Review: Marrakesh (Marrakech)
Mooching around Morocco!
54 people found this review helpful
As the sun disappeared behind the palm tress we were faced with yet another exhausting dilemma! Should we stay by the pool for a glass of Moroccan wine (it had taken us a while to get used to the sherry-like texture of their wine but after experimenting with a few brands we could now drink the 'Medallion' brand without pursed lips!) or should we shower, change and head into Place Jemaa El Fna to eat at the night market and enjoy a non-alcoholic cocktail?
Our visit to Marrakech had meant an abundance of such dilemmas! There is so much to do in Marrakech that, although it is known as a 3 day city break sort of place, there is enough here to keep you occupied for much longer. . The central square, Place Jemaa El Fna (meaning 'Assembly of the Dead' as executed heads used to be displayed on spikes here) was only a short walk from our hotel, El Andalous. However the pavements are veritable obstacle courses with uneven flag stones, high kerbs and many many holes! For anyone unsteady on their feet a 'caleche' (horse drawn carriage) is a lovely way to arrive in the square and a cheap price can be haggled with the driver. In the square the most important accessory is your camera. Snake charmers, dancers, acrobats and water sellers all vie for your attention and are happy, for a few dhiram, to have their picture taken with you. The night market is set up after sundown and consists of dozens of open air cafes on the east side of the square. A hanging cloud of smoke hangs over the diners, tourists and locals alike. Our guide book told us that the food is fresh and is cooked in front of you so it is safe to eat, however it also said that plates and cutlery are washed in water that is rarely changed so we were advised to ask for our food served on paper and to eat it with our fingers. If you don't want to eat at the night market there are many restaurants that have terraces that overlook the square and you can enjoy more western food whilst watching the hustle and bustle below. You won't find much alcohol in the Medina part of the town (it is mainly just served in hotels) but their fruit cocktails were delicious. Anything you want to eat is available, tajines, cous cous, pizzas, pasta, omelettes and even snails in spicy broth for the more adventurous.
Earlier in our trip we had taken the open top bus tour and it really is the best way to see such sights as Koutoubia Mosque, the City Walls and Gates and Badii Palace, Included in the bus price is another trip out to Majorelle Gardens, a peaceful, tranquil place created by frech artist Jacques Majorelle and later owned by Yves Saint-Laurent,
We also took a mini-bus trip into the Atlas Mountains. We went to the Berber village of Setti Fatma where we saw a typical Berber house, had lunch at a restaurant which could only be accessed by a rickety bridge across the river and we hiked up to the first of the seven waterfalls of the Ourikea Valley. We saw monkeys in the trees and the hiking path passes (literally) through small carpet shops and past souvenir vendors. Unlike other muslim countries, there seems to be no hard sell in Morocco, a simple "no" and the vendors leave you alone.
Marrakech also has good bus services to beach resorts like Essaouira and Agadir. We spent a full day in Essaouira exploring the souks and enjoying the beach at this beautiful little town, which, unlike the pinkish buildings of Marrakech has buildings which are nearly all blue and white.
So Marrakech is definitely worth a visit and there is enough to keep you entertained for as long as you want to stay.
Now, what was I trying to decide? Oh yes, wine or dinner? Life is so hard on holiday, isn't it?
54 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.
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