Monday, April 28, 2008

Marrakesh, Morocco - Day 1

Hello all, I am back from my trip I am going to post my travel log here over the next few days, and the photos have started being uploaded, but there are 607 that I have to weed through and upload the good ones.

Day 0
Day Zero was a work day, and we got Oh so much not done, go figure. About 4:00 pm the beer came out and people started drinking. Like I have said one of the national sports... We had charter buses to take us from work to the airport in Kefalvick.

We got there and we where the only flight leaving :) so we had all the ticket counters to our selves even so it was a mad house as people where arriving by the bus load, about 400 people from Iceland alone (employees and spouses and infants...). So lots of boarding passes to be given out, and lots of bags to check.

Allot of people headed to the Duty free store and stocked up on liqueur and smokes. We flew a airline out of england called They where very nice people but fly sardine cans. Cram allot of people in, not much room and let them stew for 5 hours. You get the idea, I was calling it a sardine simulator by the end.

Even though the flight crew asked that we not consume alcohol that we brought on board, I don't think much of what was bought in the duty free store made it to Africa :) yes there was many drunk people landing in a Muslim country. It all turned out good, we only had the police bust up one party, and no one was arrested.

Any who took off at 11:40 PM... Next stop Africa!

Day 1
We arrive at 04:55 AM the next day, we are greeted by the organizing company that was hired. They are out of england and did a spectacular job over the course of the trip.

I wish I had a good photo of them all, but only have a picture of Anna( you will see it later).

Anyway we where herded onto buses and taken to a club, it is a disco at night, but during the day it was 'CCP Breakfast in Africa' stop.

As you can see it it was a large pool and surrounding it where lounge chairs, havocs and 3 walled beds. And many people flaked out then for some sleep. Trust me it is impossible to sleep in a sardine can with wings... Allot also sunned, made use of the free wandering masseuses and the pool.

We stayed there until about noon, then the buses took us to the souks (sp?), This is in the old walled city and is a maze of narrow back alleys with hundreds of shops. The haggle for everything here, you haggle for the price of food, spices, leather goods, pots, cabs, cartage...

And the busker's and entertainers are something else also. They won't take no for a answer if you take there picture, they ask for 300d (x10 for ISK) to take a picture of 3 guys, considering the minimum wage is about 1800d a month, that is expensive. But I haggled them down to 100d, still way to much, but not bad pictures of them.

So I wandered around and looked at stuff, Bought a souvenir for my parents, but they are going to have to come and get it :)

When I was wandering around the alleys with our guide, oh that is another thing, the guides are licensed. But there are lots of unlicensed ones and they will tend to take you to places that relatives own. A couple of guys at work hired a guide to take them to a restaurant, the guy led them to a place and said here, this is better place. They saw the sign for the place they wanted, and said 'NO Go there' and pointed to the sign. The guy argued a bit and then led them there. Then he wanted a 150d for the guiding, they gave him 50, and said that he was lucky he got anything for trying to lead them astray, Anyway the had a good meal. Also pick pocket are a bought, sow e where warned to keep things concealed. Dan suggested putting a suitcase lock on your backpack. I did that and I didn't lose anything, but a couple of people lost cell phones and minor things like that.

Back to my tail, the guide took us on a short 20 min trip, and we stopped at this place, that sold all kinds of stuff. They had silver jewelry, boxes of beautiful metal work, and bronze plates. Some of the plates you could hold by the edge and shake them and they would bend... others where really good.

But the cool thing was they sold doors :) and not just any doors, everything from modern foam core, to ancient wooden panels. And bronze ones, The next two pictures are of a door I just loved!
As you can see the engraving on the door was something else.

Anyway I took a carriage to the hotel from there, and it was interesting.

I took about 10 min to get to the hotel, I thought Icelandic people where crazy when driving, but Marrakesh is INSANE!

There are cars, buses, mule carts, mopeds, bikes, and carriages all over the road. The best I can tell is that they use there horns to indicate that they are assuming that they have the right of way. And the lines, are just suggestions for where you should be. But I got to the hotel safely.
Well this hotel is Something else, It is a five star hotel that has hosted kings, queens, movie stars, and a host of other Who's who. and we stayed there. We had a lot of rooms so they gave us a couple of sweets and they raffled them off, I didn't win. But some of the guys checked out the costs and it appears the simple room I had with twin beds was $200 USD a night. The suites that they raffeled off, $2000 USD a night.

The room was cool, everything that you would expect of a good hotel, But all the bed frames, and cabinets, desk... where all hand carved local wood.

I guess I should touch on language a bit, most people in the hotel spoke French with a smattering of English. The key people spoke very good English, but most of the staff, did not.

The TV had about 50 channels, and there was a couple of BBC ones. The staff was like something I have never seen in the west. There was people at key doors whose job was to just stand there and open the door for people coming and going. The cleaning staff would stop as you approached and back up to the wall and look at the floor until you had past. All the women where in these long flowing robs, and the men in white shirt and pants, with a brown cape, and maroon fez.

About this point I was getting really tired so I flaked out in my room and slept for a few hours, Then got up and went looking for dinner. Met up with Jon-Carlos and his wife Yuko. Jon-Carlos is American, but lived in Japan for many years, and met Yuko there. She is Japanese and doesn't speak English well, or Icelandic. So we had dinner and had a conversation over dinner, stopping to help her form sentences and get the right words. Jon-Carlos would translate concepts and words if we couldn't explain them in English.

Anyway that was about the end of Day one.

Link to Google maps for the hotel :),-8.002183&spn=0.004024,0.008454&z=18&iwloc=addr

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