Memorable Marrakesh Morocco- guides and tips
Seven years ago around this time I went to Morocco for what could be the first time in African Continent ( does Egypt counts as Africa? ). Marrakesh in the famous North African country of Morocco is rich in culture and value. I find it amazing being just across the Meditranean Sea from the world's richest continent, Morocco didn't succumb to total modernism at all.
I had my travel journal written somewhere and I'm writing it here as a guide and travel tips for other people planning to go to Marrakesh.
|The door to Marakesh|
Two friends and I had planned to be away from the UK in autumn to get a little bit of sunshine and warm in Morocco months in advance. Yes November was the perfect time to travel in Morocco because it’s not that cold and not too hot either. The flights and hostel were pre-booked but to get there was kinda eventful. I tell you how it went. Me and the other guy friend live in the same town in Ireland and the other friend lives in Scotland. She needed to be accompanied all the time knowing that it’s not safe for female traveler to get Morocco alone. To make it more complicated that guy friend wanted to stop over in Barcelona before reaching Marrakech. So in the end she and I reached up in London and boarded the same flight to Morocco so that I would be her first bodyguard.
The other guy friend(2nd bodyguard) flew separately and we’ll meet in Marrakesh. That’s the first part. Reaching to Morocco to get to the hostel was another thing. You have to think quick in getting one of those tout taxi otherwise they (don’t be fooled because they are the same party though doing business individually) will rip you off. We got the reasonable fare from airport to down town with the help of guide book and little research beforehand. The taxi won’t bring us into hostel footstep because most hostels were located in vehicle-free road and within the Medina souk where it was surrounded by wall-like fortress with gates. She and I ( the other guy was still in Barcelona) walked our way to find the hostel using the tiny map in the dark night.
Granny helped us
It looked simple on the map to get from the gate to hostel but it was pretty confusing. The typical building is built like typical Moroccan (or North African) house- narrow alley of 2-3 storey masonry building. It’s like we were playing hide and seek to get to hostel because the alley was like huge maze. At most dark corner there were group of kids approached us to show direction because we were pretty lost. But beware of this tactic. Nothing is free. The kids will beg you money for the favors. If you not giving them money they will shout and curse then follow you until you vanish from their sight. I refused to use the kids favors instead was asking the old lady (we though we never get fooled by old folk furthermore granny) where the hell is this hostel.
She was kind enough to walk us the right direction but then introduced us to the other group of kids! It was fine to have the experience.Finally we reached the hostel with the help of the old lady and some tips to the kids. Back to the hostel we told the hostel operator and he said we should have called them as we arrived at the gate. They would have picked us up. Me being adventurous tried to find it using my own intuition and little help from the map. After we checked in later Kamal showed us the easiest way to get to Main Square from the hostel (very creative way) and asked us which kids that harassed us on the way out. I told him it’s not really a big deal. Kamal wanted to know because he didn’t want other travellers will face the same.I even realized the next day that the name of the road was intentionally altered to fool travellers and be lost.
We had our dinner at Jema-Al-fena the main square that is the essence of Marrakesh. There, they were all sort of spice, food and delicacy, entertainment like where you could find in any funfair and one of thing that captured me - the sound of flute/recorder that made the snake stood up from its basket.
Amazing landscape of Atlas Mountain
Our Moroccan excursion's continued by departure in the crack of the dawn by minivan from Marrakesh, towards the Haut Atlas via the col of Tizi n'Tichka (at an altitude of 2260m) going through Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah ; visited the fortified villageís Kasbah. The mountain cap has shown some snow spot and in thick winter the Atlas Mountain are fully covered with snow and ice. Had lunch on the spot.The road to Zagora was the winding one. In the afternoon we continued towards Ouarzazate to Zagora by way of the Anti-Atlas, the Berber village of Agdez and the Draa Valley with its procession of palm trees.
We arrived at the Sahara outpost at 6:30 in pitch dark and mounted a camel for a 1 mile walk into the sand to the preset tent grouping. Dinner and night in bivouac under canvas. We were grouped together outside the tent and some drum beating. I had to pee and asked the local where was the toilet and he spontaneously says ' the toilet is everywhere' then we were burst into laughs.
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Woke up early in the morning to be at the sunrise, had breakfast and snapped some sandune pictures and sunrise. Another 1 mile camel ride to the minivan to continue return to Marrakesh .Then 10 hour ride back to Marrakesh. The last 4 hours of the ride was passing through the High Atlas mountains with thousands of hair-pin curves and one of us couldn't resist the winding ride then puke! ( inside the minivan, I repeat inside the minivan!) I wondered how he survived the ride on the day before because we were on that same winding road. The minivan was stink of puking smell for 2 hour ride, yuuckk.. Once in a while I slipped my head out of the window.
Staying in Riad Massine II was awesome
We stayed again at Riad Massine II hostel because we really liked the place. Another shesha and a bunch of mint tea. The last day we were lazying around with them indulging themselves at the Local Public Bath complete with massages. I had that in Turkey so wasn't really keen to have another one.The left over Moroccan Dirham were spent to buy crappy souvenir.
We were really surprised by the hospitality provided by this small hostel, boutique hostel really have a with 5 star service! If you have problem with the room Kamal will straight away deal with it professionally like if there is no hot water of its too hot, a very detail survival tips in term of directions etc. Plus where else could we get abundant mint tea( whenever we want) and free sheesha ( but they were group of American young travelers hogging it). In my opinion the hostel that we stayed was the best hostel that we ever stayed at that time. Riad Massine II hostel was simply hard to compare with, rate per night wasn't expensive in comparison with its rivalry , I'm sure other travelers would think the same .
I just felt 5 days in Morocco was not enough. We went to Atlas mountain en-route to Sahara desert to be greeted by Berber tribe in their homely tent. Overnight in the tent with group of like-minded travellers was a good fun. I really enjoyed the food. Tagine and Kous-kous were tasty. I ate them most of the time because its delicious and cheap. It was better than Egyptian food the last time I was in Egypt. The bazaar may be stinky , you would be pretty annoyed by the touts selling cheap souvenir,you probably pissed off by the sound of cars or bike honking to get their ways, you'd be foolishly ripped-off if don't know how to haggle but all of that makes it uniquely interesting from travelers point of view.