If you want the real authentic Marrakech experience, the accommodation of your choice should be a riad in the historic medina. There are by now more than 1200 guest houses, one more beautiful than the other. In this article, the most highly rated riads are presented.
Riads are generously-sized town houses, whose plain ochre outside walls hide a tastefully decorated interior. The heart of these often sumptuously renovated town houses is a splendid patio, which is usually decorated with complex ornamentation, water basins and a lot of plants. Around this roofless courtyard the guest rooms are arranged. On the roofs of most riads, you will also find a terrace with sitting areas. Some riads not only offer to cook for their guests, but have their own cooking courses on offer. Others even have their own on-site hammams.
The Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts announces a new exhibition. From January 30th you can see works of Mourir Fatmi at Badi Palace.
Darkening Process, by contemporary artist Mounir Fatmi is based upon the idea of the Other; towards literature, Art History, figures and scientific experiments. The first project The Journey into Shame includes the bodies of work The Darkening Process and As a Black Man honoring John Howard Griffin, the white American writer and journalist, born in 1920, known for his fight against racial discrimination and best known for his book Black like Me. In 1959, he moved to the southern United States to undergo medical treatment combined with ultraviolet rays in order to blacken his skin — effectively transforming him into a “black” man. Griffin has gone through the ultimate experience of the Other to change his own skin to understand the life of a whole community.
Amal Women’s Training Center is not only a social showcase but also an excellent restaurant. Although people say that too many cooks spoil the broth, cooking courses for small groups are offered there. Here is a field report by a passionate amateur cook.
A while ago, the brilliant restaurant at Amal Women’s Training Center was already recommended here on this blog. Behind the project there is a non-profit organization seeking to support socially disadvantaged women in developing their professional careers and helping them find jobs to earn their livings. These women work together with 15 employees and 12 volunteers and get gastronomic training including Moroccan and international cuisine, service, French language courses focussing on tourism as well as practical training in riads and restaurants.
In Amal Center, cooking courses in which you can learn how to prepare couscous, tagine or pastilla, are offered six days a week. These courses are held – according to your needs – in either Arabic, French, English or Spanish and cost DH 200 per person. Book your course online — better early than late — , enter your desired date and language and choose from a list of eight different dishes what is going to land on your plate at the end of your course. You will get an e-mail-confirmation with a very good description on how to find the rather hidden Amal Center in the new town of Marrakech. Read more
There are many ways to get from Marrakech’s Menara Airport into the city centre. Apart from shuttle bus services and taxis you can by now book convenient airport transfers easily online. Here’s a field report on Getyourguide.
A four-hour-flight (depending on where you start) can be rather strenuous and it may not be to everybody’s taste to either bargain appropriate taxi fares for a ride into town with sometimes rather pushy taxi drivers immediately after landing or to take a public shuttle bus not knowing where to get off exactly. The bus may be the cheapest option, yet if you travel with a group of four or more, this price advantage vanishes. In December 2015 I travelled with four fellow travellers and gave private airport transfer offers a chance.
Private airport transfer in modern minibus including WLAN (photo: Travelguide Marrakech)
Getyourguide: Easy booking process and good service
Different transport companies offer private airport transfers from Menara to Marrakech’s city centre via Getyourguide’s booking platform. Their rates only differ slightly and resemble those of the Grand Taxis. We booked about 20 hours prior to our expected arrival time in a very quick and uncomplicated booking process on Getyourguide. Read more
Amal Women’s Training Center is a social showcase and a brilliant restaurant at the same time. Run by a on-profit organization, education and training of underprivileged women is promoted here. On-site restaurant Amal is an insider tip of Marrakesh’s European expats for not only having a great meal for little money but also for attending cooking classes.
Social Project: Promoting and Training disadvantaged women
The Amal Women’s Training Center in Marrakesh’s new town was founded in 2012 by Nora Fitzgerald. Born American, she grew up in Morocco and is acquainted with the living conditions of Moroccan women who, due to divorce, loss of their husbands, forced marriages or being single mums, are confronted with a lot of difficulties. The centre has 15 employees and 12 volunteers who support women entering the restaurant business. On the trainees’ schedule there is, for example, Morrocan and international cuisine, service, French language courses focussing on tourism and practical training in riads and restaurants.
(Foto: Rystheguy via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Amal: Restaurant with surprises
Amal’s Moroccan Restaurant is a real insider tip and some euphoric recommendations on TripAdvisor promise quite a lot. The restaurant opens daily for lunchtime, from 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers a menu which is quite different from most restaurants of the same price range. Read more
Morocco is a real photographer’s paradise with its special light, the bright colours and the unique motifs you find there. Yet, before you start putting the fascination of this country into pictures, you should be aware of a few things.
Photography and Religion: Aniconism in Islam
Islam, as well as Judaism, proscribes of pictures of humans and animals. Even though this proscription cannot be directly drawn from the Quran or the hadith, Islamic jurists have established legal conceptions which are rather traditionally than religiously founded and regulate the depiction of living beings in different ways. Thus, the interpretation of aniconism reaches from fundamental rejection (no living being may be depicted) to limited approval (living beings may be depicted as long as they are not idolised religiously). While it lead to an overwhelming importance of calligraphic and ornamental patterns in Islamic art, aniconism does not seem to play a major role today.
Yet, you should keep in mind that some Muslims still respect aniconism. So, in doubt it is better to ask for permission before snapping, especially in more remote and more religiously influenced places in Morocco. Read more