Our first full day in Marrakech, we started the morning at Palais el Badii which is the ruins of Saadien sultan, Ahmed el Mansour’s palace. The ruined palace is the home of the masterpiece Koutoubia Minbar which is seen as one of the finest examples of Islamic woodcarving in the world. Not to be confused with a hotel minibar, this minbar or pulpit is the Koutoubia’s 12th-century prayer pulpit used for prayers and preaching only on Fridays which was used in the main mosque of Marrakech.
From the outside you cannot tell the enormity, the complex is huge. In the middle of the grounds there once lay a swimming pool however now it’s lined with trees, nestling on the walls of the palace are dozens on storks keeping their beady eye over you. The grounds have many little alcoves underground and a terrace giving great views over the ruins and furthermore over Marrakech.
From the Palais el Badii we decided to walk to Jardins de l’Agdal which is a garden built as a royal retreat. From here it all went wrong! On the map it looked only a short distance to the gardens how wrong were we.. As we started walking, we asked a number of locals however they all seemed to sent us in different directions.. Wandering the streets of Marrakech sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the locals we came across some sites, the most memorable two men on a moped and between them a dead sheep. Not a site you often see nor want to! After about an hour of walking around in the sweltering heat we flagged down a taxi to take us there!
Greeted by a Moroccan man at the gardens he started speaking in French which neither myself nor my mum speaks. He led us to the entrance of a house which he explained was his home, he said we could go on to the terrace and take pictures over Marrakech. At this point we were both edging backwards politely saying no thanks then quickly walking away.
Whether it was because we had had enough walking for one day or that the gardens were just not that impressive we didn’t spend that much time there. I was disappointed as the guide book had described such lush gardens!
Cutting our losses we got into another taxi to take us to Riad Viva. Riad Viva is the sister hotel of the one we are staying at which has a beautiful roof top terrace and small pool. Relaxing by the pool we soaked up the sun!
Next stop was Tombeaux Saadiens which are the royal tombs. Following instructions given we arrived at the tombs without any confusion only to find out that they had closed early due to Ramadan.
Heading back to the Riad we both came to the conclusion that more planning would have gotten us a lot further.
Deciding to relax at the raid we retired to the roof top terrace at around 6pm. Expecting to eat dinner around 8pm, then the man came to tell is it wouldn’t be served until 9pm! My face dropped.. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so we were both starving! Our day took us off the beaten track where it was difficult to find any cafes serving meals throughout the daytime due to Ramadan. At least the three course meal was well worth the wait, traditional Moroccan cuisine including flat bread with sauces tomato and paprika and dressed carrots followed by a slow cooked lamb on the bones accompanied by apricots, nuts and prunes in a tagine then banana in an orange sauce.