Published: July 30th 2006July 28th 2006
Took a (5) hour train ride from Rabat that turned out to be quite enjoyable. In our coach we were joined by a young French/Moroccan girl visiting her dad, a Canadian/Moroccan guy along with his cousin and oh ya as he put it ¨his Russian Internet Girlfrined¨. Needless to say our train ride went by rather quickly. Upon arriving in Marrakesh we were bombarded by the aggresive taxis and after some negotiating jumped into a cab. Stayed in (Riad Al-Faras) a French-owned riad that unfortunately did not have the feel or look of a riad. There was absolutely no attempt to return it to its original state, not a ceramic tile throughout the entire place. Having said that it had a great location and the house guardian was very helpful - not the place if your looking to experience the ¨true¨riad feel.
Wow, each place we have visited in Morocco has a very distinct feel and look and Marrakesh certaintly lived up to its reputation. Throughout the city the buildings are made of red clay giving it a feel much like some places we have previously visited in India. The medina is full of souqs and is much wider and
more modern than that of Fez. Unlike Fez, there were few donkeys/mule transporting goods and motorbikes/scooter zoomed up and down the alley ways. The medina certaintly offered the tourist much more selection of items than that of Fez and had more of a ¨touristy¨feel to it. Tourists were every where and it was obvious that Marrakesh is the biggest tourist drawing card.
What makes Marrakesh such an awesome place is the Djemaa-Fna (the big square) right in the medina. This is where the action is and it is none stop. During the day snake charmers play their tune, orange juice stands pump out the freshly made stuff and the souqs are busy hustling their stuff. The great thing about the Djeema-Fna is it is lined with cafes and restaurants that have terraces so getting a bit to eat or an ice cream, coffee etc is no problem and allows one to sit and people watch. Unlike Fez, eating is easy and right there in front of you. At night the Djeema-Fna is an entirely different story. As dusk approaches the food stalls set up for a busy night ahead. By the time night the sun has set there are
Market @ Night
thousands of people that fill the Djemaa-Fna to take in the food at the stalls, listen to the story tellers, talk to the spice men etc.... The buzz is unforgetable and the best place to witnes it all is up above on one of the terraces. We never did sit down and eat at the food stalls, instead we enjoyed the tajines at some of the local restaurants on the perimeter of the Djeema-Fna and just people watched. It must be said that although there are loads of tourists, at night the majority of people are locals whom gather around the stalls and listen to story tellers.
Having visited Fez, Rabat and Marrakesh and now off to Casa we have really enjoyed Morocco. The Moroccan people are so friendly and are also willing to help. Isabel has not experienced any hassles here, although not wearing shorts may have helped - not sure how she did it in the high 40 degree heat. Had we had more time we would have ventured into the Atlas mountains but then again we need to good reason to come back....For those of you that speak French fluently, Morocco would be even easier. The
highlight of our Moroccon trip was definitely Fez, however we believe Marrakesh has much more to offer and is definitely more entertaining. Given Morocco's high unemployment and literacy rates one would have expected to be constantly harrassed as you in India and the like, but the people left you alone and were also extremely friendly. Getting riped off by taxis is not isolated to Morocco and in total it may have cost us a beer back home or red (2) apples in Bermuda - just putting things in perspective.
One last thought, a few pics are of the women wearing veils and we by no means, mean to degrade them. This is not the time nor place to debate the issue, but the treatment of women has a long way to go. Morocco is certainly on the right track and is showing improvement with recently passed legislation.
Off to Casa to see what a billion $$$$$$$$ can build........
There are more photos below