#1 – Djemma el Fna
The biggest Djemma el Fna square in Marrakech during the day literally turns into a veritable theatre. Street artists who deals with dance, improvisation, music… every day attract thousands of curious tourists. Even different animals such as monkeys, snakes, turtles are the real attraction. While the dusk comes out, the market shines in a different light. Each minute, new stall appear, where locals at an affordable price offering the traditional food and drink (seafood, chicken in a hundred and one way, obligatory mint tea and fresh orange juice). Djemma el Fna is for us without competition ranked in the top 1 attraction in Morocco.
After 8 hours train ride, in late afternoon we finally come back to Marrakech, where we had spent the first two days of traveling through Morocco. As we mentioned in an earlier post, for a trip across the desert we would not have enough time, because on 7th May early in the morning we already have a flight back to Italy – Milano. As we saw in Marrakech practically everything, instead of slacking and sitting in bars, we made a decision, that last day of our trip we will spent in one-day excursion to Ouzoud waterfalls. We reserved our excursion through our hostel (Amour de Riad) because prices are virtually in all local “agencies” the same. For two persons, we paid 500 mad, which still isn’t exactly a little, but okay.
At eight in the morning, our tour guide is already waiting for us. He escorted us to the outgoing location, and from there we started our tour to the waterfalls. The road to get there takes about 3 hours (about 250 kilometres) and for a ride, we have a new and quite comfortable minibus (without air conditioning). Ouzoud waterfalls and the village was named after the olives – why this is so, it is clear from the outset. In the Berber language Ouzoud means olive, around the neighbourhood grow plenty of them – each olive tree has its owner, which is marked with a specific colour.
As we are used to in Morocco, we again travel by train. ONCF has very good connections between certain major cities (even smaller), but if you are one of the road transport supporters, you may take a ride also with one of the private bus companies, Supratours. They offer better conditions, while local services in Morocco are not just so recognized.
Railway Station in the city of Fes was not long ago renovated and its design is identical to the station in Marrakech. To walk to the main road, you need to cross the beautifully landscaped park in front of which is bunch of cars – and those are not ordinary, of course we talk about famous taxis, to which you could in Morocco face every second. Let us therefore briefly given a few words about those… first about colours. Almost every city in Morocco have the taxis painted in his colour. In Marrakech are beige, blue in Rabat, in Casablanca and Fes are red. Drivers are required to pay a licence, while the car get from the state or it’s purchased by themselves.
Railway station in Casablanca (Casa Port), which is reminiscent of some of our smaller stations in Slovenia, we had close to the hotel… so, we get there without any problems. We wasn’t in a hurry, because trains in Rabat drives every half hour and ticket to get there, for both us together cost 70 mad.
After a relatively short ride, we arrive in Rabat, which immediately positively surprised us. Large, beautifully decorated streets, fountains, a lot of people… just the opposite of what we saw so far in other cities. Station Rabat Villa is located on one of the main streets, Mohammed V. However, we had just one problem here, how to find a place to stay for two nights and for little money. Back home we didn’t find any on the Booking. Prices ranged from € 120, which is too much for this country. We followed the Lonely Planet and started searching. First, we stopped in front of Hotel Central, which should be considered as one of the low budget hotels. The hotel is old as hell, the receptor with no will to live and price considerably more expensive than it is presented in the book.
In Marrakech, we stopped a taxi near our riad, which took us to the train station for 20 Moroccan Dirhams. There we bought a train tickets to Casablanca (2nd class cost us 180 MAD for both, 1st class tickets were 50 MAD more expensive per person). The train was crowded and soon we recognized similarities between the ONFC (Railway Company that operates in Morocco) and Slovenian Railways. The train had half an hour delay, trains wait for each other and the appearance of those trains is not far behind ours 🙂
At the moment we stepped off the train, a friendly taxi driver offer us a drive to the hotel. We gladly accepted it, even though the price was a little high, but we really didn’t have energy to haggle. We were surprised, because outside the train station stood his tiny taxi – old at least as we are and it was literally falling apart. There wasn’t enough space for our bags, so he put them up on the roof. We just hoped that they will still be up there, when we get to the hotel.
With the landing on the Marrakech airport, our story officially began. Without any specific problems, we found a bus that runs directly to the city centre, on the main square Djemaa el-Fna. Our first task was to find our “hostel” Riad el Az, which we had pre-booked via Booking.com (on this page we booked other hostels and hotels too, except in Rabat). However, find this one was hard, it was a real small puzzle in which we inadvertently entangled with one local man, who drove us through the maze of narrow streets. At the end we finally found our Riad, but we had to pay off our “tour guide”, 20 Moroccan dirhams (1 € = 11 MAD) was enough for that.
After four years of trips and excursions in the more or less distant places, which we visited with many of Slovenian agencies, this year we decided to take things in our hands. The path will today led us in the northwest African country Morocco, which we will visit in the period from 28th April to 7th May 2014.
Our trip planning started with flights booking through easyJet. In view that we chose the budget airline, was the only closest option Malpensa Airport in Milan, from where we are flying to Marrakech. The next thing was finding transfer from Ljubljana to the airport and back. Because we thought that this would be a piece of cake, we didn’t brought undue effort in searching. However, we were sorry for that in the end. Almost all providers leaved us abandoned and so we were after a few calls and mails, stuck with GoOpti, which we booked a week before, and paid excessive price (€ 250).