Friday, 30 May 2014

My quick fix trip to Morocco!

I decided to take a quick trip away from London, and Morocco was my destination of choice. I was to be in Morocco for 4nights, 3 nights in Marrakech and 1 night in Essaouira.

Day 1 - I arrived at Marrakech airport after a 3.5hr flight from London Gatwick. The time I landed was approximately 9:50am, I think we even landed slightly earlier than scheduled. After waiting in the passport control queue for quite a while, I proceeded to collect my suitcase and then went to arrivals where my driver which was arranged from the Riad was waiting for me and 20mins or so later I was at the Riad Jonan.

I quickly dropped of my bags, freshened up and went back downstairs where the riad manager gave me a useful map and pointed out the key places to visit. Whilst I was in the reception I came across 4 guys from California and we exchanged hellos.

I left the Riad and my main priorities was to find an money exchange bureau and to get to the Supratours bus station so I could purchase a bus ticket to Essaouira in 2 days time. I had barely walked for several minutes and I had already started to get confused as to which direction to go to head to the main square, as useful as the map was, I am no good with maps! At that point I stood for a few minutes trying to figure things out and watching where the main bulk of people was heading, but it was then that I saw the 4 guys again from the Riad, I approached them to ask them which way I should be going and as they was going to the main square too, they invited me to walk with them and whilst walking they was advising me of the key landmarks to look for when I was due to go back to the Riad. After a few minutes I saw an exchange bureau and we said our goodbyes....for now!

After I exchanged my money, I walked for a little while around the square and then got lost some more in the Souks, once I found my way out I sat at a cafe and ordered a bottle of water and people watched for the next hour until I wondered back to the Riad, once again getting slightly lost. Back at the Riad, I rested for a while and then wondered back out to get a taxi to the Majorelle Gardens. Although I am not a big gardiner type of person I enjoyed looking at the plants the garden had to offer but it was a lot smaller than what I had anticipated.

After an hour I left and took another taxi to the Supratours station to purchase my bus ticket and then I took the same taxi back to the Kasbah area where I decided to pop into the Sadian Tombs as this was a 2min walk from my riad.

Once I had finished at the Tombs, I went back to my riad and I relaxed for a couple of more hours in my room and then went and sat by the plunge pool where I bumped into the 4 guys again, we ended up spending the rest of the day and evening together as they had invited me out for dinner but before dinner the guys wanted to do some shopping at a shop in Kasbah where the prices were marked and as the next day they were due to move onto another destination in Europe so today was the last day for them to shop. After shopping they dropped there goods off at the riad and then we headed back into the main square. It felt like I had stepped into a different world from what I had seen earlier in the day. Absolute chaos but in a good way. We wondered around for a bit and then sat at one of the stalls and had dinner. We walked around some more and came across a snail stand and 2 of us brought a bowl of snails. I managed 2 snails out of the whole bowl and my fellow American managed none! It was near to midnight and we headed back to the riad and it was here where we said our final goodbyes and exchanged email addresses and off I went to bed.

Day 2 - It was a Saturday morning and I was due to go to a cooking course with faim d'epices, it was a whole day being picked up at 9:45am and not returning to the riad until 5pm. We had a game where we wore blacked out glasses so you couldn't see anything and we had to guess what the spices was that was being held under our noses. We then went onto make our own bread and a chicken Tagine. It was a long but worthwhile day. After I was dropped off at the riad, I rested for a while and then prepped talk myself into going into the main square, I think I was more apprehensive as I had been spoilt the day before with having the American guys as company. By 8pm, I was in the main square, went to stall number 1 and ate some decent food, whilst trying to avoid the people walking with the snakes as I was sitting at the edge of the table. Having a snake put around my neck was the one thing that I was dreading! After this I wondered for a bit and then found a roof terrace spot where I ordered a drink and watched all the madness going on around me. It was 11pm, and I decided to make my way back to the riad to get some sleep.

Day 3 -  As you know I had already purchased my bus ticket to Essaouira but it was supposed to be for 9:30am and I had purchased the slightly more expensive ticket where you are supposed to get a bit more luxury, however my alarm did not go off so I missed the bus. I decided to eat breakfast at the riad and then took a taxi to the Supratours bus station to find out what my options was. I was asked "why am I late" and I replied that my alarm had not gone off.....for a brief second I felt like I was back in school, and then she transferred me onto a later bus, at least I did not have to pay again but it meant I had to hang around in the bus station for about 1hr 15mins until the next bus. The bus was due to leave at 12pm I believe and by 3pm I was in Essaouira. In hindsight, I  am not sure how much more luxury the more expensive ticket would have given me but I was more than comfortable with my normal seat. When we arrived in Essaouira, as I had been advised to purchase my ticket back to Marrakech once I arrived, I went into the reception area to try and get the first bus back the next morning which was about 9am in the morning, but the bus was full so I had to get the next bus which was due to leave at around 11:30am, I was sort of OK with this as it meant a couple of more hours in Essaouira the next morning but I also had a few other plans that I wanted to do when I was back in Marrakech such as the palaces, shopping and having a Hammam. After I purchased my bus ticket for the next day, I pulled out my Essaouira map which the riad had emailed to me, I then proceeded into the Medina and walked around in circles until I found my riad but just at the last minute I had asked someone for directions and there was a couple of kids with him, he pointed down an alley way to indicate that it was there but the kids wanted to show doubt for a small fee although the riad was 7 steps away. I checked in, put my bags down and then walked back outside trying to take notice of any landmarks to find my way back. I walked around the fishing port as I wanted to see where I was to purchase fresh fish and I was also looking for the place to cook them where you could apparently by spices and they cook it for you as mentioned on Trip Adviser. I then sat on a wall for a couple of hours overlooking the sea. At that point I noticed a couple of  ladies from the cooking course and we sat for a while and talked. After a while I decided to go back to the riad whilst walking around the Medina and stopped and had a bottle of water at a restraunt\cafe on my way back. Once I was back at the riad I went to the roof terrace and relaxed whilst taking some pictures. One of the workers on the roof terrace had mentioned a live bar in the square which turned out it was at the end of the alley where my riad was, so by 9pm I found myself at the live bar. I was glad I was told about it as I enjoyed it very much, there was 4 guys beating on drums, playing the guitar, etc and they had a good vibe to them. I think the music is called Genouda music. After an hour, a guy came in who lives in Germany but is half Moroccan and we started talking so all in all, my evening turned out very well especially as I had company. By 12pm the band had packed up and I went back to my riad to turn in for the night.

Day 4 - I woke up, walked around the Medina, along the beach and paid to go on the Rampart walls. I had been looking for the rampart walls the day before as I wanted to see the sunset along there but I couldn't see it.....I know, not only are my directions bad but my observation skills are equally as bad. I did not spend to long along the wall as I did not have much time so I went back to the riad, had breakfast, checked out and proceeded to the bus station to got my bus back to Marrakech. By 3pm I was back at my original riad. I put my case and was debating between going to the palaces or having a Hammam, the riad guy suggested the Hammam over the palaces so he arranged an appointment for me to have a Hammam, at a nearby place but I had to hang around at the riad as the appointment was in the next hour as they had no other appointments for that day. I am glad the guy at the riad suggested the Hammam, it was a basic scrub and massage, so you literally strip off to your underwear, knickers only, you put on a big dressing gown and slippers which are shortly taken from you as you go into the steam room and sweat buckets for about 15mins. A lady then came in and applied the black soap all over, left me for a little while longer and then came back in to scrub it off, she made me feel the dead skin and I was amazed at what I was feeling. I then sat with my feet in a bucket of water and then showered off which lead to my hour long massage. My skin felt so smooth as I left but before I knew it I was back in the mayhem. once I got outside again. I decided to take a horse carriage to the Jewish quarter, Mellah as I wanted to buy some silver, but mainly earrings. I found that I liked a lot of the bracelets and necklaces but I thought it was a bit lacking in terms of earrings so I did not purchase any silver. I wondered around the spice souk markets as I was thinking of buying a spice that has about 10 dozens spices all mixed up but I think the price I was quoted was about £30, so I decided against it as I was not at all that bothered. After the Mellah area, I went back into the main square ready to haggle for a couple things that I wanted, this included a couple of bags, a mirror and a candle lantern type thing. Apparently, I am a good haggler and this was said by one or two of the stall holders where I had not purchased from them but after they saw me walking with certain goods they asked what I paid and I told them and basically indicated to me that I would not have got it from them at that price. After some shopping, I went to stall number 13, where I had Sheep's head, there was somebody else eating it and it looked quite appealing to me but when I tasted it was not that warm and I also found it quite bland. I did not finish it and there was a local Moroccan lady with a baby who was asking for it so I gave it to her. I decided at that point it was time to go home, so off I headed to the riad, sat and spoke with the riad guys for a bit and then went to my bed.

Day 5-  Early start to the airport for a morning flight. I was feeling glad that I had chose Morocco and enjoyed every moment of it.

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