We got in around 11pm last night, the Riad El Wiam, where we are staying for the night came to pick us from the airport and drive us to the Riad. A Riad is really just their version of a Bed and Breakfast. Going through the streets of Marrakech there is one plain and evident thing, there are no strict street laws. The streets are full of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters, we later found out you do not need a license to drive any of these.
We met with the owners of the Riad and they were beyond nice, overly friendly. They served us mint tea and small desserts while we talked about the room, how to get around and the city itself. Around midnight is when we finally got into the room and just knocked out cold. They told us to be ready early around 730am is breakfast on the roof and what a magical breakfast it was.
The roof top had the most amazing Moroccan setting, perfect blue skies, cacti everywhere and the sun which was 102 degrees, but it didn't feel as bad as it would in the states. For breakfast we had their style of pancakes, butter with cinnamon on it, yogurt with jam, american coffee, Moroccan coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, I mean the list kept going. We couldn't eat it all. So we headed out to explore the city. The city itself is crowded, shops everywhere the owners told us to stick to the main paths or we would get lost.
Everything was about a 15 minute walk each way in the city center, medina. Our first stop was the Koutoubia Mosque and the Koutoubia Gardens, it is the largest mosque in Marrakech built during 1184 to 1199. It was under construction when we went, but I am pretty sure non-muslims are not allowed to enter, without a paid guided tour.
So we walked around and basked in the beauty of the building and took a few photos, being photobombed by the guy on the bike was the highlight to me, it couldn't have been more perfect! Onto the next stop was the El Badi Palace, it was about a 15 minute walk around and through the city.
The El Badi Palace was built between 1578 - 1593, and is mostly just ruins now. But it was beautiful to walk around the 600 year old ruins. Marrakech has a modern art project throughout the city and has art displayed from artists all over the world throughout their tourist attractions. It really was exciting to see the pieces and learn a little more about modern day art in ruins that are almost 500 years old. I got some great shots of the guys walking around.
We walked around quite a bit there and headed out back to the Medina, the city center to walk through the most famous square in Africa, the Jemaa el- Fnaa. Walking through the old city and all the Souks and shops was a little overwhelming. There was so much color and all these beautiful handmade pieces. Its a wonder how I didn't walk away with bags of everything. It was such a unique experience. The key to everything they say is haggling your prices, you can get them to go lower on anything!!
Like I said there aren't many laws when it comes to mopeds and scooters so all the streets were filled with them and pretty much they have the right away. After walking around the Medina, the city center, we walked towards the Kasbah Mosque and the Saadian Tombs.
Im posting a lot of the photos, because I don't think words really do anything justice to this beautiful city. I caught this kid looking out his window!! Also cocacola signs are literally everywhere in the city.
We than walked to the Bahia Palace, set in extensive gardens, was built in the late 19th century, Bou Ahmed resided here with his four wives, 24 concubines and many children (wiki). The palace and gardens run across 2 acres of land. It literally took us hours to get through it all. The focus on the tiniest details were astonishing. The doors, the ceilings, the columns everything was tiled, hand painted or precisely carved from wood.
We spent way too much time there and everyone was getting tired and hungry. We walked back to the Medina and got some food for dinner. There are so many options to eat on the balcony and we did not want to skip that chance, because lucky for us there was an air show going on.
We got back to our road, freshened up and went back out for the night markets. That in itself is a major experience I highly recommend. There are handmade games, drum circles, circles of prayers and story telling, bands, magicians, snake charmers, people with monkeys you can take pictures with. We mostly walked around to just watch everything. Doug stopped to play one of the bottle top games. Seriously min blowing.
They had carts and carts of foods and smoothies! We decided to sit and eat just a taste of what the streets of Morocco had to offer and it did not disappoint. A little weird out of the norm, bread came from old baskets sitting on the ground, meat came from who knows. We just had a tiny bit of it all and headed back to the Riad for some sleep. We have to be up early for a tour outside of the city!