No trip to Djemaa El Fna is complete without dining at one of the rooftop restaurants. We chose the most touristy one, despite how overpriced it was (compared to the local fare), because it looked really pretty and welcoming. We arrived before the restaurant filled up, admired the market from above, and then grabbed a cozy corner seat for a filling meal while being serenaded by Moroccan musicians and entertained by showy belly dancers.
I am unreasonably irritated by the fact that the Arabic names of pretty much everything have no correct English spelling. On our first evening in Marrakech / Marrakesh we visited Djemaa el Fna / Jamaa el Fna / Jemaa el Fna - the main square and souk in the medina. We quickly realized that we could spend a lifetime in this market and never see the entire place. Alex sticks out for obvious reasons whenever we go on vacation and gets harassed by touts who want to make some quick cash. I get harassed for other reasons. This is part of traveling (to certain places) and we've grown accustom to it... and have learned some lessons. But, our guard was down as we entered the market and two ridiculous looking guys grabbed Alex and demanded that I take a picture. It was fine though - I just made sure I told them I wasn't going to pay them more than a dollar to take a photo that they were forcing us to take, and that seemed to satisfy them so I took it and we parted ways. I did want to get a photo of the snake charmers, but had read that they will throw the snakes on you and not take them off until you pay them... so, I kept my distance and ran away squealing whenever I saw one nearby. It's definitely a sensory overload but we obviously enjoyed it, because we ended almost each night with a trip to this maze of a market.
Our arrival in Marrakesh was late at night, which always makes me feel slightly more disoriented than I already am when arriving in a foreign country. But, we were lucky that the owner of our accommodations arranged a ride for us, from the train station, and it was quick and comfortable. We discussed staying in a Riad, but decided on a short-term apartment rental instead. It was in Gueliz - the newer, less hectic, part of Marrekech.
The apartment was owned by a friendly young guy who owned a few other properties and was very professional. We talked with him for awhile about his life, how he lived in Dubai for some years before starting his business in Marrakech, and used the chat as an opportunity to learn the local price for essentials like water (important to know when visiting a country where fixed prices are rare).
A quick perusal of the tv channels included the predictable lineup of Arabic soap operas, camel racing, and dubbed "western" films. After studying the guidebook and charging our camera, we settled into bed looking forward to what Marrakesh had to offer.
I know we're terribly late to the party but we finally caved and got an iPhone. Any app recommendations are much appreciated! We got it right before we left on this trip so I went a little crazy on the plane with instagram. These photos were taken between Charles de Gaulle and Casablanca. - Mina
We couldn't leave Paris without going to Ladurée. I think the one on Rue Royale is really pretty ...and we were finally able to pop into the Maille store that we regretted not checking out during our first time in France (we picked up this fig & coriander grainy dijon that we've been adding to everything). Our last evening was spent enjoying a quiet evening at our friends' home in Chaville.