After 4 memorable Marrakech days and nights we took a 9-hour train (not exactly the Marrakech Express) to the city of Fez. We stayed in a remarkable lodging Ryad Mabrouka built in 1926 run by French owners that was most impressive in its decoration and layout. There were 8 rooms in this hotel and the food was amazing. We had two dinners and all our breakfasts in the hotel and couldn’t have had more personalized attention from a gourmet chef.
We hired a car and driver to take us on a day trip to Volubilis Roman ruins. We hired a guide onsite and learned a lot about the Roman Empire and its expanse. There was an 18th century earthquake that destroyed this ancient city and it is being slowly excavated.
The Fez Medina was similar to the Marrakech but fortunately the laws did not allow motorbikes or bicycles in the alleyways and the stalls were organized by trades like leather, clothing, ceramics, spices etc. Our last evening, we ordered ahead for a special ancient couscous Moroccan dish in another hotel that also looked like a palace. The meal was absolutely wonderful and we were the only diners. There was a torrential rain so the owner walked us through deserted alleyways to our hotel.
At the Hammam de la Rose in Marrakech and Riad La Aaroussa in Fez, we treated ourselves to a hammam followed by a massage. Hammam is a form of Moroccan scrubbing of the body with black soap. Both spas were very special with amazing lighting and design and the experience was heavenly.
There were so many remarkable things about Morocco. From the moment our flight began its initial descent into Casablanca upon our arrival, we were struck by the lush, green landscape as far as the eye could see. Colors ranging from the deepest forest green to rich light greens, yet we were told that they desperately needed rain. We were also struck by the richness of aromas for everything from soaps, to creams, to herbs and spices . . . everywhere. It was also impossible to miss the prevalence of goat herders throughout the cities and countryside everywhere we traveled. This tradition and the mules pulling plows in the fields really brought us back to centuries ago traditions that remain in Morocco – charming.
The people here have been very friendly and we managed to communicate fairly well despite no knowledge of the Arabic language and very little remembrance of 9th and 10th grade French (sorry Miss Magnolia). The cost of everything was truly reasonable, the food was exceptional and we felt safe. I would not hesitate to return to Morocco and would make certain we planned time for an overnight sleep under the stars in the Sahara Desert.
When the time came to leave Morocco, we took a 4-hour train ride back to Casablanca to board our Qatar Airways flight with transfer at Doha’s Hamad International Airport headed to our next stop, Cape Town, South Africa