Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Weekend visit to Marrakech

Our entire CSC team decided to travel together on the weekend to visit a nearby city - Marrakech. I coordinated the planning for the group for the transportation and the Riad (traditional Moroccan inn). The hotel helped us to hire a large van and driver for the 3 hour drive and the driver stayed with us for the weekend.

Our Riad was located in the market area so we could not drive up to the door. We disembarked with our luggage on the closest street and walked down narrow, high-walled cobblestone lanes to get to it. Vendors lined each side of the lane with small shops and there was a constant parade of motorcycles and scooters going past. It took some doing but we finally found the Riad and checked in. Because we booked late we had to stay 2, 3 and 4 to a room which cut the price down to about $30 per night each.

View of the "foyer" of the Riad from the balcony next to our room. Large courtyard with all the rooms surrounding.
After checking in we hit the square and quickly realized that in the frenzy of the market we would not be able to stay together as a group of 15. So we split into smaller groups and wandered about in search of food and entertainment. My Canadian colleague and I went together to a great restaurant with high mezzanines and balconies where we scored a table right next to the edge so we could watch the action in the square. I ordered vegetarian couscous and it was fabulous.

View from the restaurant, overlooking the square.

Veggie couscous - so delicious!

The next morning we gathered in the courtyard of the Riad for breakfast (coffee and pastries) and then coordinated a trip to the Atlas mountains. This was the highlight of my weekend - we ended up doing a hike up the mountain to some waterfalls with spectacular views. We lunched at a restaurant by the river, ordering more tagines and couscous. Then 3 of the ladies decided to try a camel ride. Our driver brought us back to the Riad and in the evening several of us ended up at a traditional Moroccan restaurant with local entertainment.

One of the few pics of me since I'm usually behind the camera.

View of the valleys in the mountains

The next day was spent touring parts of the city - the Saadien tombs, the Bahai Palace and more of the market. We took another lovely lunch on another balcony and then while others shopped I set out on a long afternoon walk to the more modern parts of town, and through some wonderful gardens.

I've posted all my pics on Facebook so feel free to send a friend request. For those who want "more pics" here - I've included some more shots of Marrakech. Enjoy.

In the bus - all 15 of us. Here are Lucy and Saikat hamming it up. Living together in close quarters with the same people all the time can be challenging.

Typical street vendor.

Ladies making Moroccan oil (Argan) the traditional way. Shelling the beans then grinding them up manually.

The co-op owned by the ladies who make the Argan products.

Selling bits and pieces to tourists - this is everywhere.

I did not attempt the camel ride but several of my co-workers did.

Roadside stand.

These restaurants were everywhere in the mountains outside Marrakech. Couches and plastic chairs set up next to (or sometimes IN) the river.

Restaurant owner waiting for customers to come and sample his tagines.

Another restaurant. Note the rickety bridge to get across.

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