December 4th We left Agadir around 9am and first of all went to drop Tori off at her Minders place. Wow, it was like a mansion, surrounded by a huge wall, with beautiful grounds and gardens and the people were just lovely. Tori is luckily that its school holidays and there is 2 young girls to play with her and keep her company.
We set off for the 250 klm trip to Marrakech and drove through some beautiful country seeing lots of desert type country with the odd goat herder with his herd of goats and sometimes sheep. It took over 3 hours and we decided to find the hotel then get lunch. Not so easy! After more than 2 hours driving around and walking, which included driving into the Medina where cars are not supposed to go, and hours of Mark and myself trying to follow google maps with the address of the hotel, and fending off wannabe guides that will take you there for a price, we finally made it. We had tried numerous times to ring the hotel, but it just went to voice mail with an Arabic message.
We had lots of nervous laughs while trying to manoeuvre the car through the medina, at first it looked OK and Mark said yeah go down here and we can get out to the right. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and eventually the road got so narrow we couldn’t go any further. By this time we were getting some strange looks! I must say everyone kept their cool and we calmly turned the car around by Mark getting out and moving a trolley and Robbie driving back and forward. Jennifer and I were hiding on the floor of the car by this stage! (Not really)
Mr Google, there is some adjustments needed in the Marrakech Maps!
The Hotel staff (Angsana Riad Collection) were very welcoming and apologetic when we told them we had been trying to ring for over 2 hours. We were seated and given hot towels and minted tea while one of the staff went with Robbie and Mark to retrieve the car and take it to the car park near the Hotel. We were both given mobile phones with the hotel numbers so we can ring them if we have any further problems. We were then all escorted about a one minute walk away, to our Riad. So it’s like a mini hotel with 5 hotel rooms all set around a central area. We have the Spa downstairs and then 2 storeys and a roof top with sunbeds and tables and chairs. The décor is very authentic Moroccan and it’s absolutely beautiful.
We had a quick look around and by this stage we were all starving and set off to find something to eat and to explore the Medina. We found a very nice roof top restaurant that had happy hour buy one get one free so we enjoyed a couple of drinks and the food was very nice. Jennifer had marinated chicken kebab and the 3 of us had Lamb Shanks. By now the sun was going down and it was very picturesque.
We then wandered around all the souks (market stalls) and just enjoyed the whole feel and atmosphere of the Medina. Literally hundreds of stalls selling rugs, lamps, antiques, leather bags, shoes and lots of really interesting bowls, plates, knifes. Some of them are very pushy, even trying to pull you into their stalls. Jennifer and I were looking at some handmade timber boxes and he started off with a price of 1500 dirham for both, Jennifer walked away and he got down to 100 dirham for both. I said hang on – I’ll ask her and he ran after Jennifer calling “Alaska, Alaska come back” – he thought I was calling her name “Alaska”!! It was funny. One of the techniques of the pushy vendors is to mimic what they think is your accent, or ask where you came from. I was walking behind Mark & Jennifer after one had asked them and he got the short shift from Mark, and as he walked past me he was muttering “Americans – huh skinniest dam Americans I ever saw!!”
We didn’t really buy anything apart from Robbie buying his favourite nut brittle and Jennifer buying Almonds. There were lots of lovely food stalls selling olives, dried fruit and nuts, spices. Lots of lovely smells, handmade soaps and practically everything.
December 5th We started the day off with a lovely breakfast in the hotel the others all had omelette and I had fruit and yogurt. Robbie was a little disappointed with the no bacon thing but he got over it. There was a plentiful selection of breads and pastries, really have to recommend it as a good place to stay. (Angsana Collection)
The girls set off on our shopping mission with set priorities and budgets and strategies to foil the high pressure techniques of the vendors. The boys were doing their own thing and we agreed to meet at 1:00pm in the big square called Place Djemaa El-Fna
Jennifer and I had a lot of fun bargaining – I brought Berber handmade rug, Moroccan teapot, silver bangles for the girls, I brought 8 or 9 ( 2 daughters, a step daughter and step daughter in-law) and he gave Jennifer one for free as she was encouraging me. I brought a beautiful handmade cedar box, except that its round, about the size of a rockmelon, it’s really nice. I got a gorgeous mirror that has a door thing on the front, you open 2 little doors out and its quite ornate and Moroccan looking with camel bone dyed with Henna decoration with a Hand of Fatima which means good luck. I can’t say what Jennifer brought as it’s a surprise for Mark for Christmas.
We ended up in the square and as we got closer to the square we noticed that the goods became more “China Shit” as Heidi says. It was also really disappointing to see guys running around with monkeys on leads, trained to walk up to people and then of course when the people go Gaga over the monkey, he jumps up into their arms and then you have to pay for the photo. The worst thing is that some of them had the monkeys in disposable nappies this made me feel mad at them. We wandered why the nappies but then we noticed the monkeys sit on peoples head. The other sad thing was the Zebra and other skins we noticed hanging up in various places for sale, can’t understand why people would want to kill these beautiful animals. We didn’t see any of the snake charmers but we did see lots of guys with snakes that you could have your photo taken. We were disappointed as it would have been very cool to see the snake charmers.
We meet the boys and we had already checked out a place for lunch for 20 dirham for a chicken kebab and French fries. The boys were rather excited they had both brought new phones, Samsung (Samstung!!!) Galaxy S5’s. They had paid 700 dirham for them, the initial asking price was 1500. They thought they had got a real bargain. Me being the sceptical, thought straight away they were not genuine. But they had them working on the internet and they could ring each other so they were pretty confident.
After lunch we wandered back through the Medina to our hotel to dump our shopping, charge the new Samstungs and enjoyed a couple of cold drinks and a few laughs on the roof top balcony. We decided to google how to tell a genuine from a fake Samsung, and Mark was very serious completing a number of tests, and at the end he admitted it wasn’t looking good.
We headed out again to wander through the Medina and we had all decided we should try the food markets in the middle of the square for dinner. This is a real eye opener. You are accosted as soon as you get near the place and they literally push you into their stall. They had about 5 guys’ yahooing and clapping encouraging us to sit and eat, which we did. We ordered Calamari, Couscous, vegetables and Tagines (slow cooked meat or chicken with vegetables). The meal wasn’t too bad except the Calamari never turned up. We ended it with the traditional mint tea which has the cube of sugar in it which is about the size of a match box.
We wandered around the square looking at the performers and all of a sudden Robbie started shouting and hit a guy’s shoulder right next to me. There was a group of 3 of them, and Robbie had seen the one guy put his hand in my coat pocket. I felt sick – I hadn’t even felt it. Luckily I had no money or anything in there. This is the first time it’s happened to us in all our travels and it leaves a very bad taste in your mouth!
We found a nice restaurant/bar to go and have a night cap and just as we were ready to leave, 3 Belly dancers turned up. One older lady who was reasonably covered up, and 2 young beautiful girls in the traditional skimpy bling bikinis. They were enticing the men up to dance for a tip pushed into their bras. Robbie wouldn’t have it on but Mark did a great show! He even danced with the tray of candles on his head!
December 6th: We enjoyed another beautiful breakfast before we checked out of the hotel. Jennifer wanted to go and check out the famous La Mamounia Hotel (out of the 1000 things to do before you die book) which we found very easily – nothing like the 2+ hour adventure we had looking for our hotel! Wow once we got through the security checks the hotel, grounds and ambience was just beautiful. We relaxed and had coffees and a mint tea for 28 euro but it was really nice. We had a walk through the huge beautifully landscaped grounds and saw turtles and mating doves.
We continued on our journey back to Agadir and took the long route back through some tiny Moroccan towns and villages, seeing some very basic accommodations and sights. We stopped at a small town for a stroll around seeing a giant birds nest on the Mosque tower, and just enjoying the sight of the locals doing their thing. We stopped at a town called Chichaoua for lunch. I had a Tangine and the othes all had a BarBQued Beef dish. A young Arabic girl took a real fancy to Mark, and after half an hour of her persisting her father eventually brought her over and sat her on Marks lap. She was a bit shy but was very cute.
We arrived at the La Caniche Ranch where Tori was hanging out in style. She was very pleased to see Mark and Jennifer. The owners Zoe and Abdul and their two girls are so nice and they gave us all beautiful Moroccan key rings. It would have to be the nicest Pet motel I have ever seen.
We arrived back at the marina as it was getting dark and it was a big relief to see the boats were still there, floating and no issues. We had a very early night.