Mint tea is the drink of choice in Morocco. It is made by boiling water with green tea leaves and fresh mint. Once the pot is boiled, it is poured ceremoniously from a great height into the tea glasses. You then add the appropriate number of sugar cubes.
The sugar tends to enhance and sharpen the yummy minty taste. So if you're not into sugar, just add 1/4 of a cube like me!!
Unlike Fes or Casablanca, do not waste your time trying to find a taxi that would open the meter. It does not exist. Instead, determine an amount that you are willing to pay, and bargain for that. Just like in other forms of shopping, ask them what they want and offer half.
Sophisticated cafe in Gueliz
I ate at Grand Cafe de la Poste at lunchtime on my last day in Marrakech during a visit to the city in February 2007.
This upmarket cafe is located in the modern Gueliz region of the city, just off Ave Mohamed V, opposite McDonalds and just a short walk north of Place du 16 Novembre.
Due to its prices, which are significantly higher than the typical local cafe, this place seems to attract mainly tourists and the better off locals (many of whom were in business suits). Despite its generally high brow appearance and clientele, it does not have a dress code, so the waitresses were happy to show me to a table in my shorts and t-shirt.
An online menu can be found here. Befitting of its upmarket status, dishes on the menu include:
Monkfish carpaccio: 85 Dhs
Shrimp "Provencale" tart: 90 Dhs
Salmon tartare: 115 Dhs
Oualidia oysters: 190 Dhs for 12
French croque monsieur, turkey or ham: 80 Dhs
Potato tortilla with artichokes and basil: 95 Dhs
Spinach fusili pasta: 95 Dhs
Roast red mullets, saffron rice and peppers: 115 Dhs
Wok sauteed chicken and vegetables: 120 Dhs
Skewers of beef and ratatouille: 115 Dhs
Pear Charlotte: 80 Dhs
Classic Tiramisu: 80 Dhs
Apple tart: 65 Dhs
The impressive drinks menu includes a long list of fruit juices (mango, kiwi, orange, melon, grapefruit, apple...), a large selection of local and imported red and white wines and very expensive beers. The cheapest beer was Kronenbourg at 55 Dhs a bottle, with Casablanca and Heineken at 60 Dhs a bottle and Corona and Bud at 70 Dhs a bottle. There is also a long cocktail list (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and a selection of vodkas, whiskys and other spirits.
There are a few tables out front on the pavement, shaded by umbrellas, a few dozen tables on a shaded raised terrace and more tables inside. I sat on the outdoor terrace. The staff are friendly and there are plenty of them to service your every need. I opted for:
3 fried eggs and bacon with sauteed potatoes - Cost: 65 Dhs
On a menu with lots of fancyily named dishes and expensive prices, good old bacon and eggs looked the best value option for a Sunday brunch to me! As its name suggests, the dish consisted of 3 fried eggs in a bowl, topped with 4 or 5 rashers of bacon and a bowl of about 30 small sauteed potatoes covered in herbs. Accompanied by a bowl of fresh sliced bread.
Jus D'Orange - Cost: 30 Dhs
Ice cold fresh orange juice served in a vase, enough for 3 decent sized glasses.
Comfortable surroundings, an upmarket ambience, good food and an excellent drinks menu. Very expensive by local economic standards!
The Koutoubia was made with Almohad construction style, with a slightly decoration of simple Andalucian elements. The minaret rises 77 metres above the ground.
While it has a strict appearance in red stone today, it some people say that originally was covered with plaster.
The Jewel of South Morocco
I flew from Barcelona to Casablanca. At Casa airport I was ripped off for a sandwich - I should have asked the price in advance - 5 pounds. I took the train to Oasis - circa 25 mins - and changed for Marrakesh. I shared a carriage in 1st class with 5 friendly Morrocans. The journey took 3 hours. I then picked up a petite taxi from the station to get to Djemma el Fna. The trip which was like a car chase from a film- I got off at the main square where taxi driver ripped me off 30 dm - 3 euros which should have been 7 dm , because the driver had not used his meter, but everything is relative. Not having booked a hotel in advance, I went to the south side of the square - The Minaret end - and found a hotel directly on the square and haggled for a lower price. This time it worked. As is well publicised, the square and souks are just out of the Arabian nights. The whole city is like Naples on speed with petites taxis and mopeds speeding in all directions - there is no clear delination between machine and man- so do look out. That said, the experience is magical and whilst initially intimidating, be firm and polite when badgered and you will enjoy your stay.
On the main square,Djemma el Fna I feasted on soup, dates and tea with locals for 9 dm - -50 pence uk -Tourists tend to eat from the kebab stalls which were more expensive. On advice, I stayed away from meat products and thus avoided any tummy aches. On my second and last night I joined the locals in the square for
1- spiced potato and egg bap with tea 7 dm - I was the only non local
2 - lentils and tea 7 dm
3- Ginseng tea and spicy gateau 4 dm
You should really try these before eating at the more western touristy kebab stalls.
Inevitably, you will at some stage in your sojourn find yourself lost in the Souks , so it is a good idea to explore them in early morning.Unfortunately, you will get hassled if you show any serious intent to purchase so look around first. Secondly, do venture further into the souks from Djemma el Fna where you will see everything but local craftsmen and hamans.