After about 20 hours of travel, this was a very welcome sight.
I retrieved my luggage and connected with the driver I’d arranged with my riad. In Marrakech, the most common form of lodging is Riads. They’re small, generally about 20 rooms, with a beautiful courtyard in the middle, and they’re operated a bit like an American Bed and Breakfast with warm, personal service and a morning meal included with your stay.
After scouring reviews online, I booked Palais Sebban for my first few nights. The driver, like most Moroccans, was very warm and friendly but I started to question things when he dropped us off in front of this unassuming door.
Fortunately, the exterior was deceiving. The inside is truly splendid. It’s a labyrinth of courtyards, rooms, and lounging areas. Each is ornately decorated and blissfully tranquil (a vast departure from the streets outside!).
We were welcomed in warmly and served mint tea in true local tradition. Despite the temperatures topping 100°F, the Moroccans love their hot tea. The lovely woman from the front desk provided a map and pointed out attractions as we rested our weary bodies.
After securing a dinner reservation in the hotel restaurant, it was time for a nice long nap. I was shown to my room and collapsed into bed.
We arrived downstairs at six, completely famished. Dinner was served poolside, at one of the tables with the red clothes in the picture above. It was a traditional Moroccan meal and utterly delectable. We started with a bottle of red and some salads. Tomato and basil for me, tomato, basil, and eggplant for my friend. Mine was good, but the other was better. The eggplant was sliced thin and lightly fried. It was the perfect compliment to the tomato, pesto, and cheese. I’ll surely replicate this little dish at home.
Next, the best part: Tangines. Lemon chicken with olives and beef with prunes, dates, and apricots. Tangines are a classic Moroccan style of cooking. They’re made from a terracotta of sorts and look like little clay teepees until the covers are removed. They’re cooked on the stove, and the top traps in moisture producing soft, savory meats that fall off the bone.
The beef was good, but the chicken was truly delectable. After this meal, there’s a really good chance I’ll be leaving this country with a tangine in tow!
Dessert was yogurt and these flaky crisps, doused in a sticky sweet orange glaze. Not really my style, but still worth a try. One of the best parts of travel is trying local cuisine, knowing that I won’t love everything.
After dinner, the sun had set and the local’s Ramadan fast had been broken so we struck out to see the souks and experience the city after dark. Even though it was after normal business hours, many shops were open and the main square bustled with activity.
After a while, we decided to find our way home. Our feet were filthy and we’d had enough of the heckling that the souk is known for. I collapsed into bed again, and slept like the dead.