22nd December: Majorelle Gardens, Mamounia Hotel & Jemaa El Fna

It’s a beautiful day again today, but it looks as though cloud may come in tomorrow so we decided to stay outside as much as possible today. It’s lovely being able to sit outside in T shirts in December.

After breakfast, we caught a taxi to the Majorelle gardens, quite an experience because the roads are chaos, with cars, motorbikes, bicycles and horse-drawn carts all weaving around each other, vying for position. The roads around the gardens were being dug up. How we didn’t get run over by a digger getting to the entrance, I don’t know. No health and safety here!

Once inside we initially wandered through the bamboo gardens, with brightly coloured plant pots lining the paths, and cobalt blue walls and fountains. Although there were lots of tourists and the gardens are quite small, it was peaceful and cool beneath the palm trees.

Passing the memorial to Yves St Laurent, who rescued the gardens from ruin in 1980, we reached the cactus gardens. Some were huge!

We then sat and debated what to do next, deciding on the Mamounia Hotel, a posh hotel where the rich and famous stay, which has lovely gardens and where the guidebook suggested was good for lunch. The taxi dropped us off outside and, thankfully, we were shown in, even though we’re wearing our tatty jeans!

The gardens were very pleasant and tranquil, tucked away in the hotel, behind the huge city walls, and we enjoyed wandering around them for a while.

It was still a bit early for lunch but we decided to have a drink. The waitress handed us a menu… John opened it and swore! £6 for a coke! We decided to have a glass of wine anyway, at the bargain price of £15 each! We’d usually want a bottle for that! At least we also got bowls of olives, peanuts and almonds, and we made sure we used the toilets! Thank goodness we didn’t sit down in the restaurant for lunch though! I did enjoy sitting there, chatting and relaxing anyway.

We then walked back into town for some lunch, somewhere cheaper… A rooftop cafe overlooking the market of Jemaa El Fna, from where we could watch the stalls and the acrobats. I love people watching!

Not long after we got back to the riad, the others arrived from the mountains, ready to check into their rooms for hot showers. It was great to see them and we enjoyed hearing what had happened over the past couple of days… Pete managed to get back to the refuge with his dodgy ankle, Paul climbed Toubkal with 4 of the guys but they didn’t do much apart from build a snowman and snow hole the next day because of the snow conditions, and another group got avalanched, one receiving minor injuries.

Now we’re off to the medina again, visiting the night market. The last night with the group, and our last in Riad Omar. Tomorrow we move to a nicer riad for Christmas.

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