Morocco travel tips

Where we ate:

Over our more than two weeks in Morocco we ate at more places than we can list here. Since most were mediocre, here’s just the ones that seem worth mentioning, either for being worth seeking out or for being a waste of money. In general though most “YEH”s are not very enthusiastic, but we’re trying to be positive.

  • Escargot and Espice stand, Casablanca medina – Yay snails: YEH
  • Snack Yamin, Casablanca – Room temperature fried food: NAH
  • L’Etoile Centrale, Casablanca – Inviting décor, flavorful food, reasonably priced: YEH
  • Les Dauphin, Essaouira – We’re 90% sure this place wasn’t where we got the food poisoning; the food was ok: MEH
  • Au Bonheur des Dames, Essaouira – Great juice and petit dejuneur: YEH
  • Stall #81, Djemaa el Fna, Marrakesh – These guys were full of charm. Stall #83 called Todd “Dr. Phil” so we really didn’t like them: YEH for #81
  • Bougainville Cafe, Marrakesh – When you need more variety from your Moroccan lunch, seek this place out: YEH
  • Restaurant Italia, on the road from the Sahara to Fes – Best tajine we tasted in Morocco, and the chickent roti was excellent as well: YEH
  • Isla Blanca, Fes – One of those half-Continental, half-Moroccan, all-blech restaurants where the food sucks but they have wine and beer. The wine gets a “yeh” the food gets a : NAH
  • Restaurant 10 Years, Fez – Don’t let the 6-month old signs wishing you a “Happy New Year 2008″ fool you. This place has simply awful food, but they have wine and beer, and a charming, hard-working waiter. But there’s not much else to choose from: MEH
  • Cafe Skali, Fes – OMG!! This simple cafe actually uses tasty ingredients to make food. It’s all very straight-forward, like goat cheese and olive tapenade on crusty Berber bread, but it was a beacon in the night compared to most other options. We went back: YEH
  • Pizzaria Badis, Casablanca Fast Food and other open-air eateries in Asilah – When your chicken tajine comes with a dry piece of chicken and french fries you know you’ve hit rock bottom. Even if you’re surrounded by Moroccans, you’re still in for a disappointing meal: NAH

Where we stayed:

  • Hotel Touring, Casablanca – Clean, except for the roaches; hot and noisy rooms, but compared to many other places in Morocco, a bargain: MEH
  • Hotel Majestic, Essaouira – Echo chamber shared bathrooms and showers and dismal rooms, only for the desperate: NAH
  • Riad Sidi Magdoul – You’ll enjoy your stay even more if you don’t have food poisoning (which to be clear had nothing to do with the hotel): YEH!!
  • Hotel Sindi Sud, Marrakesh – Clean and pleasant, often overrun by youth tour groups, so book ahead: YEH
  • Hotel Central, Fes – When you’re too cheap to spend $45 a night, it’s far from the worst you’ll see in Morocco: MEH
  • [Garbage] Beach House, Asilah – We neglected to book ahead, so we were lucky to have anywhere to stay during Asilah’s high season, even our overpriced, funky-round-the-edges room in Abdul’s family’s house overlooking the most garbage-strewn stretch of Asilah’s beach. Abdul will try to get you to visit his stores to buy rugs and jewelry, don’t bite: NAH

What we saw:

  • Mosquee Hassan II, Casablanca – Though we skipped the $12 each tour, it’s still an impressive site: YEH
  • Skala de la Ville, Essaouria – Canons, view, all ok: YEH
  • Place Djemaa el Fna, Marrakesh – One of the highlights of Morocco, even more ridiculous on the weekend: YEH!
  • Marrakesh Museum, Marrakesh – Go for the restored architecture; unfortunately the lighting on most of the art is dim to nonexistent and the exhibits are lackluster: MEH
  • Ben Youssef Madersa, Marrakesh – Stunning Moorish architecture: YEH
  • Almoravid Koubba, Marrakesh – Unremarkable and not worth the entrance fee: NAH
  • Saadian Tombs, Marrakesh – Nice, though there’s not a lot to them: MEH
  • Jardin Majorelle, Marrakesh – Don’t know what all the fuss is about: NAH
  • Sahara Tour, leaving from Marrakesh – The tour takes you through many YEH (Sahara camel desert trek, Tizi n’Tichka pass, Dades Gorge and Valley, Berber village, Ait Benhaddou Kasbah) and a few MEH (Todra Gorge, Ouarzazate) areas of the Southern Oasis Route on the way to the Sahara, overall: YEH!
  • The Water Clock and other minor sites in Fes’ medina: MEH
  • Asilah’s International Festival – Highly recommend you book your accommodation ahead, research owhere to eat, and double-check the theme of the festival; to fully enjoy yourself, you’ll need to know a local or spend a lot more money than we did: YEH