Gavin Forster Photography | Marrakech - a tourist paradise

Marrakech - a tourist paradise

February 19, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

 

After deciding that our next break was to the colourful heat of northern Africa, my researching boots led us to find that there are way more things to do in Marrakech in the 5 days we could make it for. In my head i had certain expectations about the city and what to expect after seeing it portrayed on a range of discovery channel dooberies, once we landed i think they all went out the window!

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The carpark of our riad..or not

The posh new airport was decorated with a mix of styles from the traditional to the modern, we were greeted by 100s of taxi offers but luckily our riad had already sorted this out to reduce our early taxi=no affairs. On the flight the most striking thing on landing was the mix of buildings, the shanty towns surrounding the brand new airport were decorated with blue plastic sheeting and corrugated panels... oh and satellite tv dishes!

The hussle and bustle of the city was clear from the short drive to our riad. Cars bikes and mopeds jostle for space on the road with pedestrians and horse carriages... oh and shops! There was no apparent rules, just whoever gets there first sort of has right of way!

When the car stopped we were in the middle of a street... not in the car park of a riad....the driver grabbed our bag and off we trotted down a 1m wide alley ....panic started to set in as we could be taken anywhere... upon reaching a non descript door we were greeted with a cheery French ‘bonjour’ from Olivier the owner of the Riad Al Ksar. The manky street was replaced with a very posh looking central courtyard and overall a great looking place to stay!

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View overlooking Marrakech from our riad

After the formalities we headed out the door to start out adventure in a trading post dating back to 1062. Again we were faced with the chaos of the roads and pathways being filled with people, animals and shops/stalls of all kinds. Carrying my camera gear was a little strange as you know that the cost of the lens alone could have fed half the street for a very long time so it took a while to get past the stares and curious looks, or maybe they were all Nikoners?

The main road in the city got us to the front of the MASSIVE mosque that dominates the skyline. It was an amazing building although i’m admitting that it wasn’t the easiest the photograph in the high sun of the early afternoon!

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The Koutoubia mosque from Avenue Mohammed V

With this sun in mind we headed to the main square.... now i said that the roads were chaos, i hadn’t seen the main square! Dodging mopeds and horses was the easy bit, it was the snake charmers helpers handing you snakes and monkeys in tutus being thrust at you that caused the issue! In these sort of situations i always try and find a wall to get my back against and soak up the atmosphere...no choice of this here so it was very much a keep walking and saying ‘no i don’t want a snake wrapped around my camera’.

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On the whole our first day was a bit of a long wander that acclimatised us to the area and to figure out how not to look like a full on tourist! This journey led us to the Jardins de la Menara just on the outskirts of the city. It is the main destination for locals and tourists to wind down and relax under the olive groves. The main feature of the garden in the square water feature and the neighbouring building, the number one photo of the site is to get the Atlas mountains reflected in the water .....well it seems we picked the wrong day to get this effect. The sun was nice and the temperature not too high to cause problems with haze but guess what.. no sign of the mountains... buggers. It was still a nice trip out and we saw camels at the side of the road and all manner of footballing skills being carried out by the kids, as Lisa will testify i did also manage my best ever football bit of skill in trapping a high ball from a small child...i was happy.

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Can u see the mountains in the background? 
 

One of the curiosities of the county is that the currency is closed so you can’t import any, this means that there is always a massive bumfight for any cashpoints. We waited till we got in to town and reduce the hectic airport affairs. This may have been a mistake but we may not have witnessed a jedi warrior taking out some dirhams. 

The traditional attire of the country is what the jedi outfits were based on. So it was a bit freeky to see so many jedis out on the street (or sleeping on it). It’s one of those things that you want to photograph but its not always easy as everyone is just doing their day to day stuff and happen to be wearing, so with this in mind i snapped a few but not everyone that went past...i could have done that easy.

To finish the day we did the very tourist thing of getting lost in the souks. I’m trying to block out the shopping trip so i’ll leave this one here and be back at you soon with some action from the Ourika Valley and the wondrous Atlas mountains

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This is from a movie i'm sure but i have no clue which one!

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Busy busy streets!

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Snails or 'meat anyone?

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smokey action!

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i wish i could have captured the smell too...

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can you feel the force?

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