"Marrakech Pink" Marrakesh by Firestar24
Marrakesh Travel Guide: 2,160 reviews and 5,887 photos
After being quoted 800 dirhams for a taxi to Marrakech from Agadir, we decided to explore other possibilities. Someone suggested CTM bus as being reliable, air-conditioned and cheap so, unable to find a petit taxi to take us to the gare routiere, we began the hike toward the vague circle scrawled on our map in biro. An hours walk in the blistering sun later we found the CTM office and booked two one-way tickets to Marrakech in French for 80 dirhams a piece.
The bus left in an hour which left time for two cappuccinos each in the Pit-Stop cafe next door and time for me to fall over in the hole-in-the-floor toilets (very slippy - eeugh!!!).
On our arrival in Marrakech we jumped into an unlicensed, over-priced taxi who's driver said he knew a good hotel near Djemma El-Fna and promised he wasn't a murderer. He took us to the Tazi. After a brief panic when I discovered I'd lost my purse (left it on back seat of non-murdering taxi drivers car - who needs pickpockets!) we decided not to stay in the Tazi but to set out to find our own little gem. I know the Tazi enjoys quite a good reputation but when we were shown a room prior to checking in it reminded me of films set in The Bronx.... Besides, I had my heart set on a glamorous little Riad.
As we walked up towards the famous square, we were asked by several men if we would like some "chocolat". I'm quite fond of the odd bar of Cadburys but I've never been offered it in such quantities before. I was quite disappointed when I learnt that they were actually offering us cannabis. We politely declined. One man however asked if he could get us something "special" so I told him we were looking for a place to stay. He called over his friend who introduced himself as Ahmed.
Ahmed was very thorough in detailing exactly what we were looking for. I told him we wanted a riad to stay in - somewhere beautiful. He nodded and shot off. Guessing he wanted us to follow him we trotted behind trying desperately to keep up with him. He dodged oncoming pedestrian traffic with such ease that it made Jonathan & I feel like a pair of clumsy elephants negotiating the crowd. Ahmed ducked down a narrow, dark alley, glancing backwards to check we were still following. A look passed between Jonathan & I and we silently agreed that if anyone tried anything funny we could take 'em!!!
Hurrying through an unlit labyrinth, we passed many discreet open doorways which led to beautiful courtyards. I peered wistfully at them as Ahmed disappeared round yet another corner. Finally we arrived at Riad Hamza. After being shown a couple of rooms I fell completely in love with Chambre 9 - The Royal Suite - complete with stained-glass shutters opening onto the courtyard and four-poster bed draped in gold chiffon. I didn't care how much they told us it would cost - I was staying! I was doubly delighted when we were quoted 500 dirham a night with breakfast on the terrace - £30!!! We slipped Ahmed 100 dirham and dumped our bags.
Buoyed by his success in satisfying our housing issues, Ahmed then took it upon himself to arrange our evening meal as well. He escorted us to Riad Omar and suggested we order a set menu each. He seemed to know best so we asked him to order for us. He then left us to enjoy our meal.
I must point out that near Djemma El-Fna it's practically impossible to obtain alcohol outside the Tazi. This doesn't bother me, but by Jonathan's fourth course with more still to come, he was practically in tears! The food was beautiful and plentiful to the extreme... By the time mint tea was served I almost wept - I couldn't even look at the pastries accompanying the tea!!! Ahmed appeared sporadically throughout the evening, but we decided we'd like to spend some time getting lost alone for the rest of our trip and made the conscious decision to avoid or lose him from then on (sorry Ahmed), especially when he turned his nose up at our suggestion that we'd like to explore the souks and Djemma El-Fna, proclaiming it "touristy"!
It was a shame the meal took so long - I really had wanted to explore the square on our first night - despite the fact that it was absolutely pouring with cold, heavy rain. By the time we'd settled the bill it was so late that we were shattered. We determinedly splashed up to the square - Jonathan wearing only shorts & t-shirt and me only a little better with a cotton cardigan and jeans - scowling nastily at the umbrella sellers who had suddenly, magically invaded the streets.
The square was deserted apart from the food stalls, which of course was the last thing we wanted after our eternal banquet! Nonetheless, we headed toward the bright fluorescent lights and spicy steam. Within five seconds we were surrounded by the builders of Babel - who were all under fourteen years old - each pulling us toward a different food stall, chanting menus in six different languages! Overwhelmed and, frankly, knackered we retreated to the safety of our little riad to recharge for our first full day in The Cinnamon City.
- Pros:Wonderfully spicy and lively!!
- Cons:Can be overwhelming when very tired
I'd really hate to put anyone off going to Djemma El Fna at night because it truly is an amazing experience and, lets... more travel advice
This advice isn't unique to Morocco, but it's the first time I've been brave enough to try it and it worked a treat: I... more travel advice
- See All Something for the ladies
- See All Atmospheric Little restaurant in hotel
- See All Djemma El Fna by Night
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