Our 2 weeks in Maróc came to a close. Homebased in Marrakech for 5 days, we found the time to do our laundry, hit the spa, shop for souvenirs and other stuff, and google search where best to dine within the Medina! The more relaxed pace allowed us to take leisurely strolls around the city, hitting the sites as well as enjoying the many riads, souks and more modern malls. We even managed a day trip to the coastal town of Essaouirra where we had a lovely seafood lunch.
Our local city guide in Marrakech gave us the typical drill. Koutoubia Mosque. Jemaa El Fnaa, claimed to be the heart and soul of Marrakech. Bahia Palace. Majorelle Gardens, a shady retreat from the hustle and bustle of the many souks. Saadian Tombs. Chez Ali for some horse show, tribal dancing plus more. And finally, belly-dancing dinner-show at Le Comptroir. All must-see destinations. The touristy stuff that one is wont to disregard.
To be honest, we initially felt we’ve seen enough riads, Medinas and gardens the past days. But Jemaa El Fna tops all squares in any Medina judging by the many street artists, snake charmers, and variety of goods for sale. One of us suddenly found a snake hung around his neck. He may have erred in simply looking curious enough to invite the unsolicited gesture from the snake charmer. As for a few of us, we couldn’t move on from the sight of this man selling false teeth. Whoever buys them? More importantly, where do they come from? So much going on in this place. You can “dive” into Moroccan culture just by spending some time in this Medina and in this very vibrant square. The bustling maze bursts with colors and aromas that will assault your senses. Touts everywhere dare you to name your price. This frenzied hub of shopping and haggling can easily drive you insane.
The tropical gardens of Majorelle makes for an ideal break from a trip to the souks. Blue is my favorite color but after this visit, I can be more specific and say I love Majorelle Blue. Majorelle is a French painter who settled in Morocco and became well known for his paintings of local Moroccan life. His gardens — full of cacti, palms and fern of unbelievable heights — was also his studio and residence. French fashion designer Yves St Laurent bought this property when Jacques Majorelle died in 1962. When YSL died in 2008, his ashes were scattered in this beautiful tropical garden.
I must confess I wasn’t paying much attention when we visited the Saadian Tombs. I just remember the guide saying Sultan al Mansour was buried here. Sultan Ahmed al Mansour is the most famous among Saadian Dynasty rulers. The tombs lay hidden and neglected for centuries until their rediscovery in 1917.
Come dinner time, I would have likewise paid more attention if the huge Chez Ali spent more to light up the place during the post-dinner horse show. The fantasia show, complete with a flying carpet, was quite entertaining but for its poor lighting. But we’re all amazed at the size of this place. Designed for tourists, for sure, with dinners inside Berber tents where dancers and acrobats take turns entertaining guests. Truly, a Moroccan (not Arabian!) Night experience.
And how’s this for our last night in Marrakech? Le Comptoir served us way too much salad, tagine, fruits and sweets. And yes, quite a number of bellydancing women too. Well, many come to this place exactly for this dinner-show so let’s just say we didn’t want to miss anything 😄