Posts Tagged ‘ travel: morocco: marrakech ’

{RAK} traipsing around the medina (old town).

Monday in Marrakech, and we slept in quite a bit, trying to recover from the little sleep that we had on our overnight desert trip.

le casa del sol

When we finally did get out of the hostel, we were at first struck by how strange the square seemed to be without all the food stalls set up, replaced instead with the snake charmers, and monkey people… and yes, I did get monkey-ed, but we got out of that pretty quickly. They’re quite persistent though…

jemaa el fna by day.

First stop was the bank, then post office to try so that I could try to change some money. Note: do not try to use old USD notes, because the woman in the post office will not accept them…!

We tried our luck at one of the cafés around the square. There were a lot around, so we kind of just went with the one that seemed to have a lot of people and ended up at Restaurant Toubkal (under the Coca-Cola awnings to the south-east of the square). The food wasn’t as great as eating at the night markets… but I think it might be something to do with the atmosphere… It’s like eating in Singapore hawker centres vs. eating at Food Republic. Same kind of food, but just… not quite the same.

We got the soup, a chicken and almond pastilla (which was quite strange), lamb ribs and kafta tajine, because honestly, what is a meal in Morocco without a tajine. :D

food.

After that, we tried to wander in various directions to get to the palace, but seemed to keep getting lost no matter which way we went… so after meandering through random streets of the souks, we just took what we thought would be the safest route, by the main street, using the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque as a landmark.

one of the many photos i took of it... :)

When we were about to give up, having wandered through various small streets, we spotted a sign that had a picture that looked like a palace, and so we followed it hesitantly and…

Partial success! We arrived at Bahia Palace, with a minimal entrance fee.

there were bananas!

some rather uninspiring photos of the palace...

silly shadow...

Once we finished exploring the palace, we set out back towards the hostel, spying a few things as we went along…

carpets, spices and dyes?

We stopped by a little patisserie on the way back, Patisserie fine Marrakech (13 av. Houmane El Fetouaki, website apparently doesn’t exist anymore…!).

pretty, fruity (?) drink that we didn't get, pastries galore, our cakes :D

We finally made it back to the square, in time to see all the food stalls getting ready for the evening.

setting up for the evening.

Ben decided to rest a little bit back at the hostel, while I thought I would head out and wander a little bit and look at the shops, to get a feel for the kind of things that I wanted to buy… yeah, but after a while, as it was getting dark, I decided to come back… good thing too, because when I was back, I checked Facebook (as you do) and found a message from T&Z about dinner that night.

So we headed out to meet them at 20.30, at our favourite #40 Juice Man (I am totally doing promo for him!) and stopped to try one of the cookies that all the girls and ladies seem to be selling… SOO GOOD!! 1 DH for a fantabulous cookie. :)

We then headed to stall #75, since they seemed to be quite friendly (ok, so they’re ALL friendly…!) as Ben and I were walking to meet up with T&Z.

stall #75, chicken skewers, sausages and calamari.

Now, when I tell you to LOOK AT THE MENU, whatever you do, MAKE SURE THAT YOU LOOK AT THE MENU!! Otherwise you may run into problems like we did, of strange addition at the end of the day… We had problems also because they ended up bringing out two of most of the things that we ordered, but we had initially only really wanted one…

In the end though, after returning to stall #12 for some delicious kafta, as we walked back past #75, with a slight sense of trepidation might I add, the guy came over and shook Z’s hand. So all in all, a happy-ish kind of ending. But still, lesson definitely learnt.

T&Z came over to our hostel and we just hung out for a better part of the night, chatting and such.

I’m really glad that we met the two of them on the desert trip! And I’ll be visiting T in Barcelona soon!!

Tomorrow I am going to market with… L! YAAAY! So excited to see her again, and then will head up to Bath with her, and stay the night… and then hopefully see a bunch of rocks! :)

And then I have two more days of Marrakech to enlighten you all with. Hey, at least this one had pictures!

misselty.

late night marrakech.

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{RAK} mountains and desert and camels.

(This post totally needs pictures…!)

On Saturday, bright and early at 7am, we were picked up by the van which was going to take us to the desert! We made our way from Marrakech through the higher Atlas Mountains, which was an interestingly twisty and turny ride. Luckily the many road trips that I have taken with my parents have taught me how to sleep under any condition in a moving vehicle. So I got to catch up on a little bit of sleep.

We stopped at a rest stop on the way, rehydrating a little with some mint tea and taking in some views, before continuing on our windy journey through the mountains. We then stopped at a little restaurant a little way from Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah to place our orders first, before continuing on to see the old town.

The fortified town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is home to five families, who have lived there for many, many years. It is also the site where a number of movies have been filmed e.g. Gladiator, Alexander, The Mummy, and the first of them all, Lawrence of Arabia.

We got the chance to see inside one of the family’s houses, which was pretty cool. The owner was actually involved in the production of Gladiator and there is even a scene in the movie that was filmed in one of the rooms of his house. In fact, he received us there and served us tea and almonds. :)

We wandered around a little bit more before heading back to the restaurant to have our lunch: kafta tagine and kafta pizza. Omnomnom. :)

Then we were on our way again, towards Zagora. As we made our way through the High Atlas, the highest point that we reached was Tizin’tichka Pass, at 2260m (although the highest in the entire range is 4167m!!) We also stopped by a supermarket in Ouarzazate to stock up on things for the night if we so chose. And then it was on through the Draa Valley, which was palm trees galore :)

Arrived at Zagora to find our camels waiting patiently for us! :)

Ok, so riding a camel is kind of bumpy and so I was a little bit sore after an hour or so of riding, although, I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for the guys…! Got to watch a bit of the sunset while we were riding though, so that was nice :)

And our final destination? The edge of the Sahara, to stay the night at a nomad camp.

Once we got to the camp, it was super dark. We dismounted and then waited around for a while… To be honest, it felt a little bit disorganised. Finally we were ushered to a tent and we girls were told to wait inside… In the dark…?! Yeah, we never figured that out. Anyway, a gas tank was brought out and a makeshift lamp was made. We sat around for a while, before we were served some tea :) Oh, and there was that episode with the bird…!

A little bit of waiting later and our meal began to arrive. First soup and bread, then chicken tagine… And then a kafta tagine because we were still hungry after one! Mandarins were good to finish up the meal. Hung out for a little while longer before we were summoned for a night of entertainment around the fire.

After that, we ended up heading to sleep because when you’re out in the desert, there isn’t much that can really keep you up…

It was a bit difficult to sleep that night, and I woke up many times due to the crazy cold from the open flap of the tent that we couldn’t figure out how to close… In the morning, we were awoken by our kind hosts to watch the sunrise. It was super pretty, with the horizon seemingly stretching out until forever in some places…

Then it was back to town, again on camels. There were a few incidents where camels would become untied from the line… or they would bolt at the sound of a motorbike! Kind of scary, but all part of the experience. :)

Once back at Zagora, we continued again on the bus, making a brief bonus stop in the Draa Valley to explore the palm tree oasis and steal some dates :) It was kind of amazing to see so much greenery so close to the desert.

Onward to Ouarzazate, which is home to two studios where a number of films have been made. It was a fairly long drive away, but luckily I was able to catch up on some sleep. :)

We made a brief stop to look out over a canyon which was kind of cool. :)

When we finally got to Ouarzazate, we stopped for lunch and shuffled around, trying to find a table that was sufficiently in the sun. We couldn’t go past the chicken couscous and chicken and chips tagine. Luckily, ours was well cooked…!

There was one more rest stop back to Marrakech, where we were told we could buy souvenirs, but I was not in the mood for bargaining…

Another 2 hours or so of more of driving and then we were about 30 minutes away… But then we were told that we had to make a stop to ‘watch the sunset’, aka leave some time to get the mini bus washed. They must have realised that we were a bit miffed, and so we left behind the car wash and headed on our way.

A quick stop at our driver’s house so that he could pick up a hug and kiss from his family after being on the road for two days… And whatever else was in the bag that his wife gave him. :)

When we finally made it back to Marrakech, we made plans to meet later for dinner in the square.

Back at the hostel, we found that we had been changed to a different room, which at least had working hot water! \o/ So after a nice shower and then a bit of a rest, we headed back out to find stand #40. Problem was, we thought they had meant a food stall. In the end though, we found them on ‘juice alley’ and we partook in some lovely 4dm freshly squeezed orange juice. :)

When the others arrived, we headed off in search of some food to eat. After being embarrassed by the applause down one street, we eventually stopped at stand #55 for some chicken tagine, as usual, and tried some calamari (awesome) and flatfish (could have been fried more to be more crispy). We then headed back to #40 Juice Man, and I tried the more pricey mixed orange/grapefruit option, but to be honest, it tastes almost the same as orange on its own…

Stayed around to chat a bit, but then ended up heading back to the hostel. I was super tired, despite being able to sleep some on the bus, so ended up sleeping quite early, although I was awake at some point to find out that the Packers had won! Yay…? \o/ Lol.

Thanks to our guide Mustafa, and driver Abdul, from Moroccan Views, who were with us for almost all of our wonderful desert experience! :)

Two more days have passed since then, and Marrakech has proven itself to be a lovely place. Hopefully I can write that all up soon!

‘Til then!

misselty.