Monday, October 04, 2010


LAST DAY - sorry to go, its a lovely small city.
We went to the gallery in the New Town, Gueliz, owned by the proprietor of Riad Kniza, Mr Mohammed.
A nice shop with excellent collection of ceramics, furniture etc. Mr Mohammed advised us to go further on, to Gallery Matisse. This gallery had very big pictures, black, white, reminiscent of Francis Bacon. Also some fine glass 'toffees' in blue, in red and with spots. The owner didn't seem to be in the gallery, it was minded by lethargic man who did not rise from his armchair.

Over the other side of the alley was another small gallery whose owner didn't speak English, there was a small collection of paintings but I have lost her card so cannot give you a link.

The Renaissance cafe, near the cinema, was excellent for lunch, and very reasonable compared to the more touristy places, it seems to cater for the local French people in Gueliz.
The usual rip-off taxi driver tried to overcharge and again, got very lost, couldn't make out where our Riad was from the card, and he did not seem to have any reading glasses.

I suppose glasses are much to expensive for a taxi driver to buy.
In the evening we had a delicious bottle of wine on the roof, kindly given by Mr Mohammed the owner and art connoisseur


I had a fascinating cookery lesson at Riad Kniza, the head chef Amina instructed me in making fish tagine, bread, harisa, cooked salads including delicious spicy zuchini (or courgette as we call them). We had the pleasure of eating the meal later on the roof, where it was at last cooler.
The next day want to meal at Chez Pascal in Gueliz, but it was difficult to find. We had been told it was near the Cinema but even then we had to go into another restaurant to ask its whereabouts. Everybody in Chez Pascal was very busy watching a re-run of the World Cup Football match - it was the day before the final on Sunday. Not too bothered to serve us, but when food finally arrived, it was delicious. But unfortunately the taxi to take us back to the Medina asked for 60 dirhams (proper rate from that part is not more than 10 dirhams). I argued, and finally we gave him 50 dirhams, under protest. Even the nice receptionist in the riah was astonished at this rogue.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


It continued to get hotter that day. Long walk up to Jemaa Fna, the famous square, where we hoped to find a taxi back to Riad, after a cold drink.

I was wearing a skirt, a big mistake because I was sweating so much and legs got v. hot and damp.
I must remember that silk trousers are much more comfortable for walking, in the heat.

We couldn't find anywhere in the square to have a cold beer. No alcohol served in any of the cafes. We ended up with coca-cola in a newish cafe opposit the mosque, which was playing irritating loud music and had no air conditioning. And I don't like coca-cola anyway!

To get to this cafe we walked past the long lines of caleches and horses, with a terrible pong from many years of horse urine soaking into the paving, made worse by the heat. So smelly it was really unbearable.

To make matters worse, we had to wait in the blazing heat for a taxi - several quoted 20 dirhams (it cost us 60 centimes to get there). The taxis are old and battered and have no air-conditioning. We finally ended up with a driver who overcharged us and couldn't find Bab Doukkala, driving up and down by the city walls, and of course not stopping at first to ask the way. In the end he had to ask, and by that time I was totally overheated and very red in the face.

Another time I think it a good idea to take photo of the landmark near your hotel, on digital camera, so as to show taxi driver who does not know his own city.


Hot again, over 45 degrees.
We managed to find a taxi driver that uses his meter, thank goodness, and he was pleasant too.

At the Palace de la Bahia it cost 20 Dirham to go in. We had a leisurely walk round, saw some little cats and kittens under the bushes, very thin. It was orginally the palace of a very rich man who apparently treated his many wives extremely badly.

Mainly tour groups there, Spanish, French etc.

The huge rooms have lovely ceilings and painted doors and shutters; large empty courtyard with no fountain and a small garden where I picked a few larkspur seeds to try in my own garden.

The toilets were a bit un-cared for, and I had a slight problems with the 'runs'.

In the overpowering heat we made the short walk to Tiskiwin up the alley. It is a little house, where the owner still lives. It has an enthralling collection from South Sahara, including Toureg artifacts. Wooden tribal carving, robes of nomads, camel sadles, tents. The building itself has a lovely courtyard. It was the nicest museum we visited in Marrakesh.


At 10 pm our guide, Ben took us to the caleche waiting by the gate, Bab Doukkala. The driver was a jolly, helpful bloke, Abdul, wearing a brown uniform and driving two small Arab stallions, one grey, one brown. The grey kept trying to bite the brown, which leant a bit of drama to the situation. I suppose he got fed up going round and round in the heat.

Abdul drove us on a long trip round the posh hotel areas and leafy posh gardens of palaces to see the famous pavillion where there is a huge tank of water. He told us about the areas as we passed, and was very helpful and friendly.

You cannot approach this pavillion in the caleche. Very very hot and you have to walk along a baking road with no shade to get there from the gate. I am sure it was over 45 degrees. Not much to see actually, maybe its better in the spring or autumn. Luckily there is a little stall selling water so we sat under some trees for a little while.

The gardens of La Marjorelle are in another leafy area with a small entrance gate. Inside are many pretty courtyards and quiet areas, a massive cactus garden, blue grottos with large shady pool, and 'Museum closed' signs, as was the shop.

The gardens were restored and enlarged by Yves Saint Laurant, and there is a quiet area where (I think) his ashes are laid and where you can sit and contemplate your own imortality - or how much more expensive the trip is working out to be than you thought!

I admired the very lovely orange, yellow, blue and red painted pots, some planted up with succulents. There is bourgainvilla, hybiscus, jasmin, bamboo, palms....

The cafe, in an attractive courtyard, serves expensive mint tea - 6 Euro for two cups, but is was very delightful sitting there, people watching.


Excellent restaurant, which is popular with tourists and local people. The doorman was in uniform. Nice interior and attentive staff, who are all women. The restaurant is run by women.

Delicious saffron rice and kebabs, and a bottle wine which was about 230 dhirams.
Taxi back was 40 dhirams. (about 10 dhirams to the euro).


We went with N to a herbalist in the medina. It had a large collection of herbs and spices outside and was a large establishment. It was expensive.
I think we were 'easy meat'!
I bought a pack of saffron, some aromatic paprika, pack of mint 'green; tea, pot of rose essence face cream and small bottle of argan oil, it came to about 40 euros!

Later we visited Marrakesh museum, very tired and hot, so reviving mint tea and some water at the museum , very welcome but again, expensive.
Museum seemed a bit grubby and poorly lit, ceramics not as good as we have seen at Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Also a collection of silver daggers, jewellery. A lovely old building with fine wood carving and coloured plaster work.

In the souk we bought some red leather slippers, which we later found were cheaper in the airport shop.

Our evening meal was in the new town, which is called Gueliz.


Breakfast is on the roof again, sweet bread like scones, and pancakes. Yorgurt, porridge, honey, coffee, organe juice, cornflakes.

We met up at 9.30 with N, our guide, University Graduate in Eng. Lit (Casablanca) who especially admires novels of Joseph Conrad. She wore an organge kaftan and scarf. She is engaged to be married (arranged marriage).

Apparently no 'madrasas' (religious schools) are allowed in Morocco because it is thought they allow extremists to establish themselves. All higher education has to be at universities, where education is free. Girls can get good jobs now.

We went to the other side of the Medina from Bab Doukkala.
We walked to see the old religious school (forget name) famous for its architecture with the influence of Al Andaluce in Spain. It is open to public but is not used for education now. It was originally used by 900 boys, 8 years and up, studying all subjects under imams, with a very wide sylabus.

Lovely style of architecture, originated in Moorish Andalucia, coloured plaster work, carved cedar ceilings, coloured ceramic tiles. A really lovely building, and so peaceful despite the large number of tourists.


On the roof of the Riad there is a dining area, which is large, over two buildings with an open hole where the atriums are open to the sky.
The sky is a magnificent blue and there are huge cactus in pots, and flowering hybiscus.
Lots of swallows in the sky and birds singing.
Its evening.
Had more pastilles then salad dishes, cooked aubergine, squash and honey, beetroot, zuchini with chili, green beans etc.
Lamb tagine with a few veg, no bread or couscous. One bottle good white wine.
Then gorgeous dish of oranges with cinnamon and a creme-custard filled tart.


Went into centre of town on Saturday on my bike to buy some fish, as you do.
The fish van is near the library and this time I was lucky as the man had a few fresh herrings from the South Coast (he said). He travels up from Hastings. Herrings used to be poor man's food, but no longer.
My mother, whose family was impoverished, said she lived on them, that and potatoes.
Now they are rich man's food - the three fish cost nearly £5 - but they were delicious.
Near the fish van there were some stalls relating to the current Book Fest - what a horrible title - whats wrong with Book Festival?
I bought a huge hard-back book on the History of the Royal Air Force, because of my interest in Bomber Command, and Wing Commander Hugh Crosby in particular.
The Right of the Line, The Royal Air Force in the European War, 1939-1945 by John Terraine. 1985
Great buy for £1.
At the vegetable stall I bought a pound of wet walnuts, bitter and delicious, especially with a smidgeon of salt, and some of those large green grapes from Italy, with pips. They are only available for a few weeks every year and I love them!
Food in autumn can sometimes make up for the dreadful grey skys.