After we toured the Palais de la Bahia (please see Part 1 about Marrakech), our local guide, Abdul, led us through parts of the old town back to the main area of shopping in the Medina. There were regular stores in this part – pharmacies, offices, etc.
Our guide, Najib, then explained that we now had free time to explore on our own. He pointed out where he would be with the bus to pick us up in two-hours, and again in four-hours. Otherwise we would have to make our own way back to the hotel.
I figured two-hours to explore was plenty as I wasn’t really interested in shopping. The haggling that is expected is not something I enjoy at all. I was interested in getting photos of traditional products on display, and just having a look around.
Joyce (my seatmate) and I went together and roamed around the alleyways. This medina was much more spacious than Fes, and more heavily tourist oriented. Lots of turns and multiple levels – upstairs, downstairs – then you came out in the main square and then down another alley. It was still early and many of the stalls were just starting to open.
It was interesting but I really don’t like the constant harassment from the vendors. You couldn’t stop to admire something without them starting in on you to buy it. This was the worst of the three Medinas we saw for that. There many stalls that were “local” market type where the residents were buying their groceries and supplies, but the majority here were geared to tourists.
I did get the photos I wanted – even though every time I paused to take one someone tried to sell me something. The guys selling t-shirts were the most annoying and aggressive – dude, I am NOT interested in an FC Barcelona t-shirt from Morocco, honestly!
So, here are the shots I got – I was going for “artistic” to show off the goods on display. I don’t have a lot of interest in taking photos of people so crop them out if they end up in my photos.
First photo is Dried Fruit.
Dates and nuts
Spices (bottom left is ground henna powder.)
A different spice merchant – the middle bag in the front is rose buds.
Olives and preserves. I loved the olives in Morocco – had them at every meal.
Fresh and dried mint.
Ladies clothing – notice the black and gold one in the middle… look at the skirt. Makes me think of a loose diaper?
Shoes… lots and lots of shoes.
Glassware – this was a gorgeous, sparkling display of silver-worked glassware.
Outer edge of the Medina open to the main square – notice the t-shirts?
Fruit sellers out in the main square. The fruit looked amazing – super-sized and fresh, no wax shine on the oranges, the avocados were the size of spaghetti squash, and the strawberries were massive.
And a garden stall in the square selling bedding plants.
We roamed over to the other side closer to the main road – was much quieter and the only people bothering us were trying to sell us tours to the Atlas Mountains (which we’d already done.)
Joyce and I then went and sat in the park to wait for the bus and others from the group. The horse-drawn carriages were all around waiting for customers. It was pretty warm as it was noon but I still wasn’t breaking a sweat, even wearing my coat, but I felt bad for the horses as I didn’t notice any water for them.
We were back to the hotel by 1 p.m. and the rest of the day was on our own. I joined three other ladies for a nice lunch in the hotel courtyard by the pool – my first salad of the trip. A caesar salad with fresh anchovies which was very different from what we have at home. It was excellent and very refreshing. Such a great setting for a meal, don’t you think?
After lunch I sat in one of the reception rooms off the lobby and sketched the pillars and their shadows. It was nice to just chill in a cool room for a bit. Then I went upstairs to shower and ended up napping for an hour or so.
Joyce and I met up at 7 p.m. to go find somewhere for dinner. The hotel was just off the main boulevard and there were several restaurants along there. It was a heart pounding experience – there are crosswalks, LOTS of marked crosswalks, but no walk signals or stop lights. OMG… that was intense trying to cross! No one… NO ONE, stops voluntarily so you have to walk out into traffic or you will wait forever. We went across to check out a row of restaurants on the other side – none of which were that appealing due to my diet. Then had to cross back!
We walked maybe 10 blocks in total and found a Lebanese restaurant which sounded good – Restaurant Mandaloun.
Things start-up late in Morocco – this restaurant was open but we were the only customers. The waiter was great – fluently multilingual. There was a combo meal for one on their menu and he said he would give it to us for two for the price of one, and bring a little extra, as we were the first customers of the day. A multi-course meal (there were 9 different things!) for 300 dirhams for two people? Wow – prices in Morocco are really low when you convert it – that works out to $40, so $20 per person.
It was an EXCELLENT meal – frankly, the best meal I had in Morocco. Many courses, the best hummus I’ve ever had! He told us they blend mayonnaise into it which made it so creamy. I had a very tasty salad, spicy chicken kabab, babaganoush, ate the filling of a couple of savoury pastries. I just didn’t eat the bread or beef that came in the courses, and skipped the desert.
By the time we were done it was pretty dark but the streets were hopping! Families out walking, lots of traffic. We had a nice stroll back to the hotel. It is very pleasant at night in Marrakech.