Saturday, March 13, 2010

Monsieur Sofi, part 3

As a sidenote:

Found out an interesting thing today. Turns out that Gmail has a bit of a bug, when it comes to displaying my blog posts. All of you Gmail users, who have subscribed to get updates of my blog on your e-mail, you seem to be getting a very butchered version. For some reason or other, Gmail displays only the beginning part of the post and omits the rest. And since i tend to have long long posts with lot’s of photos, you miss out quite a lot. In the last post for example Gmail left out about 2/3 of it. Anyway, so far i’ve noticed this anomaly only in Gmail, it might be temporary or then again maybe some other mail clients have the same issues, in any case – be warned! And be advised to click on the blog link in the future.

Riad Douzi in Marrakech medina

After being few days in Essaouira we returned to Marrakech for one last day together in our beautiful riad in the medina. We seemed to be the only people in the riad, so it was very quiet and relaxing. We chatted a bit with the riad’s manager Zaza, had some tea, caught some sun on the rooftop terrace and generally enjoyed our time. Afterwards Jevgeni stayed in to spend some quality moments with his iPhone and i went for a shopping tour. So far on my trip i hadn’t been able to buy any souvenirs or other unnecessary yet desired items, unless i wanted to also buy a cart to drag my bursting bag around. But since Jevgeni was about to return to Estonia with pretty much an empty suitcase, i took advantage of the situation and went out for shopping. I bought a berber tajine, spices, some dishes and lot’s of slippers. All those friends and relatives who’ve been forced to listen to my rantings about what a wonderful place Morocco is will now get a chance to prance around in soft Moroccan leather slippers (babouches). I actually found a very nice shop with huge choice and very reasonable prices due to my arrival just in the nick of time before closing and big quantity of slippers i wanted to buy. Never before or after have i been able to haggle good quality leather slippers down to ~ 50-60 DH a pair. Slippers are definately „the thing“ to bring from Morocco. They are small and lightweight, good for maintaining reasonable luggage size. They're also soft and comfortable, often with hand stitched patterns or symbolic shapes pressed into the leather. In any case, wonderful to wear and speaking from experience – very appreciated Moroccan souvenirs.

The next morning very early i sent Jevgeni to the airport and watched sadly how he dissapeared through the security gates. I do love traveling alone, but it probably would be emotionally easier to do if i didn’t see friends or family meanwhile. After i returned to the riad i had to start packing up my stuff again, because i was relocating back to my cupboard-hotel by Djemaa el-Fna. I had about 4 hours before 12am check-out, so i took it slow. At some point i went to the rooftop terrace to spend some quality time with myself and a nail-polish. While i was painting my nails, the manager Zaza came by and we chatted for a while. When he heard that my husband had just left, his whole approach kind of changed. He suddenly became very interested in helping me paint my nails and offered to at least hold my hand while i’m painting them. /???/ What do you answer to that? I had a strong wish to be a bit nasty and ask if he’d like to jump right to helping me shave? But then i thought he probably wouldn’t spot the irony in my voice, better safe than sorry. Then he mentioned casually that there is at least one free room in the house and he could let me stay there few nights for free, if i wanted to. I thought about it for a moment and decided i’d rather sleep on an empty Djemaa el-Fna square than in this beautiful riad under his watchful eye. He was really pushy with his offers to accompany me back to my hotel and help me with my backpack. I finally got him off my back when i promised that i might come back in the evening for a cup of tea. Never was going to happen of course. As soon as my nails dried, i grabbed my stuff, went downstairs and immediately had a hard scrubbing shower. Are there really women who find guys like him charming? Maybe it’s me, but words like „sleazy“ and „yuck“ came to mind.

Meanwhile there was a bit of a drama unwrapping itself in the house. The cleaning lady was annoyed that i took so long time checking out and threw a fit to Zaza. I could hear some rather emotional arguing from my quarters and when i looked out of the window, she was gesturing towards me pretty violently with a brush in one and a bottle of Mr. Proper in the other hand. OK, she’s probably busy getting back to her 8 kids and is now forced to wait after me, but my stuff was still laying all around the room and it was going to take me at least an hour to pack everything up. When i finally finished, it was around 11 am and the house was already quiet. I slipped out quickly before Zaza would show up again.

Apart from the over-enthusiastic manager and emotional cleaning lady, i would still recommend the place. The rooms were beautiful and clean, house cozy and breakfast very delicious. We also saw some other rooms in the house, they were differently decorated, but also very comfortable and lovely. The location is a bit tricky and i’m not going to even attempt to try and give directions. What i can say is that it was right next to the medina’s Spice market (browse your Marrakech guidebooks, i’m sure Spice market is mentioned). And i think you could also pre-arrange a guide from the riad or something like that.

123 derb Aarjan, Rahba Lakdima, Marrakech

I booked it through the and in April the room fee was about 60 dollars/night (with breakfast).

Riad Douzi locates on a small side street, pretty hard to find. Also not much to look at from outside. But as the old saying goes - never judge a book by it's covers

Corridor at the entrance

A view to the inner courtyard from the second floor

Door to one of the bedrooms/apartments

Our apartments's living room area


Rooftop terrace


Hotel De La Paix in Marrakech

When i arrived back to my old hotel again, i was informed that my room was occupied and i have to sleep the first night in an other room. I actually felt slightly annoyed :). My new room didn’t have nearly as good of a view than the old one had and the mirror was crooked!

As mentioned in earlier posts, the hotel locates just few minutes off the Djemaa el-Fna. And since i have only good things to say about this modest but solid establishment, i will try to give some directions how to find it in the crazy roller-coaster of Moroccan central city:

Starting point: Koutubia Minaret. When you stand next to Koutubia Minaret, turn your back to it facing Djemaa el-Fna square. If you start walking towards the center of the square on your right are the the super smelly donkey/horse carriages, parked at the side of the entrance road. When you walk further, you will pass a Post Maroc building on your right. Immediately after that comes another big building with faded sign of Bank al-Maghreb on it. Turn right after the bank building and you will find yourself on a lively shopping street. Take the very first turn to the left and you will be on a small shaded side street. Walk down the street and about 20 m ahead, right in front of you is the Hotel De La Paix. Google gives the address as 46, Quartier Sidi Bouloukat, Marrakech; can’t vouch for it, but i guess it must be true.

If i'm not mistaken the hotel has 3 floors + the roof terrace. The first and second floors are pretty dark and gloomy, but the 3rd floor is bright and lit, just like you can see on the photos. I think my room number was 16, ask for it - it was a pretty decent room!

I recommend Hotel De La Paix mostly because it’s clean and reasonably quiet, laundry service is a good addition. In the April, when i was there, it was almost empty and those few people that were there, were all Arabic. If you want to meet partying teens from Australia, that’s not the place, but if you’re like me – prefer peace and quiet when it comes to sleeping in the night, then you should like it enough. Though, i must admit – i do sleep with ear-plugs, so i can’t really vouch for the silence at night.

I wrote more about picking a budget hotel in Marrakech and describing my first emotions about Hotel De La Paix in some of the earlier posts already - so if anybody wants more details, i will refer you to Home sweet home and Relax, (wo)man blog entires.

I specially like the doormen system the hotel has. Somebody is always at the „front desk“, seems 24/7. During my stay there were two guys in rotating shifts. That means nobody could just „get in“ and as a single girl i definitely didn’t have to worry about unwanted visitors from the street. Being the only white female tourist in the building, i kind of stood out, so me and doormen we quickly became on the first name basis. You have to leave your key to the front desk when you go out, that was a bit uncomfortable for me in the beginning.

Hotel De La Paix had two doormen, Abdul and Sayid. Sayid was kind of a „typical-Moroccan“ - slightly sleazy and prone to casual touches, but Abdul (on the picture ->) was different. When i first came to stay in the hotel, he was polite and friendly, but kept his distance. He spoke a bit of English, but we actually discovered that we could cover more ground in Spanish. Before Jevgeni came to visit, we'd had few random conversations and i think a lunch together once. After Jevgeni had come and gone, Abdul’s attitude towards me changed completely – he became very protective and brotherly, always asking if i’m doing ok and do i need something. Like he was watching after me - a poor little girl who’s husband left her in the big bad Morocco :). He was actually the one who helped me buy myself a new mobile phone when my old one got stolen. And i brought him those delicious coconut cookies in return. By the end we had already developed our own lingo - he would shout over the street „Rosalinda!“ and i would answer „Pedro!“ or something like that; and Sayid, the other doorman, would look puzzled and ask: „She is Sofi .. , no?“

Inner courtyard of the hotel

My humble room

My very own sink. You can't actually imagine how comfortable it is to have a personal sink in the room instead of one only in the public wc/bathroom

The cleaning ladies changed bedsheets and cleaned the floor in every few days

View from the rooftop of my hotel. The bright lights at the background are from the Djemaa el-Fna nightly food market

The other turned-out-to-be-quite-a-charming-guy was Ahmed (on the picture ->) from my favourite foodstall number 4 on Djemaa el-Fna nightly market. While other vendors were very eager to shake hands with me or pat me on the shoulder when i came to eat in the evenings, then all i got from Ahmed was a foggy smirk, on the best days. But by the end of 2nd week the situation had already developed into a full blown smile, so you could count all the missing teeth and stuff. Now he always gives me the best french fries, as opposed to the old and stale ones sitting on the display bowl. Those he seems to reserve specially for French tourists.

When Jevgeni left Morocco and i went back to my eating habits at the foodstall number 4, Ahmed looked at me with puzzled face and asked one evening: "Monsieur Sofi .. ?"


  1. i stayed in the same hotel. quite good for the price!

  2. Hi, do you remember how you booked a room in Hotel de la Paix?. I have been looking for the hotel-website or similar in google but i couldnt't find anything.

    Thank you!

  3. Hello Javier!

    I didn't book it in advance, i'm not sure they even take bookings. In any case, some staff members don't even speak English, so it would be hard to make reliable booking anyway. I just went there and they had plenty of rooms available. Tried to bargain, but the pricelist was on the wall and they didn't budge much. The price was actually very reasonable, considering the location and quality, so i can't complain.

    To read about finding a hotel in the near vicinity of Djemaa el-Fna, read:

    Hope you like it in Hotel De La Paix! Tell them hello from Sofi, maybe they'll remember me. There can't be that many single blond women staying in that hotel for a month at the time :).


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