Highlights of Morocco – Chapter 1: Preparing for departure

Morocco was not on my list of places to visit, but having been offered the opportunity to review this holiday as a single, lone traveller, I am delighted to say that I accepted, and I am really looking forward to 10 days of travel around a country of many traditions, changing scenery, beautiful architecture and a strong history linking the past to the present, visiting the five Imperial cities.

Highlights of MoroccoMy holiday is a coach tour with Archers Holidays, flying to Marrakesh then visiting Casablanca, Rabat and Meknes before arriving at Fez for a two night stop over; then through the Atlas Mountains and Ziz valley towards Erfoud on the edge of the Sahara Desert for another two night stay; on for a night at Ouarzazate; our final coach drive goes through Ait-Benhaddou the setting of Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator plus several others, another route through the Atlas Mountains and back to Marrakesh for the last two nights. Five hotels! How would they compare with the standards we have here? Would their star grading match ours so I would have an idea of the facilities provided?

The itinerary looked amazing with such a variety from busy towns to snow-capped Atlas Mountains to oases on the edge of the Sahara Desert!

Marrakesh where I will meet my travelling companions, will be my first introduction to famous souks and market places and the days punctuated by the regular call to prayer; Casablanca, famous as the meeting place of Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart – who can forget “of all the joints in all the world” or “play it again Sam”, although we know the film wasn’t filmed there. Skirting the Sahara Desert whilst looking towards the snow-capped Atlas Mountains will seem unreal – I still find it difficult that countries which have always been very hot countries can still have snow while we will be very warm near the sand dunes! The drive through the Atlas Mountains will be a photographer’s paradise as we visit villages unchanged by progress and reach the snow level. Fez, which has always meant a red hat with a tassel.

Souks in Marrakesh - Archers HolidaysI have always travelled with friends or family so having to be totally responsible for all the pieces of luggage travel to the airport and documentation, was quite different but I was quite capable of doing that. I’ve not done a touring coach holiday before so not sure how I will enjoy packing and unpacking or spending so much time on the coach: I’m also a little concerned about dress code so will pack several pashminas and longer dresses plus cropped trousers rather than shorts. No idea how I will cope with the currency – fortunately my phone has a calculator -but I’m sure my plastic friend will be acceptable and fortunately my card does not incur overseas charges. 

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Diana Davies

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