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Travelling to Morocco by Train

Here's a very informative article written by one of our clients, Roger Sargent:

"We would really recommend taking the train to Morocco - it's an interesting, adventurous and eco-friendly way of visiting a magical country. However, to get the best out of the experience it's important from the outset to see the train journey as an integral part of the holiday and not simply a tiresome chore to be endured in order to get to your destination. The beauty of train travel is that you really have a sense that you're gradually moving through each country and experiencing the countryside and culture change as you go. By the time we reached Marrakech we felt our spirits were in tune with the culture and that we had started to absorb some of the energy of the place. Obviously air travel is quick and arguably more convenient. The downside is that you leave one continent and 3 hours later you're in another without having any sense of what's in between or what forces may have created the change in culture you're faced with when you arrive.

We used the excellent website seat61.com to help plan our train journey. We left London in the early afternoon and took the Eurostar to Paris. After changing stations we continued our journey by overnight sleeper to Madrid, arriving in the early morning. We decided to have a mini-break in Madrid and pre-booked 2 nights in the Hotel de las Letras on the Gran Via. Our stay actually amounted to 3 full days as we didn't leave Madrid until late evening on the 3rd day. Madrid is a lovely city to explore. It has great art galleries, a lovely large public park in the centre and good restaurants (including a couple of excellent Vegetarian restaurants only 5 minutes from our hotel). From Madrid we took another sleeper to Algerciras on the Spanish coast - again arriving in the early morning. Algerciras is a busy and fairly unattractive port, however on the plus side it has frequent ferries and hydrofoils over to Morocco and we were able to board a ferry to get us to Tangier by lunch-time. The ferry takes about 2 1/2 hours but you can cross by hydrofoil in less than an hour.

Tangier is a really interesting, vibrant town with a lively and fascinating medina. We stopped for a night in a beautiful guest house right in the heart of the Kasbah. Our only regret was not staying for longer.

Within Morocco we travelled by train to Fes where we stayed for 3 nights before moving on, again by train, to Marrakech. The journeys are quite long - 5 hours to Fes and 7 3/4 hours to Marrakech, but the trains are good, punctual and very cheap. We opted for a first class as the price was so cheap (under £16 for the Fez- Marrakech leg) and had very roomy and comfortable seats. The train journeys were fascinating and although we'd gone expecting to spend much of the time reading we actually found ourselves absorbed by the scenery while listening (and occasionally chatting) to local travellers. The time just flew by.

Obviously train travel is not an option if you're only going to Morocco for a short break, but if you really want to explore the country it's a great way to do it. Because of our break in Madrid it actually took us 4 days to arrive in Morocco. If you're limited for time you could skip the overnight stay in Madrid and get the train to Algerciras on the evening of your arrival in Madrid, thus making it possible to be in Tangier less than 48 hours after leaving London.

Train travel is wonderful. You start your holiday as soon as you board the first train; you arrive feeling like a traveller rather than a tourist, and you avoid all those ghastly airport lounges, expensive car parks and uncomfortable crowded flights in squashed seats. Oh, and you help to save the planet!" R Sargent.