Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why Madrid and Morocco?

Why Madrid and Morocco? I can't help myself. When I see a cheap fare to Europe, I grab it, then assuming it's not a new destination, try to figure out where we can go from there on one of the discount airlines.

When I saw a $630 round-trip fare between Seattle and Madrid a while ago, I couldn't resist, especially since my husband, Tom, and I had been thinking of a short (10-day) trip for fall. Madrid is a lovely city, and if you haven't been there, I'd recommend just staying put, but wanderlust called and I've fantasized for a while about using the discount airline easyJet to get to Marrakech from one of the big European cities.

The easyJet round-trip fare was another $125 each, so assuming the airline doesn't go the way of SkyEurope (the Slovakian discount that just went bust and left thousands stranded), we'll spend a few days on each end of the trip in Madrid and the rest of the time in Morocco. We'll concentrate mainly in Marrakech and also spend a few days in the port town of Essaouria on the Atlantic coast, three hours away by bus.

The six days or so we'll have isn't enough time, of course, and I really can't describe this as a trip to "Morocco,'' given all there is to absorb in visiting a leading Arab nation with a unique blend of Islamic and Western culture. We'll see what we can in the time we have, and if we like it, we'll come back later for more.

Here's a look at where we'll be staying in Marrakech and Essaouria. These are both small "riads,'' or traditional houses built around courtyards inside the medinas - neighborhoods within the old city walls with streets too narrow for cars. Medinas are pedestrian only for the most part, except for donkeys, motorbikes, bicycles and small carts used to haul things including tourists' suitcases.

An adventure it will be! Follow along for reports and photos. And if you've been here, feel free to comment and offer advice.


Natalie said...

Loved it. Great food. Don't be surprised if you accidentally spend a whole day shopping for rugs. And riding camels in the desert may seem romantic. It isn't!

Tom said...

When walking through the Markets look but don't touch, once you touch anything you are fair game, the bargaining will begin. You must visit Djemaa el Fna in Marrakesh after the sun goes down you will never forget the experince! Oh there is so much more, both in Marrakesh & Essaouria. Go to the Marina in Essaouria in the evening when the fishing boats return. It is fascinating. I can't wait to hear your experince!

Michelle said...

Wonderful article! When I took my kids to Morocco in 2005, we brought along a dozen soccer balls as a way to bridge between the cultures. I have fond memories of the kids playing with local kids on that sunny plaza in Essaouira.