Well it was up and atom not quite so early today (Tues 27), breakfast was served at nine at our request, we thought we could do with the extra half an hour in bed as we had a busy previous couple of days.
Today we decided to visit the Kings Palace, we followed the city wall to what on the map appeared to be the entrance only to find this was not in fact, so after walking a great deal further around voila we found it. The palace itself is situated in a large complex of government buildings and extensive gardens, on reaching the palace I must say it was quite disappointing not the elaborate affair I was expecting, apart from its ornate gate and traditionally dressed guards it was all in all quite uninspiring. Next stop was the main shopping area of the city although there is not a vast amount to choose from. We meandered through the streets and discovered the local flower market with some of the most beautiful flower arrangements, as it was getting to near that time of day for a drink not the soft kind we went in search of a hotel, as these seems to be the only places to get one, one such place was the Hotel Peitri with is superb piano / jazz bar Cafe Peitri, and to plan our next days itinerary.
Well we have arrived in Rabat safe and on time, have to say train network is very good. Grabbed a taxi from the station this was more expensive than Fes £1.20 I suppose that’s the price you pay for being in the capital, we were dropped of at the medina gate (one of many) and followed the directions they gave us to the Riad which was a short walk into the medina itself. Now for anyone who has been to Morocco and have stayed in the medina’s know only to well that the shabby dusty streets hide some hidden gems as most of the buildings from the exterior look quite rough and uninviting but behind the Riad’s often very ornate front doors lies a different world indeed. Once inside the Riad you will discover fantastically carved stonework magnificent mosaics fantastic ceilings and ornate marble floors. The rooms are all located around a central atrium with either a small fountain or a large pool a real peaceful place to be from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets outside, so my advice is if you haven’t give it a try you will be pleasantly surprised.
After a very warm welcome and being shown to our lovely room we set off to discover the local area. Rabat is not known to some as a well known city that attracts tourists unless that is you are Moroccan, it is situated on the Atlantic coast probably about the same parallel as the canaries, Rabat is the capital of Morocco and unlike some other Moroccan cities has a relatively small medina, as opposed to Marrakech & Fes, so you would only need perhaps a couple of days to explore the city. After a good look around and the obligatory shopping in the Souks it was time for a drink (alcoholic) now as many of you are aware getting a drink in a Muslim country is no mean feat bars are normally in the larger hotels, so as it was my birthday we set of in search of one such establishment. We stumbled across the Hotel Rabat with its stunning atrium ceiling we had a small bottle of beer each (three of us) for the very expensive price of £12 oh well at least I had one beer on my birthday. Today it’s of further afield to take in some more or the city sights, so watch this space.
Well it’s Day 2 the sun is shining its nice and warm and it’s my birthday, perfect. We were up bright and early for breakfast which was served in the magnificent courtyard. The Riad was just as described first class. It was then off down into town to exchange some money pay the bill then off to the train station for the next leg of our journey to Rabat. On our way to the bank we asked a driver at the local taxi rank how much would it cost to get to the station and he told us 100 dirham which is about £7.50 which in England would not be so bad, so we said we needed to go to the bank, collect our cases and we would be back. On returning to our Riad to collect our cases we asked how much should a taxi cost to the station, we told the receptionist how much we were quoted and she was shocked when we told her 100 dirham she said it should be about 14, but the actual cost in a metered taxi was 8 dirham about 75p, so top tip always ask for advice in your hotel and always get metered cab as these are normally very cheap abroad.
We arrived at the station, buying the the tickets was a breeze with my very limited pigeon French. We did our homework on the train network ONCF before we left so we new our first class tickets for the two and a half our journey was only going to be £9 each bargain. The train we were on served along with various other stations Fes, Rabat, Marrakesh and Agadir, which a hell of a journey, but a great way of getting around if you want to see the Moroccan countryside.