5 hours and 20 minutes
At 5am our alarms sounded in the small, sleepy village of Algarrobo, 40 minutes East of Málaga, where my Dad has now lived for the last 4 years. In the pitch black the three of us packed up the final essentials into the Daihatsu Fourtrak that was going to be our second home for the week, downed a hot coffee, and headed for the ferry at Algeciras. Bleary-eyed and excited for the week ahead, we passed through an incredibly rough one-hour crossing to Cueta, a Spanish city located in Northern Africa, and through the pandemonium of the border control to finally arrive in Morocco by 2pm.
The drive down to Rabat is incredibly easy but fairly uninspiring along the A1 motorway, but it’s worth noting that you will need to get some Moroccan Dirhams, the closed currency of Morocco, as soon as possible as there are tolls along the way. By 6pm we had reached Rabat and managed to park up with the help of the local ‘parking attendant’, whose authority seemed to derive entirely from his hi-vis jacket. However, 5 Dirhams kept the car safe for the night at the top of Avenue Mohamed V, one of the main market streets in Rabat and the location of our riad.
The walk down Mohamed V to our riad, on a busy market Sunday, introduced us to the Moroccan city life with a genuine sensory overload, with an incredible mixture of sights, sounds and smells at every step. Riad Dar Saidi was located on a small side-street halfway down Mohamed V, and as we stepped through the front door the madness of the market street ceased and we entered into an incredibly relaxed place with some of the most polite hosts we had ever met. Our first Moroccan mint tea was incredible, and we were shown to our fantastic triple room on the second floor.
Riad Dar Saidi
3 Rue Hammam Chorfas, Rabat Medina, Rabat 10030
Our rating: ★★★★☆
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After freshening up we checked out the rooftop terrace overlooking Rabat, before heading out to explore the city and find some food. From the riad it was easy to wander up and down Mohamed IV and be immersed in the Moroccan city hustle-bustle and way of life. We found our way to Bab el Had, a bustling main square where all ages seemed to frequent, before heading to the recommended Dar Naji for our first taste of a traditional Moroccan tagine.
Dar Naji Rabat Hassan, Avenue Jazirat Al Arabe, Rabat 10030
The restaurant was fantastic, overlooking the main square with incredible Moroccan architecture and design inside. For 180 Dirhams for three people, the equivalent of around £15, our food was perfect and the staff, pouring Moroccan tea behind their heads, were exceptionally polite and hard-working. With bellies full, we wandered back through the streets and to the riad for the night.