Marrakesh – The Start

Here we are in Morocco right at the northern tip of Africa.  Morocco has pleasantly surprised us with calm and order in the driving and parking however lots of motorbikes.  On our drive from the airport we stayed on the correct side of the road and only swerved a few times!  We did pass a camel train which reminded us where we were.

On Thursday we drove 2.5 hours to the East Midlands Airport close to Leicester.  Eva slept beautifully in the car only protesting for the last 10 minutes.  The 3.5 hour flight seemed very long as Eva was tired but too excited to sleep.  We sat next to a lady who was clearly unimpressed about there being a baby on board!  Anyway it was all fine on the other end once Andrew haggled for a taxi.  It’s clear that the haggling training from India will come in handy here too!  Once at the hotel we headed out for some water walking through the leafy and posh Hivernage suburb where the hotel is. Back at the hotel we all settled down for a great night’s sleep with Eva in a very colourful travel cot.

We had a lazy morning after a busy day of travel on Thursday.  We headed into the Medina, the old city within the old city walls, about a 15 min walk from the hotel.  The first sight was the 12th-century Koutoubia Minaret which is nearly 70 metres high.  We wandered through the adjoining gardens and arrived just as the faithful Muslims were leaving the Mosque following prayer time. A great sight full of all ages and dress codes some traditional, some modern.  From atop here the Muezzin shouts out the call to Salah (five daily prayers).

Walking further into the Medina we passed rows of Caléche (horse and cart) which we will go on one day.  We then arrived at the Djemaa El-Fna (the main square) to find lots of activity. There were many stalls selling dried fruit neatly laid out in rows, stalls selling freshly squeezed citrus juice, ladies waiting to apply Henna tattoos and brightly costumed men selling water.  We wandered around of course with Andrew trying to capture photos.  We ate lunch on a balcony restaurant above the square from where we could see the sights.  A great spot to people watch. Our tagines were just melt-in-your-mouth divine and the lemon/mint drink was just perfect to wash it down with.

Next we ventured in into the winding alley ways of the Souqs, the amazing covered markets.  They sells everything and anything and of course everyone wants to offer you “best price”.  Most shopkeepers speak Arabic and a little English although they do appreciate our attempt at French.  Luckily Andrew has a good sense of direction so he could continue to get us back to the main square.  I found the zooming motorbikes, pedal cycles and donkey carts a bit overwhelming in such a small enclosed space as well as the wood burning fires used for cooking.  I was very pleased when Eva woke from her sleep and we stopped for a mint tea.  Mint tea is very sweet here but very refreshing.

On returning to the Djemaa El-Fna at dusk we found it full of people and activity.  There were snake charmers, dance groups, acrobats, storytellers and tarot readers all out to entertain.  In the middle of the square 100 food stalls had set up shop (thus all the donkey carts whizzing past us earlier) and the barbecue smoke filled the air.  The spruiking from the restaurant boys was very entertaining.  All trying to give compliments to Eva to win our patronage!  Of course Eva was loving the attention from her view in the sling.  All these men to talk to her and give her kisses or pinch her cheeks.  Eventually we settled at food stall 22 where we had mixed kebabs, sausages, eggplant, couscous and free flowing mint tea.  The spruiking continues non stop from the waiters out the front and the men cooking.  They cheer whenever someone sits down at their stall.  Eva was facinated by them and of course testing her vocal skills by joining in!  The boys here loved to entertain Eva including cuddles.  Andrew passed Eva over the food display for her to pose for a photo with the very noisy couscous boy.   Even the nighttime call to prayer silenced the entertainment around the square.  The square is a great spectacle enjoyed by locals and tourists.

We headed home soon after eating and put Eva to bed.  We then had time to edit the photos and upload them which is something we don’t have a lot of time for at home.  We are really trying to enjoy this time as a relaxing holiday as well as sightseeing.  So far we are succeeding at this.

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