Sunday, March 1, 2009

Flat Albert does Morocco

Continuing his jet-setting lifestyle, Al decided to tag along to Morocco and Benin with Kate and her mom Lois. First up was the historic city of Marrakesh. Literally “Land of God,” the city’s spiritual influence was evident at every turn. Though their hotel was in the modern city, called Gueliz, they spent most of their time in the old fortified city or medina, exploring Morocco’s largest traditional market (souk) and taking in one of the busiest squares in Africa (and the world)-- Djemaa el Fna.

Walking around this bustling square is like taking a trip back to medieval times. Your senses are overwhelmed by a combination of exotic sights, sounds, and smells. Everywhere little groups are formed around performers of every type: musicians, dancers, acrobats, story-tellers, and –Al’s personal favorite- snake charmers.


Al, being the perfect travel companion,

graciously takes a photo above Djemaa el Fna

From Marrakesh they took the train up to Morocco’s cultural and spiritual center, the ancient city of Fez. Founded in the 9th century, Fez is home to the oldest university in the western world and its medina- largest in Morocco and home to over 2 million people- is the largest contiguous car-free urban area in the world.

They soon found out walking around a medina can be tiring, especially when combined with frequent darting of high speed donkey carts on narrow lanes!

Al trying to entice Kate to buy some traditional Arab nougat candy:
“It’s as tall as I am and only 9 roubat!”

Al kept pushing for less healthy eating options, but luckily they held out for delicious smoothies, a camel burger, and falafel at a fun little café.


Refreshed after their meal, Al spied a chess set in the corner and bullied Kate into playing. Clearly hesitant at first, Kate’s confidence grew as she discovered –all expectations to the contrary—that Flat Al was actually a horrible player! When she claimed his king and victory only minutes later our pal Al was heard mumbling something to himself about sharks and “being taken.”

Chess: Game of Geniuses?

After a little more roaming, they were ready to bid their ancient medina farewell. Making a final stop at a sidewalk café, they drank one last glass of addictive Moroccan mint tea then headed back to the hotel to pack for their next great adventure.

“Mint is known to stimulate the brain, you know.”

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