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Spain 2006
Morocco 2006

Spain, Morocco and Paris with Mom and John

5/24/08 - 6/9/08

As part of our regular job as travel agents, we took Mary's mom and brother on a tour of Spain and Morocco, ending back in Paris. All was well until we arrived in Valencia, Spain and they didn't. The Spain portion of our trip was all about missed flights and lost luggage. Luckily, John's luggage met us in Granada the night before we left for Morocco.

Granada, Spain

We spent a little longer than planned in Granada waiting for John's backpack, but we're glad we did. It's a nice town and it gave us more time with the tapas bars in our neighborhood. Oh... the tapas. We also visited the Moorish castle and palace, the Alhambra.

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Fes, Morocco

We made it into Fes after a long day crossing the border and driving poorly marked Moroccan roads in the dark. Our first clue should have been when the rental car guy wasn't able to show us on a map how to get to Fes from Tangier...nor even how to get to the highway. We did a day tour of the souk and neighboring hillsides and moved on.

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Morocco's Back Roads - Atlas Mountains, Tondra Gorge, Dades Valley

We had a couple nice driving days. The first was through the Atlas mountains between Fes and the desert. We went through fields, forests and a surprise seven hour detour to see a waterfall. There's nothing that says 'CRAP!' like driving dirt mountain roads for a couple hours only to come around the corner and realize you've gone in a circle. We had better luck finding Tondra Gorge and the Dades Valley. Tondra wasn't all that impressive, but the views on the drive to it are beautiful. I was much more impressed by the Dades Valley. The views are spectacular and the valley is carpeted in villages to explore.

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Back to the Sahara

After a couple hours circling in the Atlas mountains looking for a hidden shortcut, we made it back to a main road and on to the Saharan outpost of Merzouga. Our hotel and desert guides were outside the village, so I got to run the rental car through a couple miles of open desert. Good thing there were adults in the car to keep me from having too much fun. We stopped at the dune's edge mud hotel for a couple hours to get rested and then set off into the desert. We weren't real happy to have a group of 20 or so American college kids (mostly girls with screechy voices) show up. We had barely made it over the first couple dunes when a freak rainstorm blew by us. As if just for my entertainment, Mary pulled out our bright blue umbrella to hide from the ice-cold drops. The next morning, we hiked up to the top of the big dune for sunrise and then rejoiced when all the kids headed back home. We continued into the desert towards the Algerian border. After a lunchstop, the guide had a little trouble and my grouchy camel took off into the desert. Alone. So I got to hike through the desert for the second half of the day until we made it to our dinner stop at a nomads shack in a barren stretch overlooking the border.

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Ait ben Haddou Kasbah and Marrakech

Even though it has a Club Med right downtown, we're not real big fans of Marrakech and didn't plan on even spending the night. We drove into town, checked out the souk for just a couple hours and then dropped our car off at the airport and waited for our flight. Long story short, Morocco changed their clocks June 1st while we were in the desert and well, we didn't hear about it and so missed our flight. It's funny now. Really. So we got to spend the night in Marrakech and witness again the spectacle that is Djamaa El Fna square.

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Finally back home, we all just wanted to relax. Somewhere between naps and bacon, we found time for the Eiffel, Musee d'Orsay and Louvre. And time for French food and gelato, of course.

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