Here you are already skim-reading – you may not want to travel to Marrakech – just in case I’ve written something saucy. Well, I haven’t.
So why have I written three blogs on Marrakech, without so much as a token toilet joke? Well, because my notes were originally intended for Wanderlust magazine – an On Assignment project down in Morocco with Lyn Hughes. And it seems a shame to waste this remaining material that didn’t make it into print.
If it doesn’t interest you, I totally understand. Don’t worry, for the next post we’ll return to flippant analysis of the rock and roll industry – something safe like persecuting poor old Namibian, perhaps. See you there instead.
Marrakech Photography Course
Learn how to capture photogenic Marrakech with Suzanne Porter’s Photo Experiences. As a rule, Moroccans don’t like to be photographed…so Susanne will take you on a three-hour guided walk explaining how to respect the culture whilst still taking great shots. She can offer as much or as little technical advice as you require, as well as introducing you to characters you’d never meet on your own.
Prepare to traipse through pigeon poo at the leather tanneries and duck through arched doorways to discover Tardis-like bread ovens. You’ll also be loitering on specific street corners, gradually blending into the background so that the locals become used to the camera lens. ‘Keep your eyes open,’ says Suzanne. ‘Or you’ll miss something interesting happening down an alley. And never think, I’ll come back for that photo. Take it there and then.’
Suzanne is flexible with the tour; she’ll tailor more history/ points of interests or photography tips according to group requirements. Having lived in Marrakech – and travelled extensively in North Africa – she has oodles of relevant stories. By the end of the tour you will have a more rounded knowledge of the medina, and some killer portrait shots. And Suzanne will probably have a camera bag full of fruit – she tends to trade rather than give money for photos.
Marrakech: Where Can You Drink Alcohol?
For a licensed restaurant on Djemma el Fna (the main square), the only choice is Le Marrakchi. The food is a little more expensive than its competitors, but worth it if you want a bottle of wine with dinner. Definitely reserve beforehand (pop up the stairs during the day) – Table 6 in the window is impossibly romantic. At this candlelit table for two, overlooking the nightly spectacle below, you’ll feel like film stars.
On the top floor there is live entertainment in the form of drumming/singing, and sometimes belly dancing later on. The menu is in French but outside it is also in English…so have a good look before you head up the stairs! The tables (apart from 6) don’t offer a view of the square so you’re paying the extra for the chilled ambience and alcohol.
The Marrakech Dining Experience
Very few things in life are ‘must do’, but dining al fresco at one of the nightly food stalls on the main square comes pretty close. Tourism is such a huge draw here that hygiene is paramount; you needn’t worry about unclean food. The biggest concern is which stall to eat at.
‘117 – Straight to Heaven,’ calls one canny vendor. I swivel and smile. ‘Yes sir, air conditioned. Five Star Michelin,’ beckons another. At Stall 42, the cook, wearing a sprig of parsley in his ear, gives me a killer smile whilst ladling steaming couscous. He’s got us; we can’t resist. The adolescent waiter starts laying the table and setting out flat breads before I’ve even glanced at the French menu.
Most stalls sell a similar selection of fish, meat and vegetables but there are a few surprises in the middle for those with more adventurous taste buds. And if you order too much, offer your surplus bread and uneaten sausages to one of the beggars walking past the tables, or one of the cute little children selling packets of tissues. Heady, insistent drumming accompanies the rising plumes of barbecue smoke – you’ll never forget the experience..