu T.
tower is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 02:21 PM
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Requot;for godsakes, enjoy the adventure and stop worrying!"

LOL! Thank you Stu for that and your many good comments!

I have hope again as I finally have a wonderful response from super gracious Cyril from L'Orangerie in Marakech which is suppose to be a fabulous place.

Doing the happy dance 'cause I am thrilled. I was beginning to think all of Morocco was booked.I have been on this computer night and day and finally I am making some progress.

I have our 2 nights in the desert & 2 nights in Marakech set now ( not quite booked til I have it all).

Thanks for those added names which hopefully will help me find my 2 nights in Fes, and one night in O/Skoura area, and Essauoria.Keep them coming if anyone has any recs.

My time pressures of doing a 3 generations tour with family for two weeks in early March and really wanting to be in Greece by May 1st ( & the transition from home to road mode & packing up winter supplies) is what makes things more challenging.

Glad to hear about your Holy Week in Seville! It is good to hear an American perspective as I have not talk to any who have done it. I am excited that our 3 generation tour of Moorish Spain & Seville will set us up nicely for Morocco.

As I said recently in my blog , I am an interesting combination of scaredy cat and adventurer , but my 6yo is a wild woman and has always been fearless.

She will probably love it and clunky ol'mom will be worrying about her getting trampled ( or hit by fireworks if they have them) like I do here at festivals.

Luckily we are suppose to meet our friends from Malaga there and he knows all the ins and outs because he was born and raised in Cordoba.

If I survive thru this planning and packing, I think we have some good fun ahead!
WTnow is offline  
Feb 15th, 2007, 02:57 AM
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Glad you heard back, but for future reference, all of Morocco is never booked. Also, a lot of places that done't take credit cards over the phone hate to allow for reservations because if someone doesn't show up, they lose money. So, sometimes they just don't pick up the phone or say they are full.

So, you will never sleep on the street, especially with a child with you. They might not be the nicest digs, but they will work.

And, just for comparison's sake, when I did my first trip to Morocco I went alone for a month. I was so nervous about the whole thing that I didn't really plan: no destinations, no hotels, nothing. I got to Chefchaouen on the first day (after some drama in Tetouan) and found a hotel, then continued on, doing that in every place. I had a wonderful trip and everything fell into place. I am not saying that is always the case, but Morocco does seem to almost always work out.
laclaire is offline  
Feb 15th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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Well that is probably true Claire, but with a 6yo and only 8 days on a pretty packed schedule and a husband who is VERY fussy about the rooms he stays in , I did want this pulled together before leaving.

I think I have been given a miracle as I can not believe the divine places and people that have come to me. I am glad I did not give up.

We do not usually splurge on hotels and such, but if we are going to do it we want something very special.

We liked the kind of places like on i-escape or "Alastair Sawday's Special Places to Stay". They are small,special and they book up fast in high season. ( I did not even know we were in high season when I started this quest!).

Thanks to all of you, some other people and lots hours of agony on my laptop, I got my dream week in Morocco all planned and set by my goal date.Whew.

*I * will have lots more peace of mind knowing it is all set. I have lucked out with exceptionally beautiful places with people who are reknown for exceptional service ( and they have already demonstrated it).

I was so worried about Fez ( which was the hardest and shockingly expensive for a nice riad) as I got lots of rejectons but ended up with the top riad ( riad Fez) and the top B&B as choices.

Reading the gushing endless reviews of both was sublime ( for a nervous nelly like me)but with one being a 100 euros a night for a to die for suite and the other being 170 a night for their cheapest room, the choice was obvious.

After reading some of the Berbers birthday thread and others about running around at night from dump to dump looking for a decent bed, I knew that was something I wanted to avoid. Ask any parent how hard that is with a tired and exhausted 6yo! NOT a fun thought.

I am sure we will have plenty of adventures, but the less we have to hassle with in our short, but intense stay , I figure the better.

Maybe next time we will go in for a month or more ( or even with our camper) and play it by ear, but this style gives me much more peace of mind for this trip.

I am simply amazed at how well it fell into place. Ahhhh, now time to enjoy dreaming about it until take off.

Great thread, thanks so much for the advice and having patients with me!
WTnow is offline  
Feb 16th, 2007, 12:41 PM
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I thought I would post what we ended up booking as a help to others ( as deciding on lodging in Morocco is an exhausting process...for April high season anyway).

I will blog about them as I go or soon afterwards with lots of pictures, but so far they seem terrific and I am quite pleased.

We are starting in Fez at Dar Seffarine in a suite for two nights.

They have a great review on i-escape, but I enjoyed this blog review with more pics:

I like the exceptional beauty, service and hospitality along with the authenticity ,price and killer terrace view and location.

Then we will go to the desert for 2 days with these people who I am absolutely thrilled with so far:

They have been fantastic with information via email.We will stay one night with a special family in the desert ( via camel ride), another night privately in their oasis, and they have set it up so my child will do a little violin concert for some school children in traditional dress. WOW!

Then we are going to eco Kasbah Ellouze for one night near the world heritage site where "Gladiators" etc was shot.

I booked it mainly to avoid that long ride between Merzouga and Marrakesh, but there are so many lovely things there that I wish I was staying longer.

We picked Riad DE L'ORANGERAIE in Marrakesh for location,beauty, and reputation for service.The indoor pool was a nice touch with a child too.

Then we picked the suite at the eco B&B Lalla Mira in the Medina at Essoauira.


I wanted to support the eco goals, plus we loooove organic food and the ancient public baths and massages there sound great.It seemed a little different and in a good location.

We will see if any of these work out as nicely as they seem...stay tuned.

When we fly into Madrid we will then stay at this hotel that a savvy Spaniard in the travel biz told me about (it is where he stays with his family!):


Hope this is helpful to some & my little way of giving back. I will blog about the good and bad of all. So if you are planning a trip down the line, perhaps it will be useful.

WTnow is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 08:17 AM
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Kasbah Ellouze is very close to Ait Benhadou...be sure to visit...several residents will invite you in as your stroll through the kasbah, and little daughter would love that.
Also visited the Lallamira B and B in Essaouira, as we stayed failrly nearby at Villa Maroc. Very impressive place...the town is very compact and you can stroll everywhere.

Enjoy lunch of fresh caught shrimp and fish at the Ess. harbor's outdoor tables...we also had a nice evening at
Chez Sam, a seafood resto on the harbor.

Stu T.
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