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Published: October 28th 2011
This morning, after another lovely breakfast spent looking out to sea and, as ever, closely observed by the resident gulls, we were collected from our hotel in Essaouira and brought to our Marrakech base the Riad Assouel, where we were given a very warm welcome and a refreshing juice.
We successfully negotiated a route out of the medina, amid protests from a local that we were going the wrong way to see the sights, and found our way to the Jardins Marjorelle. These gardens, which had been bought and restored by Yves Saint Laurent, had been recommended to us and were definitely worth a visit. Having paid the reasonable entrance fee, we went through the gate and were immediately transported into an oasis of shady tranquillity from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here, a forest of enormous bamboos and palm trees grow and around every corner there is something new to discover: brightly painted buildings and pots, or pergolas smothered with bougainvillea and other climbing plants. There are also pools and fountains and dry gardens containing a huge variety of cacti. At the cafe Rob enjoyed his sandwich so much he almost went back for another and, worth mentioning:
the toilets were the cleanest we had encountered in our visit so far. There was also WiFi, which is unfortunately awaiting repair in our Riad so we are relying on a promise to use the manager’s PC to post our blog!
On the way back we decided to take a petit taxi (each city has its own colour: this was beige in Marrakech). We had been told to expect to pay 20-25 Dirhams, but the driver said 50. I said that was too much and he protested that they had to pay for parking outside the gardens, but he reluctantly agreed to 40. I couldn’t resist teasing him when he dropped us though, saying in French that he had said 30 hadn’t he? Whereupon his face fell until I told him I was only joking and luckily he appreciated the humour.
We are now sitting on roof terrace of the Riad Assouel, accompanied by sparrows and bulbuls, as the sun goes down and it starts to feel distinctly cooler, awaiting the haunting sunset call to prayer from the various minarets that surround us.
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