Marrakech

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I cycled over the busy A7 and thought I had entered a rather modern suburb of Marrakech. But it was the town of Tamensourt. I plodded on and finally found Marrakech. Traffic was heavy and like Kathmandu pollution made my eyes water. I found navigating the city quite confusing but once close to the medina I stopped at a cafe to get my bearings. The Hotel Aday is part of a cluster of budget hotels close to the expansive Djemaa El Fna open square. They are not easy to find and in an alleyway between two roads leading South from the square. Hotel Aday lives up to its Rough Guide reputation as a clean well run place and I was quite spoilt with an en suite shower room and window onto the street. Exploring the medina was an adventure. Despite my aversion to commercial centres the colour and diversity of activity is a wonder to behold. With tiny passageways spread in every direction local tradesmen and craftsmen have clustered together in different areas. Although warned of scam artists and hustlers I did not encounter any at all. There are, naturally, salesmen trying to pull customers towards their shops. But it is good natured and the shop displays they have created are quite compelling. I stayed a few nights and wandered for hours. The square is a focus for entertainers and comes alive with lanterns at nightfall. Having read about animal cruelty issues there I personally did not see a single snake or monkey being paraded in the square. Horse drawn carriages provide tours and are lined up between the square and the Qessabin Mosque which dominates the skyline. Cycling around the Medina walls took me past the royal palace and its rose garden. I doubt I even scratched the surface but enjoyed my brief visit to ‘old’ Marrakech.

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Having stocked up on some particularly good freshly ground coffee I headed East for the mountains…

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