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My Moroccan Adventure: Marrakech, Part 2

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.

Marrakesh Medina 1

Dates and nuts

Marrakesh Medina 4

Spices (bottom left is ground henna powder.)

Marrakesh Medina 5

A different spice merchant – the middle bag in the front is rose buds.

Marrakesh Medina 11

Olives and preserves.  I loved the olives in Morocco – had them at every meal.

Marrakesh Medina 6

Fresh and dried mint.

Marrakesh Medina 7

Ladies clothing – notice the black and gold one in the middle… look at the skirt.  Makes me think of a loose diaper?

Marrakesh Medina 8

Shoes… lots and lots of shoes.

Marrakesh Medina 12

Glassware – this was a gorgeous, sparkling display of silver-worked glassware.

Marrakesh Medina 10

Brass lamps.

Marrakesh Medina 3

Ceramics.

Marrakesh medina (3)

Outer edge of the Medina open to the main square – notice the t-shirts?

Marrakesh medina (1)

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.Marrakesh Medina 13

And a garden stall in the square selling bedding plants.

Marrakesh Medina 9

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.)

Marrakesh medina (2)

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.

Marrakesh square

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?

Marrakesh (7)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Moroccan Adventure: Marrakech, Part 1

I’m not posting about my trip in chronological order, so bear with me! Marrakech involved a lot of photos so I will break it into two parts.

The parts of Marrakech I saw while travelling on the bus were quite beautiful, clean and modern. In the Medina we saw the traditional, original parts of the old town.

We got to Marrakech on March 30 for a two-night stay.  We arrived at the hotel around 1 p.m. and were able to check into our rooms. The room is nice with a balcony but way too hot to sit out there! I took the time to take a selfie – I’m on the top floor.

Our optional tour/dinner wasn’t leaving until 6:45 so I had time to relax and explore the hotel. This hotel had a very nice gift shop, a beautiful courtyard and open lobby areas to relax in. I sat in a shady corner, had a cup of tea and wrote in my journal while listening to many different kinds of birds and the sound of the water in the fountains.

The optional evening consisted of a short tour of the Medina at night – which is quite different from the day! The square fills with people, locals and tourists, roaming vendors trying to sell you crap, snake charmers, henna artists, pickpockets (they hit our group but didn’t get anything)… I didn’t enjoy that part of it.  We were led around the square with short stops for photo ops (after having the police station pointed out to us – in case we got separated!) I didn’t take any photos as I wasn’t that impressed; I bought a postcard instead! The guy in the colourful outfit is a traditional water seller. There were a few of them there that our guide arranged to pose for photos.

Marrakesh Medina 14

The end of the walk around the square was at the restaurant where we were having dinner. We were greeted by drummers and dancers, and they took photos as we entered with staff in traditional dress – the photos were available to purchase, of course.  I bought it (only 20 dirham) – focus isn’t great but it is a memento.  Joyce (my assigned seat mate) and I entered together.

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It was very nice inside, live entertainment and a massive amount of food.

After dinner we rode back to the hotel in open horse-drawn carriages.  It was a beautiful night for a carriage ride.  I tried to get a photo of the Koutoubia Mosque at night which turned out to be more of a light painting, but cool.

The next morning we went on our tour – starting with the Koutoubia Mosque which is in a beautiful garden setting with fountains.  No buildings are allowed to be built higher than the mosque so you can see it from everywhere.

Marrakesh Koutoubia Mosque

Our local guide, Abdul, then led us to the Palais de la Bahia which was built in the late 19th century.  What a beautiful complex!

These next photos are the harem – where the concubines had their rooms.  The wives had different, larger more elaborate quarters.

And the stained glass was so beautiful with the sunlight coming in and lighting up the room!

The art and craftsmanship involved in these buildings is simply awe-inspiring – there is no detail overlooked, everything no matter what the function is, is built with infinite attention to detail.

I will cover roaming the Medina and the rest of the day in Marrakech in my next post.