Tuesday, 16 November 2010

7 to 13 Nov 2010 - Morocco Tour

Bob and Janet arranged a coach trip to Morocco for a group of 45, most from the Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers.   The holiday took us to Torremolinos, Tarifa, Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, Marskesh and Fez.   At the end of the holiday the coach driver estimated that he had driven approximately 3000 kilometers. 

                                        Sunday 7 November - arrive hotel in Torremolinos

 We joined the coach at 0840 at Moraira.   Nine hours, and 350 miles later, we arrived at Torremolinos.   The driver has to stop every two hours, so we had plenty of short breaks and time for a coffee.   After an excellent dinner we walked along the sea front with David and Rosemary and found a beach side bar.

                             Monday 8 November - arrive at Tarifa for ferry to Morocco

It was an early start as the coach left at 0730 for the two hour drive to Tarifa to catch the ferry to Tangier.  Due to a change of plans we arrived early at the port, and had to wait over an hour for the ferry.   Despite Bob warning of heavy seas, the crossing was comfortable with very calm seas!

                               Monday 8 November - Bob and Janet meet our guide Hassan

We had two guides for the duration of our visit to Morocco, Hassan and Youssef.   The first was a very stern local who spoke reasonable English, but with a strong accent which made him difficult to understand.    His assistant Youssef was always smiling and anxious to help.  His main job was to help ladies off the coach, count all passengers after each stop and look after our suitcases.  He was a lovely chap and, unlike poor Hassan, very popular.

                                                Monday 8 November - Tour of Rabat

Due to the later ferry it was almost dark when we arrived in Rabat, the second largest city in the Kingdom of Morocco (as our guide would put it).   We drove past the large Royal Palace with its collection of scruffy soldiers and on to the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, with its much smarter royal guards.   Our visit was a hurried one, as we still had to travel on to our hotel in Casablanca.   We arrived at our hotel at 1930 having covered almost 300 miles in the 12 hours since we left Torremolinos.

                                  Tuesday 9 November - Hassan II mosque in Casablanca

Apart from this impressive mosque, there is little else to see in Casablanca.   Another early breakfast and a quick tour of the city so that we arrived at the mosque in time for the 0900 tour.   We had a very good guide who made the whole experience most memorable.

                                              Tuesday 9 November - Marakesh square

It was only 170 miles from Casablanca to Marakesh, and we arrived late afternoon.  At last a city which looks just like we imagined all cities in Morocco would.   After depositing our suitcases in the hotel it was back to the coach for a tour of the city, followed by free time in the world famous square with its mass of open air café, street entertainers and tourist shops.   We returned to the hotel for our evening meal, but some remained to sample the nightlife.

                                            Wednesday 10 November  - Marakesh to Fez

The 300 miles road from Marakesh to Fez is a national road (not a motorway) over the Atlas Mountains.  There are few places to stop and in fact we drove for three hours without a single stop.    The scenery was just what we expected, high mountains and barren desert.   There was no opportunity for photographs, except from the window of the moving coach.  But we did see our first camel.  As night fell the rain started and there was a thick mist – a nightmare of a drive on narrow winding roads for our poor coach driver.   I am sure that he was as pleased as we were to arrive at the hotel in Fez after ten long hours on the road.

Thursday 11 November - city tour of fez

The one day when we did not have to travel.   Some of our group, including David, were feeling pretty frail after a sleepless night and an upset tummy.   But none wanted to miss the city tour of Fez.   We were lucky to have another excellent local guide, who took us on a coach tour around the city, followed by a visit to a mosaic and ceramics factory.

                                              Thursday 11 November - tour of Fez Souk 
But the highlight of the morning was a walking tour through the Souk.   We were all looking forward to getting a bit of exercise, but were surprised that it turned into a trek through endless narrow streets of shops and living areas.   We had planned to spend the afternoon in the city centre, but by the time the tour finished at 1400 we had enough.  We returned to the hotel to freshen up, and walked to the nearby very modern super market to compare prices with the Souk!

                                          Friday 12 November - Bob and Janet in Tangier

Another early breakfast, as the coach left at 0730 for the 165 mile drive to Tangier to catch the 1400 ferry back to Spain.   We arrived early and were allowed half an hour to find somewhere for lunch.   Most, like Bob and Janet above, took the opportunity of a short walk along the sea front.

                                       Friday 12 November - Back in Spain, Tarifa harbour

We were back in Spain by 1500, and had to collect our suitcases from the coach and carry them through customs – who were completely disinterested.   The coach took a little longer to clear customs, and we were then on the road again for the 90 mile drive to Torremolinos.   We stayed at the same hotel, and were very pleased to have “normal” food for our evening meal.   By comparison Spain seemed very modern and wealthy.

Saturday 13 November - the last of many coach stops

We were offered a late start, but all preferred to leave at 0900.   Another smooth and comfortable drive and we celebrated our last coffee stop at a service station between Murcia and Alicante.    We arrived back at Moraira just after 1700, and were home in Parcent just after 1800.

It was an excellent, if tiring, holiday.   We would never have tackled the journey by car, so a coach trip was an excellent alternative.   There were long distances to cover, but there was no other option if we were to see the important cities of Morocco.

Bob and Janet well deserved the grateful thanks of each and every passenger.  There were no complaints, everything went smoothly and everyone seemed to enjoy the experience.

It will take a few days for me to sort out the many photographs I took, and to receive those promised by David and Wendy.   But in the next week or so I will be publishing a series of blogs of the visit.

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