The Marrakech Express

I am not an anxious traveler. I can adapt to most situations and if the hotel didn’t look exactly like I was expecting, within a day or so, I can pretty much feel at home. If things don’t go quite right I try not to let it detract from my adventure.

On May 5th I started out with a flight to Las Vegas, was picked up at the airport by my friends Bruno and Chris, who had driven in from Ramona, CA and had my motorcycle in their truck. After finding a convenient spot to unload, I headed out for a ride around Lake Mead and they went on to St. George, UT where Chris would be racing the Ironman St. George 70.3 on Saturday and Bruno would be driving for me as I shot.

Although the weather wasn’t the best, it also wasn’t the worst and we got the job done!

Sunday May 8th I headed from St. George to Zion National Park, up by Bryce Canyon through some amazing terrain and ended my day in Torrey Ut.

Monday was perfect weather and the night before I decided I would head down toward Telluride. Another amazing day. I didn’t have a place to stay but I was sure I could find something.

Tuesday morning had some rain and light snow at elevation and based on the radar maps it looked like it was snowing at Monarch Pass where I had planned to ride so, I adjusted and headed north to I-70, rolling into Boulder early evening.

My BMW is still in Boulder with a friend, I flew home, shot the Medtronic Twin Cities 1 Mile on Thursday evening, and Friday morning headed to The Woodlands TX for Ironman Texas.

Sunday back on an early flight to Minneapolis, with a couple of days to reorganize and finish the images from the last events.

For more than a month I had my reservations to Lanzarote. I knew when I was leaving, when I was returning and the route. I also knew that as long as I was in the neighborhood, so to speak, I wanted to visit Morocco. I had never been to Africa and thought it could be amazing. The day I was leaving for Lanzarote, I finally made my air travel reservations to Marrakech.

Still I waited to find a place to stay hoping that someone in Lanzarote would have a recommendation. No luck, back to Hotels.com for a look. I found the Riad El Mansour, five miles from the airport and nominal walk to the old city.

Prior to arriving, I received an email asking when I was arriving and for 15 euro, they would have their driver pick me up. All good so far.

I did manage to find their driver Mustapha, among the 100 other drivers waiting there. He gave me a quick highlighted tour on the way from the airport and said – now I take you the way you will walk to the hotel so it will look familiar. Again, all good. And then we stopped!

Parked the car in what I can only generously call a chaotic street and stopped right between the melon cart and the banana cart.

Travel in Marrakech

As we grabbed my bags he quickly pointed out the small sign beneath the canopy that had the logo of the hotel and said, See this is how you know you are in the right place. Left, Right, Right – remember Left, Right, Right! The next 50 meters were so filled with people and vendors that cars could not travel in.

Travel in Marrakech t

LEFT! The street narrowed to 3 meters, there were kids playing and a few doorways.

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RIGHT! A moped whizzed by from behind, with no one else in site. Walked under a shadowed structure built to connect the buildings on both sides.

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RIGHT! Ahead is a dead end, and a shadowy dead end at that.

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OK, I am now starting to re-think my low anxiety approach to travel. Just beyond the plant, we finally stop at a large carved wooden door and he rings the bell. We are welcomed by Abdess “Mr. Paul, it is so nice to meet you!”

I find that I am stepping not into a hotel, but to my eyes back in time and into and Indiana Jones Movie. It is amazing structure between 200 and 300 years old with only 6 rooms and a very peaceful interior courtyard.

Travel in Marrakech

I am in the Azure room. I mean with only six rooms you can easily use names instead of numbers

Travel in Marrakech

Azure Room

Travel in Marrakech

Azure Room

After a much needed nap, I headed out to explore the big square, the souks and the old city. After a few hours of wandering through the chaos, I returned to Riad El Mansour.

Peace and serenity, just a few meters from the chaos.

Time now for dinner and upon recommendation of Wadi at the hotel, it was Left, Left, Right and then a 1 minute walk and another right to Latitude 31. Again peace, serenity just a few meters from the chaos. This time with amazing aromas, in an open air courtyard with impeccable service and extraordinary hospitality. Latitude 31 was immediately on my favorite list.

Before turning in for the night, I asked what time breakfast was served. Mr. Paul, you are on holiday, when you get up, I will make you breakfast!

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If you are going to Marrakech – contact me, I will share the details of where I was. Not only did they enhance my trip but in doing so, they enhanced my life.

More soon.

Paul