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Moorish Spain to Marrakech RMO

Visiting: Spain , Morocco
Trip Duration 13 Days
 

Reviews for Moorish Spain to Marrakech

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Moorish Spain to Marrakech reviews verified by reevooReevoo

21 reviews

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Moorish Spain to MarrakechScores 8.0 out of 10 based on 21 reviews
(8 out of 10)

Hazel

London, United Kingdom
As a couple of my fellow travellers have commented, it was indeed a trip of two distinct parts from a customer experience point of view. It should, however, be acknowledged that the trip was also two distinct cultural experiences with the bubbly, effervescence of the Spanish and the more reserved and reverent Moroccans.

With 10 Explore trips ‘under my belt’ I can safely say that the Moorish Spain side of the trip provided us with arguably one of the best guides I have had the pleasure to travel with. Laura quickly tuned into the group and the various individuals within the group. Laura was well prepared and was a pleasure to be with. The Alhambra was truly breathtaking! As mentioned by Michael, Laura’s willingness to adapt to an extra day with us and to facilitate the trip into Gibraltar was most definitely testament not only to a true professional but a real human with a big heart. Thanks also to Explore for making all the adjustments to keep us roughly on schedule.

The Morocco side of the trip was in stark contrast. In Spain, Laura, was with us all the time. Almost immediately on arrival in Tangier we met with the first of many local guides who were sometimes accompanied by our Tour Guide but on many more occasions were not. The local guides whilst delivering facts and information could not be compared to my previous experience of Explore Guides. Local guides were frequently distracted by their mobile phones and despite reassurances we could stop along the way, this did not happen.

I would agree that the Casablanca experience could have been better. I wonder what folk who did not chose the additional payment of going to the Mosque would have done? One of my very low points was the sight of waterfront seafood restaurants disappearing from our view; this will stay with me for some time! In addition, despite the promise of being pointed to location markers above the medina in Marrakesh, none were provided which was a severe limitation for delving back in to the medina and the souk.

Whether these issues were the guide and/or Explore organization or a combination of the two is not at all clear to me. For me, when I asked anything our guide was willing to answer and provide information but I understand as a group there were frustrations about the proactive nature of the dissemination of information and details. I would also agree that we missed the best of Moroccan cuisine but on the first night in Fes I had one of the best Pastilla that I have ever eaten and a most acceptable Moroccan red wine. Yes, the food was patchy and much of it was not true Moroccan food but adaptations to perceptions of tourist palettes. I believe that Laura with us in Morocco, the ‘foodies’ among us would have experienced a very different Morocco.

The train journeys in Morocco were long but most enjoyable and allowed us to 'pack-in' some amazing sights, sounds, and aromas (some less than positive; do accept the mint leaves at the Tanery in Fes!). The trains were clean although I understand there were some ‘plumbing’ issues but as many a seasoned travel has learned developing ‘camel-like tendencies’ can be an advantage in some circumstances! Train corridor cleaning was conducted throughout journeys and a regular trolley service was provided. One of my abiding memories will be listen to Crosbie, Stills and Nash and to understand exactly the experience of riding on the Marrakesh Express! Make some adjustments to the Morocco end of the trip and this could be a truly spectacular trip.
Confirmed traveller: 28 April 2017
Published on: 17 May 2017
(8 out of 10)

Keith

Horley
As the trip was split between Spain and Morocco there were two tour leaders, our leader in Spain and did an excellent job in giving the information to do our own thing as a group or individually, she coordinated well with her office in sorting out our transport to Tangier as the ferries had been cancelled due to high winds and as we had a spare day in Algeciras she sorted out a request by the group to visit to Gibraltar.
Our leader on the Moroccan part of the trip was a nice guy but didn't seem as clued up on places to eat and was disappointed with some of the restaurants he took us to, although I did had a really good Moroccan meal on the optional trip to the Atlas mountains which was the best day on the Moroccan part of the trip.
On the whole I enjoyed the trip and it ticked the boxes with the train travel which I find more relaxing than traveling by road over longer distances.
Confirmed traveller: 28 April 2017
Published on: 14 May 2017
(8 out of 10)

Michael

Grange
A tale of two separate tour leaders, one very good, the other not so. The Spain leg was well led and the leader consulted with her customers and also researched dining options with locals. For someone who had not done this tour before she was well researched and keen, definitely would recommend her as a leader. Even when we had a spare afternoon caused by our ferry cancellation she still acted as leader and assisted us to put together an excursion to Gibraltar for those who were interested.
The Morocco leg was seemingly aimed to direct customers to dining options which seemed to have been selected for no other reason than other groups seemed to eat there and gave the suspicion that the selection was not for the benefit of the customer. The diabolical choice in Casablanca where we travelled for about 25mins to a roadside cafe, made no sense as we had travelled past numerous eateries on the corniche adjoining the Mosque and also close to railway station, but then travelled through suburbs and city to a cbd cafe where poor food was on offer but seemed to be a choice of tour groups. To select a rooftop terrace in Marrakech with the sole view being of a mobile phone tower, after a day or so earlier mentioning the virtues of dining with a view of the square, reason became apparent when two other tour groups turned up. Almost no consultation until last dinner and then he left before tour actually finished. Tour leaders should travel with the customers, not be consigned to second class on a train and therefore in a separate carriage to the rest of the group in first. what if something had happened to a group member, or if police had come aboard and arrested us, the leader was not in same carriage. Was often missing from table etc (is this cultural?) and difference between him and Laura was huge. above rating for leaders whould be 8 and 2 but only have option to combine hence why 5 is score given.

Highlights were many, and nothing was wrong with the itinerary. It is hard to pick only a few of the many things we enjoyed on this tour. I would skip Casablanca if redesigning the itinerary, or just settle on a lunch on Corniche between trains if necessary. Optional tour of Atlas mountains was a definite plus.

Hotels were what we expected for 1-2 star places, and adequate. Some were better than others but the need of a properly secured and functioning shower with room to turn without knocking tap was a difficult item for most to achieve. Location-wise most were pretty good although the starting hotel is in a seedy area of Malaga, and the Fes hotel has nightclubs adjoining where patrons seem to leave at 4am. Balance were ok.

Dealing with cancelled ferry and therefore needing emergency accommodation and other options to cross to Morocco was a big plus for Explore, who through their actions have reinforced what a responsible tour operator can do when things go wrong outside anyone's control. Explore's actions were very much appreciated.
Confirmed traveller: 28 April 2017
Published on: 04 May 2017
(9 out of 10)

Mark

The rooms at the hotels in Fes and Rabat were not great (sockets hanging out of the wall, drains smell, pipework exposed etc) but these are minor quibbles. We had two tour leaders. Laura in the first week was fantastic (and was worthy of a 10). Mohammed in the 2nd week was less impressive ("can't join you at this point as I have to do paperwork for next week's tour", and he had to leave our tour before the end so he could be ready for the start of the next tour). One improvement would be the lunch in Casablanca. We had a quick drive around past the sea front which had a number of places to eat yet were taken to the Restaurant aux fleurs on a busy junction. So instead of having a nice lunch overlooking the ocean, we were subjected to sub-standard food with poor service and a significant dose of carbon monoxide. I don't know if this was Mohammed's choice or Explore's but it was not a great experience
Confirmed traveller: 28 April 2017
Published on: 02 May 2017
(7 out of 10)

Anthony

UK
I would recommend the trip to anyone interested in experiencing and understanding the cultural history and legacy of Moorish Spain and its counterpart, Morocco. This was exemplified by the amazing Mezquita in Córdoba which is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture with a church right in the centre. Amazing! Córdoba itself is a lovely town around which to walk.

In Spain, as you'd expect on an Explore tour, the hotels were of a good standard and the places where we ate were carefully chosen to provide a real flavour of Andalusian cuisine. I wouldn't hesitate to visit any of them again. As others have said, the tour leader was a great leader who looked after us well, ensuring we got the most we could out of our experience. I agree with the other positive comments made by other reviewers about Laura.

Visiting the Alhambra palace at night was atmospheric, although it would've been nice to see it during the day as well. I gather that day tickets are very limited and this was a good alternative. The white villages and scenery near Ronda were spectacular.

The train journeys were on modern, comfortable fast trains which gave us ample opportunity to see the surprisingly varied countryside; from rolling plains to forested valleys. The rest of the transport was well-organised and comfortable enough. The Spanish part of the trip ran smoothly and I appreciated the efforts of both Laura and Explore to find a solution to our transport woes, when the planned ferry from Spain to Morocco was cancelled due to the poor weather conditions.

The itinerary for the Moroccan part of the trip was good and the train travel was comfortable and relaxing, going without a hitch as well as being a great way to see more of the countryside. As others have commented, the standard of leadership on this part of the tour was below that expected from an Explore trip. I wouldn't let this stop me from recommending the trip itself to others.

The Moroccan cuisine to which we were exposed wasn't as varied and interesting as that in Spain. This may have been partly due to a poor choice of restaurants and on occasion, I felt there would've been better alternatives (see other reviews for this departure date). The hotel breakfasts were particularly disappointing with an emphasis on dry baguette bread and cake. This was in contrast to the first part of the trip in Spain.

Do note that if you opt for the half-day trip to Volubilis, it is a 1.5-2 hour trip each way and this doesn't leave much time for a real exploration of the site. Walking around the medinas was a highlight although the local guides didn't always fully explain what we were seeing or leave sufficient time to go off piste.

Unfortunately we didn't receive much information about Morocco and its culture/society from our tour leader. There were also occasions when the communication between the leader and the group wasn't to the standard I have come to expect on Explore tours. I have been in touch with Explore directly about some of this issues on the Moroccan part of the trip and have assurance that this is being addressed for future departures.

Overall I found the tour very interesting and worthwhile, particularly to see the differences and similarities between Moorish Spain and Morocco, as the title of the trip suggests! Worth noting that the scores for this review are averaged across the Spanish and Moroccan parts of the tour, with the former scoring higher.
Confirmed traveller: 28 March 2017
Published on: 28 May 2017
(8 out of 10)

Lesley

west wickham
I thought the overall choices were excellent but I did feel the perhaps too much was packed into the holiday.
The highlights for me were Granada, Cordoba, and Fes. All of these days were fantastic.
Confirmed traveller: 03 March 2017
Published on: 18 March 2017
(9 out of 10)

Valerie

Stroud, Gloucestershire
I really enjoyed the company of my travelling companions - there were only eight of us. Just as well - the Alhambra, for example, was VERY busy - (a lunch at the Parador was a great way to end that visit) - as was the Souk in Fez (I found Marrakech souk more 'user friendly'). We didn't lose anyone!

Highlights for me: Cordoba is, quite simply, beautiful. As is Ronda - do see the bridges lit up at night. The Chellah in Rabat has lovely gardens and loads of nesting Storks atop the pillars.
Lowlights: I didn't like the monkeys (wearing nappies, for heaven's sake!) or snake charmers in the 'celebrated El Fna Square'. I didn't linger there for long.

The 'Marrakech Express' was a disappointment the day we travelled because the coach with our pre-booked seats had been removed. Very crowded.

The tour leaders/city guides were excellent, but they tended to set a walking pace that some less abled clients might find too brisk.

The Atlas Mountain walk (over 10Km and over 17000 steps according to someone's gadget) up and down stony and steep tracks past waterfalls and with great views of snowy mountains came as a surprise, (not well described in the itinerary) but there was a good lunch at the end of it. I loved it!

I got a bit fed up with Tapas in Spain and Tagine in Morocco but overall, the quality of food everywhere was excellent. Bear in mind that most Moroccan restaurants do not sell alcoholic drinks if this is a priority for you.

I found eight hotels over 13 nights a challenge, and the Moroccan ones were located in the dull suburbs (noisy at night), thus requiring bus/taxi to get anywhere unless you were a keen walker and in possession of a city map (er, no.)

I hardly delved deeper than the top 3 inches of my suitcase because there wasn't time! The moral there is to travel light. You do not need any posh clothes, but do need good shoes or trekking sandals, even in the cities, as there is quite a lot of brisk walking.

This trip covers a lot of ground, but good leading by Elaine and Ilias made it easy for us. By the end of the trip, I'd almost forgotten what Spain was like, so am now enjoying reviewing my 754 photos.
Confirmed traveller: 03 March 2017
Published on: 07 March 2017
(7 out of 10)

Loraine

Dublin
Local transport worked very well and felt much more authentic than a big air conditioned coach on motorways. Most of the accommodation was well located and several of the local guides were exceptional and passionate about their subject/city. Lahcen the Explore leader in Morocco was very attentive.
Confirmed traveller: 31 December 2016
Published on: 05 January 2017
(7 out of 10)

Janet

Egham
A very busy trip (8 hotels in 12 nights) visiting many cities. Ours was a large group (18) which was too large and which fragmented quickly into smaller groups. The rail journeys were very enjoyable and relaxing and the ferry to Tangier was a great way to arrive in a new continent. We had 2 tour leaders, one for each country and Antonio (an Italian) led us in Spain with Lahcen in Morocco who was very cheerful and helpful. The local guide in Marrakech was excellent and felt I learned a lot about Islam. In Fez the local guide took us to the tannery and a lot of time in was wasted in the leather shop. We were not taken to the 'must-see' sights in Fez which was a great pity. The weather was much colder than anticipated and warm jumpers, gloves and hats were needed. The highlights were watching the sunset overlooking the Alhambra with the snow covered Sierra Nevada behind, the rail journeys and the ferry crossing.
Confirmed traveller: 30 December 2016
Published on: 07 January 2017
(7 out of 10)

Denis

Winchester
Really enjoyedkvu time in Spain and good itinerary. Main issue was the size of the group which was too xflarge(18) and became very l.
Hotels on average of a reasolnable quality though the hotel in Fes was of poor quality and ruined by very loud music from the downstairs disco late into the night. Shame it was Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the hotel situated some distance away from the medina in a location where there was very little to offer in walking around nearby.
Confirmed traveller: 30 December 2016
Published on: 04 January 2017