We were immediately thrown into the thick of Morocco. We hopped into a cab and headed over to the hostel we were staying in. Of course the roads inside the old city were much too small for the cab, we had to walk the rest of the way to the hostel. Immediately we were swarmed by men who wanted to help us and show us where to go. But this, is what maps are for! (and also maps don't demand money when you've reached your destination). The 5 of us are carrying our stuff, which results in drawing a lot of attention from the locals. We are already obviously tourists, hello blond hair, but the bags just make it worse. Two dudes followed us around for a while "guiding us" and we try to avoid them. Doesn't work. Brie had her blackberry and we used GPS to find our hostel. We ended up not having to pay the two dudes, but the entire first hour of being in Morocco was a bit stressful. It was nice to be inside the hostel and away from the pushy people outside. This hostel was called Equity Point. It was really gorgeous and large. Janine, Brie and I had almost a private suite. Our second night we had a guest, Andrew from Australia, who seemed friendly and nice. Unlucky for him the next day we left at 3AM and made a bunch of noise, but at least he was able to sleep once we left. Brie and I slept upstairs, and Janine took one of the beds on the first level. Everywhere we went there were stairs. This proved to be a nightmare to my poor knees, and the creation of slowbot!
We were starving and Eric had gotten better local maps and directions, so we were ready to head out and explore Marrakesh. We took pictures of the hostel and of the way to get back to the hostel for when we were done exploring. But even though we did this, both nights we got lost. The second night wasn't as bad as the first night though. We wandered foreeevvveeerr. I honestly don't know how long, but we walked back and forth, up and down, left and right, these souks are like a maze and incredibly difficult to navigate. A lot of the souks look the same, which didn't help us either. What also made Marrakesh difficult was on these tiny roads in the city there are cars, vans, donkeys, cats, motorcycles, bikes, people; all moving about in every direction. It was seriously amazing that none of us were hurt. People zoom past with 1-2 people per tiny motorcycle, push carts filled with crap into everything, we were constantly pulling at each other to ensure we weren't in the way of passing traffic.
The food was pretty good in Marrakesh. They had delicious and interesting shakes, like Avocado juice. Which was creamy and yum. Looked kind of like bad eggnog or something, very odd coloring. For dinner the first night we tried a pastilla - with squaaab (pigeon) - and it was amaaazing (the only weird thing is the bones were still on the squab, so it made it interesting to eat). A pastilla is a pie which combines sweet and salty flavors; a combination of crisp layers of the crêpe-like dough, savory meat slow-cooked in broth and spices and shredded, and a crunchy layer of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. I think pastilla was my favorite dish. I had another one in Tangier, but with chicken, and it was so sweet and flavorful. The pastries we got from the street were mostly good, a few were meh. But the coconut, chocolate, pistachio was delicious. The next morning we had an amazing home made breakfast at the hostel. There were doughnut type pastries, bread with cheese and jam and delicious fresh squeezed orange juice. We were very disappointed we couldn't enjoy another breakfast at Equity Point. We left far too early the next morning. Our second night we ate in the main square with some people from the hostel, Mike, Vladamir, and Corrin. Brie and I shared chicken and veggie kabobs and Eric ate pancreas with Ed and Corrin. Grooosss. This was also the night that Mike was told "you are everything that is stupid!" by one of the vendors because we were ignoring them. We used this phrase often throughout the rest of our trip, and even upon returning home. It's pretty amazing, it includes anything and everything. How can you argue with that?
We spent a lot of time wandering the souks and contemplating buying things. I did buy some spices for Jonna and a pashmina for myself. It is orange and has a very ornate design. We decided to wait to buy more items since we still had a lot of time left in Morocco. In the market we also saw a snake charmer, which Brie was very excited about. I took her and Eric's pictures with the snakes, but was content to take pictures and watch.
In Marrakesh we saw a lot of really old buildings, tombs, museums and a school. Brie took many pictures, which are amazing, of everything that we saw. I of course, don't remember the names of things to share. The best part of Marrakesh was the university. It was incredibly detailed and old, and it was the best because we were able to run around and take fun pictures. It was like Harry Potter at Hogwarts, and we pretended to be schoolmates. At one of the museums there was a tile "well". It wasn't a real well because it wasn't deep, but we played The Ring, and pretended to have 7 days. The museums mostly made me sad. They were really neat, because most of them were in old homes that used to be palaces. They were really interesting themselves as a building, it was additional bonus that there was history included inside. What made me sad, was the method of preservation and the state of their collection. Everything is just sitting out, maaaybe in a glass case. And even then, it's definitely not temperature controlled. It does get ridiculously hot and gross in Marrakesh, and just thinking about how these pieces of their history are actively being destroyed. Obviously they have limited means and knowledge in how to best preserve and maintain a museum, but still.
We were pretty tired of all the rain and the pushy people and the souks, so we were glad when it was time to move on to Fes. We packed up everything and headed out around 3:30AM to head to the train station to catch our 7+ hour train ride to Fes!
For many more pictures from Marrakesh, Brie has them all posted here!