Marrakech, Final Moments and Last Minute Shopping

The sun was out again now in its full glory and this certainly improved the disposition of the two girls.  We walked along the busy east west thoroughfare until we reached a roundabout and a major junction with Avenue Mohammed V where there was a debate to be had about what to do next.  Mike wanted to see the railway station but it was obvious that Margaret and Kim could happily live without this experience so we agreed to split up.  Mike and I would carry on and they would return down the Avenue and return to the Complexe Artisanal, which was an excellent compromise because just as railways didn’t appeal to Margaret and Kim more pottery and kaftan shops was not going to especially thrill the two of us either.

So while they risked their lives, crossed the road and headed back toward the old city we continued west along a modern major road flanked on either side with swanky shops, car showrooms, Kentucky Fried Chicken and leather and chrome banks that was all just about a million miles away from Djemma el Fna and the Souks.  We passed not one but two McDonald’s where they serve burgers and fries of course but also a sandwich that can’t be bought anywhere else in the world, a cumin-spiced flatbread creation called the McArabia Tagine.  The McArabia was launched in 2003 and the twenty-three McDonald’s franchises in Morocco localised the recipe by tweaking the seasoning and sauce to give it a specific local flavour.

We carried on until we reached the train station and were surprised when we got there to find a modern glass and concrete structure behind a wide open flag stoned square.  Quite honestly we expected to find something more colonial, something you might find in a city of the Indian Raj with old fashioned waiting rooms, street vendors and market stalls and clanking old steam engines.  Actually we didn’t see trains of any kind because there are only two or three every day and the next one wasn’t due for nearly two hours.  The ticket inspectors allowed us to go on the platform but warned us not to take photographs and we went through to a modern transport terminus that neither of us was really expecting.

Leaving the train station we took our turn to risk our lives crossing the road at a roundabout lacking any sort of lane discipline and walked down another wide boulevard, the Avenue Mohammed VI, the present King of Morocco, and started to make our way back to rendezvous with Kim and Margaret.  The road was straight and smooth, two lanes in either direction, wide footpaths with a leafy central reservation and modern corporate hotels on one side and expensive villas behind security gates on the other.  The sun was shining ahead of us but clouds were chasing up from behind but we kept ahead of the rain and turned into Rue Moulay El Hassan, the Crown prince heir to the throne, and reached the Place de la Liberté where it met the Avenue Mohammed V.

From here it was just a short walk to the Complexe Artisanal where the timing was perfect because the shopping was reaching an end as Kim had finally made her selection and with no luck on finding the black pottery she had set her heart on she had settled on the royal blue one instead.  From here it was just a short walk to the little restaurant where we had eaten last night and where we returned to now for a last meal in Marrakech before returning home.

Once again it wasn’t very exciting but it tasted fine and filled us up ahead of the journey and after we had dined we left and walked back for one last time through the Souks and Djemma el Fna where the weather was deteriorating again now and then back to the Riad Nafis to collect our bags, say goodbye and meet the taxi that Laurent had arranged for us.  It arrived dead on time and the driver took us back to the airport where there was another form to fill in, this time to say that we were leaving the country before our early evening flight back home to the UK.

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