A dinner and show package was included in our tour itinerary. Arriving at Chez Ali, you walk down a long corridor filled with musicians and dancers dressed in traditional costume in different groups. You pass them and sit in one of the many Arabian like dinner tents where tables are laid for diners.
For dinner, we were served couscous, tajine among others and fruits for desert. Dinner was good although nothing to write home about as we have tasted similar dishes in our hotel. During the course of our dinner, we were treated to a varieties of tribal music inside the tent by the cultural troupes we passed-by earlier at the entrance.
After dinner, an equestrian show started outside the tent in an open-air arena. Nights are chilly so better wrap up to keep warm. About 20 riders on horseback, some seems unable to handle their horses, did a handful of very basic acrobatics. Otherwise, they ran around the pitch shooting their guns a couple of times. If the food is nothing to write home about, the horse show is nothing to write more here.
All in all, this is commercial dinner and entertainment show.
Entrance to Chez Ali.
Passage at the entrance.
Chez Ali dinner and entertainment complex.
One of the cultural troupes at the entrance welcoming you. These troupes will make their rounds performing at your dinner table later on.
Big Mama welcoming you.
The men cultural troupe.
Our dinner tent. About 10 tables in it.
Design of the tent.
The cultural troupe performing at our dinner tent.
About the size of a football field, Djemaa el Fna (as well as the medina) is the main reason for us coming to Morocco. We have seen documentaries regarding this square and decided that we have to experience it for ourselves.
Djemaa el Fna presents an ever-changing character from the time of the rising sun till well into the night. It is a mixture of color, scent, smell, sight and sound and is the main attraction in Marrakech if not Morocco. It is not just a tourist attraction as many locals too enjoy the activities the square offers.
During the day it is predominantly occupied by orange juice stalls, water sellers, snack stalls, monkeys performing acts and snake charmer.
As the day progresses, Djemaa el Fna becomes more crowded, with dancing-boys, story-tellers, musicians, healers, magicians and peddlers of traditional medicines.
Before darkness sets in, the square fills with food-stalls as the number of people in the square peaks. These street food stalls have large variety of traditional dishes to choose from that includes meat, vegetables and fish. Either the dishes has been prepared or it will be cooked upon your order.
At the fringes of the Djemaa el Fna square, stalls selling toys.
Orange juice sellers and musicians.
Approaching late evening, women folks getting their hands a henna tattoo.
A horse carriage ride if you fancy.
The square is busy with locals and tourists alike.
The evening peddlers packing up giving way for the night eating stalls.
While the eating stalls are being set up, tea sellers are already up to speed.
Locals are a hungry lot. Stalls not fully up, the eating started. Chefs busy preparing cooking ingredients.
Up there on the terrace is where you want to be, to see the square transforms into eating stalls before nightfall. You are expected to purchase something from the cafe to get up the terrace. Just a soda is fine.
From the terrace above, you’ll have a commanding view of the square.
Nightfall setting in and only a couple of orange juice stalls remains. Otherwise, they dominate the square from the morning.
The eating stalls are almost all up.
At twilight, the glow of the electric bulbs lights up the square.
Ok, they are ready for customers.
Stall owners busy preparing their dishes.
Stall No. 1 belongs to Chez (chef) Aicha.
Varieties of local delicacies.
Locals and tourists enjoying their meals.
Our guide Mr Ridzuan treating us to local tea. Thank you.
The busy square at night.
Walking back to our bus parked close by Koutoubia mosque.
The Menara Gardens (if it could even be called a garden, there are no flowers) is about 4km from Djeema El Fna. Built in the 12th century it consists of a long wide boulevard flanked by rows upon rows of olive trees leading to an artificial basin and a pavilion. Entering the garden, you would likely be harassed to buy cheap clothing, souvenirs and camel rides.
The basin is used to irrigate the surrounding gardens and orchards. The basin gets its water from the mountains approximately 30 km away from Marrakech. There are fishes in the basin if you care to feed them.
On a fine day it is said that you can see the Atlas mountains in the distance but in November nothing much can be said of this. It is a well photographed site in Marrakech appearing on postcards and brochures. It might be different at other times of the year as pictures of the Atlas mountains from the Menara gardens is fantastic. So, if you only have time to spare and be there at the correct time of the year, you may want to visit the Menara Gardens.
The basin with the pavilion in the background. There are fishes in the basin.
Closer view of the pavilion.
Marrakech’s Menara International airport ATC tower in the background.
Olive trees, rows upon rows.
Care for a camel ride? You’ll find them at the entrance of Menara Garden.
About the only souvenir you need not be harassed to get. A greeting card written with your name in Arabic. Unique actually.
In all fairness, depending on the time of your visit, you could get a shot like this of the Menara Gardens, the pavilion and the Atlas mountain at the back. Credit:darijadictionary.com