After we hit up Madrid, we flew right to Marrakech in Morocco. If you are wondering why we chose to go to Morocco for our week off, I can’t really answer that. We were randomly looking up flights and saw that a round trip plane ticket was only 25 euro and hotels were only 11 euro for a night. I’m a cheap, I mean frugal, person so it sounded great to me. The plane ride was two hours but Marrakech is an hour behind from Madrid. On the plane, I made a conversion cheat sheet from dirhams to the euro. Let’s say I was pretty much able to live like a queen for 3 days, well kind of. When we were close to Marrakech, I looked outside and the difference from Ireland was crazy. There were mountains in the background and all of the colors were brown, which is a nice break from seeing green everywhere. Once we landed, we found an ATM or money machine and took out 1,000 Dh each. Since we were at the airport, I decided to buy a water just in case. This is also where I learned that French is a main language; good thing I had taken it throughout high school so I knew the basics. I had printed out directions that the hotel sent us so we knew how to get there. Well, we easily found the right bus line and got off at the right stop. After that, we had a couple of issues. The first one is that we were bombarded with people asking us questions and trying to get us to buy stuff from them. But once we found a clearing, we looked at our map and then a guy told us to go through the square, find France cafe, and then take a right. Sweet, thanks for the help. Oh wait, you don’t know how to say take the first right or second. We found the cafe and we took a right. Nothing was looking like a hotel and conveniently, street signs are not popular. Also not popular, accurate maps. There were so many smaller streets that they weren’t on the map which is not helpful when we officially became lost. I tried to ask women for directions to get there and that only confused us more. Finally, we found a guy to that knew English very well and he led us to the hotel. Of course he wanted money, but I was so thankful to finally get in our room that I gladly paid him. It was already dark out and there was no way that we would have ever found the place without assistance. The hotel we stayed at was technically a riad. It was a house that had an open courtyard in the middle of it so there wasn’t a ceiling and was open to the outside. We got a private room that had our own bathroom. After we hung out for a bit, I wanted to get some food so we stayed close to our hotel since we had no idea where we were. We found a cute restaurant where other tourists were eating so we thought it was a good idea to follow their lead. The restaurant was super neat. There were beautiful rugs everywhere and traditional Moroccan musicians serenading us throughout our meal. They served us olives and bread and I ordered chicken cous cous. I pretty much either got cous cous or skewers for every meal haha! The meal was delicious and only 8 euro. Back at our room, we got ready for bed and then made a bucket list for Mal. Being two very petite girls, and me with bright blonde hair, we thought it was safer for us to stay in at night.
In the morning, I tried to take a shower but the water was freezing cold. Not today I said. We got breakfast from the hotel which was bread and you spread a cheese and honey on it and then tea. Moroccan tea is the best tea I have ever had. It’s sweeter than the normal green tea that I have had. So good. With my map in hand, we asked the guy at reception how we get back to the main square. He said take a right and a left. I then clarified if it was first right, first left. He said yes, so we went on our way. And he was actually right. We were literally 100 feet from the main square and when we first got directions it was the second right after the cafe, not the first. That made me a little frustrated but oh well. We wandered through the square where we saw a lot of monkeys in pants and snake charmers, and then we went to a park called Cyber Parc. They had computers throughout the park where anyone could use them. Kinda sweet. There were tons of benches in the park so we claimed one and then soaked up the sun. It was in the 70s the entire time we were there. But since it is an Islamic culture, I wore jeans and long sleeves so I was sweating like crazy. I wasn’t complaining because I don’t the sun a whole lot here in Ireland. After basking in the sun for awhile, we went back to the square and that’s when we got a henna tattoo. This was also the start of my haggling skills. I learned from the best, my dad. We didn’t want to risk them getting smudged so we went back to the hotel to let them dry. For supper we went to a cafe in the square where I ordered 2 meals because it was so cheap. I got two full meals for only 7 euro. Delicious! Once it started to get dark, we headed home. I braved up and took a shower in the cold water. It was a very quick shower but as long as I was clean that’s all that matters. Since it was only 7 o’clock and we had no electronics of any sort, we played the alphabet game with movies, artists, food, etc. It was a lot of letters.
On our last day, we got up and ate the hotel’s breakfast again. We then went out to do some sightseeing. The first place on the list was a palace. We followed the map and then the signs but we couldn’t find it because there were walls blocking everything. We did end up in a really pretty garden where there were a lot of cats. There are so many wild cats in Marrakech that just wander the streets. Mal wouldn’t let me pet any;( On our way back, we got lucky. I put the map away and we happened to stumble across the tombeaux saadiens, the 100,00 Spices Square and the mansour mosque. All of these place we couldn’t find using the map but we managed to wander to them. At the Spice Square, we took a break and ordered a Fanta and people watched. People watching is not something you really want to do because if you make eye contact they will all try to talk to you. As we were sitting there, it was so easy to spot other tourists with their maps, turned around backpacks, socks and sneakers, and the confused look on their faces. Then I realized that was me minus the socks and sneakers. Good thing I like to be a tourist. After our soda break, I put on my shopping face and we hit the streets. There are hundreds on vendors on dozens of side streets that pretty much sell the same things to you. Since eat shop sells similar things, they try and get you to go in their stores. And they think calling me nicknames is the way to go. Here is a list of the names I was called:
- Lady Gaga
- Big ass
- Nice ass
- My precious
- Hannah Montana
- Fish and chips
- Spice Girls
As you can read, I am pretty amazing according to the list lol! If they didn’t call me an obnoxious name like Lady Gaga, I would go in their shop. Then they would tell me that I can look for free. Why yes, I can thank you. If something interested me, I would ask for a price; since I’m a tourist they would give me an obnoxious price. This is where I would either laugh at them or ask if that is the price for one. Haggling is something you do in Morocco and I was so ready. My best work was with a jewelry box. The gentleman told me the price of 450 Dh for one. Then I proceeded to bargain with him until I got it down to 70Dh. Keith would be so proud of me. Mal was so impressed that I had to assist her when she wanted to buy scarves. Her issue was that she would ask for a price and then walk away without bargaining. Rookie mistake. Simply laugh and them and they’ll lower the price. Once I exhausted myself shopping, it was time for dinner. We found a restaurant that had three stories and overlooked the Djemaa El Fna. That is the main area for shopping and street performers. It was a pretty view; we were there as the sun was setting and could see the entire square. So pretty. Since that was our last meal of the trip, I got Moroccan pastries for dessert with some tea. So good. We headed back and packed up all of our clothes and souvenirs. Luckily, I brought my luggage scale or I would have had to rush to throw things away at the airport.
Again, our thinking is not always the best. Originally, we thought it was a good idea to get up early so we could be at the airport early. Yeah, we were there 4 hours early and the airport is smaller than Hector International, so there wasn’t much to do besides sit there and stare at people after we got breakfast of course. Unlike Hector, this airport smelled terrible because there was a smoking section but it wasn’t a room, just a corner of the terminal so it stunk up my clothes. When 3 hours had finally passed, we went and checked in and went through security. They had separate metal detectors for men and women and they didn’t make us take out our liquids was weird. We found a spot to sit and wait. Somehow between the time we went through security and sitting down, Mal lost her boarding pass. She had to go get help and get a duplicate, luckily she had enough time and didn’t have to pay extra. We boarded the plane and said goodbye to Africa. Again we thought we had a great idea at the time, but the execution made us realize it was a terrible decision. Instead of getting a room by the airport to sleep in, we stayed the night in the airport. It wasn’t too terrible. We slept on conveyor belts and chairs. I did learn something about myself though, I am a modern day MacGyver. I somehow managed to drop my iPod in between the two conveyor belts I was sleeping on. With 2 hair ties, a toothbrush, 2 pens, and gum, I was able to poke the iPod and bring it back up through the crack. Only I would do something like that. At least it was funny since we were so sleep deprived. I was glad when we finally made it back to Limerick after 18 hours at the airport, 4 hours on a plane, and 4 hours in a bus. Ireland was even kind of enough to greet us with rain:)