Amazingly there are quiet corners to be found even close to the centre of Marrakech. This view of the Koutoubia Mosque was taken from the the cool and calm of the orange grove in the adjacent Jardin De La Koutoubia.
For anyone who hasn’t yet visited Marrakech, Morocco, you must. Jemaa El-Fna is the huge square in the centre. Scooters and motorbikes go in all directions as do pony and traps, there are entertainers dancing, gymnasts flick flacking and climbing on each other to make pyramids (ta da!) hawkers selling, well everything – we even found a stall selling second hand false teeth (where did he get those from I wonder?), people with performing monkeys, musicians, people telling stories, people grabbing your hands to try and paint henna on them, it’s colourful, noisy and mad, in the best possible way. In fact you can just sit in a cafe sipping your tea and watch it all for hours.
I’ve always liked a refreshing glass of mint tea, it’s good for the digestion you know, and can help if you’ve got tummy upsets or the like. However, I’d never tasted mint tea as good as the brew they deliver in Marrakech.
They pop freshly picked mint and a dollop of honey into a silver tea pot, bung in some boiling water and serve (from a height to cool it) into wee little glasses. Perfect on a scorching hot Marrakech morning (or afternoon).. (or evening)…
‘We can’t make it this good at home’ we thought ‘the little teapot must be the key’
We set off to the souk to buy one, and while we were at it, thought we’d get some for our daughters too, as a souvenir So we needed three topnotch teapots. Surely there would be a deal to be done.
The souks run off of the square and are narrow covered lanes with market stalls or tiny shops on either side. They are normally packed with people, animals pulling carts, and mad motorcyclists trying to run you down. It’s steamily hot,and there are some interesting smells. But I absolutely love them. The atmosphere is like nowhere else. Mostly jovial, but you have to beware of anyone trying to fleece you, or pick your pockets. Probably no worse than any other tourist ridden place though.
It didn’t take us long to find a small shop whose shelves were overloaded with gleaming teapots of all different designs and sizes. We pondered long and hard over which three to choose while the owner of the shop stood courteously to one side watching us diligently. As soon as we picked a couple up, he swooped and gave us an outrageously high price which he swore was a bargain for these authentic Moroccon items. Now, anyone who has ever been to Morocco must know that the rule of thumb is to seriously haggle over the price. When he found out we were buying three, he did drop it a bit, and after haggling good naturedly for a good half an hour, we got him to a more reasonable sum which was about a quarter of the original price he’d suggested.
Letting us know that he wouldn’t be able to feed his family of ten for a week because we had struck such a hard bargain (hmm….) he wrapped up our lovely bona fide Marrakechian pots and we went off to find a cool spot to have another cup of tea.
When we got back to our room in our little Riad, we were eager to inspect our purchases. Polished and shiny, prettily patterned, they would be a perfect reminder of our short holiday in Morocco.
Though we did see the funny side when we turned them over and found ‘Made In Manchester’ stamped brazenly on the bottom!!
Bahia Palace, Marrakech
A couple of years ago we spent a wonderful long weekend discovering the delights of Marrakech. Bahia Palace, with it’s exquisite architecture and decorations was an oasis of peace away from the madness of Jamaa El-Fnaa (which we loved, by the way). It is most definitely worth a visit. These are just a few examples of its gorgeousness!