Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Our good friends, Dan and Emily, flew to Spain from California to visit. And if that's not awesome enough, they were up for a Labor Day long-weekend trip adventure to Morocco. We decided on a few days in Marrakech, which has been at the top of Meghann's list, because we had been hearing such good things and there is a cheap airline (which shall not be named here) that flies directly from Sevilla. An hour flight and some over-priced airline snacks later, we were in Marrakech!

The wall that surrounds the Medina.

We spent most of our time within the wall of the Medina, the old part of the city, which is made up of a large center square surrounded by a web of small, winding, high-walled streets. Those streets are filled with locals, tourists, donkey carts, mopeds, feral cats, and lined by shops selling anything and everything, mosques, hammams, riads, markets, private homes, and caf├ęs. Our senses were completely overloaded with sounds (horns honking, people speaking Arabic, English, French, Spanish, shopkeepers yelling out to tourists, the calls to prayer) and smells, which ranged from amazing (jasmine, spices, orange blossom water) to not so pleasant (all those donkeys pulling carts have to pee somewhere...). 

And we loved it - the frenetic energy, the bustling streets, the grittiness, the diversity, the exotic atmosphere. Not the carefully controlled type of exotic that you find at an all-inclusive beach resort, but the real deal, we're-not-in-Kansas-anymore-Toto feeling. It was overwhelming, and 3 1/2 days was the perfect amount of time to spend in the city. Definitely not the type of trip that is for everyone, but one that we would recommend to anyone looking for a unique experience. We also want to emphasize that we felt safe throughout our trip, we made an effort to dress modestly and practically for the (surface of the sun) heat, and used what little French and very little Arabic that we could. 

There was so much to take in and that might be why it took so long to put this post together (well that, and our typical procrastination, plus the fact that Meghann snapped nearly 1,000 photos). So enough jibber-jabber, time for pictures!

4 dirhams for fresh-squeezed orange juice - these carts are all around the main square. 1 dirham = about 12 cents. 

The first night, we went "outside the wall" for dinner. It was a mix of modern and traditional Moroccan. Delicious cocktails, tasty food, and beautiful presentation.

Kebab stand.

In this picture of a produce market, you can see several people covering their faces. Meghann tried to be respectful and not take any portraits or close-ups (and avoided using her zoom lens at all), but many locals are still concerned about having their picture taken.

At night the triple-digit daytime temperatures dropped and the square filled with people. 

Couscous and kebabs for dinner on the second night. And classic cokes - which we indulged in instead of wine, since alcoholic beverages weren't available at many places.

 We said beverages were difficult to find, not impossible. On our last night we enjoyed some sundowners at a rooftop bar overlooking the Medina.

Just before we left to go to the airport.

We had such an amazing time. And we're not done yet! There's a lot more to share, including a cooking class, our guided tour, and the details of the lovely riad where we stayed. 

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