January 9, 2017

Marrakech Travelogue Part 3

We have booked our 3 days dessert safari leaving the day after so we had 1 more full day to spend in Marrakech.

We’ve already serendipitously toured the medina and has seen Ben Yousseff by ourselves the previous day, so we decided against a guide for the day. But if you go, and have limited time, a guide would be really helpful.

With nothing much on our agenda for the day, we asked our riad to arrange a taxi to bring us to Saadien Tomb. We were picked up by our driver right at the door. He parked just a couple blocks out and we could have easily found him but it was an appreciated thoughtful gesture and nice to start the day not worrying about getting lost.

Saadien tomb was sealed up for centuries until they were redicovered in a French aerial survey in 1917. The burial ground with 2 mausoleums and over 100 tombs scattered around the garden was well preserverved and has been restored to their former glory.

The Chamber of the 12 pillars mausoleum was spared no expense and was built from imported Italian Carrara marble with honeycomb muqarnas (decorative plasterwork) gilded with pure gold. This is the resting place of the Saadian sultan, princes and members of the royal household, including a few Jewish graves.

It is popular with stray cats and tourists for an entrance fee of 10 MaD. This is also where Kim got her first marriage proposal from a guide who speaks 7-8 languages. Declining the offer, we headed for brunch.

Brunch was a chicken tajine in Kasbah café just across the entrance of the tomb.

The weather is nice and chilly but sunny conducive for walking so we ambled down the avenue following some carriages transporting tourists and soon enough saw the minaret of Koutobia Mosque.

We knew then we were near the square and continued on for glasses of chilled freshly squeezed orange juice. So refreshing and cheap at just 4 dirhams a pop. We also always get extra half glasses if we oblige photo requests from the juice sellers. Shoot away then ha ha! As asians, we must really look so different from them to attract attention. To get less of the unwanted kind, I suggest that you dress properly with shoulders and knees covered. Morocco is still very traditional and a muslim country after all and it’s respectful to be well and decently dressed, well anywhere for that matter.

From the square we entered the souks again to explore more. I really wanted to see Souk de Epices or the Spice Market and I’m glad we did! It’s not too far away from the square really and it wasn’t difficult to find. We bought a few grams of menthol cystals and basically just got snap happy. There’s just too much to photograph.

To prepare for our dessert safari tour leaving in the morning, we proceeded to Carre Eden Mall in the new city to buy some supplies. A couple of local guys smiled at us and we smiled back. They then started weirdly following us around all over the mall and the groceries. That totally creeped us out and I was about ready to call the local police as we hightailed it out of there. As we wait for a cab, they passed us by but did nothing so maybe we weren’t really in any real danger. Still that was weird and made us be on guard and kept from being too friendly the rest of our trip.

Those kind of attention colored our Marrakech experience a bit but it wasn’t exactly horrible. And to be fair, we’ve met really friendly and kind locals who were generous with their time to help us out. 

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