It was, simply put, perfect – and then more. We loved all of it. All of the logistical things went right on schedule. Plane landed on time, cleared customs and there was Hamid. I was and am so glad we revised the itinerary to leave Casablanca as soon as we landed (and I would recommend that to anyone arriving early). The adventures began immediately as we didn’t know where to look first. The scenery driving to Rabat was spectacular and so green. Staying in Sale the first night was a graceful introduction to what was ahead because the English owner was so helpful and explained a lot. She provided a delicious dinner and breakfast.
I can’t say enough about Hamid. If he isn’t your best driver, I don’t know who would be.
The real benefit of the trip was that it was more educational than I expected and we were able to talk to many more Moroccans than we ever would have on a group tour. Trips like that waste so much time, and you only get to meet more Americans.
I should mention that we had a very good guide in Volubilis, a fair guide in Fez (it was Friday, he went off to prayers and left us at the tannery which wasn’t a problem but we would have preferred to be on our town and he didn’t like that we didn’t want to buy anything) and a very good guide in Marrakesh.
The Riad Jaouhara was lovely and the attentive staff could not have been more kind. Perfect location. Cooking school was lots of fun. Good balance of organized and free time. Drive to the desert was pretty interesting as we had storms, lots of gushing water and were glad not to be in mudslides or road blocks (same on the drives in the mts. day after and getting to Marrakech), but Hamid was an excellent driver so we never worried. He was totally attentive to our requests, but showed us extra things once he realized our interests, was always on time, generous with information and wonderful throughout the trip. We had a great time in the desert. We had the site to ourselves so got to spend lots of time talking to our two “attendants” and can’t believe how they pampered us. Also, had a lovely driver there, Mohamed. I do have one suggestion here: we did not have enough small amounts of cash to give adequate tips to all who helped us there and would have like to give them more, but weren’t prepared. The dunes were so much more interesting and beautiful than I would ever have thought. Both Xaluca hotels were fine, big tour kind of places, but clean and efficient. Hard to compete with riads or tents I guess. So glad we upgraded to Riad Kniza. Well worth it to spend time in such luxurious accommodations and be treated like royalty. Also glad we added the extra day in Marrakesh. We would have been rushed and missed the gardens. Half day in Casablanca was just right, and the Novotel a transition back to reality.
Definitely telling everyone Experience It is the way the travel. Bought the Paula Wolfert cookbook on Morocco when I got back and we’re already thinking about where we would go if we return.
You did an excellent job in planning everything for us.
(March of 2012)