On The Road To Marrakesh
The trip to Marrakesh from Agadir takes over 4 hours, and the scenes of mountains and small villages top of them are interesting. If you are driving to Marrakesh, you'd better take a 15 minute break, and you can stop at some gas station on the road where there is usualy a restaurant attached to it. The first pic is of the car we rent and road, and the second one is of the restaurant I was at around 9 a.m when stopped for a break. Looked nice to me so i took that pic.
Rude, attitude! Not such great food!
I live in Marrakesh and dine out a lot, and can say without hesitation that this is one of my two least favorite restaurants in the city. I've eaten here a number of times and am a fan of good Italian food (there are some other truly good Italian places here! Go to Catanzaro instead!), so I have no particular bone to pick -- other than that the Trattoria consistently shows a pattern of rude service coupled with a feeling that at every turn they're looking to make an extra dime.
To start, they routinely will not seat you at your table when you arrive, instead directing you to the lounge for an aperitif. It's a nice lounge, but sometimes you're hungry and just want to eat -- but you still have to wait. This had happened to me two visits ago -- a 7:45 reservation meant waiting in the lounge because "our table wasn't ready" (and then they didn't tell us that the table was ready, instead waiting on us to order drinks) -- and so during my most recent visit, we arrived a few minutes after our 7:30 reservation, figuring that'd give them enough time to prepare the table. Nope... the first waiter asked if we'd like to wait in the lounge, and I said we'd rather just be seated. Then the host came up and said that our table wasn't ready "because of short staff for Ramadan" and we'd have to wait 10 minutes or so. The Ramadan excuse sounded reasonable, so we said we'd take a seat in the lounge but could they please tell us when the table was ready. Sure enough, we sat down... and waited... and waited, as they were clearly hoping we'd finish our drinks and order more. Finally, after 20-25 minutes, I called the hostess over and asked if we could be seated. She seemed shocked and said we could -- this despite my having asked again, as we ordered drinks, that they'd let us know when the table was ready. When we walked into the dining area, there were four tables already seated and ten waiters on duty. Clearly, our table had been ready (all the tables were seat, and there were more waiters than diners and they'd already started serving the other tables!) -- they were just trying to drive the drinks business. This is twice in a row that I've been kept waiting seriously past my reservation in the lounge.
I ordered a bottle of wine, the least expensive one, only to be told it was out but that they had four other options -- no mention of the price, though! I knew from reading the menu that the other bottles were twice as expensive as what I'd ordered, but the waiter didn't mention that, clearly hoping I'd just be upsold into a more expensive bottle without thinking. When I did ask about the price, he dismissively asked if I wanted to see the menu instead. Obviously, if they're out of the less-expensive wine and don't have other options, c'est la vie... but any good restaurant should inform the client of the price differences instead of trying to slide in a more expensive bottle. I've dined at nice restaurants around the world and I've never just had a bottle that's 2x as expensive offered as a straight-up substitute. Again, it wasn't the price issue per se as the fact that it felt like another way they're trying to drive up the bill that bothered me.
We sat at our table for a good ten minutes before anyone came to take our order, and then they only did because I asked a waiter if we could please order (please note that I wasn't being rude at all during this time; we were polite to the staff despite the poor service, in hopes things would get better!).
Generally, the food has been good if not great (Catanzaro's food is better, for less), though two visits ago, three of the four of us who'd eaten there had stomach problems the following day. The most recent visit's food was decent, although my pasta al pesto was distinctly undercooked, to the point of being almost crunchy -- worse than when I make pasta myself and among the worst pasta I've had in a long time. The pasta alla norma was good, though, and the osso bucco tasty, although somewhat small.
On a smaller note, it's also one of those places that won't let you pour your own wine or water, insisting instead on having the waitstaff do it for you. That's fine, if a bit annoying, in general, but last visit, the waiter actually took the wine away from my wife as she was pouring and walked away with it for a minute before coming back! To be fair, I think he was drying off the bottle (it was a white, from an ice bucket), but to interrupt a client who wanted more wine just to give "better service" was silly and annoying.
The final straw last visit came at the end of the meal. We'd paid our bill and were lingering for a few minutes to finish our final glasses of wine. The waiter came up to the table, looked at the little plate where they'd put the credit card receipt, picked it up, looked under it, said something about "service" and walked away -- clearly, he was looking for a tip and making it clear that we should be tipping! Of course we'd tip if the service were good... but when we were still sitting there, a few minutes before leaving, his coming up to us to tell us specifically that we should tip was gauche and rude. This is a nice restaurant, where I'd just paid USD100 or so, and it'd be rude enough to tell me I'm supposed to tip _as I was getting up to leave_. I wasn't leaving, though, and was still at the table enjoying the last of my wine. For an evening that was colored by the scent of money at every turn, being specifically told I was supposed to tip (for poor service!) was the icing on the cake.
I want to like La Trattoria. It's a pretty setting and we residents need a change from Moroccan cuisine (delicious as it is!) from time to time. But it feels pretentious -- I can deal with that -- and the rudeness and attempts to disguise poor service as overly thoughtful service really bother me. There are other good Italian restaurants around that don't cop an attitude, that respect your reservation, offer equal or better food at significantly better prices and would never think of upselling you on the wine or literally looking around your table for a tip while you're still there. I'll go to those places routinely. I'll never go back to La Trattoria di Giancarlo.
Djema el-Fna Square
This is one of the most famous squares in the world, the legendary Djema el-Fna Square. This place is full of oriental charme.
You can find every imaginable kind of spices and teas. I've never seen so many different kinds of spices before. It was the first time I saw a Spanish Fly - I think you know the effects of eating Spanish Flies ;-)
Mosques doors in the Souq
Since youre not a muslim (I presume), you cant go in. but you can look from the oputside. There are a very large amount of mosques inside the Souq in the old medina. Each of the doors have different decoration and forms which are amazing and give the sense of beauty craftmen around here have.
... i didn't take too many pictures of marrakesh because i was so so sooo tired and dehydrated (you would think that a 2 liter bottle would quench your thirst). I did manage to get some rest at the Majorelle Garden, which is supposedly maintained by Yves Saint Laurent. It is a small garden, very peaceful and beautiful, but it is a bit tricky to find...