Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Palais Medina and Spa in Fes, Morocco

We were delighted to get to our hotel in Fes, the Palais Medina and Spa Hotel. Our room was very comfortable, but my shoes were muddy from Volubilis, and I forgot to take a photo of the room because I really, really needed to wash my shoes off and hope they would dry by the next day as we hike around Fes.  It was very large, very beautiful, had a seating area and a huge bathroom. The bed was marvelous.

 

The Hotel had some quirks. As we were about to board the elevator, others from our ship were getting off and saying “We are NOT going to stay here!” and we wondered what that was all about. On our floor, the hallway was so dimly lit that we struggled to figure out where the card went into the door. But the room was lovely, comfortable, quiet, and it had a wonderful view.

 

We hurried down to dinner, seeing a sign that said “group dining” we knew where to go.

 

(I didn’t take this photo; I lifted it from the hotel website, but it looks like the room we stayed in)

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From the elevator area into the lobby area:

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View at night from our balcony looking left

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View early in morning looking out

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More view. It really was a lovely room.

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This has to be one of the worst experiences of the tour, tied with trying to get through Charles DeGualle to catch our Atlanta flight. The dining room was chaos.

“Grab a place, quickly; they are already starting to take the food away!” one fellow passenger urged us. We found places with friends, then went to search the inevitable buffet. There were still plenty of salad-y things, but entree pickings were slim. People in this hotel were elbowing one another out of the way, as if they had never seen food before, and this food was not worth elbowing anyone out of the way. It was buffet food, and the message it sent me was “this hotel takes groups because we have to in order to stay afloat, but we hate groups.” Dinner was purely awful. I can’t even remember what we found to eat, but except for a pumpkin soup, it was not good and not memorable food except for being not-good.

You’d think it would be hard to screw up breakfast, but breakfast was worse. They had those two little coffee maker things, and long lines waiting for both tea and coffee. Worse – there were no coffee cups! Not one! After a while a few showed up, and what happened when fewer coffee cups than coffee drinkers were available showed us just how very thin the veneer of civilization is. This was our experience at this ultra-first-class hotel. Horrors!

Lesson learned: I did spot a restaurant separate from the group dining restaurant. Knowing now what I know, I would choose to pay for a good Moroccan meal at the private-dining restaurant. Morocco just isn’t that expensive, and Moroccan cuisine is delicious, worth paying for! I would never settle for a mediocre meal, paid for as part of our tour, just because it was paid for. Life is too short!

 

On the other hand, it was late, we had a long day, I still needed to make sure my shoes were cleaned, and we just wanted to grab a bite and go. This was a nice hotel, but not a stellar experience.

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December 27, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Quality of Life Issues, Rants, Restaurant, Travel, Values | , , | Leave a comment

Eighty degrees on December 27th

(Intermission from the Morocco Trip)

 

It’s two days after Christmas and on my way home from church this morning, my temperature guage showed 80 degrees F. My roses are blooming.

 

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Please, winter, please come. This Alaska girl is eager for a little winter.

December 27, 2015 Posted by | Alaska, Pensacola, Weather | 3 Comments

Rabat and Volubilis, On the Road in Morocco

Somehow the scheduled departure this morning is delayed due to problems getting the buses to the ship, and some sort of negotiations are going on. We leave for Rabat, getting there late morning, and it is pouring. We start at a Marinid Site, Chellah, and I walk down and take photos, listening to the guide, getting wetter and wetter, and then I think “Hmmm, I don’t really care that much” and head back up hill to the nice, dry bus.

 

I like taking photos, but trying to take photos with rain rain rain is not so easy. This is an overview of a structure at Chella, and if you look closely, you will see a stork on the top of the tower on the left. This site is covered in storks! I had to wonder, what makes this site so attractive to storks, and the guide said they had been coming here forever.
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This marabout must be for a woman; it has a green door:

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We go to visit a mosque that never got built, and another mosque that someone built for some reason, and I don’t have any photos because it was POURING rain and I just stayed on the bus and read my book. Around noonish, we headed for the Golden Tulip, another place that is feeding hundreds, buffet style, forgettable food.

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We make a photo stop at the Kasbah of the Udayas

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And then a photo stop at the Udaya GateOudayaGate

 

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We are in a bit of a rush; we want to get to Volubilis, an ancient Roman site, before the sun goes down. When we get there, it is raining, and slick, and the sun is going down.

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It is very beautiful, and every time we have come here, to Volubilis, it has rained. AdventureMan liked this stop a lot more than I did.

December 27, 2015 Posted by | Beauty, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Morocco, Restaurant, Travel | , , | 5 Comments

El Jadida and Casablanca, Morocco

As we leave Marrakesh, I tell AdventureMan that we could easily drive here, and that gas prices are really good:

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And AdventureMan reminds me that it is not the price per gallon, but the price per liter. Oh. That’s very different. The Moroccan countryside on our drive to El Jadida reminds me of Tunisia back in the late 1970’s when we lived there, full of little marabouts, or burial places of people who lived saintly lives. The guide explained if it is white, it is a man’s grave, if it has green or blue, it is a woman.

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Market days along the route:

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We reach El Jadida, where we are visiting an old Portuguese cistern. It turns out to be very beautiful. It also starts raining cats and dogs, making it very hard to take a good photo in any unsheltered place. The rain is really coming down! We are soaked!

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Those are not blue skies; those are cloudy grey skies!

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Light fixtures 🙂

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The old ramparts of the Portuguese fort:

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We stopped at a huge place where, once again, they were set up to serve groups. There must have been 500 – 600 people serving themselves. I saw ONE Moroccan dish. There were several Chinese dishes, an entire section of Italian entrees, all in all, a very bland selection of “international foods” which means you can find something to eat, but it won’t taste all that great. It is engineered to be nourishing and inoffensive. There were many many kinds of desserts, in tiny portions. This was a very not-special kind of place to eat.

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The entry was built to be impressive:

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We were very close to Casablanca, and made a trip along the coastline to see one of the largest mosques in the world, the Hassan II mosque.

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We made a brief stop so everyone could photograph “Rick’s Cafe.” which never existed except in the movie, but now has a restaurant of that name, in Casablanca, and draws in a lot of people who saw the movie.

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December 27, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment