Most tourists to Morocco will only visit the overcrowded and chaotic major tourist hubs of Marrakech, Fez and Rabat and only a small percentage of them venture beyond the Atlas Mountains to experience rural areas. Traveling south of the Atlas Mountains lets you experience the real, authentic Morocco where life is slower, undisturbed, the air is clean and bright, and the mountain or desert sky is truly unforgettable.
If you travel from Marrakech toward Ouzarzate, Zagora and the sand dunes of Merzouga you will be pleasantly surprised. Crossing the Atlas Mountains from Marrakesh is an enjoyable ride through red-colored rolling mountains rich in iron and dotted with small green trees overlooked by majestic snow-capped peaks. There will be many lookout points where you can stop for pictures taking or shopping for raw mountain crystals from local vendors waiting for interested tourists. You will drive through some Berber villages where you can stop for refreshments and visit an Argan oil cooperative where you will get explanations and free demonstrations on how the famous Moroccan anti-aging oil is produced from the kernels of the now endangered Argan tree. The rare oil is rich in vitamin E, phenols and unsaturated fatty acids and is used as a base for many cosmetic products including creams and lotions for psoriasis and eczema, as well as for cooking. The products are indeed very effective but pricy since at the cooperative store the prices are fixed and due to the endangered status of the tree, yearly production is limited.
While Moscow might not match some other cities in cuisine, shopping, or magnificent sight-seeing, it does offer plenty of beautiful parks, history, culture, architecture, world-class art and museums, cathedrals, and enough sights to keep a traveler easily occupied for many days.
I expected a bit more of a “police state” atmosphere, and at least expected some gnarly looking scar-faced, bandoleer draped, machine gun toting, pressed uniform wearing guards prominently stationed at the airport and on every street corner. But, no luck and no photo ops (presuming that I would not be sent to the gulag for attempting to use my trusty Leica to expose the goings-on behind the Iron Curtain). Well… maybe too many old cold-war movies stored in my DVD collection, and too many John le Carre books gathering dust on the shelves.
The reality is that there is definitely a lot more overt police presence in any large American city than in Moscow. Actually saw or heard very few police sirens. But, since there are not any donut shops, I guess there is not any reason to turn on the blue lights and go fast.
Airport: Expected old and dirty. The reality is that Moscow’s Domodedovo International airport is modern, clean, and full of luxury shops as well as food stands that offer the same fare as most any large airport, and at prices that will not make you gasp.
Currency and Value: Without really doing my homework, I expected that Russia used the Euro. In reality, their currency is the Ruple and you will see prices listed by the price followed by “py6”. Vat is included, so the price you see is the price you pay. Current exchange rate is about 32 Ruples per US Dollar. Value is in the purchaser’s eye, but prices of non-luxury day-to-day goods seemed a bit less than other large cities. ATM machines are plentiful with many dispensing your choice of Ruples or Dollars.
Most of us are used to spending like royalty when traveling on the company’s expense. However, times have changed and our expense budgets have dwindled so much that many times we find that we have exceeded our daily budget. It is usually shocking to come home and see that we have to pay for some of the expenses out of our pocket!
How do we keep tabs on what we spend and how much money is leftover? Proper planning is the key. Find out all the relevant information before we go on the trip to avoid the after shocks!
As soon as you join a company, it is a good idea to find out the following:
a. Do you get a company credit card? Are there any maximum limits on that card? Who pays for the card? Do you have to pay and then expense it or does the bill go directly to the company?
b. Do you have an employee who is in charge of making travel plans for everyone?
c. Any recommendations by the company on what type or air tickets to get? Any tips on airlines, refundable tickets or airports? Are employees allowed to travel business class?
d. What are the rules on accommodations? Any specific hotel chains, international any restrictions? Are discounts available at any hotels for employees of this company?
e. What about conveyance at the destination? Any recommended maximum for daily limits on taxi fees, buses, etc? Does the company offer insurance on auto rentals?
Dress code in the Greek Islands is very casual, for men shorts and T-shirts is the norm, and for ladies, light summer dresses or similar to men. If you are coming in Spring or Autumn you should bring some warmer clothes just in case it gets a bit cold in the night. Even for those who want to dress formally, smart casual is the norm, which would be a pair of trousers and a shirt.
In restaurants. The island of Rhodes can satisfy every gourmet because it produces various products of excellent qualities and the local cuisine is a real delight for the senses. Fresh fishes and a big variety of seafood’s, big choice of “mezes” (Mediterranean snacks), meat on grill, mousaka (the famous dish with potatoes, aubergines, cheese and béchamel) are some of the many Rhodian specialties.
The wines of Rhodes are famous for their great taste and quality since ancient times because the wineries and distilleries of the island produce delicious wines from the island’s vineyards which are beneficing from the fertility of the soil and the constant sun. The most famous wine labels of Rhodes are the dry wines “Ilios”, “2400”, “Villare”, and “Grand Maitre” and the dry red wine “Chevalier de Rhodes”.
Booking a Taxi There are strict regulations regarding the number of passengers per taxi. Up to 4 passengers are allowed per car so bear this in mind when making a booking for a taxi. Make sure your luggage fits into a regular-sized car trunk, otherwise you’ll have to hire a second taxi for any excessive luggage.When requesting a taxi make sure you are at the pick-up point without delay since a taxi will be there within minutes.