Where to go? Castleblanca, Rabat, Fez, Essaouira, Tangiers…The latter though charming is still pretty nippy at this time of the year, so how about Marrakech with its date palms and cactus, souks and bazaars and the incomparable Jemaa el-Fnaa square in the heart of the medina, a magnet for both Moroccans and visitors flocking to be fed, watered and entertained. Drink freshly squeezed juices (no alcohol) and watch hypnotic musicians like swirling dervishes, swirling jugglers, snake charmers… Have a pic taken with a monkey on your shoulder or with colourful tea sellers who make more money from having photos taken than by selling tea. Donkeys weave in and out through the narrow lanes of the medina with carts full of oranges.
The medieval city of Marrakech with its ten kilometres of ochre coloured adobe, ramparts and seven awe-inspiring ornamental gates has many landmarks. The minarat of the Koutoubia Mosque dominates the city. Like most mosques in Morocco, it’s closed to non-muslims but is still a mightily impressive building.
Marrakech was the destination for merchants, camel traders and caravans who had crossed the desert and the snow-capped Atlas mountains with their wares. It’s steeped in history…and if you only eat in one restaurant, it has to be Al Fassia, the women’s restaurant in Gueliz and how about Al Baraka, a petrol station on Rue de Fez, about 15 minutes outside Marrakech – inexpensive but delicious food.
In the Jewish quarter, we sat at a little tin table to have another traditional Moroccan breakfast - Bissara, a thick bean soup sprinkled with cumin and chilli pepper, drizzled with olive oil. It comes with a basket of bread for dipping.
I could write several blogposts on the bread alone.
On past the once famous Sugar Market to watch the warka makers working at the speed of knots, dabbing the dough onto hot saucepan lids over boiling water to make the paper-thin sheets of warka used for chicken and pigeon pastilla and a myriad of other pastries.
Next stop, Belkabir, the most famous pastry shop in the medina with 40 or more sticky sugar laden pastries from horns de gazelle to briwat (triangle shaped pastries filled with marzipan, deep-fried and dipped in honey).
We continued to walk through the souk – then back to the beautiful Tarabel Riad where Kahil picked oranges from the trees in the inner courtyard to make some freshly squeezed orange juice to quench my thirst…Sure where would you get it but in lovely Morocco.