By Lee Moody
Morocco is hard to describe with mere words. In order to
appreciate this country, you need all your senses. Everything
about this country is unique. While Morocco is an Islamic
country, it is very welcoming to visitors from all backgrounds.
As you wander though many parts of the cities you may think you
have traveled back in time to medieval times, yet almost everyone has
satellite TV and a cell phone. The food is made of familiar
ingredients, however, the tastes are blended in ways you may never
have imagined. If you are looking for a different sort of
destination, then Morocco is for you.
We chose to experience Morocco on a luxurious DavidTours [DavidTravel]
trip. The trip strikes the perfect balance between sightseeing
and relaxation. One of the greatest benefits of taking an
organized tour is having someone to explain the culture and the
sights to you. DavidTours [DavidTravel]
utilizes knowledgeable local guides who are fluent in English and can
make problems disappear. This can be a great help in a country
where things do not always naturally run smoothly. In addition,
the hotels where we stayed were truly top of the line.
Our guide Mohamed greeted us upon arrival in Casablanca and from that
point onwards he saw to our every desire from obtaining restaurant
reservations to locating a specific medication at a pharmacy.
After meeting our driver Khalid, our luggage was loaded in the
comfortable, new and air-conditioned Mercedes minivan that was to be
our chauffeured vehicle for the entire trip and we started our voyage
through the exotic land of Morocco.
Our first stop was Rabat, the capital of Morocco. By chance,
our visit coincided with the king's wedding and it seemed like the
whole of the country was in the city to enjoy the festivities.
But even with the influx of additional visitors, we were
treated like VIPs at the Hilton Hotel where we stayed while in the
city. The hotel has extensive gardens to stroll through and a
beautiful pool where you can relax.
We spent the next several days exploring Rabat and relaxing by the
pool. While much of the city is a modern capital city, it still
has plenty of sights and smells to remind you that you are in this
unique country. The medina, the old fortified town, may be
small compared to those of Fez and Marrakech, but it is a good place
to get acclimatized to urban Islamic architecture and life. You
will pass by mosques, probably hear a call to prayer, and see plenty
of merchants selling food and handcrafted goods. At the highest
point in the medina, the Kasbah des Oudaias offers a view into
residential life and provides some dramatic views down the bluffs to
the Atlantic Ocean. Spend some time at the Cafe Maure in the
Kasbah where you enjoy a Moroccan ritual, sipping mint tea and
snacking on pastries while enjoying the views down to the beach.
While in Rabat, DavidTours [DavidTravel]
arranged a dinner at Restaurant Dinarjat with a local gay resident so
that we could learn about life as a gay man in Morocco. We were
escorted to the restaurant that is located in the heart of the medina
by a lantern-bearing guide. The restaurant is located in a
converted private residence and is decorated in a luxurious Moroccan
style. The food was traditional Moroccan food including tajines
and couscous served by a very friendly staff. Whether it was the
delightful dinner guest or just the ambience and food, this was one
of my favorite restaurants in Morocco.
Our next destination was the mysterious city of Fez. As you
wander through the medina of Fez, it is hard to believe that you have
not been transported back in time. The labyrinth of narrow
alleyways within the old city are not wide enough to allow for
motorized vehicles so almost everything is carried on the back of
mules. And as there are no street signs, even local residents
can get lost. Luckily for us, Mohamed was able to navigate this
maze and take us deep into the heart of the medina during several
return visits to the markets and sights that are located within the
old city. Each time we emerged out of the medina into this
century, our Mercedes would pull into view and we were whisked away
like rock stars.
While Mohamed checked us into our hotel in Fez, the five star Palais
Jamai, we were offered refreshing moist towels and mint tea.
The Palais Jamai overlooks the medina and was once the vizier's
pleasure palace. You might feel like you are the vizier himself
while you look over the city spread out below you. The hotel is
a beautiful oasis within the city with an Andalusian styled garden
and rose petals in the fountain that feeds the pool.
On our final night in Fez we had a traditional Moroccan dinner at the
highly rated La Maison Bleue. Before dinner we had drinks with
Mehdi, the owner, who told us the history of this beautifully
restored building, which was formerly his family's home. This
personal attention made it a truly memorable evening.
Leaving Fez, we drove through the scenic Middle Atlas Mountains on
our way to the dramatic city of Marrakech. If you have ever
dreamed of Morocco, Marrakech is probably the embodiment of this
dream. This glowing red city is set in an arid landscape
surrounded by vast stands of palm trees. It looks almost like a
set for a French Foreign Legion film. Located in its own lush
garden within this magical setting is the legendary La Mamounia hotel
where we stayed. This five star hotel, which has consistently
garnered awards from various travel magazines as one of the best
hotels in the world, has hosted visiting dignitaries and celebrities
While the medina of Marrakech offers plenty of shops and sights, the
heart of Marrakech is the Djemaa el-Fna. This is a huge square
where entertainment is on offer at all times of the day. There
you will find dancers, fortunetellers, jugglers, snake charmers,
musicians, and storytellers all competing for your attention.
In the evening the square is transformed into a huge open-air
eatery. Most visitors find themselves returning often to the
square to bask in this unique open-air spectacle.
Our farewell dinner with our guide and driver was at Dar Marjana, one
of the best restaurants in the city. The evening started with
drinks on the rooftop terrace with a nighttime panoramic view of the
city and the stars overhead. The delicious traditional Moroccan
feast that followed was accompanied by live music.
Much too soon, it was time to head back to Casablanca for our flight
home. Before checking into Le Royal Mansour hotel, the
swankiest hotel in the city, we toured the Hassan II mosque in
Casablanca. This mosque is a modern architectural masterpiece
and the largest mosque in the world outside of Saudi Arabia. A
tour of the mosque, which was designed by a non-Muslim Frenchman and
has a retractable roof seemed to be a fitting ending to a sojourn in
this country, which is within sight of Europe but is a world
Morocco has long attracted visitors looking for mystery and
adventure. DavidTours [DavidTravel]
provided us with both while we traveled in luxurious comfort.
Our guide and driver were at our disposal 24 hours a day and
made sure that we saw all the highlights of each city we visited.
They were both willing to engage in discussions on all topics
giving us insights into the religion, customs, and history of their
unique land. After all, gaining an understanding a different
culture is one of the benefits of travel. And at the end of
each day, the high-end hotels where we stayed offered perfect
amenities for relaxation.
After traveling with DavidTours [DavidTravel]
to Southern Africa with a group and to Morocco on a customized
itinerary, I very highly recommend them for any travel needs,
including great deals on hotels and air worldwide.