Morocco – Marrakesh

Day 1

We arrived at 11.45 as we had a delayed start due to snow in London.

It took one hour to get through passport control and was not without drama. One man either high or drunk collapsed at least a couple of times, and someone dropped their bottle of duty free whiskey.

 

Once through we exchanged our cash and met our cab driver.

After a short journey through the local housing, we got out of the cab and walked through the streets to our riad. Once in, through the tiny door, we were presented with some Moroccan mint tea. The bitter leaves masked with about 5 lumps of sugar made us feel more revived. We were then taken to our room, it is a small double with a nicely presented bathroom albeit rather dark inside.IMG_6470.JPG

10453444_10152550733821213_6799638934616397838_nLunch outside but inside the riad!

We then had lunch, Moroccan salad of tomato onion and coriander on a bed if lettuce; chicken tagine with olives and flavoured with tamarind; orange with cinnamon. The chicken was absolutely delicious and came right off the bone. Tina was given a significant amount of chicken so was happy to share her portion šŸ˜€

We then walked into the main square, passing the beginning of the souks. At the time ofĀ 3pmĀ there wasn’t much happening, only a few performers who hassled Tina for money everytime she took a picture. We saw monkeys in children’s clothes, snake charmers, and weird camel men.

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DSC_0070.JPGWe decided to walk around the souks bordering the square just to grasp the culture and not feel too intimidated. Tina got herself a bargain tea, tray and glasses set for 400 dirham and also a purse. There are many floors and different products which we will tackle in full tomorrow.

We headed up to the tower where we tried some fruit which the man said was called “kassous” I don’t think that’s what it is… It was bright red and looked like a fig but had a bland taste and large seeds. It cost 10 dirham for two..After some pictures we headed back to the square and walked up to a balcony restaurant.

IMG_6506.JPGKassous is prickly pear!

Here on the balcony we had a wonderful view of the square in sunset which we enjoyed over a couple cups of mint tea.

DSC_0121.JPGBeautiful view from the balcony

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The temperature dropped so we headed into the food market in the square. We passed a tea stall and were goaded into drinking a cup which was tea made up of many spices. It was very strange and had a warming sensation much like a hard liquor and a sharp spice. Very cheap and cost 5 dh. A sweet littleĀ girl handed us some of her cake to try as we were loudly questioning what it was.

IMG_6504.jpgThe many spices in the tea!

We then looked for somewhere to eat and were profusely hounded whilst doing so; “better than lidl, better than asda” and “all the shit is the same, this is the best one”. A kind woman approached and started speaking in French, Tina thought she was begging but I quickly realised she told me to take my phone out my back pocket. Feeling very grateful for her kindness I was feeling very positive about the locals here.

We finally made our choice and had some bread with a tomato paste, sausages and lamb kebabs. Service was a bit poor and they overcharged us 80dh instead of 60dh but was tasty nonetheless.

We then headed back to the riad and chilled on the rooftop watching the moon and stars.

Day 2

We got up around 9 to have breakfast which consisted of bread, cake, hard boiled egg, two types of Moroccan pancakes (one savoury one sweet), orange juice and spreads like jam, butter and dairylee. It was stodgy and filling.

We then walked down to the jema al fana square to catch the best looking cab. Knowing that we had to set a price before we jumped in we went straight in with the barter. Unfortunately we didn’t actually know what the price would be so guessed it should cost 40dh to go to Jardin marjorelle. He said yes way to quickly, which probably meant we went in too high…

The cab journey was nice, and we got to see some more of the town. The journey was very quick and the cabbie didn’t speak much English, he was telling us to go to Zara which was 3 roads down to the left. No idea what that was so we went straight to the gardens. It cost 50dh to get in and I felt a bit meh about it as it was just a whole lot of bamboo and cacti. However, there were some really pretty scenes with the brightly coloured pots and buildings along with the decorative windows.

DSC_0133.JPGPretty walkway in the garden

DSC_0166.JPGBlue and yellow

We spent our time strolling through and bought some postcards of yves Saint Laurents work as this was his garden back in the day. We then headed out and successfully bartered a cheaper cabbie to take us to Kasbah area so we could visit the tombs. The cab driver was very sweet and kept talking about his spices. When we reached the tombs he told us they will be really busy right now and we should go to the spice house first.

Upon agreeing to we quickly discovered it was a cover story and was just to get us into his beloved spice house. When we walked in this woman closed the doors an began to tell us about all the spices and teas. She shoved this super strong menthol to my nose and made me sniff it, which made our eyes water. We were told about other spices to help cure bodily ailments and make up too. They have a Berber lipstick made from poppy flower where you have a mini tagine pot and when you dip your finger into water and then touch the inside of the pot your finger turns red. This stain is then used for your lips and cheeks. The woman happily applied this to Tina’s face while I watched on in amusement.

IMG_6512.jpgTina getting touched up

I think we sniffed about 20 different things and they all turned into the same scent. After declining to buy anything we headed off to the tombs.

We paid 10dh each for entry and once in saw that it was almost empty. Proof that the busy story was a ploy. Anyway, it was very impressive with the beautiful tiles and decorative arches. I believe that many hierarchy were buried here but honestly I have no idea. They must have been importNt to have had these tombs built for them. I don’t believe it is used anymore.

DSC_0187.jpgInside the tomb

We then headed down rue de la Kasbah towards a cafe we had read about online called Clock Cafe. It was easy to find and once we were in we immediately saw that the whole place was filled with tourists. We chose to sit upstairs in the cold as it was nice being on the rooftop. The waiter was very friendly and recommended the camel burger and the sweet hot almond milk. Obviously that’s what we chose. The almond tea was deliciously fresh, and really soothing for the cold. I could easily drink it again and again. The camel burger was like gamey beef and was nicely seasoned. There was this cinnamon chutney sauce which I wasn’t fond of as it was too sweet. They also liked to put the same spice on the chips and the salad… It was a bit overwhelming and I did have to force myself to eat my greens. On the whole, camel gets the thumbs up! We then chose to have Moroccan sweets for dessert. Thank god we decided to share them as they were rank. There were two pastries that were covered in rose oil which made it taste like soap, then there were some weird coconut seasoned soft biscuits which were also rank but better than the pastries. The only decent was was a walnut biscuit. I had to eat it to get rid of the horrific taste of rose oil. Bleurgh. Not eating anymore of those nasty things.

IMG_6528.JPGThe famous camel burger

Looking at the map, we realised we were close to the palais de la Bahia. The journey should’ve been a quick 10 min walk but we were distracted and curious about a tourist trap government factory where they sell anything and everything. It was so dingy inside and we were followed everywhere. Really weird and quiet. Didn’t spend long there as we realised everything was way overpriced and you could get a knock off down the road for the third of the price.

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Walking through daily life

Once we were near the palais Tina was told by a man in passing that it was closed so she should go into his shop. Another cheeky ploy as it was definitely open. Turns out 10dh gets you entry to walk around the large empty palace and it’s courtyards and outhouses. It was wonderfully designed with beautiful feng shui orange tree gardens and incredible tiled ceilings. The detail in the tiling and the engraving on the walls, ceilings and floors was impeccable. I was very impressed and thought it was a lovely part of old morocco.

DSC_0237b.jpgAwesome tile workĀ 

Once finished we thought we should head back to the riad to rest before venturing into the souks. Turns out my magpie eyes caught site of a rug shop, and we spent a good 15 mins looking at the wonderful barber rugs and bartered down the cost from 1195dh to 550dh.

IMG_6532.JPGSo many rugs

Turns out I didn’t have enough money anyway so had to leave without it šŸ˜¦
We walked through the souks and Tina got herself a another set of tea glasses at a bargain price. I tried to get a lamp and then realised again I didn’t have enough money and we probably went to a high end souk as the lamp was going for 800dh. I’m still not very confident with my bartering skills and felt bad for only having 300dh between us. Looking back, that was probably a good price for the lamp.

DSC_0065b.jpgPretty lamp shop in the souk

Realising that it was pointless in looking at the souks without money we headed back to the riad. Here we rested, had some morrocan mint tea and looked up where we should go for dinner. Nomad was the choice for the evening as it was close by and had great reviews. It definitely played up to the reviews as we had comfortable seats, Tina was on a sofa, great modern mixed with Berber decor, and the food was lovely. I had a refreshing avocado, orange and date smoothie, and a vegetable tagine which had carrots, Aubergine, courgette, potato and some other veg. Really filling and I was happy I had some veg. Unfortunately it was raining so we couldn’t go up to the roof terrace and it was nice to sit indoors for once! I had another smoothie for dessert and then we headed to bed. The streets were still super busy and we were trying hard to avoid all the motorbikes zooming past in the ally ways.

A great sightseeing day in all.

Day 3

To our surprise, there is a lot to sight see in Marrakech! Tina and I decided to check out the Atlas mountains, personally I’ve been to a desert before so wanted to see something new.

Before we headed out to Morocco, we found a private tour on Trip Advisor called 4×4 Camel tours and decided to book. I would highly recommend them, it was a wonderful day driving into the mountains, camel riding, drinking tea on top of a waterfall and eating at a local Berber’s house. Absolutely stunning views and a fab day out. Read HERE for a more detailed journey!

We got up early and had breakfast, same as yesterday. Aziz picked us upĀ at 9amĀ and we got into his 4×4 jeep. On our way to the Atlas Mountains he told us about Berbers and how they are indigenous people and have three tribes the badouin, nomads and badoua. He was a nomad which means they tend herds and travel 3 times a year. Each tribe lives in a different part of the valley, which are three in total. These people didn’t use to mix but in recent years due to technology and school they are a lot more open minded.

It was a wonderful trip.

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Once back in the riad we sit on the rooftop and bask in the last of the days sunlight and then try to nap. I was exhausted!

We were not hungry but decided to go into the square to get some orange juice and spiced tea. I passed a shop which sold so much thread, I bought 15 reels at 2dh each! and some fancy trim for 5dh a metre. I wish I could find more places that sold this stuff.

Day 4

Had a late breakfast with chocolate cake and scrambled egg instead. Then went up to the rooftop to bask in the sun, I didn’t realise how strong it was and my chest has gone red…

We then walked to the local hammam where the local women go to mingle and clean. It is said that the women arrange marriages and have a rest from the men here. It took us a while to find and many people told us directions to a spa hammam which has been created for tourists and cost 290dh minimum. We eventually found it and the signing was so small it was no surprise we missed it. Read my other post about the Hammam experience HERE After the Hammam, IĀ felt smooth and refreshed ready toĀ head out to a bar called Kosybar. It was down near palais El Bahia, on the rooftop of the palais we could see many storks and their nests and the mountains in the background.

IMG_6562.jpgEntrance to Hammam non spa!

After a nice drink of morrocan wine we headed to a restaurant nearby called la tanjia which was very fancy inside.

IMG_6567.JPGWe could see the storks nests on top of the palais while at the bar

I loved the decor and the mix of French and morrocan. We had a pizza each as we weren’t too hungry and it was really tasty, just was we were about to leave a couple women came in to dance. One had a tray of tea and candles balanced on her head and the other was a belly dancer with a bra 5 times too small. It was fun entertainment. I was feeling pretty crap probably due to the cheese so we headed back to the riad.

It’s so worth going to Marrakech if only for a few days, there’s SO much to do!

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