Cities: Casablanca, Meknes, Volubilis, Rabat, Fes, Merrakesh
No visa needed
Sunny, Rained 1 day (first rain of the year), 70-85F, breezy
This trip was purchased through Groupon. It included round trip flight from New York, airport transportation, stays in 4 star hotels, multi lingual tour guide, tour bus to all cities, breakfast and dinner, entrance to all museums.
We first arrived to Casablanca at 10am. After showering we found something to eat and walked the outskirts of the market. At all of the stops you were to haggle prices and most of the shop people knew some English. While my friends wanted to take a nap, I could only sleep for about an hour and decided to check out more of the market. I didn’t realize how far in the market went and easily got lost. It was getting dark and I was still lost. Every way I would turn there was another ally. I finally stopped and luckily had the name of the hotel on the key card. A nice teenager showed me out of the market and I gave him a big hug forgetting that women and men don’t typically touch unless they are married. Lesson learned… don’t go out alone. After dinner we went out to see some of the night life. They had carts of freshly made sugarcane juice, prickly pears, and snail soup. I tried all of them and regretted the snail soup. The next day we got on the tour bus and headed to the Hassan ll Mosque that we could also see from our hotel room. We were not able to go inside. I was wearing an outfit that I purchased from the market. However, I was later informed the one I got was usually worn to weddings. I was overdressed.
Next we headed to Rabat, Morocco where the current king was in town. We weren’t allowed in the palace and it was heavily guarded. We had to stand across the street. We were taken through some of the city and saw what was known as the “unfinished mosque.” There was also the largest Muslim graveyard where all the graves pointed towards Mecca.
Meknes and Volubilis, Morocco were filled with beautiful architecture and history. We went to a former palace that had different escape routes should the king be attacked. At some point in history the Romans tried to take over some of Morocco. They were pushed out, but some of the ruins were still left behind. Everywhere you go locals will offer to take your picture for you with your camera. Afterwards they will expect you to give them money. I loved my pashmina scarf I also picked up from the market in Casablanca.
In Fes, Morocco we had a tour guide that knew the market well. I would not suggest going into the market without a guide. It is even bigger than the one I was lost in and there are many pickpocketers. Make sure you secure your belongings. In the market the donkies had the right of way. Morocco is known for many things: olives, dates, leather, spices, rugs, fabric, pottery. We were taken to some shops known to sell high quality fabric, leather, and pottery. Also located in Fes is the first Muslim college opened by Fatima, the daughter of the prophet Mohammed.
Merrakesh, Morocco was my favorite city. The market had ladies doing henna, snake charmers, monkey performers, more haggling, and we were taken to a spice shop. My friend was able to buy some dates and got it back into the US in her checked bag. We went to another former palace and saw the incredible detailed architecture. We went to a “fantasia” show where groups went around singing different cultural songs, Arabian horse performers, a belly dancer, and dinner was a traditional Tagen meal. Our last day we rode camels through a desert area. It was pretty hot and sunny, so I suggest sunscreen and some kind of head cover.
Overall it was a great trip filled with culture, history, and food! I was pleasantly surprised by my first Groupon trip and I can’t wait to take my next one! If you haven’t given Groupon a look or hesitating to snatch one of their amazing adventures, I would suggest trying it out for your next vacation in order to save a bundle of money.