In Marrakech

Marrakech Travel Blog

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On the plane to Morocco, me and Liz

It may be cliche, but as soon as I arrived in Marrakech, I wanted to start singing Aladdin songs.  "One jump--ahead of the bread line...one swing, ahead of the sword...." I was in for some major culture shock.  I had never been to Africa before, so I was very excited, if a little apprehensive.

Liz, Mary, and I flew from Paris to Casablanca and then over to Marrakech.  We took a cab into the Old City where we were dropped off a couple "blocks" away from our riad.  The streets were so small that the cab couldn't take us to the door!  The riad owner, Peter, came out to meet us and walk us to his place.

The riad (Dar Zaman) was like a little paradise, with open ceilings, a homey dining room, snuggly beds, and a sunny rooftop terrace.

Our riad, Dar Zaman
  Since we arrived so late in the evening, we washed up and hit the hay.  Early the next morning, though, we had lunch on the roof.  Croissants, jam, yogurt, and tea.  The mint tea is to die for!  We spent the day wandering around the city, exploring and shopping.  It's easy to get lost, but small boys are always running up to you offering directions.  Usually you're not supposed to offhandedly listen to them, because sometimes they lie, but other times it's helpful...just so you can get your bearings.

It's amazing to see these little kids running around the city as though they own it...if you do "hire" one (or three! they like to travel in groups) as your guide, you'll be amazed at how knowledgeable they are about the twisting alleys and confusing streets.

Me in the Square
  It's important to tip them if they help you, but don't overdo it.  They'll try to get you to give them more...they're pretty much happy to accept any currency.  I think we tipped in euros, dirhams, and U.S dollars.  Also expect people to ask for money if you take their picture...it's probably a good idea to ask their permission before you do. 

Haggling and shopping in the Souks is stressful (especially for me...I'm not much of a bargainer) but definitely part of the experience.  You can always get a decent price, even if it takes walking away...but it's absolutely mandatory to bargain.  They expect it.  I bought a pair of sunglasses on my first day and DIDN'T bargain, and the shop owner looked at me like I was a prime idiot!  It's quite beautiful to walk through the alleys with the sun streaming down between the wooden slats of the homemade roofs.

At the Jewish cemetary.
..there are brightly colored beads and rugs and scarves just about everywhere you turn.

Most people spoke French and Arabic, so I was doing lots of translating for our group.  Only the shop owners spoke English, and sometimes not even then!  Liz wanted to see the old Jewish part of the city, so we went over there to check out the old Mosque...one of the only left in Marrakech.  We also paid a visit to the cemetary...extremely old and quite moving.  Another day we took a ride up to the Atlas Mountains to explore a Berber village and see a Kasbah.  The road was very narrow and very steep.  It was all I could do not to puke.  Despite it being only one lane, large trucks, motorcycles, and cars would whiz past you in their hurry up or down.

Liz, Mary, and Mohammad, our street guide around the Jewish part of town.
  Stressful! 

The weather was beautiful...at night, if we ate dinner in the Square, we'd be able to watch the street performers and people selling their wares.  There were snake charmers, henna artists, musicians, spices for sale, and all sorts of exciting and enticing knick-knacks.  During the day, there are only a few vendors, but around 4pm more and more begin to set up their stands.  By 7pm, the entire square is jam packed with people..it's one big party, every night!  One night we ate dinner at the riad...a delicious three course meal cooked by the housemaid Fatima (who was sweet as pie). 

On our last day, we went to a hammam for spa treatment that ripped off a layer of skin and rubbed us raw...it was worth it, and fairly cheap, but.

At the Square, rugs hanging from rooftops.
..invigorating...to say the least!  It was a trial trying to find the place...thank goodness our days were warm and sunny! 

We flew back to Paris via Casablanca again...unfortunately we had a 7 hour layover!  We met a handsome, friendly Australian boy who also had a long layover and we hung out with him in the airport.  He worked on oil rigs, and had been so many places that the embossing on his passport had worn completely off.  He told us about places like Saudi Arabia that very few people get to visit, and it passed the time nicely.  We teased him about actually being a spy...he might have thought we were a little bit nuts, but waking up at 4am to catch a plane will do that to you!

I was happy to be back in Paris...but Marrakech was amazing.  I'm so glad Liz thought to go there!  She and Mary had one more half day in Paris til they flew back to the U.S...it was sad to see them go, but I had to rest up for my next visitor who was arriving in a week!

 

mayerel says:
I think I did a review of Dar Zaman, you should add to it! :)
Posted on: Aug 25, 2008
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On the plane to Morocco, me and Liz
On the plane to Morocco, me and Liz
Our riad, Dar Zaman
Our riad, Dar Zaman
Me in the Square
Me in the Square
At the Jewish cemetary.
At the Jewish cemetary.
Liz, Mary, and Mohammad, our stree…
Liz, Mary, and Mohammad, our stre…
At the Square, rugs hanging from r…
At the Square, rugs hanging from …
Omar, the Berber scarf salesman.
Omar, the Berber scarf salesman.
In the mountains with a cow.
In the mountains with a cow.
Liz and Mary in the mountains.
Liz and Mary in the mountains.
Rocking the Kasbah.
Rocking the Kasbah.
The sqaure by night...way more act…
The sqaure by night...way more ac…
Pretty.
Pretty.
Id been wanting a picture by this…
I'd been wanting a picture by thi…
Square and side street by day.
Square and side street by day.
Me and my tagine! Mmmmm....
Me and my tagine! Mmmmm....
Marrakech Hostels review
Riad Dar Zaman, Marrakech
I have to agree with the other reviews of this hamlet in bustling Marrakech...it's a cozy, quiet, friendly place with excellent food and great hospita… read entire review
Marrakech
photo by: sweetet