Saturday, 20 April 2013

Morocco Part 2

The day after our trip to Essaouria was my older brother's 22nd birthday. I wish I could have taken photos of what we did today but unfortunately, being in a spa, they evidently weren't too pleased about that!

We had our typical Moroccan scrub-down, called Hamam. Mummy, Freddie and I were stripped down, slapped on our own individual slabs in a room very similar to that of a steam room, and scrubbed until our skin was as smooth as the day we were born. (p.s. I would not recommend this if you were burnt, like I happened to be on the day.)

After we were left to bask in a eucalyptus body mask and washed down with a cool shower, we were escorted through the winding corridors of Les Bains de Marrakech into a 'relaxation' room. Obviously, we got the giggles and it was far from being relaxing.

A body scrub and an hour long massage? I think I benefited from Oliver's birthday for sure. Thank you very much!

We were spoiled even later in the evening as well, going out to an amazing restaurant, Grand Cafe de la Poste in New Town Marrakech. Decorated in the French colloquial style with high ceilings and tall plants, it was quite nice to have a change from Moroccan food for one evening.

The food was very good, as was the service although if you're looking for a very traditional Moroccan menu this is definitely not the restaurant for you as it boasts a very European touch. The room at the top of the stairs is definitely worth a visit. Draped with Moroccan curtains, rugs and low lights hanging from the ceilings, this was definitely a trendy place to have a long drink before dinner. Highly recommended!

The following day, my dad and my younger brother arrived, and we thought this the best time to finally venture into the city itself.

Freddie tried the prickly pears which grow on cactus and dye your lips fuchsia like beetroot.

We later ventured into the winding souks, nearly every spice stall boasting bags brimming with produce and spilling out onto the small pathways.

I would have to say this is my favourite Arabic country of all those I have visited before. Although evidently there were those who would try to attract your attention by calling out to you, it was by no means as bad as Egypt, where you are quite literally harassed by those working on the stalls.
I found all the Moroccan people very friendly and easygoing. They would get on with their day to day chores as if we did not exist. Rather than considering us to be intruders, the men and women would smile at us, and chirp a bonjour if we showed interest in their goods. They have obviously embraced tourists into their lives with a genuine welcome.

I would beware of the many horses strutting and mopeds zooming past down the narrow cobble pathways of the markets. It very much surprises me how we didn't see at least one accident. As my brother said, if we were to try to drive in Marrakech we would completely mess up their already crazy way of driving. Although it seems ridiculous and dangerous to us, they obviously know what they're doing, it's only when people like us who don't understand these unspoken rules come in and ruin it all!

We were told there were alleys especially selling black magic ingredients such as these skinned rabbits and sundried chameleons.

We then visited a Riad

And got lost again in the souks... stumbling upon a traditional Moroccan apothecary

The beautifully radiant and rainbow dyes were stacked on the wall. "You have headache? I would recommend this", he would say taking down a cream powder from a shelf. "You suffer insomnia, stomach pains and acne?, I recommend this. reaching for a red powder to the left and bringing it round the group, allowing us all to take a good strong whiff. It seemed this was the place of all cures. Screw the doctor, I'm coming here next time!

I love this photo, of the orange wool drying against the blue sky.

We wandered around the metal workers' section followed by the leather makers. It felt as if we were time travelling back to the industrial revolution.

Be warned however: in the main square people with monkeys and snake charmers will charge you for photos if you get too close. I would recommend wrapping up, covering your shoulders and legs. It's not necessary, but I promise that you will feel a lot more comfortable!

Although it was an amazing city, it was lovely to finally get out of Marrakech. It's so busy and dusty that it's nearly impossible to take a gulp of fresh air without tasting car fumes.

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