2023 – Morocco

Ali and I had enjoyed a pleasant enough trip to the Tikida Beach hotel, Agadir back in January 2020 – our first holiday away together (documented here) – and decided that it would be nice to return in January 2021.

The Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns meant that our trip was first postponed to January ’22. Morocco was then closed to international travellers in January ’22, so our trip was further postponed to February ’23.

As on our previous trip we had booked overnight accommodation before our flight – which was early on Monday morning – and parking for the duration of our trip, at a Crowne Plaza hotel near Gatwick.

We arrived at the Crowne Plaza later than we would have liked. The Dean of Chelmsford – who we had met many times during our various Mayoral duties – was moving on to pastures new and his farewell service took place in the Cathedral on the Sunday afternoon.

Farewell Service for the Dean

Nevertheless, traffic was light and we got to the hotel at about seven thirty. We were upgraded on checking to a ‘club’ room – comfortable but stifling hot – and wandered down to the bar for a few drinks and dinner.

Room at the Crown Plaza - Gatwick

Next morning we were downstairs promptly for a complimentary breakfast at six, then outside at six thirty for the taxi we’d asked reception to book for us. It never materialised so we ordered our first ever Uber that arrived within a minute and swiftly deposited us at Gatwick’s North Terminal. Bag drop and security were surprisingly painless and we were sat at the Wetherspoons bar with a Bloody Mary barely forty minutes after leaving the hotel.

Pre-flight Bloody Marys - it's tradition

Our TUI flight was full, and departure delayed by about half an hour, we landed in Agadir at about one forty. We negotiated Passport Control and Baggage Reclaim swiftly and we were soon on our private mini-bus to the hotel.

Riu Tikida Beach

Riu Tikida Beach

Hotel check-in (ahead of the rest of the passengers on the coach) was equally swift and we were soon at our room – 19 – which was comfortable enough.

Room 19 - Riu Tikida Beach

Room 19 – Riu Tikida Beach

but we clearly suffered for not booking a ‘room with a view’, we looked out onto the loading bay of the hotel next door!

View from Room 19 - Riu Tikida Beach

Not the grimmest view, but certainly in the bottom five!

We dumped our bags and headed down to the ‘beach’ bar, and were pleasantly surprised when we were recognised by both the head waiter and the barman. We sat in the sun for an hour or so while the head waiter plied us with chilled rosé wine. He said to Ali (in French) “on the first day, I’m the driver”.

We then returned to our room then, later, went down for dinner.

After dinner we adjourned to the downstairs bar, but were – frankly – overwhelmed by the recreation of a ‘traditional Moroccan wedding’, the bar upstairs was quieter and we crashed out after a nightcap, it had been a long day.

On Tuesday we settled in the same sun beds we’d appropriated on our previous visit and spent a lazy day in the sun, reading our books. It was cloudy until lunchtime, but brightened up in the afternoon.

At lunchtime we adjourned to the ‘Le Chirinquito‘ restaurant, overlooking the beach, for a very pleasant lunch. Ali went for a stroll along the beach in the afternoon and then we both returned to the ‘beach’ bar for a couple of glasses of chilled Rosé.

I wanted to watch a City Council planning committee meeting in the evening, so I settled in a quiet corner, close to reception, where the WiFi signal was strongest. The meeting was discussing the plans for the expansion of South Woodham Ferrers; it started at eight (Morocco time) and was still rambling on beyond nine.

City Council Planning Committee Meeting

City Council Planning Committee Meeting

I dashed back to our room, grabbed Ali and we got to the restaurant for a hasty dinner, before they closed at nine thirty.

After dinner, I returned to my quiet corner where the City Council meeting was staggering to its inevitable conclusion. They voted to accept the plans, although they were then immediately subject to ‘call in’ by the Secretary of State. Meanwhile, in the bar downstairs, a covers band was playing serviceable covers of ‘western’ hits.

Wednesday morning dawned hazy, but the sun soon burned the haze off and we were presented with a beautiful day. I’d arranged to visit a leather shop to get a replica of my favourite denim waistcoat and cook’s apron; that necessitated a taxi ride and some haggling, but we were back at the hotel before midday.

Our preferred sun-beds had been taken, so we settled at two beds nearby. It was quieter than recent days, changeover for some of the French guests. Lunch – including freshly grilled sardines – was back in the beach-side restaurant, and back into the sun.

What a sunny couple!

What a sunny couple!

Thursday morning saw a major Essex County Council meeting and the WiFi signal by the pool was pretty good, so I watched much of the meeting on YouTube. Lunch was again in ‘Le Chirinquito’, then another hour or so in the sun before we adjourned to the bar for some chilled rosé.

Viewing the Essex County Council meeting

Viewing the Essex County Council meeting

camels at sunset

Camels at sunset

On most evenings, ‘Le Chirinquito‘ morphs into ‘The Culinarium’,  a fine dining restaurant, to which guests are allowed one visit per stay. We dined in there on Thursday evening, enjoying a meal of Tuna Tataki, Veal Carpaccio, and Beef Tenderloin. All delicious, accompanied by a truly spectacular sunset.

Spectacular Sunset

Spectacular Sunset – and no filter!

Friday dawned cloudy and, frankly, chilly; there were no sun beds reserved around the pool. After breakfast we adjourned to ‘the library’ to read our books; it’s a beautifully appointed lounge area. Somebody spent a great deal of money furnishing and dressing the hotel’s public rooms.

A break for lunch, then back to ‘the library’; the rain showers appeared to have eased, and it was brightening up outside, but still windy and distinctly chilly. Many of the hotel’s French guests were wrapped up in quilted jackets and scarves. Ali retired to our room to watch French Television.

We were joined for a pre-dinner drink by Brian & Sandra, a couple from Sunderland whom we’d bumped into a few times in recent days. We went down to dinner together and ended up spending the evening in the bar swapping stories.

Saturday was brighter and less windy, but still overcast.

After breakfast we strolled along the promenade towards the Marina then back for a light lunch. The clouds parted after lunch and, while breezy, we spent a couple of hours by the pool. We whizzed off to the leather shop before dinner to collect my waistcoat and apron. I’m very pleased with the results, mission accomplished.

It looked windy when we woke on Sunday morning, but it quickly turned into a beautiful day, possibly the nicest of the week. We ventured down beside the pool after breakfast and enjoyed the sunshine, breaking for our last buffet lunch of the week. Some of the people we’d met earlier in the week – from Belfast – were catching their last hour of sunshine.

We made a point of tipping the various staff members who had been particularly attentive.

Our final evening was spent, again, in the company of Bryan and Sandra, we enjoyed our final buffet dinner and once again adjourned to the bar. Monday marked Bryan’s 65th birthday and we nearly stuck it out until midnight, but we’re almost shamed by the bar staff as we were the last remaining drinkers at eleven.

A final breakfast, Monday was hazy, some last minute packing and we checked out, waiting in ‘the library’ for our transport. Which arrived early, we were at the airport by midday, ahead of the crowds and swiftly through the security and seemingly endless passport checks.

The departure hall at Agadir airport has been updated since our last visit, it now sports several duty-free shops and cafés.

There’s no bar, so no pre-flight Bloody Marys, and our experience at the Lounge three year earlier didn’t encourage us to revisit. We bought some bottled water for the flight and sat while the departure lounge filled around us.

The incoming flight had been delayed due to hundred mile an hour head winds, meaning we left Agadir thirty minutes late. Those winds in turn speeded our return journey and made up any lost time.

We landed at Gatwick on time at five fifteen, were back at the Crowne Plaza an hour later – that’s passports, baggage reclaim and a Uber back to the hotel – and arrived just home before eight, including grabbing a sneaky Indian takeaway.

Over all, we achieved our objectives. We enjoyed a week chilling somewhere warmer than home. It remains to be seen if we’ll return, to the Tikida Beach, but if we do, we’ll go for a ‘sea view’ room!