Friday, February 17, 2012

Freezing in Marrakesh, Morocco.

As usual, I'll be telling my travel stories with as detailed as I can remember. Hope my memory won't fail me.

This winter, me, za, tina, mini and punita (yup. it's an all girls trip this time) went to Marrakesh, Barcelona, Lisbon, Sintra and Madrid. It's the first time I'm travelling without bB. I was a bit worried since it's just girls, but most of us has traveled before. It didn't go that smoothly, but it was manageable and we survived! Alhamdulillah.. hehe.. ;)

So, lets start.

24.01.2012

We had exams in the morning, and our flight was at 6:50 PM. The fear of missing our flight was overwhelming us. I was fearing for the flight more than failing my exams! but the exams went well, and our friends made way for us because they knew we were flying that evening. We managed to settled by 12PM, managed to get home, had lunch and change before heading off to the airport.

We took KLM to Madrid, transiting in Amsterdam. We arrived in Madrid about 11:15PM local time. Then we thought of taking the cab to our hotel, since our flight to Marrakesh was the next day. But the cab allowed only 4 passengers and we were 5. So the traffic dude told us there's a free shuttle to our hotel, and that SAVES  a lot! We waited about 5-10 minutes before the shuttle came. Thank God the weather wasn't that cold. It was about +5°C. The shuttle was specifically for Axor hotels. We stayed at Axor Barajas hotel that night. We arrived at the hotel around midnight and got a bit culture shock because the hotel was waaaaaaaaaaayyyy beyond expected. Yeah, its a 4 star hotel. Me and Za thought we should have some proper rest and a bit of post-exams treat. That's why we booked the hotel.

Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow. We're escaping the snow. :P
Our room at Axor Barajas

Me, Tina & Punita shared a room and Za & Mini one room. After checking in, we were very very happy with our rooms. They were spacious and luxurious. After bathing, we just landed in our beds.

25.01.2012

Funny thing happened in the morning. Tina didn't change her clock. It was Moscow's time. She woke me up at 7:30AM, saying it was already 10:30AM, we were late and just missed breakfast. I look at my clock, and I was like, "why is she saying we're late?". Because I just woke up, took me a while to get it all in my head. Tina was all bathed and ready. I showed her my clock saying it's only 7:30AM, and she was like trying to get it all in her head as well. Then I asked her, "you changed your watch to Madrid's time right?" and she said "Yeah". "Look at your watch, what time does it says?" She answered, "7:40 AM" with a smile... I just laughed it out, and went back to bed.

Woke up later around 8:30AM and still laughing at the morning's incident. Our stay didn't include breakfast, so we had to pay €15/person for breakfast, but it was so worth it!! We were so full and the breakfast was excellent! One of the best breakfast I have ever had!! Their scrambled eggs are just the best! and it kept us full until dinner! We didn't ate anything the whole day!

Breakfast at Axor Barajas

At noon, we made our way to the airport. We checked in our bags at RyanAir counter, and hang around for awhile.

Another funny thing happened. We didn't know that RyanAir was a free seating flight, so we waited until everyone went it before going in, only to find out the flight was almost full and we had to be separated. Until there was no more seats, the stewardess opened the seats at the emergency exit and asked us "Are you guys OVER 16?" We answered, "yeah" (err.. duh? how old do we looked like?) -____-"

We arrived at Marrakesh Airport at about 4:40PM. Collect our luggage, changed our Euros, took the bus #19 to Djemma El Fna Square. We bought the 2 way bus ticket that costs DH50, 1 trip costs DH30. But it was such a waste, more on that later. I advised you to take the cab called petite taxi instead if you're travelling more than 2 person. It costs about DH80 - DH100 for a cab (don't ride them if they costs more) or just buy the 1 way bus ticket.

Arriving at Marrakesh Airport

Once arrive in Djemma El Fna. We were trying to find our way to Hostel Riad Mama Marrakech with the directions given in Hostelworld.com but we got lost in the square not sure where to go. Then we tipped a guy DH20 to get us to the hostel. He was walking so fast, we were sweating trying to keep up with him and pulling our bags at the same time. Not to mentioned it started drizzling.

Once arrived, we tipped and thanked the guy. He was really nice, and he thought we were studying fashion. haha! We were welcomed by Crystal, the hostel owner. She's from New York by the way. She just got married with Yussof, a Moroccan whom she met in Paris while studying there, got married, eloped and opened a Riad! Wow right?! She was such a sweetheart. She told us where to go, what to do, about tours and activities, showed us our room, and served us mint tea! yeay! We came at the same time with this guy called Matthew. He's from London, took a 4 days break from work. So Crystal was explaining about Marrakesh to us and Matthew to save time.

After settling in our room, we prep up a bit, and head out to Djemma El Fna Square to exprerience Moroccan street food. They set up stalls every night, sort of like a Pasar Malam, except that, there's chairs and tables to sit and order. We went into this stall #117, because they were very welcoming and looked pretty decent with decent pricing.  Once we said "OK", they sang, "THAT'S THE WAY.. AHA.. AHA.. I LIKE IT".. People were staring at us!! It was so embarrassing.. So we ordered and ate. Eventhough it was cold and drizzling, it was actually quite warm inside the tent and we were enjoying our dinner so much!! They were superb!!!

Awesome dinner!

#117 brings you to heaven! 

After dinner, we went around the Square, strolling through the stalls, and feeling happy with our choice. Some guy came up to me and wanted to buy me with 100 camels, then Tina said "NO", he proposed "20 Ferraries". I have no idea whether to feel flattered or just embarrassed. Someone came up to Za, and asked her "Do you want a husband?" She was like "Oh My GOD!!!". Straight forward terus!!! LOL!!

We walked around and Mini saw a henna lady. So we all decided to do our hands. Costs me DH25 because she said my hands and designs are small. The other costs DH30. Only Tina didn't get her hand henna'd. While we were doing our hennas, the locals and tourist was watching FCBarcelona vs Real Madrid. It was quite a sight!! Too bad we arrived in Barcelona 2 days later. Would've been fun to see Clasico FCB vs RM. Oh well..

Djemma El Fna at night

Orange juice stall

After walking around, we came back to the hostel at around 11PM, hang around for a while, drink mint tea, warmed ourselves up. While Tina was bathing, the hot water suddenly turned off, I bathed after her, and I had to wash myself with freezing cold water!! Almost felt like falling sick there. Thank Allah I didn't though. I actually felt brain freeze and shortness of breath.

Then we all went to bed.

26.01.2012.

Woke up in the morning around 8:30AM. Mini and Za was ready, Punita was in the bathroom. Mini was telling Crystal about the hot water absence. Crystal was apologizing because she forgot to tell the workers to keep the hot water turned on. We didn't have any problems with hot water later on.

Hostel Riad Mama Marrakesh provides free breakfast. It was a really good one!!! They were something like Roti Canai but they pour honey on it and pancakes!!! It was one good breakfast! :D

After breakfast, we made our way to Medersa Ben Youssef. We had actually gotten a bit lost, and then some dude came up to us and offered to help our way. I was a bit suspicious for a while, afraid they might ask for tips, but he was actually sincere in helping us find our way. He didn't ask for any tips! :D



Amazing architecture!

It costs us DH50 to enter the Medersa. DH60 if including the Marrakesh Museum, but we decided to skip the museum. Medersa Ben Youssef used to be a college. I don't really know it's shut down but the architecture is just superb!!! I think they carved the whole Quran on the wall and it's so calm.

After admiring the college, we made our way to Djemma El Fna Square. We had to go through the souk. And since we're already in the souk, we SHOP!!! They had a lot of pretty stuffs! Some stores were stingy and didn't give us any cheaper price. It was so sad. Maybe they had a lot of tourists that time, or they were actually rich? haha.. who knows. But we just bought them anyway. We realised later that the stuffs near the square are actually much much cheaper and easier to bargain! While most blogs said that the deeper you go into the souk, the better price you'll get, but not in my experience. hrmm..

The Souk

After shopping, we met another henna lady whom we bargained DH20 for both hands and she agreed! So this time we did it using the black henna. After henna, we decided to have lunch at Les Terrasses de L’Alhambra Restaurant. It's a three-storey restaurant. The idea is, the higher you go, the higher the prices are. We decided to on the 1st floor terrace and ordered lunch. What's for lunch? Pizza! At first we thought of ordering 3 pizza to share, and then they waiter said that it's personal pizza.. should have gone with our instinct.. We could've saved some money and shared! Most of us didn't finish our pizzas. It was big!!

Our hennas

Trying to eat with the hennas on.

After lunch, we made way to Bahia Palace. Had to ask people around to get the the Palace. The map and the streets were really confusing, or is it us that can't read the map? :P Bahia Palace is nice too, but the Medersa was way better in my opinion. I like the fact that the were orange trees everywhere! caught some Koreans picking the oranges and ate them. They were scolded by the security. Tempted me to do the same! I did too when no one was around. HAHA! They were too orange too resist!!! >.<

The garden inside Bahia Palace

When we had toured the whole place, we made our way to the Mezquita La Koutoubia. We had orange juice along the way. One glass (a pretty big glass btw!) costs DH4 and this particular stall that we chose even refilled our glass!! If only it was hot! We could've enjoyed it even more. Back to La Koutoubia, it's minaret is the highest tower in Marrakesh. So whenever you're lost, just find the Koutoubia minarets and you'll be fine. Unless you're in the souk because you can't see outside the tents. We took some pictures and by that time, the rain decided to fall. Massively! -____-"

Spices

The blue sky before the rain came.

Kurma (dates) in pretty boxes. Kinda look like hantaran, dont they?

Mezquita La Koutoubia

We were soaked by the time we reached our Riad. And it's just 15 minutes away from La Koutoubia! We decided to dry ourselves with mint tea! Hurrah for mint tea! Too much sugar it tastes like chewing gum though. >___<

Anyway, Mini, Tina & Za made their way into the room while me and Punita hang around the common area drinking tea. Suddenly, there were a burning smell. Tina came out saying mini burnt her scarf and the heater! Crystal came out of her room straight, I guessed searching for the burnt smell. I was panicking, telling them Crystal is searching for the burning smell and we were debating whether we should tell her or not. Then she came to me and asked, "Do you smell something burning?". No point in lying right? I told her mini put her scarf on the heater and it burnt. We didn't mind paying for a new heater either.

Yussof brought a new heater for us because he was worried if it'll short circuited. I didn't see the heater until Yussof brought it out when I gasp! Part of the heater actually melted, but it was still working. yeay?

After the accident, Matthew came back. At least no one was there to see our embarrassing moment. Tina came out with her UNO and blackjack cards because we thought of passing the time playing cards. By that time, the Australians(Jaclyn, Aden and Kat) and Chris(The American) also was there. So we decided to ask them to join us too!


It was really fun! Matthew who bragged that he was awesome at UNOs lost! hahahaha.. Then we played Donkey. Chris was the Donkey! hehe. Then I decided to have a bath while they continue playing bluff. The time really passed, then we had to get ready for our Moroccan Night Show.

At 7:45PM a van came to pick us up. We reached the place an hour later, called La Fantasía de Marrakech, Chez Ali. It was pouring rain that night and super cold!! We took pictures in the Ali Baba's 40 thieves caves, and the driver told us about Chez Ali. Super rich guy! There were even history in photos of how the place was build. After that, we were welcomed with super annoying singers. They were great and pretty in those costumes, but it was raining and wet and their high pitching voices didn't make it any better.

Then we were ushered to a room where our feast will begin! They started with harira soup and bread! It was really yummy! Then came the lamb! Oh My God! It was a whole lamb! It was really yummy and warmed our body, but I was still full with the pizza and I couldn't eat much. I wish I was hungrier. Mini had to make a joke, we were looking at one of the lamb's pieces wondering what it was because it was round, Mini had to say "I think it's the reproductive organs" OMG! Can you get more medical than that?! LOL!! That just made me lose my appetite. I hate reproductive organs..

Us, waiting for the food

The lamb

The annoying singing ladies

Couscous 

When we thought it was over, the couscous came in a huge platter! when I mean huge, I meant HUGE!!!! I think we only ate like 1/10 out of that platter because we were already full with the lamb! Later came another platter of apples and oranges! By far, the best apples and oranges I have ever tasted!! It tastes so different the oranges were so sweet and lovely. The apples tasted so milky. So yummy!!! Now I'm feeling hungry, I wouldn't mind having those couscous again! They even served us mint tea. Other drinks had to pay separately though.

While having dinner, they were performances at the table. The annoying singers. Groups after groups came in, the first one got the tip, after the 2nd, we just bowed down our heads and said "no", they just went on to the next table. It was headachy!

When we finished our dinner and there were no more performances, we thought it was finished. So we walked to the exit. Suddenly the dwarf(whom we called Ali Baba, because the guarded the Ali Baba's cave) shouted at us "NOT FINISH! NOT FINISH!". We were a little blurred for a while when we realized there was another show outdoor! HAH! Everyone was seated, so we picked a seat. Thank God the rain had stopped by then but it was still freezing!!

horsemen

Encore

The show was amazing!! They were jumping on the horse, gun blasting, belly dancing and magic carpet!! I don't know how the belly dancer is dancing in the freezing cold with a 2 piece!

And then the show was over and we felt very satisfied we paid DH450/person. The show was excellent and the food was not too bad. If only I was hungry.

Then the driver called us and we head back to the Riad. It was about midnight that time. We bathed and sleep.

We're heading to Barcelona tomorrow!!

27.01.2012

We woke up in the morning, had our last delicious breakfast in Hostel Riad Mama Marrakech, say our goodbyes to Crystal and made our way to Djemma El Fna to catch the bus. But after about 1/2 hour the bus didn't come. The bus only comes when it's full at the airport. What the hell right? In the end we had to take the petite taxi. It costs us DH20/person. That's the reason, if u're travelling in a big group, it's just better to take the petite taxi. We'll know better next time. :)

We arrived at the airport, checked in and board our flight!



I hope I can come to Morocco again! Next time with an empty bag so I can filled them up with all the fancy stuffs they got there. Also I want to visit the Essaouira and Aït Benhaddou. :D

Next stop is Soaked in Barcelona!!! :D

2 comments:

Faza said...

Wat a great pics! +5C was not cold? *blurghh.. and look at the hotel room..wow!

The Souk..! looked like Jalan TAR / Petaling Street.. sure u spend few hours there. Kurma in boxes! hoooo can be hantaran kan..? *idea2

p.s: u ada calon2 @Square utk i? LOL!

Anna Mohamed Amin said...

+5C is not cold when u've spent 2-3 months at -15C to -20C >.<".. huhuhu..

Even better than Jalan TAR/Petaling Street! haha.. Yup! We did spend a few hours. It's really big. If only we had more cash to spend.. ;(

ps: LOL! kalau u pergi confirm kene serbu, semua nak masuk meminang... hehehe.. :P