Our time in Essaouira was up, and we wanted to experience Marrakech during the day, so we caught the early bus back and proceeded directly to Jemaa el-Fnaa after dropping our bags back at our favorite riad. Not sure they've ever had guests stay there three separate nights in one week, each time two or three nights apart. Stay in all the places! Thrice!
Marrakech is unbearably hot during the day at this time of year, but Sarah really wanted to see the snake charmers and monkeys that delight tourists in the afternoon. Hirsh didn't quite believe this was an actual thing in Marrakech until we saw the first pile of huge live snakes and the cobra bopping along to his handler's flute playing. While we never wanted to hold them, we would've loved a picture. The problem was, as soon as we looked in their direction, a snake handler started yelling out to us and then stalking us through The Square. Now we've been stalked by a guy on a camel and a guy with a snake. We've held domesticated snakes before without any problem, but we are quite sure we don't want to hold a cobra.
We did find the monkey though! Sarah just had to hold him. Just look at that cute wittle guy sucking his wittle thumb...
Then he peed on her. Of course. No time to go back to the riad to change though, so we soldiered on, smelling funky from monkey urine.
We hopped in a taxi and did our one piece of genuine sightseeing in Marrakech, as we visited Palais el Bahia, the old chamberlain's palace, right on the edge of downtown. It featured lovely gardens and Islamic architecture.
And we really needed something cold to drink, so we went in search of the famed "Glacier" bar on the edge of The Square. This bar boasts a high terrace overlooking The Square with prime views of the transition from quiet daytime activities to nighttime craziness. The turnover begins at around 4pm, so we thought we had positioned ourselves perfectly. Unfortunately, we got duped by a sneaky young waiter who claimed to work at Glacier and led us to his restaurant. Well, he did work at a place called Glacier, but his restaurant had a slightly different suffix and we ended up overlooking a much smaller, quieter side square and enjoying virgin mojitos (again, real alcohol is hard to come by in conservative Islamic Morocco).
It's OK, we visited the real Glacier later. The real restaurant is beautiful and very fancy, but sadly they've added metal detectors and security guards to the entrance because it was the site of a terrorist bombing in 2005. We got a great nighttime photo of the square from the terrace's prime vantage point.
We wandered the labyrinth of tight alleys all around the square and considered a little more shopping, but our bags are quickly getting overly stuffed. So we ate again. Dinner was at the TripAdvisor recommended Roti d'Or. It's hidden away on a quiet side street, so we wandered in its general vicinity until we found the unmistakeable congregation of white people that screams: TripAdvisor favorite! Eat here! And we did. It was all right.
We had just a handful of dirhams left and after accounting for the taxi to the airport the following morning, we knew we had to spend them before leaving Morocco. We wanted to do the ultra touristy horse and carriage ride through the city, but didn't have nearly enough money. Fortunately for us, there are far too many carriages and not nearly enough takers, so after extensive haggling and walking away about fifteen times, we negotiated an hour long ride with an illegal drop off at our riad. Supply and demand, baby. One thing that was very important to us was to find a carriage and driver with the SCANA plaque, which signifies recognition by the animal welfare organization for outstanding animal husbandry. We found a carriage littered with plaques!
The ride was wonderful. We saw a side of town we hadn't seen before and definitely would not have seen otherwise, including a view of La Mamounia - known as one of the fanciest hotels in the world! ...Someday