The One With Europe ’11 Day 8 – Last Day In Marrakech

Last Night In Marrakech

Is it time already? Time just flew pass us when you are having a good time. It was our final day in Morocco, and since we did not have much on our itinerary, it was decided that we will be having an entirely laidback time. Not that we have been really taxing ourselves in the past couple of days. The girls will be heading back to the grind of work the day after tomorrow, and I will be starting my Europe leg of my journey, so it was a totally welcomed idea to take things a little slower:

– Had a late breakfast on the terrace. Late was relative; we were up basking under the winter sun at about 9 a.m., and already the busy worker bees were buzzing all around our food, so much so that we have divert our savoury items – jams, tarts and the likes – to the next table. Bees seemed to be a prenenial problems in Morocco, no thanks to the sweet tooth, but at least it wasn’t flies or other disease-carrying bugs
– Hit the street to make our way to the Koutoubia Mosque, which was located near to our riyad. The mosque was grand to Moroccan standard; all stones and archway and the tallest minaret in all of Marrakech (though truth to be told, after Aya Sofya in Istanbul with its six towering minarets, it was hard to be impressed)
– A long stroll through the edge of the medina, where Moroccans lived their daily lives amongst countless shops of carpets, pastries and electrical appliances. I came to realise that, without its touristy elements, Morocco was just another country stripped off its cultural and diversity identity. It was for the benefits of tourism that the country comes to life
– Up next was the Bahia Palace (10 dirham for admission). Its entryway was uninspriring. In fact, the top-to-bottom display of multi-coloured carpets across the street was far more interesting than the nondescript sign of the palace.
– That was until we walked in, pass its garden of orange trees (oranges were so abundant in this country, it was a wonder the people don’t look a bit like oranges themselves)
– The palace was indeed a showcase of Arabic and Moroccan best arts. The mosaics and carvings and waterworks were impressive, befitting for a king of old with his four wives and 39 concunbines. One do wonder of that specific number. I am sure 43 times’ the lucky for the Sultan
– Much of the large palace compounds were cordoned off from tourists, but that did not deter me from spending some two hours snapping away
– Had a totally Moroccan lunch at a nearby complex of metal work. It was possible to spend below 30 dirhams for a meal of tajines.
– We walked then into the medina and chanced upon the Pastrier de Princes, one of the recommended pastry shops recommended in Lonely Planet. In a dizzy from the array of sweet stuffs available in the shop (I had a box of fifteen savoury Moroccan snacks all by myself only earlier in the morning), it was the tasty choice of “Da Prince” – a combination of tasty-looking ice creams – which took my dirhams. The portion was too big; despite my best intention and capabilities I only managed to finish half the somewhat ordinary ice-cream
– And so we were back to the riyad, getting ready for the hammam and massage. To my surprise, the same man who served us breakfast in the morning was also tasked to do my hammam. It was unnerving to undress in front of your waiter and to see him almost naked. The hammam experience itself was tepid at best. It wasn’t hot enough and was a far cry from my Turkish experience. Half the time I was left lying/standing/sitting wet from soapy water and God knows what else
– The massage was satisfying, though not in a style that I could appreciate. The massage ingredients were touch notch – I particularly liked the almond clay used for my face – and coupled with some classifical Moroccan music, I relaxed deep under the piles of towels. The massuess, however, could do well with shorter nails and lesser bracelets
– Some two hours later, we gathered and headed into the medina for our last Moroccan meal. Seated at a terrace overlooking the entire Dj emna el-Fna, with the snake charmers bleating way on their oboes and the crowd bargaining their way through the best deals, I looked at my plate of couscous and wondered if I will ever visit Morocco again

The answer? Probably, but neither Fez nor Marrakesh will be on my list. I dream of an endless vacation at Essaouria.

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