Lytham UK

We travel with VJV and sincerely recommend our guide, Mustapha Ait Benali from Agouti Travel. Photographed in Essaouira on our last day together. Scroll left and down to view the whole page.

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Independant arrival from Manchester to meet up with VJV group tomorrow.

4th February 2018. We are staying in a Riad in the maze like centre of Marrakesh. The Riad is the Moroccan traditional house, normally with two or more storeys around a courtyard that contained a fountain. Riads were the stately city homes of the wealthiest citizens such as merchants and courtiers. The riads were inward focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco while allowing for the opulence to remain out of sight. The entrance is always plain and simple. This is it:


Exploring by ourselves we follow our noses around this amazing city unlike any we ever visited. There are gardeners harvesting oranges. Liz found a spare orange which had 'come loose'. For a rest we take the bus to the North where the hotels and accommodation are modern and where the locals like to live. The mint tea is refreshing.

Here is a solar phone charging tree.

Lunch and return on foot via the main square with snakes, monkeys, drummers, jugglers, and all manner of other exotica. There is a mixture of dress for the locals. The standard Djellaba is popular and give rise to a certain 'Discworld' feel to the place. The range of tourists only add to this.

There are irresistible detours down crowded covered souks and it is here I find a replacement for my Lanzarote wallet. The young man finds me something to my exacting specifications and we agree a price.

In passing may I add, this seems the most dangerous place to cross the road we have been. From tomorrow perhaps we will have to do it less. We are meeting the guide and fellow travellers in an hour. There are to be seven.


We have some warm clothes but we are simply not ready for the weather today. We are all day on foot walking the streets and gardens. It is extremely cold and then begins to rain hard. I have no hat and Liz a fleece which is soon wet.

The ice cream salesmen are fed up and retire to read the local newspaper 'The Marrakesh Express'.

Nevertheless there is no question this is an exotic place full of wonderful smells.

We visit a palace type building. Taking us to a room with a small font at one end our guide explains students learning the Koran would write on tablets with charcoal and if they did ok, the teacher would get them to wash it off in the font to start anew.

But, he adds, this no longer happens as the students all use tablets for their lessons.

Lunch is in a cool cavernous place, we all sit about one round table and food arrives. It is exceptionally good.


Now we are better prepared for the weather we face the Souks once again while our Marrakesh step count reaches over 30,000.

All too soon we have to return to the Riad to meet up and we climb aboard our mini bus. It is very comfortable and we all have two seats. Abdulla takes the wheel (Spoiler: we are to cover 3,600 Km in the bus).

Lunch is a three course gourmet meal with a squad of stalking butlers fawning over us. While perhaps this may be exciting for some travellers, not so much for our group of seasoned veterans who were a little unimpressed as we could have been anywhere. Mind you, normally this would have been al fresco in the garden by the pool which might have been a different kettle of fish. Their Tiramisu voted best in the World. Everyone scrapes up the last mouth full.

We wander the gardens a bit, then visit the Yves St Laurent Memorial Gardens. Somewhat average but for a collection of Cacti and the other visitors.

Evening meal with Mustafa at a local dive. Another big hit with us all food wise.


Well, actually just outside Rabat. Using our comfy mini bus, we drive on the superb roads to Casablanca and Mustafa plays us the famous music from the film as we go past Rick's

Then we invest some time in a tour of the Hassan II Mosque.

Back in the bus we go to our hotel in the suburbs of Rabat. The hotel is only slightly less splendid than the Mosque, a joy to visit. We all get cleaned up and enjoy deep baths.


A tour of the capital city of Rabat includes the Mohammed V Mausoleum where the ceremonial guards are approachable.

The Romans had coastal outposts in ancient Mauretania and we are here at one, Sala Colonia. The Romans and ancient Greeks were amongst the first to explore North Africa and it is likely that Roman explorers set off from one of these port settlements of Morocco and discovered the Canary Islands situated off the coast of North Africa.

We get the place to ourselves. This is a beautiful Roman ruin, completely absorbing. A Muslim Mausoleum is built right next to it, once beautifully decorated now ruined but well preserved. However the Roman ruins take the limelight. Here was an arch across the main road through the town on towards Casablanca. Baths, a Nympharium, shops and the temple itself all clearly had beautiful water features. Just stunning.

The Oudaya Kasbah has bright blue buildings reflecting the sea and the sky. It is located at the mouth of and looks down on the Bou Regreg river opposite Salé. It also looks across the Atlantic towards the USA.

Another wonderful day with SUNSHINE!


Mustafa and Abdulla invite us to travel along the coast route to Tangier at the cost of the tour of Tangier. We are all happy with that and our first stop is Larach. Fine Sunny stuff in the sky today for the moment. One of the good things about Morocco is that French is spoken and more importantly often written alongside the Arabic. Les XXIIIes Jeux olympiques d'hiver, qui se déroulent à Pyeongchang, en Corée du Sud, ont été officiellement lancés vendredi.

We then move on with a small trip to Lixis, the magnificent and uncharted Roman ruins. We can not stop to climb up but get a great view from the coach.

As we approach Assilah, we listen to half hour story of the labours of Hercules. The interpretations are very interesting and the significance being that Hercules joined the Mediterranean to the Atlantic with one blow of his sword. We also stop at that geographical point where the seas meet. There is a view of Spain and Gibraltar. See the bonus photo section at the end.

  1. Slay the Nemean Lion.
  2. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.
  3. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis.
  4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
  5. Clean the Augeanstables in a single day.
  6. Slay the Stymphalian Birds.
  7. Capture the Cretan Bull.
  8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
  9. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta Queen of the Amazons.
  10. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.
  11. Steal the apples of the Hesperides.
  12. Capture and bring back Cerberus.

Tangiers, what a great place with so many stories from long ago and from today. Hustle and bustle along the 4Km sea front so well appointed but not being used by anyone today. When it is in the season, you can not move for all the people swanning about. Everywhere we have been there are large projects for building. Every road is perfectly mettled.


Long drive into the Rif Mountains but with plenty of stops. In Tetouan I get a reasonably priced coat and this brings the Sunshine out immediately. It might pay off when we pass the High Atlas. I do feel warmer just for having it on the seat next to me. Each city has a certain colour for their taxis. Here it is light blue.

In the hillside 'exceptionally blue town' of Chefchaouen we walk in the shops. and stop for lunch.

On we go amazed at the green fields as far as we can see. Mustafa stops at the Orange Orchard roadside shop and gives us all an Orange. It is certainly the best I have tasted.

We arrive in the labyrinth of Fez for three nights at the heritage hotel Palais Ommeyad. This is a well appointed Riyad and dinner has live music and an ample belly dancer.


This Stellated Rhombicuboctahedron adorns our hotel lounge. See bonus photos for further information.


Magical, stunning.

Rivals Leptis Magna.

It does not come better than this, enough said.

On to lunch in Meknes, followed with a tour of its ramparts, imperial granaries and stables.

A wonderful, interesting, hot and Sunny day ending with a trip around the Sunday market square.


Perfect weather and a very interesting day starting with a visit through the Jewish quarter which sells all the paraphernalia needed to have a wedding.

Onto the Dar el-Batha Museum where photography is not allowed. There are astrolabes, guns, kitchenware, pottery and textiles.


The Fes Medina is a three dimensional labyrinth of alleyways. Some are extremely narrow. After one or two turns you are lost and I mean completely lost. Our local guide is amazing and leads us to see many things. Everywhere he goes people know him and say hello. Of course we are taken to see and smell the tanning area.

It is a popular destination for coach loads of tourists who are given a sprig of mint on arrival then push and shove each other to get photos from the many galleries that overlook the huge process area.

The alleys have stout metal locked doors along them. All looking tired, unloved and disused. But opening each would reveal a tranquil and opulent house. We go through one such door for lunch and find ourselves in a palace with objects d'art which seem priceless. We get a fantastic lunch of gently spiced Moroccan food.

Cars and Mopeds are banned in the streets of the Medina. Horses and Donkeys are used as they have been for thousands of years. Renovating houses is a time consuming and complicated business as materials and rubbish all have to be transported by animals or by men with barrows.

In fact sometimes, when on good terms with the neighbours, these materials are conveyed over the roof tops.


We traverse the Atlas Mountains to Erfoud and the Hotel Xaluca. The hotel is a large complex fit for a Sultan. Outdoor four poster beds surround the pool and large antique objects are everywhere to be seen. The snow is both expected yet quite a surprise. Eventually we leave it behind and the desert starts to take over. Mustafa plays some brilliant local Lute music by CD which brings everything to life.

Our road follows the ancient 55 day camel trek route to Timbuktu. The land has many oasis and spring water. At these locations fortifications were built to protect the water supply and provide some shelter. The land is abundant with fossils especially Fauna, Ammonites and Trilobites.

Erfoud is an oasis town and old Bedouin settlement in eastern Morocco, there is a French fort, a colourful souk, traditional restaurants and an ever-growing number of foreign visitors. A much used film location and a field research site for studies of its similarity to planet Mars. But more importantly our hotel has a roof top mini golf. In a close match play that went to the 18th, Peter and Liz beat Judie and Ken by 2 holes.

After dinner we go up to the roof and stargaze for a while.

Boumalen Dades

First we visit the fossil shop which polishes vast slabs of mountain to reveal the fossils. Then travel to Tinerhir to visit the dramatic Todra Gorges.

Overnight at the Hotel Xaluca in Boumalne Dades. With its buildings in the same ochre and rose as the rock of its desert plateau, the Berber town of Boumalne Dadès rises above the stunningly scenic valley oasis, with a handful of simple eateries, lively twice-weekly souks, and an ideal position for forays into the Dadès Gorge. Meandering for miles between 1500m high mountain walls, the valley's little river is hemmed in a ribbon of lush greenery, its cliff-side cafes offering fantastic views and cool refreshment.


Leaving Boumalen Dades we stop at a chemist. He gives us many samples of natural herb remedies. They all smell good and he makes several sales. We get some very powerful crystals that when put in tea make a powerful drink. He also sells various teas and spices.

Then we stop at the spectacular 'Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs' in the former French Foreign Legion outpost of Ouarzazate. We enter off the tourist trail.

and climb the hill that faces the main fortress.

Ken and Judy did not get across the river, but Steve, Rachel and Jessie joined us on the top. We crossed over and walked up half way through the shops.

Onward to the walled town of Taroudant for overnight at the historic Riad Dar Zitoune the best hotel so far. Nestled in southern Morocco's Souss Valley, on the road from the sea to the Sahara, Taroudant, a rather majestic market town is hidden in a shell of ramparts, with superb souks and two main squares at its core.

To Essaouira

We visit Taroudant, then travel to Essaouira so we are mainly on the road today but see many unusual sights.

Morocco loves recycling. An antique shop.

Goats in trees here being used to eat the berries of the prickly and difficult to pick Argan Tree. When the berries pass through they are harvested. And used to make a luxury oil that can be used in many cosmetic products. This is a new twist to the economy. Various farmers get rich faster but the Argan tree forests are being destroyed by this practice. Traditionalists say the goat's system destroys much of the berries beneficial qualities.

We have a wonderful hotel to end the tour in.

Although on GMT, the international date line misses the Eastern edge of Morocco by a couple of degrees. However Morocco has a date line that separates the North, where you can not find a date for love or money, from the South, where there are thousands of Palm trees and Dates come out of your ears.


On the Atlantic coast, Essaouira is a busy port and a laid-back resort, where 18th century ocean front ramparts, lined with a long row of old brass cannons, protect the original Medina.

We stop in the square, the tea here was the best yet. Pouring it this way makes a big difference as it is aerated by the process.

We find a nice tailor who works in leather. He shows me a long black jacket which, although very comfortable and light, hardly fits me. He takes some measurements and we leave him to it, carefully tracing our way out of the Medina, hoping to return 4 hours later. Once we do, he has altered it exactly to my shape. The coat has a wonderful lining too. Hard work with bargaining accomplished by Liz. I think she struck a fair price which made us all happy.

Here I am hugging the salesman, while the chap who did the work sews the next order in the background.


Tour closes. We say good bye to Mustafa and the other five. We had a great time and all got on so well together.

We are on our own for a couple of days. It is strange not to have a 7:30 dinner date or be meeting up with the coach and Mustafa.

We wander into the interesting back streets, visit a big supermarket and find some lunch in ancient expensive beach restaurant attached to a hotel. They play lovely Moroccan Lounge Music and we have Sunshine while avoiding the wind. In the evening we venture out again to a restaurant where we get sizzling Tagines of lamb and apricots and chicken with lemon served by a waitress from an open kitchen in the back. Hand embroidered table cloths and beautiful decorations make it a special meal.


Just the two of us for breakfast but the big question was who ate all the apricots yesterday?

Anyway, loins girded and leather clad, set off to the Medina for a shopping spree on foot.

Heading inland away from the sea we followed the main road almost to the top of the map below before turning left to find a Bab. Then this is a track of what we did.

Mid morning mint tea in the square then more trekking before we had lunch on the same restaurant terrace with the same waiter as the day we all arrived. Purchased 2 magic boxes, 2 key rings, 1 soap dish, 1 CD.

Bonus Song

Best way to get the MIDI is to rightclick on the link and SaveAS. Then open the MIDI adjust the volume and sing along.

  • Open MIDI file.
  • The Kasbah ; to the tune of My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison.

    I look at my goat and I see it need feeding
    While the Kasbah soundly sleeps
    I open my pot and I see that it's empty
    Still the Kasbah soundly sleeps

    I don't know why tourists don't buy
    The carpets I'm making
    I don't know why they walk past my door
    My prices are so low

    For all of my life I have bowed down to Mecca
    As the Kasbah always kneels
    For thousands of years the drama's unchanging
    Will the Kasbah hear my prayer?


    I wonder why the tourists don't buy the boxes I'm making
    I wonder why they don't even look
    The quality is amazing

    I talk to them all see the money they're making
    But my Kasbah needs some too

    Look at them all

    While my Kasbah bids farewell

    Bonus Photos

    On a clear day you can see Spain.

    This is cat country, here is a happy one.

    The last segment of the best Orange ever.

    The (Non-Stalated) Rhombicuboctahedron.

    Ken, Jessie and Liz in a dress shop in Fes.

    Hotel in gorge, closed because rocks fell on it. No one injured.

    Careful with that axe Peter.

    Peter in Discworld.