The Beginning of My Bucket List

Way back during the Christmas Season of 1986 I visited Epcot for the first time. I was 20. I opened my store, Enchanted Gardens Florist & Gifts at 19 years of age earlier in March of that year. I had longed to visit Epcot since it opened earlier that decade, and this was the first chance I had. I closed my store down for the first time (which became an annual tradition) the week between Christmas & New Years Day, and set off for Orlando for a day at Epcot. Little did I know at the time, but that visit to Epcot is where I first got the travel bug. I found it fascinating to visit so many countries in such a short time…I walked from Canada all the way to Mexico around the World Showcase Lagoon and I had an absolute blast.

I thought it would be so cool to actually visit all of these countries in reality, and not just “virtually”. This was before I had heard of the internet, digital photography, or social media! When I got back to the real world I decided that I wanted to try and visit the countries that were represented at Epcot. This was the beginning of my Bucket List. At the time, I had already been to Mexico & Canada, but since, I have seen several more areas of these beautiful countries. In fact, about a year ago, I visited Victoria, Canada during an Alaskan Cruise. <sigh, I MISS travel!!!>

During my time at my store, and since becoming a travel agent, I have been able to visit a lot of countries, but I still haven’t been to all of the ones that Disney has built around the World Showcase Lagoon. I’ve been to Canada multiple times, (I was actually on both coasts of Canada last fall!); Mexico many times; I’ve been to Norway (It is SO beautiful there!). I’ve been to Italy (hated the food, loved the country!). I’ve sailed around the United Kingdom on a British Isles cruise (I would do that again in a heartbeat) and I’ve visited France a few times. I LOVE Paris. The first time I actually used my passport was to visit Disneyland Paris. (when I first visited Canada & Mexico, an American didn’t need a passport…my how times have changed!)

My Bucket List has changed a lot since Christmas of 1986. It seems to grow and expand every year. Instead of getting smaller, my list keeps getting longer. But, the countries on the list still include the ones around World Showcase. I’m more than halfway there in completing my EPCOT list. So, based on my “EPCOT Bucket List” I still need to visit:

  • China
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Morocco

Today, I’m going to write about Morocco. I’ve got a plan in the works to get me to the continent of Africa and to visit this beautiful country. I just have to decide when I can go. Currently we are all still in quarantine at my house, so traveling is just a bit out of reach for me right now…but it hasn’t stopped me from dreaming. I have two cruises booked for 2021 already, am planning a work trip to Mexico (fingers crossed!) for February ’21 and I’ve already decided that I simply must see India as soon as possible. So, while I’m not exactly sure as to when I will actually go, I think I have found the tour I want to do! It’s priced at an extremely fair price, is a small group (no more than 22 people!) and will tick off all the things I want to see in Morocco, with the exception of visiting Chefchaouen. Since I am a travel agent, I’m sure I can get to Chefchaouen before or after this tour.

<INSERT SHAMELESS PLUG HERE> 😉 If you would like to begin planning a guided trip to basically anywhere in the world, a cruise, a trip to Disney or Universal…give me a shout!

The Itinerary:

DAY 1 – Depart for Morocco
Depart for Morocco

DAY 2 – Arrive in Casablanca, Transfer to Rabat
Arrive in Casablanca this morning and transfer to Rabat, a heady swirl of color, culture, and history. Arrive at your hotel and spend the afternoon at leisure. Tonight, your tour will begin with an orientation meeting lead by your Tour Manager at approximately 6 PM, followed by a Welcome Dinner.
Overnight: Rabat
Meals: Dinner

DAY 3 – Rabat City Tour
After breakfast, tour the capital. Begin with a drive past the beautifully tiled entrance to the Royal Palace, followed by a stop at Bab Rouah, or the city’s “Gate of the Winds,” so called because it’s been battered by Atlantic winds since its construction in 1197. Visit Hassan Tower, part of an unfinished mosque started by a 12th-century caliph. At the incredibly preserved Kasbah of the Udayas, explore the fortress and take a stroll in the French-colonial Andalusian gardens. End the day at Chellah, the necropolis and ruins of an ancient Roman outpost. Balance of the day is at leisure
Overnight: Rabat
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 4 – Explore Volubilis & Meknes, Overland to Fez
This morning, drive inland to Fez. Along the way, stop to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Volubilis, the once-bustling city and African administrative center of the Roman Empire. The site also has vestiges of the Berber civilization that took the city from Rome in AD 270. Continue to Meknes and view the Bab Mansour gate, beautifully patterned with zellij mosaics. This evening, you’re the guests of a local Fez family for dinner. Over typical Moroccan, home-prepared food, you’ll connect with your hosts
Overnight: Fez
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 5 – Tour Fez
Explore the sprawling medina of Fez on foot this morning. It’s said that this is the world’s largest car-free urban area; undistracted by traffic, you’re sure to agree that strolling here is a feast for the senses. You’ll enter via the Bab Boujloud, or “Blue Gate” and visit the famed Al-Bou Inania Madrasa. Afterward, you will have an opportunity to shop for authentic Moroccan carpets. Then, stop at the Chouara Tannery to see how leather is cut and dyed using traditional techniques. At the Nejjarine Museum, browse the collection of wooden arts and crafts, then view copper craftsmen at work in Seffarine Square. The tour ends outside the Karaouine Mosque and University, the oldest continuously functioning university in the world, founded in the year 859 AD. After lunch in the medina, your guide leads you through the Jewish Quarter, or mellah, built in 1438. By the end of the walk, you’ll be at the King’s Palace. Enjoy dinner at the hotel later this evening
Overnight: Fez
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6 – Cross Middle Atlas Mountains, Drive to Erfoud
Today, experience a thrilling adventure into Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains. Begin with a stop in Ifran, a Moroccan ski resort. Then, ascend scenic roads past pine groves and giant cedar trees. Midmorning, you cross the 6,000-foot pass and continue west toward the great Sahara. Next, stop for lunch in the village of Midelt. As you approach Erfoud, admire views of the remarkable Ziz Gorges and vast valleys. Continue to Erfoud for dinner and overnight
Overnight: Erfoud
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7 – Experience Rissani, Sahara Camp
This morning, explore the small city of Rissani on the edge of the Sahara. En route, stop at a fossil factory to learn more about this unique activity which is famous in the region. Then, wander its lively souk, and visit a 17th-century ksar. Afterward, pass by the ancient ruins of Sijilmasa on the River Ziz, once a bustling Berber city and medieval trade depot. You’ll pause to visit a local bread shop, where you’ll witness and sample an ancient culinary art. After lunch at the hotel, you journey into the Sahara Desert, stopping en route to share tea with some welcoming locals in a Berber tent. Later, settle into your Sahara camp, where dunes rise and fall around you and feel the adventuresome spirit of explorers of old. You’ll even have the opportunity to enjoy a short camel ride. Witness an incredible sunset, while listening to traditional music under a canopy of stars
Overnight: Sahara Tented Camps
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8 – Explore Desert & Todra Gorge, Travel to Ait Benhaddou
Awake amidst the silence of the desert this morning, as Morocco’s natural beauty continues to astound you. After breakfast, leave the camp and make your way to the lovely oasis of Tinghir for lunch. The real attraction here is the spectacular Todra Gorge, a deep ravine carved by the Todra River over millennia. There’ll be time to marvel at this sight before you continue to the Dades Valley, where roses bloom in profusion in springtime. The locals make good use of the prolific flower by producing rose water here. Dinner tonight is at your hotel
Overnight: Ait Benhaddou (Ouarzazate Region)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9 – Visit Ait Benhaddou, Travel to Marrakesh
After breakfast at the hotel, take time to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou, a ksar – or fortified city – along a former caravan route. This is the true Morocco: a village that seems to rise from the sands. Its desert-dusted Kasbahs and maze-like warrens are sure to enthrall you. Next, make your way to the magical city of Marrakesh. Dinner tonight is at your hotel
Overnight: Marrakesh
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 10 – City Tour of Marrakesh, Bahia Palace, Majorelle Gardens
Discover historic and exotic Marrakesh today. Begin at Majorelle Gardens, a botanical marvel set in the heart of Marrakesh. Next visit the Koutoubia, a 12th-century Mosque and minaret, still topped with four copper globes. Then, explore Bahia Palace, where 360 rooms were once adorned with Italian marble and Sudanese gold. For a more recent archaeological find, you’ll see the richly decorated tombs of the Saadi Dynasty. End your thrilling morning in the famed Djemaa el Fna square, a dazzling display of acrobats, story tellers, and snake charmers. Take your time and absorb this vibrant kaleidoscope of culture, torn from the pages of Ali Baba. Balance of the day is at leisure. This evening, an optional horse-drawn carriage ride takes you through the lively streets of Marrakesh followed by a lavish dinner of Moroccan fare. Relive the days of Arabian folklore while enjoying classic Moroccan music and an elegant belly dancing performance
Optional: Dinner with Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride (PM)
Overnight: Marrakesh
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 11 – Full Day in Marrakesh
Spend the day at leisure or participate in the optional tour to the scenic Ourika Valley where typical Moroccan villages are scattered amidst the towering Atlas Mountains. Here, discover the area’s natural herbs and their many uses. Before lunch at the gardens enjoy, a “Berber foot bath”. Afterward, return to the hotel
Optional: Ourika Valley and Botanical Gardens with Lunch (AM)
Overnight: Marrakesh
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 12 – Cooking Class, Travel to Essaouira
This morning, attend a half day cooking class in an authentic Medina’s Riad and learn from one of the best “Dada chefs” in town how to successfully prepare traditional Moroccan tajine and salads, as well as delicious Moroccan flatbread. After lunch, depart Marrakesh for Essaouira. Stop at the Argan Oil Women’s Cooperative to learn how this skin-nutrifying elixir is extracted from the argan nut, rich in nutrients and antioxidants beneficial to skin and hair. Arrive in Essaouira in time for dinner on your own
Overnight: Essaouira
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 13 – Discover Essaouira, Gnawa Performance
Seaside Essaouira has grown into an artist’s enclave over the years, and this makes for a fascinating mix of ancient and modern sensibilities. You’ll be introduced to its culture with a stroll through the vibrant medina and its bustling fish market. Visit a jewelry shop, renowned for its quality and design. Browse the extensive collection of uniquely handcrafted silver jewelry and watch artisans create beautiful silver pieces. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore its inviting ancient streets. This evening, learn about traditional music during a talk with a local expert. Get the details about henna painting along with a demonstration. Enjoy a refreshing cocktail while viewing a Gnawa performance and dance*
*Gnawa performance will sometimes operate on Day 12
Overnight: Essaouira
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 14 – Travel to Casablanca & City Tour
Transfer to Casablanca today, stopping en route for lunch in a local restaurant. Upon arrival, see the fabled city’s important sights, including the Mohammed V Square, the city’s administrative seat. Next, marvel at the massive Hassan II Mosque*, dramatically perched on a promontory on the Atlantic. Its indoor and outdoor space can accommodate 105,000 worshippers. In the Habous district, peruse the market and admire the exterior of the Royal Palace. Tonight, enjoy a Farewell Dinner
*Hassan II Mosque is subject to unexpected closures for local religious observances. Details will be provided locally by your Tour Manager
Overnight: Casablanca
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15 – Depart Morocco
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your departure flight
Meals: Breakfast

That sounds exciting, right? I can’t wait to go. Every time I visit Walt Disney World, I make sure and revisit Epcot, one of my favorite places to be. Morocco is always one of those pavilions at Epcot that I could just get lost in wandering around examining all of the details. I often eat at the Tangierine Cafe or the Spice Road Table, which are two of my favorite eateries in Epcot, of course, both are located in the Moroccan Pavillion. I’m super excited about visiting Morocco, and the continent of Africa. There are several destinations I want to visit in Africa, but feel like Morocco will be the first. (I also really want to visit Egypt and go on an African safari!). I can’t wait to see Morocco in person.