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Ouarzazate to Ait Benhaddou to Marrakech - Sat, 30 July 2016

Driving through the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech. Visit the Djemaa el-Fna, the centre square of the medina

sunny 44 °C

Hotel - Riad Kniza Marrakesh - Room 2

Had a good night's sleep, in fact I was still in dream land when the alarm went off. We have been thinking that our driver reminds us of someone, but just couldn't put our finger on it. Then suddenly it came to us - OJ Simpson! Yipes!

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Ouarzazate is a very popular place for movie making. Films include Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth and The Gladiator. There are a couple of film studios here and apparently the light is great. Nicole Kidman also filmed Queen of thd Desert in this area too.

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We drove a short way to Ait Benhaddou to see where these movies filmed.

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Then the trek over the High Atlas Mountains. The road was steep and winding and for some reason, Abdou is not in a very good mood this morning and is driving a bit fast and erratic. In fact, I am very glad I am not sitting in the front seat. Poor Phil has a bird's eye view of the coming traffic on this very narrow road.

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Saturday is market day and lots of people are in the towns as we pass through.

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We stop at a half way point for a nos nos (coffee) and then continue on. Abdou seems slightly more friendly but then reverts to his morose self. Don't know what is wrong as he has been quite happy and pleasant so far. He stopped along the way to buy some goat's meat to take home. He lives in Marrakech and is going to spend a couple of night's at home. She is a Berber and likes eating goat.

Lots of road works on the mountain.

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We reach the highest point and then start our descent.

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The colours in the mountains are lovely and the closer we get to Marrakech, the redder the rocks are becoming.

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Phil mentioned about stopping for lunch and Abdou says that we don't eat lunch. We said that that was just yesterday when we had eaten a big breakfast and weren't hungry at lunch time. Moroccans have their main meal at lunch time as opposed to us, eating our main meal in the evening.

The air is thick again with tension, so we decide not to worry about stopping for lunch, but find something some where in the medina after we have checked in.

It was quite a long walk to the Riad from the road, through the market, dodging donkeys, motor cycles, stalls and people.

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Our room is on the second floor (top floor), with a bath, but Phil wants one on the ground floor so we don't have millions of steps to walk up. We can swap rooms but the new one won't be ready until 8.30 pm. Fine. Phil thinks we'll sit around downstairs until the new room is ready. 6 hours!! I don't think so!! So we go upstairs, freshen up a bit and then decide to go out into the medina to find something to eat.

It is hot and busy and nothing looks very appertising. I think we are walking in the wrong direction. We bought a couple of pastries, nearly get skittled a couple of times by motor bikes and donkeys, and then decide to go back to the Riad for a swim. Best decision we've made all day.

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The water in freezing but refreshing once you are in. There is an English family from Bristol by the pool - mother, daughter and son - so we spend some time speaking with them. They are flying home this evening.

Have you ever seen a pool with a chandelier?

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We have now moved into the downstairs room and have a rock and roll band playing outside our door in the courtyard!

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At 9.00pm we wandered across our courtyard into a small room with a table set up in it. There are people eating dinner in all different rooms which is very private and quite nice.

We shared a chicken and almond thing with cinnamon and icing sugar (strange starter but delicious), then a lamb tagine with apricots, prunes and dates and we finished with a creme pastissiere and a mint tea. Very, very lovely.

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The owner, who we met at the pool today, popped his head in to see how we were going and we complimented him and his chef.
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Posted by gaddingabout 14:48 Archived in Morocco

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