Sunday, April 25, 2010

MOROCCO TRIP - Day Ten - Marrakech

After an insane week at work I am finally getting back to finishing up posts from our Morocco trip which seems so long ago now I wonder if maybe it was just a dream. But I don't usually take this many photos in my dreams so I guess I really was there!
Our last full day in Morocco and unfortunately I am trapped in a city. But I do need to try and make the best of it, not everyone is lucky enough to get to see such amazing parts of the world.
We enjoyed breakfast on the roof at our Riad and then set off to see another round of historical buildings.

On our way we visited the city square Djemma El Fna. This has the same sort of vibe as any city or town square, people come here to socialize and hang-out. However there are a few attractions that you probably wouldn't find in your average American city square!

Needless to say I made a bee-line for the snake charmers.

However I steered well clear of the local dentist! Eeeeeek! Snakes I'm fine with, tooth pullers, not so much!

We walked through a warren of narrow streets crammed with a colourful range of merchandise.

We made our way to the Bahia Palace. Another architectural masterpiece which provided great insight into how the privileged lived in the 19th century.

Once again I could feel a sense of indignation rising up in me as it was explained that this is the area where the concubines got to 'get outside'

But when the wives wanted to get outside they had this minute space to roam around!

But I didn't rock the boat, even when it was explained that the 'favorite' wife had the smallest outside space of all - 'for her safety!' OK then!!

Personal feelings aside it was extraordinary to see how every single surface area was elaborately decorated.

Having escaped the close confines of this palace we visited the ruined remains of the 16th century Badi Palace. I was quite happy to ensconce myself in a shady spot whilst Dominick and Said strolled around.

Because I wanted to check out some of the palace's current residents.

There were several pairs of white storks perched up high on their nests of sticks and for me they gazed down with just as refined a regal air as any previous grand royal resident.

While I was sitting quietly enjoying the quiet and the cool, a familiar squeal broke the peace and peeping out, right above where I sat, was the culprit - a kestrel. The pair had found a perfect little niche in which to nest and they were voicing their displeasure at my proximity to it.

House Buntings were also much in evidence and this particular individual, braver than the rest seemed quite convinced that I was going to produce something tasty for him to eat as he hopped around very close to my feet.

It is always fun when you get to do some birding in the most unlikely of places or should I say palaces! But soon we were on our way again.

Our next stop was the Herboriste El Andalouss. We were served with the now obligatory mint tea while the owner delivered a well practised account of all his numerous herbs and potions with often rather amusing lists of their properties. Who knew that there were so many different types of Moroccan Viagra!?

Then on our way again. Try as he might Dominick just couldn't get a picture of this gate way without a taxi cab stopping in the middle of his shot!

We slowly made our way back towards the Riad with various photo stops along the way.

I was pretty much done with my quota of historical sights at this point so Said and Dominick visited the Saadian tombs while Brahim and I sat and chatted about (you guessed it!) birds! He is going to be quite an expert by the end of this trip!

After that we retreated back up onto the rooftop of the Riad for a delicious lunch. We have been served so much wonderful food on this trip I am sure we have both gained several pounds.

After our large, leisurely lunch we strolled through a couple of gardens in the city and then headed back towards Djemma El Fna. It is at it's most lively during late afternoon and early evening. The array of fruits on display were so beautiful we just had to take some pictures but we had to be careful, many of the stall holders want to charge you for that privilege! Once again my high power zoom came in very handy.

I do think the prize for the best outfit has to go to the local water seller - what do you think?

We indulged in a little retail therapy. Dominick almost reduced the merchant to tears with his ferocious bargaining on the price of this beautiful hand embroidered tunic. Said explained rather sheepishly to the merchant that Dominick worked in finance so there really wasn't anything to be done about it!!

Then I paid a visit to the henna ladies.

Shopping done we retreated to one of the terraced cafes to watch the square from above.

As the sun started to sink we made our way slowly back through the streets towards the Riad, soaking up our final genuine Moroccan moments.

Later in the evening Said and Brahim collected us to drive us to Chez Ali which was a very touristy show that seems to be the standard end for every trip that they do. We both would have far rather been somewhere much quieter with far less people but we decided we had probably been quite demanding enough during the course of our trip and so we would just go along with it! Lord knows that doesn't happen too often :)

So, show over, we headed back to the Riad for our last night in Morocco.

Photo Credits - CJT & Dominick V


Parag said...

Jemaa el-Fna owes most of its fame to the large number of spectacles going on all around all the time. Snake charmers, singers, story tellers, healers and fakirs attract a dominantly Moroccan audience.
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Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oooh! Moroccan horses!

I'm so impressed with all the attention to detail there, from the painted walls and ceilings, to the tiles, the architecture, even the stalls filled with jars, and fresh fruit and dried nuts and fruit. Wow!

Can you imagine how the police would be arresting someone in a US market if they had poisonous snakes out there in a public place like that? Wow!

I notice noone is standing too close to those snakes, though.
What species is that short fat snake?

Your photos are so beautiful!

The gorgeous tunic and henna treatment are so lovely on you. You have such pretty hands, too.