Fez, Morocco to London, England: Travel Day

So I’ll start off by saying, Fez wasn’t how I would have liked to end our time in Morocco. We loved everywhere else we went. We would have scheduled less driving, but we were so pleased with all that we saw. The Medina in Fez was just a really difficult place to end our time in Morocco. I don’t want it to seem like we/I didn’t fully enjoy our experience. Fez was just truly difficult to navigate, to tolerate due to the noise, the smells, the constant barrage of hassling on the street. It was just completely different from every other place we stayed in Morocco. It didn’t help 3/4-1/2 of us were having stomach issues by this point, and food was very difficult to come by.

Anyway, so we start off this day at 4:30am, waking to do our final packing, get the kids dressed and ready so our host can pick us up by 5am. He finally shows up at 5:15, asking ‘am I late?’ Ugh! We get to the airport and then he wants us to pay for our airport rides. This was something that was posted on Air BnB as covered with the rental. We give him was money we have left, then confront about the unexpected cost. Amazingly they were then fine, with what we’ve paid.

Morocco has beautiful airports but their security is crazy! Never complain again about security in the US. We were screened getting into the building. We checked in at the counter, and went through the regular security screening.

By this point Ty was banking on the lounge for ‘real/safe’ food to eat. We were so happy to see it, however, it was the smallest lounge we have ever been to!

Yep, this is, it! But it had free drinks, croissants, and yogurt, so we were happy.

There is a security screening again before you can go to your gate. Ty got flagged but the kids and I didn’t. So we jumped on the plane and had our fingers crossed for Ty. He passed security but they tried to charge him for an extra bag. He had to wait while they verified that there were 4 of us traveling with him. They finally let him get on, and we were so happy to be leaving Morocco. (This is sad to say, since we really loved the country!)

Three hours of blissful iPad, and iPhone time for all of us. We landed in London and it was like a breath of fresh air from the get go. We went to the bathroom without any attendants hassling us for money. There were trash cans, soap, plenty of paper towels! I swear, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

The fun ended soon after our bathroom break though. We hit the line for customs and it was LONG! We waited over an hour before we actually hit the part that was the snaked dividers. This was of course, where three people tried to sneak into the line. The people ahead of us, managed to throw a fit and push them back. Then it became a battle between myself, the lovely woman behind me and the line cutters. Even Ty (my non-confrontational husband) exchanged some words with them! I finally cut them off at a turn around point. The lovely woman behind me pushed right past them to do the same. But they maintained their place in line, an hour ahead of where they should have been. It sounds so petty and minor but I swear it’s one of those moments that can cause a riot.

It took us over three hours from getting off our plane to getting through customs. It was BRUTAL! But the kids survived, and so did we. I was so happy to see that little grocery store they have outside the Underground. So much for us having an early check in and exploring for the day in London.

We found the train we needed into downtown and we thought it was the direct line. Well apparently something had been stuck on the tracks. So we had the slowest train ride. It stopped numerous times, and went so slowly through every stop. It was just like one more thing that wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t going our way.

We finally get out at our stop and it was glorious to be back in London. Even if it only was for two days.

Ty was still feeling poorly, but the kids and I were restless. So I found the British Library on Trip Advisor. I figured out how to get us there on the Underground, and we were off! It was so nice to feel comfortable traveling on my own again.

The library was a bit of a bust for us. We were hoping for a kids area, that we could just relax in, and read some books. This was a bit too high brow for that though, more exhibits, and rare displays I think.

L was starting to fade so we left the library soon after arriving. But we had to go back through Kings Cross station and they have a half trolley there at Platform 9 3/4, along with a Harry Potter store. So we found it and check that out for a bit, before I realized we were going to be late meeting Ty for dinner.

We got back to the Tube, found our train and squished in with all the other evening commuters. Poor Ty expected us about an hour earlier so he was getting nervous for us. But all was fine. We met up and went to an Indian restaurant he had researched. It was extremely fancy, with candles and fine table linens. I was a bit nervous for how the kiddos would do. But it was worth any stress I may have had. The meal was so delicious!! By the end the kids were falling asleep. So we whisked them back to the hotel, and threw them into bed. All excited with the knowledge that the next day we would be visiting Harry Potter Studio for the tour!!!! This was pretty much our whole reason for coming back to London. 🙂

Fez, Morocco: Adventure Day 2 (kind of)

It was another rough night of sleep in Fez! Not surprisingly though The local leather cobbler is right next door. He bangs always with his wooden mallet till 11:30. Call to prayer is at 5am, the roosters, and local large dog, start making a racket around 4am. It’s extremely loud in this Medina.

L and I tried to sleep in as long as possible, since we had quarantined ourselves from the sickies. We even stayed in our room and watched some shows after we woke up. Once it became apparent that the others were awake. We got up and had some breakfast of toast, jam, and hard boiled eggs. The same food we’ve been eating for days around here!

It appeared R and Ty were on the mend enough to leave the house. We made a plan to get out of the Medina and have some sun on our faces! Ty said he found some hiking trails just outside the gate so we went for it.

Turns out those hiking trails were through a cemetery and a garbage dump. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Oh well, we’re not too picky. However, may I just say, from what we have been exposed to, Fez has a rather unpleasant smell about the whole town. I think it’s a bad combination between the tanneries and the garbage that is just everywhere.

This family was getting their drinking water from what appeared to be a still pool of water, in the middle of a cemetery. My greatest takeaway from this way how thankful I should be for my VERY easy life!

We did find some old castle ruins.

We played some Crazy 8’s here on the mountain top. Then we made our way to a bit of a neighborhood square. We finally got to mail some postcards to friends and family.

Then we hit a local bakery for some ok sweets. Think fennel cookies, or dates instead of chocolate. No one overdoes the sugar like we do in the US.

We made our way back through the ruins/garbage to the Medina.

The kids found some seashells, literally buried in the hillside. They may actually be fossils! We couldn’t figure out why else they would be there, amongst the trash.

We passed by where all the hides are dried once they have been tanned, and dyed. It again, smelled as lovely as you’d imagine.

We then wound our way back into the labyrinth of the Medina for a few hours of rest at home. More card playing and iPad watching.

We did rouse ourselves to attempted dinner out again. We did a bit of lackluster shopping. We also completed a wishlist item of R’s, to get some henna tattoos.

L got jealous once he saw how cool it was. I needed some too of course. But she started running out of henna, so I got what was left.

We had hoped to get some Thai food for dinner but they didn’t open for another hour and half at this point. So we ended up back at the Chinese food restaurant. Just because we couldn’t handle kebabs and fries any more. (We’re totally burnt out on Morocco at this point, Sorry if I’m starting to sound whiney) We had half of what we ordered at the restaurant and left all this food. It felt so privileged to do this, as boys where popping in from the street to slyly beg us for money.

We were happy to head home knowing this would be our last night in the Medina.

Again the leather cobblers were at work till 11:30pm. Again the dogs and roosters were going crazy. It was another night of less than wonderful sleep. But we went to bed content with the knowledge, we were headed to London in the morning. 5am, early morning to be exact!

Fez, Morocco: Adventure Day (kind of)

Well last night was a bust as well! I woke up with L in my bed, and could hear talking downstairs. I found Ty in the bathroom with R. He had made her a nest of pillows and blankets by the toilet. They were FaceTiming my mom for support.

R was a mess. She hadn’t gotten sick, but felt extremely nauseous. She seemed to have a bit of a fever as well. I gave her some Pepto and Tylenol. Then tried to get her to eat some bread. We lounged around most of the morning. The kids did some school work on the iPad. Ty took a nap since he’d spent most of the night up with R.

The kids watched some shows, while I messed with the blog. The internet is good, unless I want to add photos.

Finally about 1pm I was going stir crazy and ready to leave the house. So Ty found us a Chinese restaurant and we set off. (We’re so sick of grilled meat and French fries, we needed something different!)

We found the restaurant and thank goodness it was wonderful! No one spoke English and we don’t speak Chinese or French. (French is the second language here, after Arabic) But with lots of pointing we managed to order some very yummy food.

The second goal of the day was to visit the tanneries. It’s what Fez is known for. So Ty located them on the map and we set off. These streets are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. There are just walls of buildings everywhere. So you can’t actually get out unless you go to these very specific gates. It’s very labyrinth like, and dark, and old, and a touch uncomfortable. I honestly don’t feel like I can describe them adequately. There are houses on some streets, food vendors on others, restaurants, and trash heaps everywhere. There is no such thing as a trash can Trash collection appears to be a few workers with stick brooms that come out early in the morning. Its. Very. Different.

Anyway, thank goodness for GPS, we were able to find the tannery. Well actually when you get any where close to it the locals start pointing you in the right direction. Finally I gave in, and followed a local “worker” into this sketchy building to “view the tannery”. It felt like one of those moments that they warn tourists not to go off into unknown areas. Ty scoffs at me though, I swear as a man, he has never had a twinge of unease in Morocco. I have had a very different feeling about the place.

Again, anyway, this worker led us up through these leather shops to a viewing platform. From here you can see the workers below in the tannery. It was the oldest tannery in all of Morocco. It smelled just as terribly as everyone says it would. But it was something to witness!

https://hamptonsonholiday.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/img_2540.mov

(Perhaps this short video will show the experience a bit)

After the tannery, we wound our way back to our house. Settled in for the afternoon, gave those who needed it more meds. By this time Ty was really feeling terrible. I was hoping he would perk up a bit more for dinner. But he and R really went down hill quickly.

L and I were left scrambling. We had not enough water for everyone. Just a bit of dried out bread, and not much else for dinner. Also we were short on funds, and needed more cash. Since apparently everyone, only takes cash in Morocco! With much trepidation L and I ventured out onto the streets of the Médina. With Ty’s phone at 30% battery life as our guide.

It was a major struggle to not only try and find our way in the streets but to then try and locate an ATM. We finally came across a Western Union, which I then was able to get some minor directions to an ATM. That ATM after we finally found it, wouldn’t work. Ugh!! This took us about an hour, to accomplish. We wandered back towards out house, and ran across another vendor we had dealt with earlier. He was able to again give me vague directions toward another ATM. Another half hour of blindly walking up hill, we found an ATM that worked!

By this point, I was over being harassed by local sellers, lost amongst sketchy streets, no really knowing where I was going, it was such an overload. We brought some more bread, eggs, and yogurt drinks from a little quick stop. Then I let L buy a bunch of candy as a reward for being dragged everywhere with me. L, by the way, was loving this adventure through the streets. He would run up and down the hills as fast as he could through the crowds. This kid has so much energy, it’s boggling!

Then we attempted to head back home. This was a whole other challenge. Trying to get somewhere specific was extremely difficult. Especially when you wouldn’t be anywhere on the map. Just in the middle of some streets.

After almost two hours of being gone, and we were close to home, but I was struggling, I gave in to some assistance from the street kids. They’re always hassling as you walk by. In a kind way, saying hi, asking where you’re from, if you’ll give them money. Well this kid offered to show us the way home. So we went with him, and he was able to ask along the way, and got us home much faster than I would have. He of course wanted payment for his ‘service’ but what I offered was apparently too low, so he turned down my money.

We were so happy to be home. R had been sleeping this whole time, she went straight back to bed. Ty was glad to see us safe and went to bed soon after.

I was proud of myself for making it through that adventure, however I had no wish to repeat it any time soon!

Chefchaouen, Morocco: Adventure Day

We had stayed in another of the Air BnB host’s houses, because he said there was a heating issue at our rental. But that it was fixed and we would be going over to that unit this morning. He brought us breakfast at 9:30. It was delicious and quite the spread. It was nice not to have to immediately go out searching for food.

Then we packed up and he moved us to our original rental unit. That was just being cleaned, so we dropped our bags, and would come back later. I’m assuming he’d actually double booked our rental, and that’s why we had the house switch. But really, it wasn’t a big deal.

We decided to go up hiking a bit. To get away from the crowds of tourists. This place is like Instagram overload. Every single corner is crazy beautiful with all this blue!

That last photo was from the interior of the first house we stayed in!

The kids have become picture posing superstars. It’s kind of ridiculous, but in a fun way.

Here I am replicating a pose I had just witnessed. I swear it! The posed tourist photo shoots are hilarious.

Our plan was to walk up and around Old Town, making our way to the Spanish Monastery up on a hill. But we must have overshot the trail. We ended up hiking a few miles up this trail. It was a beautiful overlook, but we had a large valley in between us and the monastery.

Our only option was to come back down our same route. We ended up at a playground of course.

We walked back into the Old Town and found ourselves a little cafe in the sun.

Then we decided to wander around a bit. Found ourselves a trail through the cemetery up to the sunset point. It was a lovely spot to view the entire city.

We found ourselves the regular path back down. A fresh orange juice vendor was conveniently located right there along with a man hand cranking cotton candy!

Lots of vendors all over, people in traditional garb, and even a guy with a ostrich and a parakeet that you could pose with for pictures.

We wandered home back through the streets of blue.

Our house is apparently more of a hostel than our own place. We have two rooms and the host provided us with a lock for our door. It’s definitely different then advertised.

We grabbed a couple of baked goods and some yogurts for dinner from a local quick shop. None of us felt like going out and walking about any more.

Settled the kids into their bed for the night then Ty and I stayed up watching Bird Box. So intense!!! Then we tried to sleep while listening to people banging on the front door. Cats getting into fights in the street. R fell out of bed because L was hogging it 🙄

So I traded with her and soon realized why L was hogging the bed. It was slanted so the person not against the wall was falling out.

I was able to get a few hours of sleep but R was up most of the night with an upset tummy. It didn’t bode well for our day of driving tomorrow.

Chefchaouen to Fez, Morocco: Travel Day

After another rough night of sleep. R spent most of the night going to the bathroom so nauseous. We were provided breakfast on the terrace upstairs with the other boarders. Breakfast is simple but good. They have these flat crepe/pancakes that are wonderful with butter and jam. Usually hot milk, that the kids add cocoa and sugar to. Eggs scrambled and cooked in a skillet and lots more bread options. They love their bread in Morocco!

R and I battled some more tummy issues and we packed up our stuff, and walked out of the Old Town to our car. Getting a better look at the map and the roads, we decided to take the route that was a bit more mileage but much better roads! We also realized that with upset tummies our 3.5 hour drive might be much longer.

(Can you believe those plastic jugs?!)

We did stop a few times on our own. We were also stopped once by the radar cops. They literally had a radar gun, and a couple of plastic chairs by the side of the road. They nailed us and some other foreign couple for going 7kms over the speed limit. (Rolling eyes) But it wasn’t too expensive and so we paid and went on our way. No idea why, since it was Sunday but those radar cops where all over the roads this day!

We stopped for lunch in some random town. The first place we went to only had fish soup. Which I new wasn’t going to sit easily on our sensitive stomachs. So we walked next door to the large fancy restaurant. This turned out to be one of our worst meals of the trip, and most expensive! I ordered chicken and steak kebabs for the kids and I. The steak was way over seasoned, and super chewy. The chicken seemed to be a bit better at least. Lunch took a long time too. It was about an hour stop.

Back on the road we made it with only one or two more stops. The roads were much improved this way. However, it still took us about 5.5 hours to drive back to the airport in Fez.

Once there, we met the driver for our Air BnB. He took us through the new city, to the Old Town Medina. They have to park outside the wall, and someone gathers all your suitcases and backpacks into a cart. Then someone else showed us the way into the Medina, to our house.

This house is lovely. Narrow, but it goes up about 4 floors to the roof terrace. Best of all, we had it all to ourselves!

They welcomed us with mint tea and some snacks. Then I got R snuggled into her jammies and tucked into bed. She had a bit of a fever, and the aches. Ty and L went out to try and find some food. But with the maze that this place is, all he was able to come back with for dinner was some yogurt drinks, a loaf of bread, some jam, and a bottle of water. It was sparse…

We were all exhausted from the day and settled the kids in to bed. Then Ty and I took the top room. Which the host proclaimed to be the best! We have no idea why, after staying here for a few days. It’s right on the narrow alley. So everyone who walks by sounds like they’re right outside your wall. There’s a leather cobblers shop right next door, and they spend hours banging on the leather with a wooden mallet. They seem to shut down about 11:30pm. Then there’s the call to prayer, five times a day, that’s blasted over their speakers. The excessive cat and dog fights. Are you getting the sense that this place is a cacophony of noise!?

After very little/no sleep the night before I finally put Ty in charge of listening for the kids, while I put in ear plugs, and placed a pillow over my head. I was finally able to fall asleep just past midnight.

Marrakesh to Chefchaouen, Morocco: Travel Day

We bed flipped throughout the night, this kiddo here, the grown up moves there, another kiddo here. It wasn’t the most restful night of sleep. I was telling Ty it feels like we get one good nights sleep for every two that are interrupted.

When we finally got up, we finished packing and then went in search of breakfast. Our driver wasn’t schedule to come pick us up till 11:30.

We got some croissants and walked to the main square for some fresh juice. That’s been delicious! Nothing much was open yet, so we walked around a bit. L also managed to get clipped by a zipping scooter. Those things come out of nowhere so fast. L was crossing the walkway to throw something away and out it came. I grabbed him back as fast as I could but it still got him just a bit. Scared him and I a lot! The scooter guy stopped to make sure he was ok. So did a local shop keeper. Who then started to harass me about watching him more closely. Ugh! So thankful L wasn’t hurt.

By this time, Ty had decided, if L really wanted a picture with the snakes, we would try and make that happen. So we wandered in the market for a bit till we heard the call of the pipes, and the drum of the snake charmers.

At first they just kind of threw this little snake around their necks. But Ty really wanted that photo with the cobra. So we hung out a bit more and finally the guy saw us and pulled the cobra out from the blue drum. He then had L come around and sit next to him. It freaked me out that the drum he was antagonizing the snake with was the exact same color as L’s coat! But thankfully, nothing really happened. My kiddos got some amazing photos, and L was beyond thrilled. He immediately announced he wanted a snake as a pet! Not happening.

We walked back to our house, and saw a few turkeys on the way.

Our driver came and got us, we made it to the airport without and issues. We were a few hours early for our flight, and hoping to get some food in a lounge. However, those were only in the international terminals. We were dismayed when we went to check in for our flight, that not only was it immediately delayed by an hour, there was also no staff at the counters. Ty lined up and then he and I took turns waiting in line with everyone else on our flight for the next hour.

Staff finally showed up and we were able to check in for our flight. Security was pretty intense as well. They took your passport, and stared into it, then your face. Asked if that was you. It was no joke! It was nice to get all that over with, but then we just sat in the waiting area. That thankfully had food! When staff members finally showed up (again!) to start boarding people for the flight, there was a total rush for the door. Then some rapid French started happening and we could tell there was mass confusion about the flight. The flight crew was asking the crowd who was going to Fez, then some passengers started shouting about who was going to Paris. It’s like there was a fight over the plane and where it was going. It was totally bizarre, and we didn’t understand most of it. It seemed decided that the plane was going to Fez so the Paris passengers were routed away from the doorways. We got through, and boarded our plane. The strange thing was before we took off we noticed those Paris passengers getting onto our plane as well. No idea how all that was worked out!

Also apparently our flight was scheduled for 3:10 instead of the 2:10 that we bought our tickets for. We chatted a bit with some other passengers before boarding. Apparently some had bought the 2:10 flight like us, but most others bought the 3:10. No idea if they just combined the flights, but we were never notified of the change in flight time. This Air Arabia was so bizarre! We fly them from Fez to London so we really hope this was a one time issue, and not a regular occurrence.

Thankfully it was an uneventful 45 minute flight. We landed safely in Fez.

Due to staff issues it took us about 45 minutes to get our car, and leave the airport. But then we seemed to be back on track and headed out of Fez. Our destination was Chefchaouen, a city about 3 hours north of Fez. It’s renowned for its blue Old Town. Everything has to be painted these few shades of blue. The pictures seem incredible!

Due to the flight delay and the car rental delay, we were going to be driving in the dark again. But thankfully the road seemed a lot less curvy than what we had been driving.

Fez seemed like a large booming city. Right before we left the edge of town, we drove on the craziest street. It was like 1/4 road, 1/2 walk-way, and 1/4 market! I can’t believe we didn’t hit someone!

But right after we got through this chaos, the hillside opened up and the countryside was beautiful!

This was about the last photos I could take before sunset. After this the road, was hit and miss. The maps.me directions took us off on a 5 mile detour, through a partially constructed road. Then we added about an extra hour to our drive time by taking this road that was about half way there. Each lane was halfway eroded. So if someone was coming from the other direction, Ty was driving with two tires in the dirt.

I can definitely say, I was praying for our safety, several times during this drive. There really wasn’t any where for us to stop and eat, or get the kids dinner. About 8pm we found a little quick market. These are basically small rooms, that are filled with chips, a small refrigerator for drinks, and crackers. So we bought the kids some sort of fruit/milk smoothie, and some crackers, while Ty and I each had a snickers bar for dinner. Then we hit the road again. Thankfully L fell asleep. R was just starting to get car sick again, when we pulled into Chefchaouen. We were so thankful our host was organized. He had someone meet us, at this square. They showed us where to park, since there is no parking in Old Town. Then he guided us to our house. It was so nice to get settled in! From what we could tell at night, these streets are beautiful. We couldn’t wait to see more in the morning!

Marrakech, Morocco: Adventure Day 2

We got up bright and early with an alarm today. So we could make it to our cooking class by 9am.

We walked through some very quiet streets to get to the main square. It was delightful not to be run down by motorcycles every few minutes.

We bought some fresh juice in the square. Before heading off to find our cooking school.

We met our host and she told us our menu for the day. She gave us our shopping list, and how to order our items in Arabic. We practiced a bit, all of us had our items. Even the kids! Then we went out to shop. She typically teaches larger groups, and not usually with children. But she made an exception for us, and it was wonderful to have our own private chef for the day.

We bought our own vegetables, and spices. Even picked out our own fresh chicken, alive! It was a good reminder for the children, of where animals actually come from. R and L protested a bit, that they wouldn’t eat any. But when it came down to it, they didn’t have any objections eating that chicken!

We made a traditional mint tea, couscous, mashed potatoes, cooked pumpkin (my favorite dish!) chicken tagine, home made bread, fried zucchini (that Ty apparently burned), and a delicious almond/date/apricot dessert.

The kids were extremely involved in every step of the process. Until we got to the stove cooking part. I was impressed with how well they did. We’ve been watching a lot of cooking shows at home, so I was excited to take this class with them. I foresee this becoming a new tradition with us when we travel. It was even great to get Ty more involved in food preparation. A good event for our entire family!

The food was delicious. The kids at least tried everything. It may not have been their favorites, but just exposing them to new flavors is always beneficial.

We did a bit of shopping after we finished our class. R was dying for one of the fancy Moroccan dresses. L wanted a top that the local kids were playing with. Ty and I always try and find a local mask if they have them. We managed to find all these treasures, along with a christmas ornament or two. A mask and an ornament, those are our go-to items to purchase on vacation.

The pottery here is so amazing. I’m still trying to figure out if I can bring home a large ceramic bowl. 🙂

We may have also stopped near the snake charmers again. L is obsessed. He would stand and watch them all day, if we let them.

We made it home, and relaxed for about an hour. Then we walked to the local sandwich shop for dinner. Took it home and enjoyed it on our rooftop terrace. We packed up a bit and are hoping to get the kids to bed a bit early tonight.

Tomorrow we take the plane to Fez, before driving ourselves 3.5-4 hours North to Chefchaouen. Fingers crossed for a smooth travel day tomorrow.

Marrakesh, Morocco: Adventure Day 1

Everyone slept in a bit this morning. We had no agenda for the day. It was nice not to be rushing out the door. We started some laundry before heading out to get some breakfast.

Walking through these streets is quite the experience. Once again, thanks to Ty’s maps.me app we’re not the bumbling tourists we could be.

People are selling things everywhere! Mopeds and motorcycles are zipping though. Men on bikes, or guys with donkeys and carts are coming by. You have to squish yourself against the sides of the walkway or they will run you over! Everywhere, is something to look at. It’s a sensory overload!

We made it out to the big square. It was just getting going for the day. Not all that busy. So we found ourselves a restaurant with a view of the square. We had the most amazing brunch, after a bit of confusion. Enjoyed the sunshine, and watching the chaos below.

After brunch, our big draw in the square was the snake charmers. They’re a huge scam from what Ty’s researched. So we prepped the kids prior to leaving the house. If someone comes up to you, what do you say? If they want to put a snake or something on you what do you say? My kids have handled the chaos well. They just start shouting, NO, NO, NO!

So after this prep, all we did was stand off to the side and watch the guys with these cobra snakes. We also snuck some photos.

We explored the markets a bit more before heading back to our house. We washed some more clothes, I blogged a bit, R actually took a nap, while Ty and L played some Uno on the rooftop deck. It was wonderful down time for us all!

We headed back into the main square for dinner. It was so much more intense at night! We found ourselves another restaurant with rooftop seating so we could watch the action. The food was good, however, it took forever, and we were just a bit exhausted by the end of the evening.

We had hoped to shop a bit on the way home, but it was so late, we went straight home, and put everyone to bed. We were to get up early in the morning. We had arranged a cooking class to learn some authentic Moroccan dishes.

Sahara Desert to Marrakesh, Morocco: Travel Day

Ty woke up bright an early in the desert, about 6am. He worked the rest of us up about 8am I had pulled all the covers over onto my side, trying to stay warm. Have I mentioned it was freezing!!

We had a good breakfast of rolls, yogurt, eggs, and these pancake/crepe things they make. With hot mint tea of course. Then we packed up, enjoyed a bit of the sunrise, then watched most of the group head out on camels.

Here are a few photos from inside our tent.

Then off we drove. We new we had about 7 hours of driving ahead of us. We also had a terrible experience with R’s car sickness on the way here, so we did our best to prepare. Knowing it was going to be daylight, we were hoping for better results.

We made it to a good lunch stop. It was a hotel near the big movie studios. It had a play area, that we had to buy a ticket for, so the kids could play. Weird, but it burned some of their energy so we went for it. We had been trying to get some plastic bags, for the car ride, but everywhere they give you these fabric bags instead. I finally asked the waiter, and he took a while but brought out this reusable plastic grocery bag for us to keep. It was thoughtful, but we keep thinking there must be a ban on typical American plastic bags here. Which is a good thing! We also gave R some Dramamine. Here’s a screen shot of the worst sections of the road.

(Ty and I keep calling these sections, the intestines!)

We made a stop at one of the passes. Then out of no where, this kid shows up and offers to sell us a box of dates. L was dying to spend this money he had, so the kid sold a box to L for 2 euros. A pretty good profit for him! Then the kid whips a lizard out of his pocket and sticks it on L’s shoulder. So then the rest of us had to have a photo with it as well. It was so chill!

The rest of the drive, though very long was uneventful. Oh well we did get suckered into buying some fake Moroccan geodes. There are all these guys along the road, holding up these brightly colored geodes, they’re incredible! So Ty saw a good one and pulled over. We thought we got a bargain with 4 for $50. Then the next stop, we found out the guy sold them for $10. I looked them up later, they’re homemade out of clay for like .75 cents! Oh well, we keep telling ourselves, they need the money more than we did!

We returned the rental car in Marrakesh and the nice employee, arranged a taxi for us, to get to our Air BnB. It’s tucked into a part of town you can’t drive to. So the guy with with key, met us on the side of the road, then we had to walk through the maze of streets to the house.

It’s an experience like nothing else, these winding, back, side streets.

R was done going out for the night, so us girls stayed in, while the boys went out and got us some street sandwiches and fries.

We were all happy to be out of the car and snuggled into warm beds.

Ait Ben Haddou to Sahara Desert, Morocco: Adventure Day (Part 2)

We met our guide for the camel excursion in a local gas station and he drove us out of Zagora into the desert right to camp. We were a bit confused since we thought we were riding the camels to camp but he soon explained that when the camels arrived with the other group of people, about 20+ Spaniards, then we would ride the camels around the camp grounds.

This wasn’t exactly like what we had planned but we rolled with it. We liked the idea of riding on our own and not in a giant group at least. Also we were the first ones to camp so we got a private tea service. Mint tea is a BIG deal here! They also upgraded us to a 3 bed tent with a private bathroom. That was extremely nice!

The kids were thrilled to be able to play in the sand.

We watched the camels arrived, and then it was our turn! Time to check, riding camels in the Sahara off our bucket list. 🐪✔️

The kids then took turns leading our caravan back to camp.

We rode about for less than an hour but after we got off Ty’s and my inner thighs were killing us! I cant imagine how it would feel to do the 5 hour camel ride. 😳

We then gave he kids free rein to play in the sand. They went nuts until the sun set.

Try and take a nice photo, this is what happens…

The sun set and things got cold very quickly. We took the kids into the tent and gave them a very quick and cold rinse in the shower drizzle. Then we dressed in our warmest layers and went out to play UNO until dinner.

There were some musicians playing the drums and singing. They let the kids drum when they wanted. R danced her heart out, as long as no one was looking. She said it was her favorite part.

We met some very nice brothers from Barcelona who were traveling with their parents on break. They were wonderful to chat with and play a rounds of cards with till dinner. By now it was 8pm, the kids were starving and tired. It had been a very long day.

Dinner was served in the large tent. It was soup and bread, then some kebabs, a tagine of turkey and vegetables, with fruit for dessert. L didn’t make it past the kebabs before laying down to sleep. R slept through the tagine but woke for some fruit. We left dinner right after that and put the kids to bed fully clothed. It was freezing at this point. The beds had about 4 or 5 heavy blankets on them by there were no heaters. So about 9:30 Ty and I tucked ourselves into bed, fully dressed, coats, and hats on as well. The staff came to check on us, since we were missing the bonfire, more drumming and singing. But we were too tired, from the past few days of poor sleep.

Ty was able to go to sleep, however, I stayed up, snuggled under the covers, messaging family (wifi in the desert, how fancy!) and reading until the drumming stopped about 11:30pm. So I almost stayed up to ring in the New Year. ☺️