Saturday, November 21, 2009

Travel Notes: Marrakech, Part Deux

We return to Marrakech, but this time opt to stay around Gueliz in the new city instead of by the older part of town near the medina.

Wow. What a different world...just a 30 min walk away from where we were before.

The snake charmers and three dirham orange juice stands have been replaced by trendy cafes selling gelato and sleek boutiques alongside Lacoste and Zara clothing stores.

There are young people everywhere at night. Hip, young people. Women with hair uncovered. Leather jackets. High heels.

1. Hotel Toulousain: 190 dh, including breakfast. Heavy fragrance of sweet orange blossoms fills the courtyard. High ceilings. Standard breakfast with OJ from the trees above.

2. McDonald's: Everyone inside looks cooler than us. And it's packed. It's almost midnight. We debate whether to try a McTagine. We don't. My only regret of the trip.

3. Jardin Majorelle: Amazing gardens created by French painter Jacques Majorelle in 1924. Acquired and restored by Yves Saint Laurent after Jacques' death in 1962. What a worldly collection of plants.
Lots of cacti from Mexico. Those are my favorite. Water fountains. Brightly colored pots and walkways. Electric blues. Canary yellows. Soft oranges.

A memorial to Yves Saint Laurent is set up with a single fluted column and a sign at the bottom that reads "silence" in English and Arabic. I like this a lot.

We spend a lot of time just sitting on a bench. I wonder if my life can always be this simple.

4. Small pastry shop: Plates of goodies covered in plastic wrap line the tables alongside the walls. We pick a bitter sesame seed stick and an almond shaped shiny crispy thing with a dot of date jam in the middle. The nice man let's us have them for free.

Our first taste of the Marrakech hospitality that we'd read so much about. Hospitality should always be date flavored.

5. Plats haj Boujemaa: Packed with locals for lunch. Diced tomato and onion salad. Bowl of olives with preserved lemon. Tanjia of sheep, which Marrakech specializes in. So much rich fatty oil for sopping up with the bread.

As I think we've done with every meal, we clean the plate, bread basket included.

6. Gare de Marrakech: Train station is massive and pretty ornately decorated. Too bad we've missed the last bus to Essaouira though. We take a cab to the main bus station to catch another ride out.

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