Moroccan people call female tourists "gazelles" (and men "gazous"). I was wondering why so I asked some people. Some said it's because tourists are very naive. Others said they called women this way because they're pretty like a gazelle. No need to tell you I prefered that version ;-)
To save time and money, we always take the night train. In Marrakech, you must be careful. I did the first time at mid night and reserved a seat only. I found the people slept on the seat and with their luggage or goods. I hardly found a seat. Of course, I couldn't sleep anyway.
The second time, I came from Marrakech to Tangier. I reserved a sleeping bed and had a nice sleep.
a magical magnet
Without any doubt the Jemaa el-Fna is by far the most important and vibrant square of Marrakech. It is located in the middle of the medina and nobody can (or will) miss it. The square is even declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. After our visit to Marrakech I still keep asking myself “what makes this square so special ?”.
As a matter of fact Jemaa el-Fna is a very irregularly formed square, its surrounding building are not that fancy and still it is a kind of magical magnet for tourists and locals. Staying in one of the riads in the medina you certainly will stroll along Jemaa el-Fna at least once a day.
During day time is filled with a lot of carts selling freshly squeezed orange juice (just for a couple of dirhams), herbs, dates, spice and nuts. Men and women under their umbrellas are trying to sell fruit or vegetables or other knickknacks. Water sellers want to earn some money and horse-drawn cabs are waiting for customers.
But from 4.00 pm Jemaa el-Fna comes more and more to live: food stalls are build up, monkey-handlers, snake charmers, musicians, dancers, storytellers and shoeshine boys populate the square. More and more tourists and locals are strolling around. One can smell the perfumes of the food stalls.
The best place to watch this vibrant and traditional way of Moroccan life is from one of the roof top cafés along Jemaa el-Fna drinking a strong Moroccan coffee or a traditional mint tea.
Our Fondest Memory
Without any doubt our most remarkable moment was watching the sunset over Jemaa el-Fna with a red coloured sky, the hustle and bustle of the people on the square and the Koutoubia Mosque in the background. Just marvellous !!
Wall near the Kasbah Mosque
Near the Kasbah Mosque in the south west part of the medina you will see beautifull decorations of the walls and the buildings.
So it's worth to look up, when you walk around.
If you do so, you can also spot the stork on the roof top. It's amazing to see this stork in the middle of the town near the Royal palace....
"A Very Intriguing Place"
I could hardly control the excitement when Morocco first became visible from the plane. I had the snow-topped Atlas Mountains on one side, and an arid land on the other, with what looked like scattered ruins. It was beautiful! As we approached Marrakesh, the olive groves came into view.
Marrakesh's Menara Airport was about as threatening as Disney World's Moroccan Village for my first visit to this country. I was relieved because I was exhausted, and traveling alone. I converted some money at the airport and then caught a taxi into the city.
Although the surrounding area is very arid, the road leading into Marrakesh was lined with rose bushes in bloom. The taxi took me to the Medina and dropped me off at the entrance to Jemaa el Fna. Apparently, after 1pm they are not suppose to drive through the plaza.
Nothing can perpare you for your first visit to the medina...it is overwhelming, and at the same time magical. Djemaa el Fna is a sea of chaos, a circus of sounds and images, with acrobats, story tellers, and snake charmers. The area is filled with participants and spectators...a monkey here, a cobra there...bicycles and donkey-drawn carts coming from all directions.
"Exploring the Marrakesh's Medina"
Although the medina can be confusing to navigate, once I felt more oriented, and familiar with landmarks, I wondered extensively looking at the architecture. The Ben Salah Mosque Minaret was my favorite. Notice the out-of-service donkey carts parked in front of the Mosque.
"Ali ben Youssef Medersa"
This former medersa, or theological school, is the largest in the Maghreb (north-western Africa).
The interior courtyard is very ornate, with intricate stucco decorating the walls. In the center of the courtyard is a fountain.
While I was visiting the medersa, there was a call to prayer. People immediately walked over to the fountain and began to perform ablution before prayer.