Everywhere you go in Marrakesh and throughout the country you will find mint tea on the menu. Sometimes referred to as "Moroccan whiskey", it is part of the life-blood of the country – the essential fuel that oils the path of difficult transactions, cements friendships, marks life’s big events and celebrations. I didn’t expect to like it as I’d heard it can be served very sweet but I found it very refreshing and I loved the traditions that surround it too: the ornate silver teapot and dainty glasses in which it is served, and the custom of pouring it from a great height (an acquired skill!) to allow cooling. By tradition the first pouring is returned to the pot, as is the second, and only on the third pouring is the tea ready to be drunk. A traditional rhyme goes:
The first glass is as bitter as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as gentle as death.
In some cafés we found that the tea wasn’t served in a pot but just in a glass, and sometimes was simply sprigs of mint with boiling water poured over them. While just as refreshing these lack the sense of ritual that the pots provide, and on a practical note, you get less tea!
Journey to Essaouira
Always travel on the local buses with the local people.Great fun!The journey to Essaouira took about 3hrs but was really interesting stopping in all the small villages.I was also able to get off and have a short look around if we stopped for a little while.I had had my hands and feet hennaed in Essaouira and there were 3-4 older ladies(I'm 53!!)on the bus who couldn't speak a word of English but were showing me their hands and feet done in traditional designs and colours.
I had shared a big taxi to get there-me and 6 moroccans stuffed into an old merc!!Very hot and friendly.
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
A great way to get your vitamin C ! These orange juice stalls line the edge of Djemma el Fnaa.
The oranges, or a mix of orange and lemon or grapefruit are served neat, or mixed with water, with or without added sugar.
I'm afraid I didn't get to try an orange juice from these stalls, although I enjoyed a few glasses in cafes and at my hotel for breakfast.
The stalls were quite eye-catching though!
I kept meaning to buy from one of these carts, but at night it was too cold for me, and I was usually full of mint tea and spicy hunja!
beautiful palace of the Museum of Marrakech
what a beautiful building to visit! what ive been missing all this time, all these visits to Marrakech and only just got here now!
This beautiful building was a palace built at the end of the 19th century by the grand vizier of the Sultan Moulay Mehdi Hassan and built in the style of a traditional moorish riad.
This house is beautiful! Beautiful examples of zellij (ceramic tile )work - and painted wooden ceilings and stucco - and a most beautiful central courtyard with fountains and very impressive central lantern.
The lonely planet guidebook suggests that a visit to this house gives the visitor an insight into household features such as the original hammam/bathhouse - i have visited and stayed in several myself - but i found that with a lack of information available or provided for the visitor, such as a guidebook to selfguide when touring around the house, the beginner is reliant on his or her own seeking and perusing - but the place is so beautiful its incredibly motivating to go through the maze of rooms and check out everything that can be encountered.
And its also a museum so along the way see some lovely examples of carpets, art and paintings and costumes and items of jewellery.
Open 9-6pm, good to know it doesnt shut for a lunchbreak!and you have the budget option of a combo ticket for 60 dirham to visit the musuem, the also very beautiful Ben Yousseff Medresa and the nearby Qoubba. or just a solo ticket for 40 dirham.
For what i found rather difficult to understand the reasoning you must finish up at the Qoubba and therefore cannot go just across the way to the Qoubba and then finish at the medresa but go down to it and then back up to the Qoubba!! but the deal is still worth it! and the whole 3 are recmmended visits.
MARRAKECH is not the place to go to enjoy the cuisine, the booze (what those boys on the stag weekend did to celebrate I would love to know), alcohol is expensive and drunk only really by the tourists and not even the 'friendly' people are a draw. I, in fact feel that we were more tolerated for the the good, we as tourists, do for the economy than for any other reason. I am sure that, had we been fluent in French, perhaps, just maybe, our presence may have been accepted with a little more honest delight.
There is little to do in Marrakech in fact, apart from gaze in awe at the union of old and new which slips together to make this place both a step back in time and a bounce into the future. Souks that appear to have been life for many decades, donkeys used traditionally as beasts of burden run parrallel with top of the range Mercedes and an expanse of hotels growing at high speed. Oddly it works, the modern world is rapidly becoming a way of life, strangely this society appears to have missed out the middle pieces of transformation and skipped right to western 2007, without much of a hicough.
Colours, spices, smells (not all good), street activities, also not all good; I felt distressed to see monkeys being used as photo opportunities and although snake charming has been around for years, it is the knowledge their fangs have been removed that makes one feel troubled by this act...and isn't it so that snakes are deaf, they have no ears thus cannot hear the music being played to them, in reality they respond more to vibration.. but for now I guess we have to accept some things as a way to charm society and earn money, this fascinating scarey thrill is one of those things, albeit cruel.
However, from a magical old town, where at times one could feel a little nervous of pickpockets (I also would not choose to be a woman travelling without a man personally), yet also feel seduced by it's unique atmosphere, to the the astonishingly spectacular scenery of the Atlas mountains, this is still a place to visit at least once in a life time.
Our verdict, we loved it.