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Morocco… A travelogue

| 20 Feb 2017

Mr & Mrs Harrison travelled from Casablanca to Marrakech, with a few stops along the way. Here they talk through their experience day by day.

Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech

Days 1 & 2 – Casablanca

Upon arrival at the airport we were met by our private guide Idriess and our driver Abdul who took us to our hotel for the night.

In the morning Idriess met us to take us to the central market and then to Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Morocco. Very impressive, especially as Idriess got us in to view the interior before the mosque had officially opened. Casablanca is a large city of 6 million, built around the port and the fishing industry.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

We then drove for 90 km to Rabat, the state capital, to see the Mausoleum of Mohammad V and the diplomatic area. Idriess left us at the hotel so we walked round the town and I had a drink on panoramic rooftop terrace while Cathy took a swim in the pool.

Rabat harbour, Morocco

Rabat harbour

Day 3 – Rabat, Volubilis and Fez

Idriess, who up to now had been impeccably dressed in a brown sports jacket and brown flannels with turn ups, arrived to meet us in traditional Arab clothing – a long dark yellow robe with decorative highlights. On to Volubilis, a Roman settlement which was explained to us by a very experienced and knowledgeable local guide. The weather was very hot by this time.

Roman basilica ruins, Volubilis

Roman basilica ruins, Volubilis

Then it was back to the car for the last leg to Fez. The landscape was becoming mountainous with fertile soil varying in colour from dark brown to pinkish shades. The villages we passed through reminded Cathy of those we had seen 17 years before in South Africa.

Day 4 – Fez

We left with Idriess and were driven to a hilltop fort for a view over the city of Fez.

View of Fez

Then we went to the heart of the old city or Medina, first to a pottery and mosaic craft centre then to the tannery, buying items at both. After strolling through many streets passing mosques, university buildings and a museum, we had a traditional Moroccan lunch in a palace. After a glimpse of the main gate of the Royal Palace we returned to the hotel.

Gate of the Royal Palace, Fez

Gate of the Royal Palace, Fez

Day 5 – Fez & Marrakech

A long day, a long drive. Left Fez at 9am and first stopped at Ifrane, a sort of alpine skiing resort and also the home of a new private university. Coffee, then on through very red earth mountainous scenery – the middle Atlas.

The Atlas mountains

Atlas mountains

Day 6 – Marrakech

A tour of Marrakech. The best city we have seen in Morocco with old and new quarters. First, the Saadian Tombs and then the El Badi Palace. More interesting and pleasant was the Jardin Majorelle renovated by the Yves St Laurent Foundation. Very restful after the hurly burly of the old city.

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech

But then back to Djemaa el Fna, the central square of the old city, with its surrounding souks. Had a traditional Moroccan meal for lunch – vegetable starters, chicken saffron, beef with dates and rich dessert!

Djemaa el Fna square

Djemaa el Fna square

Days 7 & 8 – Marrakech & flight home

We decided not to take the day trip to Ourika Valley, and to instead  spend time relaxing in the hotel, with a walk to a new shopping mall which had several floors of play opportunities for children.

The next day it was a ridiculously early start for our flight to Casablanca, and then a connecting flight back to Gatwick.

Final thoughts

A lovely holiday thanks to Cox & Kings and a very instructive one thanks to our guide, Idriess. Morocco is an interesting and peaceful country. There is poverty but there are also many signs of a country developing well into the twenty-first century.

Moroccan woman, Marrakech

Rabat may be the capital and Casablanca may be the largest city, but Fez and Marrakech are far more interesting historically and culturally. The French influence following the years of the Protectorate during the mid-twentieth century has the advantage for us that many Moroccans speak French.

Mr and Mrs Harrison travelled on a private tour to Morocco >



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