I’m Back – Moroccan Impressions

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I’m back. Almost. It seems that whenever I travel somewhere my body returns earlier than the rest. So while I’ve been back for a couple of days, I’m still somehow stuck in Morocco. Peculiar. Does that happen to anyone else?

I enjoyed it a great deal but it was stressful. We did such a lot and met so many people as we travelled with different people who knew other people in Marrakech and Essaouira. I suppose I’ve seen a few things tourists usually do not see like work shops in which they make wooden boxes and furniture and such.

The temperature was quite high in Marrakech, 38°/100°, while it was cool and very windy in Essaouira, 19°/66°. I was worried it would be too cold in Switzerland but the last couple of days the temperature was around 25°/77°.

I took a lot of pictures in Marrakech but hardly any in Essaouira. What follows are just a few impressions.

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The top picture and these pictures show the famous place, Djemma el Fna, in the heart of Marrakech. The city is divided into two halves, a modern one and the old part with the Medina and covered souks. The place is just located in front of the souks, in the old town. A feature of Marrakech that I like a lot is that there are ramparts around the whole of the old town.

During the day there is some activity but it’s at night that the place really comes to life. I wouldn’t say that it’s a beautiful place as such but it’s incredibly interesting as time seems to have come to a standstill here. There are numerous people performing acts with animals, like medieval jugglers, others are selling things, offering henna tattoos. At night hundreds and hundreds of food stalls offer various food. Mostly grilled meat, fish and vegetables. The place is quite noisy as people laugh and shout, drums and flutes are ebing played. It’s picturesque and colorful to say the least.

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The Jardin de Majorelle which belonged to Yves St Laurent, is a big attraction and very beautiful. Since I’ve been there ten years ago it has been redecorated and the colors were stunning and intense.

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many and such big Bougainvillea bushes.

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It’s lovely to stand under the bamboo and listen to the wind softly rustling in the leaves.

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There are various ponds and fountains in the garden.

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The main colors the buildings are painted in are Yves Klein blue, yellow, green and white.

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Hotel Garden

We stayed in a Riad in the heart of the medina. A stunning place which received a lot of media coverage in Germany and Switzerland. It belonged to the German ambassador in Marrakech and was transformed into a guest house after his death. This is the hotel garden.

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The center piece of the hotel garden.

Roof of Riad

A view over the roof of the hotel.

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The entrance to the souks. For some vendors business was a bit slow that day.

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One of the many beautiful gates in the medina.

The medina is a giant market. You can find a lot of lovely things in many different materials. Woodwork, spices, fabrics, jewellery, food.

Cat in Medina

This little kitty was sleeping peacefully in the middle of the poultry market. I didn’t take pictures of the market. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

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This is a sight you don’t see every day. On the road to Essaouira you find Argan trees. The fruit look like big olives. They are used for making argan oil which is very fashionable at the moment. Even big cosmetic lines like L’Oréal use the oil. It can also be used like olive oil for salad. It tastes very different though, a bit like walnut oil.

The goats climb these trees as they are very keen on the fruit. Along the road you will see many a tree covered in goats. So funny.

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I didn’t know goats could climb so well.

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Essaouira is located on the Atlantic ocean. This is the view from the hotel room. The guest house we stayed in belongs to Swiss people who built it two years ago, practically into the ocean. At night the waves can come as high as the second story windows.

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The streets in Marrakech and Essaouira are swarming with cats. Most of the cats I saw in Marrakech were very ill and starving. In Essaouira you always saw some food that was left for the cats. They looked quite healthy. I saw numerous boxes like this one with many kittens. The cutest was a box which three female cats shared with their offspring. A total of 16 kittens. Unfortunately it was impossible to take a picture. They moved too much.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed it.  I might share a few pictures from Essaouira in another post.

I’ll be visiting your blogs shortly. I noticed some of you were busy.

65 thoughts on “I’m Back – Moroccan Impressions

  1. Thank you so much for being so generous with your time and talent and sharing all these lovely and remarkable photos and the commentary. I almost feel as if I had had a breath of the East myself. With none of the risks of being a traveller, of course!

  2. Welcome back! It looks and sounds as you visited some incredible places.

    i love to travel but I do find it tiring and stressful in a mostly good way. It is not what I do to relax.

    • Thanks, Brian. I think there is a huge difference between being on holidays and travelling. If I want to relax, i stay home. When I want to see the wordl I travel and that can be stressful. But in a good way.

  3. Very nice pictures which reminds a lot of things. Have lived there as a kid, and I know I will have to come back Essaouira, Marrakech, Taroudant, and the white city : Casablanca.
    keep going!!!

    • Thanks. That must have been something growing up in Morocco. It’s very diverese. I haven’t been to the north so far. One of our travel companions was from Tangier. She said she likes Tangier and Rabat bets but I’d like to see the white city as well.

  4. What a fascinating experience! Too bad it was stressful and not a relaxed trip. I love the colors of the plants and flowers and the light in the desert.

    • It was great. The colors, plants and the light are fabulous. I knew it wouldn’t be too relaxing. We wanted to do a lot and sleeping wasn’t always easy as the Muezzins wake you at 4am.

  5. Welcome back Caroline :)

    Lovely pictures and nice summary. The goats on tree is the one that captures my attention the most. I didn’t know goat can climb that high. At first I thought my eyes deceived me…but than I read your words and my eyes are right after all.

    When you said Medina, I have to reread your story again…is it Morocco or Saudi, they have the same town name.

    Good to see (or read) you again :)

    • Thanks, Novia. :)
      Yes, Medina is the old town, I guess in all the Arabic cities. We were in Morocco.
      I can see how the goats can climb once they are up there but how they get on the tree is a mystery to me.
      It’s amazing.

    • Thanks, Delia.
      I have no idea how they get up there but they moved quite swiftly from branch to branch nibbling and enjoying the fruit.
      The food is delicious. I liked the soup, harira a lot and the different Tajines, chicken with dates or figs or lemon. The salad is very good too. I have to try to do a proper Harira now.

  6. Great photos esp of the gardens and plants (I am a gardener). The lot of the cats in Marrakech sounds grim.

    BTW, I tried to watch Cheerful Weather for the wedding and didn’t finish it.

    • As a gardener you’d love that garden.
      Grim is an understatement. Unfortunately it’s a rough life for animals. I had tears in my eyes a lot of the time. You see too much animal suffering and cannot do anything about it.
      Ok, not such a good movie after all. Too bad. The book is really good though.

    • We met up with Moroccans who ordered everything, unfortunately everything included a few things that I really couldn’t eat. Sheep brains? Did you try it?
      Other than that the fod is delicious. Even at the Café de France which I thought was a bit of a tourist trap the last time I was there.

    • I would have eaten it if I had found it. Our great triumph was much plainer – what was basically an egg salad sandwich at a stand frequented only by young men. “A happy sandwich” one of the men said, perhaps meaning something else.

      • I think you need to know what to ask for or you wouldn’t get it. Our Moroccan friends were quite keen. I wonder what wa sin your sandwich, maybe just what it said.
        Did you try Moroccan salad? That was amazing. 20 small dishes with the most amazing variations. Mostly puréed vegetables with different spices. We had that at the restaurant Al Fassia Gueliz said to be the best in Marrakech and it was.

        • Moroccan salad – yes, we did, at a pretty restaurant in Fez.

          I now remember a key part of the story – at the sandwich stand all of the signs were in Arabic – no French. And all we could really see was a big pile of hard-boiled eggs and pita bread. So, what the heck, right?

          Chop up the egg, put it in the pita pocket, mash it up with chopped onion and herbs, add ample harissa. Pretty basic but delicious. It cost less than a euro.

          • The prices are amazing. The herbrs and spices are the secret. I tried to buy as many spices and mixtures as possible but somehow when I try to do something it’s never quite right. I’ll try again mixing fresh herbs with dried herbs, to see if it’s working better.
            The Harira soup is interesting. It was different wherever we went. I was told that each place does it a bit different. I liked it in Marrakech more than in Essaouira.

  7. Welcome back and thanks for the picture. I loved Morocco when I took a holiday there. The Jardin de Majorelle is really beautiful, I have vivid memories of it.
    You make me want to go to Marrakech again.

    • Thanks, Emma. I think it’s well worth going more than once. Especially since we have now direct flights and you’re there in under 3 hours. We went from deepest winter to high summer.
      When I was in the garden ten years ago I was so disappointed. Nothing had been painted and it looked like nothing much. Totally neglected.

  8. Wow–what gorgeous photos and so very colorful. I think I would love to visit there (and how nice to think of that sunshine and warmth!!). I love the photo of the kitten sleeping on the egg crates and how funny about the goats in the trees–I had no idea! It sounds like you had a good time, and I agree–coming home is always disorienting. It always takes me a few days to get used to my normal environment again–and I would think especially so for you since everything looks quite vivid and noisy where you were! Anyway–am so glad to see you back (though maybe you are still on a vacation high and are not quite ready to be back?!). What sort of food did you eat? And would love to see more photos if you decide to share more.

    • I think you would like it Danielle. You’re very visual and there is a lot that appeals to the eyes. Some sad things as well though.
      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who comes back slowly. The worst was when I went to Hong Kong. Also because I just didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t so bad in this case as for us it’s only a 3hrs flight whereas flying to Hong Kong is 12 or 14 hrs. You can’t just pop over.
      I might share more pictures but we need to sort them out. We had two cameras.
      Food is delicious but you cannot be a vegetarian. Other than salad and vegetable couscous everything is heavy on meat. I’m partila to the additions. Chicken with figs or dates, lamb with prunes. Chicken with lemon and olives. Nothing with it though, no rice or anything, just some potatoes occasioonally. Health wise it was great and we were reckless, we drank and ate everything and hardly had any negative effects. Unlike what people say. You could travel with another woman only or a small rout, just not on your own. And no being out on your own after 22.00. That is extremely dangerous, our friend Shaaema told us.

  9. I love the goats in trees! I don’t remember seeing those when I went to Morocco in, hmmm…, 1997 (a lifetime ago!). You’ve brought back lots of memories. I found it a very confronting country (especially the live animals in the markets and the constant harassment [I was with another woman, then on a small tour]) but I am glad that I went, although I was tremendously sick. Great photos!

    • The goats are funny.
      I know some things can be pretty upsetting. Travelling with men is easier. I went for a walk on my one once and it was unbearable. I’ve heard it’s worse in kairo or Istanbul but for Western women it’s hard to take to be constantly harassed.
      The animal markets are some of the worst things I’ve seen in my life… Bad. But it’s such a beautiful country. In the ten years since I was lats many things have changed.

  10. Oh, you’re back! Thought you might be away for another week or so, but checked just in case. You were missed, Caroline.
    What wonderful photos–really brings the place alive. I’ve never seen goats in trees! Saw the YSL gardens in the movie about him–gorgeous.
    It takes me a while to really come back from a place, especially if it’s completely different from where I live.

    • You’re so nice, thanks Carole. :) Yes, I’m back. Sort of. I need time to adjust and process.
      The garden is stunning at this time of the year. Those goats were really funny. And they ate with such speed, really relishing the fruit.

  11. Wonderful pictures Caroline. except I haven’t been to Jardin de Majorelle. I always find the goats on top of the tree a little hilarious! Only in Morocco!

    • Thanks, Jov. Hope you get a chnace to visit the garden some day. It’s certainly the first time I’ve seen gaots in trees.
      I just recived In Arabian Nights. hope to get to it soon.

      • Caroline,
        Awww… I hope you enjoy In Arabian Nights. The Caliph House, however is more hilarious than In Arabian Nights. Always good to start with something good and then move on to great!

        • Exactly! :) The choice was purely due to the fact that it sounded as if he didn’t mention the places I already know in The Caliphs House and I was keen on comparing my onw impressions. As you say…. If I enjoy it it leaves me with another even better book to read.

  12. Welcome back, Caroline! Enjoyed reading about your Moroccan adventures. The souk and the medina look quite fascinating! Have you seen the movie ‘Cairo Time’? I remember seeing markets depicted in the movie which were similar to the Moroccan souks / medina. The Jardin de Majorelle is stunning. I didn’t know that Yves St Laurent owned a garden in Morocco. I also didn’t know that goats could climb trees! That is a really unique sight. The cats and the kittens look very cute. Wish you had been able to take the picture of the cat family too. Thanks for sharing your impressions and pictures of your Moroccan trip. Looking forward to seeing more pictures.

    • Thanks, Vishy.
      I think that souks and medinas like this are common in all Arabic countries. I just love them. It’s so colourful even when you don’t buy anything.
      Those gardens are amazing, beautiful and peaceful despite the tourists. there were so many that day but because it’s relatively big it was possible to take pictures without people. i took many more.
      The cat family is totally blurred. There was one kitten i wanted to adopt or rather he wated to adopt me, he climbed on my shoes and wanted to stay there.
      At night they slept under the cardboard box, guarded by the three mothers on top. So cute.

  13. Welcome back and what wonderful photos! Your hotel looks absolutely gorgeous, as is Yves Saint Laurent’s garden. And the goats in the tree are just hilarious. I think the temperature would knock me out, though, let alone all that hustle and bustle in the market places. Must be incredibly atmospheric, though.

    • Thanks, Litlove. The hotel was quite vital as it’s indeed an extremely noisy and busy city. Even in the old town where the noise is entirely from people and not from cars as they are not allowed.
      I had a migraine when we landed and that was nightmarish but the hotel was a cool and shady refuge. You just have to go with the flow and then it’s fine.

  14. Hi Caroline

    Welcome back. I missed your posts but am glad that you had a fabulous time.

    Last year, I read THE STORYTELLER OF MARRAKESH which centred more or less on the Djemma. Now, that is one place that I really want to visit.

    Looking forward to more details of your trip. Were you able to read anything?

    • Thanks so much neer.
      The Djemma is a special place if you expect the right thing. The first time I went I was disappointed because I thought it would be amazing because of architectural elements. Not sure where I got that from. It’s the people, what happens and how it lives which are great.
      I hope you can visit some day. I’m going to read the storyteller of Marrakech as well.
      I didn’t really read other than on the plane and a little bit in the evenings and only read Catching Fire and Snapper.

  15. Welcome back. I know when I come home from an amazing trip it takes me days to actually return fully. I knew goats could climb mountains but I have never seen them in trees. At first I thought that was a piece of art. How funny. The fruits must be tasty.

    • It doesn’t happen like that when I travel in Europe but to ther continets it does. Not a bad thing. makes the trip last longer.
      I wonder how you will return from Malaysia. :)
      The fruit must be very tasty for the goats. Like nuts I suppose judging from how the oil tastes.

  16. I enjoyed your tour of Morocco! The country always holds a lot of mystique for me, probably due to movies like Casablanca. :)

    The garden is especially beautiful with bright, vibrant colors.

    I’m not sure what to make of the goats! I would have never guessed they would climb trees! I suppose they are willing to do whatever is necessary to get those delicious treats for themselves.

    • Thanks, Jackie. It’s a beautiful country, I hope you can visit one day, just not on your own. Two women is OK but as someone mentioned below – you will have to fight off men. That’s just the way it is. Usually they are not aggressive but persistent.
      I know that goats have good footing, I saw them in the Alps and they can climb very well but branches are something different altogether. :)

  17. Well, I’m very late because I’ve been away myself, but it was great to see these photos. Looks like a wonderful trip. As I think I mentioned to you before, Genie and I did a similar trip a few years ago, so it was great to see these photos and remember Marrakech. We just stayed in a standard hotel, though, so it was great to see the inside of the riadh – very elegant and beautiful. I can just imagine sitting on that roof terrace in the late evening! Wonderful. Thanks for posting!

    • It was a lovely place to stay.
      There are so many riadhs in which you can stay, some are simpler but it was worth it. Quite a treat. The roof is wonderful in the evening.
      I really Marrakech and might be returning soon.

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