MOROCCO and ANDALUCIA

September 3 - September 20


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The highlights of this trip were the imperial cities of Morocco and the moorish cities of Andalucia (southern Spain).
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Itinerary

  1. MOROCCO:
  2. Casablanca: ++Grand Masjed (built in 1993, third largest in the world, 200m tower). Hotel Lausanne (rue Poincare, 260 MAD). Train to Marrakesh (70 MAD, 3.5 hours).
  3. ++Marrakesch (imperial city): +Palace de l'Empereur Haile Selassie`, ++Jemaa el Fna (big square at the beginning of the medina crowded with street performers and food stalls), ++ souks (old, narrow alleys of the medina), Koutoubia (mosque and minaret), + Dar Si Said (small, richly decorated, also a museum), + El Badi (very ruined, very large), Palais El Bahia (large, lots of rooms), ++ Medersa Ibn Youssef, +Le tombeaux Saadiens (richly decorated rooms), walls and Bab Doukkala. ++Hotel Gallia (200 MAD, many hotels in the same rue). Train to Rabat (100 MAD, 4.5 hours).
  4. +Rabat (imperial city): ++Hassan tower (1200 AD) and tomb of Mohammed V, + ruins of Hassan mosque, Chellah (1330 AD: walls, roman ruins, cemetery of the Merenids), +Oudaia gate (1200 AD), +Kasbah Ondaia (Andalucian village), Bab Al Had. Grand Hotel (230 MAD).
  5. +Meknes (imperial city): ++ Bab Mansour, + Koubbet el Khiyatin and underground prisons (7 square kms), + Bab er Reth passage, ++ Dar Kebira (labyrinth of alleys), +Medersa Bou Inania (1350 AD), ++ Bab Jdid (1200 AD). Hotel Continental (154 MAD). Grand taxi to Volubilis (130 MAD, 30 minutes).
  6. +Volubilis (ancient Roman capital): mosaics of the villas (Orpheus, Hercules, Venus) and Basilica.
  7. ++Fez (imperial city): ++Palais (Dar El Makhaen), +++ medina (largest in Morocco, gigantic labyrinth of stalls and shops), ++ Medersa Bou Inania (1350 AD), +Medersa Attarina (1322 AD), Karaouiyne mosque (1143 AD, second largest in Morocco), + Andalucian quarter (dirty, poor, another maze), Bordj Nord, +Merenids tombs. Hotel Central (119 MAD). Restaurant La Medaille (24 Rue Laarbi Al Kaghat). Restaurant Zagora (off Mohammed V, near CTM). Bus to Chaouen (52 MAD, 4 hours). The road runs through barren mountains.
  8. Chaouen: ++ medina in Andalucian style. Bus to Tetouan (1 hour 15'), up the mountains.
  9. Tetouan: Place Hassan II. Hotel Regina (150 MAD). Chilly. Bus to Tangiers (1 hour). Bus to Lixus (2 hours) along beaches and resorts. Hotel Valencia (210 MAD).
  10. ++Lixus: Phoenician temples on a promontory, Roman ruins.
  11. Tangiers. Ferry to Algeciras (2 hours, 210 MAD).
  12. SPAIN:
  13. Algeciras: ugly town. Bus to La Linea (225 pesos). Several hotels, cheaper than Gibraltar. Train to Ronda (900 pesos, 2 hours).
  14. --Gibraltar:
  15. -Cadiz:
  16. Ronda: old town (bridges, palaces). Train to Sevilla (2000 pesos, 2.5 hours).
  17. ++Sevilla: Ayuntamento, ++Cathedral (1401, largest in Europe: +++Altar of capilla mayor, ++ statues surrounding the capilla mayor, sepulcro de Colon, sacristia de los calices, +sacristia mayor, ++ sala capitulina), ++Giralda (ex minaret), +Reales Alcazares (royal apartments, closed on mondays), Plaza de Dona Elvira and narrow streets of Santa Cruz, ++Torre de Oro (14th century), ++Plaza de Espana (designed by architect Hannibal for the world exposition), Monasterio de Cartuja (1428), modern buildings of the Isla Cartuja. Tapas in the barrio Santa Cruz. Flamenco. Train to Cordoba (45', 2700 pesos).
  18. ++Cordoba (Jewish city): Mezquita (free entrance at 9am, otherwise 800 pesos), mosque (785-987 AD, ++ mihrab), Catedral (1523: silleria of the capilla mayor, retablo of the capilla mayor, ++1371 roof of the capilla Villaviciosa, ++walls of the capilla real), Barrio de la Juderia, Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, Puente romano y Torre de la Calahorra, Posada del Potro. Many hostals int he old town off calle de Rey Heredia and calle de San Fernando. + Hostal Los Arcos (4500 pesos). Restaurants in Plaza de las Tendillas o Elias (tapas) on Calle Sanchez. Bus to Baeza (2hours 30', don't take the train as the station is 15 kms from downtown, only 3 buses a day).
  19. Baeza (Renaissance city). Train to Granada through hills and valleys covered with olive trees. No paved roads, very few farmers.
  20. ++Granada: +++Alhambra (1250 AD: ticket office opens at 8am, only 30% of tickets are sold at the ticket office, 70% are handled through Banco de Bilbao which closes at 2pm, 1000 pesos, best view from Silla del Moro), Cathedral (1561, huge baroque pillars) Capilla Real (1521, tombs, paintings), Albaicin quarters. Alhambra: +Alcazaba (1250 old residential quarter), +++ Palacios (1350, magnificent decorations), ++ Generalife (summer residence, great views). Alcazaba: +Mexuar, +Patio de los Arrayanes, ++Salon de Embajadores, ++ Patio de Los Leones, ++ Sala de los Abencerrajes, ++ Sala de los Reyes, ++ Sala de los Hermanos (dome with 5000 cells), +Palacio del Portal. Hotels in Plaza Nueva, Plaza Trinidad and Plaza Carmen, and in the alleys off the main street (Gran via de Colon). +Hotel Arteaga (4500, near Catedral). ++Hotel America (just outisde the Alhambra, 5500 pesos). Restaurants in Plaza Nueva. Try cassata ice cream at Los Italianos (beginning of gran via de Colon). Train to Almeria (1500 pesos, 3 hours) through a landscape of barren hills, sometimes an Arizona-like desert, sometimes like a volcano, only inhabitants the people who live in caves painted with strong colors.
  21. -Almeria: Alcazar (980 AD, largest in Spain), --Catedral (looks like a fortress), +Chanca (people live in caves). --Hotel Bristol (500 pesos). Bus a Almunecar (2 hours, 1200) and on to Nerja (1 hour).
  22. +Nerja (beach town): ++Balcon de Europa (view), +sandy coves off the Promenade. Hotel Marissal (7500 pesos). Lots of restaurants. Bus to Malaga (1h 30', 400 pesos).
  23. -Malaga: +Catedral, Alcazaba.

Notes

Trip difficulty: easy
Season: any
Length: 15 days
Notes of 1999
  • Tourist offices in Morocco are difficult to find. They are never in the center of the city, they have crazy hours and even the local people often cannot direct you to the right address.
  • Make phone calls from "teleboutiques", which are ubiquitous in every Moroccan city.
  • In Morocco trains run on time and are clean. CTM Buses are also efficient. To move around a town, "petite taxis" are cheap and reliable.
  • People in Morocco are very friendly, kind, polite and honest. Avoid, as usual, English-speaking touts. There are virtually no thieves.
  • Note for anglosaxons: your book will tell you to get a guide otherwise you get lost in the maze of alleys, run into danger, etc. There are official guides at every tourist office. Don't let them take you to an "authentic" shop. Note for everybody else: you don't need a guide, although it is true that you will get lost in the maze of a medina; ask the natives, they are very kind and helpful; guides are dangerous, as they will take you to their friends' shops and get aggressive if you refuse to buy; guides will probably show you less than you would see on your own.
  • Be aware that population explosion has unfortunately changed the human landscape of the imperial cities.
  • Morocco hotels are basic and clean and many cost about $20 for a double room. Check that the room has towels and toilette paper.
  • Language: the Sahara is strictly Berber, but southern Morocco speaks French, northern Morocco speaks both French and Spanish and Tangiers speaks also English.
  • Weather is always warm in Morocco (except on the mountains). In Spain the warm season is April to September.
  • Hours in Morocco: you will always be able to buy what you need, change money, visit museums, etc.
  • Hours in Spain: during lunch breaks and weekends it is virtually impossible to change money, ask for information, make a phone call; most important monuments are closed either sundays or mondays.
  • Money: $1= 10 MAD = 150 pesos.
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  • TM, ®, Copyright © 1999 Ulysses-Travel all rights reserved.