Customer Review

Mary and Melissa (Tunisia and Morocco Tour)

Countries visitedTunisia and Morocco
Date of tourNovember 2022

My sister and I were scheduled to arrive within ½ an hour of each other in Tunis, Tunisia, on 10/19.  I arrived as scheduled and our guide,Sourour Bayar, and the driver, Lutfi, were there upon my arrival.  It turned out that my sister had missed her connection from Frankfurt to Tunis and, having spent the day at the Frankfurt airport, arrived in Tunis at 11:30 pm.  In the meantime, Sourour delivered me to Dar El Jeld in Tunis and assured me that Missy would be met by them late that night, for which I was very very grateful.

We can’t say enough about Ms. Bayar.  She was with us the entire trip, traveling in the van every day and disappearing by night to greet us the following day for an agreed upon schedule.  She is so knowledgeable on so many different levels: historically (Islamic and Greco-Roman); culturally; linguistically; pragmatically…and very very personable.  Ms. Bayan was greeted warmly wherever we went, all over Tunisia.  She is clearly deeply respected as she respects others.  She anticipated and fulfilled our every request and more.  Very reliable, upbeat and proud of her country. The driver, Lutfi, is a kind, genial person and an excellent and safe driver.  His SUV was spotless every day.

Our first stay was at Dar El Jeld, which we loved. It’s charming and exotic.  Excellent food (breakfasts), roof top dining, with a beautiful hammam and spa, right on the edge of the Medina. [see footnote 1 below] We can’t recommend it enough. Ms. Bayar took us a wonderful tour of the Medina (right outside our door), including feasting on delicious street food.  Always welcomed everywhere and polite to each and all, Ms. Bayar and we were welcomed everywhere. Just as an aside and an appreciated curiosity…Ms. Bayar always reached into her pocket and paid for these treats, or a coffee or tea.  She insisted and made it very easy and pleasant.

Our next outing was to Dougga and Bella Regia. Again, though not on the schedule, Ms. Bayan thought we would enjoy seeing a town along the way, Testour. Delightful, small museums and fresh pomegranate juice!  The tour of the Greco-Roman ruins was spectacular…and with very few other tourists there. 

On to Hammamet and the Hotel  La Badira.  Again, our guide was known in the area as she resides there. At our request, she took us to Galleries and we had afternoons off to explore on our own.  El Badira was fine…huge, but right on the beach, which we enjoyed.

On to Kairouan, where I wanted to visit not only for its mosque, but to purchase carpets if possible. Again, Ms Bayar took us to a reputable carpet dealer with whom she was familiar.  She never got involved in any negotiation for price wherever we were.  By no means did she abandoned us, but I never had a complaint about the merchants to whom she recommended. [see footnote 2 below]

It was on the way to Sousse form Kairouan that I felt undeniably ill.  I knew what it was instantly, though I had never had Covid before.  I am more than fully vaxed.  It was then that I notified you Kevin, of my intent to notify the hotel. Ms. Bayar came to the hotel immediately upon finding I had tested positive.  She had had Covid previously.  She took complete control of the situation. (To my relief) and said we would NOT notify the hotel and I would stay there for the planned two more days and we would move on to Sidi Bou Said where she said I would be more comfortable.  That is what we did.

In Sidi Bou I had an airy room with an outdoor terrace where I could dine with my sister and rest. It all worked out and I was pleased to have followed our guide’s directions.

We loved and love Tunisia!     

Off to Morocco via Casablanca.  We were met by our driver, Rachid ……… Very nice person, adequate (but not great) English; very good French and Arabic. The arrangement we had for the  Morocco tour was very different than Tunisia. Basically, we were with Rachid by ourselves most of the time.  He was very different than Ms. Bayar.  After all…

Our first night was at Hotel Sofitel.  Perfectly adequate.  Next day we visited Rabat with a guide for the morning, which we enjoyed. Then on to Fez to Riad Myra.  Although very picturesque and quaint inside, with a very attentive staff, I would not recommend this Riad.  Though right on the edge of the incredible medina, it has no windows or access to the outside or natural light.  My sister took the “Vizier’s Suite” 2 and ½ flights up (no elevator) and I had a room off the main sitting/dining room with no windows and very poor lighting.  The air was very heavy and damp.  We do not recommend this Riad.

We enjoyed our time in Fes, we did have a guide for a day through the Medina, which was very interesting. 

Then off towards the desert, through the Atlas ranges, which we enjoyed, to the Palais Masandoia en route to Merzouga Luxury Camp. We were the only guests there as tourist season was winding down.  It was pleasant. We also enjoyed Merzouga Camp very much…excellent. Congenial staff and camels and good food.

We enjoyed Ouarzazate and the Berbere Palace…excellent hammam and service.  Loved the High Atlas Mountians and made a few stops for roadside artwork.  Back to Marrakech to La Maison L’Arabe.  There, they guided us to a single suite, which they promptly corrected (although saying they were completely full and could do nothing), after having been contacted by you or your representative.

Suffice it to say, we had a marvelous trip.  In speaking for both of us, we enjoyed Tunisia more.  We didn’t see  one other American there and many fewer tourists.  Our guide was sensational and , candidly, her being female gave us insights to people and culture  that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.  Certainly Tunisia is an “undiscovered jewel” and your company could do very very well to promote it as such.  Plus, it’s so much less expensive; the food is delicious; the roads are good; the people friendly; the Greco-Roman ruins are world-class; the handicrafts are superb and it remains devoid of the crowds and crowds of tourists of Morocco.

We would happily recommend Mosaic North Africa!
That’s it!

Happy to answer any further questions! 

Very best, Mary and Missy

[1] I know you know this, but I feel its worth mentioning.  Of course, a Dar is an older, often elegant house transformed into a Riad.  Some, like El Jeld, are superior.  Others, however, often have no elevators (the rooms may be up more than 2 floors)and have no outside exposure, rather, are turned in around a courtyard. Beautiful as they are, they do not have fresh air and sunlight available and sometimes the air is close, moldy…and the lighting very dim.

[2] I purchased two sensational carpets in Kairouan, after extended bargaining, with which I am so, so pleased.

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About the author

Joshua Mok is a cultural enthusiast and adventurer who can speak 6 different languages. Joshua currently lives in Tunisia and has firsthand experience with the language, people, and culture of North Africa. At Mosaic North Africa, Joshua is combining his business marketing expertise with his passion for travel to help others discover and enjoy the cultural and historical beauties of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.

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