Exploring More of Morocco

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Our first view of Africa from the plane

As you read in yesterday’s post, our first impressions of Morocco were, needless to say, overwhelming. What a difference a day makes. Morocco is still a bit overwhelming at times, but I have less of a desire to run and hide behind the peaceful walls of my Riad, which is a good thing.

We had a good night’s sleep last night, which always makes things better. We then started out our day with breakfast and Moroccan Mint Tea, which we learned is just green tea (from China!) with fresh mint leaves. And lots of sugar. Easy enough to replicate at home, except for the fabulous looking tea pot…

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After a fortifying breakfast, we headed out to Jemaa el Fna, Marrakech’s famous square, which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were here yesterday night, but somehow the daylight makes it less intimidating. It also could have been that it was a lot less crowded. You still need to keep your wits about you, so that you don’t get run over by a horse/donkey/motor bike/bike/human along the way. Surrounding Jemaa el Fna are the souqs, the millions of markets/shops that line the little alleys branching off from the square. Walking through these is a crazy experience, with shopkeepers constantly calling out to you, “Hey lady!” or “Please have a look!” or my favorite “Konnichiwa!” Thankfully, my experience shopping in China helped me to manage the craziness. And I’m proud to say that I came out of there with minimal damage.

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Jemaa el Fna

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Dried fruit shopping

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Another nearby busy square

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Large Tajines for sale (I would love to buy one but there’s no way I’m carrying that home!)

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More decorative tajines

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10 dirhams = 1 euro

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Rugs for sale

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Carpets for sale

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Spices for sale

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Light filtering onto the souqs

After a while, all the goods started to look the same, so we decided to move on to another activity. Nearby the souqs was an ancient school called Medersa Ben Yousef. It was built in the late 16th century to be a center of the study of sciences and theology, and was restored in the last decade. It was nice to cool off within its walls and imagine children of centuries past wandering the halls…

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Intricate wood detailing

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Light filtering in

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Tiling in the courtyard

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Pool of Purification before entering the Prayer Room

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Looking down on classrooms from above

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Looking across the way at Pat

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A typical student’s quarters

We then headed next door to the Musee Marrakech. It’s in the restored Dar Menebhi Palace, built at the end of the 19th century and recently restored in 1997. I thought the architecture was definitely more elaborate than the school and was nicely complimented by Moroccan artwork, both past and present.

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The museum’s atrium with its massive chandelier

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Tiled columns

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Sometimes it’s hard to look at the surrounding artwork when you’re looking up at the beautiful ceilings all the time!

By this time, the 104 degree heat REALLY was starting to get to us, so we decided to turn in to the Riad for some rest and A/C. But not before we stopped to get a yummy sandwich from a street vendor first…

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The makings of our grilled sandwich with beef/lamb, onions and egg

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The final product! If only photos could also contain smell and taste…

After our lunch and our respite in the A/C, we were ready to hit the town again for dinner. We went back to the crazy square, Jemaa el Fna, because by this time, the food vendors were all set up for dinner. Walking by there is another overwhelming experience, as every stall has several people that are trying to get you to sit down and eat. Thankfully, we had a good recommendation from our hostess and easily sat down at Stall #1 for a delicious dinner of Lamb Chops, Vegetarian Couscous, and Kebabs. Not a bad meal for about 12 euros for the 2 of us, including bread and drinks.

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Our chefs. We could literally see what we were about to eat!

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Chicken, beef, and kefta kebabs

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Enjoying our dinner!

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And to top the night off, a 50 cent OJ!

Not a bad day. I think Marrakech is starting to grow on me. A little bit, at least. Tomorrow…the Atlas Mountains!

6 responses to “Exploring More of Morocco

  1. So much to absorb! Couldn’t believe the cabbie dropped you off & left you w/ these strangers to get you to your riad. What kind of breakfast are you served? Have you done any shopping? Wonder how the food stalls keep stuff from spoiling in all that heat. Great shots as always! And to think you started this so long ago from Brazil…greetings to Pat…

    • Our breakfast has been nice with breads, yogurts, and moroccan mint tea, but I think I was spoiled by the breakfasts in Brazil. Nothing has been able to match up to that yet! I’ve haven’t done too much shopping yet. Mainly window shopping. Except, there aren’t any windows!

      • Ummm, I think they’re both really good, just different. I meant that the breakfasts that our hosts provided in the B&B’s in Brazil were ridiculously outstanding compared with any breakfast provided by the B&B’s we stayed with in either London or here in Morocco.

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