A Travellerspoint blog

Silence of the lambs on our way to Essaouira

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_1469644284678.jpgToday is the start of Eid Al-Adha and today lambs will be slaughtered in honor of the festival. The hotel did offer us a breakfast but I'm sure they closed the door right behind us to go and celebrate with their family. We on the other hand have a long roadtrip to look foreward to. One plus-point of driving during a festival is: we're the only ones on the road. After driving for an hour we see theprayer services on the hillsides, looks impressive! A bit later the mass is done and our bus has to drive very slow due to many people walking on the road. Yet a bit later the road is empty again.

As was told everything is closed, even gas stations so a pit stop turned out to be quite an adventure. Our driver did find us a toilet but not of the luxurious kind.large_1297706_14696442882297.jpgCurious tourists (me too btw)Everyone went anyway. We got to Essaouira [Essaouira-travel-guide-1079514] way before scedule, not so strange beiing the only one on the road most of the time. We checked in to our hotel and then went to check out the beach. I shared my lunch with Cynthia, she bought the can of tuna, I bought the drinks and we both had bread. We discovered the beach of Essaouira isn't the best place to have lunch; it's a windy place so we had bread with tuna and sand.

Nice thing about a festival like this is to be able to see the village Essaouira without all the souvenirs stuck to every bit of wall. Most shops are closed (not all) and the narrow streets look pitoresque with the nice woodwork shutters and doors you won't be able to see when the shops are open.large_1297706_14696443637370.jpg The preparing of the sheeps heads by burning them is interesting to me but might be a cruel picture to others. On several places in town the man are burning and scratching the scin of the heads so they can be prepared to eat later.

To our luck not everything is closed so we can have dinner in a restaurant although it's a more expensive one as we are getting used to (prizes still well below Belgian standard so why am I complaining?) The setting is very nice and we can enjoy the seaside sunset from the terrace. Essaouira looks almost like a French mediterranean town instead of a Moroccan town, guess the French influence is very clear here

After dinner I went to a small bar with Cynthia and Ilona to enjoy some traditional Gnawa music. We saw the sign as we were going to the restaurant and decided it would be a nice thing to end the day with. Finding the right bar was a bit more difficult but we found it in the end. A 3 men Gnawa band was playing the traditional music and we sat and had a drink or two before we had enough culture for the evening and went back to the hotel.

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Posted by Stefmuts 05:15 Archived in Morocco Tagged culture festival sightseeing Comments (0)

Exploring Taroudannt

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14696432931810.jpgWe had a full day to go and explore Taroudannt for ourselves. I hooked up with four group members and we started walking to the famous city wall. It's actually really close to the hotel. We walk along the outside of the wall untill we get to the next gate. Here we can go up on the wall and we do except for Cynthia who still has problems with her knee and doesn't want to make it worse by going up the stairs. On top of the wall you have a nice view of the area, but it could have been nicer if there not was a sort of garbage dumpside nearby. We walked a bit, took some pictures of eachother to have proof we've been there and meanwile Cythia was sitting on a bench in the shade. We joined her for a bit and then we started walking in the old part of town. We just started walking, left turn, right turn, nowhere in particular.large_1297706_14696433636880.jpg we ended up in a residential area with the laundry outsideand the local children following us. We had some fun with them, took some pictures then we tried to send them home. They woudn't listen to us (I'm pretty sure they understood though) but some local guy helped us out by telling them to leave us alone and go home. Everything with a friendly smile though.

We walked until we reached another gate in the wall and went outside the old town again. Getting thirsty we looked out for a restaurant or bar. We came past Hotel Palais Salam, might have been a nice place to have a drink but it seems the personel is on strike because they didn't get paid for some time. They were having a break from demonstrating but left their banners at the entrance. We decided this might not be the right place at least not for now.

We walked on along the city wall untill yet another gate. Here a restaurant and it seemed to be open, turned out there was one guy looking after the place for the owner who already left town for the upcoming festival. Kitchen closed but drinks he could do. There was a huge language barrier but he tried his best to keep the conversation going and so did we.

This evening we had to go shopping for a lunch for tomorrow, due to the festival we won't be able to have lunch anywhere on the way to Essaouira [Essaouira-travel-guide-1079514]

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Posted by Stefmuts 04:14 Archived in Morocco Tagged culture ruins castle sightseeing Comments (0)

The hills have eyes and saffron

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14596783932568.jpgAfter a lovely breakfast at the pool side we were off to Taroudant. Well on our way, we passed the film set of the hills have eyes (an American Horror movie). We had already passed but made the driver turn around to take a closer look.

Two man are guarding the set and for a few coins we can look around all we want. Not everything is from the one movie, some egyptian stuff got mixed in there as well (?) We just couldn't help ourselves and just had to fool around getting in, on and touching stuff, but aapparently thats ok. The set is maybe even scarier than the movie. Back home I watched the movie again to see if I can make out the stuff on the set and I must say it's not really a great movie even for a horror story. Our guide found a big gun in the store so we all went in there to see what else was there.large_1297706_14596784099645.jpg I wouldn't buy anything there though!

Next is a viewing point. Since today is mostly sitting in the bus we are just glad to get out, view or no view. We have tea in a small town with a big market. Not the normal market but especially for the upcoming festival ( Id al-Adha - sept 24 ) We have seen people carrying sheep all week already. It's really crowded and mostly food they sell here.

After another few hours in the bus we stop at a saffron farm. Not much safron growing at the moment but we get to taste safron tea and we can buy some. I think it makes a nice souvenir so I buy some.

Lunch in a tent with typical moroccan music (sadly not live played) and a nice view. And later on a short stop for goats in a tree (argan tree) We are really bushed when we finally arrived in Taroudant. We had to find a restaurant on our own tonight, our guide set us free in the souk. Wasn't that easy though, lots of places already closed for the festival but we managed to find a pizza place and a supermarket for some drinks and snacks which we consumed on the roof terrace of the hotel. We had to bring our own stuff because the terrace and bar are kind of abandoned so we had to make our own party.

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Posted by Stefmuts 22:48 Archived in Morocco Tagged mountains desert nature movies hiils Comments (0)

Lost at kasbah Taourirt (Ouarzazate)

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14596024796306.jpgAgain a lonely breakfast in the empty hotel restaurant and then a busride to Ouarzazate. First stop a rosewater factory. I didn't find it that interesting. On the roadside someone is selling tagines and as some of us want to take a closer look our guide stops them and suggests a stop at a better tagine store.And so the next stop is in the middle of nowhere at a small stop with beautiful pottery. Our driver buys his wife a nice big tagine, don't know if she's happy with a new cooking tool, I know I wouldn't be. Several in our group buy some of the nice pottery (no tagines though) I don't buy any, not because I don't like it ├žous I do, but I can see myself sitting in the plane with all that stuff on my lap, scared it will break!

We arrive in Ouarzazate just before noon and have lunch across the street from the kasbah (Taourirt) It looks very nice.large_1297706_14596024988014.jpg Most of the group would like a guided tour through the kasbah so I tag along and our guide arranges a tour guide for 10 DH per person. Thats 60 DH total since some of our group stayed at the restaurant. Our guide stays outside and we follow the kasbah guide inside. There the price changes from 60 to 100. But hey, don't mess with us! We don't agree on that so he leaves growling. Our guide tries to solve the issue but that doesn't help much, he finally offers to guide us through the kasbah though he doesn't know much about the history.

The inside is a bit like a maze and as I tend to stay behind to take pictures I lost the group. I could have sworn I heard them up the stairs and down the next stairs and maybe behind the next corner. I didn't find them and had no idea wich way to go to get to the courtyard again.large_1297706_14596054188393.jpgBeer, finallyI tried a view stairs and corners and finally dropped my pride and asked some other tourists wich way is the way out.

As I enter the courtyard form one doorway the rest of the group comes through another doorway. I join them and this time I made sure not to lose them again! Outside the kasbah our guide tries to get the other guide to apologize to us, he doesn't want to and we don't care so we tell our guide to let it be.

At the hotel I get yet another faulty room, toilet not working and no shower hose so I have to change rooms again. It's getting boring!

As the hotel is not in the city centre we have to take the bus to go to the centre for dinner. Before dinner we have some free time to take a look at the local market. At the restaurant we finally can order a beer with our diner.

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Posted by Stefmuts 06:39 Archived in Morocco Tagged buildings culture sightseeing Comments (0)

Gorge du Todra a bit disappointing

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14595990682446.jpgFreshly showered, no longer smelling like camel we set off to Tinerhir [Tinerhir-travel-guide-1310257]. Our itinerary said our next hotel was situated between the walls of the Gorge du Todra so we were quite disappointed to find our hotel being in the town of Tinerhir about 15 km from the Gorge. That means taking the bus to go to the Gorge and sticking to a schedule again instead of doing a bit hiking in the area around the Gorge, bummer!

We are the only guests in the hotel and still they managed to give us a room with a defect toilet. The manager apologizes plenty and we were given another room immediately. Dinner is in the town centre a bit of a walk along a not very attractive main street.large_1297706_14595981332051.jpg The restaurant our guide found us was not great either, we had to wait a long time to get the wrong orders and the lamb was burned. Is everything going downhill from here?

Next morning we went to visit the Gorge. One of the guys in our group wasn't feeling well but he didn't want to miss the gorge and our guide said it would be possible to get a taxi to go back if it didn't work so he decided to join us. We got off the bus near the gorge and started walking, not even in the gorge Cynthia stumbled and twisted her knee but she was determined to walk the gorge. There's a road running though the gorge, another little disappointing thing. We all didn't expected cars to be passing through the gorge, gone is the magic! Other than that the gorge is pretty impressive, high walls in coloured rock.large_1297706_14595981815116.jpg We also discovered the apparent reason for us staying in the hotel in Tinerhir, there are hotels inside the gorge but one of them had been damaged by a rock slide.

We did get some time (2 hours) to go and check out the area by ourselves. Not enough time for a real hike but I did start to walk along the river to see what's behind the curve. I walked for about 45 minutes along the river and then started to get on my way back. There was a part where I had to jump from rock to rock to pass a more narrow part so I decided to get up to the road and walk a bit on the roadside and then go down to the river again where there's more of a path. As I was walking along the road I saw a person in the distance waving, o, that's the guide waving at me to come back. I really thought he said two hours (?) So I kept walking on the road since that's the faster route.large_1297706_14595982429248.jpg The others were already at the restaurant for the lunch and no one complained I was late so it must have been fine with them.

After lunch most of us wanted to do the walk through the fields except for Marijn (feeling sick) and Cynthia (knee hurts) so we get a taxi right? Now our guide says it's difficult to get a taxi from the gorge. We all heard him say no problem this morning and we made that clear to him. He did manage to arrange a lift (not an official taxi) for the two and the rest of us started walking.

We crossed the river where some women were doing laundry, then up to the kasbah for a quick look around and then through the fields along the river.large_1297706_14595982824568.jpg Our guide explains some about the crops and I get the idea he calls everything he doesn't know animal food, or maybe it really is animal food, what do I know? We see all kinds of fruits and vegetables, one in our group picked a pomegranate but threw it away a bit later as she discovered it was invested with ants, local wildlife. A farmer shouted at us because he thought we were taking his picture, our guide shouted something back at him which solved the case, or at least he turned and walked away. The fields are situated some meters above river level and close to the edge the ground shows cracks and some parts already plunged into the river. A bit scary to walk there but we had to on one part of the trip. We see the ingenious watering system (aqueduct if you will) crossing the river, it's easier to get the water from a higher level than from the river below. After a two hours walk we cross the river by a unfinished bridge and on the other side our bus is waiting for us

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Posted by Stefmuts 05:39 Archived in Morocco Tagged landscapes nature gorge Comments (0)

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