People’s jaws drop when I tell them my sister and I have just been to Morocco and back by rail. ‘I didn’t think it was possible,’ several people said, so I had to explain there’s an hour’s ferry trip involved when you cross over to Gibraltar. But it was so much more fun than hanging around an airport for hours, with all the queues for security searches, not to mention being trapped in an aeroplane with inferior food and breathing in the same stale air. By rail means you simply board the train, open the window to let in some fresh air, and start travelling. And because every train ran on time there were no delays.
We were a group of 28 on The Marrakech Express booked through Great Rail Journeys. Irene (flowery t-shirt on left-hand side below), our bubbly German tour manager, kept us all under control (being mostly of the older generation we sometimes became a bit unruly), looked after our welfare, sorted out any problems, and shared hilarious anecdotes of previous trips. She was a hoot. We came off the train every night, staying between one and three nights in Biarritz, Seville, Rabat, Marrakech, Fez, Granada and Barcelona.
For practically the whole way the scenery was stunning: mountains, fields of swaying wheat, barley and corn, grazing cows, goats and sheep, and extensive forests. When we arrived in Morocco it wasn’t red and barren as we expected, but green and lush. If we’d flown we’d never have enjoyed the changing countryside as we travelled from Europe to Africa.
Being a writer I made lots of notes of the trip and our mini adventures, as my next heroine might well go to Morocco by train. But she’ll have to tell me what happens when she meets a gorgeous Moroccan on board, as unfortunately I didn’t have that experience! It will have to be a case of ‘write what you don’t know!’