We met Mandy and Simo at the airport who we immediately put in the "friends forever" column, then set off for the hotel.
We arrived in in the riad; scampered upstairs to the rooftop to take in the view; changed into something much cooler, because we left the UK dressed for the great flood, and then went to explore the city.
Our first trip to the square was chaperoned by Mandy and Simo, and for the remainder of our time in Marrakech we utterly failed to repeat the route they took us through the souk!
It's essentially a warren of seemingly endless canopied streets that are brimming with stalls and carts and very persuasive sellers! Sometimes they open out into little squares where there are even more sellers. There is something of a system to it if you can work it out with certain areas that sell certain things, there is a spice square for instance, but mainly there is everything everywhere and trying to remember to take a left turn by the stall with the woollen slippers is impossible because there are usually three other left turns next to a woolly slipper stall!
Then there's the square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, where there are even more stalls and sellers, intermingled with snake charmers, performing monkeys and musicians. It's busy during the day but it's when the sun goes down that it really becomes an experience like no other. Everyone and their cat (there are hundreds of cats wandering about Marrakech) seems to appear in the square, and the stalls that were empty during the day fill up to become the food stalls, with open grills and fires cooking all manner of things. Large groups gather in between the snake charmers, dancers and selfie stick sellers where they roll dice and play different gambling games. It's just a riot of noise and people and food.
One thing you just have to do in Marrakech is have some orange juice. One section of Jmaa el-Fnaa is covered with orange juice vendors who all sell it by the glass, freshly squeezed and it is completely different to anything you've ever tried before. I do not joke.
Now, I'm not saying I'm an orange juice expert but I like a glass of fresh OJ as much as the next guy, and the orange juice in Morocco is something else.
Here's Jake enjoying a glass. (Also, those aren't limes they're lemons! Who knew?)
Another of our favourite spots was just a stones throw from the Koutoubia mosque, which itself is quite stunning. Koutoubia is a landmark of Marrakech and I think I read somewhere that no other building around it can be taller than a palm tree so it's easy to spot to guide you back to the square when you get a little lost and it even has it's own discrete rose garden where you can sit and distance yourself from the hubbub of the square the other side.
A little way down the road from the mosque is the cyber garden- Marrakech loves its gardens, and so do we when they have free wi-fi! The gardens in Marrakech all grow orange trees, a novel sight for us welsh mountain folk! And they always seem to have people working in them, the gardens in El Badi had gardners busy working while we were there and even the shrubbery and trees along the streets and roads usually had workmen trimming and brushing them so everything is well pruned.
|We were a big fan of the technique they used when a tree started leaning dubiously, and I think it's definitely something we're going to start implementing here- if a tree starts leaning, just get another tree to hold it up. Easy.|
Find them at www.souktiles.com where you can design a bath to your own specifications, plus an array of handmade authentic Moroccan tiles to go with it! Bargain.