“Our Magic Carpet Ride through Morocco”

Everything about our trip was perfect, starting with all our conversations with Lorre and Ruth, to the well planned itinerary. What we really liked was that EIT catered to our needs and we were able to go at our own pace. I told Lorre that we would be arriving in Morocco 3 days before our scheduled tour so we could get accustomed to the time change and she incorporated those days into our tour. We were never rushed and at the end of our trip, when we were very tired and couldn’t run a lot, we had to pass up a couple of sites, no questions asked. We were never pushed and we still saw everything that we wanted to.

From the moment Majid, our terrific driver and new friend, picked us up from the airport, our fabulous Moroccan adventure began.

We flew into Casablanca and drove around the whole country. We visited just about every major city in Morocco – the capital Rabat, Chefchaouin, Meknes, Fes, Erfoud, the Sahara Desert, Marrakech, and Essaouira. We even stopped in Safi and found some (more) pottery.

The selection of Riads, Dars, Kasbah and hotel was excellent. We never had to drag our own luggage down the alleyways to wherever we were staying. Someone from the staff of our lodgings was always there to assist us and Majid.

The Repose in Rabat/Sale was our first taste of a Riad. Jan and her staff were wonderful. As we were going to be arriving late in the evening, we told EIT that we couldn’t eat a big meal at night. We were served a light meal and it was excellent. We had another dinner at the Riad and it was delicious. Even though I am not a vegetarian, as is all the meals served at the Riad, I told Jan that if she should make a cookbook of her wonderful dishes, I would buy a copy. Our Mango room was beautiful in rich, warm colors and the bathroom was huge. Breakfast on the terrace was delicious and plentiful – a wonderful first taste of a Moroccan breakfast. Just a lovely stay in The Repose.

We also had a nice afternoon touring around Rabat with a stop at the beautiful Mausoleum of King Mohammad V and Hassan Tower. We also walked around Kasbah des Oudaias and went into the Medina and walked around the alleyways.

Dar Meziana in Chefchaoun was charming. Although it is a ‘big’ schlepp up the slopes and alleyways, then a lot of stairs once in the Dar, it was very colorful and quaint. Our dinner tajine of beef and prunes was delicious. It was prepared by the manager’s wife. We had a day tour of The Blue City that was very informative and it was special to walk around this beautiful city. For our dinner on our last night in Chefchaoun, I had suggested a restaurant I had read about. Majid let us know that it wasn’t very good. He then took us to Restaurant Casa Hassan that we enjoyed. All in all a very nice stay.

Volubilis, between Chefchaoun and Meknes is an ancient Roman city and very interesting. Some of the best preserved mosaic flooring we’ve ever seen anywhere. We had a guide who walked us around the ruins explaining everything.

On our drive through Meknes, Majid took us to the pizza restaurant Cornette Palace for lunch and we ate in the upstairs dining room, which was lovely and very typically Moroccan. Who thought one of the best spaghetti meals we’ve ever eaten would be in Morocco. We drove around Meknes, saw the beautiful Bab el Mansour Gate and in the Mellah, found a man just coming out of the Jewish cemetery. Majid asked him if he would show us around the Jewish sites. We also went in the old royal stables and granaries before heading out to Fes.

We absolutely loved the elegant Riad Myra in the Fes Medina. When we first entered and saw the inside courtyard, we felt like Dorothy entering the Land of Oz. We felt like royalty in this magnificent guest house. Our Pacha Suite on the first floor was beautifully decorated and the Riad’s inside patio was a welcoming area to relax and where we ate breakfast and dinner. The meals we had here were delicious.

We had a day tour of Fes and visited the Melleh, the beautiful Attarin Medersa with its beautiful tile work and exquisite wood carvings and designs and, of course, the world-famous tanneries, which was quite an experience. We also went to a pottery factory to see how Moroccan pottery was made. We really liked Fes very much.

We fell in love with Kasbah Hotel Xaluca. It was something out of 1001 Arabian Nights. The only thing missing was Aladdin and Jasmine. We were greeted by the towering Abduleelah in his all white djellaba and cape, with his scimitar by his side. He looked like he was ready to chop your head off, but he was so nice. The grounds and swimming pool are absolutely amazing. Our room was just wonderful, decorated in a very Berber-like style. Had a very nice buffet dinner and buffet breakfast. We wish we could have stayed at least 3 more days. It was absolutely fabulous – we just loved it. An oasis in the desert.

Our overnight in a luxury tent at Dunes D’Or Luxury Desert Camp in the Sahara Desert, was great. Not being the camping type, it was quite an exciting experience. We had never slept in a tent before. We started our Sahara adventure riding on a camel. Although we chickened-out and rode on the camels only a short time, it was a lot of fun. We decided to take the 4-wheel drive instead of the camels to the campsite where we first watched the sunset over the dunes. The whole area was amazing with rugs and lanterns everywhere. Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves did a wonderful job of decorating! Our dinner was delicious with more food than we could eat. A special treat was sitting under a blanket of stars in the evening just staring up at the night sky. The tent was perfect and decorated very nicely with Berber touches. Of course being a luxury tent, it had beds, running water, a bathroom and electricity. Seeing that we were the only guests at the time, we asked the manager and the two chefs to come sit with us after dinner. They hardly spoke English, but we kept each other company. A truly unforgettable experience.

Ksar El Kabbaba in Skoura was also very nice. Our stay was just overnight, but the atmosphere here was enchanting, imagining how it was to live in a Kasbah back in the day. As we entered, we were offered mint tea and cookies. We had a very nice room. Although the property was not large, the grounds were beautiful. The dinner in the restaurant was one of the best meals we had and we had some fantastic meals in Morocco. We can’t say enough how everyone here was so very nice.

Riad Clos De Arts in Marrakech was another wonderful choice made by EIT. Located in the Medina, it was easy access to many things. The whole atmosphere of the Riad was calm and serene. Our room was just lovely with the most beautiful interior design. From the minute we walked in, everyone was so welcoming and friendly and offering mint tea and cookies. Dinner in their small dining room was sumptuous and delicious. Eating breakfast on the terrace was really nice. On the roof was a small swimming pool and decorative wrought iron fences surrounding the openings looking down into the courtyards below. When we had to walk to a restaurant in the Medina for dinner, Salah from the Riad was gracious enough to walk us there so we wouldn’t get lost. Majid walked us back to the Riad after dinner.

We had a wonderful tour of Marrakech starting out with the beautiful Bahia Palace. As there was about a 2 hour wait at the Saadian tombs, we had to forego them but we did see the grounds. We also walked around the Jemaa el Fna. Our day guide, Idir, knowing we were getting exhausted and not having done any shopping up to this point, suggested instead of wandering the alleyways of the Jemaa el Fna and going from one stall to another and worrying about bargaining, we should go to a big department-type store, the Complexe d’Artisanat, in the Medina for one-stop shopping. Although bargaining was not done here, we found the prices to be very, very reasonable. We were able to do all our shopping here and felt like a kid in a candy store. They even wrapped everything we bought in bubble wrap. It was great advice we really appreciated.

We had a quick lunch in the restaurant Dar Essalam in the Medina where Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart ate in the movie “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” and Idir walked us there. Before we left Marrakech, Majid drove us around to the new city and drove us to one of Marrakech’s synagogues. He made arrangements for us to be able to go inside. All in all, a wonderful 2 days in Marrakech.

On our way to Essouira, we stopped to see the goats in the trees. What a treat that was and quite an unusual site. Dar Maya in the Medina of Essouira, although one of the smaller Riads where we stayed, was very nice. Modern in its look but still very Moroccan. We had a lovely, big room with a fabulous bathroom. After coming out of the shower we noticed the floor was heated. It was amazing and something we never experienced before. Breakfasts were typical Moroccan – plentiful and tasty. The tajines at dinner were heavenly.

Our day at the cooking school was one we will never forget. Not knowing where to go, Yousef from the Dar walked us to the class. It was a wonderfully fabulous experience learning how to make a lamb tajine with apricots and almonds in Morocco. As my sister and I were the first to make reservations for the cooking class, we were able to select the menu. The other students were happy with our choice. While our food at the school was cooking, our teacher walked us to the spice market in the Medina to learn about all the different spices used in Moroccan cooking. It was very interesting and informative. After our cooking class and lunch, we had a nice tour around Essouira with our guide, Achmid. After eating our luscious lunch that we made, we were not that hungry for dinner so we asked Yousef at Dar Maya to just make us a scrambled egg with cheese and delicious Moroccan bread. It was a perfect way to end a memorable day. Everyone here was very nice.

On our way to Casablanca, we saw on the map that we would be driving near the city of Safi. Although it was not on our itinerary, Majid was nice enough to stop there so we could see the pottery Safi is famous for. He took us to this little area and it was perfect to pick up a couple of last minute pieces of Moroccan pottery.

In Casablanca, The Club Val d’Anfa Hotel was perfect for the last two nights of our trip. The restaurant where we wanted to have dinner was adjacent to the hotel, Basmane Restaurant Marocain. We had roasted lamb shoulder with couscous and it was absolutely fantastic. The few sites we saw in Casablanca were the magnificent Hassan II Mosque and then a stop at the only Jewish Museum in the Arab world. Lorre had suggested our last meal be at Rick’s Cafe, a take-off from Rick’s Cafe Americain from the movie “Casablanca.” It was very fitting for our last night in Morocco.

Now about Majid [our driver]. He was just perfect. His car was always immaculately clean, gassed up and well stocked with water. Majid was an excellent driver and even knew where to avoid potholes. He showed us everything we wanted to see and places we didn’t know about. Majid was so wonderful and we got along splendidly. We never had to wait for him – he was always ready waiting for us in the morning – even though we were never late (only once). He even took us to his home to meet his family. We had a nice chat over Moroccan mint tea and delicious home-made Moroccan cookies that Majid’s lovely wife Marian made. Whenever we passed something while in the car and made a positive remark, Majid always asked if we wanted him to turn around so we could take a picture. With Majid around, we didn’t worry about anything. He took very good care of us. This showed in the excellent guides he provided us with in the various cities. He was always amenable to our suggestions, as few as they were. There were some restaurants we requested to eat at that Majid was unfamiliar with, such as Tajine Wa Tanjia in Rabat. He now has a terrific Moroccan restaurant to suggest to clients. Knowing that we were interested in the Jewish community of Morocco, whatever city we were in, Majid always made it a point to ask us if we wanted to see a Jewish site. Thank you, Majid, for helping make our Moroccan adventure unforgettable!

To sum it all up, our trip through Morocco was absolutely fabulous thanks to Experience It Tours. A once-in-a-lifetime trip we will never forget.

Debbie M.

(March-April of 2018)

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