Boxing day travels and holiday highlights

We’ve had a lovely holiday, but it’s time to go home. I’m ready to go… We’ve seen the main sights of Marrakesh, I’ve eaten my fill of tagine and couscous, I need some clean clothes, and I’m looking forward to seeing Millie.

After breakfast, we went to get some cash to make sure we had enough dirhams for tips for the riad staff, the taxi driver to the airport and the porter. Then, back at the riad, we asked to pay our bill. One by one our credit and debit cards were refused. Thankfully, it turned out to be a problem with the credit card machine’s phone connection. However, this left us short of time to get to the bank again and withdraw cash, before the taxi arrived, and our stress levels rose.

When we’d handed over the cash and said our goodbyes, the porter hurried us back through the alleyways to the taxi. We just about had enough to pay his tip but, when we got to the airport, we had to give the taxi driver a £5 note, which he could change at one of the currency exchanges in Marrakech. He seemed happy enough! Thankfully, our bags were only slightly over the weight limit in spite of all our purchases in the medina, and the girl on the desk let them through. We had a small drama at passport control because we hadn’t completed the immigration forms. Is being grumpy in the job description for security guards?

Anyway… We were soon through to the boarding gate. The plane was late coming in and we were delayed by half an hour, but the journey went smoothly enough, helped by a snack, a glass of wine and beer, and a film. We went through security at Gatwick and collected our bags and the car within an hour, and are now on our way home. The roads are lovely and quiet. Hopefully we’ll be home by 10. Not a bad end to a great holiday.

On reflection, the holiday didn’t go as planned but was still very enjoyable. Yes, I’m still very disappointed that we didn’t get to climb Mount Toubkal, build a snowman or dig a snow hole with the others. I do wish John and I were on the amazing photo from the summit, and I’m worried that I’ll have problems at altitude in future, even though I’m aware that acute mountain sickness is unpredictable, and I had been ill before we travelled… In fact, I’m still coughing now, particularly in the morning. Nevertheless, we still had some great experiences and take home some lovely memories, and because we came down from the mountain early we were able to see more of Marrakech than we expected, and to visit the beautiful coastal town of Essaouira. Plus we had time to relax.

Before we set off on the trek, Paul noted that our objectives were to stay safe, to enjoy the trip, and to summit Toubkal, in that order. The third objective may not have been met this time, but the first two certainly were. I could not have been looked after better, and huge thanks go to Paul, Pete and John for that. The mountain isn’t going anywhere and hopefully I’ll have a chance to climb it another day. As for winter hiking, maybe we’ll get some snow in Wales to play in!

Highlights of the holiday for me…

  • Lunch in the hut on the way up the mountain, laughing with everyone and enjoying the stunning scenery, the hiking and the fresh air, trying out my new camera.
  • The fresh orange in the sunshine on the way down the mountain with Pete and John, pleased that I’d had the opportunity to visit the Atlas Mountains, even if I’d been ill and unable to climb Toubbkal.
  • Wandering around the sights of Marrakech, hand in hand with John, taking our time and enjoying the sunshine. I think my favourite place was the Majorelle gardens, but it’s difficult to choose.
  • Catching up with the others and experiencing  the food in the night market, and the sights and sounds of the medina with them. Oh… And the belly dancers!
  • Bartering for bed covers, and then having mint tea to seal the deal!
  • Visiting Essaouira, wandering around finding yet another photo opportunity at every turn. What a gorgeous place!
  • Spending Christmas Day having a hammam and massage with John.

It was certainly a memorable holiday. Thanks to everyone who played a part in it xx

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