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Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


I'm headed to Morocco with my girlfriend for a week in mid January, flying into Marrakech. I've been reading travel forums (and God there are so many about Morocco) but most seem to be oriented towards British travelers who have never left their home town before and who will be amazed by a guy selling mounds of spices from a souk stall.

My main questions are: a) is it worth it to rent a car? Definitely not driving in Marrakech, but for just getting around in general. We were considering going to Essaouira, and if there's nothing else cool particularly in the area / on the way, we'll take a bus, but if there are interesting places to stop along the way, a car might be easier.

b) Anything particularly highly recommended in southern Morocco (not considering up to Fez & environs; we'll be back to Morocco and will go north then). If we've been around deserts and oases before, will Ouazazate still be particularly impressive?

c) Is it worth spending time in Marrakech, or should it be treated as an airport? We get in at like 8:30am the first day and leave at like 9:00am the last day, so I guess we'll definitely spend our last day in Marrakech.

We're torn between a relaxing vacation and a cultural one, but considering it's mid January, relaxing and sun sounds better, even though it won't be particularly warm. OTOH I'm not sure if it's worth going to Essaouira if it's not even nice enough to sit outside at a cafe and read.

Looking for suggestions on what to do, not warnings about how rug vendors do not actually care about my family and my personal life story.


Edit: Ended up renting a car and going with this itinerary:

Day 1: Land Sunday at 8am, rent a car, drive to Ait Benhaddou. Spend a few hours there until sunset time, then drive to Ouarzazate. Spend that night (Sunday).
Day 2: Spend the day in Ouarzazate. Spend the night there.
Day 3: Drive towards Ourika, stopping at Telouet for a couple hours. Spend the night in Ourika.
Day 4: Spend the day and night in Ourika.
Day 5: Drive to Marrakech, drop off car early afternoon. Spend night there.
Day 6: Marrakech
Day 7: Marrakech (11 January, Moroccan independence day, so I guess poo poo will be going down?)
Day 8: Flight midmorning.

~10 hours of driving and budget of ~€1500, including plane tickets for two.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Jan 2, 2014 around 10:44

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Xandu
Feb 19, 2006


It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am.

Marrakesh is fun, no reason to avoid it. I think it's worth staying one night just to see what Jemaa el-Fnaa is like.

Florida Betty
Sep 24, 2004



Marrakech is pretty awesome, but everyone I know who's been to Essaouira has been very disappointed. Marrakech is very touristy, and you will certainly be ripped off, but there are still a lot of very cool places to visit. My favorite places that I've visited in Morocco are Erfoud and Merzouga, which are in the south but I think about 6 or 7 hours or so east of Marrakesh. You can take a tour of some real sand dunes there, given by fake Tuareg tour guides (there are no Tuareg in Morocco, but they know tourists think Tuareg are cool).

Lady Gaza
Nov 20, 2008



I went to Morocco in November for a week with my girlfriend. We've been travelling all over the world together so didn't find Marrakech that overwhelming. Some people find it crazy but we really liked it, it was great to just wander around. Definitely stay in the Medina and wander to that square at night for some food. I'd say a couple of days in the city is enough.

We didn't go to Essaouria since it just looked like a smaller Marrakech by the sea, and we've seen plenty of seaside fort towns.

We spent a few days in Imlil, and used it as a base to go hiking in the Atlas Mountains. It was great, I highly recommend it. It was only two hours from Marrakech (we got a taxi).

If we were to do it again I would probably try and try and do more, I think we spent too long in each place. The desert seemed too far though, and everyone we spoke to who went in a week trip said it was far too rushed.

Chris!
Dec 1, 2004

E

Marrakech is a great city to spend a day or two in.

Taking a drive down to the Todra gorge would be cool, the desert and oases in the area are really interesting as well, though when I was there it was my first experience of sand dunes and the Sahara, so your enjoyment may vary.

The best places I've seen in Morocco are both north of Marrakech: Chefchauen is incredible for hiking and is a great feeling chilled out town, I stayed for weeks.

Ouzoud is a small village with some beautiful waterfalls, not especially well known but beautiful and really worth visiting. Most people do a day trip but if you get there and ask around, you can usually pay to sleep on someone's floor / rent a corner of a barn, which will make you friends and give you a hell of a good time there.

I will say, I was there in early February, outside of the main tourist season, as you were. This was a great thing as there were very few crowds and everything felt a bit less touristy.

I didn't find Essaouaira particularly interesting or outstanding.

Chris! fucked around with this message at Dec 22, 2013 around 19:14

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Thanks for the tips. Still haven't booked... anything (besides the plane ticket). Too bad the coast looks pretty dull, between Essaouira, Agadir, and Casablanca. Not that I'm going swimming in January anyway.

Might just spend 4 days in Marrakech, then the rest with a rental car around the area. Looks like Marrakech is the end of the world as far as trains are concerned.

xcdude24
Dec 23, 2008


Is Moroccan food any good? I'm moving there in January, and know nothing about it aside from couscous and tajines

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Did anyone rent a car in Morocco? I'm leaning towards 3 days in Marrakech, then renting a car and going "around". I was thinking

Marrakech -> Ouzoud -> Todra Gorges -> Ouarzazate -> Marrakech Airport

but maybe this distance (900km in 4 full days, i.e. 100 hours) is a little too much. Cutting out Todra Gorges reduces this down to 600 km, which is a lot more reasonable. I like driving through interesting landscapes, up to about 3 hours a day. I do not like taxis, or more specifically, taxi drivers, but am open to the possibility of a tour guide driver, if anyone has any specific suggestions.

Alternating between whether it'd be better to do 3 days in Marrakech to start, or start with the road trip and relax in Marrakech. Now that I'm writing I think doing it this way makes more sense.

Chris!
Dec 1, 2004

E

I would say that if you have 2 full days in Marrakech, that is probably enough - I'd use that extra day to explore those other places. Marrakech is fantastic, but you can definitely fit in most of what you'll want to see in 2 full days / nights.

Do you know where you'll be staying there, or will you just arrive and find somewhere? That's what I did, and (especially out of tourist season) it's very easy to find somewhere cheap.

The drive through the Atlas Mountains towards Todra and the desert will have plenty of places you'll probably want to stop and explore! I would probably do your road trip, then chill in Marrakech afterwards.

I really loved Ouzoud, if you get there and start asking around if there anywhere you can stay, and manage to get lucky, you can have an awesome time there.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Chris! posted:

I would say that if you have 2 full days in Marrakech, that is probably enough - I'd use that extra day to explore those other places. Marrakech is fantastic, but you can definitely fit in most of what you'll want to see in 2 full days / nights.

Do you know where you'll be staying there, or will you just arrive and find somewhere? That's what I did, and (especially out of tourist season) it's very easy to find somewhere cheap.

The drive through the Atlas Mountains towards Todra and the desert will have plenty of places you'll probably want to stop and explore! I would probably do your road trip, then chill in Marrakech afterwards.

I really loved Ouzoud, if you get there and start asking around if there anywhere you can stay, and manage to get lucky, you can have an awesome time there.

Thanks for the tips. I'll book somewhere in Marrakech before arriving. Money not particularly an issue, so we'll probably get one of the top-rated Dars on TripAdvisor.

Yeah, definitely going to chill in Marrakech at the end of the trip now instead of the beginning. 2 or 3 days will depend on what we figure out as an itinerary for the rest. Thanks!

Chris!
Dec 1, 2004

E

Great, have fun, let us know how you get on!

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Well, got it mostly figured out:

Day 1: Land Sunday at 8am, rent a car, drive to Ait Benhaddou. Spend a few hours there until sunset time, then drive to Ouarzazate. Spend that night (Sunday). ~3.5 hours of driving.
Day 2: Spend the day in Ouarzazate. Spend the night there. No driving.
Day 3: Drive towards Ourika, stopping at Telouet for a couple hours. Spend the night in Ourika. ~ 3 hours of driving.
Day 4: Spend the day and night in Ourika.
Day 5: Drive to Marrakech, drop off car early afternoon. Spend night there. ~1 hour of driving.
Day 6: Marrakech
Day 7: Marrakech (11 January, Moroccan independence day, so I guess poo poo will be going down?)
Day 8: Flight midmorning.

Looks like it will be cold but not rainy in the area. Don't really want to drive more than ~10 hours total, but looks like this will only be about 8 hours.

Any other particular recommendations re: this route?

E: Well, just booked everything. Looking forward to it. I never realized the inhabitable part of Morocco was so large until I started planning out this trip. Always figured it was more like Tunisia or Egypt or etc, where 99% of the interesting sites and population are along major bodies of water. Nope!

Saladman fucked around with this message at Dec 30, 2013 around 20:09

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Actually looking at driving times, Google Maps says it's 2 hours 40 minutes from Marrakech Airport to Ait Benhaddou (188 km). People are saying "4 hours" on the Internet. This seems insane to me, there's no way the average speed is 50 km/hour for a passenger vehicle, particularly as the bus's time is only 4.5 hours. I've seen videos of the road, it looks nicely paved, wide, and not super heavily trafficked.

Is this a new road or something? I see the 'alternate options' on Google and some of those are more like 4-5 hours.



VVVVV: I've heard that this has been less of an issue post-Arab spring, from both Moroccans and on the Interweb. Assuming your experience was prior to ~mid 2011. E2: I mean they're still cops everywhere, but they don't pull over non-speeders and trump up charges anymore.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Dec 31, 2013 around 12:27

Xandu
Feb 19, 2006


It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am.

I can't remember how long it takes, but I will warn you I got pulled over for "speeding" numerous times the only time I rented a car in Morocco.naturally they all wanted cash.

MewMcDong
Dec 25, 2012


I really enjoyed Marrakech. Places to drink in Marrakech are far and few between, I could only find two ex-pat bars. The beer was decent. If you're are looking for something to do I recommend getting a traditional Moroccan massage called a hammam. Its an interesting experience.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Well, I bought a 1.5m2 cactus carpet today for 800 dirham. Had no idea about rug prices before but looked it up later and this seems the "best" price as far as I can tell, particularly as I see the same exact carpets online for like $450 (~3800 dirham or something).

Kind of surprising, as I didn't haggle with the guy at all either (well I half-heartedly tried but don't care about the money unless I'm getting particularly gypped). I'm guessing the salespeople in Marrakech will not be as upfront as some guy in the middle of the desert.

It's also impossible to find the "correct" price for anything sold here, even after looking online for quite a while. Anyone happen to know the "right" price for the standard tourist stuff? L'huile d'argan products are also ludicrously expensive but seem the same even after going in like 5 coops, so maybe 18$ is actually the correct price for like 50 mL of it?

TheLizard
Oct 27, 2004

I am the Lizard Queen!

Saladman posted:

Anyone happen to know the "right" price for the standard tourist stuff?

Generally about 50% of the asking price is going to be a good baseline; if you go under that, you got a good deal and over that, not as much.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Back today, ended up doing this itinerary for posterity in case someone comes across this in the archives:

Day 1: Land in Marrakech 8am. Dick around for 2 hours because the car rental guys are only there when you actually reserved your car for. Start driving to Ouarzazate at 10:15. Get near Ait Benhaddou at about 2pm, but are feeling tired after waking up at 3am. Continue to Ouarzazate, take a nap. Spend the evening walking around Ouarzazate (not remarkable).
Day 2: Drive to Ait Benhaddou, buy a 1.5m^2 cactus rug for 800 MAD. Stick around for a while and walk around. Leave around noon and drive to Fint Oasis, which is off a piste road which makes me feel like I'm a rover driving on Mars. Have lunch there and stick around until sunset. Drive back to Ouarzazate (30 min).
Day 3: Drive to Ourika Valley. Ended up skipping Telouet since we felt like we'd seen enough ruined Kasbahs (1). Get to resort (Kasbah Bab Ourika) around 2pm, spend rest of afternoon and evening there.
Day 4: Drive up Ourika Valley to Setti Fatma. Tourist hellhole, but "authentic" tourist hellhole (lots of Moroccans). Feels like somewhere in France with the river and greenery everywhere. Avoid irritating guides, walk up ourselves, basically a trivial 45 minute 'hike' unless you are 70 and have a bum knee. Check it out. Yep, a waterfall. I guess if I was from Morocco this would be a lot more impressive. In any case a nice change of pace.
Day 5: Drive to Marrakech, drop off car. Go into Marrakech, walk around the souks. Check out the Ben Yussuf madrasa (unremarkable but OK) and Marrakech museum (same). Walk around Jemaa el Fna at night, but eat at our hotel.
Day 6: Check out the Bahia Palace (pretty cool), the Mellah (pretty sketch), and the Saadian Tombs (pretty boring). Found out the Bahia Palace is totally in ruins and is modeled after a grander, and still maintained, palace in Alhambra anyway. So, skipped that too.
Day 7: Go up to Majorelle's Gardens, which although quite nice, are only worth a max of 30 minutes, and it's too bad about half the grounds are closed off to the public. Skipped the Berber Museum inside. Went to a local supermarket, Acima (one of my favorite things to do in foreign countries), but found that it carries almost exactly the same products as in a Carrefour or Casino. Went shopping in the northern (and MUCH less touristy) part of the medina. Had a mixture of people who gave us more or less the right price immediately (well, like 20% markup, but reasonable), and people who tried marking up stuff by 400%. Could not find pattern or logic or any way to figure out if someone is screwing you or not, unless you already know the value of the item you're buying. However, apparently even in central Marrakech, not all shopkeepers are assholes looking to screw tourists. Most of them probably are, though.

General notes:

• Driving is pretty relaxed since the speed limits are so low. Even drove through the Marrakech medina by accident (thanks "shortest route" GPS) the first day, like right by Bahia Palace. Really not very much traffic, at least in the four days we were in Marrakech (Sunday, then Thurs->Sat). Mountain roads felt safe fine since top speed was about 60 km/h and the roads are reasonably wide (1 lane each way, never a passing lane; probably enough room for 3 cars side-by-side if their mirrors are all touching). A fair number of people who hound your car within 2 inches, but by and large sane drivers. A fair number of minibuses that are incredibly overloaded and I imagine will tip over with a strong gust of wind.

• Know what the price of something is before you go to buy it. Can be surprisingly hard to find this information online, also since a lot varies depending on the quality of the item (e.g. that plain rug is going to be worth less than the nicely embroidered one). A fair number of shopkeepers have listed prices so you can walk around checking those out to get a reference (I never saw a written price that was insanely high--of course you still barter down, but it might only be 50% above 'best' price, rather than the 400% that a shopkeeper may ask if no prices are listed).

• Marrakech is really not that interesting, not sure what its deal is. I guess it's safer and comparatively clean compared to most other Arab cities (outside Morocco) nowadays. If I ever go back, I will consider Marrakech just to be an airport that connects southern Morocco to the rest of the world. If you've never been to another major Arab city then it will be pretty interesting, I guess.



E: Last note: about rental cars. Automatic transmissions are almost impossible to find unless you want a luxury car. I ended up going with Dollar who had a lovely Hyundai automatic for like €70 a day. They didn't accept AmEx, but I didn't have any other card so they just wrote down the number and copied the card so theoretically they could charge it. The deposit they took was an insane 45'000 MAD (€4000). Not sure why, as mandatory insurance covers damage > €1500. Anyway, no issues or charge fraud on my card, which is fortunately about to expire anyway.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Jan 13, 2014 around 11:10

Oaks
Oct 9, 2007



Yeesh, hope my trip is a little more exciting. I took three weeks off, but I'm starting out in Spain (flying into Madrid). I've never been anywhere outside the US and the UK before, so hopefully some of the stuff you found boring is more interesting to me.

Anarkii
Dec 30, 2008


I had Morocco in my radar together with Spain and Portugal for some time next year but that trip diary makes it sound really boring. My priorities are usually food, bazaar shopping (wife) and visiting historical sites in that order. Maybe I should reconsider?

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Oaks posted:

Yeesh, hope my trip is a little more exciting. I took three weeks off, but I'm starting out in Spain (flying into Madrid). I've never been anywhere outside the US and the UK before, so hopefully some of the stuff you found boring is more interesting to me.

It will be way more interesting for you since you've never been outside UK/US before. The first Arab city I went to (Tunis) was super interesting, as was the first time I went to a ruined palace (Heidelberg Castle). Just after a while you want to see a restored palace, not something in ruins, since all the ruins of a certain type start to look the same after not very long. I loved Tunis, but I bet if you go after spending a week or two in Morocco, you'll not particularly care for it.

For Anarkii, the trip itinerary was intentionally pretty slow so we could take some time easy. Again it would've been more interesting if I'd never been to a desert before, or if I'd never been to major Muslim/Arab cities before, or if I'd never been to a "3rd world" country. As it is, there was no particular novelty in dusty towns with people asking/begging/harassing you to enter their trinket shop.

I liked Ait Benhaddou and Fint Oasis a lot, but everything else I'd give a skip. Not that I regret my trip--it was fantastic to get somewhere warm and sunny for a week, but next time I go to Morocco it'll be for the weather, cheap food, and cheap price-for-quality accommodations.

E: Trying not to sound like a jaded dick. Morocco was an interesting experience. My girlfriend couldn't spend 2 minutes along without getting harassed though, "hey pretty lady" and "gently caress off" and "you are a witch you will never have a baby, never", for no reason whatsoever besides "no I don't want to go in your shop, leave me alone". But, it was very pretty, and nice and warm. Here are some photos I took, in Ouarzazate, Tifoultoute, Ourika Valley, and Setti Fatma, respectively.




Saladman fucked around with this message at Jan 16, 2014 around 19:05

Geriatric Pirate
Apr 25, 2008

by Nyc_Tattoo


Oaks posted:

Yeesh, hope my trip is a little more exciting. I took three weeks off, but I'm starting out in Spain (flying into Madrid). I've never been anywhere outside the US and the UK before, so hopefully some of the stuff you found boring is more interesting to me.

Anarkii posted:

I had Morocco in my radar together with Spain and Portugal for some time next year but that trip diary makes it sound really boring. My priorities are usually food, bazaar shopping (wife) and visiting historical sites in that order. Maybe I should reconsider?

Go to northern Morocco, in the south you only really have Marrakech. Fez has an amazing medina (old town) and Rabat and Tangier are nice seaside towns. Most of the good food is probably in Casablanca and Marrakech though.

Shibawanko
Feb 13, 2013



I'm probably going to Morocco in june with my girlfriend.

We'll probably spend a few days in Marrakesh, and after a week in Morocco we'll probably take the ferry to Spain and maybe take a flight back from there (or possibly from Portugal). So we'll have a week or so in Morocco.

How easy is it to get around with buses? Are they seedy or dangerous (as in, the behavior of the driver)? Can we just show up at a stop and pay as we go?

Basically we are not looking for typical touristy stuff so much as just having a good time, eating nice food and strolling around. We'll be visiting Marrakesh and probably Fez too, but I'd like to find a place to take a break from hot, busy, touristy cities in between. How is Chefchaouen for that? And what about Tangier, since we'll be passing through it to get to the ferry anyway.

Any other suggestions, or overlooked and fun places? Nice food we should try?

Shibawanko fucked around with this message at Mar 5, 2014 around 09:43

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Shibawanko posted:

I'm probably going to Morocco in june with my girlfriend.

We'll probably spend a few days in Marrakesh, and after a week in Morocco we'll probably take the ferry to Spain and maybe take a flight back from there (or possibly from Portugal). So we'll have a week or so in Morocco.

How easy is it to get around with buses? Are they seedy or dangerous (as in, the behavior of the driver)? Can we just show up at a stop and pay as we go?

Basically we are not looking for typical touristy stuff so much as just having a good time, eating nice food and strolling around. We'll be visiting Marrakesh and probably Fez too, but I'd like to find a place to take a break from hot, busy, touristy cities in between. How is Chefchaouen for that? And what about Tangier, since we'll be passing through it to get to the ferry anyway.

Any other suggestions, or overlooked and fun places? Nice food we should try?

FYI there's a pretty decent train network which will take you most places in Morocco (except Chefchaouen). Personally I always prefer train to bus when the choice is available, but YMMV.

Didn't make it to northern Morocco so don't have anything else to recommend. I wouldn't recommend going to Ouarzazate or the desert, given your time / entry / exit points.

Shibawanko
Feb 13, 2013



Actually, after looking at it again, I think we will just skip the Marrakesh-Fez leg and fly straight to Fez and start from there. That should skip most of the bus travel.

Sub Par
Jul 18, 2001

Hi. I'm Mitt Romney, and I make way more than you.

Dinosaur Gum

My wife and I are traveling for about a year, started in January with 3 months in India. We're leaving India in 3 weeks and our next destination is Morocco. Our flight has us coming in to Casablanca and I have to say I'm experiencing some serious sticker shock when it comes to the hotels. I'm not finding much cheaper than ~$35/night, including hostels. Anyone have any tips/recos about hotels in Casablanca? Should I just bite the bullet and reserve a $40 room or whatever for one night and then try to bargain for the other nights when I get there, or is it not like SE Asia in that regard?

We don't really have an itinerary set yet and so we don't have our heart set on staying in Casablanca for a long time or anything, but we arrive at midnight and so we're going to want a couple nights there just to get our bearings. Our daily budget is $85 so $40 for the hotel kind of blows rear end.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Sub Par posted:

My wife and I are traveling for about a year, started in January with 3 months in India. We're leaving India in 3 weeks and our next destination is Morocco. Our flight has us coming in to Casablanca and I have to say I'm experiencing some serious sticker shock when it comes to the hotels. I'm not finding much cheaper than ~$35/night, including hostels. Anyone have any tips/recos about hotels in Casablanca? Should I just bite the bullet and reserve a $40 room or whatever for one night and then try to bargain for the other nights when I get there, or is it not like SE Asia in that regard?

We don't really have an itinerary set yet and so we don't have our heart set on staying in Casablanca for a long time or anything, but we arrive at midnight and so we're going to want a couple nights there just to get our bearings. Our daily budget is $85 so $40 for the hotel kind of blows rear end.

Everything is way more expensive than SEA/India. In summer you can get bargain basement prices for like sleeping on a mat on the roof, but it's harder in cold months. Also places that advertise on the Internet are more expensive; I saw some hole in the walls that I bet are a lot less than $40/night in Marrakech.

semicolonsrock
Aug 26, 2009

chugga chugga chugga

Morocco is just more expensive that SE Asia in general, unfortunately. I really think Marrakech is worth it, though there, as in a lot of cities, there is a very weird contrast between the medinas and how people actually live. I think it's worth going to fez/casablanca and seeing the actual cities, which feel a lot more like midsize french towns but warmer than the tourist image of it. But the medinas are cool to see like a few times, and have a lot of the really neat historic stuff.

Shibawanko posted:

I'm probably going to Morocco in june with my girlfriend.

We'll probably spend a few days in Marrakesh, and after a week in Morocco we'll probably take the ferry to Spain and maybe take a flight back from there (or possibly from Portugal). So we'll have a week or so in Morocco.

How easy is it to get around with buses? Are they seedy or dangerous (as in, the behavior of the driver)? Can we just show up at a stop and pay as we go?

Basically we are not looking for typical touristy stuff so much as just having a good time, eating nice food and strolling around. We'll be visiting Marrakesh and probably Fez too, but I'd like to find a place to take a break from hot, busy, touristy cities in between. How is Chefchaouen for that? And what about Tangier, since we'll be passing through it to get to the ferry anyway.

Any other suggestions, or overlooked and fun places? Nice food we should try?

Tangiers is really nice! Get used to eating a poo poo ton of tajine/pastillas unless you make it outside of touristy areas.

Sub Par
Jul 18, 2001

Hi. I'm Mitt Romney, and I make way more than you.

Dinosaur Gum

Yeah I knew it would be more expensive than SE Asia but what I meant was is it like SE Asia in that I can just show up at a hotel and bargain for the room, or is it a "book ahead" kind of place?

Despite it being more expensive I was hoping to find hostels more on the order of $20-$35, not $40-$45.

Geriatric Pirate
Apr 25, 2008

by Nyc_Tattoo


Sub Par posted:

Yeah I knew it would be more expensive than SE Asia but what I meant was is it like SE Asia in that I can just show up at a hotel and bargain for the room, or is it a "book ahead" kind of place?

Despite it being more expensive I was hoping to find hostels more on the order of $20-$35, not $40-$45.

Marrakech is by far the best place in Morocco for cheap (and good value accommodation). Everywhere else (or at least the places I visited) are pretty crap, though Fez you can get low quality cheap accommodation.

You could probably find a good CouchSurfing host for a day or two in Casablanca while you try to get scout for cheap places on the ground.

Geriatric Pirate fucked around with this message at Mar 14, 2014 around 20:41

Shibawanko
Feb 13, 2013



The way it looks now, we will try to go directly from Chefchaouen to Essaouira. The website for CTM says that it can be done by changing at Casablanca (a 2 hour stop), although the trip will take all day and we'll arrive at 11 or so. Is CTM punctual about their arrival and departure times?

Chris!
Dec 1, 2004

E

Sub Par posted:

My wife and I are traveling for about a year, started in January with 3 months in India. We're leaving India in 3 weeks and our next destination is Morocco. Our flight has us coming in to Casablanca and I have to say I'm experiencing some serious sticker shock when it comes to the hotels. I'm not finding much cheaper than ~$35/night, including hostels. Anyone have any tips/recos about hotels in Casablanca? Should I just bite the bullet and reserve a $40 room or whatever for one night and then try to bargain for the other nights when I get there, or is it not like SE Asia in that regard?

We don't really have an itinerary set yet and so we don't have our heart set on staying in Casablanca for a long time or anything, but we arrive at midnight and so we're going to want a couple nights there just to get our bearings. Our daily budget is $85 so $40 for the hotel kind of blows rear end.

I would like to say that Casablanca is far and away the worst place in Morocco in my opinion, so it's good that you're not staying there long!

I travelled around Morocco for a few months and never once booked anywhere ahead, I just turned up and found accommodation, bargaining a price on arrival. I don't remember prices accurately but if you're happy to not have too much luxury it shouldn't be very expensive, certainly cheaper than the prices you quoted, probably a bit more than India though.

Rynder
Mar 26, 2009


So Morocco is now on my radar since SEA is all rainy in September and I'm made of sugar.

I'll be heading there in September for a week, and since I'm going alone for the first time I'll probably take some group tour.

This caught my eye:

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/moroc...72501/itinerary

I know it's designed to be fast paced, but any opinions on if it's worthwhile? It looks like the majority of the time will be in Marrakech, and Casablanca is just an airport to get there (which is good I guess since from the above posts Casablanca isn't really anything).

I'm willing to go without a group but then I'll probably want to stay in one place. If I do that, should I just fly into Marrakech and wander around there for a week? Sorry I'm hung up on Marrakech but apparently people are saying that's where I should go.

Sub Par
Jul 18, 2001

Hi. I'm Mitt Romney, and I make way more than you.

Dinosaur Gum

Can't comment on that tour specifically but from what I have heard from other travelers and our interactions with them, Intrepid is a pretty good tour company. We're looking at one of their Egypt tours since they're heavily discounted at the moment.

Edit: So I'm looking to learn some basic Arabic before heading to Morocco. I have a little over a month and I gather that the Arabic that's actually used in Morocco is not Standard Arabic so Rosetta Stone-type poo poo may not be helpful. Any particular books/reference guides/software you guys can recommend? Obviously I'm not looking for fluency - I'm looking for basic conversational poo poo, buying things, that kind of stuff.

Sub Par fucked around with this message at Mar 18, 2014 around 12:47

escargot
Mar 6, 2014


Sub Par posted:

So I'm looking to learn some basic Arabic before heading to Morocco. I have a little over a month and I gather that the Arabic that's actually used in Morocco is not Standard Arabic so Rosetta Stone-type poo poo may not be helpful. Any particular books/reference guides/software you guys can recommend? Obviously I'm not looking for fluency - I'm looking for basic conversational poo poo, buying things, that kind of stuff.

Most Moroccans speak French and don't expect foreigners to attempt darija (Moroccan Arabic).

I traveled around Morocco for two months. I didn't learn any French and instead did my best to learn darija, which I suspect made for a better experience for me. Everything I learned I ended up using and it was always worth it.

I carried around the Lonely Planet Moroccan Phrasebook. I mostly used it for picking out phrases I wanted to learn, asking a native speaker to say it for me, and writing how I think it's said in my pocket notebook. For the most part I got a lot of warmth and encouragement for attempting to speak darija. Not having to use English in the medinas made for a better experience too. A thing to remember: some of the greetings/sayings are actually blessings, so it's usually a good idea to avoid using them if you're drinking alcohol or playing billiards.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Sub Par posted:

Edit: So I'm looking to learn some basic Arabic before heading to Morocco. I have a little over a month and I gather that the Arabic that's actually used in Morocco is not Standard Arabic so Rosetta Stone-type poo poo may not be helpful. Any particular books/reference guides/software you guys can recommend? Obviously I'm not looking for fluency - I'm looking for basic conversational poo poo, buying things, that kind of stuff.

French is much much more useful to learn for travel in Morocco. Also keep in mind that in the southern half of Morocco (everything south of Marrakech), Arabic is not the native language, it's the completely unrelated Berber which even uses a different script (not that people write it ever).

My girlfriend speaks Maghrebi Arabic and it does not get you any bonus services, even if you were able to learn a good deal of it within 2 months, which you couldn't anyway unless you already speak standard Arabic.

If you already speak good French then it's worthwhile to learn normal phrases (sabaah el khair, shukran etc). If you don't speak French then absolutely use your time to learn French instead of Arabic phrases. Also, as the above posted said, a lot of the commonly used phrase words are specific to Maghrebi Arabic. Edit: this includes even incredibly basic vocabulary like "Yes" which is "aywa" in North Africa, but a totally unrelated "naam" in classical Arabic. Egyptian Arabic has some elements of both classical/middle eastern Arabic and Maghrebi Arabic, but is much closer to middle eastern. Most Arabic media is in Egyptian though so almost everyone understands it, unidirectionally. This is much more than just an accent difference, it's more like Swedes understanding Danes or Germans understanding Swiss German, if either of those analogies float your boat.

Saladman fucked around with this message at Mar 18, 2014 around 21:54

Sub Par
Jul 18, 2001

Hi. I'm Mitt Romney, and I make way more than you.

Dinosaur Gum

Hey guys we landed in Casablanca last night. I should have mentioned when I asked my question that my wife speaks French so I was wanting to learn some Darija for novelty/to earn some goodwill. I've cobbled together some words and phrases from youtube and a few websites and made like 60 flashcards and managed to memorize all of it in a couple weeks. But so far in Casa everyone just speaks French and doesn't give two shits when I say anything to them in anything other than French. I speak Spanish fluently so we should be fine up in Tangier if we have to switch from French to Spanish, I think.

Anyway thanks for the suggestions and background. Looking forward to getting out and exploring the country.

Shibawanko
Feb 13, 2013



We're leaving for Morocco in less than a week, but we haven't been able to book CTM buses in advance, it seems that they don't take any creditcard not issued by a Moroccan bank (despite the Mastercard and Visa logos on the website). Has anyone been able to book online? We've tried several different cards but no luck.

Sub Par
Jul 18, 2001

Hi. I'm Mitt Romney, and I make way more than you.

Dinosaur Gum

This may be too late to help you but no, we never were able to get our (US-issued) cards to work on CTM's website. Booking while you're there shouldn't be a problem, even small cities have booking offices where you can go in person to buy tickets. I seriously doubt the middle of June is jam-packed tourist season...

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peak debt
Mar 10, 2001
b& :(

Nap Ghost

Saladman posted:

If you already speak good French then it's worthwhile to learn normal phrases (sabaah el khair, shukran etc).

Is it really "shukran" in Morocco, not "saha" like in Algeria?

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