Where We Be
|All I wanted was a simple photo of a snake -- how did I end
up here? Robin's expression in the background says it all!
|Morocco -- First Impressions
|Okay, that's an actual cobra. Hope this guy knows what he's doing.
Keep still...don't drop the first snake...Smile for the camera...
|From now on this is as close as I want to get to cobras!
|This huge square is at its most atmospheric in the evenings when it's packed with
locals eating dinner and having fun. Here kids and their parents are "fishing" for prizes.
|After exploring Jemaa el Fna, it's fun to wander at random through
the streets. Latticework lessens the heat, dappling the shops below.
|"Chock-full" is the expression that comes
to mind when describing the shops
|Vendors pop up from ingenious central hatches to sell their
fruits, nuts, and sweets, literally surrounded by their products
|You'll pay a premium for wine and beer in this Muslim country, but food is inexpensive and delicious. We particularly
recommend "tagines" like this one with chicken, red olives, and mushrooms for only $3.50 US (35 dirhams).
|Couscous dishes like this vegetable couscous are also delish,
as are kofta (meatballs) with egg and spicy merguez sausages
|We stayed four nights at L'Heure d'Ete ($60 per night), an excellent riad
located inside the medina walls and just five minutes' walk to Jemaa el Fna
|Upon arriving, we were offered mint tea and cookies on the lovely
rooftop terrace. This is also where breakfast was served each morning.
Okay, maybe it's a bit cheesy, but one of our
favorite Morocco moments was when we visited
Jemaa el Fna, the main square in Marrakech,
and paused to watch one of the ubiquitous
snake charmers there. No sooner had he seen
me than the snake charmer sat me down and
hung a (venomous?) snake around my neck. But
why stop at one snake when you can have two?
Next thing I knew he'd picked up a cobra and
draped that over my shoulders too!
Besides fun with snakes it's simply exciting to
wander around this ancient city which has stood
since 1062. The 12th century walls stretch an
amazing 12 miles around the old city. Within is
the medina with its maze of streets and alleys --
confusing enough that the owner of our riad
insisted on meeting us at the main gate, Bab
Agnaou, to lead us to our lodging. We plunged
into a place that feels palpably old, surrounded
by bustling souks and babbling crowds. Indiana
Jones has nothing on the real Morocco.
|Women sit on cushions and sell their
herbs and spices right on the main square
|For cheap eats we recommend Chez Aicha and Snack Toubkal, both on the main
square. Here at Chez Aicha they're getting ready for a busy evening ahead.
|We enjoyed visiting the terrace in the evenings
for drinks and snacks after a day of touring
|Jemaa el Fna is the main square in Marrakech and the perfect place to
get started with your visit to Morocco. It's the beating heart of the medina.
|In the souks you'll pass endless stalls filled with purses, belts,
lamps, spices, nicknacks, camel meat -- you name it, they've got it
|On quieter back streets you'll find kids playing soccer, men chatting on smartphones, and peaceful
riads (traditional Moroccan houses) catering to tourists looking for lodging inside the medina
|Cafe Zwin-Zwin is more upscale, offering great views from
its rooftop terrace along with excellent food [Not my photo]
|We loved Morocco from the first moment we set foot in it. The minaret of
Koutoubia Mosque at sunset is just one of the wonderful sights you'll see.