A Travellerspoint blog

Marrakech, Casablanca & Back to Barcelona

sunny 18 °C

Next stop on our Christmas holiday was Marrakech. We came here on our last trip and we loved it last time so we thought we would spend our new years there.

For Marrakech we booked a place which looked great on the internet, but when we arrived we found that the photos were obviously from the opening days 4 years ago. The place had been let go quite a bit and was not all that great after all.

We stayed one night and found the area pretty dodgy as well. So we got out of there the next morning with a uncomfortable discussion with the owner about why we wanted to leave.

But we found a great Riad to move to,
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I was certainly more relaxed in this place
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We spent the next 3 days lounging around the Riad and shopping in the souks

Rishi finally got herself a Jalaba to use for her dancing, but the first place we went to turned out to be a designer store (although you wouldn't know it just looking at it) and he wanted about €500 for a single Jalaba, and this was after trying them on for about an hour,
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We celebrated a pretty low key new years with dinner looking over Djnaa El Fna, you can really beat that view
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After a relaxing new year we headed back to Casablanca, This was the one place we really hated last time in Morocco. So this time we didn't know what to expect.

We booked a hotel right in the Medina to get right in amongst it

This is a view from the roof of our Hotel

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The hotel was reasonable, but a step down from our Riads thus far.

We did a walking tour that we had a map for through the new and old town, and there were some interesting sites to see. But the city is just generally dirty & loud. Adding to that you have quite a lot of homeless and general vagrants & drunks which is unusual from a Muslim country.

We actually had a few drunks first start talking to us then start to get aggressive, but we were able to walk away quite easily. But I could see that you could get yourself into trouble quite easily

One highlight of Casablanca though is they still have quite a large French population and quite a few French restaurants. After eating tagine & cous cous for almost 2 weeks I was ready for something different right down the road from our hotel was a great Restaurant in an old citadel

I had a great steak
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We also went on another night to a French restaurant right in the city, we hadn't booked as we didn't think it would be that busy, but when we turned up there were two huge bouncers dressed all in black at the door. At first I thought they wouldn't let us in because they just stood there staring into the distance. Then once we reached for the door they moved aside. Once inside it was a total contrast to the busy streets of Casablanca.

It was a full white linen restaurant with a full French menu & wine list, it was a bizarre experience to eat there. We didn't drink wine though, it just felt strange being only a few k's from one of the most important Muslim mosques in the world

I went all out and had a dozen oysters for starter
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And that was the end to our second Moroccan trip. It was certainly a huge difference going back again (especially outside of Ramadan) We really enjoyed our time, and found it quite relaxing with only 3 stops in two weeks

Then back to Barcelona for 2 more days, this was now our fifth stay in Barcelona in the last 3 years. By now we have seen almost all the 'must see' sites and our last few stays have been more about finding the best coffee & the best meal. We went back to our favourite tapas bar 'Cal Pep' http://www.calpep.com/Galerias/plats/indexgalery.html Simple food cooked fresh right in front of you.

Following a 2 hour lunch with a bottle of wine followed by a couple of glasses of cava at a nearby wine bar we somehow got into a shopping spree DSC04522.jpg
defiantly a different experience from the souks of Morocco

Posted by Rish_n_Ben 10:05 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

First Stop Fes

sunny 18 °C

After living in Ireland for 2 and a half months we felt we needed to escape to somewhere warm from Christmas. If you have followed our travels since our first overseas trip you will know we jumped in the deep end and travelled to Morocco straight from Australia as our first destination. I wont go into any great detail but in short we didn't totally enjoy our first visit. But after getting quite a bit of travel experience we thought we should give it another go.

Leaving it a little late to book the only flights we could get went through Barcelona each way, so we had to stay in Barcelona for two nights each way, its a hard life!

We did manage to do some mullet spotting in our time in Barcelona;

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We flew into Casablanca but we got the train straight from the Airport to Fes, we arrived in Fes at about 7pm and we had arranged for a taxi pickup. It turned out to be a good idea because the train station is crazy. They have big metal fences around the entry to keep out the touts and taxi drivers. We felt glad to see a driver right at the gate with our name on it (I didnt dare get out my camera with so many people around) The car was some sort of huge Mercedes probably only a 5 years old and was kitted out with disco lights inside and out. Apparently this meant he didn't have to worry about other traffic because he would just drive straight through intersections without slowing down

This time round in Morocco we decided to live a little more luxuriously, and we stayed in Riads (small palace hotels)
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Rishi approved of our first pad, we went traditional for our first stay in Fes

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This is the fantastic courtyard, we could order Moroccan mint tea and traditional sweets anytime of the day and lounge in the courtyard
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The medina in Fes is amazing and it really is just a maze of narraw streets, the best way to get a good idea of the layout is to get a view from somewhere up high. We got a great view from up on the roof terrace of a museum
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Fes Medina View
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This is now the second year in a row we have been in a country for Christmas that doesn't celebrate Christmas, maybe we need to go somewhere really christmassy next year (London?)
We went to a palace restaurant for lunch
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The food was pretty good, the salads in the photo were the entree and they were delicious. We had the Pigeon Pastilla for one of the mains and that was delicious as well. Just hoping the pigeon isn't just caught off the street! A pasitlla is basically a baked savoury pastry which they use a lot of sugar and cinnamon to flavour. Its a really amazing flavour combo.

Then we went Babooshka shopping, lucky Rishi drives a hard bargain! And the pay one third of the original price worked well
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We saw the scenic but extremely smelly tanneries
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The dye is basically made of urine and crap (and probably countless other chemicals) It really smells!

As a day trip from Fes we hired a grand taxi with two other travellers to goto Volubilis and Meknes for the day.

Volubilis is amazing, one of the best preserved Roman towns in the world
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Other than that we basically spent the day drinking mint tea and eating

Rishi was looking for a good Cous Cous
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Next stop was Marrakech

Posted by Rish_n_Ben 02:50 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

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