A Travellerspoint blog

"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world..

we walk into this ...(just like being in a movie)

sunny

I woke up to the sounds of the "call to prayer" this morning. All is quiet and then you start to hear the long chant which, once again, reminds me that I am in a totally different environment...or as Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz) put it...."we ain't in Kansas anymore". After breakfast we start our journey to Fes. Once out of the city limits the views are very scenic...the Middle Atlas mountains in the distance, fields of lavender, on the edges of the forest stands with truffles being sold, Olive trees and farms with sheep. I also notice that even the small villages have their own mosques.

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From a distance we can see the UNESCO World Heritage site that we came to see. This city was the administrative center of the Roman Empire. Volubilis was a bustling city and is one of Morocco's best-preserved Roman ruins.

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We continue on to Meknes where we view the Mansour Gate which is known for its beautiful zellij mosaics and take a tour of the medina there.

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On the way we notice many people: men, women, children on the highways and in the bigger towns....begging. Signs that say we are Syrian refugees. Mohammed tells us that refugees are accepted in Morocco. Because of their strong religious beliefs and the fact that these refugees are a repercussion of war...their motto is: all accepted.

Mohammed has a goal. By the end of this tour we will be able to speak a few words of Arabic. He distributes a sheet with some basic words and phrases and.... we begin: Salam alikoum (hello), Chokran (Thank you). Sounds like we need some practice.

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On the way to Fes we stop at a store to pick up some wine for our stay the riad: Riad Salam Fes. We walk a short distance thru the medina which is a bit different than the one in Rabat. This one has very narrow path and not many shops where we are. Not that we notice anyway. The buildings look very bland and basic...many in need of repair from the looks of the exterior walls. I would love to venture out thru the medina but its been a long day and I'm quite sure I wouldnt be able to find my way back. It is quite the maze and I can see no obvious landmark to use as a guide. If I were to take this opportunity, along with my very recently-learned limited Arabic, I see a long night ahead.and not one that I am up for at the moment. I spot the sign to our hotel and step inside. Now I can explore.... This is Morocco. This screams Morocco. Wow! I have no words:

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I thought I had no words. I have words: I feel like I stepped into a storybook. " Ali Babaland". We are welcomed with "Moroccan Whiskey" and almond cookies and shown our rooms for the next two nights.

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After a tasty kebab dinner we retreat to the rooftop for a glass of wine and then......to bed.

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 12:28 Archived in Morocco Tagged riad fez salam Comments (0)

"God protects those who visit the King's Palace"

Rabat

sunny

We head out today to visit the capital of Morocco which is the city of Rabat. We stop at the Kings Palace which is heavily guarded...so....no siting of the King. The grounds are adorned with gardens and are well tended. Of course, there is a mosque where one of the facts we learn is that the spire with the three orbs represent Judaism (top), Christianity (middle) and Muslim (bottom).

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We continue on to visit Bab Rouah a.k.a. "Gate of the Winds" due to the battering of the Atlantic winds it has endured since its construction in 1197. It is the most majestic of the five gates located in Rabat and, at one time, served as the entrance to the city. It is now a gallery which is dedicated to displaying contemporary art created by local Moroccan artists.

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Hassan Tower and the mausoleum of Mohammed V which contains the tombs of King Hassan II and his 2 sons are the two most visited sites in Morocco. Hassan Tower is an incomplete mosque due to sultan Yacoub al Mansour's death during construction. this brought everything to a halt. These two landmarks are heavily guarded by elaborately decorated Royal Moroccan guards ( white horses included). A reader of the Koran has an assigned seat and is often present.

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Kasbah of the Udayas is another worthwhile fortress to explore. I've read about the blue and white streets of this well preserved fortress and I'm excited see it. It was built in the 12 th century and after the death of Yacoub al Mansour the kasbah was deserted after being destroyed during the capture of Rabat.

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Along the way we stroll through the French-colonial Andalusian gardens which is beautiful beside the ruins of the fortress.

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Chellah: the Muslim burial ground and ruins of an ancient Roman outpost. It was first established as a trading emporium and called Sale. Rick kept seeing signs that said Sale and was wondering what was being sold. Sale also became a Muslim burial ground. There actually was no operation out of Sale ( called old Sale) but operated out of the city center which is now known as Rabat (New Sale).

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Mohammed asked us we on the way back to our Villa if we would like to get the feel of the medina in Rabat. We were game!

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After a full day we decided to take advantage of the beautiful pool again which "wet" our appetites. During the swim we heard our first "call to prayer" (which Rick calls... 'the horn'). We experienced a "mall of restaurants" tonight where we enjoyed a bite to eat with a few new friends.

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 12:10 Archived in Morocco Tagged gardens tower the of rabat hassan kasbah andalusian chellah bab ruoah udayas! Comments (0)

"Round up the usual suspects..."

Rabat

sunny

We arrive at the gate of Villa Mandarine. The moment I step out of the car the fragrance of orange blossoms is the first greeting; It's such an intoxicating scent. A beautiful garden, colored lanterns and a brick path lead us to a tiled mosaic entryway to reception where, Mohammad, our guide, greets us with a welcome drink and the key to our room.

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The setting of this hotel is in a mandarin orange grove; hence, the name and the fragrance of orange blossoms which permeates the air. The garden, courtyard, mosaic tile, woodwork and art is a wonderful blend of Moroccon and French design. The pool invites us to take a dip after our journey from New York. Later in the day we attend a welcome meeting which brings our travelling companions together for an introduction as well as some words of wisdom from Mohammad about Moroccon culture and some do' and don'ts while in Morocco.

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There are 12 of us who gather, once again, for a Welcome Dinner in the hotel restaurant. We have choices for dinner: Lobster tartare with mango and avocado, Moroccan Harira and garnishes, Leg of suckling lamb with sweet garlic, Chicken Tajine and for dessert: Milk pastilla or chocolate mousse. Of course there is wine, mineral water, tea and coffee. Foodies that we are, we try it all .... Delish!

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 06:06 Archived in Morocco Comments (1)

Wander Woman

Morocco...another adventure

sunny

I was bitten by the bug again....the travel variety. It is time to get away for a little change of scenery...and....what better place for this but...Morocco. This means that it is also time for me to dust off the "proverbial" pen and start documenting the adventures of our upcoming trip. Flights are booked on Royal Air Maroc, reservations made at riads, kasbahs, Berber tents, a night camping in the desert and camel trekking. I'm trying to travel light but that has been the plan everywhere we've travelled and I still always bring more than needed.

Rick is as thrilled as usual but actually showed some interest and asked a relevant question. "What is the temperature there? " That's about as excited as he gets at this point. (He'll come around...he always does.... and always ends up enjoying the experience). Now, if only he can remember that it is Morocco we are going to....not Monaco.

Why Morocco?

Well, it's an easy country to travel to...its close proximity to Europe and a diverse culture brings people from around the world.

We don't need a Visa

It is one of the safer countries to visit. Here's a fun fact: Morocco's relationship with the United States dates back to 1777 ... Morocco was the first nation to officially recognize the US as an independent nation....and we've been friends ever since!

Food. It is known as the culinary hub of North Africa. (I can't wait)

One week before our flight, the news on television announced that our new President has issued an electronics ban on direct inbound flights from certain countries, one of them....being Morocco. We can only carry our cellphones or medical devices on board....no cameras, ipads, electronic games, computers, etc.... we need to pack them in our luggage in checked baggage.

We arrive at the airport at 6:00 p.m. (the recommended 3 hour pre-departure check-in time), are handed our boarding passes and then told that our flight is delayed 4 hours. We are given vouchers for dinner and 8000 travel miles in compensation. At 1:30 a.m. we finally take off and to our surprise our flight is half empty! There are plenty of seats for us to lay down and relax. The flight is smooth, the food decent ....what more could we ask for?! Seven hours later at the airport in Casablanca our transport is waiting patiently for us and drives us to our Villa in Rabat.

And so the adventure begins!

http://www.villamandarine.com

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 15:12 Archived in Morocco Tagged rabat 40th casablance Comments (0)

Victorian Stroll

Enjoy Troy

semi-overcast

It's that time of year again...time to get into the Christmas spirit and what could be better than a Victorian stroll. Once again we embark on our yearly trek to Troy, NY for this special event. It is a day filled with food, fun and festivities. The weather is a bit overcast but that does not dampen our day in the least. Once parked, we start our stroll up and down the streets admiring the architecture of the city.

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The windows are decorated, the smell of kettle corn fills the air..and..always a favorite...a stop at The Placid Baker for:

Almond Croissant
Lemon Croissant
Ham and Cheese Croissant
Pistachio Cookies
Expresso Hazelnut Cookies
Ginger Cookies....oh yes, and a Stollen!

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Great entertainment---everywhere!

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Plenty of ART to enjoy....

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Strollers....

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Greenery....

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Even the Suffragettes were out in full force!!!

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And...look who waved at me!

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 09:37 Archived in USA Tagged ny victorian troy stroll suffragettes Comments (0)

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