Enter the souqs
Marrakech Travel Blog› entry 2 of 7 › view all entries
February 20th, 2009 – by: hoangn
Before long we are approached by a man who casually starts talking to us and trying to befriend us. He's chatty and confident and speaks very good english. He asked us the usual questions, '' where are you from?'', "Do you like Marrakesh?", "would you like me to show you around the market? It is only open today and its very difficult to find, so its best to come with me friend.
Heading into the Geuliz area we approach the cyber park. Once a royal garden dating back to 1700's. This garden is not that spectacular to look at but it is clean, well kept and quiet. There are free internet kiosks which kids line up to use.
I'm keen to see Djemna El Fna, I'd read so much about it and seen so many pictures, I just wanted to see it for myself. This place is pretty manic and as much as you try to warn your senses that something spectacular is about to happen there is no warning enough. There are snake charmers, henna ladies, donkey carts, cars musicians all bombarding your senses all in one go.
We pass all the mayhem and head for cover into the souqs. This is a winding path of alleyways full of shops and keepers. A little damp from the night before and very smelly. Vendors all compete for your attention, "hello China, hello friend, come in and have a look, its free to look, i'll give you a good price.
We left in search of food. I was ready for some couscous or a huge tagine. We came back out into the main square and found a restaurant on the corner, Le Marrakeschi. The view from the restaurant allowed us to look right into the life of the main square. The service was a bit slow but the food was remarkable. I had the lamb tagine with onion and tomato. Otu had the lemon chicken tagine. Both portions huge and delicious. It took us a while to devour the dishes and further more to digest them. With time still to spare after lunch we decided to head to Bahia Palace.
We reach Bahia Palace at 2.20pm to find that it is closed for lunch. So instead we try to find our way to Badi Palace or the Sadiaan tombs. This proved to be a hard task, we got a bit lost and locals were pointing is in all contradicting directions. Eventually we found Badi Palace, just in time for 3pm opening time. Lots of other tourist were also waiting to enter. Price 10DHS for the Palace grounds or 20DHS to include the minbar. The Palace now is just remnants of what used to be a magnificient Palace. I found it hard to imagine the former grandeur of the Palace grounds. The history plaques note that there used to be 360 rooms and the courtyard had a pool measuring 90m x 20m. Formerly decorated with Italian marble and gold, all obviously looted after the Sadiaan empire fell. We explored the underground prisons consisting of about 4 cells. Underground we found the cells to be extremely dark and small, pretty creepy if you get left there alone. We paid to see the minbar, held in a separate exihibition hall. This is a wooden almost like stair case that the Imam stands on to deliver his sermon. The design on it very intricate.
Last part was spent on the roof top terrace. We could see all the storks nesting on the roof top along the edges of the high Palace walls. The view from the top allows you to see all across the Palace grounds and even further outside of the grounds and into the city of Marrakesh. We left after this and headed back to the hotel.
Dinner time! We chose a restaurant in the nouvelle ville area. Al Fassir about 10-15 mins walk from the hotel. This was an all female staff restaurant, Friday night no reservations and we find ourselves waiting at a fully packed restaurant. Luckily we didn't have to wait long as they had a tiny table for two in the corner against the wall. I ordered a vegetarian couscous to keep it light as I had such a huge lunch. The plate came and it was huge. The veg was very tasty but the couscous was missing a little flavour and lemon juice. Otu had a brochette with rice and bread. The portion looked small but it did the job just fine. I was bursting at the seams. I couldn't make the walk home so we attempted to get a taxi knowing that they were going to try to rip us off. The first guy offered 60DHS and was not willing to haggle. We walked off laughing and the next guy offered 20DHS, it was still over priced but a bargain compared with the previous guy, we took it!
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