WHO: Richard Simon, Amy Robertson, and their children, Emma, 15, and Lily, 12, of Cohasset
WHEN: Two weeks in July
WHY: "We travel a fair amount and were looking for an adventure," Simon said. "We'd done a lot of cities and nature trips. This was an opportunity to do everything." Added Robertson, "And the idea of getting to see some of the Islamic culture was very interesting."
COVERING THE COUNTRY: "Richard is the most amazing travel planner," Robertson said. "He plans it all by himself, using the Internet and then books. Then we figure out the geography of the country. We try to hop around as frantically as possible, but with children it shouldn't appear too frantic."
A CAPITAL START: "The minute we landed in Rabat we felt like, oh my god, we're in a different part of world. There were storks everywhere and it was so tiny, like Key West or something."
THEY SAY TOMATO: "We're all vegetarians and were a little worried, but they can do so many things with tomatoes. And there were huge salad bars, not American, but there would be something with carrots, and cucumbers. We loved the tajin [a stew] with sweet potatoes, peppers, and eggplant."
FEZ AND BEYOND: On the way to Fez, they took a guided tour of the Roman ruins of Volubilis, known for its tile, and the holy city of Moulay Idriss, a pilgrimage site. In Fez they stayed in the medina, the city's old center part, "in a jewel-box-like suite of rooms" in a riad, "the B&Bs of Morocco," Robertson said. "It had been built for a prince. . . . Inside it's like 1,000 years ago, with people all wearing jellabas, the traditional hooded robes, but also with cellphones in their pockets."
SHOP TILL YOU BUY: Their Fez guide "had an agenda," Simon said. "There are certain shops he takes his people to. Spice shop, rug vendor, leather, clothing stores. We did end up buying two rugs, which we had had no intention of buying, and they look great."
MARRAKECH EXPRESS: They reached Marrakech in a Range Rover -- with driver -- from over the Atlas Mountains. "We'd stop in these little towns to eat," Simon said. They saw the Cascades d'Ouzoud waterfall and visited an olive grove. At night, "people were eating outdoors, goat's head soup, with the heads on the table," Simon said. "The kids got henna tattoos on their hands."
ATLAS HIGH: A weekend was spent at Kasbah du Toubkal [www.kasbahdutoubkal.com] in the High Atlas Mountains. "It looks like Tibet," Robertson said. "We were at 8,000 feet and the mountain is 14,000 feet. It was unbelievably spiritual." The next day, they stayed in a tiny Berber village. "There was no electricity, and we ate by candlelight," Simon said. "There was drumming, and the kids danced."
HANG TEN: Back at sea level, they next visited Essaouira, a seaside artists colony. "I surf, and Lily surfs a little," Simon said. "We rented surfboards and wetsuits and got on a local bus with people looking at us like we're crazy. We got to surf for a couple hours. The only other people on the beach were riding camels."