Totally exhausted after flights from Qatar-Dubai-Istanbul-Lisbon, I had about a 15 hour layover until my morning flight to Marrakech. I decided to book a stay in the Radisson Blu Hotel. This hotel is considered an “airport hotel”(one of two) but is about a 5 minute drive from the airport. Nothing glamorous or exotic, but a solid hotel, very close to the airport, where one can crash for the night -even more so since I booked a free stay with my “free night certificate” from the Carlson Rewards credit card (Carlson is the company which owns the RadissonBlu and Radisson hotel brands (at least that was true until a Chinese company bought them last week!) Incredibly, the hotel had one of the best breakfast spreads I have experienced on my trip but unfortunately, I was in a hurry to catch my next flight, so only suco de laranja, cafe com leite and pao (orange juice, coffee with milk and bread) for me!
I had always wanted to add Africa to my list of continents visited and have always been intrigued by Morocco, so why not check two items off the list? I chose Marrakech since it also had more of that French flair. Many of the French remained in Marrakech after Morocco declared its independence from France and many more visit each year. Which means not only a great place to practice Arabic but also brush up on French! Since many groups had staked a claim to this area over the years (Romans, Berbers, Moors, Portuguese, Spanish and French) Morocco is an incredible melange and this shows in the culture, language, food and people. Even more interesting, unless you converse in MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) you will never understand the local Moroccan Arabic dialect (which is called Darija) since it is a mixture of Arabic, Berber (the original inhabitants of Morocco), French and Spanish.
The flight from Lisbon to Marrakech is a short 2 hour flight. Surprisingly, the flight was operated by an ATR 100 propeller flight plane (not many of these flying New York to Miami!)
The flight however was very smooth and soon we were landing in Marrakech.
Ahlan wa Sahlan! Welcome to Marrakech. I think I will grab a “Moroccan Whiskey” (the ubiquitous and delicious spearmint tea!)