Morocco_ the full diary

Ok well Im still in Marakesh just wasting a bit of time until I get the night train back to Tangier tonight and then the ferry back to Spain and a flight home tomorrow. Ive finally found a computer that actually works so I’ll put together a bit more of a coherent account of what I’ve been up to.

Tue 23rd March- 4 of us caught a flight from Luton to Malaga with easyjet a bargain at just 40 quid. We were then picked up at the airport by travelmate Steph’s Grandfather who took us back to his beautiful house just outside Malaga.

Wed 24th- we all spent the day by the pool in the sun, brilliant. Free food, free pool and accomodation, lots of sun. What more can you ask for.

Thu 25th- All up early and joined by final travelmate Steve a typically loud Northerner who laughed pretty much through the entire trip. We caught the bus to Algeciras(4-5 quid) and then the ferry on to Tangier(15 quid). On the ferry we met Kay and Sam 2 Swansea uni students who had hitchhicked all the way to Algeciras. Every Easter loads of Uni students across the UK hitch to Morocco in order to raise money for charity. The ones we met had great stories of lifts by the police, sleeping in supermarket car parks and nearly being arrested for being illegal immigrants by Spanish police.

So with our travel group increased to 7 we made plans to catch the night train to Marrakesh. Arriving in Tangier can be a stressful experience. The constant hustling and confusing networks of streets make it a harsh place for first time visitors so we decided to get the help of an official guide for the evening. Our guide a portly Fes wearing grandpa called Mohamed was a God send. He showed us around the markets stopping at loads of shops where we were given demonstrations of their goods. The owners seemed a bit disappointed when we didn’t buy anything but treated us like honoured guests.

We finally said goodbye to Mohamed at the station after he had taken us on a most bizarre route to the station along deserted old railway lines and had narrowly managed to avoid falling into a ditch along the way.

We bought tickets to Marrakesh(11 quid) and then proceeded to try and squash 7 sleeping people into one cabin.

Fri 26th- We awoke for the final few hours of our journey into Marrakesh to see the morning sun shinning and a beautiful landscape of mountains and cactus rimmed fields passing us by outside the train. After Tangier arriving in Marrakesh seemed much more of a relaxed affair. We shunned the offers of overpriced taxi rides and decided to walk towards the hotels in the medina area of the city in the sun.
We settled on a hotel called the Hotel Ali just off the main square. The rooms were good and clean, breakfast was included and the view from the roof top terrace zas brilliant, all this for a fiver a night. Apparently a lot of the other hotels in the area are just as good value for money.

After all rushing to be first to the showers to wash off the over night train muck we decided to hit the streets of Marrakesh. The hotel is just off the main market sqaure of Djemma el fna which during the day is pretty tame with a few snake charmers and chained up monkeys but when evening arrives huge numbers of food stalls set up for business and vast crowds gather around the entertainers in square creating a party atmosphere every single evening.

From the main sqaure run many small alleyways all filled with different stores which try to hustle you as you walk by. The stall holders banter gets a bit tiring after a while, after all there’s only so many times you can put up with a Moroccan saying lovely jubley or offering you special ‘fish and chips price’. I was very pleased though when one guy offered me ‘ASDA price’ on a drum I wanted.

The hustling can be a bit over powering at first and it’s very easy to get paranoid about peoples intensions when they come up to speak to you, but after a while you realise that for the most part it’s friendly sales pitch and most shop holders love you to come in and try out their goods even if you don’t buy anything.
Sometimes it does just get overly irritating though especially in the main sqaure. In the evenings you get constantly pestered by small kids who put on a sad face and ask for money only for you to see them walking about smiling a minute later.

Sat 27th- Spent a lot of the day just exploring around the medina again. We also visited the Jardin Majorelle. It’s quite small but really beautiful. The main attraction is the colours used, especially the bright cobalt blue used to colour many of the plant pots and buildings in the garden.

Sun 28th- Time to escape the city, so we hired a mini bus to take a group of 10 of us(original 5, + 4 hitch hikers from Swansea and an army officer called Mike) to the cascades d’ouzoud about 3 hours drive into the mountains from Marrakesh. The casacades are a popular holiday destination for local moroccans and tourists a like but they are still relatively uncrowded. The waterfall is amazingly beautiful, each time you look at it it’s like seeing it a new for the first time. When we arrived it was beautifully sunny and groups of young moroccans were swimming in the river, drumming and dancing. But a huge rain storm quickly changed that and our plans to camp outside. We took refuge in a small hut, and by a few hours later the place was virtually deserted. A lot of slidding about in the mud and swimming in freezing cold water followed but by the morning the sun was back and we had the whole valley almost to ourselves apart from the occasional cafe owner and the local barbery apes.

It seems strange to be thankful for it raining all day but it did mean we got one of Morocco’s most picturesque views almost completely to ourselves. It also gave us a chance to get to know some of the locals where we were staying as they had no other customers to take care of. In the end the bill was about 6 quid each!!! that’s for a nights accomodation and about 4 meals + countless cups of coffee and tea over the 2 days.

Mon 29th- We returned to Marrakesh in the afternoon all a bit sad to be leaving the cascades but some of the group had booked a desert trip for the next day so we had to go. 🙁

Tue 30th- spent my final free day doing last minute shopping around Marrakesh before getting the night train back to Tangier.

Wed 31st- spent the whole day travelling finally got home at about 2.30am after about 30 hours of constant travelling. EXHAUSTED!!!!!

So did i manage it on a budget of £200. Well sort of £80 for flights, and £120 in Morocco but I also spent about £50 in euros getting to and back from Tangier to Malaga Airport. But considering I spent about £45 on shopping while I was out there I could easily have done it on less. Also I could have saved an extra £20 on the flights if I had booked them a week more in advance.
So there you have it Morocco a great place for a taste of the exotic on a budget price.

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