Exploring another culture - A week in Morocco

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by Matt Everglade, May 2, 2015.

  1. Matt Everglade

    Matt Everglade SC Regular

    Mar 5, 2014
    Hey guys,

    a friend asked me to come along to Morocco so I spent some days there. We visited Marrakesh, Ouzoud and "the desert". Now I'd like to share some of the experiences.

    When we arrived we went to Djemaa el Fna, a big place with market stands. There were many people around with stands where you could buy fruits, orange juice, food etc. Pitchman everywhere. It was quite loud, but could get quite really fast in not so popular streets of the Medina. The smell of the souks (of spices for example) was intensive and interesting. Nevertheless the whole city was filled with many tourists, too.
    Djemaa el Fna - Dinner by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Djemaa el Fna - Dried Fruits by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Djemaa el Fna - Snails to go by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    When you left the place you went into the maze of souks and it was quite easy to get lost. There were many guys running around to show you the way, but they always wanted a big amount of money from you. Some impressions from the small and often crowded "streets" with its shops, donkey carts and bikes.

    Djemaa el Fna - Souks I by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Djemaa el Fna - Clothes by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Marrakesh Donkey Station? by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Other parts of the city were different and more modern.

    Marrakesh Railway Station by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Majorelle Garden, designed by Yved Saint Laurent, also featured his "house".
    Yves' house in Majorelle Garden by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Our first trip outside of Marrakesh was to Ouzoud. As we haven't done the stressful daytrip from Marrakesh, we could enjoy the calmness of Ouzoud in the morning and evening. We made some walks and enjoyed the spectacular waterfall.

    Ouzoud Waterfalls I
    by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Ouzoud Waterfalls II by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    In the morning, where were plenty of monkeys around.

    Ouzoud monkeys II by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    Ouzoud monkeys I by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    An old Mexican village (Tanagmalt) was nearby (1h walk?), but we couldn't make it completely due to harsh weather conditions.
    Val d'Ouzoud I by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    On our way to the desert we made a short stop at Aït-Ben-Haddou, which is a UNESCO world heritage and was featured in several films.
    Aït-Ben-Haddou by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    The trip to the desert was a bit dissapointing as it was quite close to a city and not very "sandy"...
    'Camel' ride I by Matt Everglade, on Flickr

    That's it for now. You can find more photos on Flickr.

    If you have any questions, suggestions, feedback - just let me know! :)

    Last edited: May 4, 2015
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  2. Richard

    Richard SC Top Veteran

    Feb 1, 2013
    Marlow, UK
    That's a terrific set. I liked most of them, but particularly the guy selling dried fruit, and the line of camels at the end.

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  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Really great work - enjoyed the whole set. I'm really drawn to the very VERY BLUE architectural shot of the two doors and stairs, but many of the others are obviously more indicative of the culture you encountered...

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  4. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Excellent set, Matt. Makes me want to pack up and get there (it's just some hundred kilometers northeast).
    Keep them coming!
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  5. Very nice shots, from a lovely part of the world.
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  6. Matt Everglade

    Matt Everglade SC Regular

    Mar 5, 2014
    Hey guys,

    thank you for your kind words. Interesting to hear which photos you like most. :)

  7. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    I'm drawn to the shot of the same blue building Ray mentioned, with the wonderful yellow and gold accents, but the whole series is astonishingly good.

    One question. Mexican Village???
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  8. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Wonderful shots, well done. I haven't been here for a few years and never got to the Majorelle gardens sadly. Love the camel shot :)
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  9. Matt Everglade

    Matt Everglade SC Regular

    Mar 5, 2014
    Thank you! What happened to this thread? I can see it on the frontpage of SC. :D

    @Lawrence A.@Lawrence A. The "guide" maybe fooled us. He said it is an old settlement of Mexican people, but I think it is more or less an old Berber village. But who knows... ;)
    @christilou@christilou Majorelle Gardens are quite nice, but not as spectacular as you think it might be. The house is a nice opportunity for architectural photography though. :)

  10. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Wonderful photographs of a beautiful place!
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  11. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    Ah traveling is always fun - most interesting series! :)
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  12. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    Awesome set, Matt. Especially love the colors captured.
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  13. Matt Everglade

    Matt Everglade SC Regular

    Mar 5, 2014
    Thank you, guys. :) I especially like those comments where you mention concrete things you liked/disliked. That helps me to understand what to leave as is or what to improve.
  14. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    Really nice set, Matt! Having been in Marrakesh for a couple of days last year (and Morocco for about 5 weeks in total), I can safely say you did a good job capturing Marrakesh!

    I haven't been to the other places you have been, although I feel compelled to point out that only about 20% of the Sahara desert consists of sand dunes - and camel caravans would avoid dune fields like the plague whenever possible. So in that sense, the lack of sand by no means makes the camel experience less authentic.

    About the Mexican village, I don't know what it is about Moroccans telling stories about Mexicans, but I've heard several - including a story about a Mexican walking to Morocco with his donkey! The closest thing I can imagine is that it was populated by people who had been expelled from Spain or Portugal, as is the case with Chefchaouen in the North of the country.
  15. Matt Everglade

    Matt Everglade SC Regular

    Mar 5, 2014
    Hey bart,

    thank you for your post. Interesting facts about the Sahara desert, didn't know that and makes me feel better about the trip. :)
    Probably Tanagmalt is an old Berber village and the guy just wanted to make his "tour" more interesting. The Mexican walking over the ocean is fun though. :D
    By the way, nice images on your Flickr stream, this seems much more authentic than what we made.

  16. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    Thanks Matt! Having no set return date and no fixed itinerary helps a lot.

    Some very nice images in your flickr set as well; I love the Desert at night shot in particular. Cool to see that you stayed at the same hostel as I did!

    lol @ flickr's adult content warning for the monkey I shot :speechless:
  17. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Something of a coincidence as I was only just recently in Morocco myself. Marrakech wasn't my favourite place but there's still some charm there if you look for it.

    I think that you've captured the place very well. The energy of the Djemaa el Fna at night, the light filtering through the alleyways of the medina, the drabness of Ait Benhaddou against the blue of the sky, and you can't go wrong with the silhouettes of a camel caravan against the rising or setting sun.
  18. Matt Everglade

    Matt Everglade SC Regular

    Mar 5, 2014
    I had only about a week. That made things quite stressful, but after those days I really enjoxed the silence at home. Marrakesh was just sooo noisy and "salesman" everywhere. Got annoyed after some time.

    I tried to capture the stars in particular, but we had a full moon on that day so the sky was just too bright.

    Well, it's probably the best in town. ;)

    Yes, it was a bit too touristy. The friend who travelled with me was in Morocco before and she like other cities more, too. Chefchaouen for example.

    Thank you. :)

  19. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    To me, Marrakesh was one of the biggest surprises of Morocco, and in a positive way. I was quite cynical about it beforehand, expecting a city that was more theme park than real city. But at Jemaa el Fna at night, at least when I was there, >90% of the crowds were locals (although there were some tourist-aimed restaurant stands, most of the performers had a mostly Moroccan audience). During daylight hours it's a pure tourist trap, but at night I found it awesome.

    Many of the Souk shops around the square are aimed at tourists, which is not really the case in Fes for instance, but in Fes the salesmen were way pushier and sometimes quite unpleasant. So all in all, I quite enjoyed Marrakesh :)

    As for the moonlit desert: that's actually something I wish I'd taken more shots of, since it gives the desert such an eerie atmosphere. Starry skies are beautiful, but they don't allow you to really see the desert itself in its nightly mistique.

    Hostel: in terms of combining good prices, lots of facilities, hygiene and cleanliness, central location and local style (even if it's recreated and not authentic), it's probably one of the best in the entire country. Not the most memorable place I stayed in, but probably the best.
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
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  20. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    Excellent shots!
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