This is the ornate central courtyard of the Ben Youssef Madrasa in the Marrakesh old town.
The first time we went on the food tour in Marrakesh we discovered that they had a few surprises up their sleeves. Like this neighborhood bakery where they prepared everything from bread to whatever the local residents brought in to bake for the day. There were a lot of trays of sardines about.
I looked into a back room and this guy was in there eager to demonstrate how they form the small loves of bread I’d been eating with every meal.
Wandering through the market in Marrakesh we came across two guys in a shop taking turns working on a bow lathe. It is operated by using one hand to draw the bow back and forth, spinning the wood. And then a hand and a foot were used to carefully move the gouge to carve out intricate little designs. It was mesmerizing and I stood and watched for a while. I’ve taken two photos so you can see a close up of how it works.
I had a great time in Marrakesh last weekend, including a camel ride in the foothills of the Atlas mountains and a return to the food tour I went on two years ago. The picture below is actually from that tour two years ago. Unfortunately, the bakery was closed this time.
What you see below is the local oven where bread is baked. The locals don’t have ovens in their own homes. Instead, they prepare their meals for the oven and drop them at the bakery. While we were there we saw all sorts going in, most of all rows of sardines. The oven is effectively a huge clay room where wood is burned on one side. The operator spends the whole time in that small space in front of the oven entrance, being handed items to place in the oven.
Our journey to Marrakech involved a number of stages. We flew overnight from Bermuda to London, where we had a six hour layover, before a four hour flight to Marrakech. For some reasons British Airway didn’t see fit to provide any movies or reclining seats for a 4 hour flight, very strange.
Upon arrival, we found ourselves a taxi. Having read that the taxis have a tendency to take advantage of newly arrive tourists, we were careful to make sure we agreed a price before getting in. Of course, as soon as we pulled off that price increased, but it was still within what we’d agreed was an acceptable range.
Now, the thing about staying in the Medina of Marrakech is that it’s highly unlikely that your taxi will be able to drop you at your doorstep. As a result, you find yourself being dropped off with little idea of how far away your hotel is, or with any idea of how to get there. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for a smiling man with a cart to appear who will carry your bags for a fee. They also know all of the hotels in the area and almost before you know what’s going on, you’re following this complete stranger you’ve given your bags to down weaving, narrowing alleyways.
Even once we thought we’d arrived, we walked through a door with the Palais Sebban written on it and were faced with a tunnel that still had multiple other addresses branching off of it.
After snaking around a few more times, we found the reception. Here we were greeted with mint tea and one of the most amazing lobbies I’ve ever seen. Below, you can see what we saw when we looked up.