Chez Ali , otherwise known as The Fantasia is a much publicised evening outside of the township in the desert which comprises around 4 hours of both a 4 course dinner with drinks in large Berber tents being entertained by belly dancers and musicians, camels, horses and their riders and ending with fireworks. Some think it a too touristy, but really it is something quite unique anyway.
Having eaten Moroccan food almost exclusively for 14 days we opted for something slightly different when we got back to Marrakech from the Atlas Mountains. There was a restauant on Rue Bab Agnaou, near our hotel, called Mabrouka which served typical Moroccan food as well as some western cuisine, so we went here for lunch. We both had margarita pizzas and shared a bottle of water. The pizzas were ok, not amazing, though it was nice to get a break from the Moroccan food.
Our waiter tried to con us with the bill. He asked for 122 Dh but Ruth was pretty sure it was less. After we had paid we went to check the menu and indeed it was. He had overcharged us by 10Dh. When we pointed this out he said it was a service charge though there was nothing about this on the menu. I told him this was illegal and he reluctantly gave us the 10 Dh back.
We also told him we would have happily have left 10 Dh and probably more as tip but because he had tried to con us he wasn't getting anything. This was one of the rare times this has happened in Morocco, and I guess the big numbers of tourists in Morocco means some unscrupulous waiters will try this on. The amounts involved were clearly small (10 Dh = 1 Euro) but it was the principle that was the issue.
Soggy in December...
Excuse some of the photos, although I suppose they have a rarity value! Not often you'll see this place looking rainswept or empty!
The hub of the city and not to be missed. All kinds of vendors, snake charmers, monkey handlers, henna applicators and story tellers. Hustlers and con men too!
Don't allow a snake around your neck or a monkey on your shoulder unless you're willing to pay (and extra for a photo!)
Fun during the day, and hots up at night. It's worth having lunch/dinner/drinks/coffee in a place which has a balcony overlooking the action.
Why I hate Marrakesh
"Reason #1: Thieves, Liars and Hustlers"
If you do go to Morocco then almost everywhere you go expect dozens of men to constantly and without pause or respite bully or coerce you into parting with your hard earned money either through, pressure, deception, fraud, theats or just plain theft.
However, in Marrakesh - anything goes. Gone are the niceties. The pretence at doing something for payment. The pretence that their help was asked for, their service was hired, their product was agreed to be bought. In Marrakesh they don't even bother with this, they just demand the cash, with menaces and sometimes violence. Finishing their highway robbery with "Welcome to Maroc" or some other mocking jibe.
When the fifty-third person you took at face value and thought seemed honest ends up being just another Moroccan trying to pull a fast one your faith in humanity begins to falter. Some say it is a cultural thing and you have to learn how to understand how they operate.
Sorry, but I don't have the time or the energy for that. Life's too short.
"Reason #2: It has no architectural merit"
If being tossed into a pit of thieves was not bad enough you'd expect some other aspect of Marrakesh to make up for it. Well it doesn't. You can walk around Marrakesh for days (while being followed by three of four self-proclaimed guides each demanding cash and fighting each other over the right to mug you first) and see NOTHING of any beauty or interest.
I have been around the world and seriously appreciate architecture and culture. There are many places in Morocco where I have been that are oozing with culture, beauty and history at abundance.
But not Marrakesh.
Marrakesh is a hovel. Most of it is not very old - a maze of new brick and corrugated iron - and almost all of it has absolutely no historic interest, no charm, no allure or any aesthetically redeeming feature whatsoever.
"Reason #3: It stinks"
Even with the first two reasons you might just about be able to endure a place like Marrakesh for a day or two and pretend it's ok.
But not if you cannot breathe.
The air is thick with Sulphur Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide from the evil, dangerous, noisy motorbikes and scooters that weave and jolt at speed through dense crowds. These bikes often strike people or provide get-away vehicle for bag snatchers.
In Marrakesh you literally cannot breathe. The back of your throat becomes sore from the acid that hangs in the air and your eyes stream. You'll be pleased to know that the only thing you can smell apart from petrol fumes is ***.