Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

oh the luxurious Sheraton

Posted by Hippo Bean at 4:59 PM
My hotel pickup came on time. It's a little past 6:30 in the morning and the breakfast, as predicted, was not yet available. 150 dirhams for a 15 minutes ride to the airport was double the ordinary price but ah well. Transavia flight was 1 hr 40 minutes late so I didnt have to wake up so early after all. second ah well. Plenty of time to waste at the Marrakech airport. No gate announcement until when boarding began, but there were only 7 gates at the airport so I've just walked up and down it and luckily spotted the Transavia plane parked in front of one of the gate, so I knew which gate it was. Didnt know there was no complimentary food aboard the flight and I was hungry and my CapitalOne card didnt work on the onboard cc swipe machines, so I had to use my 20 euros note. Was saving it for Amsterdam. third ah well. The flight was short and I snoozed a bit and read a bit of Damage, which I continued to enjoy the writing very much. Being 1 hr 40 mins late in taking off, the flight arrived 20 minutes ahead of schedule (taken the time difference). Go figure this one out!

As I anticipated the very basic and not so great Explore hotels, I've booked the Schiphol Sheraton for my 15 hrs layover. Schiphol is one of my favorite airports. No hassle whatsoever at the passport control and while waiting for my luggage, I've tried to buy the train ticket to Amsterdam Centraal but my CapitalOne card again didnt work in the ticket machine. It didnt have the gold chip like the Europeans cards. But did manage to exchange some euros in the machines, even though the exchange rate was so very poor. $60 only got me 30 euros with some change. Fourth ah well. Luggage came without problem and bought my ticket at the train counter (this time with my cc no problem) and checked in to the Sheraton which was just a stone throw away, and all this done in about a half hour. Dont you love Schiphol! The room had a big window and a direct view of the control tower and planes moving around. Although all the hotels in the tour but the one at Essaouira exceeded my expectations, the Sheraton was such a luxury, a nice comfortable way to end the tour. I had planned it this way and I'm completely happy with my decision. Nice bed, lots of big fluffy pillows, big flat screen TV with lots of channels in different languages, good amenities, big clean bathroom with toiletries and separate shower and tub, clean drinking glasses, nice lounge chair, good view out the window, and complimentary tea and coffee (including expresso) in the hall. Back to civilization indeed. Hopped on the train and in 20 minutes I was at Amsterdam Centraal and saw Borg waiting for me. How many years have we known each other now? A light rain began while we walked a bit around the canals . He took me to the Bird Thai restaurant, with authentic Thai decor and we had chicken skewers and egg rolls for starters and a pork and Panang Kai for entrees. The rice was sticky. Both entrees were very delicious. They didnt have Thai ice tea so I settled for Jasmine while Borg took 2 Heinekens. We got there before the usual dinner time and by the time we're done, there was a long line of people waiting already. Good place. Generous Borg paid for the meal and the Hip was eternally grateful. He showed me pictures of his 2 boys and we caught up about our lives. When we talked about politics, economics and money, like most people in the EU that I know, he did not like being a member ("I'm Dutch, I'm not European", "I miss the beautiful Guilder") He's funny, generous and friendly. Gosh, I've known this guy since ... my Apple days? Back out on the street it was pouring so he took me back to the train station. Tomorrow he will run the marathon and the streets tonight were filled with people. The Amsterdam atmosphere! Love it! Just a brief interlude with the Borg (and I shall miss him) and I was back at Schiphol. Walked a bit in the airport to check out the shopping and bought a muffin for dessert. Back at the luxurious Sheraton, I ate my dessert and had the hotel Ceylon tea while Small Leo continued to admire the airport view from our room. Gosh, this was another wonderful decision to book the Sheraton at Schiphol. After all the basic hotels, although all comfortable and clean and satisfying (except the one in Essaouira), finally the last night of the trip in luxury. Comparable to the Mimouna, the Sheraton room was also super luxurious. I've enjoyed the room reading Damage slouching on the lounge sofa. What a way to end the trip. The Riad Mimouna and the Sheraton. 2 fantastic decisions. I'm so proud of myself.

The 9h52mis KLM flight back home was stuck in the middle seat. Will all my careful planning, I didnt realized the self check-in machine switched my reserved seat. But my flight neighbours were friendly and polite ones so the flight wasnt intolerable. I've chosen chicken meat balls for the meal and it was delicious. For snacks they gave us ice cream or potato chips. For the second meal, a rectangle pizza. I've watched After Earth (boring) and the new Superman (horrible) movies. I've finished Damage. The ending was unexpected. I liked that.

the atlantic crashing onto the 15century portuguese fortifications at the ancient Mogador. i heard the same ocean waves from my room window of the Riad. narrow labyrinth cobblestoned streets with blue walls, door and windows of the harbour town and the towering Kasbahs. Ancient roman town with the most intact mosaics (one depicting all 12 labors of Hercules). 4 imperial cities, each with its unique flavor in the same islamic architecture. crenellated towers of the kasbahs along the valleys of the Atlas Mtns. the ochre cliffs of vast expansive mountains (we've travelled through the middle, the anti and the high atlas). The orange dunes of the ever diminishing Sahara - a night under the stars with beber music. Good traveling companions.

perhaps what's best Morocco has to offer, is its variety. from ocean to mountains to ancient great cities to parched desert, all within a day's drive, and coupled with savory tagines. it had exceeded my expectations. now I only wish the ceramics I've purchased at Fez would arrive someday!

Thanks Joann for going there first and inspiring me to go.

morocco See Morocco pictures



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