Streams of sweat make their way down my face like the Mississippi river delta and I’m wondering if I will ever survive this. I’m eating my sandwich in the relative safety of the comforting shadows while Laia is sitting in the burning sun in front of me, not in the slightest visually moved by the extreme heat. I guess this goes to show how Dutch and how not-Spanish I am. We’re having some food in the middle of the day while I hide from the sun. But wait, let’s back up a little to see how we got here.
-What a breakfast. Freshly baked, -still warm- Moroccan bread, crêpes, homemade carrot, fig, and grapefruit jam, honey, melon, mandarins and some omelet for the lady and her anti-gluten diet, served with a strong cup of coffee and a tall glass of freshly pressed orange juice.
We are sitting on the roof top terrace of the little Riad, the former royal house turned into a hotel, in the center of the old town of Marrakesh overlooking the Atlas mountains in the far distance, and the tranquility of the morning every now and again gets interrupted by a passing motorbike as the city slowly awakes.
Jeez, there is so much to say, so much to do that I don’t know where to begin. I’ll go chronologically then.
We walk out of the hotel through its tiny front door and into the insanity of the city. A turn or two leads us to the Dar si Said, an old palace turned museum, with an entry fee of 10 dhm (1 eur0) a real no brainer.
Honestly? I could get very used to this kind of breakfast. Best breakfast I have ever had? Close. Foodwise maybe no, but ambient-wise absolutely.
View from the rooftop of the hotel over the city of Marrakesh. Hard to believe there’s almost a million people living in this town, there is just low-rise buildings.
Walking through the Marrakesh streets. In English, the city is actually called ‘Marrakech’ but I like the way ‘Marrakesh’ looks better. So there. :’)
Very normal type of transport here. A donkey.
Inside there’s a couple of wooden door panels, hung on the walls and a mosaic here and there. After the first couple of practically empty rooms I start to think it might have been one euro too much spent. Nothing could be further from the truth, though, because as we head upstairs we enter the welcoming room, which they might as well had called The Glorious Room to Impress Anyone that Walks in Massively. Sweet baby Jesus is it pretty: the floors, walls, hell, even the ceilings are true masterpieces in itself. The attention to detail! It must have taken many men many years to finish it.
That’s the funny thing about not travelling too far away for a while: it creates some sort of fake sense of comfort and confidence which completely falls apart when you get to a particularly different country -like Morocco for example. The room is unlike anything I have ever seen. ANYTHING. The details are mind boggling. outside is a nice and quiet patio with overgrown orange trees and a tiny fountain.
Getting back on the street we make our way through the many narrow twisting streets until we reach the second palace, the Bahia Palace once probably also very pretty and impressive, now just pretty and with a little deferred maintenance.
Little patio inside the riad.
One of the walls of the palace with my lady posing in front of it. Look at the details, every five centimeters there’s a different pattern!
I love panos, as you probably know by now. They just give you such a great idea of how a place looks! This is outside the Bahia palace.
Man hungry. Man hot.
While Laia keeps taking photos of doors for her guest post “Doors of Marrakesh” (wait for it), I nearly pass out from being incredibly hungry. Eating an egg sandwich and drinking some water tones down the drama a little bit, but MAN is it HOT. Like, really really REALLY hot. Like, hotter than the 48 degrees in Las Vegas. It isn’t, it’s around 40 degrees, but it is a different kind of heat and it is driving me crazy. The African sun (which obviously is the same sun as where you’re reading this, but it sounds cool) is burning down my shoulders and nearly melts off my face. I eat my Moroccan egg and sausage sandwich in the relative safety of the shadow while streams and streams of sweat make their way down my face via my eyebrows like the Mississippi river delta and I’m wondering if I’ll ever survive this. Meanwhile Laia sits in front of me in the burning sun, not in the slightest visually moved by the extreme heat. I guess this goes to show how Dutch and how not-Spanish I am.
A man in a bright yellow high visibility vest tells us to play somewhere else when we want to go into the El Badi palace, which, he claims, is closed for a couple of days. So, instead we decided to go to the tombs, a very well hidden graveyard which is kind of overgrown and infested with sick looking stray cats. Twenty minutes later we’re back on the Jemaa el Fna square, drinking a well deserved glass of freshly pressed orange juice from Moustafa from number fourteen, who is very happy to see us ($). With a big smile he welcomes us and after finishing our first glass he gives us a big wink and fills the glasses up again. “Especially for you, my friend.” What a sweetheart.
At the hotel we relax a little and check out the tiny -excruciatingly cold- pool which seems to have been filled with slow melting ice cubes. As it is that cold, I refuse to go any further than point critical and call it quits and so we head up to the rooftop to relax a little with a cup of mint tea. Since I am incredibly terrible bad at doing nothing, Laia is soon tired of me moving around annoying myself and her and proposes to go leave the hotel again and investigate the souks some more.
We take a long walk deep into the souks and circle the city until we’re back at the Jemaa el Fna square -which isn’t really a square as it has more of an L-shape-. As the sun slowly makes its way down behind the Koutoubia minaret we stroll around for a bit, and sit down at a stand that sells snails.
Indoor patio of the Bahia palace. All very pretty yet a little touristy (says the tourist that also went there).
I can’t think of many things that are better than stepping onto a plane to a different country and exploring it with your loved one.
I deeply and profoundly apologise for the top, not sure what had gotten into me, buying that (maybe my love for Steel Panther?). In my defense, it was incredibly hot and this was the only thing without sleeves I had taken with me. Sometimes I’m surprised Laia even wants to take a photo with me.
Laia with our orange guy Moustafa.
Must do in Marrakesh
When in Morocco, the biggest must do in Marrakesh is eating snails on the square. It’s a little funny, as you get the actual snails with their houses still attached and you kind of have to poke around their little homes with a toothpick to see if someone’s home. If there is, tell them it’s time to eat, and stick ’em in your mouth. Texture? Not gonna say chicken, although most food that isn’t moo or oink kind of tastes like chicken, but it is more mussel-ly than chicken. Think mussel meets …. I’m not sure. Chicken? Dammit, I said it. A lot softer. What did it taste like? Well, it tasted like Ras al-hanout, THE Moroccan spice. Tasty, yes. Do you need to try it too, when you come to Marrakesh? Yes.
Funny, by the way how the service here in Marrakesh works. People are the kindest, sweetest and funniest to you as you walk past. Big smiles and happy faces all along the market, with lots of promises. Whole different story once you sit down and have ordered the food, you can forget about your service. That smiling man that invited you to come sit on his beautiful table to eat his beautiful food? Not paying attention to you anymore. Not. At. All. He’s busy getting other people to his table to eat his food and since you have already technically spent your money, paying attention to you only puts him on a disadvantage compared to the rest of the stall owners. I don’t blame them, life is hard here in Marrakesh, but it does kind of leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, kind of like you have been tricked into doing something.
I have many long lost friends here in Morocco, as was the case when I was in India. “Hey, my friend! Hey, Amigo!” Laia obviously looks super Spanish: short, long dark hair, dark eyes, dark eyebrows, and so I must be Spanish as well. Every now and again I get promoted to Mr. Bossman, Ali Baba, or Tarzan. I feel flattered.
Probably the best sandwich ever made. In the History of the World.
The mosque next to the Saadian tombs.
Poor little kitten looking to beg for love, food and kindness. Stray cats riddled with diseases flooded the streets of the city.
The very well hidden entrance of the Saadian tombs.
Pano shot of the tombs.
Taxis lined up in the streets. Will probably do a separate post about cars of Marrakesh later on.
Delicious fruit cocktail served on the rooftop of one of the buildings. Tasty! Nothing beats some fresh fruits and some water on hot days like these.
Well then, after two slow strolls through food alley where we are literally being fought over we get tired of it and sit down to loud applause of the waiters. We get some skewers and a tajin with some super tender lamb meat, some grilled aubergine and some spinach that never arrives. Tasty? Yes. Not filling us up as much as the day before, but it for eur 7,50 it’s a decent meal.
We have a final walk over the magical square that, under darkness, has now completely come alive. We try to take it all in, the story tellers, the gamblers, the monkeys, snake charmers, henna artists, orange juice carts, and music men. In the hotel we calm our minds and have a warm cup of mint tea and I write down what we did today until there is no more tea and my hand hurts. That’s right now.
Snails! An absolute must do.
A little apprehensive about the whole snail things beforehand. Turns out they’re pretty tasty!
Look at this little fellow. You can still see his feelers and everything.
The restaurants at the markets all display their food like this, and sometimes it’s better to look away and not see how the food is prepared. In Dutch, there is a saying that goes: “Wat niet weet, wat niet deert,” which kind of comes down to “What you don’t know, can’t hurt you.” Very applicable here.
Some shops in the souks
Look! Moroccan money actually has some camels on it. How cool is that??? (very)
This is where I am right now: (My mom said this was a good idea)
READ NEXT: Magical Marrakesh – Day 1
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