Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah Marrakech 3

Well, I did say that I'd get back to this subject, didn't I?

But first, the ignominy of having a Diamond card for B&Q! Since being back in Windy Nook, we've been doing some long overdue work in our English home. As always, we hope to do it 'on the cheap'.

When we bought the place, it was in a bit of an 'unloved' state, windows needing replacing, awful decoration, rubbishy bathroom; I'm sure you can imagine a place in which you wouldn't really like to live, well, this was it! We were used to travelling on the 'road to hell' with our constant (unfulfilled) good intentions, but we started off quite well here.

Our sterling son-in-law brought his equally skilled mate Billy the plumber, and between them they did all sorts! New plastic windows, knocked-through rooms reinstated as two, two different rooms knocked-through, complete new bathroom and kitchen fittings,  heating system replaced, electricity meter re-located and wiring certified. There were other things as well, too numerous to mention. The only problem was that while the property was now liveable, very little was actually FINISHED! (It took 27 years to actually finish our first house!)

It's been like that for the past 5 years or so, and we had hoped that our number-one-son might have gotten around to doing the honours, but he hasn't! I did notice though, that there are an assortment of new paint brushes, rollers and paint trays on the back stairs, along with a few pots of paint. So it would seem that he is following in the family footsteps, and is also 'full of good intentions'.

Our first trip to B&Q, was to look for a new battery drill, it was like being a small child in a sweet shop, the choice was just too much to cope with, although the prices soon narrowed it down considerably! We eventually bought one from Aldi, and it isn't of Chinese manufacture! (Aldi have some great bargains from time to time, and their ginger snaps are lovely too!)

Never mind, at B&Q, we were offered these 'Diamond Club' cards, so, when we
were next going, Freda shoved our passports in my shirt breast pocket (to prove our ages) and we were given the cards. Now then, with these cards we are entitled to 10% off the normal prices of quite a few things at B&Q, but only on Wednesdays.

Today being the first Wednesday since we got them, off we toddled to B&Q at Dunston, near to the Metro Centre, searching for bargains. It was awful! The place was like being in an old people's home, with old people wandering aimlessly around (or so it seemed). They had even changed the 'Muzak' to hits from the 60's, just to please us old farts!

We bought some PVA glue, some Lap wallpaper paste and a cheap brush for the PVA, which snapped within two minutes of starting to apply the watered down mix. Let me OUT!!!!!!!!

While we were down that way (hahaha) Freda would have us call in to Ikea, and do the 20 mile route march from the entrance to the exit, and also to another huge place called Metro Bargains (or something like that) where everything was '20% off' but they omitted to tell us poor saps that they'd started off by adding 30% on beforehand, typical!

I was almost crying with the pains in my feet, by the time we got back to the car. But that's enough of my doom and gloom for one day, let's have a trip back down memory lane to Marrakech, eh?

You'll remember that we finally arrived at our lodgings in Marrakech after 37 years of travelling? The lovely Riad Les Trois Mages? Well, on that first evening we had decided to have our evening meal at the riad, Freda and I thought it was a bit pricey, but then again, we are more used to 10 pence falafel sandwiches in Luxor, aren't we? I'm so glad that we did this, though, the beautiful and filling meals were a great introduction to Moroccan cuisine, they certainly eat a lot of meat here!

We had also decided that we would have a guide to walk us around the place for an hour or two. We only had four nights, remember, and didn't want to waste time by getting lost, or trailing to see things which weren't really our cup of tea. In the event, sister Susan was overtired to go the following afternoon so we rearranged it for the morning after. On that first full day though, we couldn't wait to get out into the souks! What a difference to that which we are used to in Luxor, everywhere we went the streets were so much cleaner, the souvenirs so much better quality and more interesting, the vendors so much less insistent!

It was just as well that our riad was actually in the Medina ( the old town, just like 'Our Luxor') as it was very hot. Not only hot (49c) but it also felt rather humid? Why, I don't know; we were quite a way from the sea, after all. The famous Djemaa El Fna town square was just about far enough to walk in the mid afternoon heat. It's actually about a half mile from the riad, and more or less in a straight line. Ten minutes or so would do it, if you could resist stopping every few yards to look at even more fascinating merchandise or architecture.

The first things I noticed, other than the stuff in the shops, were all the magnificent doors and gates, here are a few:

Fab, aren't they? I just cannot get over the exquisite workmanship, and the minute detail. The next beautiful entrance is to a restaurant not far from our riad:

We asked prices at many of the shops as we passed, just for reference sake. Freda had a fancy for some nice decorative plates, and the going rate seemed to be about 170 Dirhams, which she wasn't happy with. But, like I always tell our guests, "It's your  money, so don't buy anything that you don't think is worth the price TO YOU, never mind anyone else. That way, you can never be 'ripped off'." I was interested in some tinplate stuff, the asking price was 180 Dirhams, also too much, I thought.

We eventually found a plate shop, with the self-same plates labelled with prices from 60 Dirhams! Another shop wanted 300 for the piece of tinplate work which I'd seen earlier, "300!" said I, almost dumbfounded. In a fit of pique, and as I turned away, I said "How about 80!" "OK 250!" But I'd gone by then, and was in no mood to haggle further. I had been quite willing to pay 100 Dirhams for the piece, as that was what the riad owner had paid for similar things, but had offered only 80 in anger!

About a dozen shops father along, and about five minutes later, here came the little tinplate shop man, running to catch us up! "OK, 80." So I bought it, and sister Susan bought two! I think he may have done some training in Luxor at some point! We bought more than we could really afford or justify, I just hope that we can get it all back home to Luxor without it smashing!

The guide was arrainged by the riad's English Aiden, a nice helpful lad. He took us into the souk, and then veered off track into some very narrow streets, about four feet wide? These were the caravanserais, where the craftsmen made all the things that were for sale in the various souks. What a find! I could have wondered around there for hours, but onwards and upwards, as they say. We left the tinsmiths and shoemakers, the tanners and the spicemen to their work, and went off in search of other sources of fascination! If my memory is correct, we eventually stumbled across the Bahia Palace, unutterably marvellous! A few shots, selected from loads which I took:  

The painted wooden ceilings are extraordinary, so detailed, and so many!

Freda and I were determined to try the food outside of the riad, in the various restaurants scattered about in the souks and the Djemaa El Fna area. The first one we tried, we went inside to escape the heat. It didn't look all that salubrious from the outside, nor from the inside, to be honest, but the meals were delightful, and very filling, more meat! It was called 7 Saints, and actually faced onto the Square, about directly opposite where we came into the Square from the riad.

Freda and I went to another one, which was recommended in one of the thirty seven guide books she had. I would certainly recommend it to you, or anyone else who is considering Marrakech! Again, it doesn't look anything, with its open frontage and plastic table cloths, but the food was fabulous, and cheap! Freda's vegetable tagine, on our second visit, was mainly carrots, instead of the previous potatoes. Of course I had to have a taste! The carrots were so delicious that I could have become a 'carrotarian' right there and then!!!!!

You can see that the tagines are slow cooked over charcoal, some of them need to be ordered 24 hours beforehand, because they cook for so long!

We had planned to ride in a caleche, they're bigger than those in Luxor, and consequently have two horses to pull them along. The actual carriages didn't look half as nice as we are used to though, and they weren't coachbuilt, but had metal chassis. In the event, we just didn't have time!

We bought a few nick nacks from the bloke in the following picture, he was a lovley chap, and a devout Muslim. He wouldn't shake hands with Freda, in case she was 'unclean' (some chance at her advanced age, eh?). His father sat in the shop, polishing the stock, and had been to England, Dewsbury, of all places! I asked the price of the tin item I had purchased for 80 Dirhams, just to gauge his value for money, "75 Dirhams", what more could I say?

I left him a TripAdvisor sticker, as I intend to review his small emporium on that site.

I've still got one or two pictures left, and I could go on writing, as well; but it's past 3am and I'd better get off to bed, there's lots to do tomorrow!


  1. WOW! Think I will have to buy some more memory cards for my camera before October.

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