Sunday, October 31, 2010

Magical Marrakesh 

25th-26th October 2010

Returning to Marrakesh in the late afternoon, our driver dropped us off at the Raid Chtouka, a small guesthouse inside the walls of the Medina. Run by a French family it was a real gem in the heart of the bustling city.

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After checking in we dropped our bags and headed out to explore the old town and the busy central market place, the Djemaa El Fna. This square with it’s many foods stalls and maze of souks really comes alive in the evenings. Locals and tourists come to watch street performers, snake charmers, musicians and dancers or to simply soak up the legendary atmosphere that is the essence of Marrakesh.

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The souks were like an Aladdin's cave selling anything you can imagine, rich textiles, leather handbags, shoes, pottery, olives, nuts and the list goes on.                                                                                       IMG_1255   IMG_1256  

Meanwhile out in the square, food sellers  prepared their displays for the onslaught of hungry patrons, and the food was excellent. We tried several dishes and it was a much better option than sitting in a stuffy overpriced restaurant. As dusk fell and the mosques rang out their haunting call to prayer, the air filled with a haze of smoke and the smell of barbequed meats, turning the whole place into a huge open air restaurant. It was wonderful.                                          IMG_1242                       IMG_1249   


The following morning we once again ventured out to explore the streets and souks. The daylight hours gave a totally different feel to the Medina. Abuzz with everyday Moroccan life, children scurried through the cramped streets on their way to school, busy abaya-clad women went about their shopping and butchers hung their meats on hooks for their discerning buyers to inspect.

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Wandering back up to the towards the souks we popped in and out of of a variety of shops, marveling at the array of pottery, carpets, lamps and shoes on offer. Although the souks may look like a huge jumble of wares they are actually organized into sections and each section has it’s own specialty. So  once you get the hang of it, shopping becomes a bit of a breeze  as all the pottery is in one section and all the shoes etc in another. We bought a couple of little things but to be honest, if we weren’t living on a boat there would have been a lot more coming home with us that day.   IMG_1252

We filled in the afternoon taking in lots of street sights and the Koutoubi  Minaret and Mosque, along with it’s manicured gardens. Built in the 12th century it is the tallest building in Marrakesh and dominates the skyline.

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We also made a quick stop at the Saadian Tombs. These tombs of the Saadian royal family were discovered in 1917 and are located in an enclosed garden overlooked by two mausoleums . There are over 100 mosaic - decorated graves here, some  inside and some outside in the courtyard. The mausoleums had beautiful domed ceilings and intricate  gilded marble pillars. Finally it was time to head back to our riad, gather up our belongings and go to the station for our train ride back to Rebat. We really enjoyed our few days of inland adventure, but as always it would be good to get back to our floating home.



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