National dishes are tajine, meat and/or vegetables slowcooked
in an earthenware dish with a conical lid; and
couscous, coarse grain semolina that is served with meat,
vegetables and broth.
At some restaurants, you can land up being brought lots of
different courses, so it is quite important to decide whether
you want this or would prefer to go somewhere where you
can choose the dishes you would like to eat.
For somewhere with style, where the majority of the food
is Moroccan, with some international dishes, the Foundouk
is really special. Hidden away down a narrow alley and only
safely accessible by taxi, weather permitting, eat outside by
candlelight on their roof terrace.
Marrakech boasts three 18-hole golf courses where,
according to our guide, you can pay for nine holes and play
the full course. “If you do pay for the 18 holes”, he explained
“you are able to go around again at no extra charge.” Each
has its own characteristics, with the Royal having the most
beautiful fairways; and the Amelkis, liked by the more
experienced player as hillier.
Marrakech is on the edge of the Atlas Mountains. The
foothills is where a lot of the pottery is made, so it is worth
holding off buying anything if a visit to the mountains is part
of the itinerary. Omar, our tour operator’s representative, is a
member of the Berber race, the people indigenous to this area.
He acted as a guide on a trip to a Berber home, where we
were able to learn a little about their culture. Within the walls,
which are made from a mixture of mud, clay and straw the
family’s goats and rabbits co-habit. Unlike the way Europeans
live, the rooms in general are not just for one use, but flexible,
depending on what is needed.
Water and electricity has not, as yet, come to the whole
of the area. Omar explained that the people may be poor
in monetary terms, but their wealth is not measured in the
same way as ours, in that they are not poor in their hearts.
The coastal town of Essaouria was, in times gone by, used
as a base by pirates to explore foreign lands, and gained fame
more latterly in the 1960s as the hippy hang-out of the
famous. We had to park our car outside the walled town, and
hire a gentleman with a push cart to transport our luggage
to our accommodation.
The Riad Al Madina, hidden among the winding streets
that teem with shops, is a fairly rustic building. Many of the
bedrooms face onto a pretty, many-balconied courtyard, and
with the narrow winding staircases to access them, you need
to be fairly agile to stay there.
The restaurant, with its rich red furnishings and low tables,
is very much in keeping with what you would imagine a
Moroccan restaurant to be like. Seagulls are everywhere as the
port, just outside the city’s walls, has a market for fish which
is caught locally. Towards dusk, cafés display the latest catch
from which you can pick what you want, and have it cooked
One of the amazing sights of the area are the goats which
graze on the branches of the argan tree. The area is also well
known for its argan oil, which is produced from the fruit of
the tree. The oil, rich in vitamin E, is widely sold as a panacea
for just about anything!
A Berber village in
the Atlas mountains
Web site created by Mark Griffin