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Tips for getting the most from your stay in Marrakech
After darkness falls it is carnival time in Marrakech medina's huge square, the Jemma el Fna. Locals and tourists fill the square with life and activity – it is bedlam – but you will feel safe and secure, if a little hassled. Snake charmers, drummers, henna tattoists; dentists, and assorted musicians all ply their trade. Open-air cooking fills the square with smoke and wonderful smells. Buy a kebab or a bowl of snails from one of the various food vendors and dine al fresco. The Jemma el Fna at night rates as one of my Top 5 man-created sights.
When the madness of the Marrakech medina gets too much for you, The Majorelle Gardens make a super place to chill-out. Owned by Yves Saint Laurent, the gardens are an oasis filled with cacti, bamboo, bougainvillea, plus orange and palm trees. There are also ponds containing goldfish and terrapins. The cafe is pricey, 30 dhirams (£1.90) for a coffee but a cool spot (de-misters offer respite from the heat) to relax.
Wandering (more likely getting lost in) the Souks is another Marrakech must-do. The Souks arent for the claustrophobic, but are surprisingly cool on a sweltering Marrakech afternoon. Tourists mingle with locals as souvenirs, faux designer clothes, and essential everyday items are for sale. The pungent aroma of spices, frying fish and leather fills the air.
The Argana is a tourist-trap, but who cares? It's terraces offer dining al fresco and magnificent views of the Jemma el Fna, the staff are friendly, and best-of-all it serves cheap well-cooked tajines (the rabbit was especially good) and kebabs. What else do you want from a Marrakech eatery?
All the coffee I drank (and I am an addict) in Marrakech was consistently better-than-Starbucks. Marrakech's cafes provide respite from exploring the city and a place to linger for hours over a single cafe creme, reading, talking, or watching the world go by. By favourite places were:
Cafe Du Livre. In Gueliz. 44 Rue Tarik Ben Ziad. (Patio Hotel Toulousian)
Bougainvillea cafe. 33 Rue El Mouassine. In The Medina opposite Mouassine mosque.
Cafe-Restaurant Argana. In Jemma el Fna.
Cafe in the Majorelle Garden.
Elite cafe glacier. 212 Avenue Mohammed V. In Gueliz.