Day 1
Sunday, 11th October 2009

I woke up, jolted from my sleep by a nightmare, a vision of myself in a few years time, a hideous premonition of a hairline that had receded beyond where I could see it. The hair loss was exagerated by my refusal to cut whatever long strands of hair I had left.

It was a disturbing look, like that of Max Wall and one that troubled me deeply.

I couldn't get to sleep after that. After an hour of constantly touching my head to check that I still had hair my phone crowed and Julie's barked. Our 5:45am alarms. Time to get up.

We had a flight to Marrakech to catch.

We were surprised how early we still had to get up even though we had stayed at the Gatwick Hilton last night. Despite only having to walk across to the South terminal and having the pleasure of already checked-in our luggage last night we were still short on time.

It was quite a whirlwind. We had no time to waste as we bought our customary "on-offer" champagne and grabbed a granola & yogurt breakfast on the run before making our way immediately to gate 22. The mad rush was possibly better for Julie as it didn't give her much occasion to think about the imminent flight but eventually sitting down at the gate gave her time to mull over the potential risks of being propelled down a runway at high speed inside a highly flammable bullet with wings. She reached for the diazepam.

She spoke to Hannah before we boarded. Sunday is like any other day with the kids, up as usual around 6:30am. At least today they hadn't raided the fridge and covered the floor and each other with yogurt and cream cheese. "But I was hungry" was Rory's defence for smearing Tyler in Dairylea spread. "What was he going to do?" asked Julie "Eat his brother?"

We were in Easy Jet's boarding group A which meant once those who had paid extra for their speedy boarding privilege had boarded we were on next. It's always a relief for Julie when we find ourselves a free row of seats so that she can sit by the window and that I'm sitting next to her. Her worse nightmare would be for us to be late and have to endure a flight seated on her own.

"Welcome on board our brand new Airbus" announced the captain. Julie seemed impressed by this so I stopped myself from asking if this was its maiden voyage. It would have instilled doubt into her mind of whether the plane could actually fly!

The three and a half hour flight went by quite quickly. Julie occupied herself by playing games on her iTouch. She played a Flags of the World game (which is my favourite). She also played her favourite game which was an air traffic control game where she directs a sky full of aeroplanes safely towards a runway with out causing a mid-collision. I noticed that after the first air crash she decided that it was a stupid game to play whilst being in the air and played Scrabble instead.

We crossed the barren landscape of northern Morocco, flying high above Casablanca, descending gradually towards the Atlas mountains. By the time we reached Marrakech the High Atlas were looming tall. In the distance the unexpected sight of Lake Aguegour high in the hills was quite astonishing.

Flying over the south of the city the birds eye view of Marrakech was also fascinating. It looked like a large sprawling village with all the buildings low level and rose pink in colour.

"Is that our runway?" asked Julie "it looks far too short!"

Menara airport was a short runway!

Menara Airport, Marrakech

Julie held her breath from the first bounce on the tarmac, through the forceful and sudden braking, releasing a huge gasp of relief when we finally came to a stop. I felt very excited. Julie felt very sick.

Stepping out into the warm Moroccan air was thrilling for the both us. We finally meet the Pearl of the High Atlas

The allure of exotic Marrakech has been calling me since I was a teenager reading about the crop of the sixties legendary rock musicians travelling to this magical city in the sand. Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin came here in search of that exotic as it became a popular stage post on the hippy trail.

We were twenty minutes earlier than scheduled. After completing an entry visa form we queued briefly to collect our first stamp on our new passports.

The moment we walked through to baggage reclaim our orange suitcase came around on the carousel. Our timing was impeccable.

Our swift progress however came to an abrupt stop when we found ourselves wandering around the terminal building looking for our pick up. It was quite dizzying trying to read every piece of paper held aloft. So after twice doing a complete circuit of all the pick-up drivers we decided to stand still and "let the mountain come to Mohammed" as they say.

Menara Airport, Marrakech
Menara Airpot, Marrakech

We didn't have long to wait. Our driver soon arrived waving his white paper with my name on it.

"I'm very sorry" he apologised "I've only got back after taking another couple to the Riad."

We followed him to the cark park walking beneath a breathtaking latticed canopy casting pretty patterns across the terminal building. It was a really lovely design.

We hopped inside a cool air con Toyota and were driven the short distance to the city. The three miles didn't take us long at all.

It would have taken us even less if it wasn't for an accident that happened right in front of us. A lady on her moped got knocked over at a junction. Thankfully the car that hit her was travelling quite slowly. She got to her feet rather gingerly but at least she could.

"Those are the medina walls" said our driver.

We entered the medieval heart of Marrakech through the Bab Nkob Gate (which made me laugh for some puerile reason). It wasn't all narrow alleyways and souks quite yet but wide French colonial avenues of Ahmed Ouaqala and Mohammed V the main thoroughfare. The legacy of French rule

medina walls, Marrakech
We turned down a side street stopping at a narrow gate called Bab Laksour, through which we caught a tantalising glimpse of the atmospheric alleyways we were expecting. We stepped out the car and were introduced to Omar, Riad Zolah's porter. We followed him beyond the gates down Rue Sidi el Yamani as he wheeled our suitcase to our hotel.

The deeper into the medina we got the more amazed by it all we became. We entered a section of the alley covered by reed mats which providing shade from the blistering sun. The way the light streamed through dappling the floor was quite spellbinding.

We emerged back into the blinding sunlight to find ourselves at a crossroads. This open space was where one could find the Mouassine fountain. Not to be mistaken with the Trevi it was a more functional public water supply for the Mouassine neighbourhood.

"Up there" pointed Omar "there's a nice place called Cafe Arabe"

He then turned the opposite direction and disappeared down a dark and narrow back street called Derb El Hamman. Julie and I looked at each other.

"Where have we booked?" she asked concerned that the shady alleyway looked really unpromising. As Omar led us further and further into the gloomy maze it became darker and more confusing.

"I don't think we'll ever find our way back out again!" I joked.

Parts of the alley were almost in complete darkness as we walked beneath an underpass. At least the light at the end of the tunnel was just around the corner. A potted plant outside a studded door signalled our arrival at Riad Zolah; that and the brass nameplate.

Riad Zolah, Marrakech
Riad Zolah, Marrakech

Omar opened the door and we stepped down into the most stylish of courtyards, bright and tranquil, complete with a few young trees and the focal point of a rose petal filled bowl.

We were warmly greeted by the softly spoken Fattima. "Welcome to Riad Zolah" she said.

We felt instantly relaxed.

She showed us through to another courtyard which was even more spectacular with a plunge pool as its centrepiece.

Riad Zolah, Marrakech

"This is just beautiful" I gushed. Julie completely agreed. "I don't care if we're stuck in here for the whole trip!"

We sat down to complete the check-in formalities and were served our first Moroccan mint tea which Omar poured in great theatrical style from a silver teapot into a small delicate glasses. The mint fragrance was fantastic, the flavour however was surprisingly sweet. Apparently the tea is traditionally made with Gunpowder Green Tea which can be so bitter it needs a lot of sugar to balance it out.

It was too sweet for Julie's taste but I loved it, helping myself to another cup emulating the dramatic serving technique by pouring from quite some height. "Watch out, you're going to spill it!" warned Julie.

Dar Zahia, Marrakech

With everything in order we were shown to our room.

Unfortunately it wasn't at Riad Zolah but at a nearby hotel. When we made our reservations six months ago they were already fully booked for tonight such is its popularity but they could accommodate us for the remainder of our stay. So they arranged for us to stay at Dar Zahia, a nearby riad.

We followed Omar deeper into the warren of alleyways where at the end of one we came a door. It was opened by a very timid lady by the name of Raheema who escorted us down a long subtly lit corridor which brought us out into an ornate courtyard.

It was very pretty.

Dar Zahia looked to be a really small riad with only two bedrooms. "It would be a great place to come with friends" suggested Julie "We could take the place over"

Omar carried our suitcase to our room and arranged to meet us at 11am tomorrow to move our luggage back to Riad Zolah.

Our room was absolutely charming. The windows were open overlooking the courtyard. "I've always wanted to live in a house like this" I said "one with an inner courtyard"

"It wouldn't quite work in North Wales though, would it?" replied Julie "here or in Italy perhaps but not in wet and windy Wales!"

Dar Zahia, Marrakech

We chilled in our room for a while just soaking it all in.

The atmosphere suddenly became even more evocative when the call to prayer began. It was incredible. The Adhan started in the distance somewhere. "Allah u akbar!" Another muezzin began to call from another mosque, overlapping the first. "Allah u akbar!" Then several more joined the cacophony that swirled over the city like a siren.

The mosque nearest us then began its recital. "Allah u akbar!" (Allah is the greatest.) We could hear it clearly as if he was in the room next to us. The loudspeaker for the Mouassine Mosque must have been right outside our bathroom window. "Ash-hadu alla ilaha illallah" (I bear witness that there is no God except Allah) It was a stunning performance, so exciting it gave me goosebumps and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. "Hayya alas-salat Hayya alal-falah" (Hasten to prayer Hasten to success) We both listened with amazement at the lyrical narration.

Our first experience of the magnificent Adhan was unfortunately somewhat tarnished because I was shitting on the toilet when it all began. I couldn't have time it any worse. I sat there with my trousers around my ankles trying to stall my motions the best I could out of respect. It was a peculiarly unforgettable moment.

children play in alleyway, Marrakech Once we we're refreshed and relaxed we ventured back out into the alleyways. It was strange how what felt daunting previously had already taken on a familiar look. The dark shadowy corners didn't last long as pockets of light shone the way forward.

Before we knew it we were back in the open space looking at the Mouassine fountain.

It had four arches, three for animals and the fourth for the people to drink from.

They would simply fill up their plastic bottles with the fresh water.

With Omar's recommendation fresh in our memory we decided to head up Rue de Mouassine to find Cafe Arabe for a spot of lunch.

We found it quite easily, only a minute away up on the right hand side of the street. The review in our guide book said they had a superb roof top terrace so once we walked inside we headed for the staircase.

At the top we popped out into a lovely lounge area with comfy seating, shaded from the sun and with great views over the city. It's piece-de-resistance was an irrigation system that squirted out cooling vaporised water all over you. It was a perfect oasis, a watering hole par excellence.
Cafe Arabe, Marrakech
Cafe Arabe, Marrakech

We decided to share a starter and main course so ordered a Harrira soup and a Vegetable Tagine. The tagine was particularly tasty.

Being a vegetarian my choices were pretty limited and even dishes that sounded like they didn't contain meat probably had meat stock in them.

I just had to go with the flow.

We could have spent all day sitting here beneath the fresh water spray sipping iced mint tea but the flow eventually told us to move on.

Sidi Abdelaziz Shrine, Marrakech

Back out onto the bustling street we continued northwards passing a shrine to a Sufi saint called Sidi Abdelaziz. Unfortunately for us tourists all zaouias (shrines) and mosques are closed to non-muslims.

It made the brief glimpse of its interior all the more exciting.

We continued up Rue de Mouassine. The map showed it as a smooth curving street that arched its way towards the Ben Youssef mosque.

In reality it was a combination of connecting passageways that meandered its way through the Medina.

There came a point when I couldn't determine where we were on the map. Technically that meant we were lost but I wouldn't admit to it!

We just followed our noses onwards, until we came to a T-junction. We now had to make a choice. Left or right?

We were aiming for the Ben Youssef Medersa, an old School of Theology that is now open to the public. The sign on the wall above us said Ben Youssef Passage which was encouraging but it didn't offer a clue about its location. The map was of no help.

After a quick "inee meanie miny mo" we turned left.

carpets, Marrakech
spices, Marrakech

Shortly after walking through the pungent aroma of a spice stall a couple of locals yelled at us. They were loitering on a corner and had seen us coming.

"That way is closed. Mosque" they all said. "Where you going?"

"No, no, it's OK" I said trying to ignore them.

They repeated the fact that we weren't allowed to walk down that street, so not wishing to offend we stopped. They asked again where we wanted to go.

I reluctantly entered a dialogue with them and told them we were looking for the Medersa.

"Follow me" said one of them, a young lad dressed in what looked like chef's whites.

He took us back the way we came, back to Ben Youssef Passage and onwards. If we had turned right instead of left at the T-junction we would have found it ourselves.

We weren't so naive in thinking he was doing it out of the kindness of his heart but when he asked for 30 dirhams for his services I laughed.

"Sorry, I have no change"

He had obviously heard that one before and told me go inside the Medersa to buy our tickets and get some change whilst I was at it. I did as I was told and came back out onto the street.

I went to give him only 10 dirhams but he complained and moaned and refused to take the coin. I was getting bored of this and said "Listen pal, take this or nothing"

He took the money and skulked away muttering something to himself.

alley, Marrakech
Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech

Anyway, with that episode over we finally got inside the Medersa. The adventure of getting here was all worth it. When we walked into the richly decorated courtyard we were left speechless. It was extraordinarily beautiful. The several hues of browns layered above a colourful strip of zellij mosaic was just stunning.

As a whole it was most inspiring then, when we focused on a particular section, the incredible detail of the carvings left us astounded.

Our eyes widened and jaws dropped once more. It was totally mesmerising.

Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech

We slowly walked around the courtyard trying to absorb it all. In the centre of the smooth marble floor a rectangle pool reflected the exquisite walls that surrounded it. There were only a handful other visitors inside which gave a respectful silence to the place. It was quite idyllic.

Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech

Once we completed our circle around the courtyard we went upstairs where we found ourselves alone amongst the dormitories.

The Medersa was a religious school where students studied the Qur'an.

Founded in the 14th century much of what we see today was built around 1560 by the Saadin rulers. In its heyday it housed over 900 students in a 130 rooms.

For four hundred years scholars meditated over the Qur'an until it finally closed its doors in the 1960s.

In complete contrast to the fine architecture of the courtyard all of the dormitory rooms were extremely austere, some didn't even have any windows.

The most coveted rooms of then all I'm sure would have been the ones over looking the courtyard.

A room with a view, compact and bijous, comprising of a large escalloped arched window embellished by an attractive cedar wood trellis.

It was difficult to imagine however how this place would have been buzzing with all the Qur'anic students.

Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech

Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech

We literally had the place to ourselves up here, no one else had made the effort to explore the dormitories.

At times it felt a little eerie.

After popping our heads into almost all 130 rooms we came back downstairs and returned to the courtyard where we sat down for a while.

It was so tranquil.

Once we were totally relaxed it was difficult to move on and leave this serene seat of learning behind.

As we made our way towards the exit along an enclosed hallway a pocket of sunlight broke the darkness. Looking upwards we saw the light pouring in through an eight spoke wheel illuminating the carved wooden balcony with beautiful effect.
Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech
Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech

We stepped out back onto the street and walked the short distance down to an open space.

We had bought a combined 3-in-1 ticket to get into the Ben Youssef Medersa. The other two attractions were centred around this square.

The first we came across was the Musee de Marrakech. We had read in several guide books that whilst the exhibits may not be of particular interest the museum is well worth a visit for the building alone. They weren't wrong!

Musee de Marrakech, Marrakech

It began its life as the opulent 19th century Palace Mnebhi, built in the style of a super-sized riad. The inner courtyard was spectacular. We were blown away by the most marvellous of mosaic floors.

Hovering in the centre like a Da Vinci UFO prototype was the largest lantern we'd ever seen.

The whole ambience was further enhanced by a curious golden tint to the light created by the fabric that spanned the open space.

Musee de Marrakech, Marrakech

It was so peaceful here with just the sound of the bubbling fountain breaking the silence. There were plenty of nooks with comfortable sofas to choose from and as luck would have it we had all the time in the world to sit and relax.

Our introduction to Marrakech so far had been a succession of chill out lounges. It was perfect!

Rehydrated after a coca cola light and an eau de minerale "with gas" in the little cafe in the outer courtyard we left the museum and walked across the dusty square towards the impressive Ben Youssef Mosque.

Opposite, sunken into what looked like an archaeological dig was the third and final attraction on our combined 60 dirham entry tickets, Koubba El Badiyin.

Apparently it's the only surviving structure from the Almoravids era, the city's founders during the 11th century.

Koubba El Badiyin, Marrakech
Koubba El Badiyin, Marrakech The heat was quite intense so Julie decided to stay in the shade whilst I ventured down the steps to take a closer look.

It was quite a small detached building but it packed in many features that have become the classic Arabian style.

The key-hole arch, the escalloped arch, the attractive symmetrical patterns.

The kaleidoscope effect on the interior of the dome was striking.

Koubba El Badiyin, Marrakech

To think that it's almost a thousand years old is incredible.

We moved on, walking past the Ali Ben Youssef mosque sneaking a peak at its the elusive interior through a gap in the window shutters.

At the end of the square we took a deep breath and stepped inside for the first time the labyrinth of dark alleyways that have become synonymous with Marrakech, the magical souks.

Within seconds a kid came up to us and said "That way closed. You want the square?"

After our experience earlier we brushed his offer to one side. "No, no, no .... it's OK" we said striding forward with confidence.

The street seemed to get darker and narrower and a smell of glue was getting stronger as we walked towards the light. We popped out squinting into a small courtyard full of shoemakers busy producing babouches the leather slippers that Marrakech is famous for.

We had stumbled into a foundouk an area for craftsmen to produce the various souvenirs sold in the souks.

They lifted their heads to look at us then returned to their work.

We felt as if we shouldn't have intruded so beat a hasty retreat.

We sheepishly sneaked past the young lad with his smug "told you so" face and took the next right out of there.

Within minutes we reached the entrance to the Souk des Babouches.

As the name suggests the Slipper Market was filled with store upon store each selling every conceivable colour and style of leather slipper, although all were cut from the same template, all long and pointy.

It's a wonder how any competition exists down here. They were all selling thousands upon thousands of identical slippers.

Mid-way through the slipper souk we decided for some reason to turn down a different aisle.

This was called Kissaria and was mostly filled with stalls selling fabrics, kaftans, and scarves.

Halfway down I felt my arm tugged, then tugged again. The cheeky chappy's sales pitch was to literally drag me into his store.

He wasn't letting go of me. He spoke in French and I answered "Non, merci. Let me go you idiot" but I had no choice in the matter.

Before I knew it he wrapped a white fabric around my neck and showed me a mirror. He then wrapped the scarf around my head "See, Berber style" he said.

He was extremely jovial and charming so I didn't mind his hard sell. He asked for 30 dirhams, I began my bartering position at 15. We quickly agreed at 20. When I began to pay he suddenly became a master of extraction as he somehow, whether it was hypnosis or bloody persistence, managed to persuade me to part with a further 6 dirhams.

To compensate for the extra payment I asked for a photo and he obliged. He was quite a character and probably needed no encouragement to pose for a picture.

With me dressed "like a berber" we moved on to the end of the aisle turned right and returned up the next alley back onto Souk des Babouches. We should had then turned right and then left to find the Mouassine fountain but we didn't. We were somewhere else, in another souk, heading in some random direction, and it felt great!

Some of the lines the traders used were quite humorous. "small shop small prices" said one "It's cheaper than Asda" said another. "It's free to look" was the most commonly used.

Half an hour later and the sense of adventure and excitement had worn off. We just wanted to find our way back to our Riad but our little freebie map was of no use to us, we were well and truly lost. I was getting a little hot and bothered under my Berber style headwear. The scarf was whipped off and almost waved in surrender.

We just had to carry on walking forwards in the hope we'd stumble across a familiar landmark. We just didn't have a clue where we were. More through luck than judgement we eventually popped out into an open square that we recognised.

It was Place de Ben Youssef or maybe Place de la Kissaria (depends which map you read)

It's real name didn't matter, I knew exactly where we were.

We had completed a full circle and were back at the Musee des Marrakech and the Koubba El-Badiyn!

At least we weren't too tired to find the funny side!

Once we stopped laughing we could have returned back to our Riad the way we arrived at the Ben Youssef Medersa earlier but we decided to try our luck in the souks again. The sense of adventure had returned. I wasn't going to be beaten. I was confident that I knew where we went wrong.

Re-tracing our steps down the Souk des Babouches we came to a little mosque right in the middle of the market stalls. It was a strange sight to see an ornate white marble arch in the midst of all the shops.

We came past here on our first attempt and had just carried on regardless.

This time however we noticed another archway which doubled-back on the way we had arrived.

I sensed it was here we went wrong last time so I decided to lead us up this alley.

Julie followed. She would follow my anywhere and often has followed me for miles in the wrong direction but this time I had a good feeling about it.

Almost immediately to the left there was a turning that matched where I thought we were on the map and we gained in confidence as we walked beneath swathes of brightly coloured wool draped above our heads.

We had walked down Souk des Teinturiers, the Dyers market.

We saw rich dark green wool being immersed in a vat of dye by this guy with purple arms all the way up to his elbows.

He stood there with a paddle moving the bundle of wool around the tub, dunking it down, swirling it around.

However fascinating it was to watch we couldn't stand there all day, we'd probably end up having to buy a carpet or something.

A few twist and turns later and we finally fell out of the souks finding ourselves at the Mouassine fountains. Hooray! At least we knew our way home from here.

Following the narrow Derb El Hamman, turning left at the Mouassine Mosque's back door, then right, passing the entrance to the local Hamman, under the underpass, right at the t-junction, first left and finally a right into an even narrower alley where at the end of the line was Dar Zahia. We found it surprisingly easily.

We were practically locals!

The riad's roof terrace was beckoning, so we asked for two beers to be brought up. Timid Raheema obliged.

We relaxed in the shade sipping our Casablanca beer. It was so peaceful up here that we both started drifting into sleep.

Before Raheema found us both passed out on the sofas snoring loudly we decided to head back to our room for a proper siesta. Sleeping in the afternoon is such a luxury.

Halfway through our slumber however we were rudely awoken when some idiot walked into our room. We were both naked lying on top of the bed enjoying the cooling breeze from the air conditioning (as you do in hotter climes) when this man opened our door and stepped inside.

"Oi!" I blurted out.

He was more than a little shocked and apologised but then stood outside our door shouting in an Aussie accent to his wife "Thelma, I've just walked in on someone sleeping" He then laughed. Had he no shame? We didn't get back to sleep after eventually getting up an hour later to get ready to go out for our evening meal.

We were a little apprehensive about navigating the dark alleyways at night but they were actually easier than during the day! Those shadowy parts were in now well lit. We didn't have far to go however. We felt that it was a good idea on our first night to keep it simple and had reserved a table at Riad Zolah.

As we arrived at the door in the wall Omar came around the corner wheeling the suitcases of two new arrivals. The door opened we were welcomed by a very jovial guy wearing a djellaba, the traditional baggy robe with a pointed hood.

It was a fetching little number with dark and light stripes of grey which reminded me of the one I brought back home when I visited Morocco with my father in 1978. We were holidaying Torremolinos, Spain at the time and caught the ferry over to Tangier.

I was only 11 years old but I can remember desperately wanting a djellaba and of course a Fez. Although at that age I only referred to them as Tommy Cooper hats.

He introduced himself "Hello my name is Ismail" he said chuckling to himself "Welcome".

He was a really charming guy. He took us through to the courtyard where we sat by the pool to wait for our table.

We were a good half an hour early for our 8pm reservation so we had a drink and played solitaire whilst we waited. We never quite achieved the goal of ending up with one ball.

"Tomorrow" said Ismail "you'll meet Amir. You should ask him how to do it. He's very good at it." We had several attempts but the best we managed was to end up with three.

"I must be getting very hungry now" said Julie.

"Why?" I asked.

"Those balls are beginning to look like new potatoes!"

She was right, they did look like a plateful of Jersey Royals!

Fortunately before she popped one of those little marble solitaire balls into her mouth we were shown to the dining room.

It was just off the courtyard and romantically decorated with a scattering of rose petals on our table.

I had already pre-ordered a set meal when I booked over the internet. I had explained to Ismail in the e-mail that I was a vegetarian, which he reassured me wasn't a problem for them. I counteracted my awkwardness by hailing Julie as a traditionalist and that she was "looking forward to the lamb tagine".

In truth, she was thinking no such thing. In fact she was dreading the lamb tagine because the usual recipes are booby trapped with prunes, an ingredient which falls into her "fruit of the devil" category.

Anyway, we began gently with a salad platter, a selection of several smaller dishes. The braised carrot with coriander and an aubergine puree with cumin where the tasty highlights.

Next came a palette cleansing course of a lemon sorbet and melon sorbet. Refreshed and eagerly anticipating the main dishes we were both quite excitable when the tagines finally arrived.

They were served in the customary conical pots, placed before us and unveiled in unison with French waiter aplomb. Ta-dah!

After such a build up of anxiety Julie was pleasantly surprised how delicious the slow-cooked lamb turned out to be. The prunes were still complete enough to be identified as such and could be avoided like the sickly sweet sack of stool loosening fruit that they were . The fall-off-the-bone tender lamb meat was a success.

My vegetable tagine was equally as pleasurable or at least in my opinion. It had been slowly cooked to a caramelised state that tasted so intensely flavoursome. A real treat for my taste buds. We had ubiquitous cous cous to accompany our tagines as well as some traditional Moroccan flatbread called khubz. We had seen these loaves for sale in the souks earlier today, they were perfect for soaking up the remainder of the tagine pot.

We purred with delight.

Whilst eating our curious tasting dessert of fruit cocktail laced with rose water we struck up a conversation with the young American couple who arrived at Riad Zolah when we did this evening. Julie thought they had the air of newlyweds about them, that glow of happiness that exists in the first flush of marriage.

She was right; they married only three weeks ago and were now honeymooning in Marrakech. After spending the next four nights at Riad Zolah they were going to Richard Branson's Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas mountains which sounded so idyllic.

With unavoidable eves-dropping earlier we had also noticed that his grasp of Arabic was far better than the usual tourist's hello/goodbye/two beers please vocabulary. It turned out he had worked for several years in the Gulf States.

We left Riad Zolah and returned to Dar Zahia. We were too tired to continue the day so we called it a night and went straight to bed. It had been a long day but strangely relaxing stumbling from one oasis to another amidst this wonderful crazy city.

Monday >  

ęCopyright 2000 - 2020