Wednesday, November 26, 2008


November 20-25th 2008

A view of Place Jamaa el Fna from a terrace resturant at night!

Day 1
The trip to Morocco started in Reutlingen, Germany at 1:45am. Travis, Rogier, Victoria, Priscilla and I piled into a rented car and drove to Frankfurt Hahn Airport to catch our flight. I drove the 3 hours it took to get to the airport and I had a blast. At 3am there aren’t many drivers out on the road and Germany doesn’t have speed limits on the autobahns, in most cases. We had a nice Mercedes and I got that baby up to 200km/hr or 125miles/hr. Anyway we got to the airport about 2 hours early, checked in and went to our gate. We boarded a little late but we arrived in Marrakech 20 minutes early. We took bus 19 to the city center which took about 30min. Once off the bus we had no idea how to get to our hostel, the Equity Point Marrakech. This guy came up to us and told us that he new where our hostel was. We were a little skeptic, but there were 5 of us and 1 of him and it was day time; so we followed him. As we were walking, we picked up two more people staying at our hostel. We followed the guy to our hostel, through the souks, and random alleys, which made us a little nervous. But he got us there safely and wanted us to pay him 10euros, which was ridiculous so we paid him 4euros!
We couldn’t check into our room at the hostel, so we had to put our stuff down and check in later. We went out to explore the city and taking it all in. The first day was the craziest and very overwhelming. We ate lunch at a restaurant suggested in lonely planet and it was delicious. It was a great introduction into the Morocco food culture. After lunch we went back to the hostel to check in and relax. We hung out there for a while, playing cards or reading. At around 6pm we went out to find dinner. The first night there, we learned that at around sunset the market square gets crazy. Donkeys come in bringing food stalls, food, and gas powered grills. They are known as El-Fna Food Stalls and there were about 30 of them. The workers harass you until you sit down and eat at their stall. If you don’t choose theirs then they can get pretty nasty. Anyway we sat at one table and ordered a variety of dishes; from salads and fries to meats, calamari, fish fillets and dessert. After our meal we went back to the hostel and hung out before going to bed.

Day 2
We slept in as much as we could, but we still ended up waking up early. We ate breakfast, which consisted of bread, jam, cream cheese and orange juice. After breakfast we all got ready and then headed out. We were headed for the train station so that we could buy our tickets for the next’s day’s trip to Casablanca. We walked back to the main bus stop, got money out at the bank and then got on the bus. We got off the bus at the wrong stop so we had to walk about a mile to the train station. Once there we bought our tickets and then decided to continue to walk to see other sights. We walked down Ave Med VI to Ave de la Menara and went to the Menara, which is close to the airport. La Menara wasn’t anything special except the large “pool” behind the building that had some massive fish. We thought it might be nice to go swimming, but after seeing those fish we thought they might eat us! After resting there for a while we walked back toward city center coming to the fancier part of Marrakech. It was full of nice houses, large hotels and country clubs/spas. We had lunch at a famous restaurant called, Alizia, which is a mix of Italian and Moroccan food. After that we walked back to the city center and then down to the Royal Palace and Palais Badi. We couldn’t really get into the palaces so we just rested for a while in a courtyard, which was full of westerners, and then headed back to our hostel. We relaxed a little at our hostel and played cards. For dinner we went to a restaurant that was suggested by the hostel. Mabrouka restaurant was very nice and close to our hostel which was near the market. They had live music and good food. The only thing that was annoying to my friends was the amount of cats that were just walking around and staring at you while you ate! It didn’t really bother me, as my family has a lot of cats. After dinner we walked around the market square and souks until we ended up at our hostel. Then we played mad libs and went then went to bed.

Day 3
We had to wake up early to catch our train to Casablanca. So we woke up at 7am, everyone showered, got breakfast to go and then walked to the bus stop. We took bus 66 to the train station and were right on time. Our train was already there so we boarded and looked for an empty cabin. We left on time and we had a nice train ride, but it took longer than we expected to get there. (See Casablanca for more details.) We got back to Marrakech at around 10pm and there were no busses running so we had to take a cab. The cab situation was a little sketchy. With five people it’s a little more difficult to get a cab. We managed to find one, after being sketched out by this guy who wanted to take us in his van! Anyway, we finally made it to the hostel and went to bed.

Day 4
We didn’t really have anything planned for the day except souks shopping!! We woke up, got breakfast, then got ready and headed out at around 10am. It was so much fun just walking around and looking at all the stuff. It’s crazy to see how much stuff they sell, especially when you can walk 40 yards and see the exact same thing being sold at another shop. The plethora of shops works to your advantage. You can bargain at one shop, and if you don’t get the price you want, you can go to another shop and try your luck there! We walked and shopped for hours. We got a little lost and ended up at Palais Baha, which is really far from the main souks. We had lunch in a courtyard (the one with all the westerners) at a restaurant near the Royal palace, and then walked back toward our hostel within the souks. We bought a couple more things along the way to our hostel. At the hostel we relaxed, played cards and checked out our merchandise. Later around dinner time we went back out to find dinner. We ate at Hotel Ali, which had a huge “all you can eat” Moroccan buffet. It was delicious but not worth the price, since you can’t really eat 80dh (8euros) worth of Moroccan food! After dinner we walked around a little and then went to our hostel for the night.

Day 5
We had planned to go to Essaoura, a coastal city about 3 hours from Marrakech. We woke up early and took the bus to the train station. We found the bus to Essaoura, but it was sold out, so we were stuck in Marrakech. We went back to the hostel and ate breakfast and went out to get some last souvenirs/gifts. Once again we spent most of the day just walking around the souks. It really didn’t get old, I had such a good time talking to the locals and bargaining. For our last lunch we ate at a shawarma restaurant, and then we went back to the hostel. We played charades and cards while sitting outside and enjoying the sun. When it got dark we went to the market and ate on the rooftop terrace at Argana cafĂ©. We had a beautiful view of the Place Jama El Fna (market square) and la Koutoubia Mosque. After dinner the girls got henna tattoos and the boys drank some OJ! Then we went back to our hostel after getting some snacks for the next’s day’s plan ride/drive. At the hostel we repacked showered and then went to bed.

Day 6
It was another early morning and a long day for us. We caught the bus to the airport at 7:20am and arrived at around 8am. We waited in line and checked in. Then we waited in line again to go through security, which was sectioned off into a male line and a female line! Then we had to wait in line again to go through passport control. After passport control we found our gate, and guess what, we waited in line again! Awesome! We took off relatively on time and landed on time as well. In Frankfurt we had to pick up our car to drive to Reutlingen. I was suppose to drive on the way back but the lady didn’t know what my Arizona’s drivers license’s code meant, so she wouldn’t let me; even though I had already driven to Frankfurt and I explained to her what it meat. Needless to say Germany is not known for customer service and she was a total jerk. Well we got the car and were on our way to Reutlingen by 3pm. We stopped at McDonalds for lunch/dinner. We were home by 6:30pm.

Morocco/Marrakech was a 3.5. I had a great time in Morocco. Good company, great weather, interesting culture, and amazing food. We saw a lot of tourist, but we also mingled with the locals. The people were very friendly and open, but aggressive. When you are shopping and or deciding where to eat dinner, be prepared to be surrounded, persuaded and then possible dragged to the destination. They won’t hurt you; they are just trying to make a living. Many of the locals thought Victoria, Priscilla and I were Moroccan and would speak to us in French or Arabic until they learned otherwise! It was a great Ice breaker though. The locals also loved to talk about Obama; they love him, especially his skin color! I would go back to Morocco in a second and explore the other cities such as Tangier, fes, Rabat and take a trip to the Sahara. I would recommend Morocco as an exotic travel destination to anyone!

November 22nd 2008
Hassan II mosque is the third largest in the world and it is massive!

Day Trip

Casablanca was a 2.5. It was interesting but the Souks weren't as cool as in Marrakech and there weren't as many sights either.