09:26 Cleethorpes—12:36 Manchester Airport
15:35 Manchester Airport—19:15 Marrakesh
Novotel Casablanca City Centre
Day 77 Numbers 26; John 8
- On arrival at Marrakesh Airport, you should retrieve your cases and then proceed through customs. Follow signs for Arrivals. There is an Entry Card to complete and hand in at Passport Control before passing through into the Arrivals area. Please wait in Arrivals for our Tour Manager and/or Local Representative to make contact with you. Bear in mind that they may be travelling on the same flight as you, and so could be the last to arrive. Please remain here until met.
It is now possible to buy Moroccan Dirhams in the UK, up to the value of 1000DH. However, they are not widely available and the rate is considerably lower than in Morocco. At Marrakesh Airport there is a Bureau de Change where you can buy the currency before you go through Passport Control. It is also possible to change your money at our hotel, and in banks in the area. The exchange rate is very similar everywhere and no commission is charged. Travellers' cheques are not easy to change. Please keep all receipts from money exchange transactions in case you need to change money back on the last day.
Our coach will take the motorway north to Casablanca. This transfer will take around three-and-a-half hours, including a short stop at services. On late-arriving flights the evening meal will be a cold plate served in the room. We will stay in Casablanca for one night on half-board, at the Novotel Casablanca City Centre, Angle rue Zaid Ouhmad, Sidi Belyout, 20190. Telephone from UK is 00 212 5 22 46 65 09 There will be a registration form to complete and hand in to the hotel reception before you are given your room key, as in every hotel.
The alarm went off at 6.45am, and Janet got up shortly after 7am. According to her “holiday journal” she’d already woken up
ca.6am and gone down to switch the central heating on. Also according to her journal it was “wall-to-wall sunshine”; my note, though, says, “cloudy sun”. I recorded that because when we were on the train, the sky darkened with thicker cloud and later it began to rain.
I used the bathroom after Janet vacated it, replacing the dressings on both elbows, and was at the
feller” at ca.8am (I’d packed the “big
feller” to take it with me), though I didn’t have time to update this. Topped up the birds’ seeds, filled the bird bath, and wound up the clock. Synchronised
Janet’s camera with the computer, and let her have it. Replaced the batteries in my camera, and synchronised it with the computer.
I was feeling panicky at 8.55am, when I hadn’t packed everything; the taxi was booked for 9am. And it arrived a minute or two early. The fare was £3.60 and I gave the driver £4. The train wasn’t available to board — the door-button was inactive — and we found the same to be true of the similar button on the door of the on-platform waiting room — why did they construct it, then? — so we went to the booking-office waiting room for a few minutes.
On the journey I occupied myself with the Asus computer docked in its keyboard,
i.e. as a laptop computer, with the WD Elements HDD connected, adding to “2014.doc” and listening to music.
There wasn’t a queue at the EasyJet luggage check-in, and that proceeded without problem: one case weighed just over the weight-limit 20kg, but the other was only just over 19kg, so on average they were just below 20kg.
Janet’s hand-bag was randomly diverted for checking at the security-scan, but we weren’t delayed long. There was free Wi-Fi there, so I updated on
Google Drive some diary entries that I’d changed en route…. Yesterday I checked the
EasyJet website, and there was mention of a French public services strike planned for today, which would include air-traffic control over France. There were plans to divert flights so as not to pass over France, but that would make other air-lanes busy perhaps leading to delays. Anyway, I checked the website now, and our flight was scheduled normally. “We found a place for eating,”
Janet wrote. “[John] had a warm big crusty meaty bun and a bottle of Bulmer’s cider. I went to
W.H. Smith’s and got a Pepsi Max… Then I had a wander. Got lens wipes for [John] (forgot to pack hankies for him), more travel sickness pills (from
Boots, used my ‘points’ [so didn’t have to pay]), [and] magazines…”…
When our boarding gate was opened, we joined the back of a long queue of people that wound ahead all down the steps. Then a couple of people pushed past them, because they had “speedy boarding” tickets, and realising that our paid-for extra-legroom seats also included “speedy boarding” we followed them down. It should be called “less delayed boarding”, though, because now standing parallel to the head of the long queue we were still confronted by a closed door and had to wait. There was a strong, biting-cold wind as we crossed the apron to the waiting aircraft; and because we boarded by means of mobile steps, not a covered passenger walkway, and were seated on the front row just behind the open door, it was cold and draughty sitting there while everyone else boarded.
Nicola the “cabin manager” introduced herself, Sammi a “cabin crew” member (they stationed themselves at the front near us) and two others (stationed at the back); we started taxiing
ca.3.30pm, and had the seat-belt, emergency exits, oxygen masks, and life-jackets instructions; and we took off
ca.3.40pm.… We landed ca.7pm, slightly ahead of schedule. We completed entry forms and waited in one of the queues for Passport Control — and waited, and waited. Occasionally we heard the thump of a rubber stamp ahead, but the number of heads at the front seemed static. We were standing waiting over an hour, my feet started to hurt almost unbearably, and I wanted to go home. I was able to sit while we waited for the cases to come round on the baggage-claim carousel, but walking was painful and difficult. We changed a hundred or so euros for Moroccan dirhams at a desk in the baggage hall, before joining the
Riviera party near the exit. It was still fairly warm in the dark outside as we proceeded to the coach. In contrast to Egypt we were not importuned by people offering to carry cases for us. Our tour manager Christine introduced herself, the driver Abdul, and another guy El Hassani. We set out
ca.8.40pm. It was dark, so there wasn’t much detail of terrain to see. Over to the right there were angled moonbeams filtering out of the hazy sky; and later, the watery moon itself was visible; and later still, the clear face of the almost full moon could be seen. At our one stop at motorway (or “autoroute”, because French is universally used in addition to Arabic) services, I heard — and
Janet saw — a single cricket on the strip of lawn between the path and the café/convenience store building. We arrived at the hotel
ca.12.40am, but with registration form-filling and consumption of the plated cold meal in the room, we weren’t in bed till 1.40am. Hearing the scheduled 8.15am for setting out tomorrow had not been the most welcome of news, however tactfully it was presented!
19 March 2014]