DM's Morocco and Spain 2014 Diary

Day 14 - Marrakesh

Friday, 26 September, 2014

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18:10

We are relaxing on our extra day after the tour!

We woke up leisurely a bit before 08:30 and dressed to go to the roof for breakfast. Jill and Jay were there, with bad news overnight. Air France is on an extended strike and their flights out of Morocco to Hong Kong via Paris have been cancelled. So they were busy figuring out what they could do about that. Also present were Ben, Maria, Karen, Heather, Greg, and Graham, with everyone else having left early.

For breakfast this morning they had cooked flat crumpet-like pancakes with big bubbles in them, and there was a big bowl of fresh fruit: apples, bananas, and kiwifruit. I tried a pancake, then had a bowl of corn flakes with yoghurt, and then cut myself a fruit salad and had that with yoghurt too. Karen and Heather were ordering lunch from the riad's food menu, since they were leaving shortly after lunch time, and M. decided we'd stay in for dinner tonight rather than wander the streets at night any more. We figured one set menu of salad, couscous, and fruit for dessert would be enough for us to share, so ordered just one of those. The price was very expensive at 220 dirhams. We think they charge so much and need the orders early to go and buy ingredients, since we assume they actually don't cook food here very much - it's not really a restaurant.

After breakfast we said goodbye to everyone, and to Lahcen as well who we saw hovering about before he checked out and left for home. I thought Ben said he might be hanging around the pool about 4pm this afternoon, but he doesn't seem to be here any more, so maybe he's gone to the airport already too.

We prepared for our final day in Marrakesh and set off to walk north towards the Koutoubia Mosque with the tallest minaret in Marrakesh, near the Jemaa el-Fnaa square, and then on to some of the parks and gardens in that direction. Ben had said one of them was a "cyber park", with free WiFi and computers. We ran the gantlet of the busy streets and had a close look at the mosque, which had an area of old ruins immediately adjacent to it on the north side. The exterior of the mosque looks quite old and in poor repair, but it is apparently still an active mosque. Perhaps the interior is nice, but we couldn't have a look to find out.

Koutoubia Mosque
Koutoubia Mosque.

Behind the mosque is the Parc Lalla Hasna, which had large beds of roses in bloom and a large central fountain, though that was dry. We wandered in there briefly, then went through the smaller park wedged between it, the mosque, and the main road, back to the road. A block further north was the Arsat Moulay Abdeslam Cyber Park, which was a very nice park, well maintained, with plenty of shade under trees and places to sit, and a large central fountain which was running. We tried the WiFi and I posted a couple of photos, before we moved on.

Parc Lalla Hasna
Parc Lalla Hasna.

We crossed the main road and found a cafe restaurant, where we stopped for a nos-nos for M. and an orange juice for me. The waiter brought a small bottle of water as well, and I asked if it was "gratuit", and he said "oui". He also later brought us some olives and crackers, which he said were also complimentary as he set them down, though we didn't have any of them. By now it was nearly midday, but we have gotten used to late lunches, so we walked off back towards the main square.

On the way we passed the Ensemble Artisanal, a building housing a few dozen shops of local craftspeople, who were certified artisans and created their works on the premises. It was similar to the craft collective we visited in Santiago, including a small cafe inside. We wandered around looking at various shops which had leather goods, woodwork, metalwork, weaving, felt hat making, silver jewellery, silk cloth, baskets, and so on. One large shop housed a half dozen women all working on weaving rugs on large looms. M. found some inexpensive leather purses and bought a couple, one for herself and one for her sister as a gift. We were still looking around when a call to prayer went up from a nearby mosque, and everyone started shutting up their shops! We'd seen most of it by then, so we left and continued walking towards the square.

We turned up a street we hadn't been up before, and then took the narrow Rue Kassour which would lead us back to the square by a new route. This was interesting, being a mix of houses and shops, rather than the concentrated mass of shops along the souk of yesterday. The shops were somewhat touristy, but there were few people about. As we got closer to the square we encountered more and more people.

Over the souk
View from Kafe Fraque Berbere.

Partway there we stopped at a cafe-restaurant called Kafe Fraque Berbere, which turned out to be a place that looked like a tiny kitchen on the first floor, up the steep flight of steps that led directly from the street, followed by a second floor which was a tiny dining room, capable of seating maybe a dozen people, and then on top of that a tiny rooftop terrace which overlooked the souks below and the similar rooftops stretching in all directions all around. It was a really good find for the view, and two other groups of two people were there as we arrived. The menu consisted of various Moroccan dishes, plus burgers and sandwiches. We ordered a chicken panino and a cheese and tomato, as well as a serve of hoummos, which came with bread. The food was good, and enhanced by the view.

Hoummos in Marrakesh
Hoummos and bread for lunch.

After eating, we continued down the souk until we hit the main square. We were tempted by the masses of dried fruit on display in stalls amongst the numerous orange juice sellers, and bought some dried apricots. The man serving was enthusiastic and we ended up with 300 grams for 30 dirhams. We realised we needed about another 100 dirhams to cover a taxi fare to the airport on the chance that our transfer doesn't show up to take us, so I withdrew that amount from an ATM in the pedestrian mall on the way back to our riad.

Buying dates
Buying dried fruit.

21:20

We arrived back and I had a quick cold shower to cool down, then we relaxed in our room for a bit, before moving up to the terrace to enjoy the sunset before our dinner. Karen had left the shared bottle of red wine in our room - she must have asked the staff to put it in here when they were cleaning it. On the terrace we watched another beautiful sunset over the medina. We also saw dozens of storks flying back to roost for the night. One flew very low right overhead, but unfortunately I didn't have my camera handy.

Marrakesh sunset
Last sunset in Marrakesh.

As we relaxed, another tour group arrived at the riad to check in. Two older ladies came up to the roof to find their room - there is one room up here which Greg and Graham had had until this morning. They turned out to be from Sydney and Newcastle, named Bev and Colleen. We gave them some tips on the riad and Marrakesh. They said they'd just had to walk the same trek we had to make after leaving Mohammed, because of the new one way traffic rule on the nearby street. We said we'd probably see them at breakfast.

We saw Mustafa, the guy who runs the riad, and let him know we were ready for the dinner we'd ordered at breakfast. He said it would be a few minutes, and then brought it up maybe fifteen minutes later. Meanwhile we cracked the bottle of wine and enjoyed a drop as we relaxed, not having to brave the insane traffic of Marrakesh again at night to seek out a dinner somewhere else. He brought a green salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and red onion, with a very light herby dressing, and a tajine full of couscous and vegetables. It was easily enough for two people and we didn't quite finish it all. When we were done Mustafa brought a sundae glass full of fruit salad for dessert, which we shared as well.

Our last evening in Marrakesh done, we returned to our room to relax a bit more before turning in early, hopefully for a really solid night's sleep. M. couldn't have a shower because the hot water wasn't working, so hopefully it will be in the morning.



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