On to Marrakech

The next morning after our breakfast buffet,

breakfast buffet in our hotel

breakfast buffet in our hotel

we met our guide and driver for a half-day tour of Casablanca. We started off with a visit to the grand mosque named after Hassan II.

Outside in the courtyard where 80,000 additional worshipers can be held.

Outside in the courtyard where 80,000 additional worshipers can be held.

Me inside Hassan II Grand Mosque in Casablanca, where 25,000 worshipers can be held.

Me inside Hassan II Grand Mosque in Casablanca, where 25,000 worshipers can be held.

Inside, where the Imam sits

Inside, where the Imam sits

There was a fee to enter and it is the only mosque in the country that non-Muslims are allowed to enter. It is gorgeous. We were then steered toward the first of the hard-sell shops: carpets. I’m a sucker.

The Tree of Life - silk carpet I bought in Casablanca

The Tree of Life – silk carpet I bought in Casablanca

Then we were steered toward a Berber pharmacy (the first of many!!). This guy wasn’t hard-sell, so we were able to leave unscathed. Lastly, we stopped at the Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic church (I think it is the only one in Casablanca).

Forgot to mention our visit to this Catholic church. I think it may be the only one in Casablanca.

Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic church. I think it may be the only one in Casablanca.

After a nice Moroccan lunch (tagine), we returned to our hotel, retrieved our luggage and car, and drove to Marrakech.

Lunch at the restaurant across the street from our hotel.

Lunch at the restaurant across the street from our hotel.

It was rather exciting to see the mountains loom up in the distance as we approached Marrakech (founded in the 11th century, but inhabited by Berbers since Neolithic times).

A field of cultivated prickly pear cactus! One of many we saw as we drove to Marrakech.

A field of cultivated prickly pear cactus! One of many we saw as we drove to Marrakech.

There were mopeds and small motorcycles everywhere, in addition to bicycles and donkey drawn carts. The cycles wove in and out of traffic, often with only a hair’s breadth of room between them and the car. We found a little bar to go for dinner and they referred us to another bar where they had belly dancers, some of who wore big platters of candles on their heads.  It seemed like both bars were mostly full of tourists and it is clear that Marrakech is geared to tourists. The next day we had a full-day tour of the city. This was a large tour (probably about 40 people) and we saw the big mosque there, but only from the outside,

Grand Mosque in Marrakech

Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech

Minaret of Grand Mosque

Minaret of Koutoubia Mosque

visited a mausoleum,

Wall gate

Entering the medina through Bab Agnaou

Storks nesting on top of wall gate

Storks nesting on top of the gate

Gardens inside mausoleum

Gardens inside Saadian Tombs area

Mausoleum

One of the rooms in the Saadian Tombs

an old castle/mansion that was partly museum,

Fountain inside museum

Fountain inside Bahia Palace

Inside museum

Inside Bahia Palace

Courtyard inside the museum

Courtyard inside Bahia Palace

Sub Sahara African sculptures inside museum

Sub Sahara African sculptures 

Bitter orange tree - they were everywhere in Morocco

Bitter orange tree – they were everywhere in Morocco

Camel saddles

Camel saddles

Old rifles

Old rifles

had lunch in an old Moroccan restaurant,

Traditional Moroccan restaurant where we had lunch

Traditional Moroccan restaurant where we had lunch

and then visited the old medina area.

Jemaa el Fna is a UNESCO heritage site  and is abuzz with more than you can even imagine...snake charmers, young men with chained and dressed Barbary apes, stalls selling anything and everything.

Jemaa el Fna is a UNESCO heritage site and is abuzz with more than you can even imagine…snake charmers, young men with chained and dressed Barbary apes, stalls selling anything and everything.

Looking down on Jemaa el Fna from the French Cafe

Looking down on Jemaa el Fna from the French Cafe

It was a maze of small streets and alleys all lined with stall after stall of people selling and making their wares. It was amazing to look into the shop and watch metal workers pounding away; tailors sewing – some by machine, some by hand; or a wood worker making chess pieces on a hand turned lathe.

He's using his foot and one hand to guide the wood while he operates the lathe with the other hand

He’s using his foot to guide the wood while he uses a hand tool (chisel?) with one hand and operates the lathe with the other hand

Neighborhood bakery where you bring your things to be baked and picked up later.

Neighborhood bakery where you bring your things to be baked and picked up later.

Metal lanterns - so pretty, but where would I put it??

Metal lanterns – so pretty, but where would I put it??

We visited an old Quranic school called Ben Youssef Medersa, which was very interesting.

The water feature area at this Quranic School was being repaired by hand.

The water feature area at this Quranic School was being repaired by hand.

Wooden ceiling and intricate stonework below

Wooden ceiling and intricate stonework below

This little bit of color caught my eye on the wall.

This little bit of color caught my eye on the wall.

Everything is elaborately carved or painted.

Everything is elaborately carved or painted.

Quranic students lived in these quarters when it was a school. The rungs are up to the sleeping loft.

Quranic students lived in these quarters when it was a school. The rungs are up to the sleeping loft.

Looking down at the hallway from the student quarters.

Looking down at the hallway from the student quarters.

Quranic school

Quranic school

Looking up from the student housing level.

Looking up from the student housing level.

Part of this journey also included a hard-sell visit to another Berber pharmacy.

Berber pharmacy. It was a hard sell place, but I learned a lot.

Berber pharmacy. It was a hard sell place, but I learned a lot.

Women shelling argon seeds in the pharmacy.

Women shelling argon seeds in the pharmacy.

I was tempted, and tiny part of me wishes I had. The mark-up on big tours like this had to be enormous though. We finally departed the big group and found a rooftop bar.

Lovely beer at a rooftop terrace bar

Lovely beer at a rooftop terrace bar

It was beautiful to see the sunset behind the minaret of the grand mosque

Me with the minaret in the background from the rooftop terrace bar.

Me with the minaret in the background from the rooftop terrace bar.

and see the moon in the sky as we left. Happy Christmas Eve!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. adriannderson
    Jan 10, 2015 @ 17:41:27

    So many beautiful photos! And the video of the belly dancers is incredible – I can’t imagine having all of those candles on my head. I love seeing photos from your adventures.

    Reply

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