The flight was great, we had 3 seats between us and we had extra leg room and we had priority boarding.
The extension to Bristol airport has made a fantastic difference with more space, more bars and restaurants but the same old headaches.
Why do I need a boarding pass to buy a sandwich?
Why does my 3 Bean sandwich have cheese in it?
Why are magazines £4+ to buy?
Despite that we arrived in Marrakech without any incidents and proceeded to immigration. Unfortunately I left filling the immigration forms to Jaki who didn’t have her glasses to hand, so guessed at some of the answers which meant a frantic rewrite just before we handed them over to the official in the Booth.
The procedure seemed a bit obscure though. Once the passports had been stamped and we’d received the official ‘Grunt’ of welcome from the official, we then had to queue for about 15 minutes whilst another official examined the official stamp before he would allow us through a UPVC door. Border control at Calais could Learn a thing or two from Morocco. Put up a conservatory and no one can get through.
We retrieved our bags and spotted a desk where they were offering free, yes free, SIM cards for your mobile phone. This didn’t work too well for us as we’d brought an old HTC phone (which we both hated with a passion) and the Sim was slightly too fat so wouldn’t lock in place. Ever resourceful the lady simply forced the battery back in, squeezed the back on and punched a few numbers into the thing before declaring it was done and handing it back. Sadly all we can get now is the Contacts list.
Once outside a guy was holding up a board with the name HENDY on it, correctly spelt which is no surprise as there is a Moroccan pop star called Hendy Azis.
He assured us he knew where our Riad was and we were soon on our way.
This is where the fun began.
There is an international Olympic Sport called, ‘Scare the shit out of the Tourist’ usually performed by taxi drivers and ours was a master. He tailgated everything on the road including moped, many of which had no lights. Playing Chicken with on coming traffic was just routine for this master.
His party piece came when we drove along side a car that had become trapped in the Cycle lane ( they have cycle lanes everywhere unfortunately no body recognises them) he lent across and told them through the open window that they were in the cycle lane and they should get out. However, he wasn’t going to give way and let them out so they remained trapped in no mans land.
After about 15 minute we went through a gate in the Medina wall and then he really upped the anti.
This is a place where there are no rules. There are no road markings, no traffic lights, no helmets, no police and on reflection, no sanity. If we thought Bangkok was bad, this really is the Daddy.
After a few minutes we stopped at what we now know is a taxi rank on Bab Taghzout ( don’t ask me what that is) and our Driver told us to wait in the vehicle whilst he got out and did the ‘Mobile Phone Walk’ which is as embarrassing as Dad Dancing. His old arms were swinging away and he was gesticulating to his imaginary friend like a man possessed.
It transpired that he was on the phone to the Riad asking them to send some one to collect us as he couldn’t get his Hyundai van any closer. We were at that time in the middle of a Souk and it was incredibly busy.
After 10 minutes a guy turned up, grabbed the two large suite cases and ran off into the crowd with Jaki in hot pursuit. Now anyone who knows me will know that at best I walk at a snail’s pace, so jogging after Mo Farrah wasn’t on the cards.
Eventually our mystery man stopped for breath and miraculously both Jaki and I were still on his trail though we were now in a maze of dark and rather threatening alleys.
Puffing for breath he told us that there were some ‘Bad People’ around who might have stolen our luggage and he needed to get away quick. Which is apparently why he sprinted off.
Had the worst happened he would have saved our bags, even if he had to sacrifice me In the process.
So be warned, the taxi from the airport may not take you all the way to your Riad and like us, you may have a further 10 minute walk through bandit country.
Once at the Riad we were met by a very intoxicating scene.
Entering through a large wooden door in an otherwise plain wall we came into an enchanted garden of lights, candles, incense and music. The tinkle of water from the fountain, and the twitter of birds mixed with the scent of Jasmin from a huge tree in the courtyard, was amazing.
There is a pool running the length of the garden with tables on one side and loungers on the other. At the far end some large wooden doors open onto our room, which I’ll describe in detail later.
Mohamed, our night manager ( him of the fleet feet) suggested we order some food as the kitchen would close soon. So whilst we unpacked and showered he arranged for bread, olives, chips and two different Tagines, one Lamb one Chicken, to arrive bang on time. We sat outside in the warm evening, breathing the heady perfume of Jasmin mixed with the scented oils from the burners and ate our meal
Unfortunately we had to make do with bottled water as they don’t have a licence, but by that time we didn’t care.
Plus we had bought some Vodka and Whiskey at duty-free, so we weren’t completely abandoned.