Tag Archives: Morocco

April 9-10 –Going home

Once at the CDG airport we were pretty tired. Our luggage had gone through to LAX so we only had our carry on’s and large purses, but that was plenty. Unwilling to search for the shuttle to the hotel we grabbed a cab. The travel agency said the Marriot was closest to the airport, but we passed several on the way, including a Sheraton which is actually attached to the airport. At least it was only a 20E ride and about 15 minutes. The Marriott was lovely with the softest beds and pillows, ever. When we checked in I realized my Visa card was gone, so I had Terry cancel it. I am pretty sure I left it in a machine at the Genoa Airport. We watched TV and caught the finale of Britain’s The Voice and then slept hard till morning.

We had coffee and caught the 8am bus for our 10:30 departure. The airport security was miles long and they decided my bag was too heavy. As Carolyn continued I had to go way back to turn in my bag. Good news, because it was a connecting flight there was no charge. Back at the first check point, they let me thru a shortcut and then I was on my way to find Carolyn. The lines were all moving so slow that I actually caught up to her. We boarded promptly and took off on time. Carolyn had bought some more gifts at the airport. On the plane, we were in the bulkhead with a man in the seat between us. Oh well, I am not sitting in the middle, so that’s the way it goes.

We had some ok food, chicken and cous cous and other stuff I ignored. I would really love a sweet right now, but have none.

My wonderful Bose ear buds ran out of charge and the noise on the plane seems so much more awful than normal, since I had a couple of hours of relative silence. I watched the Good Dinosaur, which I though was cute. It is a simple adventure story, no reason for the critics to be so harsh.

I ended up watching animated films all the way home. I did find ice cream bars when I walked around the planes kitchen. I got one each for me, Carolyn, and our seat partner. I also got coffee for all of us. Carolyn and I later spent some time in the kitchen stretching our legs and being entertained by a charming baby named Santiago.

Landing at LAX was quick but getting off the plane took a long time. Most people waited their turn, but some people shoved forward. We had to go thru customs, I was able to text Terry once before customs area blocked all cell use. The line was long but moved fairly quickly. It was interesting to see how the custom officers talked with some people a long time and just gave a quick nod to others. There was a large high school group on our plan and lots of overexcited parents waiting for them. The parents behaved as if the kids were being released from a kidnapping situation, lol. We finally got through and found all of our suitcases. Terry was waiting for us outside, he went to get the car while we waited curbside. The place was packed and it was frustrating for Terry to get to us. LAX is just too big and too messy.

We dropped Carolyn off and when we got home I managed to stay awake until 5:30, then I was out until morning.

All in all, a good trip, interesting sights cool souvenirs.

April 1 – Tangier, Morocco

We had called for a 7:30 wake up but what we got was a 6:15 wake up and we were rushing about before we realized the time. Our phones refuse to be on Morocco time so a wake up call seemed like a good idea. Oh well. We had time to get read and have a bite to eat and stroll over to Deck 5 to meet with the group. Unfortunately I left the tickets in the room so RAN back, went the wrong way and was gasping for air by the time I got back to Carolyn. She was chatting with Irene and Bobbi, sister-in laws who we enjoy talking to, when they are not bickering and sniping at each other. The four of us had our canes out as we walked a pretty long distance to board the bus.

On the bus we saw our dinner companions Linda and Larry. We sat behind them and enjoyed chatting now and then. Also on our tour was a very tall man, he had been the main reason we did not lose the tour in Barcelona, cause we could always see him, surrounded by his wife and kids. Also, Nicky, a Costa crew member was with us.

On the bus our guide began to talk, only in English, which was nice and he talked and talked. He used the word please as a punctuation mark, it was both funny and charming. He worked very hard at convincing us that Tangier is a very happy, diverse city where Jews and Arabs and Spaniards and everyone gets along. It was obviously important to him that we not be afraid and we go home to spread the word. He always pointed out the various religious buildings from synagogues, to churches to mosques. As I have always believed, when you look at these people, they are like us, with jobs and families and pets. Speaking of which, we saw at least 30 street cats. Unlike ours back home, they are not at all shy and lie in the sun and wander wherever they please. Most look sleek and well fed. I did see a dog on a leash but it was in dreadful condition and I quickly looked away. It was filthy and seemed very unhappy.

Tangier is a very pretty city, many white houses on hills, like in pictures from Greece. He kept comparing Tangier to California; the weather, the beaches, the American cars, the fancy homes of the rich, it was all California. We Californians were pretty amused.

Our first stop was the Kasbah. Unlike an Aladdin movie, this place is simply where people live, mostly poor people. He showed us the public fountain because most people do not have running water or electricity. This was picturesque and interesting and the walking was reasonable. I enjoyed this first time with my cane, not for balance, I was going pretty slow, but it was nice for up hill. I need to get a strap for my cane to put on my wrist.

Next we went to the Medina, the SHOPPING!!! Here was the part I both looked forward to and was afraid of, where the peddlers are in your face. It was fun, sometimes you had to say NO! in a loud, angry voice but mostly a few regular no and no thank you’s would suffice. I wanted to make a purchase from a peddler so I bought a bracelet for 10E and $2. I also bought a surprise for my sister Candy, so I can’t tell here.

But I must talk about Yasene (this is how he said it, spelling? No idea). He was always at the back of the group and became a personal guide for Carolyn and I. He never let us get far behind and he carried things for us and he was a darling. Yes, we know he gets cuts from the stores, but so what? He was incredibly helpful and kind. He made the trip perfect!

One of the nicer homes we walked past had been owned by Barbara Hutton and was currently owned by Margaret Atwood. We also passed a book shop and the owner was kind enough to step out so we could take a picture. They do NOT want their pictures taken. Yasene laughed and said just take it quick and rush away, but Carolyn and I did not bother people.

We stopped at a spice shop and one of the items was REAL Moroccan argon oil, I bought some as well as some Orange Blossom oil and a spice to stop snoring. The spice shop man also showed us a spice that takes off 10 pounds in 20 days, but I don’t think anyone bought it. Carolyn also made some purchases, but they are a surprise.

We then walked through a food market, lots of olives and skinned animals hanging from the racks. I saw, for the second time that day, a tall pile of very large, round breads, about the size of a medium pizza. “I want that” I said to Yasene and he bought it for me, called it a present. It was delicious, I offered it to many on the tour and we tore of hunks and munched as we walked. I could live on that bread, mmmmmmmmm!

The next stop was a very large store that sold a wide variety of quality items and accepted credit cards. Upstairs I was tempted and splurged on the purchase of a lovely Moroccan carpet, Carolyn who is familiar with these carpets knew it was authentic and that the price was very low compared to what it would be in the states. They packaged it in the most amazing way, it is heavy but so small and a young man sewed the package closed with a big needle and string. That alone was fascinating.

By now we were pretty tired, we had walked a long way and were “attacked” by peddlers every step. Irene said NO in a way that really sent them scurrying. I began saying “I don’t like it” to everything I was shown, that made the peddlers sad.

The money thing was odd because the peddlers will take anything, dollars or Euros or whatever. We had no need of Moroccan money.

We finally got back to the bus, after almost 3 hours, but we were not done. We exchanged a fond goodbye with Yasene, and tipped him very well. He had been carrying all of our purchases and handed them off to the tour guide so we did not need to carry them to the bus. Such a great guy. He seemed to know everyone we saw and when I asked him, he said everyone knew him, he was like coca cola. He also said he is a friend of Rick Steves and is in his books. (Every time we briefly lost sight of Yasene, Carolyn was sure he was off selling our stuff, but of course he was not).

We went on a drive through the “Beverly Hills” of Tangier to admire the beautiful homes. We saw camels by the side of the road but they were only there for tourists and we did not stop. A lot of this drive was along a beautiful coast line, off the Atlantic. We could see the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance. We had a very brief stop at a high point for pictures but the ocean looks pretty much the same from everywhere. Unfortunately my camera ran out of battery, darn me for forgetting to charge it, and though Carolyn still had some battery life in her camera, it is not a fast shot. I missed some photo ops but it had worked most of the time.

Our next stop was a cave that Hercules built, or so they said. It was a steep downhill with a climb to come back so Carolyn stayed in a small side place and watched some drummers. The cave was especially interesting because it had the ocean water of different countries that had flowed into it. Depending on where you stood in the massive cavern, you were in a different country.

Our final stop was a beautiful hotel called ________. Out by the pool they had real Moroccan tea for us and cookies. The tea was warm and very sweet, I loved it. The cookies were ok but they were gobbled up. There were also very nice, western style bathrooms for us. We sat around a lovely pool and enjoyed the respite. If I were to stay in Tangier, which I doubt I ever will, this is the hotel for me. The big downside is the strong smoke smell, but they probably had smoke free rooms for westerners.

And then, back to the ship. The guards at the harbor gate actually looked under the bus with mirrors before they let us through. In spite of this the busses are not allowed too close to the ship so we had a long walk. My carpet is very heavy and I was glad to get to the room and drop it.

Carolyn and I went to the buffet, which they had kept open because the busses were late. I had a drumstick and a few potatoes and Carolyn had a salad and we both had a few bites of pizza (bleh). The ice cream machine is still broken and though we should be grateful to avoid the calories, we are not! Then goodness for ice cream for dessert and I brought jujubes which we both snack on.

Carolyn is in the room, on the balcony reading and enjoying the sunshine. I went to the internet café to send yesterdays blog. I am now sitting in a salon where there is usually dancing. While I type they are playing quiz games. The first was a geography one and then a cute on where they showed pictures of people in traditional costumes and the participants need to guess the country. Sitting near me are two men I waited in the long excursion line with. They speak no English and I no French but we became friendly anyway. They are playing the game and I guess along with them.

Tonight, after dinner, we are done! We need to rest up for Casablanca tomorrow and I need to download our photos.

March 31 – A Day At Sea

We woke up at 9 but remembered that the clocks were going to be set back an hour so we still had time to be lazy while we waited for breakfast. When it arrived, we enjoyed our cold cereal and coffee but it was only ok.

There was no internet but it was a nice, relaxing day to rest up from our Barcelona tour.

After breakfast we showered and dressed and went in search of the internet café to try and send this blog. Again we were flummoxed by the elevators but finally found it. Oh joy when I was actually able to connect and send the past two days. There was no internet in the evening.

Next I went to discuss our tours at the tour desk. I was concerned that there was going to be too much walking for Carolyn. All other tours were sold out and the girl I talked to was not much help. I plan to try again later.

We stopped by the hospitality desk to get some change and check on our room account, which we realized later was a waste of time. With that accomplished we went to Costa Smeralda Restaurant (that’s how they spell it) to try a sit down lunch. The menu was very sparse and though we were seated with nice people, they only spoke French. Carolyn had pasta and a salad. I decided to take the opportunity to try rabbit. I though it tasted good and since the French diners ordered it and enjoyed it I guess it was good. The rabbit was served with two pieces, leg I think, on the bone. I wanted to nibble off the last bits but just could not pick up the bone with my hands in front of the French diners at our table. We both had pineapple sherbet for dessert and are now back in the room. Carolyn has dozed off, which is good because she was up a lot last night not feeling well. I slept a while too, gosh I love a nap!

Once we were up and feeling good we went up to the buffet in search of a little snack. I found some cookies and coffee and we were sitting by window out by the pool. There was an announcement over the loud speaker that we had to go about an hour out of our way because a passenger was very ill nad need to be taken off the ship. The announcement was made much more carefully than usual, instead of a rush of many languages, a different person who was extra good at the language made the announcement in each language.

The ocean was fairly rough and the pool water slopped out and began rushing along the floor. Everyone who saw it tried to warn others but the language gap became pretty apparent. It was pretty funny. We took a walk on a deck Carolyn called the promenade, but I think on this ship it is where the crew takes their breaks. We enjoyed watching the rough sea since we both felt ok. We went back to the room to for Carolyn to change for dinner, and it was a good thing because she had been in jeans but when we went to to dinner we discovered it was dress up night. Linda and Andrea were resplendent, the rest of us were acceptable. I teased Emmet for not singing at Karoke, turns out he went on last, after I had gone to the room. I had roast duck leg for dinner, it was very good. I also had a cheese plate and my ice cream for dessert.

After dinner Carolyn and I went to the show. When the girl brought me coffee she said my Costa account was closed but I could fix it and she gave me the coffee anyhow. The show was all Italian singing, which would have been fine, but most of the songs sounded like a funeral so I did not stay, Carolyn left with me.

We went to the desk to check on our accounts. When we paid for our tours and tried to give them each of our Costa cards we had been told at the tour desk all of our stuff was together and that at the end there would be one bill so we did not both need to hand in our cards. However, turns out that is not true. When I told the girl at the desk she said I should have come to them to find out what is really true. I disagreed and told her she should tell the tour people to get it right. I feel anyone on the ship who answers a question should know what they are talking about. We have been given incorrect information on several occasions. It may be a language problem, but I always ask in simple terms, I am used to speaking to people with limited English. For example, the maître de came to our table during dinner and I told him I thought it would be nice if we could have coffee after dinner without a charge. He said the charge was only for fancy coffee and American coffee was free. One would think that everyone who works on the ship could know these things, or else they should say “I am not sure, please check at the main desk.” Anyhow, I had her open my account with my credit card and Carolyn still had some money left on her Costa card, so she did not bother at this time. Having about 500E in ship credit is lovely, and we have very little to buy now, since we have booked and paid for our excursions, but it is nice to know my Costa card will work.

Carolyn has gone to the room, maybe to bed. I am sitting in the lobby listening to the singer and typing away. I plan to go to the Karoke show and watch my new friends. But that did not happen because our excursion was set for 8:45 and I needed to get to bed. We asked for a wake up call and we were both out.

Tangier Tomorrow!