Today was a bittersweet day, the end of our tour was tomorrow after a tour of Marrakesh and today would be our last day with any driving which would mean farewell to Ibby & our bus when we got to Marrakesh. Then tomorrow, we would say farewell to Brahim on the last day of the tour. However, today also brought the Motherships & I closer to our four days of free unstructured travel in Marrakesh which I was very much looking forward to.
The drive up and out of Essaouira was interesting and it is well worth having a look at the map on the satellite view down below or via your map provider of choice. Mum, the botanist that she is was after a decent looking Argan tree to take some photos of as the ones she had seen thus far were all a bit sick looking. She lodged the request with the two Ibrahim’s in control at the front of the bus and not far out of Essaouira, she spotted one on the side of the road and quickly yelled out for a stop. The bus pulled over, Mum walked the short distance back to look at the tree and take a range of photos. This of course though was not to the satisfaction of some of our other travellers who were quite impatient that she get back on the bus sooner rather than later ?_? and to some degree that she had even requested a stop… Ahh, the adventures of group travel. Our days of freedom were nearing.
We stopped again at Mazagan for a quick leg stretch and a coffee for those that needed it. Then it was back on the road to continue our drive.
One of the total delights of actually the whole trip was the maybe 10 mins we spent stopped at Mzouda watching the Fantasia. It was a totally unplanned and totally a delight. Driving through town, there was quite a lot of traffic and people around, and as we started to come through the eastern side of town; Brahim & Ibby realised that there was a Fantasia on and we quickly pulled over for a look. It really was quite something else!
The drive into Marrakesh was quite interesting, watching the city grow and grow with buildings, traffic & people as we got closer to our hotel. Then all of a sudden, we were at our hotel for the next two nights – Hotel El Andalous. Bags were unloaded, we triple checked the bus to make sure nothing had been left on board and then it was farewell to our magic carpet bus and Ibby. It was just under 3 hours since we had left Essaouira and we were most certainly in a hustling, bustling city now.
Once we were checked into our rooms, a group of us walked up to Extrablatt for a lunch that was very much a change from what we had been eating. It was most certainly nice to have a burger and chips 😀 It was a lovely little walk past an interesting array of houses and street trees.
After lunch, we went back to the hotel and I at least crashed for a few hours, as the last few weeks caught up with me and I felt a bit of culture shock staying in a hotel. I would most certainly relish the Riad that the motherships & I were relocating to for our last few days in Marrakesh.
After a rest, Mum & I headed down to Menara Mall for a short walk before dinner. I was very much looking forward to a chance to browse at my own pace, each and every aisle of Carrefour, to take in each and every item on the shelves of that grocery store. I sometimes think my interest in grocery stores stems from my years working as a night filler or in the dairy section of grocery stores through university but I think a big part of it is also due to the fact that all of us need to eat. Grocery stores, provide a window into the eating habits of a community and I find them incredibly fascinating. Grocery stores really are “taste makers” :D. I’ve restrained and only included three photos of some of the products that piqued my interest 😀
Helen goes to Morocco Day 4 – Casablanca, Rabat & ChefchaoenOn the walk back to the hotel, we came across one of the other highlights of the trip for me (perhaps more a midlight but still something I enjoyed). This marvellous avenue of Silky Oaks, on Rue Chefchaoun that curved round the back of the hotel. I had marvelled whenever we had driven past Silky Oaks, as they were a pleasant change to the typical Eucs that we were all over country side which were usually River Red Gums. Don’t get me wrong, my heart did a little boom da boom every time we saw Eucs but seeing a Silky Oak? A tree that produces wood with a grain that I adore, a scent that reminds me of Grandad turning wood on his lathe, those marvellous golden orange blooms that are part of my Brisbane spring flowering tree trifecta (or quadfecta); first flowers the Jacaranda, then the Silky Oak follows and then comes the Flame Trees. If we are really lucky, when the Poincianas start flowering there are still some of the first three in bloom. Which just makes my heart sing. One thing, I did wonder was why we did not see many (or even any) Poincianas in Morocco. A bit of Googling has told me there are at least some planted in Rabat but if you recall, that was a quick stop for us (so next time…).
When I return to Morocco, I would dearly love to be able to visit at a time of year when this avenue of Silky Oaks was in flower. I’ve actually emailed the hotel we stayed at asking when they flowered but I’ve not had a response. From keeping an eye on Instagram, I know that the Jacarandas should flower round early May so that is a starting point for Silky Oaks a little bit later.
Incidentally, as I write this, I’ve glanced out my bedroom window to one of the two Silky Oaks in our backyard and lo & behold the branch, right at eye level has burst open overnight.
And that is a wrap on Day 29!