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November '06: Oriental Visit - Morocco

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The paperwork had been done very quickly – Port Captain, Customs, Police and Immigration. They were all happy to have us here in Morocco and it was no problem to leave the boat here and travel inland. The next two days we cleaned the boat, did some reading on Morocco and waited for S/Y WATERAAP, Marc’s cousin Syl and her partner Pascal to arrive. Together we wanted to explore Casablanca, Fès, Meknès and Marrakesh.

Our first visit was Casablanca, a 15 minutes train ride away. We took the train around lunch time and missed our stop – we got off the train in Berrechid. There we waited for about an hour to take the train back to Casa By the time we got back to Casa it got dark, but we stopped anyway at the world’s third largest mosque – Mosque Hassan II. It looks very impressive in the floodlights! The stunning mosaics, wood art and colours! After that we strolled through the medina (old town) and ate local take-away food along the way for dinner.

A couple of days later we took the train to Fès, the oldest of the imperial cities. Through the tourist office we found a hotel for three nights. On our first day we set out to explore the Fès el-Jdid (legacy of the Jewish heritage), went on to the lookout point on the north side of Fès and enjoyed the sunset on the terrace of the Sofitel – Palace Jamaï – with coffee and of course “the à la menthe” (mint tea).

On our second day we had a guide. He showed us first the Pottery: all handmade, amazing how talented and patient these people are! Fès medina is an incredible maze of approx. 9400 twisting alleys, blind turns and hidden souqs. There was too much to see for only a couple hours: carpets, weaving mill, the tanneries and leather goods, silver/gold/copper and wood art, cloths, shoes, food… a colourful “confusion”. At the end of our tour, absolutely exhausted, we had a very good Moroccan meal at a typical Moroccan restaurant.

The next day we headed back towards Mohammedia with a stop in Meknès. We found a guesthouse in our guide and took a taxi to the medina. Here the medina was easier to navigate so we found our Ryad (guesthouse) right away. We got lucky, they had rooms available and we decided to stay two nights. The Ryad Bahia was a very beautiful place to stay at – an oasis within the medina! There was also a restaurant and we enjoyed all our Moroccan meals during our stay here.

In Meknès we explored everything on our own, no guide needed. We went to see the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, The Granary and of course the Medina. We had a great time and enjoyed strolling through the streets, alleys and parks.

The next day we visited Volubilis, site of the largest and best preserved Roman ruins in Morocco, just about an one hour taxi drive away. On our way back we stopped in Moulay Idris – a nice, picturesque town nestled in the mountains.

Back on S/Y MELMAR Y we tried to “digest” all the impressions before we travelled on to Marrakesh. We only stayed one night as some things tend to repeat themselves. Marrakesh was also very “touristy” – much more than e.g. Meknès. During our one day tour we visited Djemaa el-Fna, a huge square in the medina, the Saadian Tombs, the Palace Bahia and of course the souqs.

From the cities we visited in Morocco we liked Meknès the best. But what we are still missing is a trip through the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. But time was running out! We sure will be back one day to visit more remote places… 

pictures to this logbook entry: Morocco I - Casablanca Morocco II - Fes (Palast, Medina) Morocco III - Fes (Medina) Morocco IV - Fes (Medina) Morocco V - Fes (Pottery) Morocco VI - Meknes (Medina) Morocco VII - Meknes (Grannery, Mausoleum) Morocco VIII - Meknes/Volubilis Morocco IX - Meknes/Moulay Idris Morocco X - Marrakesh

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