Saturday, March 11, 2017

Much changed Marrakech

Marrakech has changed a great deal since our last visit in 2000. Everything looks much spiffier. In 2000 we flew to Marrakech from Paris in a 747 charter with four Moroccans and 500 French vacationers on package tours who stayed in the new town. Then, there were few places in the old town that accommodated us backpackers. Nowadays just about every kind visitor from every corner of the world comes to Marrakech and there are like three million places to stay. In the old days, one had to watch out for the occasional donkey cart and pickpocket, nowadays you are constantly dogging scooters.

The biggest change has to be souvenirs. The whole old town is a giant bazaar. I want to declare that the total stock of retail souvenirs in Marrakesh is unrivaled in the world; except for maybe Bangkok?

The highlight of our Marrakech visit has to be our new Algerian friends. On the bus from Casablanca to Marrakesh we got talking to three academics in statistical economics from Algeria. Although divided from us by country, language, and religion, they seemed totally familiar and completely simpatico. The long time border conflict between Morocco and Algeria is ever so remote.

When we reached the Marrakech bus station, farewell and good wishes were exchanged. Less than three hours later, we strolled by a cafe where our new friends were drinking coffee [see photo below]. The second day, we walked into the same restaurant where they were having lunch. It seemed as if 1)we were following them 2)Marrakesh is a tiny village. Can anyone have more yuan?!

When I was studying Arabic on a rainy afternoon in Rabat, John joked about the possibility of getting on CIA radar. If our new friends land us on the CIA watchlist, that'll be highlight of the whole trip!

Altas Mountains seen while on the bus from Casablanca going south...
Taking the bus from Casablanca going south

With our new friends from Algeria.
Marrakech, Morocco

In Spain, they are called buñuelos, in Morocco sfenjs.
Marrakech, Morocco

Storytellers, fortune tellers, and other entertainers on Jamaa el-Fna, the main square in Marrakech....We ignore the snake charmers and performing monkeys so no pics.
Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque at night and day.
Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Veggie tajine.
Marrakech, Morocco

Our guesthouse was in an interesting location; next to the Mouassine Mosque which is undergoing a full renovation. We had to walk under the scaffolding to get to the guesthouse door which, after many street pavings, is partially "below grade".
Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Included breakfast.
Marrakech, Morocco

Tourists, souvenir vendors, donkey carts, scooters, and bikes crowd the streets around Jamaa el-Fna.
Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

We visited the Bahia Palace, built in the 1860's.
Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

And Dar Cherifa, built around 1500.
Marrakech, Morocco

Feltmaker's souk.
Marrakech, Morocco

Vegetarians who like salads will get along well in Morocco. Clockwide from top: green and black olives, Moroccan salad, Varied Salad. These 3 items are standard at Moroccan restaurants.
Marrakech, Morocco

And more salads; this time we "to go" back to our rooftop terrace.
Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Restaurant Chez Rachid.
Marrakech, Morocco

View from our guesthouse rooftop terrace towards Atlas Mountains. Not the greatest view, but peaceful.
Marrakech, Morocco

And...

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco







2 comments:

Liz said...

Sounds like your new friends were meant to be! Wow - what is the probability of seeing them in each of those places! Pardon the pun of sorts - probability for findinding statiscians! 😊 Liz

Sun-Ling said...

@Liz, great pun! We were only on that bus because how close our Casablanca airbnb was to the bus station. Some things are just meant to be! Where did you stay? Our building was behind the Sheraton.