2 Dirtbags do Morocco

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Eastbay Dirtbag, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    I have ridden in 22 foreign countries but this is only the second one that deserves a RR. (The other was India.) We spent 13 memorable days in Feb 2016. (Better late than never.)

    We hired a guide and rented bikes from a company in Spain and did a private tour. This is a popular tour but our timing didn’t jibe with their regular schedule.

    The conditions were sometimes awful — strong wind, heavy rain, cold, snow and even a sandstorm— but we still enjoyed it!

    Its an intriguing country with colorful markets, beautiful artistry, varied landscapes and good food. It was everything I hoped it would be.

    Sorry, no gps tracks.

    The route (or close to it)
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    SNEAK PEEKS
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    Day 0, Boise ID to Malaga Spain
    The tour company picked us up and took us to their shop. They had nice, low mileage BMWs. I got a GS700 and The Hubby a GS800 Adventure.

    They also loaned us BMW Rainlock jackets. Thank God/Allah! I could not have done the trip without it! Even though my jacket was mostly waterproof, it leaks at the vents. I needed the loaner for both the extra waterproofing and the warmth. It was the best rain jacket I’ve ever worn. No leaks at all and it seemed to breathe too.

    They also offered me BMW rainpants. Silly me, I declined thinking my Gore-Tex pants would be good enough. Wrong. They leaked and I wore wet leathers for days.

    Day 1 Malaga
    Relaxed at the hotel. Excellent dinner in the evening.

    Day 2 Malaga Spain to Chefchaouen Morocco
    It was cold and windy and we were warned not to eat before the ferry ride, so we only drank coffee.

    The ferry ride was rough. I stood at a window of the lurching ship looking at the horizon and was ok. But then it was announced that everyone must sit down. Within minutes I was queasy. I bolted to the bathroom (run, stop, hold on, run, stop, hold on, done in sync with the rocking ship) and made it with no time to spare.

    We headed into the Rif mountains with high winds and cold pouring rain.

    The rain let up when we reached Chefchaouen, which is known as the Blue City, well, because it is painted blue.

    It is built on steep hillsides.
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    Village laundromat. Part of the river is diverted through this pavilion, where the women dunk the clothes into concrete tubs then scrub them on washboards. I think the soapy water goes back into the river.
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    paint tints
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    Currency exchange. They’ll gladly take money from 11 countries. They'll exchange your weasels too - oops - no -- only wechsels.
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    Snack on the central square. Delicious filled pastries.
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    Mint tea is common. Its a handful of mint leaves with boiling tea poured over it. Served with plenty of sugar.
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    This odd-looking cat sat next to me throughout dinner but never begged. In Greece the strays climb on the table and try to eat off your plate.
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    slippery streets
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    Dirtbag lurking in the shadows
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    Our hotel was on a steep hillside with stairs everwhere
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    charming lobby
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    Cozy dining room. We appreciated the fireplace after a cold wet day.
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    #1
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  2. Burro driver

    Burro driver dba John

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    Those pastries look good! What were they filled with?
    Fruit? Meat?
    #2
  3. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    Interesting choice for a tour; one that I have seen offered, but never heard of anyone doing. It already looks to be wonderful and colorful! I ad jobs in Spain before, but I have never been to an African country.
    #3
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  4. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    I spent two weeks in Morocco a few years ago on an Air Force humanitarian trip. Saw several guided moto tours while I was there, really wished I could've been on a moto instead of the bus!
    #4
  5. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    I don't recall exactly but I'm going to say vegetables. Definitely not fruit.

    I was intrigued by Morocco from reading blogs by bicyclists. Those bicyclists got food poisoning so I was leery, but we never had any trouble with the food, even from street vendors.

    We didn't see any other motorcyclists, but snow in the mountains might have discouraged other riders.

    EDIT: We met one group of riders when the road was closed due to snow. They turned around. We waited for the road to re-open and kept going.
    #5
  6. peterhively

    peterhively Been here awhile

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    Nice! Did a similar trip in October 2018 though we went CCW. Looking forward to more. Oh, the colors, the flavors, mmmm I wanna go back!
    #6
  7. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 3 Chefchaouen to Fez

    Mint tea break. The glasses are beautiful but get super hot, unlike a ceramic mug.
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    Tea time restaurant. Wood shavings on wet, smooth tile. Slippery stuff!
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    Fez was a hub for caravans from all over Africa. The famous market is somewhere below.
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    Sitting at a traffic light, a teenager threw a rock that hit me in the chest. I had several layers on so it didn't hurt, so I pretended I didn’t notice. I had my face shield open so I was glad I didn’t get hit in the face. That was the only trouble I had in Morocco. Everyone else was friendly or polite.

    Lunch time in Fez. The tea pots are works of art. Olives were served with most meals.
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    modern hotel room
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    View behind the hotel from our room - very old, old, new, brand new and demo'd -- something of everything.
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    Entrance to the market. Inside its a complete maze. We hired a local guide. The young women wore leggings but with tunics or longer coats. Many of the men wore the traditional hooded cloaks.
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    Looking back. Different colored tile on the back of the archway.
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    Satisfy your sweet tooth
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    Didn’t see any Moroccan women wearing these.
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    The market is famous for its tannery and leather goods
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    giant samovars
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    Don’t wait until its too late! Choose your own headstone and verse, such as "Darn good ADV'er" or "His best friend was his dog", etc.
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    Oooh, bright shiny objects...
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    The smith was creating this design freehand with a small tool and hammer
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    a finished product
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    stunning
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    variety of detail and designs
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    you won’t find street signs or directions
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    Everything comes and goes by horse, donkey or manpower.
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    Your house will only stay up as long as the neighbor's.
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    This window allowed women to watch the world go by without being seen.
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    another version
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    Buildings over walkways too
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    #7
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  8. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    The tannery. Amazing but also very smelly.
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    old meets new
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    Note the letter slot in French.
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    What are the chances that it works?
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    pot shop
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    a mosque?
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    Wow.
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    I think this was another mosque. The men are washing their feet before prayers. It was surprising that it was off the walkway just like the shops.
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    Bling and baubles. (For wedding dresses?)
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    manpower vs horsepower
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    Wall detail. Looks like shamrocks.
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    Courtyard. Waiting out the rain. Not sure if this was a house.
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    It poured and the streets flooded
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    I’m guessing the coat hangers were not part of the traditional outfit.
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    probably a minaret for a mosque
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    rug shop
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    They tried VERY hard to sell me fabric. No commission for the market guide today!
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    Relaxing in the hotel bar. They had loud music playing to the middle of the night. Good thing we were on the 3rd floor!
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    #8
  9. Ratman

    Ratman Lucky Rider

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    Baja is good
    That's a great report. Thanks for sharing.
    #9
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  10. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    [QUOTE="Eastbay Dirtbag, post: 42108667,

    It poured and the streets flooded


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    I love the Dainese Dancers doing the one step hop. Maybe it was a rain dance!
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    #10
  11. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    CCW= concealed carry weapon?:chace, oops -- no longer in Idaho -- CCW= counterclockwise :thumb
    You're welcome.
    They've got the moves! :rilla
    #11
  12. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 4 Fez to Errachidia (Tafilalet Oasis)
    We climbed into the Middle and High Atlas Mountains.

    It was sleeting/snowing and the road was completely iced over with a thin layer of snow. How we managed to get any traction and stay upright still amazes me.

    We stopped for tea in Ifrane, which looks like a Swiss alpine town and has a ski resort. It is popular in the summer to escape the heat.
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    The road over the mountains was closed. We continued to a truck stop/ restaurant. The trucks were stopped waiting for the snow plow.
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    Watch your step. They spread sand inside the building too!
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    Never saw snow on a palm tree before.
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    We're still in Morocco, right?
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    We went in front of the trucks, directly behind the snowplow and followed it over the mountains. Whew.

    Lunch time in Merzouga. So nice to be out of the snow.
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    My high school French finally comes in handy.
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    The guide ordered. All of this for me? Yep.
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    The bathroom in the restaurant was tiny! It had a squat toilet and was smaller than a telephone booth. Try not to touch the walls!

    Ziz River gorge
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    We stayed at a nice hotel on the edge of a lovely palm oasis.
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    Packed in tight for security. As soon as we entered they locked the doors.
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    Mezzanine. Doors go to rooftop and our room.
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    Loom in lobby. The products were for sale.
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    Lounge. The manager was a nice young man who spoke good English.
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    Our room was a small building on the rooftop.
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    Nice room and bath
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    fountain on the rooftop
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    Old, new, and crumbling side by side. See the tiny donkey in the blue blanket tied near the trash pile?
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    We had a wonderful dinner in the hotel. We were the only ones staying there.
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    #12
  13. Steve H.

    Steve H. Adventurer Supporter

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    This is amazing - Thanks for taking us along.
    #13
  14. pzvt

    pzvt Been here awhile Supporter

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    Excellent. Rr. Much appreciated.
    #14
  15. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    I remember the squat toilets. No toilet paper, just a hose tap and NO soap! So gross. I brought my own TP and soap.
    #15
  16. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Its an intriguing country. I'd go back except there is still the rest of the world to see.
    Thanks.
    Squat toilets would be more sanitary than sit toilets IF they provided sinks and soap. Unfortunately never!

    I found that TP was hard to flush. It wanted to float and I had to keep dumping water on it using the hose tap and the little plastic water bucket they usually provided. Neither which I wanted to touch!

    Some places had sinks outside the toilet but never soap or paper towels. In India one cafe provided one cotton towel for everyone to use. Yuk. At the restaurant in Merzouga, the waiter handed me a paper towel after I rinsed my hands at a sink (no soap). That was the only time that happened in Morocco or India.
    #16
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  17. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 5 Errachidia to Erg Chebbi dunes

    We watched the sun filling the oasis while waiting on breakfast. I'm wind-burned from riding in the snow.
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    Tasty breakfast
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    small farms
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    That's easy for you to say. (we were not going there)
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    We hired a guide to take us through another market. This market was for locals, not targeted to tourists. I forget the name of the town.
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    No high pressure salesmen here. This looked like the thrift shop with used items.
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    I asked the market guide about taking photos and he said "Yes, of course, anything!" But the guy at the forge said no just as I snapped his pic.
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    I was uncertain about taking pics of people after that.
    We had lunch outside a small cafe. I set my camera on the table and pushed the button without aiming or focusing as people went by, hoping to get some usable shots.

    Here is Day in the Life -- Morocco version:
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    The women dressed more conservatively here than in Fez.
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    Wagons like this pulled by donkeys were common, even with large loads.
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    Ok. I did aim at the bike. The name on the frame is "MountainBike".
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    Our lunch was bread stuffed with chicken and veggies. This was just my meal. Enough for 2 people.
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    A woman with a handicapped boy asked the owner for food so we gave her our leftovers.
    #17
  18. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    At Erg Chebbi we had a nice hotel on the edge of the dunes.
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    We had time to explore.

    wells?
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    Old and old side by side.
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    Dinner. All the hotel meals were excellent.
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    It looks cozy but the sheets were threadbare.
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    We threw our stuff on the furniture and when the maids serviced the room the next day they folded our riding gear!
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    There were never shower curtains. Note that the windowsills are shiny clean.
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    Day 6 Erg Chebbi dunes
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    The owner of this hotel (not ours) was born with one leg. (I Googled it.) He has a sense of humor.
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    Lunch. This was the only time we got (or even saw) french fries in Morocco.
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    The wind kicked up and turned into a raging sandstorm for a couple hours then stopped just as suddenly.

    This came through the closed bathroom window. Sand came in every window.
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    Late afternoon we took a camel ride. I started rolling up my pant legs to climb on. The concierge said “No! No! No!” and waved his hands at me. Exposed skin is frowned upon (especially the pasty white type from Idaho).
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    Hey! No passing allowed.
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    We had never ridden camels before. It is very uncomfortable. Keep the ride short! Hang on tight when the camel gets up or down or you’ll land on your head.
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    hotel at night
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    Dining room. Notice the stick ceiling. Our room was like that too except painted white. It creaked whenever someone walked in the room above us.

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    Wonderful and good service too
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    #18
  19. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    Nice with beauty, food, terrain, and detail!

    Thinking back to your timing statement, did you have a reason for February? To me, it made a more interesting adventure.
    #19
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  20. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 7 Dunes to Boumaine Dades
    We headed back into the Atlas Mtns, which were dotted with villages and valleys.

    ruins above
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    ruins below
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    colorful Todra Gorge
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    Rockfalls happen. This hotel was abandoned.
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    Lunch spot. Although fish was the specialty we got lentils and eggplant.
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    views from our hotel
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    unusual art throughout the hotel
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    Wall map in the hotel. The gorge and Boumaine Dades are visible.
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    Fabulous dinner buffet. It filled several tables. Best of the trip.
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    plus music and singing
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    They had a bar but the prices were high to discourage alcohol consumption. Even though the hotel was large and filled with tourists, not many were drinking.
    #20