Sara Thomas


Sara Thomas

We're inveterate travellers, living in London and making at least one long haul trip a year. Our current passion is India - we're gradually exploring more of it on each trip.

Africa » Morocco February 15th 2019

We’re jolted from deep sleep by the 6.45 call to prayer from the muezzin who sounds as if he’s standing at the foot of our bed with a loudspeaker. But we manage - miraculously – to go back to sleep before enjoying the best breakfast of the holiday. Everything is homemade, even the jam, and there is enough food to feed a small army. Yogurt, apple compote, omelette, French crepes, Maroccan pancakes, bread and cake. We overeat! It’s time to walk off some of the breakfast. The Portuguese quarter is only five minutes away. It was once a small island, but the landward side silted up so it’s now a small promontory. It has thick ramparts which we walk along, enjoying bright sunshine and good views. Within five minutes we’ve taken off our sweaters, which is ... read more
Portuguese ramparts, El Jadida
Portuguese water cistern, El Jadida
Jewish cemetery, El Jadida

Africa » Morocco » Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer » Rabat February 14th 2019

Sara's knee swelled up nicely yesterday due to the serious amount of walking we did. We were going to visit the Musee Archaeologique but some more research reveals it is underwhelming and not worth the effort of getting there. We decide to go out of the medina and venture south into the ville nouvelle, built by the French during their occupation from 1912 to 1956. We negotiate our way through the medina much better this morning. The streets are less crowded as most of the shops and stalls have yet to open. Only the little corner shops selling the ubiquitous small single portion loaves and the juice and sandwich shops are open, and a few stalls selling fruit and veg. Parents are hauling small children to school, and the beggars are already out. The ville nouvelle ... read more
A grey day in the French quarter in Rabat
Andalusian garden in the Kasbah
Kasbah in Rabat

Africa » Morocco » Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer » Rabat February 12th 2019

We enjoy the best breakfast of the holiday in the riad. Freshly cooked, piping hot pancakes, a perfect omelette, bread, yogurt, fresh fruit and even a bowl of tiny strawberries, halved and macerated in a little sugar. Madame who is in charge is French, so that is probably why. Thus refreshed we set off to visit the Bou Inania Medersa (what they call a madrassa in Morocco). Despite being listed as opening at 9.00, it’s closed when we arrive. The cleaning lady tells us it opens at 10.00 so we decide to walk back to the main square, confident we now know the route. However, the souks are entirely different this early. None of the shops have opened, so instead of navigating our way down incredibly narrow passages between the shops selling young men’s fashion, and ... read more
Bou Inania medresa, Meknes
Heri es-Souani, Meknes
Chellah necropolis, Rabat

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Meknes February 11th 2019

Enough of relaxation, it’s time to move on. Today’s highlight is Volubilis, the remains of a Roman city just outside Meknes. It started life as a Berber town, expanded and developed when the Romans, under Claudius in 43AD, annexed the province of Mauretania Tingatana and made Volubilis its capital. The Romans left in around 286AD but the town continued to be occupied long after the Romans left. A lot was destroyed in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, and it fell into disrepair when it was abandoned, but the French excavated and restored some of it and it’s now a Unesco World Heritage site. Once again, we haul our luggage through the alleys of the medina to where Hassan is waiting on the road for us. It’s very misty again, and remains so for all but ... read more
The Capitol at Volubilis
Volubilis Capitol and Basilica
Bath in Volubilis villa

Africa » Morocco » Tangier-Tétouan » Chefchaouen February 10th 2019

Today we say goodbye to Fes and head north to Chefchaouen, a town in the Rif mountains just south of the Mediterranean. The day starts badly. We’re made to wait 15 minutes for breakfast – how hard can it be to slice a baguette and make some coffee, which doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but irritates badly. Aziz comes to collect us and help us pull the suitcases back along the alleyways to the nearest road where Hassan is waiting for us, smiling as ever. There’s a heavy mist, which makes the alleys quite ethereal, and reduces visibility on the drive quite considerably. We head off across the plain, which is noticeably greener and more intensively farmed than anywhere we’ve been so far on this holiday, although the villages all look rather miserable. ... read more
Public water fountain Chefchaouen
Old men

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes February 8th 2019

We meet our local guide for Fes, Kamal, with Aziz at 930am. We couldn’t start any earlier as our freshly baked baguettes for breakfast were not arriving till 845am. They were worth waiting for though! We assume everything starts a bit late in Morocco because the sunrise is late and it is freezing early in the morning. Don't come to Morocco at this time of year without warm clothing, and be prepared to have your skin dried out in the bone dry air. After about five minutes twisting and turning down alleys we arrive at a stout wooden gateway. Inside is a magical garden, part of a riad that is now owned by a Frenchman, and is run as a hotel. In here you really could be somewhere in the south of France. Then it's off ... read more
Ladies out shopping
Side door to tomb of Moulay Idris
Nursery school

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes February 7th 2019

Off to Fes today. Our drive takes us across the plain between the High and Mid Atlas ranges then over the Mid Atlas to another plain. As we climb up into the Mid Atlas, the scenery changes yet again. It’s still very arid, but no longer wholly devoid of vegetation, with small low scrubby bushes scattered across stony soil. The Mid Atlas range is volcanic, and the rocks are less red. As we gain altitude, the ground is covered with frost and there are patches of snow. We drive through what look like Alpine valleys, covered in frost. It’s hard to believe that in a couple of months they will be a sea of green. Here and there we can see small mud brick buildings of one or at most two rooms, barely big enough to ... read more
Valley in the Mid Atlas
Nomad's winter home, Mid Atlas
Barbary macaque

Africa » Morocco » Anti-Atlas February 6th 2019

Getting out of bed to get dressed in our desert tent is definitely not fun. It’s bitterly cold, around or below freezing. But we have brought multiple layers to keep warm – thermal t-shirt, shirt, cashmere sweater, fleece jacket, shell jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. No thought of taking a shower, just put clothes on as fast as humanly possible and stagger up the dune to watch the sun rise, this time in perfect peace. We all head back to the main tent for breakfast, and huddle round the single patio heater, hands raised to the heat element as if worshipping a new pagan god of heat. We opt to return by 4x4 rather than camel, as David is keen to see what a 4x4 can do in the sand. The answer is impressive, though not ... read more
Desert sunrise
High Atlas with abandoned village
Pass over the High Atlas

Africa » Morocco » Souss-Massa-Draâ » Boumalne Dades February 5th 2019

Today we’re off to the desert. We set off north east, on a good, straight road running through the usual arid landscape. The route is the main rose growing region of Morocco, which comes alive in spring when the roses flower and production of rose water and other products is in full swing, but right now the bushes are bare and the shops all closed. Well, except for one which has opened up specially to accommodate yet another coach party of Chinese tourists. We take a couple of detours to visit two famous gorges which are, picturesque but don’t live up to their billing as the “Moroccan Grand Canyon”. The Dades gorge has finger like rock formations, while the Todra gorge is an impressive deep slash through the rock. We’re let out of our vehicle to ... read more
Dades gorge
Todra gorge
Ancient irrigation system

Africa » Morocco » Anti-Atlas February 4th 2019

It is really cold at 815am for breakfast. The space heater is in the dining room. Sara manages a couple of cups of tea and then wobbles, so it's back to bed for her. David doesn’t want to abandon her and go on the 4 hour plus excursion to Ait ben Haddou as she seems really poorly. So it's a morning of relaxation on the terrace, at least once it warms up by about 930 or 1000. Unusually for him, David makes friends with the cats. There are at least five of them, and they enjoy reclining on the sofa together, leaving no room for human intruders. Sara seems to have perked up a bit by lunchtime and manages to sit outside, and eat some toast, fruit and a few nuts. She then declares she is ... read more
Skoura palmerie
Selecting potatoes at market
Kasbah Amridil, Skoura

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