Last week Hols and I headed to Morocco. Neither of us had been before and fancied an adventure. Unfortunately, compared to my usual standards, I really let myself down on the planning front. I boarded my flight knowing VERY little about Morocco!
- I had no idea what the exchange rate was (Answer: £1 is about 14 Dirham)
- I didn’t know the time difference (Answer: absolutely zero)
- I wasn’t really clued up as to what language to expect after Arabic (Answer: they’re pretty nifty in French).
Fortunately our gamble at the airport cash machine was about right – we took an educated guess that the top right number on the screen of options would be around £80-£120. Bang on.
Then we hunted down the sign with our name on and were lead to our taxi. We were dropped off in a bustling car park, where our bags were offloaded onto a cart and we were signalled to follow the man in the hat.
He took off at quite a pace, leaving us no option but to follow him. We turned off a busy street and into some quiet alleyways where he continued to hurry off ahead of us. I had my phone at the ready, set to dial ‘Home’. Not sure why. I can’t think what help Dad would be if an unidentifiable Moroccan man had disappeared with our luggage into the night, on streets I can’t even say the name of.
The plan was to settle into our Riad*, log in to the wifi and search out the best and nearest restaurant recommendations on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately the ‘public wifi’ in the hotel was in actual fact an ancient computer in the hallway – and for the majority of our stay surrounded by a large French family who rarely moved from their poolside spot, no matter what time of day.
(*Les Jardins Mandaline Riad – let’s just say you get what you pay for. It serves as a base but not a lot more.(Unless you’re an easily-pleased French family, apparently))
The lack of wifi did impact upon our plans for the following days, as we’d hoped to book activities and research things to do from the comfort of our beds, but instead had to incorporate ‘googling time’ into our mint tea breaks.
On this occasion, we took a recommendation from the owner and off we set into the night.
It was a really cute little restaurant – Chez Mariama Berbére – I decided against Horse Meat and unfortunately they were all out of Lamp, so I went for chicken. On night one, as we sat around a table we were far too big for, we quite quickly learnt a few lessons, which I’d like to impart. Lesson 1) There’s a reason I’ve never come across an avocado milkshake before. They combined avo and cream and unfortunately cream actually has a far stronger flavour than avocado. Half a pint of cream anyone? Lesson 2) this turned out to be one of our best meals all holiday. We got in that evening and I joked that the book I was reading said, “never expect to eat well on the first night – you’re still finding your feet” and we said, “yes I hope that’s true”. This was because the tagine had no sauce to mop up at the end. Whilst the meat was tender, there wasn’t really much else with it which is apparently how the moroccan’s do tagine. Dry. Just FYI…
We ended our evening with another moroccan classic. This one went down much easier. Mint tea with a LOT of sugar. Teeea-licious.
Mint tea is poured from a height (about half a metre) to make it foam/bubble, although I think it’s more for show as the foam doesn’t add anything.
Having heard some dodgy stories about dark streets of Marrakech we hurriedly made our way back to the Riad while there was still a bit of life on the streets. We decided it’d be best to get our bearings on night 1 before going too wild!
More from Marrakech soon! x