Places/ Buildings to avoid, Marrakesh
This was the restaurant in which I had my fall but that is not the reason I am suggesting that it is a tourist trap. Even if I had not been in pain during our meal here I would still have regarded it as a rip-off. We had booked on the recommendation of Katy, the owner of our hotel, and it’s our own fault that we didn’t ask her for more details before going along with her suggestion, but we hadn’t realised that a meal in Marrakesh could possibly cost this much. Of course you are paying also for the setting, which is admittedly wonderful – a beautiful old palace which you approach along a red carpet lined with flickering lanterns. The tables are set out in the central courtyard, and it was here that I had my fall, not spotting the sunken basin at its centre (probably because I was marvelling at the building all around me).
When we were finally settled at our table and saw the menu with its set price of 550 dirhams, we realised that we were committed to spending more than we would normally do at home on a meal, never mind abroad, but we at least expected something pretty wonderful for our money. Instead, apart from the salads that started the meal, it was very disappointing. After the salads came a rather dry pigeon pastille, and then chicken tagine with lemon, which tasted okay but had too little sauce so again was a bit dry (and served without any accompaniment, not even some boiled rice or plain couscous). Dessert was a somewhat leathery apple pancake, and finally we were given mint tea and some quite good little pastries – but by then my foot was throbbing and I wanted only to leave.
You are paying also for the entertainment, and having read about such “meal + show” venues in Marrakesh I was expecting this to be good, but again it was disappointing and not worth paying for – just two pairs of musicians who alternated every half hour or so and seemed to have very limited repertoires. One pair were colourful and strolled between the tables twirling the tassels in their hats, but their music was dull and repetitive. The others were more tuneful but simply sat and played quietly in the background – not unpleasant but not worth paying over the odds for.
Fun Alternatives: Don’t make the same mistake as we did – if anyone recommends a special local restaurant ask what it costs and what you get for your money. The hotel proprietors presumably all get commission for sending their guests along to this place, so they will continue to do unless we all vote with our feet. Get down to the Night Market instead and have a not much worse meal for a fraction of the cost and with all the entertainment you could want!
If you must go it’s at the northern tip of the Medina – but do yourself a favour and avoid it!
having read the tourist guide we were ready to go to La Palmeria for a camel ride...which was what my daughter really wanted to do as part of her holiday to Morocco. we were advised the night before by a waiter that it would be better just to go to "near the menara" if it was just a short ride we wanted. He was a good waiter with lots of good tips.
on the morning we were persuaded by a chatty, "friendly" taxi driver that the best place would be La Palmeria and we had been misinformed about Menara.........we ended up being taken to La Palmeria.........a stretch of sand planted out with palm trees . Through which our camels were walked round by a guide (seemingly reluctantly) and returned in less than 20 minutes. He did take our photo.....but we were ripped off completely. Taxi drvier obviously has a commission from them!
We were handed over to a "chief" who negotiated the price.....startign at 250dhm EACH.....we managed to get this down to 150 DHM .....he then handed the camel over to another young boy who walked the camel round and then was expecting a tip at the end of it all.
Had my daughter not been with us we would have left without hesitation, at the first mention of the price. I appreciate this is a "touristy" thing to do and we should expect to pay a bit more but this was scandalous!
Unique Suggestions: If you are going then i suggest you Do take a guide with a preagreed price if you can. if you only want a short trip then go to the corner of Menara Gardens and pay a smaller amount of money........ La Palmeria in the guide book shows 90 minute rides........i cant imagine what someone would do for 90 minutes walking in between palm trees and sand....................
Fun Alternatives: want a short trip then go to the corner of Menara Gardens and pay a smaller amount of money.....
It seems that people will do anything and everything to make a quick buck off you. This extends to riads as well. My wife broke a small soap holder at our riad (Maison Arabo-Andalouse) which could not have cost more than a couple of euro. Yet the hotel insisted that it was a hand-crafted work of art and charged us 40 euro. Highly disgraceful.
Unique Suggestions: Find an honest riad near the main Place Jemaa
sometimes in the medina you´ll see signs taking you to a palace, also people saying ¨the palace is that way ¨ there is no a palace is only a beautifull house who sells carpets, and they really nows how to sell. avoid them unlees you really whant a carpet
Unique Suggestions: if you get stock on it , only be really clear to say no. never say a price, if you say a price you are offering something and you ll be stock for hours unless you buy something
Every major tourist city has one: a 'once in a lifetime' chance to see something special that lasts only one day. In Colombo (Sri Lanka) where I live, it's an elephant parade. In Marrakech Medina you'll be overwhelmed by people offering to take you to a special auction in the tanneries - people come to buy from as far afield as Mali and Senegal and it's only today. Of course it doesn't really exist and you'll be offered exactly the same opportunity any other day.
It's just an excuse to give you a tour round the tanneries at a ridiculous price then dump you in a family shop. I had a look round the tanneries anyway, just out of interest and they are well worth a look. The guy who showed me round for about 15 minutes then asked for 300 Dirhams (about 30 dollars!!!!!). Needless to say we had a slight difference of opinion and he tried to get me lost in the medina and steal my wallet. Fortunately I was bigger than he was!
Unique Suggestions: If you think you'd be interested in a look inside the tanneries and the process involved (and it is interesting) then just be prepared for a very hard sell and to stand up for yourself.
If you walk in the Bab Debbagh district, you'll probably find someone willing to show you the tanneries. Even if, like us, you don't wish to visit them. We visited the synagogue first and didn't want to be diddled again so we told the guy first that we didn't want to go there and he wouldn't receive any money. He agreed and brought us all the same to the tanneries knowing he wouldn't be paid. There another guy explained us the work. It was already dark so we didn't see much but of course he asked for money and brought us then to a carpet shop. That's typical. When you follow someone in the street, you generally arrive in a carpet shop, they show you all their articles trying to know if you're interested or not. We weren't so he thought it was because of the price etc. and you could spend the whole night there bargaining for a carpet. But we kindly said we weren't interested, thanked them all and went out.