Riad, Palais El Baddi, Bab Agnaou, Souks, and Jamaa el Fna

I didn’t have a good sleep again, but I did get settled a little better than last night. I gradually adjusted to the new environment.

When the first announcer’s voice woke me up, I couldn’t wait to take a shower because I hadn’t taken a shower since I left home. This Riad had three bathrooms, one on each level. The one on the third floor had a simple shower head by the toilet. The one on the second floor was more formal. The third bathroom is on the main level by the dark brown metal door, which we never used during our stay. I went into the bathroom on second floor. The water was hot because a technician came in to fix it yesterday afternoon. Hot water was all that mattered to me.

I went down to the courtyard. Muhammad was there. He showed me how to prepare breakfast. There was a big rectangular flat iron plate in the kitchen, after turning it on, he took out prebaked pastries from plastic wrappings and laid them flat to warm up. After one side was warm, he flipped with his hand. Once both sides were warm enough, he removed them from the griddle and placed in a serving plate, then added a piece of cake to the plate. He also showed me how to make mint tea. He picked out some mint leaves and put them in a cup, then set it aside. I picked the cup up and added hot water from the hot water machine because I thought it’s the same as making rose flower tea. Muhammad was all confused and said, no, you wanted mint tea, right? Yeah. But that’s not how you make mint tea! He poured the hot water out of the cup. Oh, well, at least the mint leaves were clean now after the wash. There was a small tea pot on the kitchen counter, he opened the lid and put some loose green tea in it, then added hot water. He said that it needed to sit for five minutes. Once the green tea was ready, he poured it into the cup that had the mint leaves. And now the mint tea was ready. The Moroccans usually add sugar to it, but I didn’t. I was thinking that I had tins of loose green tea, also spearmint and chocolate mint in my garden, I probably could make mint tea with spearmint at home.

We left Riad at 10 am and caught a taxi near Jamaa el Fna to Palais El Baddi. We showed the driver where we wanted to go on the local map. He asked for 50 MAD, but we negotiated to 40 MAD. He drove us to Palais Bahia. We said that we visited Palais Bahia yesterday. Then he turned around and drove us to Palais El Baddi. These two were actually located not far from each other. The admission cost us 30 MAD.

Palais El Baddi was in ruins. It was commissioned by the Arab Saadian sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, who was known as the golden King. Palais El Baddi was used for festivities, state occasions, and entertaining foreign ambassadors. We saw big holes in the walls. The ornaments were taken to build another Palais by Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif.

Ruined adobe walls seen through an archway at Palais El Baddi

Ruined adobe walls seen through an archway at Palais El Baddi

Sunken gardens at Palais El Baddi

Sunken gardens at Palais El Baddi

Tile floor among the ruins

Tile floor among the ruins

Storks made themselves a home there

Storks made themselves a home there

Looking down from terrace

Looking down from terrace

Slave quarter

Slave quarter

We walked into a small room in a Pavilion. A short movie clip was playing in French. Not many people were in there. We sat ourselves down. Even we didn’t understand it but we were able to see how magnificent the Palais El Baddi’s could have looked in its prime time from the screen. The sunken gardens were filled with lush greens, the pool was filled to the top and working at full throttle, the marble columns, and the golden and onyx decorations all looked grand.

Our next sightseeing destination was the Bab Agnaou. It’s not far from Palais El Baddi on the map, so we decided to walk there. We stopped on our way to ask the locals which way to go and they were all very friendly. We past El Mansouria, or Kasbah mosque, which was smaller than Koutoubia mosque. We saw shops and stalls along the way. There was a man tending to a small dessert stand, bees were feasting all over the dessert. I had never seen something like that before.

Bab Agnaou

Bab Agnaou

We were pretty hungry now. We decided to walk back to Jamaa el Fna for late lunch. First, we stopped at a stand that had the most variety of fruits. We got 5 cups of freshly squeezed fruit juice. Mr. Adventurer and Adventurer Jr. got orange juice for 4 MAD each, and the rest of the family got mixed fruit juice for 10 MAD each. The three of us picked different fruit combinations and we all liked our own juice. Next, we started looking at restaurants on the street. Hustlers from every restaurant came over to talk to us. Finally, we decided to eat at La Lune d’Or. The waiter sat us down and pulled up his cellphone to show us that La Lune d’Or Restaurant had good reviews.

We ordered beef tajine, lamb tajine, lamb couscous, beef couscous, and kebabs. The kebabs came with chips. I wasn’t sure what kind of chips, so I asked him to show me. He then pointed at them, and I saw French Fries. We didn’t want French Fries. I told him we wanted five kebabs but no chips. He gave me a price and we were happy. He then brought a piece of naan and a little plate of olives as free appetizer.

Naan

Naan

I liked the fresh olives. The preserved ones were too salty.

I liked the fresh olives. The preserved ones were too salty.

Kebabs. Adventurer Jr. III saved the vegetable leaves for feeding turtles later.

Kebabs. Adventurer Jr. III saved the vegetable leaves for feeding turtles later.

Beef tajine

Beef tajine

Lamb tajine

Lamb tajine

Lamb couscous

Lamb couscous

Beef couscous

Beef couscous

The waiter was very nice. He let me take pictures of Adventurer Jr. and Adventurer Jr. II pretending to cut the Gyro meat cone. Lunch was 215 MAD, but we left him 220 MAD.

We walked back to our Riad. Adventurer Jr. II and Adventurer Jr. III immediately went looking for their pets. A couple was relaxing on the terrace and watching them feeding the turtles with vegetable leaves. The male told us that the little turtle was brought here by a traveler from California. When he departed the Riad, he left the turtle behind.

Adventurer Jr. III said that the turtles were hugging

Adventurer Jr. III said that the turtles were hugging

We headed out to the Souks around 5 pm. We stopped at a t-shirt shop at the outskirt of the Souks. We’d like to buy four t-shirts as souvenirs. His light-colored t-shirts all had stains even they were in plastic bags. He ran this shop with his older brother. I felt really sorry for them. And thought that his supplier might have ripped them off. I said in Spanish that they were “defectuoso”. He wasn’t happy and asked if I knew the price for the t-shirts. He then said four t-shirts for 800 MAD. I wasn’t intimidated and told him that we knew how much the t-shirt was selling for here. And that we didn’t want the stained t-shirts. Then I started walking away from his shop. He then said to Mr. Adventurer that he gave us his time. Mr. Adventurer said that we gave him our time too. The negotiation had just started. He asked Mr. Adventurer how much could he afford. Mr. Adventurer said that he would only pay 90 MAD for the two dark-colored t-shirts. He continued to negotiate. Then Mr. Adventurer said that he would pay 100 MAD max and it’s a take it or leave it deal. The man took the deal.

We entered the Souks. I wanted to buy a purse. My eyes were set on a light brown colored purse that had a unique design on it. The shop owner was smiling and asked me to get closer. And said that there were more inside, and that it cost nothing to take a look. He was short and lean, and looked like in his fifties. I asked to see that purse. He used a stick to get the purse off the hanging hook. It was dusty on the top and I asked if there’s another one. He said no problem and picked a rag up to wipe it off. I touched it. It was durable. Hopefully it would last me many years. I put it on my left shoulder and liked it. He told me that it was made with camel leather. And he could punch more holes on the strap for me if I liked. He said he would ask for 600 MAD to other people but only asked us for 300 MAD because he liked us. He said he was of Italian descendant. I said 90 MAD. He said no. Then I said 100 MAD. That’s the max that I thought it’s worth. He continued to negotiate. I told him to talk to Mr. Adventurer while started walking out. Mr. Adventurer said 110 MAD. He said a little more. Then Mr. Adventurer started walking away too. He asked him to come back. The negotiation went back and forth. Finally they settled at 150 MAD. He was happy with smiles and told us to come back if we needed anything else.

Hand of Fatima design on the purse to ward off the evil eye and negative energies

Hand of Fatima design on the purse to ward off the evil eye and negative energies

We only wanted to buy two more t-shirts. So we stopped at a shop that had t-shirts.  A short lean man with a fair skin was tending the goods. He welcomed us. We told him what we wanted. He helped the kids find the right design and size. Unlike the other shop, the light-colored t-shirts here all looked good without any stains. Now it’s the time for the fun part, i.e., negotiating. Mr. Adventurer said two for 90 MAD, because one was of a smaller size. He said that he got them for the same price regardless of the size. Mr. Adventurer said that he’d only buy the larger one for 50 MAD. He turned to Adventurer Jr. III and said that Papa was bad to you because he didn’t want to buy you a t-shirt, and he had his hands around his eyes to mimic crying. Adventurer Jr. III didn’t throw a fit or anything. We said to him that we could get Adventurer Jr. III another t-shirt from another shop. He said that he would give the small t-shirt to Adventurer Jr. III for free because he wanted him to have a t-shirt as well. I said that we couldn’t take it. He was the master of the art of negotiation. I probably should have just waited to see what happened next. At the end, we agreed on the price for the two t-shirts at 95 MAD. He also had Moroccan leather Babouches displayed in his store.

Moroccan leather Babouches

Moroccan leather Babouches

We bought all the things that we wanted. It’s time for dinner. We walked to Jamaa el Fna.

First, we got fruit juice for 40 MAD. We knew what we wanted to eat tonight. And we told all the hustlers who stopped us. There were only two food stalls selling what we wanted. We stopped by one that had the prices hanging up high. The number of the food stall was No.76 and its name was “Haj Mohamad Baolo”. The seats were all occupied by locals. We were offered to seat at another stall that had empty seats and they would bring our food to us from this food stall. We didn’t take up on the offer. We stood to watch and wait. Still only locals were eating here. That’s a good sign. We didn’t wait long before getting seats to sit down. People were very kind and friendly. Now we were the only foreigners. We ordered three plates of sheep head. Later I ordered a plate of lamb stew. All the plates should have cost 80 MAD by our calculation. But first they said 60 MAD and I kept telling them it’s 80 MAD, then they only took 35 MAD from us and told us that kids were eating for free. What a great deal for such delicious food. I could eat that everyday too. And it’s much cheaper than the roasted/grilled meat that we got yesterday for lunch.

Sheep heads were being cooked in the pot

Sheep heads were being cooked in the pot

Sheep heads were being prepared to serve

Sheep heads were being prepared to serve

Sheep head served with a quarter of naan that was dipped in the soup

Sheep head served with a quarter of naan that was dipped in the soup

Lamb stew

Lamb stew

We then walked to food stand No.100 and many hustlers stopped us along our way. The same hustler from yesterday sat us down. The boss wasn’t there. We got one order of kebabs and a small plate of shrimp. They gave us five cups of free mint tea again. Total cost 100 MAD.

A little plate of shrimp

A little plate of shrimp

We walked toward our Riad inside the food stalls. Many hustlers stopped us again, and some of them were very aggressive and rude.

Moroccan light fixtures

Moroccan light fixtures

Before going back to our Riad, we got five cups of Pomegranate juice for 50 MAD to finish the day off.

Next in the series: Atlas Mountains, Kasbah Aït Ben Haddou, Kasbah de Taourirt, and Jamaa el Fna


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Riad, Palais El Baddi, Bab Agnaou, Souks, and Jamaa el Fna — 3 Comments

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