Our Trip

Experience IT Tours

Pam and I had originally decided to do the whole moroccon trip by ourself and arrange our own transport and hotels.

We spent a lot of time online trying to find out information about how we can travel, the timetables, and the costs involved. We looked into a Rental Car which was very expensive at appprox $200 NZD per day + fuel, in NZ an average rental is about $30-$50 NZD + Fuel.

We then thought about companies that offer tours and found Experience IT Tours - http://www.experienceittours.com/

This is an US company with people on the ground in Morocco. We looked at our whole tour of 18 days but it was too expensive for us.

We did generate a nice itineary between Fes and Marakesh over 5 days.

May 24th   Fes / Midelt
After an early breakfast you will begin your ascent across the Middle Atlas Mountains.  Most of the day will be spent winding your way through the beautiful forests, jagged rock faces, and Berber villages as you cross the Atlas Mountains. You could arrive in time for lunch in the town of Midelt, famous for its fossils and rocks.  Spend the afternoon the enjoying the facilities at the Hotel Ayachi.

May 25th   Midelt/Erfoud
You have some time in Midelt, perhaps to visit the Kasbah Myriem to see the monastery and the workshop or to visit Kasbah Des Noyers for a liesurly walk back in time.  After lunch you begin your descent towards the Sahara Desert and Erfoud.  On arrival at the Kasbah Tizimi in Erfoud, a hot shower or dip in the swimming pool (depending on the weather) will be a treat after the drive. Dinner will be served at the hotel.

May 26th    Sahara Desert
Most of the day will be spent relaxing at the hotel or exploring the small but interesting desert town.  In the afternoon, you will head off in some 4-wheel drive vehicles across the barren land to the majestic Sahara sand dunes.  You will set off by camel for a 2-hour trek out to the oasis where you will spend the night in Berber tents (Dinner is included offered by Dunes d’Or). ***this could be optional if you would prefer to return to the auberge or a hotel in Erfoud to sleep***

May 27th    Todra Gorges
After breakfast, you will return by camel to the 4x4s and head back to Erfoud.  From Erfoud you set out behind the High Atlas Mountains on route to the Todra Gorges.  In the afternoon, you will take a walk up in the towering Todra Gorges (600 feet high).  The picturesque river valleys make for a beautiful journey towards the southeast of Morocco.  You will stay the night in Tingher, at the Kasbah Lamrani, before you cross the High Atlas Mountains.  Dinner will be served at the hotel.

May 28th   Todra Gorges / Ouarzazate / Marrakech
After an early breakfast you set off to Marrakech via Ouarzazate. Tucked away in the High Atlas Mountains, it is one of the jewels of Morocco.  In typical Moroccan fashion, the true treasures must be searched out and discovered...usually off the beaten path.  In actuality, this setting has been used for more films than any other location in Morocco; films including, Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, and recently The Gladiator.  Lunch can be taken at Ait Ben Haddou.

After lunch, you will head over the mountains to Marrakech.  Once in Marrakech, you will check into your hotel and then head off to the Djemaa el-Fna, the center square of the medina.  The famous Djemaa el-Fna, is one of the center attractions of Marrakech.  Coming alive at night with the local storytellers, entertainers, and mouth-watering barbeque pits, the square is well worth a visit.  A quiet cup of tea on the terrace of an adjacent café provides a spectacular aerial view of the bustling square. 

We decided to take this option and it was a very good option in need. We were wondering what we may actually get and the vehicle we may also get.

We got a very nice driver in a very nice car - the hotels were our choice - we could have spent more money and had better but overall we were quite happy with what we got.

Our driver was Mr Namir and he was a very good driver, we had him for 5 days.

We would recommend you using this company if you are looking at a nice stress free holiday. We could have had a very stress full holiday from Fes to Marakesh but with the experience of the company and the driver made it a wonderful part of our holiday.

Experience It! Tours, LLC
171 Weeks Road
Springfield Center, New York 13468  USA
Phone: 315.858.3426
Fax: 315.858.9479
Email:
info@experienceittours.com
http://www.experienceittours.com/

Auberge Les Dunes D'Or

LesDunesDor

IMG_4249

Mr Namir

MrNamir

Mr Namir was our driver for 5 days from Fez to Marrakesh.

We would recommend his services.

Duty Free in New Zealand

As a some what frequent traveller I like to buy my allocation of Duty Free when I return to New Zealand.

As a New Zealander I am allowed to bring in the following:

  • 6 Bottles of Port or Wine
  • 3 x 1125 ml bottles of spirits
  • 200 Cigarettes

I use to buy my booze from Regency Duty free - www.regency.co.nz but lately I have had far better deals from a company called Duty Free Stores - http://www.dutyfreestores.co.nz

Duty Free Stores do not have a shop in Christchurch - that area appears to be monopolised by Galleria.

But Duty Free Stores does have a great online shop and you can pickup your Duty Free in Christchurch just prior to the Galleria shop before Immigration/Customs.

The good things with Duty Free Stores is that you can join their Frequency Buyer Club ( not sure if there is any limit on frequent - once if probably frequent ), when you buy online and you enter your Member # you get 20% off the duty free price of Alcohol, Fragrance and Cosmetics every time you travel. the club is free to join and in general takes only a few minutes to be approved although you should allow a day. Electronics and Cameras only has 5% discount.

http://www.dutyfreestores.co.nz/frequent%20buyer%20club

An example of the discount:

Hennessy Cognac XO 700ml

Duty Free Price is $175 NZD, but with your club membership number it is $140 NZD

Another good feature of this but I am not sure if you are suppose to do this is you buy your Duty Free for someone else to pickup. I enter my member # and select my products. I enter my friends name and their flight number and pay using my credit card.

This way they only have to stop buy and pickup the goods from the collection point - they don't need to worry about spending money etc because you did it!


Note: details below taken from their site:

Get a 20% discount* on duty free alcohol, fragrance and cosmetics by joining the Duty Free Stores Frequent Buyer Club. The Frequent Buyer Club is free to join and ensures that you get the best duty free deals every time your travel.

As a Frequent Buyer Club member, you will qualify for a 5% discount* on all purchases made at our airport stores and a 20% discount* on duty free alcohol, fragrance and cosmetics purchased online through this website or through our 0800 TAX FREE phone order service. Our call centre is open 7 days a week: 9am to 5pm on weekdays and 10am - 4pm on weekends (excluding public holidays).

Simply fill out the online enrolment form to join up. Your card will take between 2-3 weeks to be mailed to you, but if you provide us with a valid email address, your membership number will be emailed to you as soon as it is processed. You will then be able to use your membership number immediately to get your discounts. Alternatively, call 0800 TAX FREE to get a form mailed to your address.

Frequent Buyer Club Members qualify for discounts at the following locations:

Location Discount*
Online Purchases at www.dutyfreestores.co.nz  -
Pick up at any NZ Airport

20%

Phone orders at 0800 TAX FREE (0800 829 373) -
Pick up at any NZ Airport

20%

Duty Free Stores Wellington Airport

5%

Simply New Zealand, Wellington Airport

10%

The Clothes Hangar, Wellington Airport

10%

Duty Free Stores Hamilton Airport

5%

Duty Free Stores Hamilton City - Garden Place Hamilton -
Pick up at any NZ airport

20%

New Zealand World Souvenirs - Garden Place Hamilton

20%

Duty Free Stores Dunedin Airport

5%

Duty Free Stores Queenstown Airport

5%

*Members qualify for a 5% discount on duty free alcohol, fragrance and cosmetics at all airport stores. A 5% discount applies to electronics and cameras at all locations. No discounts are available on Tobacco products at any location. Goods already on special will be sold at the regular Frequent Buyer Club price or the special price, whichever is lower. Two business days (Mon - Fri) notice is required for all internet and phone orders. Please check with your airline for cabin baggage and new security restrictions.

**Earn one AA Rewards Point for every $10 spent. AA Rewards Points can not be earned on Tobacco products.

Homeward Bound - Morroco to New Zealand (why you can hate airlines)

The homeward journey was going to take a long time, we knew that, we were expecting it to take about 40 hours.

We woke early in the hotel and basically just got ourselves ready for the onward journey which was to start at about 10am.

We paid our bill with the hotel IBIS, which was about 50 meters from the train station and walked over to the station.

Our train was about 20 minutes late, so we were glad that we took the early train and not the later one as we though we may have.

We got to the Airport about 30 minutes later and since we were in 1st class ( at the end of the train) we had the most to walk. You would think that 1st class would be first off the train with the smallest amount of walking but not in our case.

Everyone in the carriages in front of us had already got off and were moving pretty fast towards to the airport entrance. We worked out why pretty quickly.

Everyone had to go through security after the train before you could actually get into the airport. There was one security station with an XRay machine for bags and one for people.

So everyone on the train had to go through one by one - it took about 45 minutes for us to get through the security check.

We waited in line to check in and were told when we got to the counter that we had to go to the Emirates desk because we were flying to Australia/New Zealand and she printed some type of boarding pass that they need to OK. We found the Emirates desk and told the lady there what we were told, she took the ticket and looked up on the computer for something and then just signed the boarding pass and told us to go back to the desk and they would issue boarding passes. So we did that and we were given boarding passes, and we checked in our bags and I made a decision to put our fragile items through the check in process because the bag weighed 14 KG. We got the lady at the check in to put fragile stickers on all 3 of our bags. Total weight about 55KG - no worries there - they did not charge us for excess baggage as we are only allowed 40 KG.

The two main suitcases were fine with their fragile stickers but the one that we really wanted to be handled carefully was made of fabric, she put a sticker on it and I asked here to put another one on it through the handles but she said that she did not have any more and was not interested in getting another one for us.

After check in we went and looked around duty free - there is not a lot - and it was hot - Air Conditioning was not being used in the airport so it was not very comfortable. We also noticed that there was no where to change your Moroccan Dirham's to any other currency so you had to spend them. We did not have a lot about 150 DHs and were looking for something to spend them on as the Moroccan currency can not be bought or sold outside of Morocco.

We found a small shop and we bought two water jugs for about 95 DH each, I had some USD so I used some of that to pay the balance.

We then had to again go through security in order to get into the gate area, this time you also had to go through a single security check point, but it was slightly quicker. After the security everyone had their bags manually checked for things such as liquids. We had a slightly less than 1/2 full 200ml bottle of shampoo and this was taken off us - not because it had 100ml of liquid but because the bottle said 200ml. Even if it had 10 ml we would have lost it.

Luckily we had put all our gels, and liquids into bags as this was what they were wanting. Pam had a 1 Litre water bottle and we had to through it out before entering the plane.

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We departed at about 1:20pm and got settled in for our 8 hour journey to Dubai

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We arrived in Dubai at about 1am Dubai Time - we went through the customs/immigration and found a shuttle to take us to the Millennium hotel. On arrival we shows them our ticket for the hotel, and we were shown our room - total time of about 2 minutes - very efficient.

We were given some vouchers for a drink and for breakfast but we did not use the drink vouchers. I crashed pretty quickly and Pam did I suppose as well.

The phone rang early about 6am and it was time to get up again. Quick shower and down for breakfast...

We left the hotel at about 7am or 7:30 and went outside to get into the van for the trip to the airport. It was bloody hot - we found out it was 42 degrees Celsius.

Dubai airport was security mad - we arrived back and had to go through security. This was quite quick and no problems. We go inside and in order to get to the duty free area in Dubai airport we had to go through security again.

Dubai duty free is very flash with lots of good things if you have the money. I bought a carton of Cigarettes for my brother in law - B&H - $12 USD for 200 Cigarettes. In New Zealand that would cost $50 NZD Duty Free, compared to the $16 NZD in Dubai.

We could not buy any alcohol as this would be taken off us in Australia when we transited!

We found our gate number and as we got closer we noticed a huge line of people - hundreds in fact.

Yes - more security

We waited for the line to reduce - it did not - so after 30 minutes we joined the line. The security measures caused a 30 minute delay on departing from Duabi.

We were now in the plane but it did not leave, the pilot came on to tell us that a smoke detector had failed and that it would need to be fixed. 30 minutes go on and we begin to taxi - but then we stop and are told we will have to return to the terminal because the smoke detector will need to be looked at by technicians.

All up it took more than 2 hours for the tech to come and fix the plane and we were ready to taxi again....

The flight was quite good and I must have slept a lot of it as it did not seem to take as long as the flight over to Dubai from Sydney.

We were about 20 minutes out from Sydney and the headphones were being collected when the pilot comes on to tell us that Sydney had an electrical storm and something had happened to the Sydney Radar and Sydney airport was accepting very few flights and we were 15th in the queue.

We looped around for a while and the pilot came on to tell us that the plane needed to be re-fuelled and we were going to land in Canberra.

We land in Canberra at about 8am and we have to sit on the plane as there are no customs/immigration facilities in Canberra. After about an hour and a half the pilot tells us that the pilots and cabin crew have now exceeded the number of hours of flying and they will have to send a new crew from Sydney down to replace the current crew and this will take another hour and a half.  Canberra  to Sydney by air is about 25 minutes.

This was starting to get pretty boring now - 2 hours in Dubai + 2 Hours in Canberra with at least another hour and a half!

The cabin crew were very good - it was not their fault, but the bar was closed, and they were running out of water and juice. They also ran out of food and in the end toilet paper as well.

At some point the pilot came on to say that they were arranging to have more food and water bought on board - this took at least another hour or so.

The food and water arrived and it was handed out and the food was very nice....

We were still waiting for the replacement crew and time was going real slow - we had been on this plane for ages.....

In the end the replacement crew arrived and settled in but we still did not leave....

The pilot came on and told us that he needed some paper work from Dubai to be completed - this took another hour..

So the time we left Canberra it was 2:45pm, we arrived at around 8am so we were there for 7 hours stuck on the plane.

2 Hours Dubai + 13.5 Hours Flying + 6.75 Hours in Canberra = TOO BLOODY LONG = more than 22 Hours

The plane finally departs from Canberra with a cheer from the people on board who were in the face of it still in good spirits but very weary. A man sitting behind me told me that his final destination was Canberra! So he had to fly to Sydney and then get another plane back to Canberra - poor guy.

We arrive in Sydney at about 3 or so and were told that anyone transferring to Christchurch would need to talk to the crew at the end of the departure tunnel. We guessed that our flight to Christchurch was delayed or cancelled. It was the plane we were travelling on that was suppose to fly to Christchurch with us in the same seats again!

We were told the flight was cancelled and they gave everyone a $25 food voucher - so Pam and I had $50 to spend on food - We did not need food!!!

We went to the transfer desk - another 30-40 minutes in order to be told we were now on an Air New Zealand flight at 6:30pm arriving in Christchurch as 11:30pm local time.

So we now had a new tickets and another few hours to wait around in Sydney airport - there is not much there to do by the way.

We had our $50 so we found a shop and I thought maybe I could buy a bottle of Wine with the money? The man said that we could do that - so I ordered a bottle of red and Pam had a beer. We ordered a small pizza  and also a couple of cans of V - that was basically our $50. I would have preferred that you got a $50 voucher to spend on anything in the airport like a book or magazine instead of food!

The boarding time finally arrives and we get on our flight to Christchurch.

During the flight as they were serving the food ( Meat pie or Chicken ) there was a small amount of turbulence and the cabin crew said that they would not be serving drinks for the remainder of the flight!

Well after a day from hell and thoroughly being sick of planes I decided that I would like a drink. So I got up and went to the back of the plane and ended up getting my drink. I stayed down with the cabin crew for about 40 minutes while they eat their dinner and they got me a few more drinks.

------

We finally arrive home in Christchurch at about 11:30pm and we are super pleased to be off the plane.

We now had to pickup our Duty Free that I had pre-ordered. I forgot that I had ordered so much - 6 large duty free bags.

  • 12 Bottles of Port
  • 2 Bottles of Bombay Sapphire
  • 1 Bottle of Cointreau
  • 1 Single Malt Whisky - Scarpa 14 yr old
  • 1 Bottle of Drambuie
  • 1 Bottle of St Remy Brandy

Off to immigration and pickup our bags and then through customs.

We find our bags on the carousel and I am hoping that nothing in broken. A quick check shows that my Vase I bought in Fes is smashed!

We needed to declare some of our items to the Customs officials. We waited in line and had a nice lady who was going to check our things.

We told here that we have wood - some of the products we bought from Morocco and also I had sand ( from the Desert) and spices.

The fabric bag that the lady in Casablanca check in would not put another fragile sticker on no longer had any fragile sticker on it. When we opened it up we found that the two tajines that we bought were also broken. We were now seriously pissed off!

The wood products were not a problem and the spices were ok as well. They probably had never seen someone bring back a bottle of sand so they put it through the XY machine jus in case I had something in the middle of it. There of course was nothing but sand in it.

We picked up our mountain of bags and Duty Free and went to find a taxi to take us home - our journey was no finished and the day from hell was over!

We arrived home at about 2am, instead of about 1pm the previous day.

Airport Security from Christchurch -> Sydney -> Dubai -> Casablanca

When Pam & I were going through airport security we were wondering what the recent changes would be like.

The main change was no liquids or gels or creams more than 100ml or 100grams.

You also have to have everything in a plastic bag no larger than 1 litre which is quite small but ok.

We put our liquids and pills and stuff into our 1 litre bags.

Christchurch Airport

I placed all my bags on the machine and I went through the scanner. The buzzer went off and time to stand like a prisoner. They decide that my belt and shoes are my problem so off they come and the belt and shoes go back through the machine, and me through the scanner.

All go  now - no problems.

Sydney Airport

We arrive in Sydney about 3 hours after our flight departs which was good and fast.

This time we are transiting in Sydney for 2 hours, and again we must go though security. There are signs saying you need the plastic bag, and no liquids over 100ml.

The security guy did not want to see our bag, but we would have been happy to give it to him. It goes through the scanner and if they want they will take further action.

Again my belt and shows trigger the scanner, so they come off and I go back out and remove them and return through the scanner.

No problem now and I collect my bag and Pam hers.

We then go up stairs where they have a walkway right over the security area, so we stop on the walk way to see from the top how this security stuff works.

There we see how many people have too much, either water, liquids, Gels, or other stuff such as Baby Formula.

We watched one Asian lady who had a bottle of Cognac, or Single Malt and a bottle of wine.

The security person removed it from here and walked away the Asian lady standing there for about 5 minutes or more and then contacted the other security people probably asking what is going on?

After 10 minutes we see here coming up the escalator what we used with no booze, the the booze did not go in the general bin where most everything else went. We assume it went to the local social club!

There was lots of funny products thrown out, Chilli Sauce, Some Skin Products, Water, and generally anything over 100ml or 100 grams.

We read the law before we left and decided that we would loose Duty free if we took it from Christchurch - Good Decision

So this Asian lady was probably on our flight from Christchurch, bought some Duty Free after the security screening, and then lost it in Australia because she was going somewhere else.

I believe the rule is this:

  • You can buy duty free if the next flight is the end of your journey.
  • If you buy and transit somewhere you will loose it at the transit point if over 100ml or 100 grams even if it fits in your 1 Litre bag.

Dubai Airport

We arrived in Dubai and checked out the duty free assuming since the next flight was our last we would be ok - and we were.

Generally Dubai Alcohol is about 10% cheaper than NZ

Smokes are real cheap even compared to NZ Duty Free.

In NZ Benson and Hedges are about $49 NZD per carton, in Dubai they are about $14 USD or maybe $20 NZD

Pam said the cosmetics she was looking at were about 40-50% cheaper there.

We buy a couple of bottles of Gin - Bombay Sapphire of course, $120 Dubai Dollars, or about $19 NZD each

Casablanca Airport

I asked on Trip Advisor about Duty Free in Casablanca and was told no problem just get it on Arrival.

Sorry this is not the case!

We arrived and went into a Duty Free shop and they had some booze - no Bombay Sapphire but other gins.

I bought a Camus VS Cognac for 23 Euro - 30% good deal and a bottle of wine 10 EURO (Turned out to be pretty crap)

Take it to the counter - and told you can only buy for departure!

They then decide that I can buy  it but I can not have a bag and must hide it in my own bad - no problem I thought.

They then say they will not accept VISA - well we just got off the phone no Moroccan money, which is not available outside the country. They will accept British Pounds and EURO.

Well I have neither so I have to leave empty handed.

We then find another duty free shop go there and 100% no go on arrival!

We go down stairs just before immigration and I say to Pam that I have USD and maybe they will take them.

She wais and I return to the original shop - they do take USD so I get my Cognac and Wine - Put it in my back pack and off we go.

Emirates Airlines

About a week before our flight to Morocco, Pam injured her knee ( we assume when our dogs - Ruby & Otto lunged towards another dog behind a gate and pulled here forward ).

She had been on some medications for this, and got a doctors certificate to say that her knew was not very good and she needed to have good leg room.

We telephoned Emirates and Emailed them and they were very slow to resond with any thing.

But basically they said that seats such as the Bulk Head seats could not be pre-allocated prior to normal checkin and in general you had to do it either online up to 24 hours prior to boarding, or at the airpport.

We logged in 24 hours prior to our flight and found that the bulk head seats were not available to be selected and neither were many other seats, most pre-allocated.

We then tried about 10 hours prior to our site and was told that we had already checked in and that was it until we got to the airport.

We get to the airpport show our medical certificate and get told that the seats are already allocated.

So we were in normal seats, in rows 26

When we got on our flight we see other people in the bulk head seats who no doubt have no medical problems and no babies.

Not sure how they got the seats but we had to live with the normal seat. At least Pam's knee was getting better but not a lot of leg room for her or me.

My Window Seat was missing the window.

Emirates Airlines

Pam and I have never flown Emirates before but have always heard good comments about them.

A couple of months prior to our departure to Morocco I emailed Emirates what there was to do in Dubai Airport at 1am for 10 hours?, this was the amount of time we had on our homeward journey.

I had an amazing response which was that we were given a free hotel room and airport transfers.

Copyright © Chris & Pam - 2020