The next day I woke up and head to the train station. Next stop Marrakech. This time 1st class since it’s a 7-hour trip. I shared a compartment with a guy who, as he proved, was the owner of Air Arabia based in Morocco. Maybe I should leave him my CV… Anyway, we arrived in Marrakech. I am going to my Ryad, I’m sorting things out and going down for the first meeting with Marrakech. I asked, at the reception (do you see the difference? In Fes I was asking Mohammed) about the available day trips and some instructions. After informing me I am between two excursions – Essaouira or Cascades d’Oujoude (I thought I was between two) and I left for Djemma el Fnaa. As I approached the square, I felt the pulse. From far away I saw the minaret of Koutoubia mosque. It is the largest mosque in Marrakech and its minaret is visible from far away. It also helps you in orientation. It was still day but as soon as I got into the square, I felt a unique feeling to overwhelm me. It was the feeling you have when you meet for first time something unique. I did not care if were tourists around or locals. It was such the size, the crowd, the benches, the oranges, the snakes and the cherry, the imam voice that teased my mind instantly. I stayed in a corner and I was watching this unique square, Djemma el Fna. A square of thousand faces. As time passed and night approaching, the square was changing. Within a few hours was filled up with food stalls that they served anything from straws to seafood. I walked to one of the stalls and ate couscous and soup for about 30dhm. In my country with this amount of money you barely can have a coffee. Anyway, my mind was full of views so I took the road back to the ryad. For tomorrow the plan was Bahia Palace – Mellah – Medersa – Marrakech Museum, library and Arab cafe. With these in my mind and the cool breeze of the air condition approaching me threateningly I slept.
The next day I start my walk with Ben Youssef Madrasa. It is an Islamic school, the biggest in Morocco. Bahia Palace has a series of rooftops and gardens. It’s a palace built somewhere in the 19th century. His name means “shine,” “brilliance.” I could understand why… Then searched the Jewish Quarter, Mellah. Narrow streets, small shops, traditional buildings that seem to have been left untouched over the centuries. The spice market is on my way. Smells and colors that overwhelm your senses while you are lost somewhere in the alleys looking for the synagogue. You have GPS turned on but you do not want to look at it. You have forgotten it and ask a kid to give you direction. You give him 5dhm, he asks for 10dhm but he follows you either way. This is the Marrakech that a lot of people hated it. This is the Marrakech that I loved. Then follows the Marrakesh Museum, which is located in Dar Menebhi Palace. A building of Andalusian architecture with fountains in the central courtyard and a space to sit and gaze. Let the calm of that space to inspire you. The museum itself had exhibits from the Jewish, Bernese and Arabic cultures (and did not excite me). There was a Hammam inside. The atmosphere, however, was extremely soothing.
After that, and while I was looking for cafe Arab, I found myself in a restaurant called “quiltville” (or something like that), in a guide I had read good things about that so I sat. For a change (and I’m not ashamed at all) I ordered a club sandwich. It had been 4 o’clock and the heat was almost unbearable. Return to Riyadh for a bath and relax. The afternoon was devoted to Jemaa el Fna and to shooting photographs from a terrace by the square. I wanted to capture the square at all the times. To see all of the faces and to shoot a “portrait” for everyone.
I am on a terrace with the square in front of me.The square slowly began to be filled. Every inch of the square was covered. Drums sounded rhythmical all the time. The feast for a while stoped by the voice of the muesin. What a nice time. The drums stop and all for a moment seems to have been lost in time. The voice sounds loudly and along with sunset and crowd has been created an atmosphere that unfortunately can not capture by any camera. The voice stops and gives the baton to the drums and the noise. Two girls come and ask me to sit at my table, there was no empty table for my good luck. They were from France and we were singing the Champs Elysees. What else can I ask for? Who said that solo trips must necessarily be lonely. I did not feel alone. From guys in hotels, waiters, taxi drivers, kids on the streets, trains, cafes, everyone is your company. And imagine that I am not a really social person, I would say I am the opposite. But when you are in a foreign country, you are discovering aspects of yourself that you have never explored.
Then, after making a quick pass from cafe Arab I went back to the ryad where I booked the day trip for tomorrow.Eventually, I did not book either Essaouira trip (as you would have suspected) nor the waterfalls, but I booked the Aït Benhaddou and Urazazat trip. But more for the next day, and the 209-kilometer route bypassing the Atlas with a van and a crazy driver to the wreck of Warazzat in the next post. At the moment I put an alarm clock at 6.30, I lie down with the calming breeze from the air condition to keep me company…