Spain to Morocco

Oct 28th, 2002, 05:58 PM
  #1  
Jill
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Spain to Morocco

Has anyone gone to Spain and then headed to Morocco via the Straight of Gibraltar? If so, any tips?
 
Oct 30th, 2002, 10:10 AM
  #2  
KH
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If you ever want to experience the worse trip, go on the ferry ride to Morocco when it is raining and storming. As soon as we got on the boat, the weather hit hard. The ferry boat was rocking SO much that they were passing out barf bags to everyone. It was just like out of a comedy movie!! It was awful. People were running outside to barf over the rails while the rain was going sideways. We all didn't care how we looked as we came back in from outside. As I was hanging over the rail about to lose my lunch, someone overhead barfed all over me!! (I know you all are laughing ha ha) All my friends scattered. By the time we got to Morocco, no one wanted to go. It was cold, rainy, muddy, etc. Most of the stores were closed bc of the weather. All I wanted to do was go back to my dry hotel room. Maybe others have had better experiences, but there is NO WAY I will try that again!! ha ha
 
Oct 30th, 2002, 11:35 AM
  #3  
sickatsea
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KH - that is a great story!!! Brought back many memories of a horrible ferry ride me and some friends took to one of the Greek Islands years ago and spent the entire 6 hours with our heads hanging overboard puking our guts out from the rough seas! Even the deck hands that worked the ship were barfing!
 
Oct 30th, 2002, 12:24 PM
  #4  
sickatsea
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KH - that is a great story!!! Brought back many memories of a horrible ferry ride me and some friends took to one of the Greek Islands years ago and spent the entire 6 hours with our heads hanging overboard puking our guts out from the rough seas! Even the deck hands that worked the ship were barfing!
 
Oct 30th, 2002, 12:40 PM
  #5  
Mina
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KH, that was funny...and I was laughing, and laughed harder when you acknowledged we were probably laughing at you.
 
Oct 30th, 2002, 01:12 PM
  #6  
orgy7
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Immigration too Moracco is fairly smooth, comming back is a nighmare..

 
Oct 31st, 2002, 06:36 AM
  #7  
canuck
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sickatsea---I am sure I was on that ferry with you! Several years ago a ferry to one of the Greek Islands..I found a tiny airhole and stood sucking in air the whole time..we weren't able to go outside - it wasn't that kind of ferry..we were all stuck inside together, people fighting to get into the couple of washrooms on board..others laying out groaning, throwing up into shopping bags etc. It was memorable!
 
Oct 31st, 2002, 07:26 AM
  #8  
Geoff Hamer
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There are several ferries a day from Algeciras to Tanger. It takes about 2.5 hours. Tanger is not too pleasant as you will be pestered by people trying to get money out of you, but it is fascinatingly different. The ships are like those running between Britain and France. Seasickness is largely psychological - if you board a ship obsessed with seasickness, you will probably be sick, but if you think about something else, you won't be. For details of ferries, try www.trasmediterranea.es, www.euroferrys.com or www.comarit.com.
 
Nov 1st, 2002, 05:37 AM
  #9  
KH
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I am glad you all enjoyed that story. That is a favorite story-telling time with my husband! I can laugh at it now, but I was not laughing at the time. I normally don't get sea sick, but the ferry was rolling SO HARD side to side, that people couldn't walk straight..they were clinging for dear life onto things as they tried to walk. Moral of the story: DOn't do the ferry if there is any SLIGHT indication there might be rain or bad weather. Otherwise, take a barf bag with you!!
 
Nov 2nd, 2002, 02:11 PM
  #10  
Jill
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sickatsea, sorry to hear about your experience--that does NOT sound like fun. I had a similar experience in Thailand returning from the Phi Phi islands. It was monsoon season--need I say more?!
Anyway, can anyone tell me how far the ferry is from Grenada and/or Seville? Likewise, how far is Casablanca and/or Merrikesh on the other side from the ferry drop off? Also, how long does it take to get through immigration once in Morocco?
 
Nov 2nd, 2002, 02:33 PM
  #11  
Nicole
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Hi Jill,
I just did this trip from Algeciras, Spain to Tangier Morocco this past spring. Luckily, we didn't experience any rough seas and the ferry was pleasant enough. It doesn't take very long at all to go through immigration in Morocco. On our ferry they stamped our passports while we were getting there and then there were people to check our pass ports as we exited the ferry, so it doesn't really take very long at all. We didn't not have any problems coming back into Spain either.

To get to Marrakesh from Tangier is about an 8 hour train ride. We did the reverse trip on the overnight train. I believe that Casablanca is about a 3 hour train trip from Marrakesh and probably close to 5-6 hours from Tangier. Don't quote me exactly on those hours those. There are other options for travelling throughout Morocco. There are buses and then there are also taxis you can hire to drive to various cities, we found train travel the most convienent--although crowed.

 
Nov 2nd, 2002, 07:25 PM
  #12  
Jill
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Thanks Nicole, are you American? If so, did you feel safe while you were there? How many people did you travel with? My husband and I are both from the US and are a little concerned about travelling there with all of the unrest post 9/11.
 
Nov 2nd, 2002, 07:28 PM
  #13  
Jill
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Can anyone tell me how much I can expect to pay if I choose to hire a driver to get around Morocco?
 
Nov 2nd, 2002, 09:27 PM
  #14  
StCirq
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I traveled to Marrakech from Marseille in November of 2001 for a four-day trip with no problems at all, though I will admit it was an exercise in being stronger than the prevailing American wisdom.

I spent 4 nights at the Maison d'Arabe in Marrakech and one day at their cooking school. It was an incredible and indelible experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was with another (American) woman, and we never once felt fearful, even wandering the souks lost after dark.

Visiting Marrakech is totally different from taking a ferry from Spain to Algeciras or Tangiers for the day - if you do that, you will experience the worst of North Africa. But if you get as far as Marrakech, you will have an unparalleled experience.

I felt no fear in Marrakech (it was my third visit to North Africa), even though I was visiting as an American during Ramadan. I got no sleep, but that's another story. The people were warm and eager to talk to me as an American, and the general political scene was pretty pro-American. Whatever the political climate, it was a climate in which I could roam and talk to people without fear of any kind.

The Atlas Mountains are awesome, and the seaside town of Essouira is well worth a visit, as is Agadir.

But don't just hop a ferry and go to Tangiers or Ceuta - you won't get any sense of what a wonderful country Morocco is by doing so. You need to go to Marrakech or Fez or somewhere south and park yourself there for a few days to get a sense of what this fascinating part of the world is all about. It's another world.

 
Nov 3rd, 2002, 03:49 AM
  #15  
jill
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Thanks for the insight St. Cirq. I definitely plan to go to Marrakesh. Now I'm thinking that flying is the best option--at least to Casablanca and taking a train or hiring a car--do you know how long the trip is (Casa to Marak)? Any recommendations on restaurants, experiences, other hotels,etc not to miss? If I have limited time, which towns should I NOT miss?
 
Nov 3rd, 2002, 05:53 AM
  #16  
Nicole
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Hi Jill,
I am American and I never felt like I was in any danger in Morocco. I too was a bit concerned, but honestly, the people we spoke with and who helped us there were some of the friendliest people we've ever come across while travelling. I was with my boyfriend who is Canadian.

I read up before we went on safety concerns through books like Let's Go and Lonely Planet and I also did some research on the internet just to be prepared. One of the things it mentions is wearing appropriate clothing. I wore a t-shirt and pants the entire time. We did see women tourists wearing tank tops and short shorts when we got to Marrakesh though. The books claim that those types of clothes get you more attention. I chose to play it safe and be respectful of their culture.

One thing the books warned about were people who want to be your tour guide. Right when you exit the ferry in Tangier there are tons of people who want to show you around. It's up to you if you want to take one. My impression is that they are relatively harmless, they want to show you around which consists of taking you to shops where they will get a commission.

We were approached numerous times while on the train for people wanting us to get off a places with them. We did not do this. We didn't feel good about getting off in a place we didn't know and weren't expecting to go. But again, I didn't feel like I was in any danger at all.

Marrakesh and Fez were my two favorite places. I also wanted to see the desert, but due to lack of time we couldn't. There are trips that can be arranged from Marrakesh into the desert for a night or two with camel rides and tents. Both of these cities were like nothing I have ever seen before. Marrakesh is a really interesting combination of old and new.

The train from Casablanca to Marrakesh is about 4 hours. I'm sorry I do not remember the price. If you do hire a car, it was my impression the more people the better. And bargain hard for the price! Casablanca was not my favourite place to be. I could have done without that stop along the way.

While there we stayed in a chain of hotels called Ibis Mousafir. We loved this place. It was around 50-60 USD per night. More than we would normally spend but decided to splurge. What's the best about these are that they are literally meters from the train station! It seems they cater to business people and tourists looking to stay in a bit of a nicer place. As far as I know they are located in all major cities next to the major train station (if that city has more than one train station). In Marrakesh there is also a great place which pretty much has everything. More of a backpackers place though. It has postcards, it arranges trips to the desert and other towns, it has a resteraunt, internet, etc. It's called Hotel Ali.

Hope this helps--enjoy your trip!!
 
Nov 3rd, 2002, 12:57 PM
  #17  
Jill
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Nicole,
This helps tremendously--thank you.
A couple more questions...do you know anyone who went on the desert trek? Do you know if that is safe as well? It sounds like it would be interesting.
 
Nov 3rd, 2002, 04:25 PM
  #18  
Nicole
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Hi Jill,
I do not know anyone who went on the trek unfortunately. Numerous travel agencies set up these tours and it definitely seemed legitimate and safe. Trust me I wouldn't have considered it if I didn't feel safe, normally I'm the one who's the most concerned with safety issues. The one we looked at had the following itinerary:
Day one is pretty much spent driving. You are driven in a car or van depending on the size of your group to the desert. About half way there you stop in a traditional berber village for lunch. After this you continue travelling for about 4 more hours. You have to go over the Atlas mountains to get to the desert. Once at this location you get on a camel for 2 hours proceed to the desert. Once you have settled a tent and everything is set up for you and dinner is cooked. The next morning you wake up take another camel ride for 2 hours and head back to Marrakesh. They can be longer trips if desired.

I don't know what guidebooks if any you take along with you, but I would suggest the Lonely Planet Morocco guide. We bought the Let's Go Spain, Portugal and Morocco due to the price and the fact that all three places were included. We were highly disappointed with this book. The maps were often inaccurate as well as not very detailed. It was almost as if we showed up with no guide book whatsoever. We met a couple travelling with the Lonely Planet book and they said it was more helpful than they expected.
If you have any other questions feel free to e-mail me.
 
Nov 3rd, 2002, 04:47 PM
  #19  
StCirq
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Jill:

I think, as someone else has said, that the train ride to Marrakech from Casablanca is about 4 hours. The flight from Casa (we flew Marseilles to Casa, then Casa to Marrakech) was about an hour and a half (with the cockpit door wide open the whole way, I'll add).

I can certainly recommend the Maison Arabe for accommodations, but it's pricey (this was a big splurge for me for an "important" birthday). Still, the cost for me for 4 nights, one day of cooking school, one half-day excursion into the Atlas Mountains, one full-day excursion to Agadir, one dinner at the hotel's excellent restaurant, and breakfast (copious) and afternoon tea for four days, plus several bottles of very good Moroccan wine, loads of mineral water, and one or two after-dinner drinks, came to $600. I considered it a bargain.

We hired a hotel-recommended taxi driver for our excursions. The cost was $50 for a half-day, $90 for a full-day (we paid him a tip for both days). He drove us in an old Mercedes (right down the middle of the two-lane road most of the time), and provided us a wealth of information (in French - he spoke no English at all) on every place we went.

We saw lots of people on tours in small jeeps and other vehicles, and the Avenue Mohammed VI, the main artery through town, had plenty of travel agencies where you could walk in and sign up for such tours.

We didn't eat in a lot of restaurants - the only one we ate in besides the hotel was Le Pavillion - excellent! Our taxi driver brought us home to meet his family on our last night, and his wife had prepared a "snack" for us that was more food than we would have eaten for dinner anyway - wonderful stuff!

If you want to read my trip report (with photos), e-mail me and I'll send it to you. Since this isn't European travel, we'd better not pursue it too far on this board.
 

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