Monthly Archives: May 2012

Morocco – Hiking through Djebel Saghro mountains and Sahara – Part 2

After breakfast we left our mountain crew and boarded the bus (a modern one this time).
In the late afternoon (after having lunch close to Zagora) we arrived at Ouled Driss where we slept in typical nomadic tents.
As this town (together with Mhamid – 5km to the west) is called “the gate to the desert” we could already “smell” and feel the sand and the warm wind.
After setting up our stuff for the night we explored the small town.
Our first contact with dunes and sand :)



We visited some sort of local “museum” where old equipment for farming and traditional clothes are displayed.

Early next morning our camels arrived together with the guides for the desert.
It was very exciting to see the camels sitting/waiting for us and being loaded with water, food and our equipment.



When everything was ready, I was the first being instructed how to sit/ride/survive on the camel.
A few hours later I really got used to the way the camel walks and managed to sit comfortable in the saddle.

The landscape and environment was so completely different from what we saw days ago.
Impressive to see the wide open land of sand and dunes. During the days in the desert we had a lot of fun “climbing” up dunes and playing with sand.
Furthermore I now can verify that it really gets hot during the day and rather cold in the evening and night.

We spent three days in the desert and all in all it was another great and breathtaking experience for us. It is hard to tell if hiking in the mountains or being in the desert is more spectacular. I guess it was a very good “mixture” of both.


no images were found


no images were found


no images were found

We were picked up by three Jeeps, in the morning of our last day in the desert, (after waving our new desert-crew-friends good bye) and had a hell of a ride out of the desert and to Foum Zguid. Foum Zguid is a very basic and rather small town “on the other and of the desert”.
I enjoyed maybe the best orange juice ever on this small market place.

no images were found


On this day we continued by car until we reached a city called Tata where we stayed in a middle-class hotel. Feels strange to sleep in a bed and have nice cold drinks. We decided not to walk in the city but stayed in the hotel. My dad and I had a great chat about the last two weeks by the pool enjoying some fresh drinks.
In the morning we got up early and after breakfast we went another 200km by car until we reached Taroudannt by midday. Before we arrived in Taroudannt we stopped at Igherm to visit the local market. I guess you can get nearly everything there. We even bought four bananas :)


We enjoyed our dinner (yeah, Tajine again) on the busy market place in Taroudannt. After that we checked-in at our very modern and expensive hotel (wow, what a contrast this time). After some time of relaxing we visited the Souq of Taroudannt. Impressive how many different items/”things” are on sale here. Starting with vegetables to swords, spices, cloths, animals, shoes,… you name it.
As it feels strange to just walk around without buying anything we bought a nice mini-Tajine as a souvenir.
Back in our hotel we spent the rest of the evening sitting at the pool/bar and having some drinks (and fresh olives :) ).

On the next day we started very early because it was another 200km ride to Marrakech.
We crossed the Tizi-n-Test pass at about 2200m (second highest pass in Morocco). It was quite an adventure driving this pass up and down on very narrow streets – see the photos to get an idea.



We arrived at our hotel in Marrakech at around 4pm. Compared to our previous hotel it was rather basic but OK.
Our guide showed us on the map our sightseeing-route for the next day and some of us started to explore the city right after that.
My dad and I decided to just have a look at the area close to the hotel and do some Geocaching.
Marrakech is a very busy and modern town. A lot of new hotels, pools, golf courses, … are built at the outskirts of the city. Marrakech has every aspect you would expect from a modern city – including modern/new cars ;)
We were lucky enough to find the “Marrakech – Théatre Royal” Geocache right around the corner of the opera house. After that we enjoyed a great dinner and went to bed.

We started early the next day and met our local tour guide in front of the hotel. In my opinion Marrakech does not have any “must-see” places (apart from Djemaa el-Fnaa, Koutoubia Mosque and the Souqs – but more on this later). The guide showed us around and we visited several schools, buildings, graveyards. All in all it felt a bit strange after two weeks “in the wild” to walk around in a city and do sightseeing. I guess some other people from our group felt the same.
After dinner (among the best restaurants in Marrakech) we were free to explore the city on our own. My Dad and I explored the famous Djemaa el-Fnaa and of course the nearby large Souqs. Walking around and spotting foreign fruits and spices is so weired but exciting the same time. You can get lost in the narrow streets of the Souqs easiely but in the end you always reach the famouse square outside. Time passes quickly and you always have the feeling that you might have missed some important shop or detail so that it is very hard to stop looking and leave the place.
Despite the sad and serious events in 2011 the Djemaa el-Fnaa square (which by the way is a “UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”) feels “alive” in some way. Loads of people coming in or leaving, try to sell stuff, and so on …
We spent another hour to have a good look around before we decided to leave for the hotel. Before we boarded a nearby taxi we walked to the Koutoubia Mosque, which is right across the street.



no images were found


In the evening we enjoyed our last dinner together as a group. Even our guide Yassin showed up and spent some time with us. Later we went upstairs to have a drink at the bar and had some last words with Yassin and thanked him for the wonderful time we had. He even promised to come with us to the airport the next day.

On the next day we got up very early and were picked up by a bus who brought us to the airport. As the bus driver decided not to return immediately back to the city, Yassin entered the bus and said “Ich muss leider schon jetzt – au revoir – sagen”. It was a very emotional and sad good bye for all of us.

Well, to get the long (flight) story short, we departed from Marrakech and went back to Casablanca. About 30 minutes later we boarded the “Royal Air Maroc” flight back to Frankfurt. As our flight to Graz was due about seven hours later, we spent some time exploring the city of Frankfurt.
We landed at around 23:30 in Graz (even our luggage did ;) )

All in all it was an absolutely amazing experience for me – there is nothing more to add here :)

P.s. Have a look at the Morocco gallery for more photos

Book review – Gerald’s Game

The first book review here is about a book written by Stephen King and called “Gerald’s Game”.
I guess everybody knows the game of tying your significant other to the bed so he/she is not able to move.

Plot

Well, Gerald and Jessie played exactly that game but right at the moment the fun starts a terrible accident happens and Gerald dies.
Not only that Gerald is dead and Jessie is bound with her arms to the bed, the whole event takes place at a very remote location far away from other people.
First, Jessie is absolutely terrified and can not believe that her husband Gerald is dead now but very soon she realizes that nobody is coming to help her. She gets thirsty and is not only visited by very real and terrible threats and creatures but also by her own imagination and childhood experiences…

Opinion

As with every book Stephen King knows how to play with fears and imagination – both characters in the book and the readers. The book starts entertaining but soon it gets a bit lengthy, when Jessie talks to her other personality and tries to process her childhood. The dialogs between Jessie and her inner voices are not always easy to follow and it takes you far away from the main plot. But soon after such a dialog Stephen King brings you back to Jessie and her very “basic” problems and threats in the bedroom. He describes in a very detailed way every aspect of her threats and “visitors” – it is not a book for the faint-hearted. If you don’t mind, more or less, skipping boring dialogs you get an entertaining and thrilling book.

Where to get

I ordered it for my Kindle ebook reader from the Amazone website for 4.96EUR