Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fes: first impressions

Fes (alternative spelling Fez) is by far my favourite city in Morocco. While i do love the white-washed walls of Chefchaouen or the windy waves of Essaouira, Fes has kind of a special place in my heart. Probably it’s because Fes was the first city in Morocco that i visited. Or maybe it’s because Fes has the coolest and craziest medina (old town) where it’s totally intoxicating to get lost in. Fes’s medina is the world’s biggest and best preserved medieval town in all Maghreb (Arabic world). While Marrakech’s medina is full of motorollers and bikers, the streets in Fes are so narrow that nothing wider that an occasional donkey doesn’t fit there. This medina is like a living organism, it changes every day. Some years back they were trying to map the medina, but new walls, houses, passages were being built every day while some others were torn down or shut, so by the time the mapping reached from one side to another, some of the streets weren’t no longer there and new ones were created. So as far as i know, there’s no proper map of medina, not like it’s really necessary anyway. It’s totally wicked to go walking for a half a day, starting from side, taking random turns and getting swept away to the heart of it. You pass some really local and interesting neighbourhoods which are burried so deep in the maze that even the most extensive tourist walking tour would never cover them. I’m sure there are areas where i wouldn’t want to find myself after sundown, but i’ve never felt unsafe in medina during the day, it’s just local people going about their lives. The deeper you get, the less attention, they just don’t care. There’s no tourist shops, no souks, nobody tries to sell you anything, you walk in peace.

One of the beauties of Fes is fewer tourists. Of course there are some, but nothing like Marrakech, which is downright infested. In Fes’s medina you can encounter tourists mostly on an outer rim where majority of riads locate, but it seems that they almost never go to deeper areas. A lot of foreigners i’ve talked to just don’t dare to walk too far, they’re afraid to be away from the streets with names and roads with cars. Understandably it might be scary to suddenly depend only off the help and kindness of locals, specially if there's a sizable language barrier. When you’re walking in medina and you notice less and less tourists around you, it’s time to turn back (if you’re spooked that is). You can also ask to be pointed to the „Blue Gate“, which is one the most known landmarks in the old town. For few dirhams kids will run along with you and show you out of the maze. Or you can do like i do – you walk and walk. Medina is like a bowl, the deeper part of it is lower than the outside parts. So all you have to do when you want get back out, is climb higher. You’re bound to reach some edge sooner or later. It usually takes me about 3-4 hours, but i also take it very slow – photographing, trying to talk to locals, eating in some local joint etc. When you re-surface and you don’t recognize the place, just grab a random taxi and tell him to take you to some landmark or establishment you do recognize or orient by. It shouldn’t cost you more than 10-20 DH. The only catch is to figure out on which side of the road you should stand before flagging one down. I’ve had few times a situation that i’m hailing a taxi, a car stops, i ask the driver to take me to the Blue Gate, they say i’m standing on the wrong side of the road and before i can say anything else, they drive away. Nobody hasn’t so far thought about turning the car around and picking me up anyway :).

Fes is much more conservative city than Marrakech or Essaouira. More tourists means more freedoms. Fes isn't as fun, dazzling or exciting as Marrakech. It's a historical city of education and old culture. Fes still has it’s imperial aura accompanied by stiffer lifestyle. Being respectful towards local people and their customs will get you further than flaunting a new miny skirt or a tank top, specially if you want to avoid the excessive attention from local men. You don’t have to wear a jellaba, rules for tourists are of course more liberal, but respect for local culture is still the basis of everything. In the old town - you won’t easily find a local woman  wearing something that leaves her knees or elbows bare. Cafeterias are for men, women and children gather in the park. Taxi drivers are about 70% more honest. If you are a (young) woman, you’re bound to get few passing marriage proposals from guys trying out their luck and so on. Fes just IS different. 
I remember me and Ylle's first visit to Fes. We were sitting on a park bench with the rest of the locals. Suddenly an old hooded man comes and stands in front of us. And though we were decently dressed and behaving extremely low-key, you just cannot imagine the look on that guy’s face – it was the mixture of utter disapproval and condemnation. He just stood there, silently staring down at us for a good 20 seconds or so. And all this time he was annoyingly tapping the ground with his cane. Everything would’ve been quite unmemorable, except the tip of the cane was needle sharp and it really felt that he is pondering if to strike us and banish us for good. And then just like that he turned away and left. We saw him later once more on some street, this time we knowingly kept out of his cane reach.

I've heard a lot of warnings about touts and hustlers in Fes. Before my first visit i read that around the Blue Gate you will be bombarded with agression and sales-pitch. Walking in medina will be torture because of all the people pressing themselves to be your guides, offering to tale you to a "very good carpet shop" or to an excursion to the tanneries. It leads me to think that some people are very easily persuaded and even more easily scammed. Because i think that Fes is musch calmer and mellower than Marrakech. Fes is like a comatosed brother of an ADD symptomatic Marrakech on sugar rush.

Funnily, the very first lesson in "being blond is bad for budget" i got exactly in Fes. Me and Ylle took a taxi from the airport, agreed upon a price and drove to the city. When we arrived, we didn’t have the exact money, so we paid with bigger bills. The driver could of course smell the rosy scent of European innocence on us, eager and wide-eyed as we were, so he decided not to give us the change back and told us some BS about “entering the medina” tax. It reminded us both India right away – you always had to give the shop guys, waiters, taxi drivers etc the very exact money, otherwise you would spend the next 10 minutes trying to get your change back. It became very annoying and unpleasant after about 5th time. So we were both like: “Great, India all over again”, but at least for me, this was the only occasion when somebody muscled me into paying more. Or maybe I just grew a pair after that lesson and it showed.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Fes at my fingertips

Ok, it's time to move on. Next stop - my favourite city Fes.

I’ve taken the Marrakech-Fes train 4 times already, it’s always been consistantly late. The official travel time is 7 hours, but in reality it’s more like 8-9, depending on your luck. I usually buy the ticket to the 1st class compartment, with 7-9 hour train ride you learn to appreciate the lack of excessive foot traffic. 1st class compartments are for 6 people, the ticket is around 270DH, if i’m not mistaken. If you want to sit next to the window, specify when buying a ticket, seats are numbered. There are trains to Fes in every few hours. Most comfortable is to choose of course an evening train, you can sleep the bigger part of the trip. On the other hand, a day train allows you to enjoy the sometimes-boring-sometimes-interesting views of passing landscape:

This time i shared a compartment with a French family. They were lugging around some serious gear. By the time i got to the compartment, they had hawked all the overhead luggage compartments with their bulky 8 suitcases, leaving me no choice but to put my backpack on the floor by my feet. They then spent the majority of the trip whining to each other how my bag doesn’t let them stretch their legs. Luckily they got off in Rabat.

The 1st class compartment has 6 seats, 3 on each side. So when you’re alone in the compartment, you can easily sleep almost at full length. The trouble is, that when a blonde girl is alone in the compartment, it attracts all kinds of unwanted helpers and companions. Every once in a while a guy would come in and sit, usually trying to make casual chit-chat. Sometimes there was a real language barrier but usually a pretend one - me talking back in Estonian: „Vabandage, aga ma ei oska inglise, prantsuse ega ka araabia keelt“. If there’s a choice between talking to the 40+ men or trying to catch some sleep, the decision isn’t hard. In any case, all those sudden visits always end the same way – the conductor comes in, checks the guy’s ticket, tells him that this is not his compartment and kicks him out. Muahaha!

In 2008 when Ylle and me made this trip, we took an evening train. And since the compartment was empty, we went to sleep, each on either side. At some point enters a guy. We don’t know if he has a ticket or not, so Ylle zips up her legs so he could sit. The gentleman kindly offers Ylle that he can hold Ylle’s legs on his lap :). Right, of course. Soon enough, the conductor made his rounds again and threw him out of the compartment, but the similar scheme repeated few times more later. The compartments don’t have curtains, that would take care of the unwanted attention problem.

A fair warning about AC: train compartments are also heavily air conditioned. Sometimes you can choose the AC speed yourself, older trains don’t have that option. All in all, it can be very cold in the compartment and i remember very well when me and Ylle were huddling under our towels, because we didn’t have anything substantially warmer with us. 8 hours of huddling can get you pretty sick by the end of your trip, so be prepared.

Train station in Fes is a shed, the new one is being built. It’s going to be one unearthly beautiful building once it’s completed, i’ll tell you that. When you arrive in the train station, taking a taxi is pretty much your only option. Fes has metered taxis and they are cheap, so go forth and have no fear, my fellow travelers.


Elderly local couple from one of my eralier train ride
He liked very much Karl Fazer's chocolate that we were passing around in the compartment. He also got rather excited about one of Estonian's little delicacy's we had with us: cranberries in powdered sugar. He couldn't figure out what was the berry inside.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Monsieur Sofi, part 3

As a sidenote:

Found out an interesting thing today. Turns out that Gmail has a bit of a bug, when it comes to displaying my blog posts. All of you Gmail users, who have subscribed to get updates of my blog on your e-mail, you seem to be getting a very butchered version. For some reason or other, Gmail displays only the beginning part of the post and omits the rest. And since i tend to have long long posts with lot’s of photos, you miss out quite a lot. In the last post for example Gmail left out about 2/3 of it. Anyway, so far i’ve noticed this anomaly only in Gmail, it might be temporary or then again maybe some other mail clients have the same issues, in any case – be warned! And be advised to click on the blog link in the future.

Riad Douzi in Marrakech medina

After being few days in Essaouira we returned to Marrakech for one last day together in our beautiful riad in the medina. We seemed to be the only people in the riad, so it was very quiet and relaxing. We chatted a bit with the riad’s manager Zaza, had some tea, caught some sun on the rooftop terrace and generally enjoyed our time. Afterwards Jevgeni stayed in to spend some quality moments with his iPhone and i went for a shopping tour. So far on my trip i hadn’t been able to buy any souvenirs or other unnecessary yet desired items, unless i wanted to also buy a cart to drag my bursting bag around. But since Jevgeni was about to return to Estonia with pretty much an empty suitcase, i took advantage of the situation and went out for shopping. I bought a berber tajine, spices, some dishes and lot’s of slippers. All those friends and relatives who’ve been forced to listen to my rantings about what a wonderful place Morocco is will now get a chance to prance around in soft Moroccan leather slippers (babouches). I actually found a very nice shop with huge choice and very reasonable prices due to my arrival just in the nick of time before closing and big quantity of slippers i wanted to buy. Never before or after have i been able to haggle good quality leather slippers down to ~ 50-60 DH a pair. Slippers are definately „the thing“ to bring from Morocco. They are small and lightweight, good for maintaining reasonable luggage size. They're also soft and comfortable, often with hand stitched patterns or symbolic shapes pressed into the leather. In any case, wonderful to wear and speaking from experience – very appreciated Moroccan souvenirs.

The next morning very early i sent Jevgeni to the airport and watched sadly how he dissapeared through the security gates. I do love traveling alone, but it probably would be emotionally easier to do if i didn’t see friends or family meanwhile. After i returned to the riad i had to start packing up my stuff again, because i was relocating back to my cupboard-hotel by Djemaa el-Fna. I had about 4 hours before 12am check-out, so i took it slow. At some point i went to the rooftop terrace to spend some quality time with myself and a nail-polish. While i was painting my nails, the manager Zaza came by and we chatted for a while. When he heard that my husband had just left, his whole approach kind of changed. He suddenly became very interested in helping me paint my nails and offered to at least hold my hand while i’m painting them. /???/ What do you answer to that? I had a strong wish to be a bit nasty and ask if he’d like to jump right to helping me shave? But then i thought he probably wouldn’t spot the irony in my voice, better safe than sorry. Then he mentioned casually that there is at least one free room in the house and he could let me stay there few nights for free, if i wanted to. I thought about it for a moment and decided i’d rather sleep on an empty Djemaa el-Fna square than in this beautiful riad under his watchful eye. He was really pushy with his offers to accompany me back to my hotel and help me with my backpack. I finally got him off my back when i promised that i might come back in the evening for a cup of tea. Never was going to happen of course. As soon as my nails dried, i grabbed my stuff, went downstairs and immediately had a hard scrubbing shower. Are there really women who find guys like him charming? Maybe it’s me, but words like „sleazy“ and „yuck“ came to mind.

Meanwhile there was a bit of a drama unwrapping itself in the house. The cleaning lady was annoyed that i took so long time checking out and threw a fit to Zaza. I could hear some rather emotional arguing from my quarters and when i looked out of the window, she was gesturing towards me pretty violently with a brush in one and a bottle of Mr. Proper in the other hand. OK, she’s probably busy getting back to her 8 kids and is now forced to wait after me, but my stuff was still laying all around the room and it was going to take me at least an hour to pack everything up. When i finally finished, it was around 11 am and the house was already quiet. I slipped out quickly before Zaza would show up again.

Apart from the over-enthusiastic manager and emotional cleaning lady, i would still recommend the place. The rooms were beautiful and clean, house cozy and breakfast very delicious. We also saw some other rooms in the house, they were differently decorated, but also very comfortable and lovely. The location is a bit tricky and i’m not going to even attempt to try and give directions. What i can say is that it was right next to the medina’s Spice market (browse your Marrakech guidebooks, i’m sure Spice market is mentioned). And i think you could also pre-arrange a guide from the riad or something like that.

123 derb Aarjan, Rahba Lakdima, Marrakech

I booked it through the and in April the room fee was about 60 dollars/night (with breakfast).

Riad Douzi locates on a small side street, pretty hard to find. Also not much to look at from outside. But as the old saying goes - never judge a book by it's covers

Corridor at the entrance

A view to the inner courtyard from the second floor

Door to one of the bedrooms/apartments

Our apartments's living room area


Rooftop terrace


Hotel De La Paix in Marrakech

When i arrived back to my old hotel again, i was informed that my room was occupied and i have to sleep the first night in an other room. I actually felt slightly annoyed :). My new room didn’t have nearly as good of a view than the old one had and the mirror was crooked!

As mentioned in earlier posts, the hotel locates just few minutes off the Djemaa el-Fna. And since i have only good things to say about this modest but solid establishment, i will try to give some directions how to find it in the crazy roller-coaster of Moroccan central city:

Starting point: Koutubia Minaret. When you stand next to Koutubia Minaret, turn your back to it facing Djemaa el-Fna square. If you start walking towards the center of the square on your right are the the super smelly donkey/horse carriages, parked at the side of the entrance road. When you walk further, you will pass a Post Maroc building on your right. Immediately after that comes another big building with faded sign of Bank al-Maghreb on it. Turn right after the bank building and you will find yourself on a lively shopping street. Take the very first turn to the left and you will be on a small shaded side street. Walk down the street and about 20 m ahead, right in front of you is the Hotel De La Paix. Google gives the address as 46, Quartier Sidi Bouloukat, Marrakech; can’t vouch for it, but i guess it must be true.

If i'm not mistaken the hotel has 3 floors + the roof terrace. The first and second floors are pretty dark and gloomy, but the 3rd floor is bright and lit, just like you can see on the photos. I think my room number was 16, ask for it - it was a pretty decent room!

I recommend Hotel De La Paix mostly because it’s clean and reasonably quiet, laundry service is a good addition. In the April, when i was there, it was almost empty and those few people that were there, were all Arabic. If you want to meet partying teens from Australia, that’s not the place, but if you’re like me – prefer peace and quiet when it comes to sleeping in the night, then you should like it enough. Though, i must admit – i do sleep with ear-plugs, so i can’t really vouch for the silence at night.

I wrote more about picking a budget hotel in Marrakech and describing my first emotions about Hotel De La Paix in some of the earlier posts already - so if anybody wants more details, i will refer you to Home sweet home and Relax, (wo)man blog entires.

I specially like the doormen system the hotel has. Somebody is always at the „front desk“, seems 24/7. During my stay there were two guys in rotating shifts. That means nobody could just „get in“ and as a single girl i definitely didn’t have to worry about unwanted visitors from the street. Being the only white female tourist in the building, i kind of stood out, so me and doormen we quickly became on the first name basis. You have to leave your key to the front desk when you go out, that was a bit uncomfortable for me in the beginning.

Hotel De La Paix had two doormen, Abdul and Sayid. Sayid was kind of a „typical-Moroccan“ - slightly sleazy and prone to casual touches, but Abdul (on the picture ->) was different. When i first came to stay in the hotel, he was polite and friendly, but kept his distance. He spoke a bit of English, but we actually discovered that we could cover more ground in Spanish. Before Jevgeni came to visit, we'd had few random conversations and i think a lunch together once. After Jevgeni had come and gone, Abdul’s attitude towards me changed completely – he became very protective and brotherly, always asking if i’m doing ok and do i need something. Like he was watching after me - a poor little girl who’s husband left her in the big bad Morocco :). He was actually the one who helped me buy myself a new mobile phone when my old one got stolen. And i brought him those delicious coconut cookies in return. By the end we had already developed our own lingo - he would shout over the street „Rosalinda!“ and i would answer „Pedro!“ or something like that; and Sayid, the other doorman, would look puzzled and ask: „She is Sofi .. , no?“

Inner courtyard of the hotel

My humble room

My very own sink. You can't actually imagine how comfortable it is to have a personal sink in the room instead of one only in the public wc/bathroom

The cleaning ladies changed bedsheets and cleaned the floor in every few days

View from the rooftop of my hotel. The bright lights at the background are from the Djemaa el-Fna nightly food market

The other turned-out-to-be-quite-a-charming-guy was Ahmed (on the picture ->) from my favourite foodstall number 4 on Djemaa el-Fna nightly market. While other vendors were very eager to shake hands with me or pat me on the shoulder when i came to eat in the evenings, then all i got from Ahmed was a foggy smirk, on the best days. But by the end of 2nd week the situation had already developed into a full blown smile, so you could count all the missing teeth and stuff. Now he always gives me the best french fries, as opposed to the old and stale ones sitting on the display bowl. Those he seems to reserve specially for French tourists.

When Jevgeni left Morocco and i went back to my eating habits at the foodstall number 4, Ahmed looked at me with puzzled face and asked one evening: "Monsieur Sofi .. ?"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Monsieur Sofi, part 2


Essaouira is a small city by the Atlantic Ocean. It’s called the Windy City, mostly due to the .. you guessed it .. wind :). It really is pretty breezy there but it’s also quite lovely. It’s supposed to be a heaven of reggae and gnawa musicians, hash smokers, capoeira practitioners, freeloaders, surfers and anybody else who appreciates the laid-back atmosphere of that little coastal paradise. Every year in June there's a world famous Gnawa music festival in Essaouira, it draws a huge audience from all over the world.

Near Essaouira is a Sidi Kaouki beach - wide open sandy space and Atlantic Ocean as far as the eye can see. Very relaxing place to be. Me and Kaidi visited Sidi Kaouki in October 2008, it was our first time to dabble our feet in Atlantic Ocean. We actually planned to take a quick dip in the ocean - we walked very far from the houses and camel riders in hopes of becoming very tiny dots on the horizon, so we could strip and go swimming. We almost succeeded until some random guys noticed us and came happily over to chat with us. Talk about dissapointment, though i guess we should be thankful – the water was very cold in October, our little stunt probably would’ve gotten us sick afterwards.

Me and Kaidi on Sidi Kaouki beach in October 2008

Essaouira is about 2,5 hour bus-ride from Marrakech. So far on all my trips to Essaouira i’ve used Supratours buses, their terminal is right next to the Marrakech train station. I don’t remember the exact ticket price, but i think it was somewhere around 60-70 DH/one way. If i’m not mistaken, they didn’t sell return tickets up front, you could only buy one way ticket. If you arrive to Essaouira, take few minutes and buy your return ticket right away, their buses are somehow always specially sold out for the route back. Anyway, as mentioned, it’s a few hour bus-ride to Essaouira, officially. In reality it depends on how are the roads, the traffic etc. They also make one pit stop along the way. You can use the toilet, buy snacks, even have a meal, the stop is about 20 minutes. I usually don’t get worked up about unhygienic food in Morocco, it kind of comes with the territory, but i must admit that the most disgusting experience i’ve ever had in Morocco was exactly in the pit stop cafeteria on our way to Essaouira with Jevgeni. We ordered two teas and were about half way through sipping them, when Jevgeni noticed that there is something funny floating in his tea. It turned out that the peppermint leaves used for the teas had small maggots on them, which were kind of boiled alive with the hot water added and were now floating about in the glass, juicy and cooked. So, if you MUST eat in that cafeteria, buy Coca-Cola :).

Essaouira’s medina is small and surrounded by big city walls, not too many chances to get seriously lost. There are lot’s of tourists and haggling is very important. At the same time, vendors are not really as cut-throat as for example in Marrakech. Most of them seem to be willing to lower their prices only up to some point and that’s it, as far as they’re concerned, you can walk out of the shop and they’re not going to run after you. When you go shopping, step into secluded courtyards and streets off the main shopping road – there are small handicraft or design shops which even if they’re not cheap, sell more interesting stuff than the vendors on the main road. Essaouira is generally cheaper place to shop than Marrakech. Take for example ceramics - most of the ceramics sold in Essaouira is from a small nearby city called Safi (when you turn the ceramic piece over, you can see "Safi" inscription at the bottom). In Marrakech the prices tend to be higher. Essaouira is also a good place to buy Argan oil products - indigenous to that part of Morocco only. Argan oil is used in cosmetics, food, medicine etc. I have no idea how does the Argan cooking oil tastes, but there is a small little shop in Essaouira medina that sells special kind of lemon fragrant Argan oil soaps. I couldn't give you directions even if my life depended on it. I found it once very accidentally and i know the rough area where it locates, but each time i go looking for it, i usually end up making random circles in the neighbourhood until i stumble on that shop. Another widely available consumer group is Thuya wood products. You see them sold on every street - brown polished looking boxes, bowls, pins, gameboards and so on. The prices vary from very cheap to not so cheap. If you want to support the local artisanal groups, buy your stuff from designated shops - then your money goes straight to the artist/craftsman not to the middle man. At the same time, the prices on those shops are a bit higher. Also, if you want to invest into let's say a beautiful thya wood jewellery box or some precision work like that, don't buy the cheapest stuff you can find. It's a given that quality will be noticeably worse, but the thuya wood is also a live material, it expands or dries a little depending on the climate and cheaper products tend to break or bend more.

Colorful Safi ceramics

If in India shop-guys offer you masala chai, then in Morocco it's peppermint tea (Ibrahim)

Shop guy showing us a leather puff. We couldn't agree on the price, so we smiled and walked out of the shop. He came out after us and said that he really would want to sell us the puff, but the price is just too low - his family would die of hunger! He waited until we walked to the end of the street and then screamed: "ok ok!". It really pays off not to be that interested in the product in the first place, so that you are willing to just walk away without any regret.

Me and Jevgeni stayed in Essaouira for two nights. We walked around, ate good food, enjoyed nice weather and celebrated Jevgeni’s birthday in our riad. I even ordered a surprise birthday cake, which was very huge and tasted like a transfat sugar bomb. The riad we were staying in is a small family operated place called Dar Afram. I’ve stayed there every time i’ve visited Essaouira and i quite enjoy it. The atmosphere is very relaxed, probably because it’s run by Australian guy Tarik and we all know that Australians are one relaxed and chilled-out bunch. Tarik’s father Abdul is Moroccan, mother Australian, so the guy looks 100% local without the pesky language barrier :). Since Abdul is a musician and Tarik is also handy with a guitar, there’s often jammin’ going on in the riad. The place also seems to attract musically talented guests which is very good for having live music every evening.

Celebrating Jevgeni's birthday


Thijs from Netherlands, October 2008. He was one of those musically talented guests

Dar Afram has about 6 rooms, all with shared bathrooms. Also a roof terrace on two different levels. On the ground floor is a lounge and kitchen area. It's reasonably quiet place, they seem to tone down music after midnight. The riad locates in the historical medina, only a few minute walk to the city walls and main shopping streets, about 10 minute walk to the Supratours bus station (that's an important detail, because you're going to have to carry your luggage yourself since the medina is car free).

One of the double rooms

For booking write Tarik directly:

The room fee includes a complimentary Moroccan breakfast (orange juice, tea, coffe, bread, jam, olive oil etc), dinner costs extra (i think it was around 100DH). As much as i like the riad and Tarik, can’t say i recommend the cooking. I’ve tried it on 3-4 different occasions, it’s good enough, but nothing special.

Tarik and riad's dinner - fish tajine

If you’re in Essaouira, it’s almost a compulsary to try the fresh seafood down at the harbour. There are various seafood vendors, you just point at what you’d like to try and they’ll cook it for you. Do be careful about the price though, it’s pretty steep. Those few times i’ve eaten there it’s been about 150-200DH, so negotiate beforehand.

Fresh seafood vendors at the harbour

Essaouira harbour with it's blue fishing boats and gridlock traffic

One day we were walking around in medina, trying to find a non-tourist eating place. We ended up finding an absolutely superb local place which offered excellent fish and tajines. On the first day we just got some freshly grilled fish and shrimps, because tajines had ended already. But we made a deal to come back the next day and pre-ordered our tajines. So, the day later we get there and the owner informes us that sorry, he has already sold our food to somebody else. We were like „ee .. wtf?“. It was a slice of his Moroccan humor of course, our tajines were happily steaming on the stove. The day before when i said i would like a beef tajine and Jevgeni wanted chicken, we imagined they’re going to be standard little portions. What we got was loads and loads of peppermint tea, olives, fresh salad, bread and two biggest tajines you’ll ever see served for one person in a restaurant. Trust me, the photos don’t do them any justice. And boy, were they tasty. I couldn’t even finish mine, it was just so huge. We made a small mistake of not fixing the price beforehand, so the final bill came to 120DH for two (with a bit of haggling). Since it was an eating place meant for locals, the price was definitely not something that the locals would be charged, but considering the quality/quantity of the food, it was actually pretty cheap. I whole heartedly recommend the place.

Owner of the place drinking tea with us

It's hard to describe where it locates. Let's say you're standing in the harbour, by the fresh seafood vendors and you turn your back to them. In front of you is a big empty square and then the buildings start. A bit ahead on your right are the city walls and somewhere there is a door or gate you can go through. Once you pass that door, you will find yourself on a pretty wide street that turns into a shopping street as you walk further. In the beginning of the street they sell clothes, household stuff etc, but once you walk down on it, it slowly converges into food market. While you are walking on the street, you will go through many gates along the way. If you pass the 4th gate since you started walking from the harbour, then about 70 metres in on the right side between different vendors is an entrance to this eating place. It had a hand-painted sign by the door - tajine, kettle and logo of Coca-Cola. That's the best i can do when it comes to directions.

Coast of Atlantic Ocean at sundown

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