If you are interested in supporting my writing, please visit my Patreon page to find out how you can donate as little as $1 a month to help keep me afloat: patreon.com/kristenforbes.
We had to have one day where we just went for it: spa day, palace tour, fancy ice cream, the works.
We started our morning again with breads, pastries, jam, butter, and mint tea. This time Gian swapped out our usual orange juice for a berry smoothie. Gian again proved herself to be an invaluable part of our Moroccan experience when she set up an appointment for the two of us to spend a few hours at a hamman together.
We walked to the main square and took a taxi to the spa. (The drive was as adventurous as ever.) Since we arrived a little early, we looked around at the outdoor shops and got into a conversation with a friendly man who wanted to show us his wares without pressure to make a purchase. He showed us natural makeups and perfumes and we made a note to come back to him after our spa appointment.
At the spa, we were treated like royalty. After being provided with robes and shower shoes, we went to a steam room that was set up just for the two of us. We relaxed in there for awhile, sweating out the toxins, and then two ladies scrubbed us down and put mud masks all over our bodies. We stayed in the steam room with the body masks until it was time to rinse off. Then we got back into our robes and relaxed in a cooler room while we drank tea and water. Then we were escorted upstairs for the most relaxing side-by-side massages ever. After the massage we came back downstairs and relaxed in one last room, where we were served mint tea and cookies.
We returned to our new friend and bought lipstick, perfume, and eucalyptus. It was a real family affair: the man's dad worked behind the counter and his brother worked across the street at a bakery. Our friend was very sweet and said he appreciated the opportunity to practice his English (nearly everyone we encountered in Morocco spoke our language very clearly).
As Mike perfected his taxi haggling skills, we took a cab to a new Western-style mall and sat outside at an ice cream restaurant called Oliveri. They had a full menu just like any restaurant; every item on the menu, though, was dessert. I ordered a concoction with nougat and coffee ice cream, praline and whipped cream. Mike got a mango sorbet cake with a macaron on top. We split a bottle of sparkling water and enjoyed some lovely time in the sunshine.
We went inside the mall, which didn't have a lot of shops. I finally saw my first indoor grocery store in this country. We bought pasta and a small jar of tomato sauce to make dinner at home, as well as cookies, white chocolate, and Twix Tops (just the top part of a Twix bar). I've mentioned before that I'm a huge sucker for trying sweets and snacks that look different from what I'm used to seeing at home. I was not going to leave Morocco with any regrets. Before moving on, we ate our Twix Tops outside and continued to enjoy the sunshine.
After negotiating with a few taxi drivers, Mike got us a ride to Bahia Palace to take a tour. Not to put too fine a point on this, but the taxi ride was once again harrowing. Regardless, we made it out alive. The palace had amazing architecture and tile work, though there were so many people visiting it was difficult to really look around and take pictures.
In an extraordinary example of Mike's keen sense of direction, we made our way back to Jemaa El Fna and found another restaurant with rooftop seating. I ordered vegetarian couscous, Mike ordered vegetarian tagine, and Mike enjoyed sparkling water while I had a a nutmeg and date-infused orange juice. We capped off our meal with more mint tea, at which point we had to acknowledge we'd become fully addicted to this delicious Moroccan beverage. After lunch we tried our bargaining skills again at the market and bought our own tea pot and two glasses to bring home. In the market we also located the art cafe where we wanted to return later that week for a cooking class and henna tattoo.
It was late enough by then that we were able to get a real taste for how crowded the square gets at night. Though it was invigorating to see so much activity, I also found myself saying, "I'm glad we're not in our twenties and have no desire to get out there every night." We came back to the riad, made dinner, ate cookies, and enjoyed a content evening at home.