I’ve been up for 30+ hours. I think I’m a bit delirious. But I have a full belly. Soon, I’ll have a shower and get some much-needed shut eye. But an update on my past few days …
A few days in Munich
“Fasching” was the big deal in Munich, which from what I understand, has something to do with Mardi Gras. Germans will say it’s a pathetic attempt at Carnivale, but it was still funny to see a bunch of tall, sturdy German men dressed up in hilarious garb, either in women’s clothes or some odd animal costume.
This year marks 10 years I’ve been with the company I work at, which is based out of Munich. For many years, I’ve worked with many colleagues based out of the Munich headquarters. My brother Phil is on a two-year assignment at the Munich headquarters (for the same company). A woman I’ve been corresponding with a lot lately helped arrange some time for us to connect, along with many of the others I’ve worked with over the past several years. It was great finally putting faces to names. The topic of a staff exchange came up (me working in Munich). For obvious reasons, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued. Karin, the colleague who helped arrange my meetings in Munich, is an offical Munich tour guide, and she very graciously took time to show my sister-in-law and me around the city for a few hours after the work day.
I’ll be back in Munich for two days before I head home. The plan is to hit up a couple museums with my sister-in-law that Karin recommended.
London at night!
Getting to Marrakech included an eight-hour layover in London. (My brother’s doing.) Even though our flight didn’t get into town until 10:30 p.m., we didn’t want to stay in the airport all night, and getting a hotel seemed to be a waste of money. So we agreed to make a night of it. Since we had carry-ons, the plan was to find a place to store our bags and then head into the city. Except we couldn’t find any. I remember there being lockers in the main train stations when I was last in London some 10+ years ago, so we opted to bring our bags into the city with us. Understandably, since the tube bombing, they got rid of those train lockers. So we were stuck toting our wheely bags around the city. We first stopped at Picadilly square, then wandered around catching a bunch of the sites London has to offer. Despite the cold, we had a great time. I can’t remember the last time I’ve drank as much coffee in one night. The biggest issue was finding a bathroom, which added a lot of comedy to our night. Because, well, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
The best part of the night was at Victoria train station, which is where we caught the express train back to Gatwick Airport. There were two very drunk guys at the station. One guy was the photo taker, the other was the “mooner.” They’d go up to random people, all whom were sleeping. Mooner would pull his pants down and put his ass as close to the sleeping people while Photo Taker took photos. we could have stepped in, but were too cold, too tired, and too amused.
Marrakech: Rock the kasbah! Or … the medina
At this point, I think I’ve been up for about 40 hours and am on about 6 hours sleep. I’m wiped. But it was a fantastic day. I’ve made it to Africa! Marrakech is beautiful in it’s own right. Different than anywhere I’ve been Our riad (bed and breakfast) is fantastic. The owners are incredibly helpful. Khalid helped us get our bearings before we ventured out in the medina (old town) of Marrakech. For the record, he amazes me — he speaks French, Spanish, English and three dialects of Arabic. We chatted for quite a while tonight in Spanish, which is always fun for me.
Navigating the medina is a bit of a labyrinth, but it’s a fantastic adventure. Then, we got to the souk (market), which was amazing. Spices, dried fruits, shoes, leather bags, belts, pashminas, olives, souvenirs, entertainment — so much to see and do. I’m not even going to get into the price of goods here other than … it’s VERY affordable. We got some olives to snack on. We also tried this sesame/almond/honey thing that was super delicious. The cook at our riad made us tagine, a traditional Moroccan dish, and it … was … delicious! We learned tonight that when made tagine, you’re part of the “clean plate club.”
We spent hours walking around the souks before stumbling on the main mosque and kasbah. We noticed there are orange trees everywhere — you could even smell them. Then we decided to give our feet some relief and headed up to a rooftop terrace to enjoy a coffee and an amazing view. While there, we heard the 4:00 p.m. call to prayer. I don’t know how else to describe the sound of the chanting as anything other than beautiful. It was an amazing thing to be a part of. We know we’ll hear it five times a day, every day while we’re here.
Tomorrow, we’re heading to the Atlas Mountains, which you can see from pretty much anywhere in Marrakech — they’re absolutely stunning. Our taxi driver said the deals at the souks are even better there, which is hard to believe. (Absolutely adorable shoes are $3. Gorgeous leather bags are $10.) Plus, bartering is just “part of the deal.” Along with other cultural things, which I’ll fill you in on later. A lot of new things to take in, but it’s a fun ride.