Once Was Enough: A Visit to Marrakesh

In the Medina-The PlazaWe took the train from Casablanca to Marrakesh. We gazed out the windows at the dusty, brown landscape, piles of trash here and there and shabby towns passing by and we talked about a song from the late sixties, Marrakesh Express, sung by Crosby, Stills and Nash.  For us, the city symbolized some of the spirit of the sixties and seventies, attracting rock bands like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, celebrities and the wealthy from all over the world as well as the young and adventurous.  The city sings its siren song to travelers like us, older with many experiences behind us but still eager to explore its souks, gardens, ancient streets and history.In the streets

We climbed into a taxi and set off for our lodgings located within the Medina of Marrakesh, the older, walled portion of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like Fez and Casablanca, the streets were teeming with people in western and traditional dress sharing the thoroughfares with bicycles, scooters and motorcycles, trucks, mules, horses and carts.  Here and there we spied some of the many scruffy cats that slink about the streets, lingering occasionally to enjoy a bit of sun.  Our attention was drawn to two mules, hitched together alongside the road and a man beating one frantically with a stick who had his teeth sunk into the neck of the other.  And then, in an unexpectedly shocking act of violence the man picked up a large rock and hit the offending mule savagely in the head.  Shaken and a bit sickened by what we’d seen we continued on, our anticipatory moods subdued by the event.Dar NaJat

For our living arrangements we had selected the Dar Najat, a traditional hotel, featured on Trip Advisor.  A dar is similar to a riad in that it is a three to four-story residence organized around a central courtyard but it lacks the interior garden and fountain. Our host, an energetic and dreadlocked young man with a wide, welcoming smile showed us to our small but clean room with rock hard beds and vividly colored bedspreads and pillows. The vibe was most definitely young and hip (in fact, we got the feeling that a joint or chunk of hash could be ours for the asking) but we felt comfortable and joined the few other travelers on the roof top dining and lounging area.  During our stay, we started each morning with a vast assortment of Moroccan pastries, eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice and bitter, strong coffee to fuel our adventures.In the streets - Medina wall

Today, Marrakesh is a huge draw for tourists all over the world and consists of its old city, the Medina, fortified by the (not so) red sandstone wall which gave it the nickname, “The Red City” and is surrounded by modern neighborhoods.  However, it should be kept in mind that it is one of the world’s most important trading centers, stretching from antiquity to the present day drawing merchants and buyers from the Maghreb (all of North Africa west of Egypt), Sub-Saharan Africa and, most recently, Europe. One of Morocco’s four former imperial cities built by the Berber empire, its history stretches back over a thousand years to its founding in 1017; a city that has survived feasts and famines, plagues, anarchy, the plotting of feudal lords, military coups and political intrigues.in the Medina

We spent a couple of memorable days in the company of our driver, Taoufiq, who showed up our first morning at Dar Najat promptly at 9 to collect us and walk us the short distance from the Medina to the square where his van was parked. His older brother Daoud, an erudite and well-spoken gentleman, accompanied us and shared the history of this fascinating city.  The following are some of our favorites:

  • The Ben Youssef Madrasa was founded in the 14th century and was one of the largest theological colleges in North Africa.  An interior courtyard let in the day’s weak sunlight and featured intricately carved stucco walls, marble floors and ancient, hand-worked cedar trim enclosed by a warren of dormitories.  It was fascinating to imagine the lives of its male inhabitants, as many as 900 at a time, who studied in its environs over the years.  The madrasa closed its doors in 1960, underwent extensive refurbishment and was reopened to the public as a historical site in 1982.Medraza de Ben Youssef
  • The El Bahia Palace, first begun in the 1860’s, was completed a couple of decades later by a former slave who rose to wealth and power, Ahmed Ibn Moussa, who brought hundreds of craftsmen in from Fez to lavishly embellish it.  Intended to be the greatest palace of its time, Ahmed Ibn Moussa lived there until his death in 1900 with his four wives and an entourage of twenty-four official concubines as well as the multitude of children who accompanied them.  With 160 rooms of reception halls, private quarters, interior courtyards with fountains and the two acres of gardens surrounding the palace, the place is a mouth-dropping delight of carved stucco panels, zelig tiles, arched doorways, carved cedar and painted ceilings.Palais BahiaPalais Bahia
  • The twelve-acre botanical garden, Jardin Majorelle, was designed by the French landscape artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s and has been open to the public since 1947.  In 1980 the garden was bought by Yves Saint-Laurent (whose ashes were scattered there after his death in 2008) and his partner, Pierre Bergé, who continued the efforts to preserve the garden and share the artist’s vision with the public.  Bird song and the play of water trickling from fountains accompanied us on our walk and voices were hushed, much like being in a church.  An astonishing variety of cacti, some fifteen to twenty feet high, are included among the three-hundred plant species from five continents. The buildings on the grounds are painted a bright blue that is named after the artist, bleu Majorelle.Jardin MajorelleJardin Majorelle
  • We’d missed seeing a working tannery during our time in Fez so a visit to the Tannery District was high on our list, a chance to see how leather has been processed for well over a thousand years.  Our guide, Dauoud presented each of us with a large clump of mint and told us to breathe through the leaves while we were there.  The noxious stench was visceral.  The animal skins are brought by mule or donkey from the slaughterhouse and then piled high awaiting their turn.  Men worked in and near vats filled with various mixtures of diluted cow urine or pigeon feces (ammonia cleans the hide of remaining fat, flesh and hair) and the hides are spread out to dry.  A ghastly pile of scrapped-off animal hair stood to one side.  Then the hides are immersed in other vats filled with natural vegetable dyes (indigo, henna, poppy, cedar wood, etc.) and at some stage the men knead the skins with their bare feet to soften them further.  The process was fascinating to watch but we definitely wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with vegetarian preferences.tannery
  • We’re not shoppers by anyone’s definition but a stroll (if you can tolerate the aggressive vendors who surround you whenever you pause to examine an item) through the Souks of Marrakesh are an integral part of experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the city.  Here it seems like everything you can imagine is for sale from slippers to jewelry, medicinal herbals to geodes, leather goods to carpets.In the medinaIn the medina
  • Lastly, the heart of Marrakesh, the Jemaâ El Fna (historically used for public beheading by rulers seeking control) is the center of Marrakesh’s activity, tourism and trade.  We’d thread our way through the narrow streets of the medina and throngs of people at the end of each day to sit on the second-floor balcony of one of many restaurants overlooking the huge square and meeting place of the Medina. We could easily have been transported back centuries as we ate lamb, chicken and sausage dishes along with the ever-present hovis, round unleavened bread, washed down with a-ti’, sweetened mint tea. Below, unfolded a tapestry of musicians, dancers, snake-charmers, henna artisans, food vendors, alms seekers, magicians, acrobats and hucksters out hustling the masses that flowed through and around the square striving to make a living.  Wandering through the surging throng seeing what was to be seen took fortitude to ward off the persistent vendors who weren’t turned away with a polite headshake or firm “No.” It soon became apparent that when one’s camera was raised what quickly followed was a hand insisting on a small remuneration for the privilege. It seemed that everywhere we turned there was a demanding hand or a wheedling voice trying to sell us something and it didn’t take long before we’d decide to forego the fascinating scenes playing out before us and tire of the intimidation and harassment of the vendors and flee.In the medinaIn the Medina-The Plazain the medina plaza

In 2015 Marrakesh was named by Trip Advisor as its most popular travel destination in the world.  That fact alone should have served as a warning to avoid the city…  While we enjoyed much of our time there we found that we were also uncomfortable many times with the repeated demands for money and pestering to sell us goods in which we had no interest.  At the end of our third day in Marrakesh a full moon hung low in the sky and we boarded a night train heading back to Tangier and home to Portugal.

By Richard and Anita

 

 

82 comments

  • Tafraout used also to be quite an atmospheric place to stay. I was ill all around Morocco though

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  • I did not like it much either. Nicer places in Morocco to be honest such as simply wandering around in the Anti_Atlas. But I am in no hurry to go back

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  • Well we are well warned though I am fortunate enough to look like a local wherever I go so seldom get hassled. I enjoyed your stories and your photos so if I never get there at least I’ve shared your experience. Thank you.

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  • Hello glad you liked my post
    https://debsdialogue.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/what-is-lost-when-doors-are-shut/
    One of the images was from Marrakech! It was the time an Icelandic volcano erupted and my friend and I we’re stuck there for 10 days.
    Some good friends of mine lived in Meknes and Fez for a while. So your Fez post was such a lovely reminder. I much preferred the medina in Fez to Marrakech!

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    • Ten days in Marrakesh might have been a bit too much time for us but maybe we would have become much more skilled in dealing with the vendors! There was so much to love about Morocco and the medina’s were entertaining, fascinating and so fun to visit. We’re hoping to make another trip to this amazing country soon and Meknes sounds like a place we’ll definitely want to check out!

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  • I was in Marrakesh about 30 years ago and it sounds like not much has changed.except for being more popular than ever. I was 17 at the time and I remember the beggars: mostly lepers and people with huge white eyes (some kind of disease). I just remember being totally traumatized to the point that I didn’t want to leave the hotel.
    We’ve travelled a lot since then and I wouldn’t have the same reaction. And I’m sure the same level of poverty is no longer evident. But what stuck with me was the never ending sticking out of hands. Didn’t enjoy it all all and you’ve reminded me that once was probably enough for me as well.
    Frank (bbqboy)

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    • From your description we’d have to agree with you that probably not a lot has changed although the degree of poverty and health of the residents may have improved since you last visited Marrakesh. We’d (mistakenly) thought that with all the miles of travels though Central and South America that we could “handle” aggressive vendors but the degree of persistence and constant barrage just wore us down!

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  • Hi Anita, Dick! The architecture is mesmerizing, and I would love to stroll through those gardens. You experience with the vendors and being asked for money to take a photo found very much like Egypt. As much as I loved the country, the constant hand out for money got old really fast.

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    • There was so much to love about Marrakesh and the architecture and gardens were stunning as well as learning about the history. But being interrupted in our strolls and hassled and harrangued in certain areas of the city was unpleasant and we found ourselves leaving places we’d really wanted to spend some time soaking up the experience because of the vendors. However, I guess we’ll just have to toughen up more and take big breaths because Egypt is still on our “Go To” list!

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  • Loved this post. If the vendors were too aggressive for you, I’d never make it. I couldn’t handle them in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua and I’m sure they are nothing compared to Marrakesh. I always hated the trained children saying they needed to eat and selling little nothings. Your pictures sure capture the beauty of Morocco though. Enjoy and onward!!

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    • Thanks Suzi and we’re glad you liked this post. There is so much to love about Morocco and we met many lovely people who wanted to share their country and history with us. However, it’s difficult to resolve our feelings about the vendors when we understand how desperately poor many of them are while at the same time we’re trying to stick to our own lifestyle of acquiring less stuff and living within the constraints of our budget. And we definitely hated the harassment which made enjoying some of the areas of the city almost impossible!

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  • I had very much the same reaction to Marrakesh. I HATED when the very young children (5-7 years old) would shove little packs of tissues in our hands and beg us for money. We were there right after 9/11 and the Moroccans were not that keen on us Americans. I’m glad I was there with my husband….

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    • The majority of tourists that visit Marrakesh are European so many of the people we met seemed to be genuinely happy to meet Americans. They were very positive about the US, no doubt because of the many economic incentives that have been put in place over the years. And while I never felt threatened when I was out on my own, my negative experience with some women who tried to give me a henna tattoo was very unpleasant and added to our very unfavorable impression of the city!

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  • Great photos and a good comprehensive post on Marrakesh. We visited years ago, and it was truly an eye-opener for us. But, unless things have changed, I would agree that once is enough. It was incredibly touristy when we visited (the Pleistocene), and I can’t imagine how busy it must be these days. We encountered lots of agressive locals as well, which never sits well with me. No means no. But like lots of other places, every serious traveler should visit – at least once. BTW, you may have noticed that things have been quiet at Gallivance lately. Terri blew here knee out and had to have a total knee replacement surgery recently, so as you can imagine, her recovery and care have kept us both pretty busy. She’s progressing well, but it’s slow going. We haven’t forgotten about our friends and look forward to things getting back to normal. In the meantime, thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

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    • Our bucket list keeps growing longer – in part because of your recommendations, James – and there are so many opportunities to travel to new places ahead. And, as you know, trying to eenie-mynie-mo between the choices is fun along with the anticipation and planning that are part of the preparations. Sorry to hear about Terri’s knee and hoping that the recuperation process is going smoothly. I imagine that while she’s sidelined she’s doing lots of research so your “Must see” list is probably growing too. And, lucky for you, you have your newly renovated condo to enjoy while you’re home! Anita

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  • Your post is refreshingly honest and I can just imagine how you cringed as you watched that poor donkey being abused. You must have felt as if you’d been traveling back to medieval times. We had quite a similar experience in Kenya as we were shocked by the poor living conditions, rubbish all over and abusive treatment of animals. #Marrakesh #BoomerTravelBloggers

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    • I know we’ve lived sheltered lives (how lucky we are!) so watching the beating of the mule left an indelible impression upon us and probably tainted some of our other feelings about Marrakesh. I did ask our guide at one point where all the dogs were as all we saw about the Medina (besides the work animals) were the many cats laying in the sun and going about their cat business. His reply was that they come out at night to avoid the children who beat them which was also a very shocking answer. A much harsher culture than we’re used to …

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  • I loved Morocco when I visited Tangier 30-odd years ago, and I’ve always wanted to go back and see Marrakesh. But you’ve made me wonder if it would be better to see some different cities instead – there’s no point putting up with endless crowds and hawkers. (Although I did love the sound of your breakfast on the roof.)

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    • We loved our breakfasts too, although we had to do some extra walking to work off the delicious pastries! We plan to visit Morocco again because we loved the country, the food, the art and architecture and the whole exotic feel of the region. However, it sounds like there are many other wonderful and interesting Moroccan cities to explore that aren’t as overrun with tourists and might have more of a relaxed feel that we can appreciate!

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  • Well, you’ve cured me of a desire to head to Marrakesh. Glad you visited so I could enjoy the city from a distance, sipping coffee at my computer and following you around in your travels. I did laugh at the ‘rock hard’ bed because we’ve encountered some of those in Greece and I feel about 99 years old when I roll out of one in the morning! Great post –

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    • Sometimes a virtual visit is better than the real thing, Jackie. 🙂 There are many times when we feel sad to leave a place because we’ve enjoyed it so much and still have places we want to see but obviously, this wasn’t one of them! And we can certainly relate to the “morning after” comment when we’ve had a bed with no give. Feels like one-step up from our back-packing days!

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  • Marrakesh sounds wonderfully exotic. I can understand your exasperation with the constant demands for money or a sale by the locals. We had a similar experience in Luxor many years ago. As sympathetic and polite as you try to be, it does get a bit tiring.

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    • We left Marrakesh with the simple takeaway lesson (a pun if you will!) that saying “NO” over a long period of time to many people leads to a very negative experience! 🙂 It’s wonderful to take the time to savor exotic locales and immerse yourself in the experience while you decide how or even if you want to part with your money. We’ve always tried to be polite but it seemed we were forced several times to behave rudely which is not something we wanted to do!

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  • What a wonderfully rich and candid description of your visit to Marrakesh. What a shame that seasoned tourists like you were made to feel THAT uncomfortable.

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    • Thanks Irene for your kind words. It was interesting to experience the difference in the vendors’ approaches to us, especially between the cities of Fez and Marrakesh. In Fez, especially in the Medina, there were a lot of offers from the “unofficial” guides but the young men faded away after a polite no. In Marrakesh we just seemed to get bombarded from all sides as everyone seemed to be after our small pot of tourist dollars and it was very difficult to walk around and just watch. And while we accept that sometimes a bit of money for a photo of a costume or activity might be needed the onslaught was relentless!

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  • I’ve heard that Tangier is worse than Marrakesh as regards tireless vendors. Did you find that to be true? Even with the negatives, I enjoyed tagging along with you on your tour of Marrakesh.

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    • There are some beautiful and interesting places to visit in Marrakesh and we tried to write about what we enjoyed rather than just say outright that we hated it all! And of course there’s the food! We’d also read and heard that Tangier was a place to avoid because of the persistent vendors but some friends who visited there in April said they had no problems. Perhaps the fact that they hired a private guide helped but they really enjoyed their experience. We’re thinking we’ll add Tangier to our list when we visit Morocco again.

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  • Thanks for a very interesting article about your trip to Marrakech. I have been to Morocco and to Marrakech a number of times, both while I was an international corporate executive with responsibilities over a large Moroccan company and afterwards as a tourist. I would never have offered either Marrakech or any other place in Morocco as a top world destination. Sometimes people just need to go somewhere to find out for themselves what they like or do not like. But they should rely on experienced travelers, not on the extremely questionable ratings of TripAdvisor.Thanks for the posting!

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    • So glad you enjoyed this post Denis, and it’s fun to exchange views. As travelers who try to avoid “top destinations” whenever possible or at least to see them during the shoulder or off-season we were (almost!) shocked to learn that TripAdvisor had put Marrakesh at the top of its 2015 list. There are so many places we’d recommend well before Marrakesh but, as you’ve said, the ratings many times are questionable and what people like and don’t like is so variable. And now we’ve expressed our opinions, too!

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  • Marrakesh sounds fascinating and I would love to visit it one day. I tend to switch off from vendors after a while, but I think it can be intimidating. Great idea to have a driver to show you around, was he someone reccomend?

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    • We hate big tour groups and over the years we’ve hired taxi drivers or arranged for short independent tours when we want to see a place that’s a bit off-the-beaten track. Maybe a bit more expensive but then we get to see what we want. The dar where we stayed at in Marrakesh, the Dar Najat, recommended the driver and his brother who acted as our guide. We so enjoyed their company that we hired them privately to take us to see the goats near Essauoira on a day trip. Definitely a high point in our stay!

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  • Federico absolutely hated the overly aggressive tradesmen at the medina. It didn’t bother me at all. It’s like that at home.. After about a day and half, they stopped bothering us as they recognized us and it got better. I had unfortunately left all my luggage behind in Seville, and so had to buy new outfits. I kept getting them offer to sell me the same thing l was wearing for less. Like why would l want the same thing? It sounds like they were super aggressive with you guys. That would have made it suck, especially when you had a great experience in Fez.

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    • OMG – now there’s a trip catastrophe before the journey even started! I had to laugh when I pictured someone asking you if you wanted the same outfit for less! Some of the Moroccans we met never missed an opportunity for a sales pitch or a chance to bargain!!!

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      • Yeah..quite the surprise at the airport :-). I got there with just my purse. Luckily one of the young guys at the riad went with us to the medina where l had to buy everything, clothes, undies..It was an undercover operation as the cops are ruthless there. Only official guides can be with tourists so he would walk like a few feet ahead of us and motion to the store where to go. I felt like a local for sure 🙂

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  • Nancy Hutcheon

    Even more fascinating, if possible, than your last post about Morocco! Nancy 

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  • Great pics! And yes, agreed – Marrakesh the most touristy of the corners I explored in Morocco (Fez, Chefchaouen and Essaouira among my faves in all the World!) The Marrakesh vendors among the most aggressive, but then again – given the vast difference between their incomes and those of even the most shoe-string backpacker, I guess they are simply trying to make a living amid the stiff competition for tourist dollars.

    btw, a bit of Moroccan trivia I find fascinating: Morocco was the first country in the World to recognize our fledgling USA nation back in 1777. Remarkable, yes?

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    • Great point, Dyanne about the competition for tourist dollars (or Euros) among people trying to make a living. It’s sobering to think of how wealthy we are when compared to much of the world … We met some amazing people during our time in Morocco who were just as interested in our country, the US, as we were in theirs and very proud to tell us about Morocco’s part in acknowledging our independence after the revolution. The US and President Obama’s administration is greatly admired in Morocco!

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  • Great trip report on Morocco. I loved visiting there but never got an opportunity to go to the ground level of the Tannery district. I was 3-4 stories above. The smell or odour was so strong so I can’t even imagine how awful it was for you. The Jardin Majorelle was a lovely place to visit too but for me, getting lost in the souks was the most fun. You’ll have to return and sleep one night in the desert. It’s truly a great experience!

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    • A return trip to Morocco is in our plans as there are still so many more cities and areas to explore in this intriguing country. And, like you Jan, we loved wandering through the souks – what a sensory assault and adventure! But your idea of a desert trip tops our list. We’d love to see the vast expanse of sand and stars overhead – sounds magical!

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  • Marrakesh looks fascinating and colourful and a must-see. But like you I’d soon get cheesed off with the pushy vendors and exhausted from the haggling when all I wold really want to do would be to absorb the flavour, antiquity and colours. It’s a shame tourism is spoiling these places, and like you say, if somewhere is voted as a top spot to visit, it’s probably time to find somewhere less well known and quieter. Hope you’re enjoying being home!

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    • I guess the tourist “Hot Spots” aren’t for us – so much for expectations! However, Marrakesh should still be on any traveler’s list of “must sees” for Morocco as it really does have a lot to much to show an adventurous traveler. We’re glad we saw it but It’s more fun for us to find places that are less discovered and a bit off-the-beaten path. And you’re right, it’s good to be home as well as have a home to come back to!

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  • It is a shame that a bad experience can leave a lasting impression of a place…but that is so true. I marvel at your research for the places you visit. It is always fascinating. Thanks for the lovely tour, except for the tannery. I think I can smell it from here. Oh, by the way, I heard you saw Darrell and Amy. Isn’t it great to have visitors from afar?

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    • We both love learning about the history and customs of a new place while we’re planning a visit and the research plays a big part of the “anticipation” of new travels. Learning about how hides are tanned and then watching a process that is hundreds of years old was fascinating but you can bet Debbie, that those mint leaves were almost jammed up our noses to try to mask the smell! And what fun it was to play the part of hosts in our new adopted city to Darrell and Amy! We’ve also been enjoying the visit of another friend we met while we were in Granada, Linda Mccrary who’s a good friend of Amy’s and a talented painter. And, in June, we’ll see Eden and Denny … Looks like Granada, Nicaragua is coming our way! 🙂

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  • What a wonderful account. You wanted to pack a bag for Istanbul, now I want to pack a bag for Marrakesh! I have longed to go back to Morrocco for many years. When I was travelling back in my 20’s it was one of my favourite places. Despite the hucksters I still want to go back.
    Alison

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  • I love the colours and vibrancy in your photos of Marrakesh. It sounds like an interesting place to see but I too would be put off by the throngs of people and constant pestering,

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  • It’s such a truism, but ‘there’s no place like home’ – even if it is a quasi-temporary, partially geographically chosen, wonderland of someone else’s birthplace!

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    • It always feels great to get back to the place one calls home, if only for a chance to wash laundry and enjoy some familiar comforts. After our experiences of being full-time travelers we’re appreciating how nice it can be to return to a city that we know and just “nest” for a few days while we go through our photos, plan other travels and just kick back and breath deeply! Awwww …

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  • Always enjoy your telling of your various trips and the photos. Are you living in Portugal now?

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  • Marrakesh sounds fascinating and it certainly brings back memories of Marrakesh Express with all of those expectations. The Jardin Majorelle sounds particularly wonderful. However we would likely experience the same reaction as you and be quite thankful to leave. Tim & Anne

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    • Marrakesh sounds fascinating and it certainly brings back memories of Marrakesh Express with all of those expectations. The Jardin Majorelle sounds particularly wonderful. However we would likely experience the same reaction as you and be quite thankful to leave. Tim & Anne

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      • The city was fascinating and we had a great time visiting some of the ancient and newer sites in and out of the Medina. Like Fez, there was so much to see wherever we looked and the food was fantastic! The Jardin Majorelle was a place of tranquility and while we generally tolerate crowds well we didn’t enjoy the crush of people in the Medina. People watching, even with our cameras tucked away, seemed to be a paid sport and the constant attention from various vendors sucked out any further enjoyment. Too bad! 😦

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  • I liked Marrakech but if I return to Morocco would prefer Fez and Meknes!

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  • Your description of Marrakesh brings back lots of memories… We were there 10 years ago and again more recently, a year ago. On our recent visit we could not wait to leave Marrakesh. Wayyy too many tourists and hagglers. We preferred the souk in Essaouira, which once you get off the main avenue, still is very authentic and local in a way that Marrakesh sadly today is not. Tourists of course help the economy and so on, but this is a perfect example of how they also “ruin” a place.

    We too saw cruelty to donkeys, although not as bad as what you witnessed. I was not quiet nor polite and made my unhappiness about the abuse very clear. Those poor donkeys!

    The El Bahia palace and other smaller architectural delights do hold a world of treasure of intricate carvings and mosaics..and the botanic gardens are antics break from the madness yes!

    Peta

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    • I can’t remember the last time we were so ready to leave a place as we were in Marrakesh, even though we had a lovely time with our guide and saw some beautiful and very interesting places in the city. However, our first experience with the city stayed with us and a second experience our last evening there with two overly aggressive women who grabbed me and smeared henna all over my hand after I repeatedly said no and then outright demanded money, reinforced our negative feelings. It’s too bad because we loved Fez and met several warm-hearted people during our time in Morocco including Marrakesh. Perhaps next time we’ll head for your favorite city, Essaouira or Meknes. There are enough new places to explore in Morocco that there’s no reason to revisit ones that we don’t like. Anita

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