Chanoy Honeymoon: Marrakech, February 2016

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

I’ve touched on it briefly in other blog entries about our time in Marrakech but I think it bears repeating again – Marrakech would be a lovely place to visit as a relaxing holiday if it weren’t for the overbearing stallholders in the markets. There’s nothing more stressful than being accosted with every step you take with women trying to grab your hands to henna them or men trying to pull you into their stalls to sell you spices. With the additional irritation of people calling after me with “konnichiwa!” or “Chiiiiina!” every so often, it only took one day for me to become sick of spending our time in the centre of the old city.

The irritating thing about that is that the pushiness of stall-owners turns you off from making any purchases that you might actually be interested in. There’s no way that I’m going to go into a stall that sells argan oil hand-creams and lotions if the seller is going to follow me around everywhere, grabbing my hands and forcing me to try different products. If they left me alone to shop at leisure, I’d be more inclined to buy something. I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling either – wouldn’t most of you prefer to do your shopping in peace and quiet, making decisions to purchase on your own without pressure from a sales assistant?

For that reason, we spent a fair bit of time doing other activities that didn’t involve walking past any stalls. One half-day was spent in the luxurious pampering of Hammam Rosa Bonheur with hours spent in the steam room, with body scrubs and massages. We spent another half-day in Hammam Ziani – a less ideal experience for us as a heterosexual couple as we were separated from the start by gender. I love going through a hammam with my husband, but don’t enjoy it as much when I’m sitting alone and lonely in the female-only steam room while other French or English groups of girl friends are all chatting away together!

Getting out of Marrakech was a highlight as well. We booked ourselves on a daytrip to the Ourika Valley, about an hour and a half out of the city to the Atlas Mountains. Sadly the tour wasn’t quite as advertised (lunch wasn’t included, we had to pay out of our own pocket), which meant that we ended up chasing after the tour operator for almost a month afterwards trying to get a partial refund. Aside from that though, the tour itself was incredible – we spent nearly two hours following our young and nimble guide up narrow and rocky paths through the mountains to get to secluded waterfalls and amazing views. One activity to wear your walking shoes for!

You don’t have to go as far as the Ourika Valley to get out of Marrakech though! We spent one afternoon at the Jardin Majorelle, a little green oasis created by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent outside the main city walls. I think it’s most famous for the vibrant shade of ‘majorelle blue’ which features heavily throughout the garden complex – a shade of blue that can barely be translated to screen colours. You really need to see it with your own eyes to understand how vibrant it really is.

We had a handful of good meals while we were in Marrakech. Nomad was a real highlight with its modern interpretation of traditional foods, and Café Mama Afrika was a great example of how Asian-African fusion food can work particularly well. Other places were less impressive – despite its good reviews, Roti D’Or was nothing more than simple fast food.

I can’t say that we’ll rush back to Marrakech. With the constant hassling you experience as a tourist on its streets, you really can’t have the stress-free relaxing holiday you might be looking for. You’re more likely to return home from Marrakech feeling more stressed than when you left!

Review: Roti D’Or, Marrakech Morocco

Fast food has its time and place – and when you’re down to your final hundred Moroccan Dirhams on your last day in Marrakech and need one more meal, you really can’t beat cheap fast food for its price and convenience! There’s no need to go in search of another ATM to withdraw more money for yet another chicken tajine dinner when 100 Dirhams ($13.80 AUD) can get you an incredibly filling meal for two people at Roti D’Or off the main square.

rotidor-01It is absolutely nothing to look at from the outside – a small little cafe with outdoor seating on a side street off the main square. Somehow though, it is consistently rated in the top five restaurants in Marrakech on TripAdvisor, usually only beat out by much more expensive and fancier restaurants located in five star hotels.

Falafel, 25 Moroccan Dirhams
Falafel, 25 Moroccan Dirhams

The menu is uncomplicated and consists of either burgers with fries, or fried meat served with rice, flatbread and salad. We started with the Falafel served with the aforementioned sides – I didn’t even bother touching the flatbread, but did gobble up the delicious herbed rice with the falafel. I thought the falafel was a bit over-fried actually – definitely not a patch on the amazing falafel we had in Ohrid in Macedonia.

Crunchy Chicken, 25 Moroccan Dirhams
Crunchy Chicken, 25 Moroccan Dirhams

We went on to order the Crunchy Chicken, which I had hoped would be deep-fried chicken drumsticks or wings. It turns out that you’ll need to go to KFC for those though – Roti D’Or’s crunchy chicken is essentially just processed chicken fillets like frozen Birds Eye chicken strips. This is the type of dish you won’t need to bribe a young child to eat – and indeed, there was an English family sitting next to us where both of the young children were munching away on these chicken strips!

Tex Mex Burger, 35 Moroccan Dirhams
Tex Mex Burger, 35 Moroccan Dirhams

We finished off our meal by sharing the Tex Mex Burger, which was very interestingly if impractically presented with the burger bun skewered upright on the top of the burger. This is no Roslund Finnish burger unfortunately, and barely rates against a Burger King offering. At least it comes with a side of crunchy French fries.


As a general ordering guide – one meal per person is more than sufficient. We definitely over-ordered as evidenced by the fact that we left all the flatbread and most of the rice on the plate – I also ended up leaving most of the bun from my half of the burger as there was simply too much food!

I’m surprised that Roti D’Or is rated as highly as it is as it certainly doesn’t offer a particularly noteworthy menu or amazingly unique food. What it does offer is an incredibly cheap menu which barely challenges the budget, so I suspect that its many highly positive reviews are based on price rather than quality. Come here if you’re down to your last hundred Dirhams, but don’t go out of your way to visit!

Roti D’Or is located at 17 Rue Kennaria in Marrakech, Morocco.

Review: Cafe Mama Afrika, Marrakech Morocco

If you get sick of Marrakech souvenir stall sellers hounding you about entering their shop to check out their buckets of spices, genuine Moroccan argan oil, handmade leather goods, or gimmicky knick-knacks that will end up gathering dust on your shelves at home, you can always walk twenty minutes up the road from the main square in the Medina to what is known as “New Marrakech”.

Here you might still be followed by guys on the street trying to sell you a watch or belt, or insisting that they shine your shoes for a fee (guys, I’m wearing sneakers. Shoeshine is entirely unnecessary.). But you can also make the most of air-conditioned shopping malls and centres where shop assistants won’t follow you around the store insisting that you try everything on. It’s honestly a bit of a relief to not be hounded and to just have some room to breathe as a tourist.

There’s plenty of cafes in the area where you can grab a casual bite to eat of mainly quite Westernised food. There’s pizzas and sandwiches galore. If you want something a little more local but still accessible, Cafe Mama Afrika is a great choice.

Coconut Kiss cocktail (Pineapple, banana, coconut milk, desiccated coconut), 20 Moroccan Dirhams
Coconut Kiss cocktail (Pineapple, banana, coconut milk, desiccated coconut), 20 Moroccan Dirhams

While it’s always well-patronised by young holidaymakers taking advantage of the cheap drinks on the menu, it’s also popular with locals with a few younger and more modern Moroccan couples dining there.

I made the most of their non-alcoholic drinks – there’s plenty of fresh juices on the menu, but I chose the Coconut Kiss cocktail of pineapple, banana and coconut milk. Like a tropical party in your mouth, only tastier.


We got the traditional Moroccan khobz bread of course, that’s a given.


This was a nice surprise though – a little appetiser of marinated olives to start. I liked the green olives which had a little extra chilli spice stuffed into them, but found the black olives a bit too sour for my liking.

Mama Detox (rice, onion, green red yellow peppers, eggplant, cheese, pineapple), 40 Moroccan Dirhams
Mama Detox (rice, onion, green red yellow peppers, eggplant, cheese, pineapple), 40 Moroccan Dirhams

I chose their healthy vegetarian menu option of the Mama Detox, which actually turned out to be a surprisingly Asian-African fusion kind of dish. The peppers, onion and pineapple was fried in a sauce not dissimilar to a Cantonese sweet and sour sauce, and served on a bed of white rice. With some slices of fried eggplant and a healthy sprinkle of cheese on top, it was a deliciously tempting dish – I could have eaten much more! This is of course, not to mention its entirely adorable presentation as a mini-map of Africa!

Reggae Fish (Vietnamese Rice Cake, Fish Fillet, Eggplant, Onion, Pepper, Tomato), 50 Moroccan Dirhams
Reggae Fish (Vietnamese Rice Cake, Fish Fillet, Eggplant, Onion, Pepper, Tomato), 50 Moroccan Dirhams

K chose their fish dish – the Reggae Fish of plump juicy fish fillets wrapped in deep-fried Vietnamese rice paper. Served on top of a bed of lettuce leaves and a little scoop of corn and cucumber salsa, the fish was enhanced by the drizzle of sweet teriyaki-esque sauce on top. Yet another nod to Asian-African fusion that works extremely well!


This little stray cat takes up its residence in Cafe Mama Afrika, winding his way through peoples legs under tables and standing up to place his front paws on your lap in a reminder of ‘hey I’m here, feed me!’. I gave him some pieces of fish fillet which he gobbled up hungrily!

Cafe Mama Afrika is a reasonably-priced cafe bordering old and new Marrakech, offering local cuisine with an international twist. It’s nothing fancy but it is hearty and filling, and the whole cafe is very relaxed so it’s very possible to just grab a seat and while away the afternoon with a few drinks. Take a break from the hustle (and bustle) of old Marrakech, and chill out at Cafe Mama Afrika.

Cafe Mama Afrika is located on Rue Oum Errabii Gueliz in Marrakech, Morocco.