Morrocco: Exotic Land Part 1

Me and my friend, Dita (who is staying at my flat) have plan to visit Marrakech, Morocco for 3 days and 2 nights from 9-11 September 2014. Actually, it was my cousin, Audi, who suggests the idea. He and his friend went there for five days from 8 to 11 September 2014. But me and Dita decided staying for 3 days only and hoping to see my cousin when we’re there. We do not set anything particularly, it was an unprepared trip, we just follow our instinct where to go and how to get there.

Day 1
We took the earliest flight with Easy Jet, one of the cheapest airlines from London for £177.46 for both of us. We got up at 04.00 AM, caught a bus to the station and took a train to Gatwick Airport. Gatwick Airport located a little bit far than Heathrow Airport from the city. Surprisingly, it’s bigger than I thought (which means, need more time to walk). It even has a North and South terminals. Anyway, we  arrived there on time and flew to Marrakech at 07.45 AM. Marrakech and London have the same time zone. So, don’t need to change your watch haha.

We arrived at Marrakech International Airport around 11.00 PM. Since I’m an Indonesian passport holder, I don’t have to make a visa *yeay! One thing that you must aware is the weather. Normally, you will experienced 36 – 40 degrees in Marrakech, so put away your jacket. 😉

Tips: If you want to exchange money into Moroccan Dirham, It is way better to do it in Marrakech Airport than London, it has better rates.

Marrakech International Airport
Marrakech International Airport

Yes, we all heard about pickpockets, thieves and fraudsters when you’re in Morocco, especially Marrakech, the city of tourism. But since this is an unprepared trip, we have no choice to use a Taxi!

To avoid being scammed, we asked the officer at the airport, how much the taxi usually cost to our hotel (or Riad in arabic). They said it cost around 100 dirham to the city. After bargaining for 10-15 mins, we finally got 120 dirham. Seems like a perfect deal? Well, not at all. Because he drops us at somewhere where we must walk around 800 m to our Riad haha. Yeah I know, not a good starter right?

Tips: If possible, you should ask your hotel to pick you up. Or if you must take a taxi, do not pay more than 150 dirham. (From what I heard, the taxi need to pay 30 dirham for the airport parking and the price from the city to airport is fixed 100 dirham).

Taxi of Marrakech
Taxi of Marrakech
The city of Marrakech
The city of Marrakech

Riad Amiris, where we stayed for 3 days is near Jemma El Fna, a square and market place in Marrakesh’s quarter. It is an old building with heavy Morrocan accent. To get there, you must walk 5 mins from the square. Our hotel was very clean, way too different from the square, where you can smell is only horse poop haha.

Interior of Riad Amiris
Interior of Riad Amiris

Jemma El Fna predominantly occupied by stalls, snake charmers, henna paintings and even some dancers. But during the night, it is full of food stalls. Because it is a little bit crowded, be extra careful of your belongings.

Tips: Do not bring too much money. It is not safe to have it on your bag nor left in your Riad. (Bring it just enough for you to eat and couple of hundreds dirham if you want to buy something or have a tour)

The square at the afternoon
The square at the afternoon

After having lunch in near the Riad, we went to our first destination which was Majorelle Garden. It is a twelve-acre botanical garden designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s. The garden has been open to the public since 1947. Since 1980, the garden has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent. After Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden.

My first lunch in Morocco: Beef Tangine
My first lunch in Morocco: Beef Tangine
The garden's ticket booth
The garden’s ticket booth
IMG_1293 - Copy
Yves Saint Laurent Memorial
The garden mostly filled with cacti, bamboos and banana trees

Our next destination was Koutubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakech. The mosque was made from brick and sandstones. Many people sitting in front of the mosque just to rest from this very hot day.

Koutubia Mosque

We decided to drink Orange Juice as a thirst quencher in one of the juice stall. I gave the seller 20 dirham, but he only gave me 14 dirham back (when he supposed to give me 16). I told him “Your not giving me the right amount, sir”. He pretends he do not understand English (when I am pretty sure he did). I insisted him to look out that money in my hand, and finally he gave me the money that I am supposed to have. Well, It is not about the money actually, but the way they lie to people to gain something, that is not right *grumpy.

Tips: Always calculate everything they gave you. It is better to know the range of the price that you want to buy.

To finalize this short trip, we want to eat dinner at one of the food stall in Jamaa El Fna. We do not know which one is the best, so we choose the crowded one haha. The funny thing was, when the waitress persuading costumers, they always said “we guarantee, no diarrhea” haha. We order beef sausage and satay (I forget the names) for only 30 dirham each. When we are eating, they gave us one plate of olives. Dita asked the waitress “is it free or not?”, they said it is free. Well, we did not touch it at all.

Our Dinner
Our Dinner

Anyway, when we finished eating, the waitress said that we must pay 90 dirham, when it is clearly said in the menu that our dishes only cost 60 dirham. The olives turn out NOT FREE! I confronted the waitress, and said “I did not order this!”, he took the olives and comes back with 80 dirham bill. I almost lose my temper *seriously. How dare he lying to me! *grumpy. But to end this shortly, we finally paid 70 dirham.

Tips: It is better to ask first and make sure you have what you are ordering.

Thank God, we have got Riad with one of the best hospitality. We are end up sleeping comfortably and ready for another tour tomorrow.

To be continued..

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