Saturday, November 30, 2019

Morocco In A Week, Tips & Tricks

I am leaving Morocco today so I decided to write up a summary of some tips and tricks for visiting the country while I am waiting for my taxi to the airport. I hope they may come in handy for someone so here goes....

Getting to Morocco

From the city in the US where I live, there are no direct flights to Morocco so to break up my trip I booked a direct flight to London. I have a cousin that lives there and I haven't been to the city in such a long time so this was a good opportunity to catch up. From the UK I got a cheap direct flight to Marrakech with a return from Fes using Ryanair flying out of Stansted airport. The total cost was roughly $80 and the flight was pretty short so that was a bonus, getting to Marrakech took only 4 hours and getting back to the UK from fes took only 3 and a half hours.

NOTE: Make sure to check in online if you are flying with Ryanair, I kept getting reminders to check in but I wasn't paying too much mind to the messages thinking I would just do it when I got to the airport. Yeah............not a good idea at all because I ended up paying a check in charge of 55 Pounds! that's about $71!!!!! I never knew about this so please don't be like me, check in 2 hours or more prior to your flight.

Currency

The currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham that currently exchanges for $9.65 to the dollar. At the airport I withdrew some money at an ATM just so that I could have Moroccan Dirhams on me and to also pay for a taxi. Outside the airport you can change your money at the various Western Union and Money Gram locations which are plenty or even ask at the hotel that you are staying at. They should be able to show you where to change your money.

Dress Code

From what I observed, it's pretty casual and not very restrictive. Some local women cover up and others don't, I saw plenty of women wearing skinny jeans. As a tourist I would suggest to wear what makes you comfortable and also be respective of the local culture.

Language Spoken

The official languages are Arabic and Berber, French is also widely spoken and it comes in really handy when interacting with the locals.

Visa Requirements

US and EU citizens don't need a Visa, I don't know about other countries though so it's a good idea to look this up online and find out what the requirements are for your specific country.

Adapter

If traveling from the US, get an adapter similar to this.

Best Time to Travel to Morocco

I have heard and read that spring is the ideal time to travel to the country, summer is extremely hot and winter is not too bad. You might encounter rain and cloudy skies but the big plus is that you will not have to deal with huge crowds of tourists because its low season, it's currently winter season here. I have been lucky that the sun has been out through out my stay but it does get chilly at night.

My 7 Day Morocco Itinerary

Marrakech Day 1 (Arrival) - I landed in the afternoon and I was able to familiarize myself with the main parts of the city thanks to my airbnb host. This was very helpful in knowing how to get to and from the airbnb. 

Day 2 - Spent the entire day up and about exploring the main tourist sites in the city. I had booked a city walking tour so that I would get an overview of what the city has to offer before exploring it on my own. I like walking city tours because they give me an idea of what I might want to explore more off on my own, it's like an overview of the city before you figure out how to navigate it on your own. The walking tour lasted 3 hrs and afterwards I was able to walk around on my own visiting the places that interested me the most.

Day 3 - Decided to take a day trip out of Marrakech for a change of scenery. Booked a tour of the Atlas mountains via airbnb which lasted a whole day.

Day 4 - Departed Marrakech and headed to Fez.

Fes Day 4 (Arrival) - I arrived in the evening so I didn't get to do much but my airbnb host showed me around the neighborhood and gave me pointers to get started on my adventures in Fes.

Day 5 - Spent the whole day exploring the city and even got to experience a visit to a Hammam which was highly recommended.

Day 6 - Took a day trip out to Chefchaouen which was an all day adventure. 

Day 7 (Departure) - Last day in Morocco and I still had time to go back to the Medina for one last look around but I was tired and just wanted to take it easy. 

Traveling Between Fez & Marrakech

There are various ways you can travel between the two cities, below are some of the options you have:

By Train using the Moroccan National Railways ONCF the trip is about 6.5 hours direct and will cost you roughly between $22 - $25 depending on the class you chose. 

By Bus using CTM which is the oldest well established transportation company in Morocco, the buses are very comfortable. The price ranges between $17 - $30 depending on the level of comfort you chose. I hear the scenery along the way is beautiful and the trip lasts between 8 to 9 hours. 

By Car using either a private driver or renting a car to drive by yourself. I suppose prices would vary here so I don't have estimated costs but I would assume if you use a private driver it will cost you a lot more. I met a couple of travelers who used a private car to travel from Fes to Marrakech and they mentioned the trip lasted 8 hours, I did not ask how much they paid for it.

By Air using Air Arabia that flies between the two cities. I did not want to waste precious hours on the road so I decided to fly, it's only a 45 minute flight and I paid $58 for a one way trip. Air Arabia is very strict on their two luggage policy; I had my backpack, my little cross body purse and carry on suitcase but when I was about to board I was informed that not only would I have to check in my carry on but I would also have to pay 200 Moroccan Dirhams ($20). I should have just stuffed my cross body purse in my backpack because I don't like the whole luggage check in and retrieval process. 

NOTE: I converted the prices to dollars so they are rough estimates but it gives you an idea of how much you might be expected to pay. 

In Conclusion 

Morocco is a big country so with only 7 days I tried to make the most out of my trip and I think I did a pretty good job, the most important thing is that I got to see and experience what I wanted so I am happy about that. I hope you have enjoyed my updates and photos because the next time you will be hearing from me again will be in March when I take my annual birthday trip, it's all booked and I can't wait to share with you where I will be going. Who knows, maybe in between I might take a trip but it just depends on the opportunity. Anywho...........Morocco has been a blast and now its time to go back to reality, bills have to be paid and money has to be made for future trips so until then...........see yah! 

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