Just take it all in. ...
Just take it all in. Marrakesh will bombard your senses and that's a good thing. The huge Djemaa el Fna pulsates with life day and night. The energy even astounded two big city girls. My friend and I gave up any ideas of blending in and being low-key and just accepted the hoots and hollars all around us. It seemed all in good fun and anyway, the combo of her red hair and my Asian face seemed just too much to take...so, we called oursleves the Freak Show and enjoyed our brief celebrity status... Travel is about experiencing new things and taking it all in and that's what I got throughout my stay in Marrakesh. Sitting in a cafe on the terrace (with lots of other tourists), smelling mint tea (wasn't drinking any at the time, but the table was covered in it), watching the scene of Djemaa el Fna as the sun set, listening to the call to prayer, and asking my new Moroccan friends about the Arabic language. Now that's something I don't experience at home!
The Fez Hatb
The Fez hat or otherwise known as the Tarboosh. A cone shaped hat, usually red with a black tassel, many believe it may be originally of Greek origin. The Ottoman Turks then adopted the wearing of the Fez. You can find many of them for sale in Marrakech.
Nice restaurant overlooking Djemaa el Fna
We decided to have dinner from a terrace of one of the restaurants at the Djemna el Fna square to have a nice look at the square itself at night.
We saw a sign of the modern looking restaurant Aqua. From the terrace you have a magnificient view on the square an all the people, the foodstalls and just everything. There is a whide choice of western dishes, like toasts, pizza and pasta.
Nothing special, but everything tastes well.
They can serve; couscous and tajine, pizza, sandwich, salades, crepes, desserts and glaces.
It's a little bit overpriced, but expect to pay extra for the view.
Nice detail; while we were here in july, the terrace was equipped with small nebulisers that spreaded a real soft and refreshing mist every few minutes. How delightfull!
Ali Ben Youssef Medersa
Founded in the 14th century, the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa used to be home to a Quranic school, and was once the largest centre for Quranic learning in North Africa. The school was renovated in the 19th century and eventually closed to students in 1962.
Take a walk through the school and amaze over the intricacy of the design - the lattice screen balconies, the carved cupolas, and that stunning courtyard! The peaceful central courtyard has as a tile-lined pond in the middle, and arcaded cloisters at the sides which are covered with colourful tiles.
Upstairs you can see the dorm rooms where the students used to live. They would spend their days here studying religious and legal texts. There were approx. 130 dorm rooms, and at some stages around the 16th century they housed up to 900 students - hard to imagine when you see the size of the rooms!
It is well worth a visit - even if you only have 20 minutes to spare. The Ali Ben Youssef Medersa is located next door to the Ali Ben Youssef Mosque and right near the Musee de Marrakech, at the northern end of the souqs.
Open from 9am-6pm daily, closed on religious holidays. Entrance was 20 dirham when we visited in Jan 2007.
This 5* de luxe hotel is way out of my budget for accomodation, (and even If I won the lottery, it's a bit too grand for me!) but I treated myself to afternoon tea on my birthday at this 'legendary' establishment.
Surrounded by high walls, you enter the driveway, and walk to the entrance, passing by gardens and fountains.
The gardens were originally a present from the Sultan of Marrakesh to his son, where he held many lavish parties for his well to do friends.
The hotel opened in 1923, again catering to the rich and famous. One of the more frequent guests was Winston Churchill (the piano bar apparently has plenty of Churchillian memorabilia)
The hotel interior is opulent Art Deco / Moorish design. It was renovated in 1986, which some proclaim was to its detriment.
You're met at the entrance by uniformed doormen. I'd read that they turn unsuitably attired tourists away, but I somehow passed!
I wandered around the hotel for a while, feeling a bit overawed by my surroundings (but then again, who wasn't to know if I was 'Someone Famous' dressing down ! )
Sumptuous carpets, fountains with rose petals floating on the pools below, quiet lounges, a casino, restaurant ( yes the menu on display proved that I couldn't afford to even eat there!)
One of the shops was Dior, on display was a dress ' to die for ' !!! oh to be rich, size 8 and 6ft tall! er, perhaps not! - I had much more fun haggling for my jellabah in the souks, (and you don't have to starve yourself to fit into it!)
Please check my other pics for further views of the hotel grounds etc.
The hotels web site is worth a peep (details below)
(more Mamounia tips to follow -below, and in my Restaurants tips
** Sept 06, the hotel and grounds were closed for renovation work - maybe for 3 months**