Morocco 2018 Part 7 – Marrakech

I had two full days to play with in Marrakech, more than what I’d had in Fez and Meknès. Day one was all about exploring the old medina. I firstly headed to Djemaa el-Fna the main square to get my bearings and see in daylight what I had walked through the night before.

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After a coffee stop I commenced my walk around and headed to the Musee de Marrakech, which was an interesting place to spend some time looking around at the Moroccan art forms on display.

 

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I then had a chicken couscous dish for lunch on a nice rooftop terrace …

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… before continuing on to the Maison de la Photographie. Here I spent some time watching a rare documentary filmed in colour by Daniel Chicault in Morocco in 1957 on the Berber tribes of the High Atlas. It gave an interesting insight into mountain life at the time. The museum also had a great rooftop terrace with panoramic views out to the mountains and so I hung out there for a while!

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I then gradually meandered back to the hostel via the main square for a 4 dirham orange juice and Place des Ferblantiers for a late afternoon Coca-Cola.

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And I just made it back to the hostel in time for a sunset shot on the terrace. There’s a bit of a theme emerging here – that Marrakech has some great rooftop terraces!

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After a cheap kebab dinner near to the hostel I headed back out from the Kasbah district (left) for a nighttime stroll down to Djemaa el-Fna. The Lonely Planet was bigging up the main square as a must see at night due to its general level of craziness. Apparently entertainers with monkeys and snakes are a common sight in the square at night. I didn’t see any this time although I had spotted some snake-charmers in the square earlier when I had passed through.

What I did see were various live music performances by groups of street entertainers. Many of these featured as a backing accompaniment the ‘instrument’ that I had purchased in Meknès. In truth, I thought the sound emanating from this cymbal instrument was rather a racket although it did sound better in some performances than others. I much preferred the deeper tribal rhythms of the bongos and other instrumentation such as the bass guitar. In fact, the bongo rhythms were inspiring me to have a good play around in the studio on my return with my Native Instruments West Africa sample libraries. I recorded some snippets of audio for inspiration although with my phone obscured from view, as if secretly trying to Shazam a track in a nightclub. I kept a distance as I didn’t want to be lured in and have to pay money for photos or even be encouraged to participate in dancing! The only actual picture I took was of a random game where people were trying to get a hook around Sprite and Coca-Cola bottles with a fishing line!

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Over the course of the rest of the evening and at breakfast the next morning I met some interesting people back at the hostel including a Dutch guy called Vincent who had hired a bike in Marrakech and cycled out to the Atlas Mountains for a four day road trip. He’d even stayed with a random family when he’d rocked up in a town with no accommodation. Now that sounds like a cool trip!

IMG_5741.jpgTo start day two I went back to the main square and the medina. I bought some camel artwork and was impressed with my bartering skills negotiating the price down from 150 to 135 dirham!

I had also been toying with the idea of going to a hammam for a traditional public bath experience. However, whilst having some massage and a damn good clean was appealing I figured it would have been a bit wasted before the big journey home later in the evening.

I left the medina and went for a big walk over to the new town, skirting through en route the interestingly named cyber park (unless I was missing something it was just a normal park). The new town was completely different and on first impression much like any big city. I headed over to its main tourist attraction the Jardin Marjorelle but when I got there the queue was so massive I didn’t bother trying to go in.

After a spot of lunch I got a taxi back to near the hostel and checked out the Saadian Tombs although missed seeing the main tomb due to queuing issues again with me being pushed for time.

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It was then back to hostel to chill on roof terrace for a bit staring out at the mountains (see view below, which has got to be one of the best in Marrakech!) before saying my goodbyes with hugs and high fives to the cool dudes working there.

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There was time for one final soft drink on a roof terrace (I still hadn’t had anything alcoholic since Gatwick airport on the way out) …

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… before it was time to take a taxi over to the airport. This time it was at a fair price with no bullshit. And the view from outside the airport was great, too.

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All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip and a country that I highly recommend and am sure will visit again in the future.

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