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Published: April 4th 2013
Lost in the depth of the Marrakech spice markets
I went for another early morning run in the Medina and the Souks were again the empty place that I remembered when I was here early a couple of days ago, however they were starting to come to life even though people were mainly sitting drinking tea before they opened-up their shops.
There was a guy in the restaurant at breakfast in Moroccan dress, serving Moroccan tea, so we thought we would give that a try. It was a very sweet mint tea, which was quite refreshing, although too sweet for us. It would have been nice to get a photograph of him is in outfit, complete with a fez, and all his tea gear, but you could tell he was incredibly self-conscious about it, so we saved him the embarrassment.
We decided that we would take the open-top tour-bus today to see the places that are too far away to walk to. The ticket covers two routes, the Historic Route that covers the Medina and the inner Marrakech area; and the Oasis route that goes out to, well, the Oasis.
We walked about a mile or so to the Tourist Information Office where both tours started. We’ve
One of the gates in the old Mednia
now worked-out how to cross the roads here, which is a bit intimidating. Basically, you ignore the lights and just walk across the road and the cars and motorbikes will all weave their way around you. They will be honking their horns of course, but they are doing that all the time anyway. If there are some traffic police, then you ignore them as well. They just seem to be standing around, randomly blowing their whistles anyway.
We had intended to start with the Oasis Tour, however that did not start until 1.00pm so we did the Historic Tour first. The first part of the tour basically passed all the hotels doing pick-ups (including a few yards from our hotel) and then it went into the Medina.
Unfortunately, it was cold and raining today, so we sat in the top of the open-top bus in our rain-coats. Everyone was given headphones and you could select the language that you wanted to hear the commentary in. The commentary on both tours was excellent, coving a lot about the history of Marrakech. It seems to be a history of ups-and-downs, as it was a major power, then it dropped in
Ahh, how cute
significance and then it was a major power again. There was a particular rivalry with Fes.
You could hop-off and hop-on the bus wherever you like, so we decided to get off in the Palace des Ferblantiers (where the king stays when he is in town) and the Jewish Quarter and go for a walk. Of course there was someone there who wanted to show us where to go, and after following him for a while and regretting it severely, we ended-up in a spice market and completely lost. We decided not to buy any spices from the shop he had led us to, which didn’t go down very well, and we had a look round. Suddenly we found ourselves back in the main square, so we were not as lost as we thought we were. From there, we got back on the bus again and went back to the start to catch the Oasis Tour.
The Oasis Tour was alright, but there were only really two areas that were significant, the Oasis itself (where you could get off for a camel ride) and the Majorelle Gardens, which are, or were, apparently owned by Yves Saint-Laurent.
After going back to the hotel, we caught the Historic Tour again (from outside the hotel this time) to take us to the Menera Imperial Gardens where we had a walk round.
We then got on the bus again to go around the full circuit again (the ticket lasts for 24 hours, so you can go on the bus as much as you like within those 24 hours). We got to go through the Medina again, but we didn’t get off and almost get lost again this time. Unfortunately once we got back to the Tourist Information Office, the bus wasn’t going any further since it was getting late in the day, so we had to do that mile walk back to the hotel again.
We were late going to dinner, but we were still the first ones in there again.
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