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12 Step Planet: Marrakech
Eamonn Seoige continues his tireless non-stop race around the globe with a voyage to sunny Marrakech.
Eamonn Seoige, 21 Sep 2012
Where exactly is it?
Marrakech is in central Morocco, a short trip from the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The ‘Red City’ is famed for its wonderful Medina, Berber architecture and preservation of ancient traditions. It has a population in excess of one million. Its walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
How do I get there?
The easiest route is to catch a flight to either Luton or London Stansted and connect with a Ryanair flight to Marrakech’s Menara Airport. If time isn’t an issue why not travel by ferry from southern Spain to the Moroccan port towns of Ceuta or Tangier? Marrakech is a 300-mile road-trip away. En route you can detour to the equally impressive, ancient city of Fes.
What language do they speak?
Arabic is the official language of Morocco and Marrakech’s natives, many of whom are of Berber origin. The local dialect is known as Ttamazight. French is also spoken by the majority of the population, a result of colonialism in North Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth century. A small bit of Leaving Cert Français will go a long way...
What is the local beer like?
Alcohol is technically prohibited under Islamic law, but widely available in the main urban centres in Morocco. A couple of different beers are brewed in Morocco, Spéciale Flag, a light crisp lager and the preferable and slightly more expensive Casablanca. Beer is sold in corner shops, supermarkets and in a limited amount of restaurants run by foreign owners. Heineken and other mass-market beers are also available in the larger supermarkets. Getting your hands on a few brews is practically impossible during Ramadan.
Moroccan wine production expanded during the period of French rule. Its sloping mountains, fertile soil and cooling Atlantic winds make conditions almost perfect for cultivating vineyards. The local red wine varieties are especially good; namely Cinsaut, Alicante and Cabernet Sauvignon. Much of the produce is exported and Moroccan reds are now the most widely consumed foreign wines in France!