I didn’t need an alarm. I awoke at dawn with the call to prayer. I forgot to close the balcony door. I just manage to turn around and get another hour before the real alarm goes.
After a shower (that flooded the bathroom) I go down to the restaurant for breakfast. The room is full of a Spanish group at the normal southern European sound level (read: LOUD). The breakfast is very simple. Some rolls, some jam, some cheese and some warm stuff. But fresh Orange juice. Like that. But it does it’s job and I take my things to get to the meeting point at the Koutoubia mosque. I leave early because I have no idea, how long this will take. I try to rent a city bike (but they come later to the stations), I try to find a bus (which is impossible). You have to know which, how and where, but the information is nowhere to find. So I start walking. 2.5 km to my goal.
The air is cold in the morning. But it should be nice in the afternoon. A long, straight road to the old medina wall. Interesting buildings, citrus trees along the street. People on their way to work. I arrive about an hour early and sit down to wait. While waiting I could have bought several things. Good to have learned “No thank you” in Arabic.
I meet up with the Guide Saeed from Marrakesh by locals (LINK). The only one I found that guarantees a tour without making people buy stuff in shops. He kept his word. The tour started at the big mosque and went through the important parts of the old town. We visited the Palais de la Bahia, the old Jewish quarters, the main square Jemaa el-Fna where we got a great view from one of the terraces. The square is full with people selling things a offering photo opportunities (they will make you pay if you take a picture) with monkeys and snakes (animal cruelty). And all the people who want you to buy their stuff.
In the Souks we visited some different craftsmen and Saeed explained to us how the work and what changed over the years. From the time where everybody used their services to the time where the most are selling to tourists. We went through the labyrinth of small alleyways to the different markets – leather, spices, blacksmith etc. Very interesting. We also got some good tips about how to find our way in the area, without getting lost and falling into the hands of the people who want to guide you (read: rip you off).
We ended the tour at the Jemaa el-Fna where you can buy some great, sweet orange juice.
My next plan was to get to a Geocaching Meet and Greet at the congress center. I found some city bikes to rent for this 3 km trip. But this was not good value for the money. The bikes weren’t the best ones and to ride a bike in Marrakesh is not the most save thing to do. Forget to ride on the pavement – there are holes and steps everywhere. But I made my way and had time to spare to eat a waffle with ice cream.
It was only me who showed up at the Meet and Greet so we decided to do some caching together. We went back all the way to the Souks and with help of my GPS traveled our way through the labyrinth. Easy with an GPS and new maps (that I downloaded before the trip). The caches are mainly managed by restaurant or shop owners. You have to enter and ask for the cache, but it is maybe the only way to do it here. The harassment from the shop owner is greater than in the morning (no local together with us). One time we ended up in a dead end and there were three guys waiting to guide us. They were a little pissed at my Arabic “No thank you” and walking away. We didn’t find all caches, but we found our way. One more cache to find outside at a restaurant that was said to be good. The food didn’t look to great to us, so we chose not to stay there but find another place with cheap food (ok, but not great). One last cache before we went our own ways at the Royal Theater.
On the way home to my hotel. i took out my mobile to use it. The next thing I felt was someone grabbing my phone. I had a strong grip on it and out of an reflex I turned left and by this made is impossible for the guy who sat on the back of a motorbike to keep it. Lucky me. But I wanted to get home fast. Just managed to touch a glowing hot BBQ with my arm, leaving me with a nice burn on the arm. Great first full day in Marrakech.
Today I walked 29 km. I feel my feet, and my arm. Tomorrow will be a much quieter day.