After 24 straight hours of travel Sean and I arrived in Marrakesh yesterday morning.
We left Barcelona on Friday evening on a night train bound for Granada. I found Barcelona underwhelming--interesting but lacking the vibrancy I hoped for. Granted I was only there for 2 days but I'd heard nothing but amazing things so I guess I had high hopes. I think it's a pretty big party town so the fact that I didn't go to any bars or clubs probably influenced my perception of the place.
The night train to Granada was grueling. 11 hours in a cramped seat with basically no leg room--suffice it to say I didn't really sleep at all. We arrived in Granada at 8 am bleary eyed and armed with nothing but an undetailed map and general directions to where we needed to go. Inevitably we got lost for awhile before stumbling to our hostel, but it wasn't too bad. Luckily they let us check into our room right away so we were able to shower and drop off our bags before venturing out into the city. Granada is gorgeous and I really enjoyed it there--we spent the day walking around the Islamic quarter and taking in the Alhambra, an ancient fortress/palace. The next day started our day of ridiculous travel.
We left Granada at 8 am to catch a local bus to the main bus station. From there we took a 3 hour bus to Algeciras, which is the main Spanish port for destinations to Morocco. After a slight bit of confusion we boarded a ferry bound for Tangier (note to self; don't believe hustlers outside the port who say that the ticket vendors inside are all closed. Luckily the mistake only cost an extra €5). What was supposed to take 80 minutes turned into a 3 hour ride, but we got into Morocco with virtually no problems. From the port in Tangier we took a taxi to the main train station and bought tickets for the overnight train to Marrakesh (this time we splurged and spent the extra €10 for a sleeper car. Best decision ever). Unfortunately there were no left-luggage facilities at the train station so we just had to hang out there for 4 hours before our train left, but we met some other travelers and had a fine time. At 9 pm we boarded our train and 11 hours later we were in Marrakesh! We decided to walk to our riad (a traditional Moroccan guest house) from the train station which ended up being incredibly long and confusing. We ended up paying 2 separate locals a few dirham to get us where we needed to go and eventually we found the riad.
I am in love with Marrakesh. It is absolutely my favorite place I've ever been. Our riad is right inside the medina (the old part of the city) and is smack-dab in the middle of the action. Everywhere you look there are street vendors, political protestors, donkey carts, snake charmers, and motorbikes. It's overwhelming in the most wonderful way possible. Everything is busy and bustling and dirty and completely and utterly alive. You really have to see it to understand.
Today we have another full day in Marrakesh and then we're off to Casablanca tomorrow.
I am completely and utterly content.