03 May 2009

Touring in Morocco

We've spent the last couple of days in London, resting and relaxing at the house of our wonderful friends Erica and Mike. This will be my last stop before returning to NY (I get in Tuesday evening) and I still haven't processed that fully. Probably won't until after I've gotten back home.

Our time here has just been so lovely. Particularly, Erica and Mike's warm hospitality has really been exactly what we needed after our recent journeys in Morocco. Last weekend we spent the Shabbos in Fez. After davening with the community (which we just barely found) we went back to our rather dank hotel and I made kiddush on a bottle of Leben (a type of middle eastern yogurt drink) and had that and an orange for dinner. This week Mike made a gourmet meal which we ate in their warm and comfy home, then retired to an airy, comfy guest room ;-)

But while our travels in Morocco were a bit rough, we did have a fantastic time there! We started our trip by traveling from Paris to Tangiers (we stayed overnight in Paris at our friend Marianna and Ana-Kaisa's). But as I've written previously we ended up spending most of that day in transit. I'll be writing (hopefully) at greater length on each of the spots we visited in Morocco, but this post is mostly about giving the overall scope and timeline of our trip.

We got to Tangiers on Wednesday evening and settled in, seeing a couple of sights in the evening. Thursday we took a tour of Tangiers and the surrounding areas in the morning and spent most of the late afternoon in an unsuccessful and incredibly frustrating negotiation. Friday morning we headed out to Fez on long-distance train ride. After about 5 hours or so we reached Fez, settled into a (not terribly nice) hotel (Linda was ill and we weren't able to shop around). In a bit she recovered some and we went out and managed to find the Fez Jewish community just as evening was coming in (okay we were late, but we did make it to services). On shabbos I went to shul in the morning, and we went on a walking tour of the medina in the afternoon. Sunday morning was rainy. We went to see the Jewish cemetery and then took a train to Marrakech. We ended up just missing the 10:50AM and had to wait until 12:50PM to go, but it was a really pleasant wait in the end (we sat in a cafe, drank tea, and I pick up some food for the ride).

The trip was supposed to be 7 hours, but it took 8 and a half. We were tired, and I was taking ill (finally succumbed to exposure to Linda's germs). Next day we did a half-day tour of Marrakech - I think I started running a fever towards the end of that. So we just hopped on a bus to Essaouria, a relaxed tourist town by the sea and decided to spend the remainder of our trip there. Really good call on that by Linda!

We got into Essaouria and spent a lovely couple of days seeing sights, recuperating a little, and generally having our most vacation-like times of the trip. Thursday midday we headed back to Marrakech. But of course our bus broke down and after much trial and travail I managed to get our hotel to send us a cab to take us to Marrakech. There were some other problems with the cab (a story for another time), but we finally arrived at 9PM. Made some friends along the way, including Alan, a North Irish trader of Moroccan goods, operating out of London. Ended up going to the Marrakech night market with him, having some great food, drinks, and fun times. Midnight we got back to a really low-budget hotel, got to sleep at 1AM for 4 hours and change, then met our (second) driver from the previous night, who took us to the airport. From there forward everything was smooth going and has been since. Looking forward to filling in all of the stories when I've recovered a bit more ;-)

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