When I first arrived in Morocco, I thought Marrakesh was awesome. It had that gritty, raw hustle that I've found in cities like New York and New Orleans. Sure, it was dirty. And had too many motorcycles and not enough traffic laws. And had people begging for money and hassling you. But I really liked it.
Then I spent a week travelling around to other cities in Morocco, and by the time we had to return to 'Kesh' for our flight to Rome, I was dreading it. I wanted nothing to do with the square, the souks or anything inside the medina (inside the walls of the city).
That being said... I'll try to give you an unbiased, abridged tour of the highlights.
This is the view of Marrakesh from our roof. No matter how I thought I felt about a city in Morocco, it all changed when we would climb to the roof and see views like this. IT was just stunning. These stucco homes, adorned with splashes of bright blues, pinks and oranges, surrounded by mountains and desert. Photos can't do it justice.
The inside of our hotel (exactly how you imagine a Moroccan hotel, right?). Cara thought the tile was hooky.... I think she is just too used to it by now. I thought it was gorgeous. Most of the hotels have an open center, something I think we are seeing more of in American hotels nowadays too. Our room was just three twin beds, a sink and a mirror. There was a community bathroom on the next floor... with real western toilets. But no toilet paper.
The 'streets' in Kesh were about five or six feet wide. They looked like alleys. They weren't marked. But they were streets. Walking down them, you'd see little shops, restaurants, residential doors and cats. Lots of cats. I'm not sure how anyone finds their way around ('Turn left at the guy selling tangerines'?), but they do.
The Square at Night. It's basically carts and booths (and beggars) that set up and sell food, drinks, trinkets, anything really. Also, little known, or maybe well known fact: Morocco has amazing tangerines and oranges. Seriously. I tried eating an orange in Italy and it just didn't compare.
This is breakfast (and for us, dinner and snack) in Morocco. Panache, the smoothie looking drink is strawberry, orange and avocado and SO good. And in the foreground is lismissions (we have no idea how to spell it). My new favorite food on the planet. It's basically a bread-like pastry, sort of like a crepe, folded over honey. And it's freakin' amazing.
So. Many. Motorbikes. It's dangerous. And they drive wherever, however they want. Imagine walking through those tiny alley streets and having one come speeding up behind you. I felt like I was IN an Indiana Jones chase scene or something!
Marrakesh is known for it's souks - outdoor markets. It's basically Soulard Market on steroids. Again, they sell anything and everything. Food, oils, herbs, art, purses, shoes, knock off sunglasses.... you name it, they got it. The worst part for Westerners is that the guys sit outside their 'store' and essentially heckle you to come in. 'Oh, you're so pretty.' 'Hello, hello. America.' 'Very nice.' And then when you don't come in... they have less than kind words for you. The souks are awesome and you can get a ton of cool stuff there, you just need thick skin.
This was actually taken at a Carrefour - the equivalent of a Walmart Super Center in Morocco. They love their spices there.
Morocco made me wish I liked olives. They were everywhere. And smelled so good. And looked so beautiful. But alas, I still don't like them. I like olive oil though! I picked up a bottle to take home as a souvenir.
- Kesh has an awesome mall that rivals malls I've been to in the States. It has a TGI Fridays, Virgin MegaStore and Domino's Pizza. It's insane.
- Their airport is the cleanest of all the ones I visited during my travels. And it was the one featured in Sex and the City II.
- Marrakesh is a tough city to travel to if you don't speak some Arabic. Other cities in Morocco have more French and more tourists... but Kesh doesn't. I wouldn't have been able to find out how much things cost or where the bus was going if Cara wasn't there. And there usually isn't anyone speaking English around for you to ask for help either. But, they do have a Club Med! You can go there.
- Two words I used most often - 'Sho kran' means thank you. And 'la' means no.
- Hoard napkins for toilet paper.