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  • Day16

    Days 16 & 17: Marrakesh express

    December 13, 2018 in Morocco ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    It's a shame to be leaving Fez and the four days I was here haven't done it justice. Some more insight into booking accommodation from the host's viewpoint. Max says that no-shows are a major headache and to try and weed them out, when a booking has been made, he contacts the would-be guest welcoming them to his riad and asking what time they expect to arrive. As a punter I like this practice too, for it ensures that the guest house is a real place and not just in cyberspace.

    The taxi to the railway station has a meter---wow! Then it's all aboard the Marrakesh express. Somewhere around Casablanca the train passes the spot where I was at precisely the same hour as on Saturday's outward journey. I need an unmetered taxi from Marrakesh's station to my hotel. It's called the Sherazade and lying in the medina, it could almost be the setting of the 1001 nights. The first two pictures below show rooftop views.

    The unmissable attraction of Marrakesh is the Djemaa el Fna, a large square which is part market place, part street theatre. It's unforgettable and has a hint of craziness about it. Sadly the storytellers of yesteryear are no more, made redundant by social media. But there's lots more: street vendors, stallholders, snake charmers, fortune tellers, African-style drummers and charlatans of all stripes. The drummers are so good that I photograph them at different times of the afternoon to make use of the changing light.

    One could easily spend all day here but I venture into the depths of the medina. As in Fez, each trade has its own quarter: jewellers, leathersmiths, weavers, carpet sellers, coppersmiths..... I find the site of another fine medersa, the Ben Youssef, but it's heavily bricked up and workmen pass to and fro through a makeshift entrance. "Closed", says a bloke standing outside and I give him a yellow card for stating the obvious.

    My final dinner is at the Foucauld, a fine neo-Moorish hotel of about 1900 encrusted with zellij. and named not after the pendulum but the French priest who lived among some desert tribes of Algeria up to 1916. The waiter shows me the drinks menu. The beer doesn't tempt me but the wine does; however so many places I have dined at so far are dry, so it's no hardship to resist and make this trip an alcohol-free zone.
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