Marrakech, Morocco, here I come! North America, South America, Europe, Asia have all been checked off my bucket list. Now I will be able to check off Africa! I was excited, but tired, as I didn’t get any sleep the night before as I had to catch the train to the airport at 3:00 am.
I boarded Air Portugal in Stuttgart, Germany where I’d been cat sitting for the past two months. When I purchased my ticket, Executive class was cheaper than economy…go figure! I’m not sure how it happened as I probably clicked on some wrong button when purchasing my ticket, but this was my first experience in first class, a section I’d always eyed with extreme envy from behind the economy class curtain! I found my roomy seat in the front area beside the window as I had requested. The two seats beside me were empty even as the economy section was packed like sardines! The airline personnel apologized for not helping me put my suitcase in the overhead bin, a first for me! The plane was delayed in it’s takeoff which threw us behind schedule. I boarded at 5:45 am and the sun was rising over a cotton candy pink sky. The steward told me I had ordered a kosher meal and I thought that was also a mistake. I began to think they had me mixed up with a wealthy Jewish person and would soon tell me to move on back with the sardines! I was given a wet washcloth and was told in the place of the kosher meal, I could have a regular delicious meal of croissant, muffin, jam, butter, yougart with nuts, two different cheeses, two different meats, cake and numerous cups of coffee. I’m not sure what my kosher meal would have been, but this was delicious! The passengers in the back were given little boxes of snacks. Wow, traveling first class was the way to go! I was also looking forward to using the Executive lounge in Lisbon during my layover since I’d never used an Executive lounge, but unfortunately, due to the delay, I had to make a quick switch of planes in Lisbon, Portugal to catch my connecting flight to Marrakech.😩. Once I boarded my connecting flight, I was given a wet washcloth and was told I could have another regular delicious meal. Again, the passengers in the back were given little boxes of snacks. I was beginning to feel very spoiled! The steward then brought me two pillows and two blankets and encouraged me to lie down across 3 seats and take a nap. Wow, traveling in first class was the way to go!
After dozing off for a little while, we arrived at the modern, new Marrakech Airport, where I was met by the friendly, handsome Hicham Aderraz of Moroccan Nature Trail Tours who told me he had worked as a tour guide in Morocco for eight and a half years, was married and had a two year old child. He spoke English well and said he learned most of his English from tourists. He informed me that March was the peak season for tourist in Morocco and August was the slow season because of the heat.
I arrived at the Palm Ménara Hotel and while waiting for Hicham to return to the airport to pick up my friend, Lea, I met the owner of the Moroccan Nature Trail Tour Company, Farid AOS. He told me all about his company (www.moroccantrail.com)
When Lea arrived, we took our luggage to our room and went to the top of the hotel to look out from the terrace. We saw an enormous graveyard in the distance and I made a mental note to visit it, if possible.
The evening was our free time so we decided to walk to the nearby gorgeous Majorelle Gardens which was also the second home of Yves-Saint-Laurent. Wow! It contained the largest cacti I’d ever seen!
When we left, I spotted some lovely straw hats and upon asking the price was told 300 dirhams (around €30 or $35). I said no and he came down to 100 dirhams. I walked away and next thing I knew he was chasing after me saying 70 dirhams ($8). I gave in as I really liked the hat. We then passed a horse and carriage with a man offering to take us for a ride for 200 dirhams (around $25) each. This was money well spent as I loved every minute!
He took us to the new town and to the old city market medina in Marrakech and past shops, streets that seemed like a maze, passed the old wall and gate of the old palace where I took a couple of pictures. A guard chased us down and deleted the two pictures from my camera! The driver of the carriage told me that pictures of the old palace, guards and policemen are not allowed! We passed the Médina where there were numerous, colorful fruit stands, entertainers, food stands, bubbles floating through the air and lots of people!
After our horse and carriage ride, we returned to our wonderful hotel and I found that our room was warm so we requested that a technician come and lower the temperature. It became a little cooler, but found it was cooler outside at night so we opened the windows and fell asleep to the sound of the traffic on the busy highway out front. It had been a long day and I slept well that night in Africa.