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DCLMP

Travel bug
Joined
Jun 28, 2020
I'm not sure if this is helpful or not - I've traveled with both companies, though not on river cruises (tried to do ABD Rhine last year, but you know how that ended up!!). Tauck was very nice, but I did not feel like we got the personalized service we received from ABD. I will travel with ABD again (and I'm looking forward to it!), whereas, I don't know if I would travel with Tauck again. I will also mention that I looked at doing a river cruise directly through Amawaterways to try to cut ABD costs a bit, but after doing research, I still booked with ABD because of the programming for the kids (my DS is 13 and he was looking forward to eating dinner with peers and NOT his parents, LOL!). If you want to cut costs a little and your son doesn't need the Jr. ABD programming, maybe look into booking directly with Ama? Any way you slice it, I think you are going to have a good experience. All good companies.
Thanks for the info. The only thing holding me up is the non refundable deposits.
 

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aggiedog

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 13, 2012
Ok, I've got a crazy work week and then I'm having my hip replaced on Monday. I'll definitely come back and give more details when I have time to do it coherently. I'll be making a photo book soon, so I can send a link to anyone that wants it once I finish.

Bottom line, it was a beautiful country. The people were very nice. It was surprisingly, shockingly, varied in climate and ecology - 3 mountain ranges, fertile fields, deserts, a 120 mile long oasis. Classic Journeys did a great job. Our guide was fantastic, as was our driver. It was supposed to be up to 15 people but it was just the 3 of us, (myself, dh, and his cousin.) It was nice to not have any crowds anywhere, but many tourist sites/restaurants/shops were also closed. There is a curfew now so no late dinners in cafes watching people. Had to be back in our hotel by 8:00pm. It was a "culture and walking" tour, which had a 3-4 mile walk built into the schedule every 2-3 days. I'm not sure I'd do that part again. I like to hike, but general meandering thru the backs of town and fields is not my thing. Dh's cousin loved it. Our walk thru the oasis was amazing, though.
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
Ok, I've got a crazy work week and then I'm having my hip replaced on Monday. I'll definitely come back and give more details when I have time to do it coherently. I'll be making a photo book soon, so I can send a link to anyone that wants it once I finish.

Bottom line, it was a beautiful country. The people were very nice. It was surprisingly, shockingly, varied in climate and ecology - 3 mountain ranges, fertile fields, deserts, a 120 mile long oasis. Classic Journeys did a great job. Our guide was fantastic, as was our driver. It was supposed to be up to 15 people but it was just the 3 of us, (myself, dh, and his cousin.) It was nice to not have any crowds anywhere, but many tourist sites/restaurants/shops were also closed. There is a curfew now so no late dinners in cafes watching people. Had to be back in our hotel by 8:00pm. It was a "culture and walking" tour, which had a 3-4 mile walk built into the schedule every 2-3 days. I'm not sure I'd do that part again. I like to hike, but general meandering thru the backs of town and fields is not my thing. Dh's cousin loved it. Our walk thru the oasis was amazing, though.
Thanks, and best wishes for your hip replacement!! :hug:

Sayhello
 

aggiedog

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 13, 2012
Work has been a little slower than expected...

CJ's starts their tours at 9:00am the first day, so no including your travel day as part of the tour. Because of that, and flight requirements, we ended up flying in 2 nights early. Got to Casablanca that first afternoon and stayed at a hotel recommended by CJ, Hotel le Doge. Super nice little boutique hotel. We had arranged a transfer thru CJ to get to Fes, where the tour started, for the next morning. Even though the tour didn't officially start until our day 3, our guide and driver came to make the 3 hour transfer for us, which was a nice extra. He got us to our Fes hotel, Hotel Sahrai, and got us settled in. The hotel was nice, with a "hip" sky bar populated by a lot of locals until 8:00pm curfew.

The actual tour started the next morning. We went first to the medina (old town) where our guide had grown up. It is a combo of markets, tannery (big tourist spot), and homes in a warren of small alleys and tunnels, since the second floor often overhangs and touches the neighbors. Without a guide, I'd've been completely lost. Over 50% of the stalls were closed. The tannery, and the adjoining leather product coop, was a stop. I ended up buying a custom leather jacket kind of on a whim. We had also stopped at a rug coop, where we learned a little bit and mostly just sat there while they tried to sell us something. I wasn't too thrilled about that. We had a late lunch and then back to the hotel for a rest and dinner.

Day 2 was a trip to a local farm and goat cheese producer, a 4 mile walk thru the country side with some very pretty views, and then a huge late lunch back at the farm. Lots of food was a common theme on the trip. Meals were huge. From there we went to the Jewish quarter to see an old synagogue. We were supposed to do dinner at a local super nice restaurant, but it was closed due to Covid, so dinner was covered at the hotel.

Day 3 began our drive to the eastern edge and the desert. We stopped in the mountains for a short walk thru the cedar forest. The parking lot had Barbary Macaques, which was fun, though one stole the water bottle right out of one of our pockets. Then it was a long drive back out of the mountains and into the desert. We stopped in Erfoud at a hotel owned by a French gentleman, L'Hotel by chateau de Sable, with definite French service. They were fantastic, and it was a little oasis in the desert. We got there late as Morocco has frequent police checks along the highway for your guide's correct paperwork and the bus's speed monitor.

Day 4 was a tour at a local kasbah with a Toareg tribe member who also happened to have a PhD in anthropology. He was very engaging, and was able to find us some real turbans to purchase for our upcoming camel ride thru the desert. CJ's supplied us with free scarves, but they were small and nowhere near as effective as the "real" ones the locals use. We then did a 3 mile walk around the area and the village before ending up at the local market. We were supposed to go to a local famous mausoleum, but it was closed due to Covid. After our tour, we were brought to a local Berber rug coop and given a short presentation on Berber items and rugs. Dh's cousin ended up buying 2 rugs, which were beautiful. It was not too hard of a sell, and they were very friendly. We actually had about 90 minutes to kill in a lounge off of one of the restaurants there. We decided that due to our small group size and some locations being closed, we had a lot more downtime than a normal tour. From there we got into a landrover with a new driver, who took us out to the edge of the Sahara, where we met our camels. The camel ride was about an hour, with a stop on top a tall dune for pictures and a break, before getting to our camp. I think this was the most memorable part of the trip, just because it was quintessentially Moroccan. Our turbans, btw, worked great. :) The camp was very luxurious, and our tent had running water and a toilet. Definite glamping. Dinner was good, and there was drumming and singing around a campfire before bed. Our guide said the family trips tend to get to the camp earlier so they have time for sand boarding down the dunes.

Day 5 we got up and had coffee while I searched for animal tracks in the sand. I'm a biology geek and was pretty stoked to find fennec fox and scarab beetle tracks. We'd had the choice of camel ride back to the edge of the sand, or land rover. We chose land rover, and dh told the driver to "let loose." It was an interesting start to the day, slipping and sliding up and over dunes. Once back on real roads we started to head back to the green parts of the country. It was a long drive, with a stop for a 3 mile walk thru the world's largest oasis. The oasis runs for 120 miles along a riverbed that cuts thru the dessert. It was like a verdant beautiful park, with an easy walk thru orchards and fields. We ended up in Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Morocco (many movies have been filmed there including the live action Aladin, Gladiator, GOT, etc.) The hotel was nice, though the rooms dates, and almost empty. I think they had 7 guests total. The staff were very nice, and dinner was ok. Again, we didn't have many other options as most restaurants were closed.

Day 6 we first went to Ait ben Haddou, a kasbah/village on a hillside made famous due to the many movies that have been filmed there. It was very picturesque and full of little shops, most of which were closed. Our guide kept shaking his head and saying how full it usually is. I was glad there weren't hoards of tourists, as the streets were narrow and steep, but I felt bad for the locals that are really hurting due to the pandemic. There were a few local artists that were open and we bought a couple of nice small pictures. Then we drove up and thru the mountains to get to Marrakech. Our hotel had canceled on us because we were the only 2 rooms booked. CJ had already taken care of it and had us booked at La Maison Arabe, a super luxury riad style hotel. We were upgraded to suites, and overall this was probably the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at. We had dinner at a local very good restaurant, including a dessert with orange blossom infusion. That's a big thing here and very good.

Day 7 started with a PCR Covid test arranged by CJ and done at the hotel, so we could get on a plane to come home. Then we took a horse drawn carriage ride around the area, which seems a "thing to do" as there were many carriages around. We ended up at the Yves Saint Laurent botanical garden and museum, which was beautiful and interesting, and had the nicest bathrooms on the trip (bonus.) From there we went to the medina, which is larger and much more open than Fes's. Again, many/most places were closed, but I was able to find a few things I wanted to bring back as gifts for my partners who I am leaving high and dry between Morocco and my surgery. We had a free afternoon that our guide was willing to fill with whatever we wanted, but we elected to go relax at the hotel. We had dinner at the hotel, which was quite good, and then we retired to our private courtyard and sipped the champagne they had left in our room. I'm telling you, this place was NICE.

Day 8 was a 4 mile walk along a neighboring valley and a visit to a local school, where we brought them some supplies. It was a pretty walk ending with a slightly nerve wracking low suspension bridge over the river, and the kids were cute, but I feel a little weird showing up as some benevolent white person handing things out. The afternoon was also free and I decided to use the spa at the hotel for a hammam and massage. A hammam is a Moroccan experience of being bathed, scrubbed, and generally rubbed all over. It was really interesting, mostly relaxing, and probably something anyone who wants to experience the culture should do. We had dinner at the hotel and then went to our rooms to pack to go home.

General impressions - the people were friendly and very very happy to see tourists. The culture is seems very open and tolerant, and while the population is majority Islamic, our guide made sure to say that full burqas are not encouraged. We saw women in everything from short sleeves and bare heads to more traditional robes and head/face coverings. Many men, even young ones, wore the traditional jalabiya, which is a long hooded robe used as outerwear, over their jeans and while riding scooters or donkeys. Our guide said the king had introduced many measures over the last 20 years encouraging tolerance and moderation of religion and strengthening Berber traditions, including now teaching Berber in schools. They are welcoming and the tradition is to offer mint tea to visitors, so we got it at hotels, restaurants, stores, etc. Most people were not wearing masks, but the Covid rate for the country is low. Partly this is because in general, movement is restricted. We found out that locals can't just drive to the next city - you have to have papers from your municipality giving you permission. I think this is a standard, pre-covid thing, and part of being ruled by a king. I would definitely go back, maybe to explore the mountains more.

Classic Journeys seemed to be very well run. Our guide was personable, responsible, and definitely up to the task. They don't do flight arrangements or pre/post tour lodging not at the first or last hotels, but our contact person before hand had several helpful tips and suggestions.

Feel free to ask any specifics I left out.
 

laceltris3

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 23, 2013
I am sooooo excited. It's also good to see they have updated the travel guidance from the CDC. Since my husband and I have been vaccinated, we will only need to get tests for the kids. Our trip is scheduled for early June.

Dear Tauck Guest,

Are you ready to explore the world again? So are we! We are thrilled to let you know that as of now your trip will be operating!

In anticipation of your upcoming journey, we have taken many steps to assure your comfort and well-being while you are traveling with us. Consistent with recently updated CDC guidelines, all Tauck guests must be fully vaccinated 14 days before departure or receive a negative PCR COVID-19 test within five days of departure for their journey.
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
Work has been a little slower than expected...

CJ's starts their tours at 9:00am the first day, so no including your travel day as part of the tour. Because of that, and flight requirements, we ended up flying in 2 nights early. Got to Casablanca that first afternoon and stayed at a hotel recommended by CJ, Hotel le Doge. Super nice little boutique hotel. We had arranged a transfer thru CJ to get to Fes, where the tour started, for the next morning. Even though the tour didn't officially start until our day 3, our guide and driver came to make the 3 hour transfer for us, which was a nice extra. He got us to our Fes hotel, Hotel Sahrai, and got us settled in. The hotel was nice, with a "hip" sky bar populated by a lot of locals until 8:00pm curfew.

The actual tour started the next morning. We went first to the medina (old town) where our guide had grown up. It is a combo of markets, tannery (big tourist spot), and homes in a warren of small alleys and tunnels, since the second floor often overhangs and touches the neighbors. Without a guide, I'd've been completely lost. Over 50% of the stalls were closed. The tannery, and the adjoining leather product coop, was a stop. I ended up buying a custom leather jacket kind of on a whim. We had also stopped at a rug coop, where we learned a little bit and mostly just sat there while they tried to sell us something. I wasn't too thrilled about that. We had a late lunch and then back to the hotel for a rest and dinner.

Day 2 was a trip to a local farm and goat cheese producer, a 4 mile walk thru the country side with some very pretty views, and then a huge late lunch back at the farm. Lots of food was a common theme on the trip. Meals were huge. From there we went to the Jewish quarter to see an old synagogue. We were supposed to do dinner at a local super nice restaurant, but it was closed due to Covid, so dinner was covered at the hotel.

Day 3 began our drive to the eastern edge and the desert. We stopped in the mountains for a short walk thru the cedar forest. The parking lot had Barbary Macaques, which was fun, though one stole the water bottle right out of one of our pockets. Then it was a long drive back out of the mountains and into the desert. We stopped in Erfoud at a hotel owned by a French gentleman, L'Hotel by chateau de Sable, with definite French service. They were fantastic, and it was a little oasis in the desert. We got there late as Morocco has frequent police checks along the highway for your guide's correct paperwork and the bus's speed monitor.

Day 4 was a tour at a local kasbah with a Toareg tribe member who also happened to have a PhD in anthropology. He was very engaging, and was able to find us some real turbans to purchase for our upcoming camel ride thru the desert. CJ's supplied us with free scarves, but they were small and nowhere near as effective as the "real" ones the locals use. We then did a 3 mile walk around the area and the village before ending up at the local market. We were supposed to go to a local famous mausoleum, but it was closed due to Covid. After our tour, we were brought to a local Berber rug coop and given a short presentation on Berber items and rugs. Dh's cousin ended up buying 2 rugs, which were beautiful. It was not too hard of a sell, and they were very friendly. We actually had about 90 minutes to kill in a lounge off of one of the restaurants there. We decided that due to our small group size and some locations being closed, we had a lot more downtime than a normal tour. From there we got into a landrover with a new driver, who took us out to the edge of the Sahara, where we met our camels. The camel ride was about an hour, with a stop on top a tall dune for pictures and a break, before getting to our camp. I think this was the most memorable part of the trip, just because it was quintessentially Moroccan. Our turbans, btw, worked great. :) The camp was very luxurious, and our tent had running water and a toilet. Definite glamping. Dinner was good, and there was drumming and singing around a campfire before bed. Our guide said the family trips tend to get to the camp earlier so they have time for sand boarding down the dunes.

Day 5 we got up and had coffee while I searched for animal tracks in the sand. I'm a biology geek and was pretty stoked to find fennec fox and scarab beetle tracks. We'd had the choice of camel ride back to the edge of the sand, or land rover. We chose land rover, and dh told the driver to "let loose." It was an interesting start to the day, slipping and sliding up and over dunes. Once back on real roads we started to head back to the green parts of the country. It was a long drive, with a stop for a 3 mile walk thru the world's largest oasis. The oasis runs for 120 miles along a riverbed that cuts thru the dessert. It was like a verdant beautiful park, with an easy walk thru orchards and fields. We ended up in Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Morocco (many movies have been filmed there including the live action Aladin, Gladiator, GOT, etc.) The hotel was nice, though the rooms dates, and almost empty. I think they had 7 guests total. The staff were very nice, and dinner was ok. Again, we didn't have many other options as most restaurants were closed.

Day 6 we first went to Ait ben Haddou, a kasbah/village on a hillside made famous due to the many movies that have been filmed there. It was very picturesque and full of little shops, most of which were closed. Our guide kept shaking his head and saying how full it usually is. I was glad there weren't hoards of tourists, as the streets were narrow and steep, but I felt bad for the locals that are really hurting due to the pandemic. There were a few local artists that were open and we bought a couple of nice small pictures. Then we drove up and thru the mountains to get to Marrakech. Our hotel had canceled on us because we were the only 2 rooms booked. CJ had already taken care of it and had us booked at La Maison Arabe, a super luxury riad style hotel. We were upgraded to suites, and overall this was probably the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at. We had dinner at a local very good restaurant, including a dessert with orange blossom infusion. That's a big thing here and very good.

Day 7 started with a PCR Covid test arranged by CJ and done at the hotel, so we could get on a plane to come home. Then we took a horse drawn carriage ride around the area, which seems a "thing to do" as there were many carriages around. We ended up at the Yves Saint Laurent botanical garden and museum, which was beautiful and interesting, and had the nicest bathrooms on the trip (bonus.) From there we went to the medina, which is larger and much more open than Fes's. Again, many/most places were closed, but I was able to find a few things I wanted to bring back as gifts for my partners who I am leaving high and dry between Morocco and my surgery. We had a free afternoon that our guide was willing to fill with whatever we wanted, but we elected to go relax at the hotel. We had dinner at the hotel, which was quite good, and then we retired to our private courtyard and sipped the champagne they had left in our room. I'm telling you, this place was NICE.

Day 8 was a 4 mile walk along a neighboring valley and a visit to a local school, where we brought them some supplies. It was a pretty walk ending with a slightly nerve wracking low suspension bridge over the river, and the kids were cute, but I feel a little weird showing up as some benevolent white person handing things out. The afternoon was also free and I decided to use the spa at the hotel for a hammam and massage. A hammam is a Moroccan experience of being bathed, scrubbed, and generally rubbed all over. It was really interesting, mostly relaxing, and probably something anyone who wants to experience the culture should do. We had dinner at the hotel and then went to our rooms to pack to go home.

General impressions - the people were friendly and very very happy to see tourists. The culture is seems very open and tolerant, and while the population is majority Islamic, our guide made sure to say that full burqas are not encouraged. We saw women in everything from short sleeves and bare heads to more traditional robes and head/face coverings. Many men, even young ones, wore the traditional jalabiya, which is a long hooded robe used as outerwear, over their jeans and while riding scooters or donkeys. Our guide said the king had introduced many measures over the last 20 years encouraging tolerance and moderation of religion and strengthening Berber traditions, including now teaching Berber in schools. They are welcoming and the tradition is to offer mint tea to visitors, so we got it at hotels, restaurants, stores, etc. Most people were not wearing masks, but the Covid rate for the country is low. Partly this is because in general, movement is restricted. We found out that locals can't just drive to the next city - you have to have papers from your municipality giving you permission. I think this is a standard, pre-covid thing, and part of being ruled by a king. I would definitely go back, maybe to explore the mountains more.

Classic Journeys seemed to be very well run. Our guide was personable, responsible, and definitely up to the task. They don't do flight arrangements or pre/post tour lodging not at the first or last hotels, but our contact person before hand had several helpful tips and suggestions.

Feel free to ask any specifics I left out.
Morocco was never really on my radar. Your report may have changed that....

Sayhello
 
  • TeeKo

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    I am sooooo excited. It's also good to see they have updated the travel guidance from the CDC. Since my husband and I have been vaccinated, we will only need to get tests for the kids. Our trip is scheduled for early June.

    Dear Tauck Guest,

    Are you ready to explore the world again? So are we! We are thrilled to let you know that as of now your trip will be operating!

    In anticipation of your upcoming journey, we have taken many steps to assure your comfort and well-being while you are traveling with us. Consistent with recently updated CDC guidelines, all Tauck guests must be fully vaccinated 14 days before departure or receive a negative PCR COVID-19 test within five days of departure for their journey.
    Congratulations! When and when are you going?
     

    blabadie

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 3, 2018
    Work has been a little slower than expected...

    CJ's starts their tours at 9:00am the first day, so no including your travel day as part of the tour. Because of that, and flight requirements, we ended up flying in 2 nights early. Got to Casablanca that first afternoon and stayed at a hotel recommended by CJ, Hotel le Doge. Super nice little boutique hotel. We had arranged a transfer thru CJ to get to Fes, where the tour started, for the next morning. Even though the tour didn't officially start until our day 3, our guide and driver came to make the 3 hour transfer for us, which was a nice extra. He got us to our Fes hotel, Hotel Sahrai, and got us settled in. The hotel was nice, with a "hip" sky bar populated by a lot of locals until 8:00pm curfew.

    The actual tour started the next morning. We went first to the medina (old town) where our guide had grown up. It is a combo of markets, tannery (big tourist spot), and homes in a warren of small alleys and tunnels, since the second floor often overhangs and touches the neighbors. Without a guide, I'd've been completely lost. Over 50% of the stalls were closed. The tannery, and the adjoining leather product coop, was a stop. I ended up buying a custom leather jacket kind of on a whim. We had also stopped at a rug coop, where we learned a little bit and mostly just sat there while they tried to sell us something. I wasn't too thrilled about that. We had a late lunch and then back to the hotel for a rest and dinner.

    Day 2 was a trip to a local farm and goat cheese producer, a 4 mile walk thru the country side with some very pretty views, and then a huge late lunch back at the farm. Lots of food was a common theme on the trip. Meals were huge. From there we went to the Jewish quarter to see an old synagogue. We were supposed to do dinner at a local super nice restaurant, but it was closed due to Covid, so dinner was covered at the hotel.

    Day 3 began our drive to the eastern edge and the desert. We stopped in the mountains for a short walk thru the cedar forest. The parking lot had Barbary Macaques, which was fun, though one stole the water bottle right out of one of our pockets. Then it was a long drive back out of the mountains and into the desert. We stopped in Erfoud at a hotel owned by a French gentleman, L'Hotel by chateau de Sable, with definite French service. They were fantastic, and it was a little oasis in the desert. We got there late as Morocco has frequent police checks along the highway for your guide's correct paperwork and the bus's speed monitor.

    Day 4 was a tour at a local kasbah with a Toareg tribe member who also happened to have a PhD in anthropology. He was very engaging, and was able to find us some real turbans to purchase for our upcoming camel ride thru the desert. CJ's supplied us with free scarves, but they were small and nowhere near as effective as the "real" ones the locals use. We then did a 3 mile walk around the area and the village before ending up at the local market. We were supposed to go to a local famous mausoleum, but it was closed due to Covid. After our tour, we were brought to a local Berber rug coop and given a short presentation on Berber items and rugs. Dh's cousin ended up buying 2 rugs, which were beautiful. It was not too hard of a sell, and they were very friendly. We actually had about 90 minutes to kill in a lounge off of one of the restaurants there. We decided that due to our small group size and some locations being closed, we had a lot more downtime than a normal tour. From there we got into a landrover with a new driver, who took us out to the edge of the Sahara, where we met our camels. The camel ride was about an hour, with a stop on top a tall dune for pictures and a break, before getting to our camp. I think this was the most memorable part of the trip, just because it was quintessentially Moroccan. Our turbans, btw, worked great. :) The camp was very luxurious, and our tent had running water and a toilet. Definite glamping. Dinner was good, and there was drumming and singing around a campfire before bed. Our guide said the family trips tend to get to the camp earlier so they have time for sand boarding down the dunes.

    Day 5 we got up and had coffee while I searched for animal tracks in the sand. I'm a biology geek and was pretty stoked to find fennec fox and scarab beetle tracks. We'd had the choice of camel ride back to the edge of the sand, or land rover. We chose land rover, and dh told the driver to "let loose." It was an interesting start to the day, slipping and sliding up and over dunes. Once back on real roads we started to head back to the green parts of the country. It was a long drive, with a stop for a 3 mile walk thru the world's largest oasis. The oasis runs for 120 miles along a riverbed that cuts thru the dessert. It was like a verdant beautiful park, with an easy walk thru orchards and fields. We ended up in Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Morocco (many movies have been filmed there including the live action Aladin, Gladiator, GOT, etc.) The hotel was nice, though the rooms dates, and almost empty. I think they had 7 guests total. The staff were very nice, and dinner was ok. Again, we didn't have many other options as most restaurants were closed.

    Day 6 we first went to Ait ben Haddou, a kasbah/village on a hillside made famous due to the many movies that have been filmed there. It was very picturesque and full of little shops, most of which were closed. Our guide kept shaking his head and saying how full it usually is. I was glad there weren't hoards of tourists, as the streets were narrow and steep, but I felt bad for the locals that are really hurting due to the pandemic. There were a few local artists that were open and we bought a couple of nice small pictures. Then we drove up and thru the mountains to get to Marrakech. Our hotel had canceled on us because we were the only 2 rooms booked. CJ had already taken care of it and had us booked at La Maison Arabe, a super luxury riad style hotel. We were upgraded to suites, and overall this was probably the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at. We had dinner at a local very good restaurant, including a dessert with orange blossom infusion. That's a big thing here and very good.

    Day 7 started with a PCR Covid test arranged by CJ and done at the hotel, so we could get on a plane to come home. Then we took a horse drawn carriage ride around the area, which seems a "thing to do" as there were many carriages around. We ended up at the Yves Saint Laurent botanical garden and museum, which was beautiful and interesting, and had the nicest bathrooms on the trip (bonus.) From there we went to the medina, which is larger and much more open than Fes's. Again, many/most places were closed, but I was able to find a few things I wanted to bring back as gifts for my partners who I am leaving high and dry between Morocco and my surgery. We had a free afternoon that our guide was willing to fill with whatever we wanted, but we elected to go relax at the hotel. We had dinner at the hotel, which was quite good, and then we retired to our private courtyard and sipped the champagne they had left in our room. I'm telling you, this place was NICE.

    Day 8 was a 4 mile walk along a neighboring valley and a visit to a local school, where we brought them some supplies. It was a pretty walk ending with a slightly nerve wracking low suspension bridge over the river, and the kids were cute, but I feel a little weird showing up as some benevolent white person handing things out. The afternoon was also free and I decided to use the spa at the hotel for a hammam and massage. A hammam is a Moroccan experience of being bathed, scrubbed, and generally rubbed all over. It was really interesting, mostly relaxing, and probably something anyone who wants to experience the culture should do. We had dinner at the hotel and then went to our rooms to pack to go home.

    General impressions - the people were friendly and very very happy to see tourists. The culture is seems very open and tolerant, and while the population is majority Islamic, our guide made sure to say that full burqas are not encouraged. We saw women in everything from short sleeves and bare heads to more traditional robes and head/face coverings. Many men, even young ones, wore the traditional jalabiya, which is a long hooded robe used as outerwear, over their jeans and while riding scooters or donkeys. Our guide said the king had introduced many measures over the last 20 years encouraging tolerance and moderation of religion and strengthening Berber traditions, including now teaching Berber in schools. They are welcoming and the tradition is to offer mint tea to visitors, so we got it at hotels, restaurants, stores, etc. Most people were not wearing masks, but the Covid rate for the country is low. Partly this is because in general, movement is restricted. We found out that locals can't just drive to the next city - you have to have papers from your municipality giving you permission. I think this is a standard, pre-covid thing, and part of being ruled by a king. I would definitely go back, maybe to explore the mountains more.

    Classic Journeys seemed to be very well run. Our guide was personable, responsible, and definitely up to the task. They don't do flight arrangements or pre/post tour lodging not at the first or last hotels, but our contact person before hand had several helpful tips and suggestions.

    Feel free to ask any specifics I left out.
    Thank you for the detailed trip report! Sound like some truly unique experiences.

    Best wishes for a successful surgery and smooth recovery!
     

    aggiedog

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 13, 2012
    Thanks for the well wishes, everyone. That certainly wasn't on my radar for this year, but there you go. :)

    Morocco wasn't on my radar either. We'd had a trip to Iceland planned with CJ for September that obviously didn't go. This trip fit our time and budget constraints, so we moved our deposit to it and then just waited to see if it would happen. I've learned that there are plenty of places on the planet I'd never thought of going to that were still amazing and worth the time spent there, so now I'm pretty much open to anywhere that isn't a physical safety risk.
     

    OffToDWD

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2014
    Has anyone (or their kids) done the Nat Geo student expedition? If so, would love to know if it's recommended and how the experience was (good or bad). Thanks!
     
  • laceltris3

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2013
    Congratulations! When and when are you going?
    We were originally doing the Alpine Adventure/Switzerland and Austria in June, but in November I got the sense that Europe might not happen, or be an experience we really wanted this summer, so I changed it to Cowboy Country, which is the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, over to Mount Rushmore/S. Dakota. I bought our flight last week which was almost full, and got notice overnight the direct flight was cancelled and now I have to stop in Denver. The planes were changed on pretty much every leg.
     

    TeeKo

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    We had booked Ireland with Thomson Family in 2019 to travel in 2020. (Mine is one of the posts that was locked)
    Essentially $8k deposit made in Spring 2019. Last year, moved the deposit to travel in 2021.
    Just received notice that the trip has been canceled.
    I was presented two options
    1) private trip to Ireland in 2022 (opposed to group trip)
    2) move my deposit to another destination

    I was not given the option to just get my money back. Although I assume it has to be an option, they just didn’t want to say it. Not sure what I am going to do. I have sympathy for a small company in the pandemic. I don’t need the money back but certainly feel a little weird about the interest free loan sitting out there for 3 years. But we do eventually want to go to Ireland anyway. And would my CC protect my deposit if Thomson went out of business?
    🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ Don’t know what we are going to do yet.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    We had booked Ireland with Thomson Family in 2019 to travel in 2020. (Mine is one of the posts that was locked)
    Essentially $8k deposit made in Spring 2019. Last year, moved the deposit to travel in 2021.
    Just received notice that the trip has been canceled.
    I was presented two options
    1) private trip to Ireland in 2022 (opposed to group trip)
    2) move my deposit to another destination

    I was not given the option to just get my money back. Although I assume it has to be an option, they just didn’t want to say it. Not sure what I am going to do. I have sympathy for a small company in the pandemic. I don’t need the money back but certainly feel a little weird about the interest free loan sitting out there for 3 years. But we do eventually want to go to Ireland anyway. And would my CC protect my deposit if Thomson went out of business?
    🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ Don’t know what we are going to do yet.
    I'd check with your credit card company about whether you'd be covered or not. I doubt it would be covered as a charge (it has been way too long since you charged it and that kind of coverage usually has a time limit) but it *might* be covered under travel protection if your credit card has travel protection, and it covers providers going out of business.

    Personally, I'd request a refund. After you get the refund, let them know you plan to travel with them in the future. But I'm not sure it's your responsibility to keep them afloat by, as you say, giving them an interest-free loan. You're not getting any benefit out of leaving the money with them, so it really is just an interest-free loan.

    Sayhello
     

    Calfan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2009
    We had booked Ireland with Thomson Family in 2019 to travel in 2020. (Mine is one of the posts that was locked)
    Essentially $8k deposit made in Spring 2019. Last year, moved the deposit to travel in 2021.
    Just received notice that the trip has been canceled.
    I was presented two options
    1) private trip to Ireland in 2022 (opposed to group trip)
    2) move my deposit to another destination

    I was not given the option to just get my money back. Although I assume it has to be an option, they just didn’t want to say it. Not sure what I am going to do. I have sympathy for a small company in the pandemic. I don’t need the money back but certainly feel a little weird about the interest free loan sitting out there for 3 years. But we do eventually want to go to Ireland anyway. And would my CC protect my deposit if Thomson went out of business?
    🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ Don’t know what we are going to do yet.
    We were in a similar position with about the same amount in deposits to Thomson for a June 2020 Japan trip that obviously didn't go. Our travel agent pressed them hard, and they refunded our deposit. Initially they were saying we could only move it to another trip.
     

    laceltris3

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2013
    We had booked Ireland with Thomson Family in 2019 to travel in 2020. (Mine is one of the posts that was locked)
    Essentially $8k deposit made in Spring 2019. Last year, moved the deposit to travel in 2021.
    Just received notice that the trip has been canceled.
    I was presented two options
    1) private trip to Ireland in 2022 (opposed to group trip)
    2) move my deposit to another destination

    I was not given the option to just get my money back. Although I assume it has to be an option, they just didn’t want to say it. Not sure what I am going to do. I have sympathy for a small company in the pandemic. I don’t need the money back but certainly feel a little weird about the interest free loan sitting out there for 3 years. But we do eventually want to go to Ireland anyway. And would my CC protect my deposit if Thomson went out of business?
    🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ Don’t know what we are going to do yet.
    That's tough. Especially if they aren't giving you an incentive to keep your money there.

    I would look at the agreement/documentation when you booked for refundability. It would depend on the card, obviously, but I don't think you would have protection there. Maybe under the travel insurance provisions. I don't know how those policies are about vendor insolvency. The basic situation is that you would be an unsecured creditor in any bankruptcy and would get pennies on the dollar, if anything.
     

    Woodview

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2013
    Phone them up And Talk to them .... " e " mail or Texting is not worth it .

    .................. From an Irish person living in Cork

    Yes we are in a shut down / lock down situation at the moment ( A 4 mile Radius travel limit in place )
     

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