Sunday, March 3, 2013

Marrakech Madness

Our final 2 nights of the tour were in Marrakech but we’d decided to tack on an extra 2 days to ourselves in a gorgeous riad within Marrakech's medina. Fortunately our tour included a guided tour of the medina so we were quite ‘au fait’ when it came time to move – or so we thought!

I’ve renamed Marrakech ‘Marra – Mess’ as it’s the messiest place I’ve ever tried to navigate. Signage is near nonexistent and when you find a sign, quite often it’s in Arabic! The streets are narrow and windy and all look the same. Whenever you stop to check your dodgey map there’s always a local willing to stop and show you the way – for a small fee of course. To find our riad, we accepted the help of a young guy who claimed to know where it was, only later did we realize that he has a scout up ahead asking the directions. The claimed 10 minute walk took an hour! 

The 10 dirham ($1AUS) fee that we gave (remembering that our 15 min taxi ride was only 25 dirhams), was not so gratefully accepted, and our local guides became not so friendly.  After a few coarse English words (theirs – not ours) we parted ways, and still we’re not at the riad!! 

Welcome to Marrakech.

Guess what this means?
Ahh ….. Our oasis at last

Thankfully when we do find it, the riad it is a welcome oasis!

After settling in we decided it was time to tackle the streets again, fortunately Fatya one of the ladies from the riad gives us directions on how not to get lost. Unfortunately this takes us in and out of the famous ‘Djemaa el-Fna’ Square, the heart of the Marrakech medina and home to various snake charmers and monkey trainers all vying for your attention. To be honest even at night this square had very little appeal.

Djemaa el-Fna’ Square


Mosaic heaven!
One of the highlights of Marrakech for me was the Bahia Palace, built in the late 19th century - it’s name literally means ‘brilliance’. A large riad with central courtyard set in two acres of gardens – this was mosaic heaven! 

This was followed by a visit to the Saadian Tombs dating back to the 16th century, which was another mosaic feast.

A mosaiced tomb - think I should change my will!

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