Brendan's Tour of Europe travel blog

This was the free photo of a snake charmer

Kylie's hand decorated in a Morocco tattoo

Some animal skins

Anyone for live snails

Anyone for sheeps heads, a delicacy I'm told

Notice any thing weird here................. all the houses have satelitte dishes

This is the expensive snake charmer

How do they get the spices to stand up like that

At the tannery with the processing pools behind me

The best spruiker in Marrakesh

The secret ingredient in making leather - pigeon shit (it helps soften...

The sidewalks in the markets are used by pedestrians, bicyclists, motorbikes and...

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The scene at Djemma El Fna on a Friday night

13th April 2006

After an 11 hour overnight train trip sandwiched into a small compartment with 6 other people we arrived in Marrakesh tired exhausted but still sane (just). We had risked not booking accomodation because we were arriving early enough to suss a few places out while it was still morning. After a bit of asking around we found a reasonably clean place with a shower (not always a guarantee in Morrocco) for 60 Dh each (about 6 Euros).

We got some brunch of crepes and Coke for the bargain price of 15 Dh and began 2 explore the markets, rows upon rows of bags, shoes, belts, spices and food crammed into narrow streets with hawkers aplenty trying to lure you in. Kylie bought a souvenier and a pair of shoes but there was nothing there that I wanted badly enough to fit into my 65 DH of remaining budget.

After that exhausting experience we proceeded to get completly lost until we stumbled apon this cheap internet cafe, which is where we are now....

Phew, finally found our way out of that one. We were relieved to be back at our accomodation and had a little nap bafore we headed out for dinner. I got a quick photo of a snake being charmed but the man saw me and didn`t like it very much so he threw a dead snake around me and got Kylie to take some photos then demanded 100 Dh. I was too tired to argue and didn`t really want to mess around with a man and his cobra. Dinner of the best tangine in town helped cheer me up and after that it was off to bed after an exhausting two days of travlling and new experiences.

The next day we did a little more looking around the markets for some nick-nacks Kylie wanted then went to visit the Saadian tombs where the Royals were buried many many years ago. For dinner we braved the outdoor eateries, a mass of temporary restaurants that gets constructed and reconstucted everyday. We found a spruicker who remember us from yesterday when we said we might come in 'better than Jamie Oliver' he said. A nice English couple alreqdy eating said it was pretty good so we sat and within a few minutes of ordering we had the food in front of us.

After dinner we explored the outdoor activities - storytelling, music and a coke bottle game where you had to hook the bottle with a fishing line. We went back early to prepare for the day ahead.

A breakfast of the usual (crepes and orange juice) was followed by a 3km trek to the bus station where we organised transport to the next town 'Essaouira'. A quick phone call had accomodation sorted and the rest of the day was free. We wanted to have a look at the tanneries but had heard stories of big rip-offs so were cautious. We made an attempt to find them and couldn't but some locqls offered free directions and one fellow even took the time to walk us there absolutly free of charge (the bad memories of the snake charmer were starting to fade).

Having learned our lessons before we asked the all important question of how much before we went in, only 10Dh so were proceeded. The guide took us through the stages of leather making from the raw skins if goats and camels to the first soaking bins where they are left in pools for three weeks to soften. Then the next step is to soak them in Pigeon poo where the ammonia helps soften the skin, they are then shaved clean and coloured as desired. We were showen the showroom but to our suprise there was no heavy sell, we paid the guide his fee plus a tip and we on our way back - a very happy experience.

Having spent 3 weird and wonderful nights in Morocco it was time to move onwards to the coastal town of Essaouira (Africas windy city).

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