Woken at 5am to the sound of the very relaxing prayer call and tweeting birds we got up quite early for breakfast and a talk from the Riad owners on how to play the games of Marrakesh. With a detailed description (plus a photobook) we were ready start exploring the city. Taking on the advice to look as if you knew where you were going, even if completely lost, we strolled out into the Medina. It is difficult at first to concentrate on where you are going with so much going on around you, as well as motorbikes and bicycles and donkeys zipping in and out. Just wandering the streets of Marrkesh is a fantastic experience. We were heading for the main square - Djemaa el-Fna. Walking past countless shops, people on the street, getting called over, men drinking tea, meat hanging from butchers, people and shops everywhere. We got to the main square and again got sensory overload with men playing music, women doing henna, snake charmers, medicine men and monkeys dressed in football kits. But we went onwards to the Jewish quarter, Mellah where we actually got lost for a good hour, walking in circles. It was an interesting walk, at least!
Finally we located our first destination - The Saadian Tombs - the resting place of Sultan al-Mansour and not a cheap man! His tomb is absolutely beautiful, and he is buried there with his sons. There is an additional tomb outside for his mother but his poor wives and chancellors only got garden plots!
Not believing where time had gone, it was lunch already and the lovely roof terrace of Kasbah Cafe provided some much needed time out. We mapped out a route to the next location, not wanting to get lost again and headed to the ruins of Badia Palace. It used to belong to Sultan Ahmed el-Mansour and despite only being remnants of what it used to be it is actually a very tranquil place. It also has a good terrace to get views from above too.
Our next stop was Bahia (the beautiful) Palace- an extravagant home to many people over time. And although only a small proportion on display you can still get a sense of the grandeur of the place. The ceilings here are incredible! I have never seen so much detail in painted ceilings. I especially like the Harem where once lived the masters's 4 wives and 24 concubines!
Dar Si Said is a monument of mosaic madness. The wedding chamber on the first floor is immense. It is such a wonderful place - I preferred it to Bahia Palace.
Our tired feet were in need of a rest so we wandered towards the main square to place we had been recommended - Dar Cherifa - a cafe inside a riad and a place to escape and unwind. The best views for sunset over the main square are from Cafe Du France - who have a 3 tiered roof terrace. So, this is where we headed to watch a beautiful sunset. It is also a great people watching location and you can hear the hubbub from the square below. When the call to prayer sounds the noise from the street musicians goes quiet and it adds to the majesty of the setting sun.
We had a lovely dinner at Nomad and then stumbled home to bed!