Inland to Marrakesh

Espen Aalstad
Mon 22 Oct 2007 20:30
We advanced our plans to see Marrakesh  thanks to the protected marina in Mohammedia. Elin was also  happy we finally could lock in her Fall vacation to her girlfriends in Geneva: she got a perfect direct flight from Marrakesh while seeing  more of Morocco.
A comfortable 3 hour train ride was in itself an "African trip" as the boys desribed it with desert like landscape toward the  Atlas mountains. A group of palm trees is a jungle!

Other sailors recommended to stay inside the Medina (old city) at a Riad: a house and hotel  around a garden or patio.  With a late telephone booking we were a little nervous, but hopeful for Jardin Mandalin. We all wondered though when the taxi took us down very local streets where we saw (and smelled) nothing tourist like. We even had to walk a few minutes in a desolate area.......and then suddenly a beautiful door and inside an oasis of peace,  stylish Moroccan design and mint tea by a small pool.

In real beds again and 1001 night feel.

French Nicole had just opened her Riad after two years in the making. We had two days of wonderful stay and service. Breakfast on the terrace with Moroccan pancakes, refreshing dip in the pool after the souqs (basar) and a hammam in-house. The girls had a real treat with Malika who scrubbed,   massaged and thaught us how  a real hammam is done. We now know henna and ghassoul and left sailors' dead skin behind.
Einar found a scorpion (dead) in the pool!

As promised our Riad was actually very centrally located. We enjoyed the small streets of local vendors, kids, and general buzinesss on our way to the souqs and to the central plaza Djermaa el-Fna. This big square  really comes alive at dusk: t
he sights and smelles was almost overwhelming. It almost felt just after a few hours that we were  living 1001 night. 
Foodstands where the BBQ smoke linger s and the prices are affordable
Djermaa el-Fna: Entertainers from storytellers to snake and monkey trainers, and a lots of people. Mostly Moroccans.

Djermaa el-Fna: Henna decorations: scorpions on the boys.
We explored the bazars and bargained (Khan el Khalili helps).  At the spice bazar there were turtles and camelions. Einar found "Bob Marley" in the craftsmen's quarter and finally got his Jambee drum. Thanks Ahmed for the lesson!

Regi "storechecked" so the boys know how she normally works. P&G looked pretty good:)

We went for camel rides in the Palmerie oasis or "dromedaires".
On the outskirts of the Palmerie we found the Caravansarai : an old camel caravan station now turned to a very nice hotel.  We were allowed in for lunch (sailors need to know the tricks from Cairo). A wonderful afternoon.

We had not planned for Mr. Sarcozy's first Moroccan visit on our return and almost missed our train.
We will always remember the taxi drive when we hear of him.
But we will come back to Marrakesh!