November 21, 2016

Marrakech Travelogue Part 1

After an almost 30 hour transit from Manila via Qatar Airways with a layover in Doha, we finally struggled out of Menara International Airport. Utterly exhausted but couldn’t be less excited to finally set foot in one of our dream destinations – Marrakech! We’ve been looking forward to this trip since last year when we stayed at Hotel Figuerroa in Los Angeles (California) and was floored with its Moorish architecture and charm and decided right there and then that we are going to Morocco for our next trip. I am so happy we’ve made it happen!

We have over 2 weeks to explore the country and with the long haul flights, we have simple plans on our first day – check in, grab our first Moroccan meal and finally sleep on a proper bed. Pretty straight forward! And so we think.

Armed with a crude map drawn by Youseff - our bearded but soft-spoken riad receptionist, we set off to find dinner. The directions looked easy enough to navigate and follow.

We were ok for a few meters in the winding medina until we came to a fork in the road and hesitated to consult the map. That’s when a gang of kids mobbed us! They persistently offered to lead the way and cannot be shaken off.

Fresh off the plane dog-tired and on a different timezone, this is the last thing we want to encounter - a scam we've read so much about. We knew this scam but they still managed to get me lose my bearings, intimidate us and had us turned around. (Kimbee says to speak for myself). I blame it on exhaustion.

Their numbers were growing by the minute and when I asked the ladies or the shopkeepers for directions - which is supposedly how to get around that scam - they would tell us to just go with the kids. That’s when we decided to just go back to our riad, but even then, the kids were trailing us, sometimes even blocking our way. When we’re almost to our door, they figured which riad were we staying at and collectively started chanting the name of our accommodations like they led us there and started demanding money.

When Youseff opened the door and saw us surrounded by the kids, he instantly realized what just happened and started berating them in Arabic. They left but not without ruckus and some half hearted attempts at throwing stones at the wooden door. What a welcome from these little rascals!

We were resigned to eating whatever we could find in the immediate vicinity as we’ve passed some stores nearby but Youseff took pity on us, locked up and brought us to Riad Edwards himself and arranged for his brother to bring us back after dinner. Finally we’ve found our first Moroccan dinner of really tender juicy chicken tajine in orange and olives with dense chewy bread and a glass of Marrakech’s famous orange juice. We dined by the poolside in a beautiful courtyard with air perfumed of citrus. It was worth the trouble and quite possibly our favorite meal in Marrakech.

For 3 nights, we booked our stay at Riad El Jadide at the medina. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house, or sometimes even a palace (!) with an interior garden or a courtyard. Ours came with tiered terraces, cosy bhous (seating nooks) and a rooftop that encourages lounging. Definitely historic and authentic.

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