Note: You can read about my adventures and check out each link in the following dissertation or......
You can click on this link ~ Moroccan Photos ~ and view the photos taken on my travels in Morocco!
We left Los Angeles International Airport on December 27th to Paris - Wednesday, 2000 and landed in Casablanca on Thursday, took the train to Rabat the capital for two days, then the train to Fez for a day! Next we hired a Mercedes and driver to take us through the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech and we arrived after ten hours, at about six PM and got the last room at the Sheraton Hotel where we stayed for two days! Celebrated New Years 2001 and then took the train to Casablanca. After a full day there, we took the train back to the airport and back to Paris, Los Angeles, and San Francisco! A lot to see in only a little more than one week!
26 December - Tuesday - Beverly Hills: I flew down from San Francisco a day early and we stayed at the LAX Hilton as Viviane was having her house redone, new bath room and paint job, inside and out! We had breakfast at the Hilton and then drove over to the house in Beverly Hills to view the work and talked about the color for the outside of the house but with no results. So back to the Hilton and stopping on the way for dinner at Ruth's Steak House by Rodeo Drive. So good! We talked and then Viviane thought we should go back and discuss the paint color again. So off to the house and continued to view the differing colors. I suggested a couple of colors and finally we agreed which ones looked the best.
Back to the Hilton and now it was around ten PM so off to the pool and the hot tub for a good soak before hitting the 'hay' and having a good nights sleep before starting our long trek from LAX to Paris and on to Casablanca!
27 December - Wednesday Paris to Casablanca: Well we arrived at the Paris Charles de Gaulle for our connecting flight to Casablanca. We met a man who sat next to us on the flight and was a social worker in Morocco and was going back to work there. He was around 65 or so and asked Viviane if I was a movie star! Excuse me! So we landed in Casa and found the train station was in the airport. Talk about easy, so off to Casa where we decided it was easier just to change trains and go to Rabat. A big decision as first class was $4 from the airport to Casa and to Rabat, $8. No smoking in some of the private cars so that was our choice.
We arrived in Rabat by train around eight PM and hired a cab to go to the Meridien Hotel and see if we could rent a room. We were lucky and got a room over looking the fantastic garden court yard. The hotel was beautiful with the most fantastic mosaics on the walls as you can see with this picture of Viviane by the entrance to the bar! We had dinner at the hotel and had two waiters! Obviously the one had never opened a wine bottle so the other waiter stood behind us and kept giving the other one a look like he wasn't doing it right. Of course the cork broke in half and the poor waiter kept at it. I said I would just as soon do it myself! Dinner was so, so.
28 December - Thursday - Rabat: We got up early and had breakfast, part of our room charge and off to see the town. We decided to walk as it was such a beautiful day and town is so pretty. We first stopped at the unfinished mosque and the Hassan Tower that was build over 800 years ago! We then saw a man that we couldn't believe. He had on an outrageous outfit! We wondered what he did and soon found out he had a skin full of water and he offered drinks to people for a slight fee. We didn't take up the offer as everyone drank out of the same copper dish, but we did take a picture and gave him a tip, it was worth it as you can see by the picture!
This was called the Chellah, one of our favorite spots. It is a protected area surrounded by the old walls of a Muslim fortress. Originally the Phoenicians built here about 800 B.C.E.! Then the Romans built a city on those ruins. We saw a stele with Caesar's name and other famous Roman names, broken statues and columns
Then the Muslims came and built the fort and finally it became a place of meditation. There is a beautiful garden and hundreds of cranes nesting in the ruins and the trees. All in all, a wonderful way to spend a day!
We then went to the Kasbah and were lead on a merry chase by two swindlers! Our fault as usual! One took us on a tour and said it was 100 Dirhum which we paid to the supposed gate keeper and then realized that was $10. We were screwed! We also tipped the guide. Live and learn as they say!
We eventually ended up at a cafe along the Atlantic Ocean before returning to the hotel. We decided to have a Moroccan dinner at the hotel and that dining room was fantastic with mosaics and the employees dressed in Moroccan costumes.
We also had a steam bath, dry heat, and a massage by a wonderful woman. Half an hour for $20 and it was as good as it can get!
30 December - Friday - Rabat to Fez: We caught the train for Fez where the bazaar has a great rug place named Aux Merveilles du Tapis - Fax: (212-5)63.61.66. Getting to the shop was a trip in its self! As you can see by this picture, the boy was coming at me and I took the picture. Viviane and the rest of the crowd just stood there as he continued on a bee line toward me. I squeezed against the wall as he bore down on me. Everyone just looked and the twit on the donkey just kept coming. I was pushed against the wall and hit by the canisters! The people behind me on the street just kept walking toward him so I was caught in the middle! Another close encounter on a vacation, and by a donkey at that!
We saw a Mosque build into the Bazaar walls, a strange sight. Stalls and walkways and suddenly door ways into mosques, palaces, harems, and so on! Here is Chuck and Viviane sitting in a Harem Palace! This is the famous rug shop where we wanted to view rugs and price them. We spent about two hours here having green tea or 'whiskey' and having them show us new and also old rugs. This gave us a good idea about quality and price in case we or I should say Viviane, decides to ever buy an oriental rug. Back to the Isis Hotel and a good rest before our trip through the Atlas Mountains on New Years Eve.
31 December - Sunday - Atlas Mountains to Marrakech: We hired a Mercedes and driver and left the Isis Hotel in Fez around nine AM. Off we went and first we stopped to view a village sitting on the edge of a hill in the Atlas Mountains. We stopped at a park where there are the largest cedar trees still living and also a band of Berber Apes! It had snowed so they were hungry! Viviane and I had a great time feeding them as they will take peanuts from your hand. Viviane took this picture which includes her finger! We continued on and stopped several times for tea or a sandwich and also saw a group of men pressing olives. Our driver stopped so he could buy several quarts of fresh olive oil for his wife and seven children. He offered one of his daughters to Viviane as a house maid, "You don't have to pay her, just a bed and meals is sufficient!" Yes, just what Viviane needs, an undocumented Moroccan! We also stopped several times for lunch or tea at side walk cafes which were fun, Viviane of course being the only woman around! Finally we approached Marrakech and could see the snow capped mountains over looking the city. We then had our New Years Eve dinner at the Sheraton Hotel which has a fabulous lobby and we finished with our customary champagne in the bar at midnight!
01 January - Marrakech: As we walked down a main boulevard, we saw many times, donkeys pulling such huge loads. People still hide their faces because of the camera's ability to steal their souls. Still, the king has his picture plastered all over the country so please explain the reason behind this belief in today's world! Especially with tourist all over taking pictures. I tried not to bother people but a telephoto lens is the best bet!
Hotel La Mamounia Marrakech. This is the hotel we wanted to stay in but the King and his security guards took the entire hotel. It used to be a palace and was converted into a hotel. It was off limits but we went to the front door and while the guards were arguing with some French people, Viviane and I just pushed our way through and took pictures and wondered all around the grounds! It is done in Moorish and Art Deco style.
We then went to the Kasbah where we saw rugs hanging out for display and other things for sale. Here is the best or worse story of the trip, are you ready? I have a great sense of direction, ask Viviane if you don't believe me. After buying my sister a beautiful indigo silk and gold caftan, we wondered around the bazaar and kept walking as we thought we were close to an exit. Wrong! We walked about half an hour and it was getting twilight! Suddenly we were the only ones not Moroccan. We weren't sure what to do and I was getting nervous. Viviane yelled out, "Chuck, there's a taxi behind us!" "Sure" I said. Well there was and it barely fit between the walls. This picture was taken just before we found the taxi! I thought maybe the last picture we took unless I sold Viviane to a White Slaver for ransom!
We managed to get a door open, barely enough room and thanked our lucky stars we were safe. Then the local taxi drive asked some man standing by the wall, in French, "How do I get out of here!" We couldn't believe it, a local lost in the Kasbah! We were lucky, it took him almost 20 minutes of driving to find a way out. We might still be there except for Viviane's quick pick up of the taxi! We then went back to the beginning of the Kasbah and had a drink on the roof top of a cafe. Here we could see the stalls being setup and the snake charmers taking money from the tourists. A great way to end an exciting afternoon!
Viviane decided we needed to do something the last night in Marrakech. She wanted to go to the Ali Baba evening of entertainment. Hmmmm! So we were picked up around 8:30 PM and out of town to a strange place like a pseudo Disney Land but on a smaller scale. Dinner in a tent and we were screwed right off the bat. Tables with Moroccans got huge slabs of meat. We got left-overs! "Carve" was Viviane's comments to me at the table. Sure, with a dull knife. Then the wonderful dancers, all looked like they were in a daze. Left foot, right foot, right foot, left! Give me a break. Just the beginning of a forgettable evening! We finally saw a camel at the out door show. Viviane had to get close but the camel was nasty and had a muzzle on so as to not bite people who got too close. There were Berber horsemen who shot guns in the air and riders doing tricks plus a poor woman/girl on a float doing a belly dance but had a hard time getting back up after doing the back ward slid onto the floor!
02 January - Tuesday - Marrakech to Casa: Our last day in Marrakech and first we stopped at a shop at the Sheraton. This man had the best gifts and as good a price as anywhere. So I began to shop! He was playing Mozart and I said, "Nice music!" He said it was Berber music! I said Blue Berber and we all laughed, he was very nice. We also stopped at another shop in the hotel and Viviane got her first squeeze from a man in Morocco as he was telling us about his wife!
Then we took a taxi down town to have our last drink on the roof top to view the city. A perfect day and a perfect way to end our two day stay in Marrakech. It felt like a week with all we did, New Years Eve walking, touring, Ali Baba and so on!
02 January - Tuesday - Casablanca: So off we went to the Marrakech train station for our last leg of the trip back to Casablanca and Rick's Bar. We met a man on the train from Paris, he lives in Rabat and has three factories in Marrakech. He designs and also manufactures caftans. He was very interesting, says he pays his workers about $130 a month. Also wanted to know about opening a business in the US. So we filled him in on fashions and so on. The country side is very dry and not much to see so it was nice to have someone interesting to talk to!
After we got to Casa we went to another Isis Hotel. Then we went to Rick's Bar since a friend of mine, Rosemary, indicated she wanted to know all about it. Well guess what, the bar is in the Hilton and has polished marble floors and teak wood furniture and wall dividers. Looks like a bar in Bangkok, not Casa. There is a back pianist with a baby grand and he was very good, singing 1940 songs. We had beer and our favorite olives. They were running loops of the movie Casablanca and we had to laugh as that bar looked nothing like this one! We decided to have dinner back at the Isis Hotel and service was so, so. We couldn't get any serviettes or napkins so we started a chant, serviettes, serviettes! A black waiter with a sense of humor came over and gave Viviane a napkin and then proceeded to open the other one, place one end under my plate and stuffed the other end into my belt! So there I was, a napkin hanging between my stomach and the plate. Viviane just smiled and the waiter also gave me one of those smiles. Well we did get the napkins!
03 January - Wednesday - Casablanca: We left early in morning to hit the high spots and guess what, we walked ourselves to death! Five miles if not more!
First to the bazaar where I was busy shopping as usual, but suddenly every thing looks the same! Ceramics, silver tea pots by the hundreds and so on. Well enough of that so we took off for downtown and decided to go to the fishing port as Viviane wanted to visit the fishermen! We were going to take a cab but kept walking. Saw shop after shop where they made awnings. The same fabric, the same awnings. Now who buys the same thing at the same shops, how do they make any money. The same with fabric. Every other shop a fabric store but exactly the same design in each one? We never did figure that out.
The fishing boats had just come in and there were hundreds. We were the only tourists there and we stopped and asked the types of fish they caught and viewed the boats. Everyone was very nice. Then more walking and soon we were approaching the mosque - poor people living in squalor four hundred feet away from a multi-million dollar structure! The roof opens like a sports area to the sky. I have included more pictures as it is a beautiful building, left side, the right side, and the huge gates made of aluminum. This was one of my favorite views looking out towards the Atlantic. A man heard Viviane talking in French and said he was from Marseilles. He took our picture in front of the mosque. These are some of the fantastic mosaics and a look inside with a fantastic ceiling. All in all, the most important thing to see in Casa.
Well Viviane was in a bad mood. She wanted in the mosque and we were told that we couldn't. So we sat on the bench and viewed the mosque. Viviane was quiet. Uh, oh, trouble. She was handling the cameras and said she was charging me extra for all the handling and putting them into and out of her purse. Then we saw a tour group going towards the mosque. Viviane indicated maybe we should follow them. I finally said that was a good idea. So off we went after the crowd. We saw the door was open so we rushed ahead. A woman was following us trying to stop us. Viviane said to move it as she didn't want to be hassled. We went faster, the woman went faster. Viviane said to ignore the woman, walk faster. Finally the woman caught up and said that 'we' had forgotten our camera. Viviane's face was white as a sheet, it was my digital camera! All we could do was say 'Thank You' as often as possible. Someone was almost in big trouble! So we got to view the inside at least, no going in but better than nothing!
Then we went to the artisans school which had men doing mosaics, building lutes, baskets, and one woman weaving a rug. We were pooped put decided on the last night to go to the board walk along the Atlantic and have dinner. Back to the Isis Hotel for a good nights sleep and to pack the next morning for home!
04 January - Thursday - To Paris: I am ready to board the train at the Casablanca Station to head to the airport and back to Paris.
Another story, on the Air France plane to Paris, the woman next to us ate all her food and then put all the plastic plates, utensils and the packet of salt and pepper plus the salad dressing into the air sickness bag to take home! She also ordered wine, unopened to take home. The steward, a young cute Frenchman, asked for our empty plates and he did a double take. We tried not to laugh. All she had was an empty tray which we were surprised she didn't take also. He got mad and asked for them back. She said, "NO!" He was mad. I went back to he and the other stewards and told them we wanted our dinner ware plus the trays and the cart. I told them Viviane and I were going to play Air France at home! Viviane will be the pilot and I will be the steward serving the food. They cracked up! The woman next to us informed him she took everything on every flight, it takes all kinds I guess.
By the way, these are some of the things
04 January - Thursday - Paris to LAX: We got on the plane to Paris and a man was sitting behind us talking to the other passengers sitting by him. He lives in LA and we all started talking. He was born and raised in Morocco, about 35 years old or so. Has two Ph.D.s and a Masters I believe, a Fullbright Scholarship and so on. Teaches in minority schools in LA. Anyway he said he was in Morocco a month and was going to sleep from Paris to LAX because the doctor gave him "drugs". He said he was teaching leadership to underprivileged children the next morning, Friday, at nine PM. We got to LAX and Viviane and I flew through customs, her one item, my six items, total, under $100.00! As we left I saw him and yelled out, "Have a good time tomorrow!" Viviane told me to shut up and watch where he was going. Uh, oh, the customs man was leading him down a one way street to the interrogation room! Hmmmm, wonder if those drugs were hash! We had to laugh that he was suppose to be teaching leadership, yes, leadership. No wonder kids have a hard time if this is what is teaching them about leadership. So off to the Hilton for a good nights sleep and a very hot shower!
05 January - Friday - Los Angeles International Airport to San Francisco: We had coffee and went down for breakfast as it was part of the Hilton package. I decided instead of going over to Beverly Hills as my flight was after four PM, I would just take the shuttle to LAX and try and get an early flight. This gave Viviane a chance to get herself together for the ride to her house and to see how far along the work had progressed since we left. Unfortunately it hadn't gotten too far so I was glad I went home! I got to the airport at nine and caught a ten AM flight to San Francisco, caught a cab and was home by 11:30 AM. Took the film to be developed and had it by four PM. I am so good! So as you can see, another great vacation for under $2,000 which included everything! Not bad is it? Lets see, 2002 is just a year away!
San Francisco California
Updated on: 2015.03.25