Africa

Tombeaux Saadiens & Shopping in the Souks, Marrakech

I must admit it was a little bit scary being woken at 4am to the sound of the call of prayer. Staying in a Riad which had a central courtyard means that it was very loud and the sound seemed to be coming from all directions! I am under the impression that it wasn’t a call to prayer but it was to say that it was the beginning of fastening for the day. I was a little startled to say the least.

Learning from our mistakes made yesterday we planned where we were heading today and followed an itinerary from the guide book.

First stop was Tombeaux Saadiens which was closed yesterday! This is the royal tombs were the sultan Ahmed el Mansour and his family lays, it was just 10dh to enter which is about 80p. Although it was early it was very busy. There were dozens of men offering to give guided tours for a small charge but we declined and read the information in the guide book instead. The tombs weren’t huge, with high walls towering above there was a central pathway with smaller paths leading off into different directions.

b   tomb
Afterwards we headed to Emsemble Artisanal , a collective which is the nearest thing to a department store (but not really) it offers all the merchandise you can buy from the souks but at fixed prices. This gave us a good idea of prices of the products we could find at the souks. Having fixed prices meant there was no hassling while you browsed the products and no bartering.

Afterwards we walked to Jemaa el Fna which seemed bare compared to the previous evenings as all the food stalls where missing. We walked through the square and into the souks which are traditional markets selling everything imaginable. The souks found in Marrakech are the largest of their kind in the country and are the lifeblood of Marrakech. Tiny, dark alleyways with similar goods meant it was very easy to get lost. It is impossible to even glance at a product without the stall owner pressuring you to take a look closer! Each shopkeeper is fighting for your attention and your money. Being in Marrakech we had to buy some traditional items including a teapot with tea glasses, a tray and a wooden stand for it to sit on all at very reasonable prices, now we just need to get them back to England in one piece! We finally found our way out of the maze and into the sweltering heat again. The souks reminded me of Camden market just more in your face!

The souks from above     The teapot and wooden stand

We started walking towards the riad to use the swimming pool as it was just so hot and sticky. Starting to walk we once again got a little lost which is easily done, jumping in a taxi we showed him the map of our destination having a vague idea of where we were going. The taxi driver headed in completely the wrong direction! Trying to explain he spoke no English so we jumped out at the next traffic lights and walked the rest of the way.

Later we headed towards the Jemaa el Fna for dinner, choosing a restaurant that served both western and Moroccan dishes! After two evenings of tagines we embarrassingly choose pizza! After our meal we headed towards the square which was full of all kinds of wild and wonderful sights, monkeys on leads, snake charmers, storytellers and every other kind of product you could think of to sell. Heading off the Jemaa el Fna we found some wanna be Nike air max and converse shoes which caught our eye, we ended up leaving with 5 pairs, how can you turn them down for £7 a pair.

The square and surrounding areas were packed full of people, tourists and locals alike. There was a great atmosphere.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few days is the roads have no rules! Trying to cross a road.. You may as well wish your life away! Walking down a street your constantly watching your back for mopeds and bicycles which weave in and out of everyone.

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